Flashback Fur-iday – Home Is …

Since we first set out with our fifth wheel in 2011, we’ve spent more than a year and a half travelling and boondocking in the southwest United States, nineteen months broken into segments from two and half to five months each. It’s become like our second home with its familiar terrain and temperatures, our winter residence for all but three of the past eight winters.

Wupatki ruins in Northern Arizona with “Larry” in the background.

We’ve been back home in Canada since early March of 2018, the longest home stretch since we started RVing and, although I miss our desert time, it’s been good to be home for a while, reconnect with all things Alberta, and enjoy the great outdoors of our grand country.

Almost home in March of 2018.

Logan was really good at appreciating, and very attached to home. It might have been partly his dislike of vehicle travel but I think this prairie place was deep in his bones.

After a week in Tucson we spent a couple of days next to a lake in the far south of Arizona, Patagonia. Sandy soil, a lake to swim in, and grassy hills mostly without cactus, dog heaven! Well, almost. Dog heaven was actually the next stop just a few miles up the road near Sonoita at Xanadu Ranch. I felt like we’d come home — pastures, horses, wide open spaces — it was a sight for a travel-weary dog’s sore eyes.  

Sore Feed and Sore Eyes, March 2012
Near Sonoita in the high country of southern Arizona.

Generally, Logan was a “be happy where you are” kind of guy, always keen for the next adventure, eager to explore new places, but he did worry now and then about what was happening back home on the farm and he sometimes wrestled with bouts of homesickness.

Here I lie under the trailer but, unless there’s a breeze, it’s not nearly as cool as that basement I’m dreaming of. I think I’m starting to feel a little homesick, missing my farm and my daily routine there. I hope things haven’t gotten too out of control without me there to keep order. I hope my girlfriends across the road haven’t forgotten me. What am I saying? Of course they haven’t.

A Little Desert Weary, March 2015
A hot day at Stewart’s Point on Lake Mead.

But then he’d think about the alternative.

When I’m not happy, I’m just not that much fun to be around, or at least that’s the impression I get. They worry about me. They even started talking about it being better for me to maybe stay home next year. At first my response was, “Yay! What a terrific idea!” But it would mean months away from my people and, as annoying as he can sometimes be, my buddy Chico. I realized that “home” wouldn’t be “home” without them.

Home is Where the Hedgehog Is, January 2017

Wait a minute … Me? Annoying? Ah well, at least he called me his buddy.

Hiking in the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas.

One thing that Logan and I definitely agreed on was the following definition of home. I’ve been a lot of places in these past eight years, some good, some awesome, and a few not so great (at least not for dogs), but always there was this …

That was when I looked up “home” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and it turns out it’s more than one thing. The first three in the list were 1) one’s place of residence; 2) the social unit formed by a family living together; and 3) a familiar or usual setting. So, although I’d be in my place of residence (number 1) if I stayed “home”, I would be separate from my social unit, my pack (number 2). As for number 3, Sid is just about as familiar as the farm house after the many months we’ve spent living in here.

Home is Where the Hedgehog Is, January 2017
Logan making himself at home in Nollind’s home-away-from-home office (aka the ver”man”da)

We’d hoped to be heading down the road about now but family and business circumstances are keeping T and Nollind home in Alberta for another month. However, although it’s getting cold and snowy here in Canada and the desert is calling, it’s okay, because it’s where we live, we’re here together, and it’s familiar in that very good way.

Home in the barnyard with Storm.

Flashback Fur-iday – In the Beginning…

This time of year brings up a lot of memories of autumns past, particularly the autumn of 2011 when we set out travelling by RV for the first time and started this blog. It was T’s idea for Logan and me to write a blog. She wanted to share the tales of our travels with friends and family back home but didn’t want it to be the standard “weather is here, wish you were beautiful” stuff. Wait a minute. What up, Jimmy? That’s not how you say it.

So, there we were, a couple of rescue hounds, writing a blog. Crazy, right? Logan took to it like a Lab to water, but it was a tougher learning curve for me. I just wanted to run and chase and run some more. Who had time to sit still and tell stories? I was a 3-year-old dog!

On the other side of that coin though, I was an excellent traveller, but Logan, well, not so much. He loved the new places but …

The stops are filled with new sights, sounds and, most importantly and best of all…smells! It’s an absolute scent-fest every time we stop in a new place. Travelling between stops is a lot less appealing, or let’s make that more terrifying — hurtling down the highway at great speed with others doing the same thing in the other direction. Does no one else recognize the danger we’re in? Have they not read the newspapers or watched the nightly news? My people sit blissfully naive in front, seemingly enjoying the ride, regularly trying to reassure me of the safety and okay-ness of it all. But I’m not falling for it.

