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!

 

 

 

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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!!

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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!

 

 

 

 

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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!
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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.

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Puppy Playdate!

When MaMa only took me on a short walk this morning, I didn’t really think much of it. I figured it was kinda cold out and she just wanted to get home and warm up. What I found out later was she wanted me to save my energy, because she had a puppy playdate planned!

MaMa’s friend Amanda has a nice house with a HUGE backyard, and they’d been trying to set up a playdate for me and her three furbabies, Zelda, Gabby & Gizmo for a long time. Today it finally worked out! I’d met Zelda before, and we get along great, but this was my first time meeting her brother and sister. As we were driving to their house, I was listening to MaMa tell me all about them, and really hoping we would all get along.

When we got there, I was so excited to see my old friend Zelda! We hadn’t seen each other in two years, but meeting up again, it was just like old times. She seemed really happy to see me, and we had so much fun running, wrestling and playing in the yard!

Zelda showed me all around her big yard, which even includes a fish pond! I stayed away from the pond though. We all know what happens when my hair gets wet!

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They also have a big garden filled with some of my favorite veggies, like kale and cauliflower. I tried to follow Zelda’s mommy in there.

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But she knew I would eat all of her veggies, so I got left outside the gate. Boo-hoo!

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After getting a good look around the yard, it was time to wrestle and run with Zelda.

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I run like the wind, and sometimes she had trouble catching me, but when she did, she made some pretty funny faces at me!

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So I made some crazy faces right back at her!

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It was so much fun running around her yard and playing with someone my own size for a change. We had such a good time!dsc06142-2

After a while we got tired of running and playing, and took a little break in the shade.

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Our break didn’t last for long though. Soon we were joined by Zelda’s brother and sister, Gizmo & Gabby. They weren’t sure what to think about me, but luckily Zelda stood by me!

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After checking me out, Gizmo decided that he didn’t like the looks of me. Zelda tried to negotiate a peace treaty between us, but to no avail! I just sat my ground and let him tell me off. It was his house after all.

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At one point we tried to play a game of follow the leader. I figured if Gizmo were the leader that he’d be happy and maybe he’d like me then!

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It turns out that he doesn’t like to be followed and that made him like me even less! I really don’t like it when someone doesn’t want to be friends with me, so I gave him a piece of my mind.

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He retreated to his porch and proceeded to tell me off! Why, I never!!  His sweet sister Gabby mostly stayed quiet during all of this.

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Finally I’d had enough and I told him to put up or shut up. I was ready for a show down!  He even had to call in Gabby to back him up.

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Can you tell by the looks on our faces who won the showdown?

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So, I let him sulk on the bench next to his sister and found a place of my own to sit. It was time for us all to retreat to our own corners. Zelda was suspiciously absent after trying to negotiate peace. I think she knew better than to get in the middle of us!

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Even though Gizmo didn’t seem to like me, and Gabby was afraid to get to know me, I still had a GREAT time on my playdate! Zelda is an awesome friend and we have so much fun together. I can’t wait to see her again soon! It sure is great having friends!!

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THE END!

 

 

 

 

 

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Awesome Arizona Adventure: And We’re Off!

Soon after we returned home from our Route 66 Road Trip, I started sending subliminal messages to MaMa about going on another, preferably longer, family vacation. I’d heard her and Pops talking about his dad’s house in Arizona, and that sounded exotic and exciting to me, considering I’d never been out of the Midwest. It definitely seemed like a place I’d want to visit, so I started sending Arizona vibes to her. It wasn’t until January that MaMa finally picked up on my messages, and mentioned another road trip to Pop. MaMa had never been to Arizona either, and she was really good at convincing Pops that we needed to take a longer vacation together as a family. Levi and I had shown her how well we could behave in a hotel and for long stretches in the car. In early February, Pops consented, and it was time to do some planning! Levi and I were so happy, because we’d had quite enough of the snow and cold by then and were ready for a some desert warmth!

We're ready for a warm-up!
We’re ready for a warm-up!

