A Short Trip to Somewhere

I found myself with some time off and the first hint of a gorgeous day a few days ago so I figured “Let’s go somewhere.”  With my newly acquired Parks Canada Discovery Pass burning a hole in my pocket (OK it was pinned to my cork board but that doesn’t sound as good) it was an easy decision to make.  And as there are only five national parks in Ontario and a very limited amount of time, it was narrowed down to Georgian Bay Islands National Park.  So I loaded the dogs in the car, punched in the park name, and followed the directions from my pushy telephone.

I wasn’t really paying attention as I blindly followed the voice in the phone.  I was somewhat familiar with the route since we were headed towards Midland and as we continued north, I saw some ominous clouds ahead of us that had me worried we might have to cancel our trip.  But after a few turns, I was back facing the sunshine.

I turned down the last road and eagerly fixed my pass to the rearview mirror as I drove towards where I thought must be the gate.  Nope…no gate.  An administration building with a ton of vehicles but no gate.  Weird.  I brought the dogs out of the car and headed towards the first thing that looked like a trail.  There were no markings, no maps, but oh wait: there’s a sign that indicates the park border.  OK so at least I’m on national lands.

We went traipsing along the narrow but well-trodden trail.  I stopped at the edge of a river to let the dogs have a drink and of course they can’t just drink from the shore.  Oh no.  They have to wade in chest deep and drink that way.  All of them.  Great.  Wet dogs.  In fact, Piper wanted to go for a full-on swim and kept trying to wade deeper.  Leo dropped into the dirt as soon as he got out of the water and I cringed with every wiggle that sent more dirt into his drenched coat.  Jack, well Jack’s got that thick pug coat that holds water like a sponge so I had the pleasure of repeated shakes.  After they had sorted themselves out, back on the trail we went.

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The river.

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Can’t you just drink from the shore like normal dogs?

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Oh not you too Leo.

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Piper decided to strike a pose by herself.

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I’m always getting butt shots.

Then we exited onto a paved path.  I turned to look behind me, thinking that I had missed more trail as I was enjoying the sun.  Noooooooooo there was nothing else.  Huh a ten minute walk and I find myself on a paved trail behind some houses.  I knew that there were some small parks but this was a bit much; or not.  Oh well, we continued on.  There was a placard for the Trans-Canada Trail so obviously we had somewhere to go.  It was a nice view out over the water and we walked by some really creepy structure that I think was part of the shipping industry from a bygone era.  All I can say is that I would not have been surprised to see a clown peeking out a window, especially since I had just seen the preview for the movie “It”.

Everyone was super friendly and if I didn’t immediately acknowledge someone, like when I was stooping and scooping, they made sure to say “Hi” as they went past.  There’s no better way to meet people than when you’re trying to tie a bag full of poop.

The paved path quickly heated up and the dogs stopped pulling to sniff everything which is the universal signal for “I wanna go back”.  So we turned around and went back through the park.  Thinking the park had to be bigger, we took a few more trails but we still made it back to the parking lot in zero time.  I felt a little silly for having brought my big camera pack complete with tripod and hiking poles.  Bit of overkill with that.  So I left the big pack behind and brought only my camera as we wandered around a picnic area next to the parking lot.  There were some old stone foundations and I just could not resist stopping for a few pics.  Of course it would have been nice if I had brought my tripod for a group selfie but a wadded up jacket and nearby piece of stone will do almost as good a job.  Having said that, there are plenty for a blooper reel.IMG_0839

Feeling a tad bit peckish, we drove into Midland proper.  I had only been to Midland once before for last year’s Butter Tart Festival so I wanted to stroll the town without being run over.  It’s a very pretty little town with an outstanding coffee shop called “Grounded Coffee Co.”  I ordered my usual americano with a splash of cream and bit of sugar and got a blueberry scone because…well I wanted one.  I sat at the table outside the cafe on the sidewalk and entertained passersby as I shared itty bitty bites of scone with the dogs.  Some people would stop and get some dog lovin’.  There was one gentleman who slowly walked by with a cane and appeared as though he had had a stroke or something similar and the dogs were just so gentle, it made me so proud of them.  Especially Piper since she is a master of the full-body lean.

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You look like you need help with that.

After I had refuelled, we continued to walk to the shore where there is a nice waterfront area.  And then, I saw it.  Always looking for landmarks to pose the dogs I could not pass up the opportunity to get them in front of a giant metal goose.  Nor could I miss the seagull sitting on the head of the goose.  How cool.  Although I was distracted (and maybe a little over caffeinated) when I saw a man sitting by the lake with a red toque and red and white sweater.  Holy crap I found Waldo!!!!  It must have been quite a sight for the people sitting in their cars (I don’t know why) as I tried to pose the dogs, get a photo of the seagull, and covertly get a photo of Waldo.  I managed to get two of the three.  By this point, the dogs were bored of my shenanigans and soon sprawled out on the lawn while I snapped happily away.

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A seagull on a goose’s head! How awesome.

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The dogs are decidedly unimpressed.

Once I was done with photos, and Waldo had left, we sat on the end of one of the piers just to enjoy the sunshine and each others company.  After a bit, we walked back to the car, stopping for one more picture next to a boat.  Dark clouds were hanging low over the water and the wind was starting to blow so we hustled the rest of the way.

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Leo’s trying to figure out how to get the water far below. Piper doesn’t care.

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Jack is content to just chill.

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“Oh come on. Another pic?!”

I was giving the dogs some water before loading them in the car when I heard the first rumble of thunder.  I looked up and saw that the sky had gone from dark clouds to having a green tinge to it.  Uh oh.  When ever there are green skies you know there’s a real storm brewing and no sooner had I started the car, then the first drops fell.  Soon the rain was pouring down and my poor little car was getting pelted by hail and the wind blew us side to side.  Fortunately, the worst of it ended quickly and most of the drive was uneventful if too rainy for any side trips.

Oh and the park that I was in?  It wasn’t Georgian Bay Islands Park.  I’m not quite sure where I was.  I’m thinking it’s just a small chunk of land for their administration office and where they park their cars.  So it looks like we’re going to have to go back.  Only maybe this time with no hail.  But I’m not saying I won’t look for Waldo again.

 

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.