Category Archives: California

Adventurous Weekends, Surprise Visits, and the Dude: Life in Studio City

Life Off the Road is tough.

Life Off the Road is tough.

I told you last time how we were leaving Venice, and our life from before the Big Adventure behind, but I had no idea how fun the next chapter was going to be. That’s why I haven’t written anything in so long! Time is funny, especially for us dogs. One moment you’re playing tug of war with Maya over the plastic bone from El Salvador, then you look up and Human weeks have gone by!

We packed all of our stuff out of Erik’s apartment and headed north to Studio City, and the beginning of the end of our life on the road. It didn’t take that long to get to Tanya and Sean’s, but my nose told me we were in a totally different part of Los Angeles. We crossed a big mountain to get there, and the smells of the beach were nowhere to be found. Sean and Tanya have a whole HOUSE, and we were going to stay there while they were away. I knew pretty quickly this arrangement was going to be tons of fun. Victoria and Jason deposited me and Maya on the back patio so they could move our stuff out of the camper, and we immediately met the Dude, and his Human Andrew. Dude is super cool, always happy to see you, and a total role model for Maya. Over the next month I watched Maya follow his every footstep, eating his food, barking at the squirrels, and laying about in the sun. Andrew was super nice too. He had no problem with me jumping up in his lap, or even sneaking into his bedroom first thing in the morning to snuggle up.

The Dude.  Enough said.

The Dude. Enough said.

The next day we met Archie, another super cool dog that usually travels with Tanya and Sean but he got left home this time, which was just fine by me. Four dogs in the same house! We outnumbered the Humans! We wandered the house together like a pack of beach dogs all day long, tasting each others food, wrestling, running around, and sharing our toys. I could tell that we were a little bit much to deal with sometimes, but Victoria, Jason and Andrew still let us play to our heart’s content. Pair that with a super sunny patio and a ridiculously comfy bed, and I was basically ready to declare this place doggie heaven.

This is Archie.  He's awesome, and really good at sharing his food.

This is Archie. He’s awesome, and really good at sharing his food.

There were tons of other Humans around to hang out with, and to bark at. Hey, sometimes it just has to be done, you know? There was a big pool outside, almost like the one we had at the big jungle house in Costa Rica, and once a week two people would come over to clean it. They were pretty grumpy, so even though Victoria and Jason told us not to bark, they still kinda let us. Once some ladies came to clean the house, and they were super nice! In fact, one of them was from Oaxaca, one of our favorite places in Mexico! Victoria talked to her about chile rellenos and that beautiful city we had visited. It felt like we had brought a little bit of my Big Adventure to our new home. One day, Katie, Mike and little Marley even came to swim at the pool, and of course Andrew was there most of the time, always more than ready to give us dogs delicious treats. We didn’t even have to do anything for them!

I may or may not have been forced to go swimming.

I may or may not have been forced to go swimming.

It was about this point when Victoria and Jason started noticing my figure. It’s not something us dogs really think about, but apparently I had put on a couple of pounds since returning to the United States. I wasn’t about to be fat shamed, but I guess I had company. Victoria and Jason were complaining that they had gained weight too! I don’t know what their excuse is, but there were four bowls of dog food sitting on the floor. How could you not expect me to graze? Jason blamed his situation on something called In ‘N Out, while Victoria blamed it on the differences between camper life and life in a house. True, I was getting pretty lazy these days. But after so much time spent jumping from place to place, and eating all sorts of different dog foods (some tasty, some not so much), this was easy living.

Just as I was getting really settled in, My Family packed up the camper and we set out super early in the morning. What gives? I’m not entirely clear on Human time, but that didn’t seem like a full month yet. We drove back down the big mountain and through Venice, over to a storage space. A nice man with a giant truck dropped off a mountain of boxes and chairs, and Jason had to put it all away. Humans like stuff, but it takes up room. So when they want even more stuff they have to rent a place to keep it all. It’s complicated and silly, I know. Just as I was starting to wonder why we had to pack back into the camper for this, I got a huge surprise: Lorna and David! Victoria’s parents were in town for a visit! My tail nearly wagged off my behind. Even Maya, who normally just pees herself when there’s any kind of surprise, was jumping up and giving huge kisses.

Maya and me, hanging out with David.

Maya and me, hanging out with David.

We had packed up and left the Studio City house because we were going to spend a few days with Lorna and David in another house. Best of all? It was back in Venice! My Dogtown days weren’t quite over. The whole Family unloaded cars into a cute house near where we used to live, with a huge yard that Maya and I were allowed to explore to our heart’s content. We spent our time together doing some of my absolute favorite things: going on walks, snuggling on the couch, hanging out on the deck in sunny spots, and chasing Maya around the yard. Well, I think that’s only MY favorite thing, but Lorna and David didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Best of all, the smells rolling out of the kitchen were constant and amazing, wrapping around my very soul. More often than not, Maya and I each got a taste.

