Camping with Humans

It seems an odd thing humans do. They leave behind a perfectly good house with food and beds and a fully functioning bathroom to go and stay in a much smaller, less comfortable accommodation with more limited amenities. They call it camping.


Just a short stroll from our campsite, where Boulton Creek meets Lower Kananaskis Lake.


When travelling you have to stay somewhere so I get it when we spend weeks far from home and stay in Sid, the trailer.  But when we “camp”, we’re only two hours from home. We could enjoy a day in the mountains and still sleep in our own beds. However, last weekend, there we were, camping.


Inspecting the roof of “Piper“, G & S’s new home away from home (or maybe just standing on a picnic table and drinking?)


Did I enjoy it? Well, sure, after I got through the unfortunate incident on the way out. I’m not usually a car-sick kind of guy but the combination of happy traveller drugs, Orijen kibble, and a bite of Teresa’s muffin just did not want to stay down. I tried to warn them, but it seems my “I’m going to vomit” retching sounds a lot like my “I have a heart murmur” retching.

But anyway, aside from camping not entirely making sense, what’s not to like about being outdoors all day and going for walks in new places. These are things I can wrap my canine head around. And, due to my senior status, my inclination to behave (in human terms), and an abhorrence for being tied, I was left free in the campsite whenever I was outdoors. Chico, on the other hand, with his inclination to run out to meet anyone and everyone walking by, chase squirrels, and indulge in other such shenanigans, was always attached to the picnic table with a cable. Maybe one day, I told him, trying not to sound too smug.


Chico was freed from the cable when he stayed in his chair.


We camped at a place called Lower Lake Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park which is part of Kananaskis Country in the Rocky Mountains. Here I discovered the marvels of a pine forest and the enormous dog bed it creates. The prairie grass is nice but doesn’t have the pillow-top mattress feel of a forest floor with its many layers of detritus. Heaven. I used my manmade bed under the trailer at first but, once I discovered the giant mountain-made dog bed all around me, there was no going back. If only I could have brought some of it home to line my nests.


Enjoying my pillow-top mattress.


So what does weekend camping entail? Well, when camping with friends G and S, a lot of human laughter, particularly when wearing Viking attire. Viking attire, you’re probably asking? And rightly so. It had something to do with a Monty Python skit and a Spam appetizer (spametizer) cooking contest. Humans entertain themselves in the strangest fashions. They were particularly tickled by Chico’s costume. (He … not so much.) On the plus side, despite Spam being the butt of many jokes and lending its name to unwanted email, we dogs found it quite tasty and were treated to leftovers for breakfast on Saturday morning.


Chico in his Viking attire (me exiting right, heading under the trailer to hide).


Other camping activities included campfire sitting or, in my case, lying nearby in the trees, and walking, my personal favourite. On Saturday we walked to the Boulton Creek Trading Post and had ice cream. Lucky for me, ours came packed solidly into the bottom of a cup so Chico wasn’t able to pull the Hoover trick he can manage with a Dairy Queen cone.

On Sunday we took a longer walk, to a neighbouring campsite called Mount Sarrail. The best parts of this trail were the snowbanks spaced at convenient time-to-cool-off intervals and an area where the resident grizzly bears had been rooting along the trail. I’d never smelled bears before. There was no sign of the bears on Sunday, but G and S had spotted them by the lake early on Saturday morning.


Heading back to camp on Saturday afternoon.

For us, it was a short Sid trip, maybe the shortest yet. I would have been quite happy to stay a few more days, lying in the shade of the pines, breathing in that cool, mountain air. And I think the humans would have been on board with that idea had they not needed to get back to their jobs and such. On parting, at the sani-dump station on Sunday afternoon, I heard the comment, “The season’s young. We’ll do it again.” I guess I’m a camping convert because, I sure hope so.


End of the day in Kananaskis Country.





My Top 10 List – Home

There’s something about being away from a place that makes you notice all the things you love about it when you first return. At least that’s what happens to me every time we come home from our winter travels in the desert. It’s like I arrive in this wondrous place that’s been awaiting my return, placed on hold just for me.


As T says, “Home is where the horse is.”

In my last post, Home on the Range, I mentioned it might be time for another top ten list. What are my ten favourite things about home?

  1. Freedom! We rolled into the farmyard, Nollind opened the truck door, and we were off and running. Running! And when T or Nollind is out doing chores around the place, riding a horse, or just sitting on the deck, I’m out there at liberty, roaming around the property. As long as I don’t head across the road or disappear from sight for too long, I’m free to do as I please.


    A run in the hay field.

  2. Gophers to chase. I love to chase gophers (ground squirrels) and there are plenty of them out here on the prairie. It is possibly my favourite activity, and as I’ve grown older and wiser, I catch them more often. A couple of summers ago I realized that if I was patient and stealthy, rather than charging after them from a distance, my hunting was much more successful.


    I know I posted a similar photo to this last time, but … 🙂

  3. Beds in every room. Not sure which is my favourite, but here at home I have at least one bed in every room in the house (except the kitchen and bathroom), as well as some human surfaces that make great napping locations (like T and Nollind’s bed).


