Awesome Arizona Adventure: We Have Arrived

It was already dark, and creeping up on 9PM by the time we arrived in Sun City (a retirement community near Phoenix where Pop’s Dad lives). Because they thought it would be funny to fool me, MaMa and Pop took me to a pet hotel and told me I’d be staying there for the week! As if I would go all the way to Arizona with them and then let them go off on their own for the week. I don’t think so!

It looks nice here, but I don't think so!
It looks nice here, but I don’t think so!

After they tried pulling that prank on me, it was time to get back in the car and drive the last few minutes to the house we were actually staying in. The drive through the neighborhood was magical! Even though the night-time temps were relatively cool (especially by Arizona standards), we drove with all of the windows down, so Levi and I could get a good whiff of our surroundings. The fragrant smell of orange blossoms was so sweet, you didn’t need to be a dog to smell them. Their aroma filled the car as we drove down the streets. With that intoxicating perfume filling my nose, I definitely felt transported and knew I was far from home.

We felt like we could have driven forever, drunk on the smell of orange blossom nectar. Eventually though, we did arrive at Grandpup’s house, and when I realized we had finally made it, I couldn’t contain myself, and jumped out of the car as soon as I could. If there is one thing I absolutely LOVE to do, it’s explore a house I’ve never been in before! Everyone just stood back as Levi and I barreled our way through the rooms, smelling every nook and cranny along the way.

After we finally settled in, and we all ate our late dinner, it was time to wind down for the night. It didn’t take me long to figure out which bed was mine and to make myself right at home.

Ready for a good night's sleep.
Ready for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, we were up early and ready to explore. There’s nothing quite like the first day in a new place to get me up and out the door. We took a walk around the neighborhood and I checked out all of the different palm trees, cacti and other dessert flowers and plants. There wasn’t one thing that looked familiar to me. Even the ground was covered in rocks instead of grass, and I learned quickly that I’d have to do my business in a bunch of stones instead of a patch of grass. I also learned that it’s best not to get too close to a cactus, or you might get pricked on the nose! That’s one mistake you don’t want to make twice!

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After getting a good look at the different flora, and sniffing our way all over the neighborhood, it was time to get back and send MaMa and Pop off for the day. They had plans to go see a Chicago Cubs Spring Training game and to explore Scottsdale. They also thought Levi and I could use the rest after two long days in the car. I was NOT thrilled to be left behind, but at least my big buddy was with me. It didn’t stop me from running all around the house and searching for MaMa and Pop every five minutes. I have a little bit of separation anxiety!

Time for Levi and I to relax.
Time for Levi and I to relax.

MaMa and Pop had a fun time in Scottsdale, and they may have brought the Chicago Cubs some luck for their season, since they ended up winning the World Series this year. I guess it’s possible, since MaMa is always saying how lucky she is, but that might have something to do with her finding me!!

MaMa and Pop at the Cubs spring training game!
MaMa and Pop at the Cubs spring training game!

After the game, they visited downtown Scottsdale, had lunch and saw some beautiful artwork. MaMa especially liked an Elk Woman and a horse head sculpture. The Elk Woman was giving blessings to all, which I kind of like too. We can all use some extra blessings in our lives, and I’ll take them however I can get them.

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When they finally got home, Grandpup told them how I was running all over the house while they were gone, but how I finally settled down next to Levi. He also got me to sit still long enough to get my harness and take us both on a walk. He told them how I took the lead and was a very good walker. As if anyone had any doubt about that!

MaMa felt bad about leaving me behind that day, so she made it up to me by going on another long walk around the neighborhood with me, and then sitting in the backyard for a peaceful rest. Some of my very favorite moments are when I get to sit on MaMa’s lap, so I quickly forgave her for leaving me behind that day.

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We ended the day with a trip to a really cool park in Surprise (yup, that’s the name of the town), which is the town that Sun City is next to. The park has a big pond that we walked around, two dog parks, tennis & basketball courts, playgrounds, pavilions and so much more. I even made a new friend at the pond!

Hanging out with my new friend.
Hanging out with my new friend.

Despite being left behind for a good chunk of the day, I was pretty excited with how vacation was going so far. So many new sights and smells. I was getting pretty used to this explorer business, and found myself hoping I’d get to do it more often. Once you get a taste for adventure, it’s hard to go back to living a normal dog’s life. I couldn’t wait to see what the next day brought, because I was going to make sure I didn’t get left behind. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I am pretty good at getting what I want!