Pleaty of room for running at out Venice vacation house!

Plenty of room for running and playing at our Venice vacation house!

Soon I discovered why My Family got that furniture. Lorna and David had given up their house in Miami, and were in the middle of their own Big Adventure. They drove all the way across the country to see us, and gave My Family a car they weren’t going to use anymore! After our stay in Venice, they were getting on an airplane and flying to a place called London, which is across the whole Atlantic Ocean. They were going to live there! I was a little bit sad to discover this, even though they were very excited for this next chapter. What’s up with all this change? I sure hope it doesn’t mean we’re going to see them less. Hanging out with Lorna and David made for some of my favorite moments during My Family’s Big Adventure. We may not be wandering colonial cities with them anymore, but I’d be content going anywhere with them. I made sure to give them extra long snuggles (and more than a few kisses) while we were together, so they would be sure to know how much I loved them.

What's better than wandering around colonial cities with Lorna and David? HIKING around the canyons with Lorna and David!

What’s better than wandering around colonial cities with Lorna and David? HIKING around the canyons with Lorna and David!

Lorna and David had to get on a plane. We had a pretty teary goodbye, and then Victoria and Jason took us to the vet for shots. Yeah, that’s right. Couldn’t they have spread this crummy stuff out? We packed up the house in Venice and drove back to Studio City, Maya with Jason in the Big Truck, and me with Victoria in our gifted car, JETT. Jason says it’s actually a Volkswagen Jetta with the ‘a’ missing, but I’m just going to call it JETT, because that’s way cooler. We got back to Studio City without a problem, even though Victoria was pretty nervous. This was her first time driving a car in more than a year and a half. Yeah, she felt a little bit rusty.

Me, in the back seat of JETT.

Me, in the back seat of JETT.

After a couple of days in Studio City, we packed into JETT for another adventure. Hey, this life off the road is still pretty cool! Jason pointed JETT east, and after a couple of hours we were in a town that was very hot and very dry, and Maya and I were panting our faces off in the backseat. Jason and Victoria were super excited about something called ‘Coachella’, and hanging out at a swanky hotel with Katie and Mike. I don’t know about this Coachella thing, and I sure never got to go, but the hotel part was just fine by me. The room was surrounded by grassy spots, and dogs were more than welcome. The bed was super cozy, and My Family was in a great mood. We did get left behind a lot, but I couldn’t really complain. There didn’t seem to be any other dogs lucky enough to be there, so when Maya and I had to occupy ourselves while Victoria and Jason listened to music, we were more than happy to enjoy the icy cold air conditioning . The last night there, Victoria hung out with us all night while Jason and Mike went to that Coachella thing. Jason came home very excited about some guy named Jack White, saying he “killed it”, and he “burned the whole damn place down”. I don’t know, Jack White doesn’t sound like a very nice person.

Our front yard at the La Quinta Hotel. Swanky!

Our front yard at the La Quinta Hotel. Swanky!

A couple of nights in the swanky hotel, and we hopped back into JETT and headed for home. We did make a couple of cool pit stops first, checking out this HUGE body of water called the Salton Sea, and a strange campsite out in the desert called Slab City. By the time we got out of the car in Slab City, I didn’t think I could pant any harder. It was really sunny, and really, REALLY hot. Jason and Victoria wanted to see this place called Salvation Mountain, however, and after Maya and I guzzled water we agreed it was definitely worth the trip. Big and colorful, with all sorts of Humans climbing around and taking pictures. I can’t say I understood exactly what it was all about, but they’re not looking for doggie tour guides anyway.

Salvation Mountain.  DOG IS LOVE.

Salvation Mountain. Pretty sure they meant to say DOG IS LOVE.

We drove back to Studio City and settled back in at Tanya and Sean’s. I was pretty confident at this point that the adventure was over, and I was going to get some time to just lay about and relax. For the next few days, that’s exactly what I did. Jason kept going off to work and working tons when he was home too. Victoria made sure we were all taken care of, and that Jason had delicious lunches to take along with him. Maya played with sticks and learned to be more like the Dude. Archie settled back into his routine, having a daft half hour with Maya during the day, sleeping in the bedroom with us at night, and sometimes even hunkering down on the bed with us.

We all miss hanging out with Archie, especially Maya.

We all miss hanging out with Archie, especially Maya.

One day Sean and Tanya came home. Boy, was Archie happy to see them! I know the feeling. Being away from your family is never fun, and Archie was really good the whole time. So nice to us, and fun to play with. I could tell he loves his family, and My Family loves them too. I don’t think I had ever met them before, but they are really fun to hang out with, and the Dude, Archie, Maya and I all agreed their baby is going to be super awesome too . We enjoyed a couple of days together, hanging out by the pool and catching up on all of their adventures in Canada, Australia, and in some place called Bora Bora, that doesn’t sound boring boring at all.

