Posts Tagged ‘adventure

10
Mar
19

Loss and the Long Road – Part One

May 4-6, 2018 and May 11-12, 2018

It was a cruel irony that the wagon I had ordered to pull Yukon along the Mississippi River on a weekend Great River Road adventure showed up the day after I had to let him go. I sat and cried, like I had so many times since the previous day, before cramming the box into a dark corner of the garage.

I came home on that Friday to find Yukon’s injured leg was swollen to double its normal size. As I was palpating his leg, I felt a large, hard mass in his groin and my heart sank. I knew what it meant, but wasn’t fully ready to let go.

The next morning, I woke early and carried my goofy dog that I loved so much to the car. We were heading to Kruse Park Dog Beach on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of Yuk’s favorite swimming spots. I walked with him slowly down the steps to the sand, despite his condition, he was amped to be near one of his favorite things, water. He enthusiastically chased ball after ball into the waves, his back end collapsing time and again, my heart breaking over and over each time. I’m not sure what others at the beach thought as I held my wet dog, sobbing before deciding it was time to leave. He was unable to walk up the stairs so I carried him, tears blurring my vision.

His body may have been broken, but his spirit was definitely not!

I didn’t want to go to sleep because I knew what the next day would bring. Yukon was my first dog and I’d never had to make the decision to end the life of a beloved pet. We were all exhausted and finally I had to force bedtime. I pulled a huge, thick ribeye out of the freezer before lightly grilling it for my pal’s final meal, then sent my vet a Facebook message and he agreed to meet me at the office in 20 minutes. I held Yukon as we took X-Rays, my fears were confirmed he had a large mass in his groin and two smaller metastasized tumors in his lung. While I knew the answer, I asked my vet, “What would you do if he were your dog?” To which he replied, “He has no quality of life and he’s in an incredible amount of pain.” It was at the same time the most difficult and the easiest decision of my life. Mira and I by his side, me whispering “I love you, buddy.” in his ear, the euthanasia drug was injected and after a few labored breaths, Yukon was gone.

See ya later old pal!

A short five days later, I had plans to take on another section of the Great River Road. I was devastated by the loss of Yukon and was ready to cancel plans and lie in my dark bedroom, clinging to Mira. Then I realized that sitting and moping would accomplish nothing, that one of the things that was helping through this loss was the many photos and videos I had collected during out many adventures together. Dammit, Mira and I were hitting the road in honor of our buddy!

Mopey Mira

When work ended Friday, I rushed home to pick up Mira, gather some things and hit the road. That night’s destination, Davenport, Iowa. We arrived late and after chowing down on some Capriotti’s and shedding a few tears while staring at the television, Mira and I cuddle close and got some much needed sleep.

One little monkey jumping on the bed!

Since our first adventure on the Great River Road, I had armed myself with more information (ordered maps, guide books, etc.) and had a pretty good idea of which route I wanted to take on this weekend trip. We started northbound from the point we began our southbound leg on the last visit to Davenport. Our first stop was Centennial Park, I pulled into the entrance to find the mighty river had broken free of its banks and inundated the park. I was still able to find a place to park and Mira and I were able to walk along the flood waters dodging debris as we went.

Mira hanging out in front of Centennial Bridge – Davenport, Iowa

Mira, I don’t think that’s what Tina Turner meant when she sang “Rollin’ on the river”

Flooding and debris along the river in Centennial Park

Driving north along the western side of the Mississippi, we enjoyed the short glimpses of life on the river (well, I enjoyed them while Mira snored in the back). The only definite stops I had planned on this drive were Effigy Mounds National Monument and Potosi Brewing. We crossed the river at Dubuque, Iowa before heading to the first of these stops, Potosi Brewing, which is conveniently located right on the Great River Road.

Postosi Brewing Company

After learning of Potosi while planning, I called to make sure Mira would indeed be allowed in the outside eating area and double checked again when we arrived. The hostess said they normally didn’t allow dogs out there on the weekends , but since it was 50 degrees and sporadically drizzling, they’d make an exception for my furry beast. Mira settled under the table as I ordered a Tangerine IPA and some chicken fingers (I know, super adult). Eating quickly as not to freeze, we headed across the road to get a photo with the giant Potosi bottle before once again hitting the road.

Mira, dogs don’t like beer!

“Giant, scary beer bottle…I’m outta here!”

Because of the high water levels, the ferry across the river I intended to take wasn’t in operation so I crossed the river once again at Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin and headed north to Effigy Mounds.

