I Need a Suggestion Box

Well my friends, the days are slowly getting longer, it isn’t quite as cold, and I have more fur on my floor which means it’s almost time for Road Trip Season!

I have a few trips already (kind of) planned out but I’m looking for your suggestions.  It could be an awesome town, a great cafe, or the must-do hike.  Anything and everything you have I want to know but with one condition: it has to be in the contiguous United States and Canada.  As good as my little Corolla is, it doesn’t handle water crossings well.

If we visit a place you suggest, I’ll make sure you get a shout out.  Now if it’s a secret that you don’t want broadcast (and I get why that would be), send me an e-mail (3adventuredawgs@gmail.com).  We can go and keep the location on the down low.

I have been waiting to hit the road since last year and I cannot wait to see what suggestions you have for what is out there.

Cheers all.

P.S.  I couldn’t resist sharing some pictures of our trips over the past two seasons.

More Than The Sum of Their Parts

So now that you’ve gotten to know about the dogs on their own, there is a certain dynamic that occurs when dealing with them all at once, especially when we’re out on the road.

When we stop to talk to folks on our travels, they always seem to assume that Piper is the boss.  I guess it’s because she’s the biggest of the three.  Not the case.  You see, I’m the pack leader and we all know it.  They may get excited and feel the need to mug anyone that gets close enough, but when I start to move away, they come with me.  If I make the growly  “hey” sound, they will all turn and look at me or stop what they are doing.

But when left to their own devices…

Leo has brought a spark of life to old Jack and he is more active than he has been since he was a puppy.  Leo figured out that all he has to do is pick up a toy and Jack is there to join in a game.  Or a stick and then they have a crazy game of keep away.  It must be a Boston Terrier thing.  Leo is the firecracker of the pack, that’s for sure.  At least he has two other dogs to help him burn that energy.

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Brothers ready to hit the road.

When we are in the house, Piper is the most laid back dog and has been known to take up the entire couch.  But when we leave the safe confines of our home, she is switched on.  No one can get close without a 65 lb boxer leaning on their legs.  And she she has been known to join in the odd game of tug too.  It’s really funny to watch her instigate: she’ll grab a toy and shake it while she growls, then pause and look around.  If that doesn’t get any attention, she’ll shake even harder and growl louder.  She’ll repeat this until someone joins in.  If she’s digging in the sand, then Leo will come and help her excavate.  Often he takes over her hole.

Jack would be quite happy to sit on the couch all day and sleep on the bed all night.  And he has no problem with sitting out the odd walk.  But if he wants to play, there is no denying him.  And if he hears the jingle of his harness, you better believe he’ll be the first one at the door.

The funniest part is what happens when someone comes to the door: Leo will be there first and bark his fool head off.  Jack will be next and he’ll join in the barking.  If you don’t know my animals, you would assume that there were only two dogs.  Then Piper walks around to the door and stands and just stares with that intense boxer stare as she puffs her chest out.  The boys are the mouth and she’s the muscle.  Even though I know she’s a big suck, even I have to do a double take sometimes when she has that “look”.

Want to see the mutts in action?  Here’s Leo being the little pest: The games continue.

Or when we found ourselves on a beach in Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia

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A quick game of tug at a rest stop in Minnesota.  Want to see the video? Click here.

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Down the trail

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Snoozing the miles away.

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Ferry? No big deal.

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At Wild Horse Pass in Washington.

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On the beach in Nova Scotia

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Posing in Quebec City.

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I don’t know why Leo always claims the pillow.  Or where I’m going to fit.

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Looking majestic at Childress Vineyards, North Carolina.

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The Marsh Boardwalk.

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Monument Valley Arizona.

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Family selfie in Arizona.

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Montana sunset.

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Looking out over the valley in North Carolina.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The road trip season is officially over for us.  We’ve been lucky that it has stayed this nice for this long so there’s no complaining.  While I did not have the time to take the pack on a real road trip, I did take them for a hike through a nearby forest.  I couldn’t help myself…I just had to share some of the pictures.