November 2011 – Hi, My Name is Logan
Maybe if I close my eyes?

I mostly just slept, still do. What better way to pass the hours in a vehicle? But I could never convince Logan, at least not until the “magic cheese”…

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.

December 2011 – Murky Water and Magic Cheese
With magic cheese assist.

For two rescue-come-farm dogs, travelling for five months in the United States was quite the grand adventure—sand dunes, beaches, cool spiky plants, rocks the colour of a sunset, and Logan’s favourite …, dog parks.

Viva Las Vegas…or so the humans like to say. I wasn’t clear what all the fuss was about until we arrived. Once we’d settled in and done a bit of exploring, I found out why it’s such a hot destination — Las Vegas has the best dog park in the western USA, possibly in the whole country!

January 2012 – Viva Las Vegas
RV dog paradise – freedom!

But it wasn’t all fun and games on the road, especially for a sensitive guy like Logan. Some of those great things I mentioned above had a dark side…

I drink from puddles at home all the time but whatever tiny critters live in the water down here do a number on my digestive system. Drinking from a watering hole in a dog park at Oceanside gave me a thorough understanding of the term “explosive diarrhea”. Another normally innocuous part of my life on the farm, plants, also seem to be out to get me down here. I’ve had more thorns in my paws than I can count, one big ball of nasty stuck to the back of my leg, and a spiky branch that seemed to jump right off its host onto my thigh when I walked by. I also had an eye infection that took many days of an antibiotic ointment to cure, and running in deep sand at the dunes tired out my hindquarters so much I had trouble getting up the stairs into the trailer when we got home.

February 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
It was a long way to the top.

We were away five months that first trip, a long time for a couple of dogs who’d rarely left home. Logan in particular, got a little homesick toward the end…

Yesterday we left Bisbee, the farthest point south we’ve travelled on this trip, and drove all day heading north. I hear we’re going home! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good time, but I am a bit of a homebody and I’m looking forward to my farm, my bed, my doggie friends across the road, and leashes that hang on a hook in the porch. Oh, and friendlier plants.

March 2012 – Sore Feet and Sore Eyes
Montana’s high country on the way home.

There’s talk of a trip this winter, and Sid’s all cleaned up and ready to go. As excited as I am about the prospect of another winter in the desert, it sure won’t be the same without Logan. But then I’m pretty sure he’ll be there with us, exploring our favourite boondocking spots, enjoying the desert sunsets, and riding along easily without the aid of magic cheese.

Shhh…It’s a Secret

We went camping this week, but I can’t tell you where. I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Usually I like to tell you where we’ve been, even provide links so that you can read about the places and maybe visit them yourselves. But, this time, if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you, and I’m a snuggler, not a killer.

Snuggling with the Earth.

The location of this latest camping adventure was discovered by G & S on a day outing back in July and they thought it was the perfect destination for our August rendezvous. And perfect it was. In fact, I think I saw tears pooling in Nollind’s eyes when we drove in, and I don’t think they were just tears of relief that we’d arrived safely with T driving. (She’s pretty new to this trailer hauling thing and I see his jaw tighten every now and then. He tries to hide it but we dogs have highly developed senses.)

Just two dogs hangin’ out in camp.

Anyway…this place. O. M. G. It’s in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, filled with spruce and aspen forest, has a beautiful river running through it, and quiet, oh so quiet. Heaven. And, since this describes many places on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, I think our secret is safe.

Did I mention yet that there were bones?

G & S and my buddy Ria arrived before us and picked, I kid you not, the best spot in the whole campground, right on the river, with a little dog beach for swimming and lots of trees for shade. Heaven. Wait, I think I said that already … but it bears repeating.

A walk in the woods.

There were twice daily walks on the quiet country road and along the south side of the river, turns around the campground in the morning and before bed, and as much swimming/wading as a dog wanted to do. Me, I’m more of a wade in when it’s hot kind of guy, Ria on the other hand is a very enthusiastic water gymnast. We were there two days and I’m not sure she was ever entirely dry.

Ria had far too much fun.

And therein lies the only down side of the outing … two days. It was only two days. (Sad dog-face emoji.)

And, after all that water fun.

You might be wondering why all the secrecy? Well, the camp attendant came around and chatted awhile, told us how you used to be able to get a spot in the campground any day, but now weekends were mostly full all season long. Turns out there was just too much of that telling two friends who tell two friends stuff going on. So, the six of us made a pact, then and there, that it would be our secret, special campground.

Apparently Nollind had fun too.

If any of you reading this blog has been to our secret campground and recognize it from the photos, maybe we’ll see you there sometime but, in the meanwhile … shhh….

Shhh…