Just Another Day on the Prairie

Back in 2011, when Logan and I started the Chico’s & Logan’s Great Adventures blog, we were just setting out on a five-month trip with our peeps, travelling by truck and fifth wheel trailer. It was all so exciting. Keep in mind I was just two with a fairly narrow life experience to that point. That trip opened my eyes to what a big and wondrous place is the world.

From enormous sand dunes to rolling blue water that went farther than my eye could see. From palm trees to giant cactuses. From the noise and lights of Las Vegas to the quiet, starlit nights in the Arizona desert. It was a journey of contrasts, new experiences, and adventures. We never lacked for stories or fun photographs to share.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and sleep more these days, or it could be the pandemic that’s kept us home a lot and other people away, but life is just not feeling very blog-worthy lately. How is an old dog living on a farm in Alberta the stuff of exciting stories?

T tells me not to worry, that all writers go through periods of low inspiration, that I still have stories to tell. I sure hope so, because I’ve so enjoyed my life as a blogger, sharing my adventures with all of you. And I hope that it doesn’t come down to sleeping, eating, barking, walking, and pooping! Although, now that I consider this list, I think I’ve blogged about all of those things. :o)

The planned adventure to celebrate a big anniversary I mentioned in my blog post two weeks ago didn’t happen. So, when last Fur-iday came along and I was still just hanging out at home, I couldn’t muster up the energy to blog about anything. Why no anniversary adventure you might ask? Well, it snowed. In fact, April generally seemed to want to be winter this year, which is usually March’s gig.

I tried to get Storm to write something this week, but he’s spending all his time seeking out blades of green grass. The horses are a little crazy for the stuff at this point in the season after eating dehydrated food all winter. But he did send along this photo, since he promised a coat update when he blogged back in March and he’s committed to an update from the field next Fur-iday.

Storm’s end-of-April look. Tune in next month …

From what I hear, I’m not alone in my current lack of general enthusiasm. Between the pandemic and the weather, many are feeling weighed down. But I am ever optimistic that spring is here to stay, that the next adventure planned for just over a week from now will go ahead, and that very soon things will turn a corner on this pandemic. We all just need to hang in there a little longer.

In the meanwhile, on this Fur-iday morning on the last day of April, I think I’ll take a nap in that sunbeam over there.

Straight A’s

I hardly know where to start. What an awesome trip! And you know that my censor doesn’t let me use that word lightly, as is the habit of today. So, just this once, I’ll use it again—Awesome Autumn Alberta Adventure.

Maybe it was because we’ve spent so much time at home this year, or perhaps because fall was lingering and colourful well into October, or maybe just that we landed in four really terrific camp spots. Whatever the reason, the fall tour was a grand success.

One of many autumn trails.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, we kicked off the trip with three days at Sibbald Lake with friends G and S and their trusty sidekick Ria. Games, walks, laughs, wine, and food are common themes when this group gets together, walks and food being my favourites from the list.

Checking out the Escape treat dispenser.

Neither Ria nor I get the excitement with throwing golf balls attached to strings at ladders made of pvc pipe, but, hey, humans do a lot of things we dogs don’t understand. And likely vice versa. Different strokes for different species I always say.

The final night at Sibbald was the first sign of what was to come in terms of weather, when it got quite chilly during the post-dinner campfire hours. Fortunately, a senior dog like me gets a little extra consideration including being turned into a very cozy doggy burrito. Thanks, S.

Warm and cozy.

We said goodbye to our campmates on Wednesday morning and drove south on Highway 40 through Kananaskis to the bottom end of the province. Our destination… another place new to us, Beauvais Lake. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore when we arrived just before sunset, but first view and sniff told me we were going to like it. Turns out, we liked it so much that two planned nights turned into five with side trips to Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass.

This place looks great!

Day one we hiked Piney Point Trail through coloured forests of aspen and poplar trees, leaves drifting to the ground in the breeze, and incredible views west to the Rockies. T was actually teary at one point as she looked out over the landscape, ready to build a cabin right on the spot.

View from the front porch of T’s cabin.

Of course, I notice smells more than sights and there was no shortage of human and animal scents to explore. And then there was Beauvais Lake itself for a drink when we came down off the hill.

Beauvais Lake tastes mighty fine.

Day two, Nollind took the truck to Pincher Creek for a leaky hose repair, and since T wasn’t feeling so great, she and I stayed back at the trailer. We set out for a walk when Nollind returned, but T was feeling worse, so they doubled back to camp, tucked me in, and drove to Pincher to a clinic. In the past, it’s been me or Logan needing to see a vet along the road so this was a new thing. I was worried and did what I always do when concerned, slept.