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Does it get any better than this?

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Getting their bearings

I tried to take some artsy “falling leaves” photos.  The dogs were surprisingly good with me tossing leaves over them.

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Is there something on my head?

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Not a care in the world.

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Jack: always ready to strike a pose.

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Something got their attention.

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A moment of stillness.

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And Leo at full speed.

After our hike, I took the dogs for a walk and stumbled across a local craft brewery that was closed.  Quite unfortunate because they’re dog friendly.  Yes you read that right: a dog friendly brewery!  Hopefully I can post about it soon.

And since the road trip season is mostly over in the soon-to-be Great White North, I have a series of posts I’m working on.  I’m open to any suggestions or ideas or questions that anyone wants to send my way.

Last Day on the Road

Day 14

Starting mileage: 8879.6

Sleeping in a Corolla with a, shall we say portly pug/boston terrier, on your gut is not the best way to start a day.  On the plus side, we were finally on the road early after a walk and they had some breakfast.  And then down the road in Marquette, we found Huron Mountain Bakery.  Now I’m not saying that I grabbed donuts with my berry scone and coffee.  I’m not saying that at all.  But I did and we all know that I did.

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Berry scone. It may not be pretty but so good.

As we were driving in between bouts of rain, there was a break that just so happened to be near a beach.  The pups needed to have some exercise and there was no one around as far as the eye can see sooooooooooooo they had a chance to run.

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Leo enjoying a roll.

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Piper having a bounce.

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Jack takes his beach stroll very seriously.

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A relatively calm Lake Superior.

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Exploring the beach.

They tore around for a little bit and by the time the rain started up again, they were panting and walking themselves back to the car.  One of the advantages to having short-haired dogs is that they don’t get too dirty but oh my was there ever a lot of sand coming off of them.

They passed out pretty quickly, waking up only when we crossed the border at Sault Ste. Marie which was the most painless crossing of the whole trip.  I was going to stop in Bruce Mines at The Bobber Restaurant but I decided to keep going.

I ended up stopping at a trailer at a gas station and for the life of me I cannot remember where it was.  I’ve done a pretty good job keeping track of food joints for most of this trip but by this point I just wanted to get home.  I ordered a burger and watched the steady stream of locals which I always take as a good sign.  The burger was insanely good.  Or I was really hungry.  Either way it was a good meal.  The dogs had a few bites when they could pull themselves away from their adoring fans of course.

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Somewhere along the side of the road.

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I loved this bridge.

Then, finally, we made it home.  I was so tired I didn’t even unpack the car, just bringing in the blankets for the dogs as they reacquainted themselves with their spots on the couch.  I sat down and soon had Piper resting her head on my lap as Jack curled up on the other side while Leo pulled every toy out of his toy box to make sure they were all still there.

Good to be home again.

Finishing mileage: 9837.9

Heading Home

Day 13 (No you didn’t miss a day.  These are days from home not days travelling)

Starting mileage:8065.9

Even though we stopped moving for only a day and a half, it was a refreshing pause.  Not that we didn’t have some excitement.  Jack decided to go chasing after something in the forest and we ended up losing him for a little bit until my grandma saw him strolling along the side of the road going who knows where.  I also helped my grandpa take the dock out of the water for the winter.

It was a grey and drizzly kind of day which is probably for the best since I had to be home.  I could either do two long days of driving which would get me home with a day before work or three days which would give me no down time.  Then there was the decision of the route.  I usually go north which takes me along the north shore of Lake Superior instead of the south route that takes me back into the U.S.  The map said that the south route would be three hours shorter so I decided to go that way.

It rained almost all day long.  It did break for a little while in Baudette, Minnesota which is where we found Willie Walleye.  That thing is horrifying.  But Cafe X was within walking distance so we were able to stretch our legs while I caffeinated for the drive.