They hemmed and hawwed for a couple weeks about the best time to go, and it wasn’t until mid-February that they decided on early March. We hoped for good weather because you just never know what you’re going to get in March, considering it is still Winter. MaMa also wanted to go before it got hot in Arizona, since that wouldn’t be good for me or Levi if we were too hot to explore! Since time was running short, MaMa had to be diligent with her online research, but with her experience, she easily found hotels for us to stay at on the way out there, and on the way home. With that done, all we had to do was wait the few weeks until the big day arrived. It seemed like forever, as time always drags when you’re looking forward to something, but finally it was time to hit the road!

Since we had so far to drive, we had to wake up super early and hit the road by 3:30AM. I’d never woken up that early and was not very happy about it. But then I remembered why we were up so early. I laid under the table and watched as MaMa and Pops hustled in and out of the door, carrying all of our luggage. Pops spent a lot of time the night before making a cozy place for Levi and I to hang out in the back of our rented GMC Denali. They decided to rent a car for this trip, because it was a little bit bigger than Pops SUV, it was a brand new 2016 car and had a lot fewer miles on it too. Not for long though, as we were about to drive many, many miles in the next nine days! Over 1,000 miles on the first day alone! We had to make it all the way to Amarillo, Texas, which meant we had 15 hours of driving ahead of us, not to mention stops along the way. The stops along the way are the most fun and memorable part of a road trip, as we’d learned while traveling Route 66 last October.

"Ugh, what time is it? Oh yeah, it time for vacation!"
“Ugh, what time is it? Oh yeah, it’s time for vacation!”

Soon enough we were in the car, and on our way. It had snowed a little bit the night before, but not enough to slow us down. If anything, it gave us extra incentive to get out of Illinois as fast as possible! We didn’t want to see anymore of the white stuff for a long time!

I don’t remember much about the first few hours of the trip, because I was sound asleep for them. But once the sun rose, I woke up and took my position up front. It was time to give MaMa a break from being co-pilot, and help Pops navigate his way down Interstate 55.

"Are we there yet? HaHa, just kidding!"
“Are we there yet? HaHa, just kidding!”

Before too long, Levi was up too and I reneged on my co-pilot duties to sit in back and have a chat with him. We both agreed it was going to be time to make a stop soon.

Road Warriors!
“Umm guys, we have to pee!”

So, we made our first of many rest area stops, and to be honest, there isn’t much to say about that. It sure was a relief though!

Not much to see here, just trucks for miles!
Not much to see here, just trucks for miles!

When we got back in the car, I heard MaMa and Pop say that we’d made really good time and Missouri wasn’t that far away. My excitement started to build when I started to think about everything I had to look forward to. This was going to be an epic day, filled with many firsts for me and MaMa. Levi and Pops had taken this drive before, but never with us ladies. It was bound to be an adventure for all of us to remember.

We’re so happy to have you along for the ride!

Next stop, The Gateway to the West!

 

 

 

 

 

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A Better Day at Goodenow Grove

Have you ever visited a good place at a bad time? That happened to us this summer when we headed out early one morning to check out Goodenow Grove Forest Preserve in Beecher, IL. Despite the title of another blog post, A Good Day for Goodenow, it really wasn’t that good of a day to visit a forest preserve. Even though we tried getting there early to beat the heat, it was still too hot to walk. I mean literally, I kept laying down, and MaMa had to carry me if she wanted to go anywhere. Also, when we tried to find some shade and decided to walk around a pond in the woods, the bugs were ALL OVER Levi. We ended up calling it a day well before noon, and said, “We’ll have to come back here in the fall!”

So that’s what we did this past Saturday. We got a later start this time, but it didn’t matter because the weather was much cooler, and this time MaMa was prepared! More about that later…

After a pleasant drive through the country we finally arrived at Goodenow Grove. We knew we wanted to check out the longest trail at the preserve called the Plum Creek Greenway Trail, but first decided to take a quick walk around the area surrounding the Nature Center. As usual, Levi took the lead!

Levi Pitboxer loves checking out new places!
Levi Pitboxer loves checking out new places!

While out on our jaunt around the Grove, we saw a group of people having a party at one of the two pavilions available to rent for an event. Near the larger pavilion is a 40 foot hill used for sledding in the Winter. They even have sled rentals if you don’t have your own. I wonder if they let doggies sled down that giant hill?