 

 

 

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Mountain Time

It was late afternoon by the time we crossed the border into Arizona. We’d been driving for over seven hours and we were all feeling a little bit weary. Especially since this was day two of our cross country adventure, and we’d traversed over 1,500 miles! I was resting comfortably in my window seat when I heard MaMa start making proclamations of “Ooooh wow!” and “That’s so amazing!” and “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” So, of course I had to wake up and take a look around.

Totally comfy and utterly oblivious.
Totally comfy and utterly oblivious.
"What's all the commotion about?!"
“What’s all the commotion about?!”

What I saw out the window truly took my breath away, and not just because of the increased elevation. We were driving along Hwy. 60 and had just passed the town of Show Low, when the landscape started to change dramatically. We were driving in the Superstition mountains, and they were stunning! This was the first time MaMa or I had ever been in the mountains and we literally couldn’t get enough of them. Every turn on the road offered another breathtaking view.

MaMa in the Mountains.
MaMa in the Mountains.

There wasn’t much room to walk along the highway, so at a lot of the sceninc overlooks, Levi and I stayed in the car, while MaMa got out to take pictures.

Levi loves that mountain air!
Levi loves that mountain air!
"Hey, we want to get out and look around!"
“Hey, we want to get out and look around!”

It’s hard to describe the awesomeness of driving through a mountain range. I was used to the flat landscapes of Illinois, and up until this point in the trip, I had only seen mountains from the road. Now we were actually driving right through (and up and down) them and there was another interesting vista at every turn! I swear, driving through the mountains makes you feel as if you’ve been transported to a different planet!

"What planet are we on because this doesn't look like the Earth I'm used to!"
“What planet are we on because this doesn’t look like the Earth I’m used to!”

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Finally we found a scenic overlook with enough room for us to walk around and explore a little bit. Everything was so interesting. I investigated plants and bushes that were nothing like what I was used to seeing and smelling at home. And the views! My little mind was blown, and if I had fingers, I would have pinched myself, because it sure felt like a dream. But it was all so real, and so beautiful! It had only taken a couple of hours, and I was already in love with Arizona.

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"I'm on top of the World!"
“I’m on top of the World!”

Levi was so excited to be out of the car too! He’d been to Arizona before, and was thrilled to be back. He dragged Pops all over that scenic overlook, wanting to check out every piece of dirt and mountain rock! Pops eventually got him to stand still long enough to take some pictures, but we’ll never know how they turned out, because our memory card went kaput that day! Good thing MaMa took so many pictures on her phone, because I would have hated not being able to share photos of this amazing place.

A throwback picture of Levi from his first trip through the Superstition Mountains.
A throwback picture of Levi from his first trip through the Superstition Mountains.
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Levi wanted to smell every inch of that mountain!
I bet that would have been a great photo, Pops!
I bet that would have been a great photo, Pops!

It’s a good thing we didn’t have time to explore more than we did, because the Superstition Mountains  had that name for a good reason! In the 1860’s, local farmers heard tales from the Pima Indians of people disappearing, strange sounds, and mysterious deaths, as well as an overall fear of the mountain. They believed that the Indians were being superstitious, and that’s how they came up with the name. But even to this day, there are more disappearances in this mountain range than in any other, and on average, 4 to 5 people die every year. I like being adventurous and all, but I think I’m glad we did most of our exploring from the car.

Eventually we made it through the mountains and ended up in the historic and quirky town of Globe. The sun was just about to set, and it was the perfect time for us to get out of the car and walk around before driving the final stretch to Phoenix. We walked around the downtown historic district which is on the National register of historic places.

Downtown historic district of Globe.
Downtown historic district of Globe.

The town was founded in 1875 as a mining town, and still has an old Western feel to it. We even found a shop where they sell Western wear, but that’s not why I was interested in it!

Did someone say Bacon?!
Did someone say Bacon?!

Levi wanted to check out the theater and see what movies were playing, but Pops said we didn’t have time.

Levi was wondering if Squirrel Patrol was playing there!
Levi was wondering if his film “Levi Pitboxer: Squirrel Patrol” was playing there!

I was more interested in hanging out on the steps of the Center for the Arts, which is located in the old Gila County Courthouse in a building that is over 100 years old!