 

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Willy Walleye in Baudette, Minnesota

As it was getting late, I passed by campgrounds thinking that there’ll be more coming up.  You would think by now that I would know better and would stop as soon as I realized it was getting dark.  But there’s always that drive to get further down the road before stopping.  With patchy cell service, it was also hard to find places to stay in case camping wasn’t an option.

And then the deer came out.  It’s funny: I hadn’t seen any deer at home for ages but in a short stretch of road, I saw lots.  After the third deer ran across the road in front of me, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and pulled over into a rest area.  I was hoping that there would be a campground close by but no such luck.  At least it was warmer than it had been in Idaho.

I took the dogs for a walk and poured them some food and water which they promptly ignored.  I fluffed up their blankets and climbed under one for me, draping it over my feet just as Jack jumped onto my belly and somehow wedged himself under the steering wheel when I tipped my seat back.  Piper stayed in the back seat and rested her chin next to my ear which is as adorable as it is irritating.   Yes she’s a snuggler but you try having a boxer sigh in your ear all night long.  Leo piled up the blankets and nested in the front seat and the back seat, hopping from one to the other.

Small price to pay to not run over Bambi.

Back into Canada

Day 11

Starting mileage: 7755.8

When I went to the lobby to check out, I was really surprised that the Knight’s Inn had free breakfast.  It was your standard continental breakfast with very little in the fruit department but that didn’t stop me from making mini wafflewiches with jam.  I actually ate a couple of yogurt cups as I waited for my mini waffles (so cute) to cook.  I decided to try the coffee and it was horrendous.  Fortunately Bully Brew Coffee House was a few minutes away.  And I mean come on!  How could I not stop at a coffee house that is practically themed around a bulldog?  There were even little samples of dog treats.  Jack liked them.  Piper sniffed then gingerly nibbled one.  Leo the little vacuum that he is? turned his nose up at it.  Cheeky monkey.

It was a relatively short trip to the border at Pembina.  And here is something funny: I stopped at the duty free because I told some friends I would grab them something.  The duty free shop is actually quite a distance from the actual border.  So I saunter on in and take my items to the counter.  I pay for it then have to give my license plate to the woman at the counter who also takes my purchase.  Because the store is so far from the border, you pick and pay for your things there but then actually pick them up from a trailer actually at the border.  I had quite a time trying to wrap my little brain around that.  She explained that they have to be able to actually see you cross the border with your things.  It makes sense but just seems like such a cumbersome process.

So I’m waiting in line and pull up to the booth and the gentleman working in there starts asking me the usual questions but he’s facing his computer screen so I couldn’t hear a thing he was saying which meant that he had to repeat himself with every question.  I could see him getting frustrated and I was getting frustrated but it’s like “Dude look at me when you’re talking!  You’re in a little glass house and I’m in a car with my windows open and the wind and the cars so don’t get all pissy with me!”  Inside voice folks.

This was a different route to my grandparents so I was able to see slightly different parts of Manitoba.  I also got hungry.  So hungry that I pulled over onto the shoulder and started shoving the last of the pizza down my face hole.  That’s one reason why I think pizza is the ultimate road food: every town has a pizza place, it’s often the only place open late, they usually deliver, and you can eat it the next day no matter where you are.

Soon, I turned down the road my grandparent’s place.  It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly the dogs know where they are.  Jack and Piper have been there a few times before but our visits are a year a part.  I was a few kilometres away when I noticed that I could hear a slight whine and some panting from the back seat.  I snuck a quick peek and there’s Piper staring out the window and getting all antsy.  She only gets like that when she knows she’s going somewhere fun, like the pet store or the vet (seriously she LOVES the vet).  Jack and Leo were also wiggling around in their harnesses.

When we parked, I had a hard time undoing everyone from the car.  I just had enough time to stand aside and let the bounding mass of canine run up to see my grandparents.

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Jack and Leo checking out the dock.  Piper was digging in the sand next to me.

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The lake at sunset.

That night we cracked into the Fraidy Cat wine from Oz Winery.  It’s a Kansas muscat and has the sweetness that I expect from that varietal.  It was more of a dessert wine and was almost ice wine sweet though lacking in the syrupy mouthfeel.  Does it sound like I know what I’m talking about?

