What I Did on My Summer Vacation

As I mentioned last week in my mini blog post, I went on vacation, just me and my peeps. Yup. Me. All the attention. All the snacks. All the back seat. (But hey, Logan, buddy, pal, in case you’re reading this, we sure missed you!)

What I might not have told you before is that I can be a little, I hate to admit it, needy. I might come across as a cool dude in my posts but, on the inside, I have a lot of insecurities. Will there be enough food? Will there be enough attention? Will I have a comfy place to sleep? Canine concerns. And, when there are other animals around that draw attention and food and space, well, I can get a bit … well … whiny. Ack. Nobody likes a whiny dog.

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The three of us.

I heard them talking before the trip, wondering if travelling solo would push me even further along the “it’s all about me” scale. But, they needn’t have worried. Take away the cats, the horses, the work, and Logan, and I had more than enough food, attention, and comfort to keep me happy. For example, when T and N came back to the hotel after dinner the first night in Edmonton, the container of rib bits was mine all mine.

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Mine … all mine.

The first stop on our 10-day trip was Edmonton for N’s aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend the party and give them my best (Congratulations Allan and Karen!), but I did have a visitor to the Dodge kennel. Thanks for coming to see me, Laurana!

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Visitor to the Dodge kennel.

After a very busy lead-up to our departure, the peeps decided that a day of rest and relaxation was in order so we stayed an additional day in Edmonton. Following breakfast at the hotel and a trip outside for me, they actually climbed back into bed and watched a movie, very unusual behaviour for them. Fortunately for me, they brought one of my bed cover-up sheets so I could join in. What was the movie? Hmm … I may have dozed off once or twice. Something about aliens and guys in black suits and, oh, there was a very cool talking dog.

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Movie time!

Fed and rested, we were off to a dog park along the North Saskatchewan River. On a Sunday morning it was a busy place and I have never met so many dogs in one spot. During the hour and a half at the park, I must have met forty dogs, and the guy in the photo below was my paws-down favourite. We met along the river and again on the way back to the parking lot. Man, did we play hard. He was bigger and younger than me so I was exhausted by the time we reached the truck.

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Me and my new bud.

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Pho Boy Vietnamese Restaurant

The dog park was followed by lunch at a place on Whyte Avenue, a restaurant that allows dogs on their patio. (Thanks, Pho Boy!) They brought me a dish of water and apparently the food was pretty awesome too. T and N ordered a spicy dish so I didn’t get much of a sample but they brought along some of my snacks for me.

I could have stayed in Edmonton all week going to dog parks, eating restaurant leftovers, and lounging in the hotel room but, on Monday morning, we were headed north to Charlie Lake where some of T’s family lives.

We’ve been to T’s mom’s place before, when T’s dad died and they held a memorial for him beside the lake. This trip was a happier occasion, T’s mom’s 90th birthday. 90. Wow. That’s almost as old as Logan (in dog years). And she’s a lot like him, slowing down but still going strong.

It was just us at first and, of course, Grandma Nora (can I call you that or maybe just G’ma?), and T’s oldest brother and wife who live just up the road. And then they started to arrive, the sister, the brothers, the nephews, the nieces, the great nieces and nephew. It was quite a crew by party time on Saturday. One of T’s four brothers hadn’t made it to a family gathering in about twenty years and it was a joyous reunion on Friday night and a big surprise for his mom.

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Hanging with my new friend, Kaden, T’s great nephew.

For the most part, T’s family isn’t what I’d call super dog-friendly, but there are some dog lovers, and I managed to seek them out, doing my best to stay out of the way of everyone else. My favourite part of each day was the morning walk, usually down to the Provincial Park boat launch. I only got in one swim, due to the blue-green algae that drifted in on day three, but the walking was great, and each day we were joined by one or more of T’s siblings.

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Smoky view from the boat launch.

At seven on Monday morning we were on our way home, with a stop in Dawson Creek for fuel and food. I’d been a good and easy travelling companion for the whole trip (proud me) and it was time for my reward … my very own Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a road trip?

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Yum.

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Made It!

It’s possible I was overly optimistic about the 3-day, desert-to-farm journey and my ability to “crush it” like I did the 3-day, farm-to-desert journey in December. In my defence, if you apply the 7-to-1, dog-to-human age ratio to the three months between the trip down and the trip home, I was almost two years older by the time we started north. The trip wasn’t terrible, it just might not go down as “crushing it” in the trip log.