A great sledding hill! But I'm not ready for snow yet!!
A great sledding hill! But I’m not ready for snow yet!!

Before heading out on the trail, MaMa wanted to check out the Plum Creek Nature Center, mostly to find out if they had a bathroom. There are two permanent outhouses (one by each pavilion), but if you have the option to use indoor plumbing, you should always take it (so says MaMa)! As we were walking towards the door, the man working behind the desk waved us inside. MaMa popped her head in and said, “We can bring the dogs in?” and he said, “Yeah, bring them in!”

We were so excited because it’s not every day that we get invited in somewhere. I guess we are kind of like vampires that way. We need to be invited before we can enter a building!!

I was so excited to check out somewhere new!
I was so excited to check out somewhere new! I broke out in a spontaneous dance!

I was dancing and Levi was rolling around on the floor. We really know how to make ourselves at home!

Levi Pitboxer enjoying a good roll!
Levi Pitboxer enjoying a good roll!

Once we were finally settled down, we took a good look around the place. We saw stuffed birds and animals, rocks, books, a living snake and lizard, and lots of activities for little kids to create and have fun!

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The Nature Center had so much to look at, but it was a beautiful day and time to explore the outdoors. What I didn’t know was MaMa was prepared to go on a long walk this time, and was going to make sure I didn’t hold her up! I wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed or elated. But either way, my secret is out. I’m officially a spoiled, little baby princess with her own little carriage to ride in!

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It turns out I really enjoy being rolled around in my carriage. I was able to chill out, not get too tired or hold up the group, and MaMa didn’t hurt her back by picking me up and carrying me. Also, I could see all of the same great sites, but with a brand new perspective. The only thing MaMa would have done differently was choose a long trail that wasn’t made out of natural limestone. She said she got a real workout that day pushing me for miles on that lumpy, bumpy surface!

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While out on the trail we saw some horses having their lunch in a grassy meadow, in addition to a horse being ridden that went right past us on the trail. If there is one thing Levi likes less than squirrels, it’s horses, and he got really worked up after seeing them! Since I get worked up when Levi is worked up, nobody was able to take a picture of the horse on the trail, but Pops did get some nice pictures of the ones just chilling in the meadow.

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Look, he’s marked with a D for dog!

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Since Levi’s panties were all in a bunch, Pops decided it would be a good time to take a break and sit in the shade and just relax for a bit.

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Levi really couldn’t get his mind off of those dang horses, so MaMa gave him a good scratching, which always seems to clear his mind because it feels so good! He really liked it!

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While Levi was getting his rub down, I took a look around at all of the beautiful trees. There weren’t too many leaves that had changed colors yet, but it was still a nice, peaceful spot to sit and enjoy the fabulous fall day that we’d been blessed with.

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Check out Levi in the corner, wondering where that horse went!

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After our nice break, Levi told us it was time to go and chase after some horses! And what Levi wants, Levi gets!

"Come on guys, I have a horse to catch!"
“Come on guys, I have a horse to catch!”

Back we went the way we came, and I really took advantage of being in my carriage and this time I lead the charge! “Onward!” I said, “Let us go forth and conquer whatever crosses our path!”

"Faster, faster, we have horses to capture!"
“Faster, faster, we have horses to capture!”

I had such a good time that day and look forward to going back again. This time it really was a good day for Goodenow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall Fun in Frankfort!

This morning we had to get up and out the door early because MaMa scheduled an appointment with a furnace technician to clean and check the furnace, so it would be all ready for winter. They gave her a 9am-12pm timeframe. It’s now past noon and they haven’t called or shown up, so she is about to cancel the appointment, and find someone else. Don’t mess with MaMa, I always say!

Anyway…

Since we had to be home (we thought) by 9am, we needed to keep our morning adventure local. We spend a LOT of time in downtown MO-town (i.e. Mokena), and wanted to mix it up a little bit today. We decided to visit nearby Frankfort, which is where my MaMa grew up many years ago.

Historic downtown Frankfort is so pretty and the town is all decorated right now for fall making it even more picturesque. Early morning is a great time to visit and take pictures, because none of the shops are open yet (and there are LOTS of cute shops), and you’re not likely to run into too many people. Of course, we always see another dog or two and some runners and bike riders, since the Old Plank Road Trail runs right through the center of town. Other than that, it was really quiet and peaceful this morning.