We also had some chocolate from the box that I had bought in Michigan at the Chocolate Garden.  I’m actually a little surprised that I was able to keep my paws off of them.  I guess when you keep stopping for donuts and pie you can avoid the chocolate.

Crossing North Dakota

Day 10

Starting mileage: 6791.1

I barely slept since I could not stop watching The Last Alaskans and didn’t get to sleep until 2:00 am.  Whoops.  And with trucks moving in and out of the lot next door, I kept getting woken up.  The plan had been to leave early but that didn’t happen.  As usual.  What can I say: I’m not a morning person.

Then I found out that there can still be hazards for dogs in a parking lot: I was walking them along a strip of grass and trees at the back of the lot when I felt a tug and looked back to see Jack holding a front foot up with his big puggy eyes staring at me.  Crap crap crap I thought as I dropped to kneel next to him, my mind already reeling through first aid for glass or other damage to his paw.  I looked and saw a thorn sticking out of the pad of his paw.  And this thorn was MASSIVE.  Fortunately it was just the tip and as soon as I pulled it out, he jumped up and put his paws on my shoulder to lick my face.  Best thank you ever.  We were walking back towards to room when the same thing happened with Leo.  I pulled that thorn out and he went and peed on a tree.  How’s that for gratitude?  Obviously marking that tree was damned important.  As in “F you tree for dropping a thorn that hurt my foot.  Now you are mine!”

We stopped at Main Street Cafe and I had an amerciano and breakfast wrap.  The wrap was quite good.  Not quite Ted’s Tacos good which it seems has become the standard for any kind of breakfast wrap.  Then we continued through Montana and into North Dakota.

I had expected North Dakota to be flat and boring.  But as you can see from the photos below, it’s not much of either.

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I wanted to get to my grandparent’s cottage that night but my grandma told me that the deer were really bad at this time of year and she didn’t want me out on the road.  That and I would have gotten in close to midnight so I booked a hotel.  I accidentally booked a room at the Knight’s Inn in Grand Forks after I had driven through it.  I realized my mistake as soon as I bought the room so I got on the phone with Expedia to try and cancel.  Keep in mind this is within minutes of swiping left to buy.  Well, the hotel could cancel but they’d still charge Expedia which means that Expedia was still going to charge me.  I was a little peeved that trying to cancel a room less than ten minutes after booking was a no-go.  I mean, it’s not like Grand Forks was hopping and they’d lose a sale or anything.  What really irked me was the fact that I had already gone past Grand Forks so I had to turn around and drive south 20 minutes then in the morning drive those same 20 minutes north again.  I tried not to be mad at the guy at Expedia who was super kind.  My fault.

I consoled myself with the T-Rex pizza from Rhombus Guys.  It’s hard to stay angry with TV and pizza.

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The T-Rex from Rhombus Guys

Well Hello Idaho

Day 9

Starting mileage: 5861.2

The trains ran almost all night and when I say all night, I mean ALL NIGHT.  I’m wondering if that’s the reason why they don’t charge to stay at that campground.

When I woke up and crawled out of the tent, I found the fly was completely coated in ice.  My hands got so cold as I was packing up the tent that it took me probably twice as long because I had to keep shoving my hands into my armpits to regain feeling.  I put out food for the dogs but they just watched me struggle with the tent and probably added some new words to their already expansive vocabulary of curse words.  I had planned to make breakfast but decided to move on.

Pocatello is not too far down the road and we stopped at Red Hot Roasters.  I got a really good breakfast burrito and americano which I destroyed as we walked around the town.  I have a clip that I use for their leashes that allows me to go hands-free.  From the number of people staring at me, it seems that it’s an unusual sight to see someone double-fisting breakfast as they walk with three dogs.  The dogs were walking amazingly well so it made us look like superstars.