As fascinated as I’ve been about the indigenous tribes that inhabited the desert southwest, I’ve never learned much about the mound builders that once dwelled in my own “neighborhood”. Once inside the visitor center, I chatted with the ranger working the information desk and stamped by National Park Passport. She recommended a trail that Mira and I would enjoy. We wound our way up the switchbacks, squirrels flitting back and forth through the green forest. The mounds were hard to comprehend from ground level, huge earthen mounds that from the air resembled birds, bears and nondescript, circular mounds. It’s unclear the exact reason for the mounds (in some areas they were burial mounds), perhaps territory delineation or ceremonial/sacred sites.

Effigy Mounds National Monument

We reached the top of the climb through the mounds to reach Fire Point Overlook, a broad vista overlooking the Mississippi. We chatted with a couple of people that were heading in the other direction before making our way back down toward the parking area. Mira has always been a conversation starter, which is good for a solo traveling introvert like myself. A couple in the parking lot stopped me and asked if they could pet her which she of course loved. Mark and Cheryl were up on vacation from Iowa, staying in Prairie du Chien. We chatted forever about dogs and travels and motorcycle touring (Cheryl did quite a bit of solo motorcycle travel) before heading our separate ways.

The view from Fire Point Overlook

My hope for accommodations was to camp on the river at Perrot State Park but when I arrived, every single campsite was filled. As the sun was dropping toward the horizon, I checked a couple other campgrounds which were also full, camping on the big river would have to wait. I wasn’t even able to get a motel nearby and ended up driving an hour east to Tomah, Wisconsin. As much as I wanted to camp a bed and a shower sure felt great after a long day of driving!

Tired little dog, sacked out at the Tomah, WI Super 8

01
Mar
19

April Adventure Part Two – Route 66 and the Great River Road

April 13-15, 2018

The threat of an impending ice storm made me load up the dogs shortly after returning to my parents’ house after backpacking. Thankfully, it was clear sailing for the entire 3 hour drive home.

Early next morning, I woke to a dreary, grey, drizzly day. Since I still had two days left of my four day weekend, I decided to chance potentially bad roads and hea out on a “short” adventure. Because of Yukon’s bad leg, we couldn’t hike and I had been hankering for a Capriotti’s sub so Davenport, IA it would be! Since we’d be going past some bits and pieces of Route 66 that I hadn’t been on, I decided to check the ‘Roadside America’ app and see what interesting places we could visit on the 5 hour drive to Iowa.

Me: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses. Mira:  Hit it!

First stop, Route 66 Food N Fuel to see the Bluesmobile on a Stick after snapping a couple of quick photos, we moved on to Rich & Creamy for some ice cream on the Mother Road. Looking at routes as an alternative to taking I-80 as I have on what seems like a million occasions, I decided to get off the expressway and on to two lanes, crossing the Mississippi River at Clinton, IA.

Bluesmobile on a Stick at Route 66 Food N Fuel

Rich and Creamy in Joliet – the pups loved their little doggie treat

Yukon, you have no thumbs, you can’t pump gas!

A frigid, wet wind whipped at the dogs and me as we walked down toward the mighty river for a photo. Yukon, despite a bum leg, was throwing a tantrum because he was close to a body of water and I wouldn’t let him go swimming and Mira was tired of the wind and made several attempts to escape to the warm Jeep.

The Mighty Mississippi at Clinton, IA – Yukon wanted to swim, Mira was trying to escape to the Jeep

Heading south on 30, I noticed a scenic route sign imprinted with a riverboat wheel. My interest piqued, I looked it up to find we were on a lesser known scenic route known as the Great River Road. At that point, I decided I’d do my best to trace the entire route in sections. As we were in the area, we stopped at American Pickers headquarters (Antique Archaeology) in Le Claire. Mira begrudgingly sat to have her photo taken in front of the iconic car in front (bribed with treats from the nice ladies inside the gift shop of course). It was a short drive to Capriotti’s and my delicious “Bobbie” sub followed by a stop for some of Toppling Goliath Brewing’s Pseudo Sue, a beer I’d been wanting to try for a while simply because they feature a T-Rex on the can.

A quick stop at Antique Archaeology (American Pickers) in Le Claire, IA

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The Bobbie and a 4 pack of a Pseudo Sue – the perfect combination!

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I’ve mentioned before, when on the road with the dogs, I tend to stay at Motel 6. They definitely are spartan but they’re usually pretty decent and dogs stay free. Motel 6 in Davenport was no different, definitely not fancy but clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, they put us in a room on the 2nd floor, not awesome with a 65 pound dog that is struggling to walk. I carried my giant black dog upstairs and placed him on the bed where he instantly made himself at home. Snuggled into bed with the dogs, we fell asleep to the Discovery Channel.