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For me, the best part of this historic town is the big G they have situated on the side of a mountain. G is for GiGi!!

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After having a good look around this cool town, it was time to hit the road and head towards Phoenix. We still had over an hour to drive before getting to our Grandpop’s (Pop’s dad) house, and the sun was quickly setting.

We’d had such an exciting two days on the road, but I’m sure Pops was glad to be just about done with the driving, and I know we were all ready to spend a few days in one state! Arizona, we’ve arrived! I hope you are ready for us!!

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Consider Us Enchanted!

I woke up on Day Two of our cross country road trip, took a look around the hotel room and saw that MaMa, Pop, and Levi were all still sawing logs. I couldn’t believe I was the first one awake! But then again, I was so excited to hit the road and see so many new things today. It was dark when we got to Amarillo the night before, but there was just a smidge of light in the sky now, and I was ready to get back out there and make the most of the day!

I laid there for a few more minutes and when nobody made a move to get up, I decided to take matters into my own paws. So, I jumped on MaMa’s chest and started licking her in the face!

“Oooph, GiGi, get off me!” she proclaimed, but I would have none of that.

‘Come on, come on, come on, I’m ready for some more adventures!’ I barked at her.

“Okay, I’m getting up, geesh.”

At this point, the boys began to stir too, and I knew once Levi got up and did his morning shake, that things would finally start moving.

‘Hey Levi, get up, get up! We’re on vacation, remember? We have lots of exploring to do!”

‘How could I forget GiGi? This is exciting stuff!’ he woofed back at me.

Finally everyone was up and moving, and soon enough we were back in the car. I wish I could tell you about the sights and smells in Texas, but to be honest I slept through most of it. Waking up so early to wake everyone else up is tiring stuff!

Nap Time!
Nap Time!

Amarillo is in the panhandle of the state, so even though Texas is HUGE, the part we were driving through was pretty narrow, and we only had about an hour of driving to do before we reached New Mexico. This is about all I remember of Texas.

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Just as I was settling in for a good snooze, I heard Pops proclaim, “We’re crossing the border into New Mexico!” and I looked up just in time to see the Welcome to New Mexico: Land of Enchantment sign.

Prepare to be enchanted!
Prepare to be enchanted!

With a state nickname like that, I knew I better pay attention to the scenery. I figured we would be delighted with some good sights on the road today, and New Mexico didn’t disappoint! It wasn’t long before the landscape began to change and we started seeing some really cool stuff.

Beautiful New Mexico scenery.
Beautiful New Mexico scenery.

After a few hours on the road, it was time to make a pit stop, and as we were coming up on the outskirts of Albuquerque, Pops asked MaMa to look for a park where we could walk around and stretch our legs. She found a cute, little park where we saw some trees already in bloom with their Spring flowers. We sure didn’t have any blooming trees back in Illinois, and it was so exciting to see!

Yippee, flowering trees!
Yippee, flowering trees!
This looks like a cool place to check out!
This looks like a cool place to check out!
Taking a break from the car!
Taking a break from the car!

After our walk around the park and before getting back on the road, we stopped for lunch at a fast food joint. MaMa and Pops were hoping we’d eat, since we hadn’t eaten dinner last night or breakfast that morning (it seems like the lady at the Jack in the Box we’d stopped at in Missouri knew what she was talking about!).  Luckily we both were hungry enough to eat our food, but not before I spotted my very first Road Runner! Meep Meep!

Can you see hit just to the left of the tree?
Can you see him just to the left of the tree, next to the curb?

When we got back on the road, we headed out on an alternate route instead of staying on I-40. Pops had driven to Arizona with Levi Pitboxer and he knew a more scenic route south down I-25 over to Highway 60. Even though this route would take us an hour longer, he promised that the scenery both in New Mexico and Arizona would be worth it. He wasn’t lying!

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Beautiful mountains of New Mexico!
Beautiful mountains of New Mexico!

Not long after getting on Hwy. 60 in Socorro, NM, we drove through a portion of the Cibola National Forest. We didn’t plan it this way, but the historic marker we stopped at was a tribute to Ada McPherson Morley, who among some other awesome things, formed a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Levi and I thought that was pretty cool!