As we were driving down the highway, I saw signs for Frontier Pie.  I wasn’t going to stop.  I wasn’t going to stop.  Hang on…why are we in Rexburg, Idaho and why are we stopping at Frontier Pies?  Well fine, I can’t stop here and not go inside.  I mean that would be rude and as a Canadian it is my duty to be polite.  I ended up leaving with a slice of peanut butter chocolate cream pie for later.

I saw signs for Yellowstone National Park and my plan had been to cut through there but then when I saw a $30 entry fee, well same thing with all the other parks: if I’m going to pay that much money I’m going to make a day of the trip.  We took the highway around the edge of the park and found a parking area which let us hike into the edge of the park anyway.

It was a nice hike and we had not gone in too far when I noticed Jack’s attention was focused on something to our right.  It took me a few minutes to see the deer that was watching us.  I was able to get the camera out and snap a few pictures before it turned and bounded away. I wanted to let the dogs off for a run but decided that with deer and all the signs for bear, that would probably be a bad idea.  When we got back to the car, I poured out their water and ate my pie.  It was so tasty.

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Jack knows there’s something out there.

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New friend.

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Too bad we didn’t have enough time to explore more.

We crossed into Montana and the first rest stop that we stopped at had a fenced in dog area!  While most rest areas have a designated pet walking area, most of them are unfenced and require the dogs be kept on leash.  Montana has had more fenced areas and nicer places than most states.  Bravo Montana!  We also made a stop to take in the fall foliage.  The bright yellow contrasted against the blue sky.  Stunning.

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Had to stop for photos.

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I could have sat here all day long.

A short time later as it was starting to get dark, we stopped at another rest area.  I saw signs for a pet area with an arrow off to the side that pointed away from the buildings along a dirt track.  I was intrigued and followed the trail along the side of the hill and up to the top.  There over the rest area was this wide open field with benches at one end.  The view from the top was incredible and with no one around and no one being able to sneak up on us, I let the dogs go for a run.  We lingered there until almost dark and I followed the paved path back down to the parking area.  And that’s when I found the sign warning about rattlesnakes.  Well it would have been nice to see that a little sooner.

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Great view.

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Out for a stretch.

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Piper scoping the land.

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Smiling Jack.

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Leo looks like he’s planning mischief.

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Professionals at posing.

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We stayed long enough for this view.

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Would have been nice to know this before we went up.

Remembering what the temperature had been the night before, I decided on a hotel and stopped in Mile City, Montana.  As I was checking in at the Motel 6, I asked if there was a good place for food and was directed to the Gallaghers across the street.  I popped in there and ordered the Rodeo Hoagie.  So good.

Piper decided that she needed some space and took up the other bed, leaving me to snuggle with the boys as we watched TV.  I discovered the show “The Last Alaskans” and stayed up late into the night before falling asleep.

Leaving Nevada

Day 8

Starting mileage:  4938.1

Even though I was awake earlier than usual, I guess the little green men running through my mind wore my brain out and I was lazy getting out of bed.  That and the fact that I was squished onto a bed since, heaven forbid, the dogs sleep on their blankets on the floor.  I took the dogs for another short walk before packing up.  The restaurant had not opened yet and I handed my key to the staff sitting out front chatting before their day started.

The road from Rachel was about the same that it had been on the way in minus the Joshua Trees.  I’m still kicking myself for not going back for pictures.

As I drove it gave me plenty of time to figure out my route.  I had wanted to turn this into a real alien adventure and go to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.  But since I hadn’t had time to go to Roswell in New Mexico, it wouldn’t really be an alien tour anyway.  And time was running out since I did have my grandparents to visit.  If I’m going to stop at a park, I’m going to do it right and stay for at least a day so this time around I was going to bypass Devil’s Tower.