I like being included in everything, everywhere.

When they got back, T had a bottle of pills and, by Saturday morning, was already feeling a little better. So, off we went to the Crowsnest Pass just half an hour west. In February, we stayed in Blairmore during the Wintervention Festival. One of the walks we took during that winter stay was on the Miners’ Path at Coleman and it was fun to repeat the experience on this trip, sans February’s death-defying iciness.

Miners’ Path inhabitant.

With T on the mend, Sunday morning was spent circumnavigating Beauvais Lake, about a 6 km trail. This hike didn’t have the vistas of Piney Point, but there was plenty to see and smell along the shores and wetland areas, finishing off with the trail along the cabin section. I can’t say for sure, but I think T would really like one of those cabins on Beauvais, but, the provincial campground is a pretty fine second choice, close to the lake, the hiking trails, and open year-round.

Stream along the Beauvais Lake trail.

Monday, it was finally time to leave Beauvais Lake. The plan had been to travel farther south to two locations, Payne Lake and Police Outpost Provincial Parks, but Fred’s leak problem hadn’t been fixed due to an out-of-stock part, so we drove to St Mary’s Lower Campground instead with plans to take the truck to Lethbridge on Tuesday morning.

That’s us!

At St Mary’s, we were treated to a campsite that backed onto the river plus a warm, calm afternoon for exploring the campground and surrounding area. Sometimes it’s those unplanned stops that turn out to be the real gems on a journey. Don’t you think? Tea and cookies in the sun (I do love ginger snaps) wrapped up another fine day before retreating inside from the cooling temps and a light rain.

Afternoon teatime in the sun.

Tuesday’s weather was damp but spirits were not when Nollind returned to camp with a fixed Fred. The trip we feared was going to end similarly to the last one, limping home with a broken truck, was not over yet!

Police Outpost Provincial Park sits right at the border between Alberta and Montana and features a pretty lake, a campground tucked into aspen woodland, and crazy cool views of Chief Mountain. First Nations people from both the US and Canada travel to the base of this mountain for sweet grass ceremonies and other religious rites and, if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll understand why.

Pretty wow, right?

It was windy and mostly overcast when we arrived at Police Outpost, so the peeps made the decision to venture along the lakeshore trail that first afternoon. We had the place to ourselves, the campground and the trail, and our walk included a long footbridge to the tip of an island. We do find the coolest places to walk.

Walking to Outpost Island.

It started to rain again that night, turning to snow in the wee hours and covering the ground by morning. T wanted to see the mountain shown in many of the photos of the park, but it wasn’t going to happen with the heavy skies. So, it was a snowy walk around the campground followed by a matinee in the trailer. I do love a matinee … it fits in so well with my nap time. Maybe it should be called a nap-inee?

It was a great movie.

By mid-afternoon, the sun was shining brightly on melting snow. The hike to the United States was on! Yup, that was our destination … Montana, USA. The southern boundary of Police Outpost Provincial Park lies right on the International Boundary and there’s a terrific trail, with views of Chief Mountain, to the border obelisk (and cameras). I’ve been across the US border in a vehicle five times now but never on foot and, since the land border is currently closed to nonessential traffic, this is the only border crossing I’ll experience this year. Nobody there but the cows to check my health papers.

See the leash? So you know where I was.

The hike to the border was so much fun we did it again Thursday morning before packing up and heading out in a chilly northwest wind. Payne Lake was going to have to wait for another trip with snow on the ground and more headed our way, along with wintry temps. We’d rolled right through Mother Nature’s first winter pitch, but we wanted to be home and tucked in before she brought out her A game. And we were, just in time, with most of last Fur-iday to winterize trailer and farm.

Snowy afternoon at Police Outpost.

With the border closed due to the pandemic, we won’t be trailer travelling to snowbird destinations anytime soon, sad to say, but I know there’ll be more adventures, probably snowy ones, in the months ahead.

Chico, Fur-iday Files correspondent signing off, from the farm.

Flashback Fur-iday – Your Dog on Drugs

Any of you who have been reading our blog for a time might remember Logan’s drug-induced adventures. He was always a funny guy, but under the influence, he was a riot, especially to those of us who knew him best. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t a recreational drug user. His usage resulted from a long battle with travel anxiety, a battle originally fought with every form of natural treatment T could come up with. There was the music therapy, the pheromone collar, various herbal and homeopathic elixirs, training tips from experts, aromatherapy, and combinations of the above. A few things seemed to help a little, but nothing turned Logan into an easy traveller.

