Before I knew it, the week was ending, and it was time to get back on the road. Even though we were leaving our new home away from home, it didn’t mean that our adventure was over. MaMa and Pops had planned our trip so our return drive was three full days instead of two. That meant we had plenty of time to stop and explore along the way.
On the drive to Arizona we had come up from the south so we could drive through the Superstition Mountains (check out Awesome Arizona Adventure: Mountain Time), so on the way out of Arizona, we were heading north in order to see Sedona and some other areas we hadn’t explored yet.
Our first stop after getting on the road was the Sunset Point rest area off of Highway 17 in Black Canyon City. Normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning a rest area, but this one was the nicest I’ve ever been to. And as you might imagine, being an explorer, I’ve been to a lot of them! The mountain views at this place were stunning! There were lots of places to walk around, sniff, and pee on! If you’re ever driving along that way, be sure to stop!
After taking a good look around the rest area, we were back on the road and heading towards Sedona, which was definitely on our list of places to stop and see before leaving Arizona. I’m sure you’ve heard about how beautiful it is there, and everything you’ve heard is true! We got off Highway 17 and onto Highway 179, which takes you along a scenic route into town. We had plans to go to Cathedral Rock, but needed to make another pit stop before exploring the area. We ended up stopping at the Coconino National Forest South Gateway Visitor Center, which boasts beautiful views and some wild Javelina pigs!
We left the Visitor’s Center and headed towards Cathedral Rock, which is home to one of four energy vortexes in Sedona. It is also one of the most photographed mountains in Arizona, and has a very popular hiking trail. Since we were on a deadline, and the trail can be difficult to traverse in a few places, we just hung out around the bottom of the mountain. Hopefully we soaked up some of that good energy while we were there. I know I felt pretty good after taking a look and sniff around the place. Those red rocks are so beautiful, if a little messy!
Eventually it was time to get back on the road, as we had a long drive ahead of us that day. We had to get all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico before the end of the day. Driving out of Sedona, we saw so many beautiful sites. I hope we get to go back there again one day and spend more time exploring those beautiful, messy red mountains!
After climbing Lookout Mountain, we all needed a break, so Pops thought it would be fun to check out a baseball field where Spring training was in progress! The field we were closest to is in Peoria, where the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners practice and play their pre-season games.
We had fun walking around the facilities and even saw some baseball players practicing!
Levi walked right up to the fence, figuring if the manager saw him, he would be drafted on the spot.
“It’s worth a shot!” he said, “I’m great with balls!” and then he turned around and gave me his best Pitboxer smile.
“A lot better than you are, right short stuff? Unless they are looking for a ‘short’ stop!!” he said and laughed.
I didn’t see the humor in that statement at all…
On our way around the park, I started getting hot. It is the desert, after all, so I started looking around for a place to cool off. It didn’t take long for me to find the perfect spot!
I might not be great at fetching and catching balls, but I sure am good at sitting on them. I’d like to see Levi Pitboxer try to do that! Fat chance of that ever happening!
After I felt up to walking around again, we found our way to the ticket booth and I was first in line to get the very best seats, but then MaMa told me that dogs aren’t allowed in the ballparks. That was really bad news. I mean, all that beautiful green grass…such a waste!
As we were leaving the park, we saw a sign for a restaurant and Levi couldn’t help but make one last quip, when he suggested I stand in front of the sign, because I was the saltiest Senorita he knew!
“You’ve got the right color AND the right disposition, GiGi!!” he barked out loud. I had to agree that I was a bit salty at times, so I played along and let him take my picture.
Eventually it was time to go home so MaMa and Pops could go visit their friend. While they were there, they met some authentic Arizona pups! I sure wish I could have tagged along…they looked like super nice dogs, and I’m sure they could have told me what it’s like to live in Arizona year-round. I mean, I was curious how hot it really got there in the summer!
When they got home that night, Pops thought it would be nice to take us to see another ballpark. So we all hopped in the car and went to the field shared by the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers in Surprise. We arrived right around sunset, so it was nice and cool and I was ready to explore.