We were passing through Ely, Nevada when my tummy started protesting it’s empty state.  We did a short tour along the main streets and I decided to stop at Silver State restaurant.  As usual, I asked for a recommendation and ordered the country fried steak with sawmill gravy, eggs, hash browns, and toast.  Then I saw the display case of pies near the counter and was drawn to it like a moth to flame.  I grilled the poor woman about them and she told me that she made all the pies.  A fellow baker?  Yay.  I tried to ask about her about her preference for butter or lard and does she mix her flours?  But the tables were filling up and that required more attention than me.  I collected my breakfast and a slice of coconut cream pie and hit the road.

We found a small park near the restaurant and I dove headfirst into breakfast.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I had never had country fried steak or sawmill gravy.  Well this Canadian girl is now a huge fan.  I was dipping my toast into the gravy and pouring it over the hash browns.  The dogs made sure that I shared the steak with them.  The crunchy coating had a wonderful seasoning to it that I was peeling it off and eating it in chunks.

Then we took a short walk around a duck pond next to the park as I tried to create room in my now full gut.  While the dogs have all seen ducks and swans at home, usually the birds  fly away.  There was one swan that was standing on his side of the fence and he eyed Jack as he stood across from him.  Even with Piper sidling up next to her older, shorter brother, that swan just stood there, puffed his chest up, shook his head as he flapped his wings, and I would have to say he strutted away as if to say “this here is my pond”.  Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to record the standoff.  And as a side note, aside from that one posturing swan, the ducks and swans did not seem to care much about the dogs at all.  Had there been any panic or the dogs were going nuts, I would have moved them away.  The dogs were curious and the ducks and swans were not.  In fact, the dogs did not make a sound.  Come to think of it, I don’t even think they pulled at their leashes.

We continued through Nevada and stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  I expected to see… well salt flats.  What I did see was a perfectly flat expanse of water stretching out from both sides of the highway.  And a few tire tracks.  I’m not sure if I would rather they be from people trying to avoid collisions or people thinking they could drive the flats.  Both are kind of sad.

So anyway, we took a walk around the rest area at the flats then sat at a table in a shady area so that I could eat my lunch: the slice of coconut cream pie from Silver State.  I had the dogs water bowl out with a bottle of water and as I was reaching over the bottle to pick up my fork, my elbow spilled the whole litre of water onto my lap.  The whole bottle.  The family sitting at the table next to me pretended not see but I know they did.  I tried squeezing as much of the water out my pants as I could, thankful that they were quick-drying then finished my pie.  Let me tell you friends, sitting in a car with wet pants is unpleasant.

Then we continued on, back into Utah and then crossed into Idaho.  Small confession here: when I think of Idaho, I think of potatoes.  And for some reason when I think of potatoes I think of flat land.  Well that is not Idaho at all.  It is beautiful and the changing foliage was stunning.  I was admiring the land as we passed through it, especially as it started getting late.  I was looking for a place to camp but did not see anything close to the highway.  Finally I turned to Yelp and found a cluster at Lava Hot Springs so I headed there.

I was a little unsure of the temperature so I considered getting a hotel room but when I looked at the prices, I felt my eyes bug out a bit.  I guess it’s to be expected with it being something of a tourist spot but then when you add in dogs…well that price tends to go up a bit.  I tried to do the fahrenheit to celsius conversion and with the weather calling for high 30’s to low 40’s I thought it should be okay.  My limit is 10 degrees celsius so I thought that might be close.

As I was trying to find the camping places that I had seen advertised, I saw signs for Bird Canyon State Park.  I turned onto the road, a dirt track really, and saw that the only facilities were a shed for a toilet and a bulletin board which said this was Portneuf Lower.  I was surprised to see that there were no permits required and no fees listed.  Score!  The sites were quite large with just a fire pit in a spot cleared in the grass.  It was primitive camping to be sure but I had no problem with that at all.  With only two other sites occupied, I picked a site far from them and was able to let the dogs run for a bit while I set the tent up.  There was a train track running close by but I hadn’t seen a train go by and I figured that the trains wouldn’t run at night.  More on that later.

It was getting dark by the time I had everything set up and took them for a walk to explore a bit.  I was finally a bit hungry so I dipped into my food stores and whipped up some ramen noodles with dehydrated mushrooms. It was such a tasty dinner to shovel down as I stood at the back of my car eating by the light of my headlamp.

