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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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End of the day in Kananaskis Country.

 

 

 

 

Home on the Range

We’re home! Got here last Sunday after what seemed like weeks on the road. I’m usually a pretty keen traveller but even I didn’t want to get back in the truck the last couple of mornings. It wasn’t really weeks long, just five days with one day of rest in the middle at Salt Lake City. We just didn’t have any of our signature long stops toward the end of the trip and I think we were all getting tired of moving camp.

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Jordan River Parkway near the Salt Lake City KOA.

Logan told you we were going to spend two days in Salt Lake City but it ended up being just one…and a half. With our campsite at the KOA backing onto the Jordan River pathway which led to an off-leash park, I would have been happy to stay for a week. However, on Fur-iday afternoon we set out for Idaho Falls, just a few hours up the road. It was an easy drive but a tough night. We parked at a Walmart and it was the noisiest place we’ve ever camped, and we’ve camped at Walmarts and truck stops before. Even with the little orange things stuffed in her ears, I don’t think T got much sleep that night.

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Jordan River Parkway off-leash and a flying dog!

Early Saturday, groggy from lack of sleep, we were on the road again, through the Rockies, to Great Falls for a shopping stop. There’s a store called North 40 where T likes to shop for the horses on her way home. This year it was temporary posts for the electric fence and dewormer. I think they may have preferred a bag of those apple wafers, but she knows them better than I do.

Less than an hour north of Great Falls we stopped for the night at the Teton River rest area. Terrific spot, lots of space for walking, not too close to the highway. We were the first ones there in the early evening but, by sunset, we had a bunch of RVing neighbours, mostly Albertans headed home from their snowbirding winter.

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Teton River rest area for the night.

I think I was still half asleep when Nollind boosted me into the truck the next morning, the sun barely a glow off to the east. Lucky for me, I can go right back to sleep on my bed in the truck. Logan had been given his pill about an hour before so he was also ready for a nap. It is such a treat to have him sleeping next to me rather than pacing around, sitting on me, and covering me in drool. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the guy when he’s like that, but after six years of being his travelling companion, I`m ready for something different.04-Chico-range-truck-sleeping-1

I wouldn’t mind trying one of Logan`s little travel-better pills, just to see what it feels like. T and Nollind think I’d turn into a puddle, but I`ve got a pretty sturdy constitution. I bet I could pill old Logan right under the table!

It always feels good to come home after months away, especially when the snow is gone and the day is warm. We rolled in around two o’clock and Logan and I immediately went to work chasing the gophers who’ve set up house in our yard. I seem to have picked up a few extra pounds over the winter so I didn’t get any the first day, but by Tuesday I was back on my game and grabbed a big one in the barnyard.04-Chico-range-gopher-1

What do I like best about home? Might be time for another Chico’s Top 10, but I’ll save that for next time and leave you with this song by Alberta’s own Ian Tyson. We travel to a lot of awesome places, but there’s nothing quite like an Alberta sky.

They Call Me “Buzz”

Buzz … this seems to be my new nickname. I don’t entirely understand it but it seems to have something to do with the pills I was on during Wednesday’s drive from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. I felt great from start to finish. No shaking, no drooling, no racing heart. Cool as a cucumber for 420 miles. Teresa and Nollind found me incredibly amusing, and I wasn’t sure why until I re-read this start to my blog post that I wrote while travelling.

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Watching the world go by.

It’s a bit embarrassing but here goes …

Heeeyyyyy ….. duuuuudes. I’m writing to you from the road as it flashes by my window. Whoa! What was that? S’okay. It’s all good. Just a semi (that’s pronounced semm-eye in these parts) going past us. Man, those things clip along and you would be amazed at how many of them are on the road down here. Hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions! They usually scare the bejeezus out of me, but today, for some reason, they just look kooool as they stream past us. Whoa … there goes a red one! Niiiiice.

We’re on the road to Salt Lake City today, left sin city this morning because another high wind advisory was in the forecast. The peeps wanted to get on outta there and a bit further up the road toward home. I’m down with that. I’m cool—is that sausages I smell? Sausages … I would love, love, love some sausages.

See what I mean? This gives me a clue as to why I was a source of amusement for the humans. I think they expected the drugs to make me groggy, but it was more like the pills erased my fears and inhibitions. The truck travel was fun, the leash-less jog around the rest area with Nollind in hot pursuit was definitely a highlight, and food never tasted so good. I even put a carrot in my mouth (drugs or no, still not sure why Chico considers them food). The corn chips, cheese, and salmon, however, which were also part of lunch, were the best ever, and I’m not normally a fan of corn chips unless they’re doused in sour cream, and any kind of fish sits firmly in the “it’s okay sometimes” category.

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Morning walk near the Vegas RV park (before the drugs kicked in).

The pills are the same ones I took on the way south in December, the pharmaceuticals from my friend Dixie, but Teresa doled them out a bit differently on Wednesday. Instead of giving me the first one about an hour before setting out and letting the effects slowly wear off before giving me another, she kept feeding me half a pill every couple of hours (vet said I could have 2 ½ every 8 hours). Rather than getting sleepy and then back into full-on travel anxiety mode as they wore off, I just stayed in my happy place and was, apparently, quite funny.

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Thursday morning coming down.

We had a sunny walk along the Jordan River parkway yesterday morning, but then the rain began. The rain turned to snow further up the highway into Idaho and Montana so we’re here at the KOA in Salt Lake until tomorrow, waiting for the storm to clear out, before making a push for Canada.

Normally my anxiety would be building already with the idea of two more days of driving ahead of me, but Dixie’s little pill bottle still has a pretty good supply (thanks, Dix!). I think I’m good, almost looking forward to it.

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Courage in a bottle.