On our other four winter trips, we haven’t returned until at least the 31st of March, and one year it wasn’t until the 3rd of May. So maybe I just wasn’t ready, you know, mentally prepared. I thought I had another three weeks to psyche myself up for three days of truck time. But, I made it in one piece with only one … what should I call it? … unfortunate incident. I’ll just leave it at that.

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Home at last.

 

The first night home, I was exhausted and slept like the dead but the next two were very restless. The house seemed so big and dark. I missed our cozy trailer and my low-rider couch that’s easy to climb up on. The furnace in the house makes a different noise than the one in Sid. Everything just seemed strange and spooky. I’ve settled in some now, but I’m still having trouble sleeping at night. Mind you, that was happening on the road some nights too. Funny thing is, the day after one of these restless episodes, I sleep like a puppy all day long. Although, Teresa isn’t really seeing the funny in it.

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Morning after the night before.

 

Here at home, there’s snow everywhere, lots of it, and as Chico mentioned in his last blog post, it’s not the nice been-melted-and-refrozen-on-top crusty kind I can walk on. I’ve been stuck more than once so I mostly tend to stay on the road and driveway. I actually got stuck head first in the yard when I tried to get to one of my caragana dens. Teresa had to put her boots on and come pull me out. I used to love the snow, but that was before it became my enemy.

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Um … why can I only see the tops of the fence posts?

 

It’s been chilly for March but that I don’t mind so much. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, and I have acquired a few different jackets for various temps and conditions. No smoking jacket yet but I’m working on it. I was thinking silk might be nice. I prefer the natural fibres.

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The latest addition to my wardrobe, a nice little two-in-one number.

 

Well, it should be time for our morning walk soon. Teresa usually waits until the frostiest part of the morning has passed before we head out for our first jaunt of the day. After that, I think I’ll take a nap. I didn’t sleep so great last night.

Home Sweet Snowy Home

We saw the first snow not far outside Las Vegas, just a little, high on a mountain, but there it was, snow. In Utah there was lots of it up high, and even some lower down. By Idaho the snow had reached the road level in places. Montana was snow covered until we reached the far north where the Chinook winds had removed the snow from the fields in patches. Southern Alberta was similar, lots of melting.

Then, as we travelled those final miles from Lethbridge home, the world outside the truck windows grew steadily whiter, until it was just a sea of white under a bright, blue sky.

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Almost home.

There usually isn’t any snow on the ground when we return from the south. Partly because we’re three or more weeks later, but also because there was a huge amount of snow while we were gone this year, with most of it falling in the last month.  Records were broken. Luckily for us, we had some good friends looking after our farm and the snow had been cleared from the driveway and the walks. Thanks, Judy and John for making it possible for us to reach the house (and the couch)!

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Logan gets the couch in Sid but I get the one in the house (okay, only because he can’t climb up on it anymore)

Someone commented that it must have been a big shock to go from Arizona to Alberta in a few days. For me, it’s actually a series of small shocks throughout the journey. I go to sleep in the desert, I wake up in the trees. I go to sleep with dry land all around, I wake up to snow. I go to sleep in Utah, I wake up in Idaho. Surprise after surprise over two thousand kilometres.

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Rolling into the nicely plowed yard.

By the time we arrived home, I’d adjusted to the change of scenery and climate, and was ready for the snow. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount and type of snow. With the frequent warm winds in southern Alberta in winter (called Chinooks) there’s usually enough melting and refreezing to create a thick enough crust on top of any deep snow to support my weight. This year it stayed colder and the crust is only thick enough to make me think I’m good before I break through into the dry, grainy stuff underneath. It’s a bit like trying to swim in thick, slippery water.

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Breaking through the crust.

T took me along when she went skiing on Monday. It was a beautiful day and I was so excited when we started out. But holy hell was it tough going. Three steps on top of the snow, four floundering, one step on top, two floundering, half a dozen on top (yay!) and then, just when I’d start to think I was home free, I’d break through again. We did half a mile like that. Well, I did. T skied along without a care. We finally reached a snowmobile track and, wow, did that make a difference. I could run! I’m not sure if they make snowshoes for dogs, but I’ll be surfing Amazon when I’m finished with this blog post.

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Ski day.

Out walking, we’ve been sticking to the road. There’s just too much snow everywhere else and if you think I have trouble you should see poor Logan. T’s had to yard him out of a snow bank a couple of times when he wandered off the side of the road to smell something and broke through into the deep stuff.

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Walking along Range Road 262 heading home.

The crazy thing is, it snowed again yesterday. I’m just hoping the warm weather we had on Tuesday and Wednesday was enough to put a better crust along the ski trail for the next time T straps on the boards.