We climbed into the tent and almost immediately Leo squeezed into the foot of my sleeping bag.  I was worried that they might be chilled so I tried pulling some of the free blankets over top of them.  Jack immediately shook it off and went to his blanket that he balled up underneath himself.  Piper just expects that she will always be sleeping next to me but she soon slipped out from under the blankets as well and tried to climb onto my sleeping bag which upset Leo and he wriggled out of the bag and to the far side of the tent. They shifted their places a few times during the night but each time I tried to throw a blanket over them, they would have none of it.

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Leo trying to figure out how to get in first.

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Checking out the area.

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Heading back to our site.

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This little pond was just downstream of our site.

Watching for Lights in the Sky

Day 7

Starting mileage:  4361.9

I was woken up a few times during the night when vehicles pulled into the lot but I didn’t hear anyone walking so I’m not sure what they were doing.  When I climbed out of the tent, I noticed that there was a rock dwelling at the opposite end of the lot and got worried that I was trespassing on an attraction or something.  I packed up the tent really quickly.  The van that I had seen was a rental camper van but at first I thought it was part of the attraction because of the wild paint job.  I wasn’t in such a rush that I couldn’t stop to take advantage of the light as the sun rose.  The rock was such a remarkable shade of red it blew my mind.  Again, the photos posted have not been altered.

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The view from my tent.

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Stunning colours

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Cliff Dwellers

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If this doesn’t make you appreciate geology…

I drove back to the restaurant at the Cliff Dwellers Lodge and sat to enjoy breakfast on the patio with the dogs.  The woman working there recommended the corned beef hash for breakfast. It was deliciously simple and surprisingly filling.  The service was a bit slow but it just forced me to relax and not rush into the day.

I’m glad that I had stopped for the night and was able to enjoy the scenery through Arizona.  When I stopped to get gas just outside the road for the north rim of the Grand Canyon, I was tempted to check it out.  I mean how often am I going to be near the Grand Canyon?  The man working at the station was super friendly and told me the road is 45 miles out and back which he said makes it about a 90 minute round trip.  So I decided to make the drive.  Yes it was slightly out of my way but why not?  I started driving down the road but then when I saw a $30 vehicle fee I turned around.  If I’m going to spend that much I want to make a day of it.

We passed through Hurricane Utah and where we, OK I,  stopped for a coffee and found a dog park on the edge of town.  There were two sections to it: one with grass and the other was rocky.  There was a man with a couple of older dogs on the grass side and we chatted for a little bit over the fence.  I’m not going to lie about it: he said a few things that were a tad bit roof-side.  When I told him that we didn’t go to Zion National Park (I’m kicking myself for not allowing more time for the parks) he seemed surprised since I looked like a hiker.  I told him that I do hike and run and he made a comment that I looked good.  Hmmmmmm yes it’s a compliment and all but the way he said it was a bit creepy especially when he followed it up with “too bad you’re not staying longer”.  Maybe I’m just being sensitive.  I mean, it’s not like he groped me or made any lewd gestures or anything. And I try to give compliments to people to counteract the negativity that seems to be rampant in this day and age so maybe he was just doing the same thing.  Who knows.

I continued the drive and then I saw it.  The reason we drove all this way.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I turned off the highway at the east end of Highway 375.  Nevada Highway 375 is also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway and the reason why will become very clear shortly.

We stopped for some quick pics then started down Highway 375.  Until I saw a sign that said there’s no gas for 150 miles.  I looked down at my tank and tried to do some math in my head as I converted kilometres into miles and tried to factor in stops and possible changes in terrain and any delays…I decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of running out of gas with three dogs in the desert so I turned around.  Back at the junction, there was a town closer than Alamo so I headed in that direction.  Turns out it isn’t much of a town so I drove back the way I had come and back into Alamo.  And now, finally, back on the highway.img_7639

As we continued along the highway, Joshua Trees started to appear for the first time.  The farther west we went, the thicker the stands became.  I was tempted to stop but they were so prolific and the lighting wasn’t what I wanted so I figured I would stop later when it was better.  Then all of a sudden, there was nothing.  Damn.

