Coffee and ghosts

I was up early…well early for me anyway.  It was almost cold compared to the day before and there was the constant threat of rain so the dogs had a really quick pee break outside before I wandered down to the breakfast.  Notes were plastered everywhere that said food couldn’t be taken out of the dining area.  Ugh.  I scanned the offerings and was rather disappointed with the selection.  There wasn’t even a banana or peanut butter for a waffle-wich.  I wasn’t too upset since I had better breakfast plans anyway (insert excited giggling and hopping here).

While I was tempted to stop in Charleston, I decided on a different course and booked a room through Airbnb before we left while I had access to wifi.  It was going to be the first time I stayed at one, though not the first I had ever booked which I will explain later.  I’ve never been a big fan of B & B’s but once I looked at the cost of hotels where I wanted to spend the night, well the choice was a simple one.

The dogs had long since finished their breakfasts by the time I got everything packed up and we were soon back in the car.  But not for long.  I was being pulled towards my destiny.  And in that destiny was a MOTHMAN!!!  If you’re new to this amazing beverage, it’s one of the specialties of The Chocolate Moose in Beckley.  I got HOOKED on them when we passed through earlier this year.  It’s coffee and chocolate and cinnamon and cayenne pepper and whipped cream and O!  M!  G!!!  I’ve been experimenting with making them at home but this…this is just soooooo good.  It must have looked like I was in one of those old coffee commercials once I sat back in the car.  Just picture it: both hands wrapped around the cup, that happy little smile with eyes closed as I took that first tiny little sip.  And the whole wheat berry muffin was really good too.  But really it was just filler.  The mothman was the main star.

We didn’t do too many walks since Piper and Jack were both a little sore from all the hiking the day before.  We stopped at a few rest areas to stretch out before we were back in the car.  That’s not to say that there weren’t plenty of photo ops and of course they met with their legions of adoring fans.  I am always surprised at how many people had boxers or pugs and how many think Leo is a Frenchie (he’s a Boston Terrier by the way).

It was a little after 5:00 pm by the time we rolled into our Airbnb in the Rincon area at the top end of Savannah, Georgia.  I met with one of our hosts, unloaded some of the gear, and drove downtown.

We wandered a bit to kill some time and stopped at Zunzi’s for a sandwich.  They have a massive patio and not only are the dogs allowed on the patio, when I went to the walk-up order bar, they were actually allowed inside just as long as they stayed on my side of the counter.  Wow.  But that’s not all.  They got a container of chicken for themselves and I got some of their rooiboos iced tea on the house.  Wow wow wow.  I ordered the conquistador sandwich which is their roasted chicken on on bun with sauce and lettuce (hold the tomatoes please).  When I took my stack of containers to the patio, I had one woman sit down with me so she could feed the dogs and another gave me a half of her sandwich that she was going to throw out to feed to the dogs.  All the attention was a little overwhelming.  Finally they left and I was able to eat my sandwich.  It was good but the food was far overshadowed by the customer service.

Then we went to Chippewa Square.  We were going to do another ghost tour.  I mean the one in Charleston was so much fun, and Savannah is supposed to be the most haunted city in the United States so we HAD to go on a tour.  I didn’t sign up before we left so I just went to the square as per the website for 9:00 and waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  I left after some other people that were looking for their tour group but it turned out they were with another tour operator.  On a hunch, I went back to where I had been and saw a bunch more people waiting so I guess what was on the site was off by a bit.  I also noticed they were carrying cups.  Hmmmmm I didn’t know this before but Savannah lets you carry drinks in plastic containers.  That may have had something to do with all the drunken shenanigans I heard going on.  There’s nothing quite like that alcohol-fuelled squeal echoing off building walls.  There were also these bizarre contraptions that were being driven around.  The only way to describe them is as a covered bar with people seated around it and they pedal it.  It’s like those long tandem bikes but around a table with a cover.  And even those drunkards would yell “puppies” when they saw the dogs.  Ugh.

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Waiting for the tour.

