On This Road

When I was little I hated feeling trapped in the car.  My parents smoked and it seemed, when I was 5 and 7 and 10 and 13, there was nothing worse on this earth than being held hostage in the back seat of a Chevy or Dodge while my mom and stepdad, and then just my mom after the divorce, smoked one cigarette after another.  “Please let me stay with Grandma,” I begged.

I’ll turn 50 this year, and not much has changed.  My husband tells people I have a 4 hour limit.  Bless him.  He’s giving me way more credit than I deserve as I’m fairly certain I have about a one hour limit, if that, and that I also need to be the one driving and deciding which route to take and when and where to stop and eat and pee and stretch my legs.  And stop.  Just stop.

We recently drove 2,392 miles in 4 days.  With 3 big dogs in the back hatch.  We struggled about how best to take them, coming to agreement that 2 could be in the far back with 1 comfortably in the backseat but, as dogs do, they let us know that wasn’t happening.  200 lbs of 3 dogs huddled tight into the back hatch and were, I kid you not, the best travelers you’ve ever met.  We barely knew they were there.  They were so good.  So quiet.  So much better than, well, me. IMG_2017 And here’s what I learned:

1.  I can go for more than an hour, and even more than 4 hours, but I can’t do anything but look at the map and plan the next stop.  I brought 7 books and read nothing.

2.  People do not pick up dog poop at Rest Stop “pet areas.”  I stepped in a huge pile of shit the first day.  People!

3.  Wendy’s has the best chicken sandwich.  Burger King as the best French Fries.

4.  Unlike at home, I cannot take 3 dogs for a walk, at the same time, in a strange neighborhood, at 6 a.m., in the Motel 6 parking lot.

5.  If there are people with German Shepherds and aggressive Boxers in a dog park screaming obscenities, do not be lured in by the words “dog park.”

6.  Gas stations often have poop-free zones in which to walk your dogs!

7.  There is such a thing as being too tired to drive.  Or function.  Or speak.

8.  It seems our rescued 10+ yr old Golden used to belong to a truck driver.  He pulled desperately toward every tractor trailer he saw, and he literally hugged our SUV as if he thought we would abandon him at a truck stop.  We wish he could talk.

9.  Our favorite hotel chain, by far, was the La Quinta.  I requested a “dog friendly” room by an outside (not lobby) entrance, and it was perfectly lovely until the next morning when the carpet suddenly smelled like dog piss.  But it was roomy, and comfy, and convenient.  And as perfect as it could be.

10.  I met a 70+ yr old woman who travels every year from her apartment in New York to her house in Phoenix, with her big Golden Retriever and a cat.  She was a hoot.  Said it takes 5 days.  Loves the drive.  Loves her animals.  Was gone by 6 am the next morning.  And she’s a love, my hero, period.  I wish I’d gotten her name.  She’s got more than a one hour, or a 4 hour, limit.  And so do I, really.  Especially now that there are no cigarettes.  No smoke.  Even if some damage can occur when the dog pulls your entire shin into a tree stump while trying to get into the nearest truck.  But I digress. IMG_2056   ___________________

How do you travel by car?  And do you travel with pets? 

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21 thoughts on “On This Road

    1. Teri Post author

      The small ones would be so much easier on the road?? My cocker (gone 10 years now) was an awesome traveler. She would sit in the back seat like a child and never move.

    1. Teri Post author

      What is it about the 4 hour mark? Time between meals, maybe?? The awesome thing about traveling with 3 big dogs is that you MUST stop every couple of hours or so to let them stretch their legs and pee — not such a bad model for humans to follow.

  1. Suzy Vitello

    mostly I’m blown away with how neat and organized you guys are. The pristine car/dogs. Wow!

    Kirk, Ruby and I were traveling during the same days you were, but a fraction of the miles, since we didn’t leave the Pacific Northwest. Our car was a trashed filth pit the first day. Clods of mud and the crap we collected on the various rain forest beaches we visited.

    I get the trying to jump in the truck thing. Ruby is not an easy traveler. She gets carsick and anxious, and anytime we stopped in a busy area, she would heave herself at parked cars, seeking a den to hide in. If kirk took her for a walk away from me, she’d freak out like an abandoned child.

    But we did find some fantastic dog parks – Ruby is very social, so the off leash parks were her reprieve from the 700 miles or so of hell.

    We’ve been home four days and I finally got the car de-funked.

    1. Teri Post author

      Well, the lucky part — and let’s face it, there were many lucky parts to this trip — is that we were driving through the driest part of the United States. Truly 1,200+ miles of the trip was arid desert. So, no mud. I can’t even imagine the mud situation with 3!!!

      Like Ruby with you, Chase wants to know where I am at all times. And now that we are settled (out of the car for days) he still wants to go everywhere with me.

    1. Teri Post author

      Henry would definitely appreciate that, even with our overpacked car, we brought our own coffee and standard kitchen coffeemaker. Priorities.

  2. koehlerjoni

    When we travel, we leave the pets at home and pay someone an exorbitant amount to come and love on them. You make it look so easy, though, that maybe we’ll haul the wild ones with us the next time. They can’t be any worse than toddlers, can they?

    1. Teri Post author

      You are smart. We’ve never taken the 3 on a big trip like this. I’m shocked they did so well. But it’s definitely a “different” kind of trip. We never, for example, left them in a hotel room or the car, which means no real restaurants.

  3. miniontour

    No dogs, if they’re not doing their business on the wall they’re crapping on the foot path and then there is always the barking. All you have to do in Portsmouth (UK) is walk out the house on to the footpath and the biggest dog in the world is guaranteed to offloaded its last meal outside the front of the house, and the scum that is the owner will have just walked on and left it there, just for me to walk in.

    We do have a cat, Joey (named after Joe Cole of Chelsea FC – wife thing) he just sleeps and fights the other cats, to the exception of Tiggs, his pal. Keeps all the other others away.

    Have a great day 🙂

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