I was looking for something, some clue for what was out in the desert.  For you see, these mountain ranges hide something from prying eyes.  An area know by many names.  Dreamland.  Groom Lake.  But it’s the most famously known as Area 51.  That’s right.  THAT Area 51.

Now I wasn’t expecting anything so obvious as a sign that says “secret military testing facility this way” with a big arrow. But I did know that there was a gate and a black mailbox in the middle of nowhere.  I saw one track that seemed to be more well used that others but I saw a truck booting towards the road at a fairly fast pace.  And when I looked at the tracks, I had some doubts that my car would be able to navigate them.  So no exploration of the desert.

Then we drove into Rachel.  Rachel Nevada is absolutely tiny.  A collection of trailers in the middle of the desert.  I saw a gas station at the edge of town that obviously hadn’t been used for some time.  Then just off the highway is The Little Aleinn, a restaurant and motel which I can only imagine is the only business in miles.

I wasn’t sure about where to stay yet but I knew that I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast so I knew that I could stop for food at least.  I ordered the saucer burger, which is a pretty standard burger but with garlic mayo which totally made the burger.  I was talking with the woman at the counter and asked her if there had been any lights in the sky and with wide eyes she nodded and said yeah there were lots.  OK sold.  I booked a room and took my key before taking the dogs for a walk.

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Hello Rachel.

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I guess there are some crazy drivers passing through.

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Just the four of us.

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Highway 375.

The motel is made up of some trailers and I was staying in the one with the best view of the mountains.  When I walked inside, I realized it’s a shared trailer meaning I had roommates.   It had a shared kitchen and washroom but we each had our own rooms.  We rested for a little while and once night fell, I took the dog’s blankets and the dogs and went outside to the parking lot.

Spreading one blanket out, I tossed the other over my shoulders and the four of us sat together and watched the stars.  I had Piper laying beside me under the blanket with her head in my lap.  Leo on the other side who couldn’t decide if he wanted to be under the blanket or not.  And then Jack wanted to be Jack and sat on the rock that I has sitting against.  Always the guard dog.

One of my housemates came out and I asked him when the lightship started.  He didn’t know since he had never been there before and then went back inside.  A woman came out with her fussy child and we chatted for a long time.  They had spent the past week camping in various parks and had stopped here because her husband was a conspiracy buff even though she didn’t believe in any of the alien stories.  Finally with a sleepy child, she went back inside  leaving the dogs and I alone with the stars again.

 

There were a few times I thought I heard the sound of jets but it could have bee the sound of the odd car on the highway speeding by behind me.  There were a few times I thought I may have seen movement in the sky but nothing that I can say for sure.  Maybe it was all in my head, with the magic of the desert playing games with me.

Do I believe that there is life elsewhere in the universe?  I find it hard to believe that there can’t be.  I mean, every single star you see is a possible sun.  And every sun could have how many planets?  And that’s assuming that we truly understand how the laws of the universe work because when you think about it, we really only understand how it works here and here is such a tiny place.  Do I believe that there are crashed vessels from far-off species that are being reverse-engineered at Area 51?  I think I want to believe because it means that there is so much more to things than this little ball of blue that we call home.

Having said all that, I do believe that this area is being used as a secret facility to develop aircraft.  It has to happen somewhere after all and that is a pretty good place for it.  Whether there’s alien technology is almost irrelevant for that reason.

Finally I went back inside and climbed into bed, not exactly disappointed with the lack of a show.  I mean the woman at the restaurant may always tell people that the lights are crazy all the time or they don’t do test flights on the weekend and it was a Saturday after all. With the three dogs piled onto the double bed, it was a bit of a cramped sleep but I did eventually drift off, listening for the sounds of planes overhead.