Unlike most cities I have been to, Savannah has squares all over the place.  It seems like there’s a different square complete with statues or monuments every few blocks.  They are pretty but if you’re used to only having to navigate by one or two, it can throw you off.   It has a very different feel from Charleston; a grittier, partier version.

The tour guides from Blue Orb Tours showed up and had no problems with letting me tag along.  Because it was such a large group, their were two guides and I went with Adam.  First, he was a great guide and had lots of interesting stories and was a very good speaker.  His style was dramatic but also with a good bit of sarcastic humour.  At some stops, he would show a tablet with photos or video or audio.  Whether you believe or think it’s just the power of suggestion, I would definitely recommend taking the tour, if only for the juicy stories from the past.

On one stop at a square, Adam told us how they used to talk in front of a staircase to the house across the street but there were times when women, always women, described getting “groped” and said they would wait if anyone wanted check it out.  There were nervous looks around the group and a lot of feet shuffling.  Aw heck so I took up the leashes and we walked across the street where we were joined by almost every woman in the group.  We waited but no one got groped.  Or no one admitted to getting groped any way.

The dogs were amazing for the entire tour.  At every stop, they would flop down and wait patiently until we headed out.  They had so many compliments about how well-behaved they were I could not have been prouder.  They still got lots of attention on the tour and I think some people that were really uneasy would sit by them to either ground themselves or to be distracted.

Did we see anything?  Not really.  There were a few places where I had bit of tightening in my chest but I just chalk that up to the stories that say there’s something going on.  The last stop on the tour was at the Sorrel Weed House which is supposed to be the most active house in the United States.  One window on the second floor was open and a ceiling fan inside was turning very slowly.  Then it would stop and turn again.  I was taking photos and noticed that sometimes the fan was spinning very quickly.  The logical part of my brain said that since the window was open, the fan was spinning because of warm air rising from the hot concrete.  The not so logical part of my brain…well that was coming up with all kinds of other stories.  The dogs hardly reacted to anything so they are either really lousy ghost hunters or nothing was there to hunt.

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Love the Spanish moss. Oh and the super haunted square.

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Lonely streets

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See that open window on the top left? That’s the one with the fan…

After such a busy day, it was all we could do to get to our place for the night.  I was so tired I just fell into bed and passed right out.

A Trip Long Time Coming

I have a tendency for ambitious trips.  But one trip has been on my mind for quite some time.  Over a decade in fact.  It seemed as though I could never do it, never get the time off, never afford it.  Then finally, I made it happen.  It’s actually a three-part trip: getting there, the trip, and getting home.  I’ll tell you what the actual trip is soon but first it’s time to hit the road!

I had actually packed most of my things a week before we left.  It’s not that I was super excited to go, but I also knew that I would be working long hours to get as much at work taken care of as I could.  And I was super excited to go.  Even though I only had to pack the car, at 5:00 am it still took longer than I thought it should.  Still, we were on the road by 5:45 am.  Standard Road Trip Rules apply and the road trip bottle is Baron Samedi spiced rum.

Everything was going swimmingly and even the bunch up around the city was nothing to worry about.  Not a worry.  No issues.  Then the Buffalo border.  Crap.  OK.  Get the papers out, passport in hand, music down, sunglasses off, both hoping and dreading it would be some cutie of a border guard.  Roll up to the window and…nope.  The streak was finally broken.  I don’t know if they’ve recently changed the question protocol because the questions I was asked are not the ones I am used to.  Weird ones like “Where are you staying?” and “Who are you meeting?” and, this was a kicker “Do you work?”.  Not the usual “What do you do?” but “Do you have a job in Canada?”.  And she didn’t even want to see the dog’s paperwork.  No worries, we were soon across the border and driving south.

