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.





It’s Not Only Birds That Nest

I’m not sure what it is about a hole in the ground that I find comforting but—wait a minute. Yes I do. It’s safe (like a foxhole), it’s cool, the bedding can be freshened with a few swipes of the paw … and it’s my own private hideout.

I have three of them at home on the farm. One is under a lilac bush near the hot tub. I’ve been working on that one for years. It’s by far my favourite and my best work. It’s hidden by shrub and deep enough I can curl up inside and rest my head on the top edge. I have to freshen it each spring, dig out the dead leaves and other rubble, but, otherwise, it’s just the way I like it.


My favourite hideout at home on the farm.

I have a second hideout under the caragana hedge near the back door. I don’t use it as often as the hot tub location, but it’s nice to have something on the west side of the house close to the deck with the dining table.

The third is under a big cottonwood tree near the tack shed and hitching rails. I dug this one for its proximity to the riding prep area. When they tore down an old building that sat next to the tree and turned the concrete pad that was left into a fire pit patio, a good location got even better. You see, I like that hidden away feeling, but I never want to be too far from the people and the action.


Working on my Wickenburg nest.

Here in the desert, the ground is often rocky and not conducive to digging dog-sized holes so I haven’t tried to do much nesting until recently. At Wickenburg, there was a small mesquite bush just off the front of the trailer. It didn’t provide a lot of cover but the ground was soft and sandy underneath so I gave it a whirl. Not quite like the caragana and lilacs of home but, you know, not bad.


Wickenburg completed.

Riding on that success, I was pretty excited when we arrived at Craggy Wash and had sandy, loose soil. Since I’m never sure how long we’re going to stay in any one location (and neither are my people) I got to work right away underneath the trailer of the Wolverine. It was shady and a good vantage point for keeping an eye on things. Unfortunately, it lacked the brushy cover that I prefer.


Craggy Wash #1 under Fang’s trailer

I started on a second spot beneath a neighbouring creosote. It was okay, but on the sunny side of the bush and not very cool in the afternoon.


Craggy Wash #2 beside Fang’s trailer and under a creosote bush.

I started a third nest under the fifth wheel but it was hard to dig under there with the trailer right over me and the ground more packed so I didn’t get beyond a slight depression in the earth.


Location #4 – the best.

Number four was under a creosote shrub on the north side of the trailer. It had shade almost all day, visual cover from the shrub, and nice soft soil. I wish I’d noticed that location earlier in our stay. The hole wasn’t yet big enough for me to lie in when we moved camp yesterday.


A few sizes too small.

At our new camp spot, there won’t be any nesting. We’re parked in a gravel lot. Seems I’ll have to settle for ruffling up the covers on the bed or the couch.

We’re staying at Lake Havasu State Park for Bluegrass on the Beach. Well, Teresa and Nollind are here for Bluegrass on the Beach. Chico and I will be catching up on our rest and listening to bluegrass music drift over from the stage. Three days of banjo. Good thing my hearing isn’t what it used to be.03-logan-nesting-couch2-1

Busy Times on the Road

As you might have gathered from our blog posts, we don’t up anchor and move very frequently. Most of our stops are at least a week, often ten days, and sometimes two weeks or better. So, when I have three stops to talk about in one post, we’ve been busy.


Home for the first half of February

Okay, you got me there, if I’d written my post on Fur-iday as scheduled, there would have been only two stops. Or, if I’d written my post the next day, Saturday, like I said I would, there still would have been two stops. But, here it is Monday and we’re on stop number three since our last post.

Wickenburg. Wow. That pretty much sums it up from my perspective. Logan told you all about our Majestic Trail hike, the one where we all thought he was going to expire? Well, that was only a sample of our time at Vulture Peak.

Logan told you about the horse camp, but he didn’t tell you about the herd of mules that lined up right outside our trailer window to have their photo taken before heading off down the road. I’d never seen a mule before!

He didn’t tell you that our RVing friends Sue & Leon joined our camp at the 9-day mark and we spent many evenings hanging out around the fire together. We were so lucky to spend nearly three weeks with them this trip. We even helped them celebrate their 55th anniversary!


Hanging out in camp with Sue & Leon.

He didn’t tell you that we were included in two trips to Wickenburg. The first, for a coffee shop stop and a walk around the downtown, and the second for a wander across the Hassayampa Bridge and east toward the rodeo grounds.


Bridge across the Hassayampa River

And … this is an exciting one … he didn’t tell you how I rode shotgun when we were leaving the Vulture Peak camp. Yup, helped T navigate the side-by-side back to the main road where they loaded it onto the trailer. Now that I’ve been in it a couple of times I’m pretty sure I could handle a longer ride. There must be so many great things to see and smell when they head out on the trails. Toes crossed for next time.


Riding shotgun!

After fifteen days at Vulture Peak, we headed for the big city of Phoenix. We’ve stayed there only once before—on our first trip south when we camped at the race track. Now that the trailer is completely solar powered, we don’t need to plug in anywhere, so this time we stayed at the Desert Diamond Casino where they allow camping in their overflow parking lot. The casino camping is okay, but city stays usually involve quite a lot of waiting in the trailer for T and Nollind to come back, and this one wasn’t any different.


Morning walk at the Desert Diamond

The Phoenix list included a couple of visits with Alberta friends, doing the laundry, bathing us, and provisioning the trailer for our next desert stay. We dogs did get to go along on Friday, since it was bath day, but weren’t included in the other activities. By the way, the car wash had converted one of its bays to a proper dog wash so it wasn’t like we had to go through the spinning brushes or get sprayed with a high-pressure hose. Logan was definitely relieved. He hates car washes.


He almost looks relaxed!

With us bathed and the trailer stocked up with people and dog food, we headed west again yesterday, back toward Quartzsite. But this time we turned off before Q and came up here to Lake Havasu City. I’m excited. We haven’t spent much time here and I’m always game for a fresh adventure. We’re staying at a BLM 14-day area called Craggy Wash, a new one for us, and from our first walk this morning, it looks very promising.


Morning walk at Craggy Wash