You Took Who on Vacation? (Or How To Travel With Your Pet)
Loaded up and ready to go
The decision to travel
With the summer here and the kids busy with their own lives the decision about what to do for vacation comes up. Husband tells me to pick any place I would like to go ALONE. Why alone I ask. Husband says that with the new employees in our store he doesn't feel comfortable leaving them alone. But I should go ahead, have a good time, relax. Now I have to let you know that I am no wilting flower, I have travelled alone before. In fact I do most of my travelling alone, so this time I was looking forward to travelling with my family. I ask my mother, she can't go, just came back from the Keys. My sister can't go. Best Friend can't go. Wait? Best friend. Let's think about that one. I have a human best friend and I have a fuzzy best friend. And if I say he can go then he can go, right? I am the human in this relationship. So I asked Ivan where he wanted to go and told him to get packed. Fortunately he packs light.
Where to go?
With so many choices I had a hard time deciding where to go. I asked a few people and they had some good ideas (Australia, New Zealand) but with the decision to travel with Ivan I felt perhaps I shouldn't travel internationally. I hit the net. Sooooooooo many options. How to narrow them. And the answer was actually very simple. I clicked accepts pets to narrow my search results. What a great tool! (palm to the forehead) And since I was staying a week I searched sites like airbnb to find somewhere I could cook a few meals and truly be comfortable. A few scrolls and a few clicks later I found a beautiful little apartment in Nevada near Lake Tahoe that accepted pets and was in my price range! My sister was jealous at this point, all she had to say was "That dog gets a better vacation than me!"
The journey begins
I had a destination, a reservation and a travel companion.How to get there? Should we fly and rent a car once there? Oooo, a train? None of those options are truly pet friendly. But Carson City is more than 2,600 miles from my house, 39 hours of driving if I don't stop. Ugh. What if I break up the trip? I have family in Kentucky, I could stop there for a few days, reconnect with my family. Leisurely make my way to Nevada from there. Travel through states I had never visited. States that don't serve sweet tea in restaurants even. With the help of googlemaps I mapped out my trip. I thought it was pretty pet friendly too. And in an ideal world it was. It's those little things that you never consider isn't it?
Things I learned along the way
Ivan and I set out on our journey around noonish (I'm on vacation and not by nature an early riser) with the top down in the car. Ivan is comfy on his blue pillow so he can see out the window. As we hit the interstate I discover several things. It's noon in Florida in July. I mean I knew that already, what I didn't take into consideration was the sun beating down on my fair skin. I figured I wouldn't be hot with the wind blowing through my hair but the sunburn already developing on my neck, ears and shoulders is not comfortable at all. Also, hair whipping your face while hurtling down the interstate at 75 miles an hour hurts! A glance over at Ivan and I realize he has a similar problem with his ears, ha, they are flapping like a flag during a hurricane. So we exit before even leaving the city, put the top up, get some snacks, we had just been through a traumatic experience, crank the a/c up and get back on the road.
We make it through the next state without incident, and even the next state. But we need to turn in the third state, and I miss the exit while banging my head along to Bohemian Rhapsody. Crap! No problem, we'll take the next exit, we need a potty break anyway, gas up and get back on track. And 50 miles later that's what we did, sigh. Deep breaths, I'm on vacation, no stress, no worries. This is where I learned my next two lessons. Just because there is a sign that says Starbucks at the next exit doesn't mean it's right at the exit. 6 miles off the interstate is a little much. There should be a disclaimer under the sign "We are there but you need to really really want it to drive there". We perservered and went the distance. I parked and took Ivan out to stretch his little legs and so he could "do his business". Then I hit the facilities and ordered a latte and a blueberry muffin. Those snacks from earlier? Long gone. Grab a bottle of water for Ivan and we are set. Back at the car I realized that I am a genius. Ivan can't drink from a bottle, he prefers the bowl method as most dogs do, which is packed away somewhere in the nether regions of my trunk. DOH! I felt like an idiot holding my dogs head back and trying to pour fresh water into his mouth. I didn't look up to see who snickered, obviously they were one of those dog people who have a a portable bowl and potty bags clipped to their belts. And at this point I don't think he cared, he was just happy to wet his whistle.
The rest of the trip to Kentucky was pretty incident free. Stops at rest areas, park somewhere between the doggy area and the facilities under a tree. I'm starting to get good at this.
Our journey continues
It took us 4 days to recover from our first leg of our trip. I was tempted to stay another day but realized I would just be making the upcoming travels more difficult and I didn't want to push it. I did repack the car, water bowl in the front seat, top up on the interstate, happy driver, happy dog. The first day was uneventful and we made good time. I had researched dog friendly hotels. There are many fine websites but I prefer BringFido.com, they not only list pet friendly accomodations but restaurants, attractions and tips. (Too bad they didn't mention making sure the dog bowl isn't packed in the trunk.) I didn't make any reservations because I didn't want to limit myself. What if I didn't want to stop in Podunkville, what if I felt I could make it to Metro City? I was a girl with a dog and no plan. I decide to stop for the night in Lincoln, Nebraska. This was luck on my part because only in Nebraska can you find Runza. For those who have never had a Runza with cheese I suggest you pack up the family and proceed immediately to Nebraska to taste this ambrosia. And there just happens to be a Runza next to my pet friendly hotel! Concidence? I think not. More like devine intervention. I grab a few in the drive through and check into the hotel. Like the good Alpha Mom I am I make sure Ivan has pottied, been fed and has plenty of water in his bowl, no more bottles for this guy. And then I begin my feast. I'm so into my soft bun full of gooey cheese and spiced meat that it takes a few minutes for me to notice that Ivan is not so into his dinner. Instead he is at my feet with those huge eyes only seen on dogs in cartoons. The one's that melt your heart. After a suggestive glance at my second Runza and what could only be interpreted as a doggy smile I knew what I had to do.
2 days and 1 night left
We slept the sleep only weary travellers know that night with our bellies and our hearts full. I ran down to the lobby for some breakfast and much needed coffee. I manage to carry 2 plates of scrambled eggs (1 for me, 1 for Ivan), some bagels and a large cup of coffee up to the room. Feeling clean and refreshed we began day 2 of our trip to Nevada. I won't give you a play by play, I will just list a few things I learned:
- Beware of snakes in Wyoming rest stops
- Even a dog can look scared driving the twists and turns in Utah's mountains
- People in Salt Lake City are crazyy (it's expensive and that Dead Lake smells)
- Every dog has his limit ~ Ivan refused to get in the car for the last day, slipped his collar and made a bee line for the hotel entrance
- Gas up before driving through the desert and make any phone calls before hand. There is no cell reception and you need to make sure someone has a general idea where you are in case you go crazy from the mootonous scenery and scorching heat
- Pavement is hot on little doggy feet, invest in some dog boots
We arrived in Carson City late in the afternoon. At this point I began to wonder if I wasn't the cruelest doggy Momma in the world. Ivan was stressed, he was drooling all over the console of the car, fur everywhere, I had to physically lift him into the car after each stop. Being greeted by our landlords for the week with their children and two dogs did wonders for Ivan's morale. There was a yard to run in, doggies to sniff, children to lick. What more could he ask for? Well maybe just one more thing, a comfy rug in front of the television and he was a happy camper.
Travelling with my best fuzzy friend was a learning experience, but one I do not regret. He is an excellent companion, doesn't make many demands, never asks if we are there yet, and never complains about my choice of restaurant or music.
Now to get home, but that's another story.