I’d like to tell you Chico was wrong and I’m doing just fine, but I can’t. I’m just not sure the world explorer shtick is for me. I like being in the truck with my people and new places to walk are fun, but I just can’t stop shaking and panting when we start to roll down the highway. The panting makes me thirsty, the shaking turns my breakfast into purée and I don’t sleep for hours on end. By the time we get to our destination I’m dehydrated, exhausted and I have the runs. You can see why I might be questioning my aptitude for travel.

So, I Guess I’m Not Magellan, January 2015
Contrasting travel experiences.

I think T and Nollind thought he might settle in on a longer journey when we set out on our first big RV adventure in 2011. But that didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite was true. Each subsequent day of travel just ramped up the panting, pacing, and drooling. Speaking of drooling, I was a very patient travel companion to Logan, but looking like a favourite chew toy by the end of a day’s drive did get tiresome. So, when the peeps did a little online research and decided it was time to try a less natural approach, I was on board.

Hitched up in BC and ready to cross the border.

The first trial was Gravol, which would apparently make Logan sleepy. T’s family had used it for a car sick dog when she was a kid and it worked like a charm. Logan seemed untouched. Next was Benadryl, also supposed to induce drowsiness. Logan soldiered on through the medication, unaffected.

By the time we reached Salt Lake City, two weeks into our journey, the towel had been thrown in. It was time for the big guns. A trip to the vet was arranged.

He was such a happy guy once we got somewhere. Here we are walking in Boise, Idaho.

Logan’s first prescribed pharmaceutical was diazepam, often known by its brand name Valium. I couldn’t stop staring at my buddy that first day. It was like some other dog had put on a Logan suit and was sitting beside me in the truck.

I think I’m finally getting a bit more comfortable with truck time. Sa and Nollind think it’s due to the new treat they got for me that they call “magic cheese”, but it just says Havarti on the package, which I’ve had before. There is something special about it though because I feel really mellow about an hour after I eat some, and riding in the truck is pretty cool then, watching the world go by outside the window. I like sticking my head out and getting that rush of a thousand scents at once blasting in. Oddly enough, the cheese also seems to make me more hungry, something my people call “the munchies” and seem quite amused by. It’s usually Chico making them laugh so I’m happy I can entertain now and then.

Murky Water and Magic Cheese, December 2011
By Utah’s red rock country, we were a foursome of happy travellers.

The trouble with the diazepam, was that is often didn’t work on day two of a road trip, and sometimes seemed to add to his anxiety. And the timing of administering had to be just right because if it hadn’t completely set in, his nervous system would override it and the shakes would begin.

And then it stopped working altogether and he and T went back to seeking an herbal or otherwise natural solution with no success.

I thought I was ready. I really did. I’d been practicing my deep breathing and meditation in the days leading up to our trip and I was sure I had it this time. So there we were, on our way, and I was breathing a little faster than my practice sessions but still holding it together. I was enjoying the scenery as it went rushing by the windows— RUSHING BY?! ACK! Must we go this fast?! Does this beast only have one gear? What’s the hurry? Isn’t this supposed to be a vacation?  So much for zen.

Travel Woes, August 2016
Even with T in the back seat beside him, he’d try to hide on the floor of the truck.

When our friends G & S offered up Dixie’s Alprazolam, prescribed to help her through thunderstorms, T and Nollind were happy to give it a try. Oh my. What a difference. It was like that first day with Valium all over again, but this drug worked with a small dose on consecutive days. Logan would get a piece of magic cheese in the morning and then tiny pieces of magic cheese through the travel day every few hours. He slept, for the first time ever in a vehicle. He stared out the window. He didn’t drool all over me and our space. And he told some good stories.

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.

They Call Me Buzz, March 2017
Sleeping while underway. We were all in shock.

Food. That was the other thing that happened to Logan on drugs. He ate things he normally wouldn’t touch, and his eyes turned into saucers as soon as a snack opportunity presented itself. In short, he loved food as much as I did!

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. March 2017

They Call Me Buzz, March 2017
Panting because he’s hot rather than terrified.

And Dixie’s magic meds, and a refill of the same, lasted through two whole trips south, working just as well on the last day as the first. Alprazolam was a game changer for Logan when it came to travel.

Good afternoon. This is your captain speaking. We are flying at an altitude of 6870 feet… wait… I think I’m higher than that. ;o)

We’re in our third state of the day and I’ve been in this state through all three. March 2018

From the Cockpit, March 2018
Cool companion.

I’d take panting, drooling, pacing Logan over no Logan at all on our road trips this past sixteen months, but Logan on drugs, well, he was one cool companion.