As we were walking around, we noticed that the gates were open to the practice fields, so Levi and I decided we should walk in and look around. Who would stop us, right?
While exploring the park, we saw was a sign for the 2015 World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals. We were just about to take a picture with it, when a security guard started walking towards us. Before we could get a good shot, Levi skulked off, while I stared at the guy, challenging him to say something to us.
Which is exactly what he did! He asked MaMa and Pops what we were doing there, and told us the area we were in was off limits. Ooops! MaMa thought quickly and decided to play the ignorant tourist card, and told him we’d seen the open gates and didn’t know we weren’t supposed to walk through there. He was nice to us after that, and even escorted us out of the park!
Our last day in Arizona sure was adventurous! After our run in with the security guard, it looked like we’d only be able to check out the ballpark from behind bars, but at least we hadn’t been thrown in jail!
After our close call with cattle on the Vulture Peak Trail, we decided it was time to head to the town of Wickenburg, which is just north of the desert mountain range, and hopefully far away from any wandering livestock! Wickenburg was an old West mining town that is named after Henry Wickenburg, a German prospector who discovered a gold mine in the area that had over $30 million worth of gold in it! Whether that’s what it would be worth today or back in the 1850’s, I’m not sure, but either way, that’s a lot of moolah!
Since we’d left the house so early that morning, neither Levi or I felt like eating any breakfast, so that was the first thing we did when we got to town. I was hungry after our hike and made sure Pops knew about it while he was getting my food ready.
After what felt like ages, it was finally time to eat, and I didn’t waste any time diving in! I needed to get my energy back, so I could explore this town properly.
One of my favorite things to do is explore downtown areas. There are so many people to see, and interesting smells from the restaurants and stores, and of course all of the dogs and people who have walked those sidewalks before us. Downtown of any town is a great place to see and be seen. That’s why they call me GiGi On The Scene! BOL! Wickenburg was especially cool because of it’s rich Western history, you just have to remember to watch out for rattlesnakes! Don’t worry though, it wasn’t real! It sure had me fooled though.
We saw a lot of cool stores in Wickenburg, like the Rusty Rooster, an ecclectic shop that showcases local and fine art, as well as items representing the Old West lifestyle.
Levi’s favorite place in town was a shop that sold Stetson hats, and of course Levi’s jeans! I think Levi would look pretty good dressed up in jeans and a Stetson. He’d make a convincing cowboy in that get-up. He didn’t feel the same way, so we moved on.
We also found a shop called Double H, which seemed like an appropriate place for me to hang out, since I’m the Double G!! They make custom hats, but none that would fit my little head. I really like the steer on top of the building, especially his horns. I’d like to get my teeth around those beauties!
Wickenburg is also home to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, which has displays and exhibits focused on the old West. I liked this bronze statue out front of a rancher and his horse called “Thanks for the Rain” by the sculptor Joe Beeler. They sure don’t get much of that in Arizona, so I can see why he would so grateful!
After having a good look around the town, MaMa and I decided we needed to take a break in the shade. All smart explorers know that frequent breaks are very important!
Eventually it was time to move on and find somewhere for MaMa and Pops to eat lunch. Since she’d never been there before, Pops decided to take her to In-N-Out Burger for a Double Double burger and fries. Of course, I had to see what all the fuss was about for myself.
At first I wasn’t so sure what I was smelling, but once I realized it was a burger, I was all for it! I got a little taste too, and it was pretty darn yummy. I’d definitely recommend it to any man, woman or dog!
After lunch it was time to head back to our home for the week and get some rest. A vacation can be so tiring. I was beginning to understand why people say they need a vacation from their vacation! And, we’re out…
On our third day in Arizona we decided it would be a good idea to do some more exploring! While we’d had a great time at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, we decided to try a more challenging trail for our second hike in Arizona. We drove out to the desert mountain range, south of Wickenburg in mid-morning, wanting to beat the heat of the day. Though in March, it wasn’t likely to get TOO bad, we hoped!
