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!

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Consider Us Enchanted!

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

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

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

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

“Okay, I’m getting up, geesh.”

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

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

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

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

Nap Time!
Nap Time!

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

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

Prepare to be enchanted!
Prepare to be enchanted!

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

Beautiful New Mexico scenery.
Beautiful New Mexico scenery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Sacred Heart Catholic Church

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

Stunning New Mexico Mountains!
Stunning New Mexico Mountains!

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

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

Onward to Arizona!

 

 

 

 

Awesome Arizona Adventure: 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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Route 66 Road Trip: The End of the Tail

It was day three of our Route 66 road trip and it was time to head home. We had done so much, and seen so many cool and iconic attractions! I had been to parts of the country I would have never imagined I would visit when I was living as a tobacco shop pup, chained up all day, kept in a crate at night, and only taken out for quick walks to do my business, never allowed to explore or go on adventures.

And here I was now, just a little more than a year after MaMa rescued me, waking up in a motel room in Missouri! Not only that, but I had just been taken on a road trip down a portion of the most famous road in America. How appropriate that I had been down the Mother Road with my MaMa (and brother and Pops)!

Where am I? Oh yeah, Missouri!
Where am I? Oh yeah, Missouri!

After Pop loaded up the car and we got on the road to head home, I looked at Levi and I could see he was sad that our short vacation was over. It turned out that he liked having a travel buddy to share adventures with, and he, like I, didn’t want our road trip to end!

Levi was sad that our road trip had to end.
Levi was sad that our road trip had to end.

Just as Levi and I were lamenting the end of our adventure and dreading the long and boring drive back on Interstates 44 (Missouri) and 55 (Illinois), we heard MaMa and Pop in the front seat discussing possible places to stop on the way home! They weren’t planning anymore Route 66 stops, but instead were looking for parks or natural areas we could stop at close to the highway. MaMa remembered reading about a lake in Litchfield, Ill.  She didn’t have much information, but experienced explorers (like I was becoming) know that sometimes the less you know about a place, the greater the adventure!

So, homeward we progressed, but knowing we had at least one fun place to stop on the way made the prospect of vacation ending a little less bittersweet.

When we arrived in Litchfield, we drove around a bit aimlessly until we saw a sign for a Lake Lou Yaeger boat launch. That sounded promising and turned out to be a pretty place to hang out and enjoy the lake view for a while.  MaMa and I sat and enjoyed looking at the lake, while Pop took pictures and Levi checked out the grass!

We all relax in different ways!
We all relax in different ways!
Levi Pitboxer loves rolling in the grass any chance he gets!
Levi Pitboxer loves rolling in the grass any chance he gets!
This IS the life!
This IS the life!
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Levi finally got up and took a look around.
I have a great view from up there!
I have a great view from up here!
Pretty place for a family photo.
Pretty place for a family photo.
One last look around before getting back on the road.
One last look around before getting back on the road.

After enjoying the lake and stretching our legs, it was time to hit the road again and get a little bit closer to home before making another stop. MaMa drove this leg of the trip, so Pops was left in charge of finding the next place to stop. Lucky for us, he is excellent at finding places to explore! He found a great place to stop called the Railsplitter State Park (also known as the Edward R. Madigan State Fish & Wildlife Area) along Salt Creek in Lincoln, Ill., just 30 minutes north of Springfield on I-55.

We found a nice trail right along the creek and did some exploring in the woods. Some of our favorite adventures are in the forest, with all of the trees, and other plants to smell and this one had a creek for even more sensory pleasures!

Levi loved checking out the creek!
Levi loved checking out the creek!
There is so much to check out!
There is so much to check out!
I wanted to see what was going on too!
I wanted to see what was going on too!
Enough of that, let's check out the rest of this place.
Enough of that, let’s check out the rest of this place.
Let's see where this trail heads.
Let’s see where this trail heads.

We took our time at this park because it was the last stop before heading home, and none of us wanted our little adventure to end. To think, it had all started just because MaMa watched the movie, Cars by herself one night and decided that Route 66 looked like something that would be fun and interactive for our mixed species family. And she wasn’t wrong, as it definitely offered adventure for both humans and canines alike. Something else our little trip did was convince MaMa that we are all meant to travel together! Knowing how well Levi and I behave on road trips allowed her and Pop to plan other trips that we’ve taken since this epic journey down the Mother Road. I hope you will take those trips with us as well as I relive them in future blogs.

Looking forward to our next trip. Thanks for the memories Route 66!
Looking forward to our next trip. Thanks for the memories Route 66!

Next stop…Arizona here we come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route 66 Road Trip: Route 66 State Park

We’d seen a lot of strange things on our Route 66 road trip, including a 30 foot tall astronaut, a six foot long hot dog, and a giant pink elephant, but none of those road side attractions are nearly as interesting as the story behind Route 66 State Park.

If you don’t know the history behind it, and just happen to be stopping by for a trail hike while traveling along the Mother Road, there isn’t much there to visually indicate the tragedy that eventually lead to the creation of Missouri’s newest state park. But MaMa did a bunch of research before we left for our trip, and we knew before arriving that the park happens to be located on the former site of Times Beach, an unlucky town just 17 miles west of St. Louis, originally founded as a summer resort destination in 1925 on the banks of the Meramec River.

Because of the Great Depression, Times Beach didn’t survive as a resort town, but did eventually become a lower-middle class city, and home to approximately 2,000 residents. In 1972 the town, who’s only paved street was Route 66, hired Russell Bliss, a waste hauler, to oil down the dirt roads, in an effort to control a dust problem. What they didn’t know is he was using oil that was contaminated with Dioxin, a highly toxic by-product, found in waste that Bliss was hauling for the Northeastern Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company, the producer of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War!

When local horses began dying in stables where the same oil had been sprayed by Bliss, an investigation was begun by the EPA, and eventually the Federal Government bought out the entire town in 1983, and all residents were evacuated in 1985. In 1996-1997, the government removed nearly 300,000 tons of contaminated soil and debris from the site, and everything was incinerated. After that, the 419-acre site was turned over to the State of Missouri, who turned the former town into the Route 66 State Park, which opened in 1999.

I told you it was in interesting story!

Our visit to the park was peaceful and not nearly as intriguing as the story behind the creation of this state park. I was pretty worn out from all of the previous activities from this day and the day before, that I made MaMa carry me for a large chunk of our walk! (This happens a lot, and now you know why they bought a carrier for me!)

looking back G
The view is nice from up here!
Carry G
I think I’ll take a nap now!
GiGi MaMa Close up
You can see Pop and Levi in MaMa’s glasses!

While walking we found ourselves under the Route 66 Bridge, which was built in 1932 and crosses the Meramec River. Because of wear and deterioration, the bridge has been closed down for a number of years to all traffic, including pedestrian. There is a group trying to restore it, but if they don’t raise enough money by the end of this year, it will be demolished in 2017. I’m sure glad we got to see it, and hope the group is successful. Here is a link to their go fund me page, if you are interested in making a donation to save this landmark.

Levi Bridge
Levi gazing up at the Route 66 State Park Bridge.
G and L Bridge
Route 66 State Park Bridge

All in all, we had a great time at the park and were grateful for a nice time to enjoy nature, and are extremely happy that something so beautiful was made out of something so tragic!