Then I got really confused. We had moved into a different bedroom when they got home, so I had thought we were going to stay there forever, with our new, bigger family. Boy, was I wrong. A couple of weeks before this we had driven out to another part of Los Angeles called Topanga. It was a quick trip, but a super pretty one. Trees, birds, and curvy mountain roads, like we drove in Guatemala. There was a house there that My Family wanted to show Lorna and David, but we didn’t actually know anyone who lived there. Apparently, this was going to be our home! Yep, My Family was moving to Topanga. Not just another quick stop, but somewhere we are going to stay for a whole year! I’ll check back in soon and let you know how life OFF the road is going!

25
May 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

California, USA

DISCUSSION 3 Comments

Dogtown Daze

Me, lounging in a driveway.  Almost like being at the beach (not really!)...

Me, lounging in a driveway. Almost like being at the beach (not really!)…

After we packed up and left Jason’s family behind in Oceanside, it was finally time for our triumphant return to Venice. This was the last place we called home before packing up the camper and leaving on the Big Adventure, back in the days before Maya, before border crossings, basically before everything I had known as my life for the last year and a half. What was it going to be like?

Well, before I got a chance to find out, My Family took a bunch of time to run errands. We had to get a new part for the camper’s table and a new bunch of treats to eat during the week, all before hopping on a giant highway and turning north. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen so many cars! There were four lanes moving in either direction, packed with people, and My Family was none too impressed. Even Maya was tapping nervously at the back seat. Jason got reacquainted with American highway driving, and a couple of hours later we rolled into Venice in one piece.

Our old street.  Smells basically the same.

Our old street. Smells basically the same.

The smells! As soon as we crossed the city line I could tell we were home again. There was Abbot Kinney, and my favorite doggie shop. There was the stretch of lawn in front of the wee blue houses that I liked to pee on. And there were Katie and Mike! We got settled into the parking lot behind their house and tucked in for a big meal together. I’m not exactly sure if Wickets and Beverly were happy to see me, but they were both very nice to Maya, and Katie and Mike’s little girl Marley really loved us dogs. She’s a baby, which basically means a small human who walks around like a drunk full-sized human. The adult humans traded stories and ate pizza, while Maya and I tried to get used to city life.

Oh hey!  Check me out on Katie and Mike's front porch, just like old times when I used to be the judge and jury for all the dogs on the block!

Oh hey! Check me out on Katie and Mike’s front porch, just like old times when I used to be the judge and jury for all the dogs on the block!

First of all? It’s so loud here! Humans are terrible about sound; they don’t hear ANYTHING. And in Venice, there’s a lot to hear. At any given time there’s traffic, sirens, helicopters, music, screaming, honking, wheels rolling on pavement, drums, laughter, and basically any other people noises you can think of. It was pretty overwhelming, and I know it wasn’t just us dogs that were affected. That first night Jason couldn’t sleep because of the sound of helicopters above our camper. We’re used to spending the night almost anywhere, but this was something different. We weren’t in a campsite, we were on a driveway, in a busy neighborhood. It felt like one of our nights at a Pemex gas station, except even noisier! I figured it was going to take a little while to get used to this next part of the Big Adventure.

The Boardwalk.  So many people.  So many smells.  And so many good things to pee on!

The Boardwalk. So many people. So many smells. And so many good things to pee on!

Despite the new (old?) noises, the next couple of days were super fun. We wandered our old neighborhood, and ran into all sorts of friends. It was cool seeing so many happy faces, and to introduce Maya to all of the nice humans I had liked so much when we lived here. The dogs around here, however, didn’t seem nearly as happy or friendly. The locals call Venice ‘Dogtown’, I guess because almost everyone has dogs? And those dogs are ALWAYS on leash, stuck in houses, or kept behind fences on well-tended yards. I know it’s not a bad life. After all, us American dogs get all the food we could want, a comfy bed to lay in, and plenty of toys to destroy. I guess it’s a fair deal, but it certainly seemed like the dogs south of the border were freer. They get to go everywhere, run around in the sand and the dirt, and are always meeting new humans and dogs. Around here, humans walking their dogs actually crossed the street to avoid me and Maya. I don’t get it. Do I smell bad? I know I bark sometimes, but can’t we all just work it out? Strange behavior. We did get to be off leash a bit in Katie’s front yard and at the dog park, but it’s not the same. I guess all of those rules I noticed in Oceanside are even more strict here, since there’s way more humans and cars running about.

This is Marley.  She's a baby.  Babies smells (and taste great when you lick them) but they also like to slap you in the face sometimes.