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Thank you Ada McPherson Morley!
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Beautiful stretch along Hwy. 60.
Cibola National Forest
Cibola National Forest

After leaving the Cibola National Forest area, we drove through some really cute and quaint towns with names like Pie Town, where the local pie shop opens on 3/14. Can you figure out why? We also made a couple more stops, and even took some awesome pictures on our camera of Levi and I in front of an old church in Quemado, NM. Unfortunately, our memory card decided to go bad, and we lost all of the camera pictures we took that day! Luckily I was able to find a picture of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on another blog, www.papamikeonatrike.com, so you can see how unique and beautiful it is! The only thing that would have improved this picture is if Levi and I had been in it!

Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Sacred Heart Catholic Church

The drive along Highway 60 was truly beautiful and the landscape was absolutely something to gawk at. I sure was glad that Pops took us on this minor detour!

Stunning New Mexico Mountains!
Stunning New Mexico Mountains!

Just as we were about to leave New Mexico and cross the border into Arizona, I had a very important task I had to attend to. I thought I’d lost something special to me!

Luckily I found it and we were able to carry on with our trip. I’d have really hated it if we’d had to retrace all our steps in order for me to find my Levi toy!

Onward to Arizona!

 

 

 

 

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Oklahoma is OK

By the time we reached the Oklahoma border, we had more than half of our Day One driving done. We’d conquered two states and figured the home stretch would be easy peasy, lemon squeezy. What was one more state, right? No big deal, I thought. That was until we actually started driving through The Sooner State, and then I started thinking, “The sooner we get through this state, the better!!” I was getting tired of being in the car! An interesting side note, the state got its nickname from people who claimed land in the Oklahoma territory sooner than they were supposed to, and became known as the “Sooners”.

No offense to the state whatsoever, and I’m sure there are plenty of nice areas that we didn’t get to see. I’ve heard great things about Oklahoma City and hopefully we’ll get to stop there one day, but on this particular day we had a deadline, and seven more hours of driving ahead of us before reaching Amarillo, Texas. That being the case, we didn’t have much time to explore. Levi was not thrilled with that, and kept trying to reach the gear shift and put it in PARK!

"Stop this car, so I can mark my territory!"
“Stop this car, so I can mark my territory!”

Eventually Pops finally heeded Levi’s pleas and we stopped at a Cherokee Trading Post and Boot Outlet in Clinton. Trading posts are typically associated with North America and often with Native Americans, however the first trading posts pre-date the colonization of America prior to the 1400’s. They weren’t just an establishment for trading goods either, but also a place for people to meet and exchange news before newspapers existed!

MaMa, Levi and I enjoying the Oklahoma sunshine!
MaMa, Levi and I enjoying the Oklahoma sunshine!

We didn’t actually go inside the Trading Post, because Levi and I aren’t usually allowed in stores. MaMa and Pops weren’t too interested in doing any shopping right then, but we did take a good look around the outside, and I spied some really BIG dogs! I think MaMa called them buffalo. Sounds yummy!

They put that sign up to protect the buffalo from the likes of me!
They put that sign up to protect the buffalo from the likes of me!

MaMa and Pops wanted to take some pictures of me and Levi in front of the Trading Post, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Long days in the car will do that do me.

"No, I don't want my picture taken right now!"
“No, I don’t want my picture taken right now!”

I might not have felt like cooperating, but Levi was feeling it! He really liked the big Indian on the sign. He said that standing next to him made him feel like a Chief!

Chief Pitboxer at your service.
They have the same look in their eyes!
Chief Pitboxer at your service!
Chief Pitboxer at your service!

Before long it was time to hit the road again. It was getting dark and we still had almost three more hours to go before getting to Amarillo. While driving, we did get to see a nice sunset, with an unidentifiable object descending from the sky. I’m not saying it had anything to do with aliens, but we were getting awfully close to alien country, and it did look like pretty peculiar, don’t you think?  I guess we’ll never know what we saw, but it sure is fun to speculate!

"It's a bird, it's a plane, it's an alien spaceship!"
“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an alien spaceship!”

I don’t remember much about crossing the border into Texas, because it was really late, and I was a bit stir crazy from having been in the car for so long. I think we got to our hotel around 10PM, more than 18 hours after leaving Illinois. Now that’s an epic day of driving, but the most important thing is we survived and made it there in one piece! But it’s no wonder we were a little bit confused by our very first elevator ride at the Days Inn, which thankfully allowed two dogs of any size to stay in their rooms! Yay for Days Inn!