The dogs know how to make themselves at home after a decade of road trips!

After following a short section of the Great River Road from Clinton, IA to Davenport, I was intrigued. A lesser known scenic route similar to the vibe of Route 66 that runs along the Mississippi River from its source at Itasca State Park in Minnesota to the Gulf in Louisiana. After reading up on this road that was previously unknown to me, I decided day two of our road trip would be to follow it from south of Davenport to Alexandria, MO before heading home via back roads connecting to Route 66.

Yukon, my four-legged divining rod was beside himself with excitement as we drove along the shore of the big muddy Mississippi through Buffalo, Montpelier and Muscatine on our way to a quick stop at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge.

Navigator Yukon at your service

Sergeant John F. Baker Jr. Bridge – I-280 over the Mississippi River

I pulled into the first parking area for the Wildlife Refuge, the parking lot being excessively muddy, I left the dogs in the car to do some exploring along the shore. I saw hundreds of fish, dead on the bank like there was a massive die off and they washed up. The smell was something special! My boots caked with a couple of inches of mud, I returned to the Jeep, today would be a driving day instead of a hiking day.

Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge and a few photos of the fish die off

White Pelicans taking flight from Muscatine Slough

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As we made our way south, we sometimes lost sight of the river, but were rewarded with rolling Midwestern farmland in exchange.  It started snowing as we drove a tunnel of trees, two lane back portion of the Great River Road into Keokuk, Iowa which was named after the great Sauk leader Keokuk.  I continued on, crossing the Missouri state line, filled my gas tank in Alexandria and started to head east toward Route 66.

I live for rural two lanes!

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A statue of Sauk leader, Keokuk, the town’s namesake

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Nearby carved eagle statue

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Made it to Missouri!

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Looking for life on two lanes on our way to Atlanta, Illinois

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We made our way east, traveling on more rural back roads in pursuit of another of Illinois’ Muffler Men (Mira and I visited Gemini Giant the previous fall) in Atlanta, Illinois.  I left Yukon in the car, leashed Mira up and started toward the imposing figure of “Tall Paul”, a muffler man formerly resided in front of Cicero’s hot dog stand in the Chicago suburbs.  I sat Mira in front of him with the intent of getting her photo, she was freaked out and dashed toward me for protection from the scary figure.

Mira says, “I’m outta here!”

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Loaded back into the Jeep, we made our way back home.  After 35 hours, 5 states and a little over 1,000 miles we were back in our driveway, a fun little adventure under our belts.  I’ll always cherish this trip as it was Yukon’s last road trip, three weeks later I had to have him put to sleep.  His leg that was a presumed CCL tear was actually a very large tumor in his hip with metastasis to the lungs that there was no recovering from.

RIP Yukon – 7/2006-5/6/2018

 




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Looking down to see Andrew’s new little GSP puppy, Morgan, and my not-so-little Aussie puppy, Mesa, laying next to me like this last night brought up a huge upwelling of emotions. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The GSP/Aussie duo of Cache and Elle that we just lost were similar in age difference and were best buddies from the second they met. They often cuddled on the couch together next to me, just like these new pups do. I have a feeling they’ll be just as inseparable as their predecessors were. . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy
Slo-mo humming bird moth (likely a white-lined sphinx), they were everywhere at dusk last night. Seriously cool creatures! . . . . . #insects #moth #nature #insect #entomology #hummingbirdmoth #whitelinedsphinxmoth #michigan #garden #slomo #iphonex
It’s a bit hard to admit, but while I instantly knew when I met Mesa that he was coming home with me, for about the first week I second guessed whether doing so was the right thing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Cache had died only a couple of weeks before and while ludicrous, I felt like I was betraying him. I still cry most days about that little black dog, he was a gem (but aren’t they all). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As the days and weeks have passed, I’ve seen him grow and learn and I have zero doubt that he was meant to be in my life. He seems to sense the somber vibe on the farm after all of the loss and provides love and humor whenever either Andrew or I need it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ No dog replaces a previous dog, they just help to plug the ragged hole left in our hearts. I can’t wait to see this little moose continue to grow into an amazing adventure dog. . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy
“How could you betray me like this, Mom?!?!” . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #australianshepherd #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #adventuredog #bluemerle #olddogsrule #seniordog #seniordogsofinstagram #geriatricmenace
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