Awesome Arizona Adventure – Almost Over

We left the stunning and spiritual city of Sedona and hopped on Hwy. 89A heading towards Flagstaff, where we would pick up I-40, which would take us all the way to Albuquerque. We had nearly six hours of driving ahead of us, and it was already the middle of the day. It was time to get on the road and start making good time, but Pops wanted to make one last stop in Arizona so we’d be too tired to whine about how long we’d be in the car!

The scenery along Hwy. 89A on the way up to Flagstaff is stunning. The road follows Oak Creek for a ways, and we were able to catch glimpses of it from the windows. MaMa and Pops snapped a few photos from the car, but unfortunately didn’t get any of the creek. What they did get is still really nice!

Mountains along Hwy. 89A, north of Sedona.

Down in the canyon by Oak Creek.

Where Oak Creek ends the road starts to wind and curve up through the mountains. It feels like you’re on a roller coaster or a water slide with lots of twists and turns. We made a 4,500-foot climb, all while navigating some switch backs and hairpin turns! It was fun and slightly scary at the same time! I’m just glad we were doing it in the car and not on foot!! I think everyone knows how much I hate climbing up a hill…

Right after the road stops twisting, at the top of the mountain there is a rest area and Native American market that overlooks the canyon we had just driven through. It’s appropriately named the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook. This was the stop that Pops wanted to make before getting some serious drive time under our belts.

We found a place to park, hopped out of the car, and immediately noticed that it was a good twenty degrees colder than it had been in Sedona. The mountain air was crisp and fresh, and we were all ready to take a good look and sniff around.

We came across a nice path through the trees that took us to the overlook. We stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and once again take in the diverse beauty that is Arizona. One minute you’re surrounded by sand and cacti, and the next you’re in the mountains with a bunch of evergreen trees. I know there are a lot of places on Earth that I still haven’t been to, but so far in my life, Arizona has proven to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!

Evergreen trees and fresh mountain air at Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook, north of Sedona.

Eventually we made it to the overlook and Levi was so excited, he almost jumped over the wall that separated us and a 4,500-foot drop! Luckily Pops had a good hold on his leash, because even though Levi swears he wasn’t trying to jump over, and all he wanted was a better look, I’m not sure I believe him! I think the sight of all them trees was just too enticing for him.

The wall that Levi tried to jump over into Oak Creek Canyon.
Levi Pitboxer realizing how far of a drop it would be into Oak Creek Canyon.

Once we got Levi settled down, and MaMa and Pops had their hearts back inside their bodies, we took a nice, slow walk along the wall that Levi tried jumping over. We meandered along, enjoying the view of the canyon and the millions of trees. We decided to take some pictures and I was happy to show Levi how to enjoy the scenery without scaring MaMa and Pops half to death! It sure is nice to be small enough to find a seat everywhere we go, and I had no desire to jump into that canyon!

I’m enjoying beautiful Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona on Hwy. 89A.
Trees as far as the eye can see in Oak Creek Canyon.
GiGi Maltese, enjoying the view at the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook.
A maltese dog is small enough to sit anywhere!

As we were finishing up our walk along the overlook, we came upon the Native American market that features nearly a dozen vendors selling jewelry, clothing and other items. MaMa and I aren’t big shoppers, but we did take a look at what they had and admired some beautiful turquoise jewelry.

Levi Pitboxer checking out the market at Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook.
MaMa and GiGi Maltese checking out the Native American market at Oak Creek Canyon Vista.

Before long it was time to leave, as we still had 4 ½ hours to drive before getting to Albuquerque, and it was already late in the afternoon. I think we were all a little hesitant to leave the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook, because it meant we were leaving Arizona. Even though we still had two days of driving ahead of us, and many more stops to make, it still felt like vacation was ending. And here I was just getting the hang of it. I could only hope there would be many more in my future!

On the drive to Albuquerque, we were all a bit melancholy. Levi and I decided to take a nap in the back, so as not to think about vacation being almost over. MaMa stayed awake up front with Pops so she wouldn’t miss any minute of the drive through Arizona and into New Mexico. As we were about to cross the stateline, she got this gorgeous picture of the sun setting in Arizona. It seems like an appropriate image to end our stay in Arizona with…

The last Arizona sunset of our Awesome Adventure.

By the time we got to our hotel in Albuquerque, it was after 10PM, and we were all really tired. I remember taking a walk around the place and seeing lots of other dogs. We were staying at a La Quinta, and they are extremely dog friendly. They don’t charge a fee for having your dogs stay with you, and it seemed as if our entire floor was filled with dogs and their owners. They have nice beds too!

GiGi Maltese is ready to sleep at the La Quinta in Albuquerque.

Stay tuned because on my next blog, we make a return to Route 66 (this time in New Mexico), the road where I was first bit by the travel and adventure bug!

Flashback Funday: Kankakee River State Park

Saturday, May 21 was a warm and sunny day. I know from my three years on Earth that you don’t always get nice days in May. And when that nice day in May is also on a Saturday, you have to get outside and play! You definitely can’t sit around in the house all day.  It was time to figure out where to go today!

"Let's get out there and explore!"
“Let’s get out there and explore!”

We don’t usually plan our adventures in advance, preferring a more spontaneous modus operandi. You never know what kind of fun you’ll get into that way! Besides, Levi and I like to be surprised. We like living in the moment! After some Internet research and some discussion between MaMa and Pops, we agreed to check out the Kankakee River State Park, in Bourbonnais, IL.

Since we all knew the drill for a day trip, it didn’t take long for us to get in the car and be ready for the quick ride down to the park, which is located in both Will and Kankakee counties.  It’s 4,000 acres in size, so it’s no wonder it’s located in two counties. One just couldn’t contain it!