It had been raining for days in Canada and the rain continued with us.  It was a blessing in disguise since I would have been more tempted to stop and enjoy some hikes and in the process get us waaaaaaaay behind schedule.  As usual.  But since my little darlings are made of sugar and would melt in the rain, we pushed on through.  Until I saw a sign for Premium Coffee Roasters.  Score.  And they do their own roasting.  Double score.  I popped out and after wandering around the little gift shop, I pour myself a cup and am promptly waved away.  “It’s Friday it’s free.”  I stood like a deer in the headlights.  She repeated herself and walked away from the counter.  A-freaking-mazing.  It wasn’t a great cup but it was a damn fine way to start the trip.

We continued on. For the most part the rain was fairly light but it did get heavy the odd time.  Finally, I saw a sign for Erie State Park and, taking advantage of a break in the rain, we stopped for a short walk.  The wind blowing off the lake and the damp air was the kind of combo that makes the wind blow right through you and soon we were back at the car.   Perfect timing too because it started to pour again.bridge.jpg

I was getting hungry when we stopped in Meadville, Pennsylvannia.  I saw Al’s Melons Farm Market and hoped to get a sandwich or snack of some kind.  Unfortunately the deli section is in another town but I could get a cup of meat if I wanted.  A what now?  It’s a cup with the end pieces of their cheese and meats.  Well don’t mind if I do.  Oh and some pickles and blue popcorn.  I was soon popping hunks of meat and cheese back as we drove back onto the highway. The dogs may have had little pieces too.  Who are we kidding?  Of course they had samples.

With a tummy full of goodness, soon the sleepies hit and we ducked off in Washington, Pennsylvannia where we found a real treat:  The Shoppes at Quail Acres.  There was something for all of us: Fortuitea where I got a nice cup of americano and a sticky bun and Dogs Rule, a grooming salon AND gourmet dog treat shop where the dogs got to pick from bins of cookies. It was so warm outside and there was a small paddock for them to stretch their legs.  In reality, there wasn’t much leg stretching.  There was some wandering and some sniffing and Leo rolled and that was about it.  OK back in the car.

We were in West Virginia when I saw signs for some hiking trails along the Gauley River and Summerville Dam so naturally we stopped.  I love the sight of misty rivers so we spent quite a bit of time hiking along the bank.  We actually found a pool on the side of the river that almost looked like it had been created.  Seriously, people spend good money for these types of things and here it was au naturel.  The dogs of course had a blast running through the trees and splashing in the river.  I cringed with each splash and the thought of all the wet dog in the car but really how could I be anything but happy to watch them having fun.

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Not quite sure what has their attention.

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Piper smells something interesting.

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Love the mist.

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Jump on in, the water’s warm.

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Double trouble.

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Another album cover.

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Looking majestic.

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The rain was starting to fall again so we continued on.  We stopped in Beckley, West Virginia for a few reasons.  First, I was getting tired.  Second, I was getting hungry.  And third: MOTHMAN in the morning!!!!!  Wahoo.

We checked into the Days Inn which was the nicest Days Inn I think I have ever stayed at, and headed out in search of food.  My first thought was to go to Campestre for some Mexican food but then I thought “I’ve already had that so I should try something different.”  Well it turned out that everything else was closed except for the chain restaurants so Campestre it was.

I was shocked when I saw how packed the lot was until I remembered it was cinco de mayo.  Nice coincidence.  I stood there and was ignored by several staff members.  I mean, some of them actually turned and looked right at me then turned away.  I thought that holding a menu might help but nope.  I get that you’re busy but at least a “Hang on” or “Be right with you” would have been nice.  Finally one man asked if I wanted anything.  Why yes I did and I ordered the tapatio, which I had enjoyed so much on my last trip.  Now my complete lack of language ability was front and centre because I ordered the ta-patio.  His look said “gringa” as he repeat ta-pa-tee-yo.  It seemed as though the food was done in less time than it took to order it which is good because I was starting to get hangry.

Back in the room and I CRUSHED that meal.  It was as good as I remember: the fresh tortilla chips with ranch dressing and salsa, warm tortillas, steak, chicken, beans, cheese, sauteed onions and mushrooms.  I mean it was demolished in short order as I cracked into the road trip bottle and watched some homesteader show before we dropped into a very deep sleep.

 

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

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