Once we figured out that crazy elevator and finally made it to our room, I was more than ready for a good night’s sleep. After all, we had another full day of driving the next day. Time to get some ZZZZZZ’s!

Goodnight y'all!
Goodnight y’all!

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Gateway to the West

Before we knew it, we already had five hours of driving under our belt and were crossing the state line into Missouri! One of the first things you see when entering the city of St. Louis from Illinois is the Gateway Arch, which is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, and sits on the site of St. Louis’ founding on the banks of the Mississippi River. I’d seen it from the car on our Route 66 Road Trip, but since that adventure was dedicated to all things retro Route 66, we didn’t stop at that time to take any photos or to admire the structure. This time, it seemed appropriate to stop, since the Arch is the Gateway to the West. Just like many men, women and dogs before us, we were headed West for our own adventure! It didn’t hurt that we all felt the need to stop and stretch our legs too.

During our trip, the area around the Arch was under construction, so we couldn’t park right by it. After a bit of driving around, we found a Hyatt hotel with a big, grassy park right across the street, and were lucky enough to find parking nearby! Since we’d gotten such an early start, we were some of the only visitors at the park, and were able to enjoy beautiful views of the Arch just as the sun was coming up. Even from a distance, the 630 foot monument is rather impressive! It is the world’s tallest arch, the Western hemisphere’s tallest man-made monument, the tallest stainless steel monument in the world, and is as wide across (630 feet) as it is tall! Visitors can go to the top of the monument in a tram and enjoy the view from an observation deck. I don’t think those visitors include dogs though, so it was just as well that we were admiring it from a short distance away.

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While sitting in the early morning sun, framed by an iconic Arch that symbolizes westward travel and expansion, I couldn’t help but stop and think for a second about how fortunate I was to be on this awesome adventure. Just a little over two years earlier, I had been living in a tobacco shop, without a toy to call my own. My only adventures were 10 minute walks along the same boring street, day after day. Back then, I couldn’t even begin to imagine taking a trip like this with a worldly and sauve Pitboxer brother and our MaMa and Pops. I didn’t even know places like this existed! My world was continuing to open up on each of our adventures. I felt so fortunate, I literally couldn’t help but jump for joy!

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Since we were on a tight schedule, we couldn’t spend too much time at the Arch before it was time to hit the road again, but not before MaMa and Pop made a pitstop at the Hyatt. Why is it that they get to go inside everywhere and I have to wait outside all the time?!

"Must I always be waiting on the humans?!"
“Must I always be waiting on the humans?!”

Finally we were all ready to hop back in the car and continue our Westward trip. With many hours of driving ahead of us, we had to make haste. We made it another hour or so before our bellies started growling and Pops decided we should take a break for breakfast. We found a Jack In the Box with outdoor seating and enjoyed our breakfast al fresco!

Even explorers get hungry!
Even explorers get hungry!

While there, MaMa talked to a woman who had done some traveling with her dogs and told MaMa not to worry if I didn’t eat some of my meals while we were on the road. She must have known that my MaMa would worry if I didn’t eat, but I didn’t let her down this time. Eating outside in early March was a real treat that we all enjoyed!

Soon we were done with our meals and it was time to get back on the highway. MaMa decided it was her turn to drive and Pops took a nap in the back while Levi and I rode shotgun.

"Keep heading West, MaMa!"
“Keep heading West, MaMa!”

After a couple more hours on the road, we made one last Missouri stop in Joplin. While exploring, we realized that we’d inadvertently stopped at a Route 66 Roadside attraction, the Schiffendecker Park & Golf Course and the Joplin History & Mineral Museum.

We just can't escape Route 66!
We just can’t escape Route 66!

MaMa went inside the museum to use the bathroom, and while she was in there, she spoke to the curator of the museum who told her that Levi and I could come inside. The only problem with that? Three cats live inside the museum, and Levi is not a big fan of cats! She thanked him for the offer, but told him it would be best if we waited outside. Foiled again! By cats!!

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Outside the museum we did get to see some interesting things, like this giant mineral monster that MaMa tried to feed me to! Luckily there was a fence in the way because that guy looked scary (and hungry)!

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Because we had miles to go before we could sleep, it was time to get back in the car and make the long drive across Oklahoma. The sooner we could get through the Sooner State, the better! We had seven more hours of driving time ahead of us, and it had already been a really long day…but the West was calling, so we had to prevail.