"Let's blow this pop stand!"
“Let’s blow this pop stand!”
"Come on already, geesh!"
I’m always ready first!

The car ride to a new destination is always filled with excitement and anticipation. Levi is usually whining and crying out, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet?!?’ He actually starts that up about 3 minutes after we leave the house. He isn’t much for delayed gratification. I happen to love the car ride. Probably because I get to sit up front on MaMa’s lap. That’s definitely one of the advantages of being a small dog!

Riding in the lap of luxury!
Riding in the lap of luxury!

The surroundings where the park is located was home to a number of different Native American tribes, including the Illini, Miami, Kickapoo, Mascouten, Chippewa and Potawatomi between the 1670’s and the 1830’s. After 1832, when the Potawatomi ceded their land along the Kankakee and Illinois Rivers to the United States, most of the Native Americans left the area. It was eventually settled by a group of French Canadian fur traders. Later in the 19th century, an amusement park opened, which drew crowds from Chicago until it closed in 1920. After that, it became a popular location for summer cottages. The area along the Kankakee River became a park in the 1930’s when 35 acres of land was donated by Ethel Sturges Dummer, a Chicago area philanthropist. The rest of the land was donated later by Commonwealth Edison.

Since the park is so big, and encompasses land on both sides of the river, we had no idea what we would find when we got there. MaMa had read about a number of different trails, including a three mile trail along a tributary of Kankakee River, called Rock Creek. That trail goes through a gorge along cliffs! We didn’t end up on that trail though, mostly because we had no idea how to find it! Maybe next time we go, we will do a little bit more planning, because those cliffs sound exciting!

Instead we ended up walking on a trail that ran right along the river, which was also pretty cool! There were a lot of great river smells!

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Remember to watch your step!

Along with the interesting smells there were plenty of cool things to check out. You just have to be careful walking around though, because lots of people fish along the river, and at one point, I got caught up in some fishing line! Luckily MaMa got me untangled, and after that I was more cautious about where I put my feet.

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"I wonder if they've got any fish in that boat?!"
“I wonder if they’ve got any fish in that boat?!”

Since it was such a pretty day, Levi and I insisted on sitting for a photo shoot. The backdrop of the trees and the river just couldn’t be beat!

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Levi worked all of his angles that day! BOL!!

The day soon turned from warm to really warm, and we decided to find a place to sit in the shade. Luckily there are lots of trees and shady places to sit near the river, because after exploring, sitting is my favorite thing to do!

"This spot looks like a good place for a sit."
“This spot looks like a good place for a sit.”

When it was time to venture a little further along the river, I decided it was too hot to walk, and that’s when I got to go for a ride in my Outward Hound dog sack! It is the perfect size for me to sit and relax with my little head hanging out, while MaMa does all the work!

"Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!"
“Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!”

Considering the park is 4,000 acres and we only walked about one mile before turning around and going back, we will definitely need to visit the Kankakee River State Park on another day. The gorge and cliffs sound really cool, and I bet that we’d get some pretty neat pictures there too! But until then, pictures of Levi and I enjoying the area along the river will just have to do.

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My overall assessment of that park is…more information is needed, so we will be back! Knowing how much more there is to see there is reason enough for us to make a return trip.

Eight Great Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Dog!

If you love the Earth as much as I do, you’ll want to check out my list of eight great ways you can celebrate Earth Day today and every day!

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  1. Scoop up the poop

Whether your pooch poops at the park, on a path, under a palm tree, in private or during a parade; picking up after your pet is your responsibility.  Not only does proper poop removal help prevent the spread of disease, it makes the earth a nicer place for all the people who share those places with you and your pet!

2. Make Your Own Pet Toys

If your washing machine and dryer are anything like ours, you likely have spare socks lying around without a match. Rather than throwing them away, why not re-purpose them as your dog’s new, favorite toy. Old T-shirts can also make a great toy. Check out this no-sew, easy to make T-shirt toy!

3. Donate to Make a Difference

Do you have old sheets and blankets taking up space in your closet? Free up some of that precious space by donating them to your local pet shelter. Your worn out blankets can provide a warm and cozy bed for an animal without a home. Click here to find a local animal shelter near you!

4. Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Do as Bob Barker always said, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” It is eco-friendly and helps keep unwanted pets out of shelters. Sound advice, Mr. Barker!

5. Bake or Buy Organic Pet Treats

If you like to bake or just want to treat your dog to a special treat without all of the nasty by-products that are hiding in the store bought brands, consider making a homemade goodie for your best friend. There are dozens of recipes available online. If you aren’t one for DIY, consider searching out your local dog bakery or farmer’s market, so you can find out exactly what goes into the treats you give your pooch pal!

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6. Walk (or Bike) to the Park

When you walk your dog to the park, you lessen your environmental footprint by cutting down on auto emissions that pollute the air and water. Plus, there is the added bonus of more exercise for you and your pooch. If your furbaby is like me, and doesn’t always enjoy long walks on warm days, consider a bike basket for a fun transportation alternative.

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7. Plant a Garden

Can you believe I’ve tried (and liked) carrots, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus? They taste so good and they’re good for me too! If you have some extra space in your yard, consider adding a small garden and grow your own veggies. Homegrown produce is free from pesticide and eco-friendly too. Your belly and your best friend will thank you!

8. Clean up After Others

While out on a walk with your dog, bring a plastic bag with you and pick up any loose trash you see along the way. It might not seem like fun, but it sure is rewarding when you realize you are contributing to a cleaner community and a healthier environment. And let’s face it, dogs like to put their noses into everything, including trash. You’ll be helping other dogs and their owners out too!

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What are your ideas for celebrating Earth Day with your dog?