    Hanging with T while she catches up on the company books.

  4. Food. I get food everywhere we go but it still makes my Top Ten.


    Cleaning the wrapper from some blue cheese. Yum.

  5. Canal walks. We walk a lot in the desert, and it’s great, but it is such a treat to have a place to cool off and get a drink as we wander along. We don’t always walk near the canal when we’re home, but it’s our go-to route in warm weather.


    Canal time.

  6. Horses and the treats they leave behind. T noticed me on the Misty Creek Dog Rescue website six years ago because I reminded her of Nevada, so I am forever grateful to the big spotted guy. I like the rest of the horses too and, although it may sound disgusting to you, horse manure makes a great fibre-filled dog snack. It’s full of enzymes and partially digested proteins. Hoof trimmings also make tasty treats, although foraging for snacks while the trimming is still underway can be risky.


    Me and “Spot” (aka Nevada).

  7. Movie/TV Nights. Here at home, there is one couch for all three of us to share on movie nights. Sigh …04-Chico-range-movienight-1
  8. Visitors. We get regular visitors out here on the farm: friends from the city, neighbours, family, boarders. Judy, who boards her horse Gidget with us, comes to visit every two or three days and always has a treat for me in her bag or her car. I love Judy. Michelle, another horse boarder, brought her puppy Zulu out a couple of weeks ago. I’m not entirely comfortable with cuter-than-me dogs around to hoard the attention, and people seem to think puppies are adorable, but he was okay for a puppy … and he’ll grow out of it. Then there’s friend Darren who comes to work on his boat and brings Roxie along for some gopher-chasing time. If I could just convince Roxie that she can’t dig them out of the ground maybe she’d get more off-leash time.


    Playtime with Zulu.

  9. Grass. I love to roll in the grass, do it multiple times a day when I can. It’s the canine version of a morning shower.04-Chico-top10-rolling2-1
  10. Trips to town. At this time of year, with the days still cool, I often get to go along on excursions into town. When Logan went to the vet last week, T and I went to the coffee shop, and then for a leisurely stroll around the lake in Strathmore’s downtown Kinsmen Park.


    Sniffing around Kinsmen Park.

And then there’s just that indescribable feeling of being … home. 

Cool Clear Water

Cue the theme music!

As you’ll know if you’ve read my blog posts, I love the desert, never get tired of it. I love to lie in the sun, hate being cold, and there are so many great places to hike and explore down here. But, there is normally one thing missing from this near-paradise—water. And when there is water, it’s in a swimming pool—aka, no dogs.

At home on the prairie, my favourite place to go for walks is along the irrigation canal. Get a little too warm, go in for a dip. I’ll let the current carry me along until I’m feeling refreshed before I go back on shore to continue the walk. On the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains where we regularly go camping with the horses, nearly every trail has a creek or river running through it.


Home along the canal

Desert, by its nature, is dry. I get that. So I have little expectation of cool streams and mountain waterfalls when we’re south for the winter. I enjoy the desert for its own unique awesomeness. But, when you add water to a desert environment, man, is it paradise.


Wetting our toes at Lake Havasu.

While we were camped at Craggy Wash, we got our first taste of water at nearby Lake Havasu. We had a terrific walk at a cove near the north end of the lake that included a swim and a drink at the beginning and end of the walk. I was happy.


Top of the Lake Havasu hike.

When we moved camp to Lake Havasu State Park for the bluegrass festival and I found out we were going to be a short walk from the water, I was ecstatic. Granted, we spent some time in the trailer those three days since we weren’t permitted in the concert area, but we also had three walks a day that included a swimming option on almost every outing. I wasn’t sure about the waves on the windy day, but wading in up to my belly was such a treat at the end of a walk along the shore trail.


Our swimming hole was back near the boat launch

And that wasn’t the only treat at Lake Havasu State Park. People! … and lots of them, including T and Nollind’s friends from home, Chris and Sheila. They parked their trailer right next to us, making a cozy island in a sea of motorhomes and trailers. In the evenings it was perfect for visiting around the fire and making music. I’m always happy to share our camp with friends, especially friends who like dogs and are willing to include us in the festivities.


Taking an afternoon break from the festival stage


Chris & Sheila before they headed out on Sunday morning.

I was sad to leave on Monday. I was going to miss the people and the water. Or, not so much as it turned out. We left Lake Havasu but gained Lake Mohave. Here at Telephone Cove, Sid is parked right on the water and the cool breeze blows off the lake all through the hot part of the day. And we’ve made new friends who are camped on each side of us; some fellow Canadians, some Californians, and even a dog named Trixie.


Telephone Cove – our camp is hidden by the tall clump of trees halfway down the beach. 

It’s a little piece of doggie paradise I’d have to say (Logan won’t even come inside!), and T & Nollind seem pretty taken with it too. We were supposed to be leaving today, that was the plan, but I don’t see any signs of packing. Looks like I’ve got a few more swims in my future.


Evening walk at Telephone Cove.