On our way to the trailhead, we missed the turn-off and had to turn around and go back to find it. I guess it wasn’t well-marked, or MaMa just wasn’t helping Pops navigate like she was supposed to be doing. She was probably taking a picture of me or posting on facebook instead! We did finally find it though, and discovered when we got there that there isn’t much in the way of facilities. There is an outhouse-type toilet, and that’s it. There is no running water, so we were glad we had brought our own. It’s important to stay hydrated while hiking, especially in the desert! The parking lot is big enough for 15 cars, but there was only one other vehicle when we got there. I guess we would have the trail mostly to ourselves. How exciting!
The first part of the trail took us into a wash, which is a dry stream bed that temporarily fills with water after seasonal rains. We found the wash by following some tracks in the ground that Levi and I found after sniffing around.
Walking in the wash wasn’t very easy for me, as the ground is loose and rocky, but I managed, with occasional help from MaMa. It pays to be small when situations like that come up!
While walking in the wash, you need to keep an eye out for the trail markers, otherwise you could end up walking for an eternity in that arroyo (another name for a desert wash). Pops is an experienced hiker, so he kept us all on track. MaMa is mostly oblivious and Levi and I were too busy sniffing all those good desert scents to pay attention to details like staying on the trail!
We finally made it up to the main trail and it was beautiful and natural. The landscape is untouched Sonoran desert, and includes a variety of cactus like the saguaro, ocotillo, and teddy bear cholla. Every few feet was another opportunity to photograph our arid, yet lush surroundings!
After walking for a while, we realized that the trail was natural the whole way, and therefore pretty rocky. It was also getting warmer, and I wasn’t interested in walking very far. I think even Levi wanted to stop and take breaks more than usual. Because of the conditions, MaMa and Pops decided we would turn around and go back before reaching the saddle (the lowest point before the summit), let alone the peak of the mountain. Luckily even the short distance we did walk was full of photo ops!
So, after taking a break and making sure we were hydrated, we began the half mile walk back to the car. As we were making our way along the wash, we saw some animals in the distance, just off to the side in some tall plants. At first I thought they might be coyotes or mountain lions, but as we got closer, I saw that they were cattle.
I didn’t know how they would react to me and Levi, and neither did MaMa! She started freaking out a little bit, wondering if we were going to be stuck there, and whether we had enough water with us, in case we had to wait there a while. After assessing the situation for a few minutes, and realizing that the cattle didn’t seem that concerned with us, Pops and MaMa decided we could walk past them. As long as we did it quickly! I think they were mostly concerned with Levi, since he doesn’t like animals that are bigger than him. MaMa just carried me, which was probably for the best. I would have tried to run after those big cows, and take a bite!!
Since we were so concerned with getting past the cattle without incident, we ended up missing our turn-off for the parking lot! Luckily, we saw two young women walking down another trail, and MaMa asked them if that was another way back to the cars, and they told us it was. It was steeper than the way we’d come down, so MaMa had to carry me up. It was quite an adventure!
Finally we made it back to our car, and were able to relax and take a moment to reflect on our close encounter with the giant cattle, and the timely arrival of some fellow hikers. It sure was an exciting morning. I wondered what we would get up to next?! Stay tuned to find out…
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Levi wanted to check out the theater and see what movies were playing, but Pops said we didn’t have time.
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!
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!!
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!!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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?!
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!
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.
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.
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!!
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)!
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.
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!
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.
But she knew I would eat all of her veggies, so I got left outside the gate. Boo-hoo!
After getting a good look around the yard, it was time to wrestle and run with Zelda.
I run like the wind, and sometimes she had trouble catching me, but when she did, she made some pretty funny faces at me!
So I made some crazy faces right back at her!
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!
After a while we got tired of running and playing, and took a little break in the shade.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Can you tell by the looks on our faces who won the showdown?
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!
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!!