After parking near the Frankfort historical society museum, we walked up Kansas street, which was completely devoid of any traffic whatsoever! We made sure we looked both ways too!

GiGi and Levi on Kansas Street.
Look both ways before standing in the middle of the street!

Once we were certain there was no traffic in either direction, we determined it was a safe place to set up for a photo shoot. I decided it was the perfect time for me to work on my different facial expressions! Can you pick a favorite?

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I can be rather expressive when I set my mind to it!

After a while, Levi grew tired of waiting on me, and barged into my photo shoot! He said the people want some variety to spice up the pictures. I guess I can see his point, and we DO look pretty good together!

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Yin & Yang are at it again!

We didn’t stay there long because just down the street and around the corner is Chew on This Dog Barkery, our favorite shop in town! Every time we visit Frankfort, we hightail it to their door. Little did we know it wasn’t open yet. Foiled again! MaMa and Pops had other ideas though. “Let’s set GiGi up for more pictures!” Uggh, not again, I thought. I mean, I know I’m cute, but seriously! I could feel my annoyance at the situation deepening and refused to look directly at the camera. That is my secret trick when I don’t want my photo taken. I just refuse to cooperate. Some might call me a Diva! But I don’t care!!

"Nope, I will not pose for you!"
“Nope, I will not pose for you!”

Once again, Levi wanted in on the action. He can be a real camera hog. But don’t call him that! He’s put on a few pounds and takes offense at being called a hog. BOL! Of course, he looked right at the camera, so I had to point and laugh at him for being putty in their hands.

He thinks he is so cute!
He thinks he is so cute!

Once we finished up at the shop and were convinced that it wasn’t going to open up just for us, we took a quick stroll around town, enjoying all of the fall and Halloween decorations. The old homes in town are a perfect backdrop to the spooky decorations!

Finally we ended up at the Breidert Green, which is where they put on concerts in the summer, along with a lot of other fun events throughout the rest of the year. We’ve spent a lot of time there in the past, but there was a new addition that I simply had to check out. A giant pile of wood always gets my attention, and this particular pile was giving off heat, even though it wasn’t on fire. I have no idea how they do it, but it sure was a nice place to warm up my little bum!

Giant sticks...for me to chew on!
Giant sticks…for me to chew on!
Maybe I'll just warm my bum instead.
Maybe I’ll just warm my bum instead.

It was almost time to go home to make sure we were back for the furnace appointment, but not before taking one last picture on the Green. In the background is the Trolley Barn, a fun place to shop or get a treat. We’ve never been inside, but hopefully one day we’ll get the chance. MaMa said there is an ice cream store inside. I need to get me some of that! Pops said they have popcorn too. Yummmmy!

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Notice I’m still not looking at the camera!

It was a fun morning! We sure are lucky to have such a pretty place so close to home. Thanks for the fun fall morning and for being a beautiful background for our photos, historic downtown Frankfort. We WILL be back!

The Grainery is a historical landmark and the tallest building in town at 132 ft. tall.
The Grainery is a historical landmark and the tallest building in Frankfort at 132 ft. That’s 131 feet taller than me!

 

 

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Route 66 Road Trip: A Handy Dandy Explorer’s Index

Previews and links to every stop on our Route 66 Road Trip.

Planning a Route 66 Dog-Friendly Road Trip

 

Route 66 Adventure: A Giant Sighting and Zombies Galore

Route 66 Adventure: Pas De Deux

Route 66 Adventure: Stars & Cars

Route 66 Adventure: Funky Funks Grove

Route 66 Adventure: Atlanta Antics (and giant hot dogs!)

Route 66 Adventure: Sugar Creek Covered Bridge

Route 66 Adventure: Even Explorers Need to Sleep!

Route 66 Adventure: Pink Elephants & Other Oddities

Route 66 Adventure: Minor Detour

Route 66 Adventure: It’s Just Water Under the Bridge

Route 66 Adventure: Route 66 State Park

Route 66 Adventure: Hanging out in Cuba & the Devil’s Elbow!

Route 66 Adventure: The End of the Tail

 

 

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