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

Just one more week and we’ll be on our way home. I have mixed emotions. On one paw there’s the freedom of life on the road, on the other the comfort and familiarity of home. Then on the third paw, there are the new places to see and smell every week or two. And, on the fourth, the little farm we all love.

But, no matter what my paws say, we are headed in a northerly direction. Although, earlier this week we did turn around and start heading south again, and backtracking is not normal touring behaviour for T & Nollind. We were in southern Utah until Tuesday when they decided to come back here to Nevada, something about chasing the weather. For Canadians, they can be a bit delicate after a few months in the desert and the forecast of cool temperatures and rain sent them running. It’s okay with me, though, I share their love of warm weather.03-Chico-top10-napping-1

It’s been a good trip for me, once I got past the broken toenail and having to wear a sock on that foot for protection. What were the best parts, you ask? (I didn’t actually hear you say the words but I know you were thinking them.) Well, in the style of David Letterman, here’s my 2016/17 top 10 list:

  1. Campfire time in my chair. We have campfires at home, but not nearly as often as in the desert, and because my chair is usually tucked inside one trailer or another, I have to lie on the grass. Down here, my chair is part of the outdoor furniture, and the Mexican blanket that keeps me from falling through the arms makes a perfect wrap on a cool evening.03-Chico-top10-chair4-1
  2. Snacks. T and Nollind are always pretty fair about sharing their snacks, but in a house the size of Sid I never miss a snack opportunity. In the sticks and bricks house, I might be in another room, on another floor, or even outside when snacking happens. In addition to what’s offered by my peeps, I am an expert at finding food everywhere we go. Fire pits are a particularly great food-finding location, only second to picnic tables.03-Chico-top10-snacks-1
  3. So many walks! Every day since December 1 there have been walks—short, long, hilly, flat, rocky, sandy, paved, morning, midday, evening, you name it. Once a day, twice a day, or sometimes even three times, we’ve been out exploring our desert surroundings.03-Chico-top10-walk2-1
  4. T & Nollind time. When you live in 300 square feet and your yard is a 10×20 mat, you just naturally spend a lot of time together.03-Chico-top10-nap-time-1
  5. Riding shotgun in Fang. I was hoping to be included in more of the actual trail riding, but between a need to keep Logan company and T’s concern for my comfort when out riding, my time in Fang has been limited to campsite scouting and other short trips. Maybe next year?02-chico-busy-in-fang-1
  6. Yoga with T. I don’t do all of the poses (especially not headstand), but I am particularly good at downward dog and corpse pose.03-Chico-top10-yoga2-1
  7. The new watering hole in the truck. Thank you to whoever invented this clever, non-spill bowl. It means that Logan and I can have a drink whenever we want while on the road.03-Chico-top10-watering-hole-1
  8. 03-Chico-top10-stairs2-1Steps onto the bed. This addition was more for Logan’s benefit than mine but I am loving it. Even though I’m only eight and not at the stage where I need senior dog props, I’ve never been much of a jumper.
  9. The new layout in the back seat of the truck. Until this year we had a backseat and floor because Logan liked to hide on the floor in front of the seat. But, since he normally likes to sit up and look out the window or walk around these days, T & Nollind turned the back seat into one big, flat area with a bed on each end. It means I have a spot to curl up leaving the rest of the space for Logan and his pacing.
  10. Meeting old and new friends, human and canine. From camping with old friends to meeting new ones, it was a great year for making connections. And everywhere we stayed, Logan and I made at least one new doggie friend.03-Chico-top10-trixie-1

I could easily turn this into a top 20 list but I’ll wrap it up here. Be talking to you next time from our little house on the prairie!03-Chico-top10-lookout-1





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.