This is Marley. She’s a baby. Babies smell (and taste great when you lick them) but they also like to slap you in the face sometimes.

I noticed a couple more differences during the days we spent parked behind our old street. First of all, humans run here. Like, just for fun. They’re not being chased or anything. And the cars are really quiet! There are all these things called ‘hybrids’ and you don’t hear them coming. Thankfully, it wasn’t all strange. We had plenty of delicious treats with our old neighbors, and lots of great walks around the streets we used to call home. I guess we changed, but Dogtown has basically stayed the same.

After a few more days with Mike and Katie we said our goodbyes. They’re the most awesomest hosts ever, but we were taking up all of their parking spots with our big truck, and in Venice that’s a pretty big deal. There’s nowhere good to camp in Los Angeles, no big sandy patches to park in or beaches you can stay on all night, so we were going to keep staying with friends. We packed down and headed just a few blocks away to our friend Karyn’s house. She’s super awesome. We had a lot of fun together when she came to visit us in Costa Rica, and we were going to spend a few days parked in her driveway. As seems to be the habit now, with our driving days fewer and farther in between, we had to run a bunch of errands before making our next destination. The grocery store, the storage center (to drop off some of the camping gear we didn’t need, now that we were city camping), and finally on to Karyn’s. It was so great to see her again! I thought my tail was going to wag right off when I saw her outside the house. I immediately made my way into Karyn’s lap, and I don’t think I moved until after we had spent hours in her cozy back patio. I finally left Karyn alone so she could get to sleep, and we headed into the camper for bed.

Karyn, me, and Devon.  I love these ladies.

Karyn, me, and Devon. I love these ladies.

The next day brought a pretty serious change in our routine: Jason left for work! As you know if you’ve been following my blog, Jason has been able to work pretty much anywhere during the Big Adventure. He’s made an office of beaches, jungles, farms, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and tattoo parlors, all without much of a problem. Here in America, lots of humans work in actual offices, so now that we were back, he had to do the same. That means getting up early, wearing real clothes and shoes, and commuting to a whole different part of Los Angeles. Jason was none too happy about this new development, so we all tried to give him as much love as possible before he left. Well, Victoria and I did. Maya was too busy barking at all of the dogs on leashes that walked by Karyn’s house. She just doesn’t get why they’re not allowed to play with her.

Chihuahua art.  Not that I'm biased or anything, but this pretty sweet.

Chihuahua art. Not that I’m biased or anything, but this pretty sweet.

The following few days passed quickly. We spent a lot of time going for walks in the neighborhood and hanging out with Karyn, and her daughter Devon. Oh, Karyn has a cat, and that caused a few issues with Maya. If you don’t know by now, Maya is scared of EVERYTHING. I’m pretty sure she pooped herself when she saw the cat nearby in the backyard. Jason worked, Victoria cleaned up the camper and started researching our next step, Maya and I wrestled, played with sticks and loved on Karyn. Your basic week. Maya had to go to the vet one day, something she isn’t used to and seriously doesn’t like, we both got baths another day (something else Maya isn’t enthralled with), and passed the time in the beautiful weather of our home town. I thought that I’d get used to all the sounds, the humans and the leashed dogs the more time we spent here, but so far it wasn’t happening.

Weird flying guy on the street.  He didn't move. At all.

Weird flying guy on the street. He didn’t move. At all.

One day we got to go to a party! Victoria and Jason have a friend name Dana, and it was her birthday. She’s pretty cool, and she let Maya and me come to her party. There was so much food and so many people I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head! I didn’t get to taste anything delicious, but I did get to see some of my favorite humans I hadn’t seen in a long time. Everyone wanted to hear My Family’s Big Adventure stories, and we got to spend hours lounging on the lawn. It’s sort of a strange thing to come back to a place where so many humans and dogs know you, after spending so much time in places where you don’t know anyone. On one hand, it’s really nice to be surrounded by humans and dogs you share a history with. On the other, it can be pretty overwhelming, at least at first. We had a blast at the party, but when it was time to go home I was more than happy to jump back into the camper.

Human parties basically mean a bunch of people get together in a small space, drink that alcohol stuff they love so much, talk A LOT, and eat a bunch of delicious smelling food without sharing any with the dogs (no matter how cute we are). Fun...

Human parties basically mean a bunch of people get together in a small space, drink that alcohol stuff they love so much, talk A LOT, and eat a bunch of delicious smelling food without sharing any with the dogs (no matter how cute we are). Fun…

We finally decided it was time to say goodbye to Karyn and move on. I was sort of hoping we were going to stay there forever. After all, we had a spot to run around off leash, access to fresh water, and plenty of grass to roll on. It was pretty much ideal to me. My Family, however, didn’t want to overstay their welcome. So Jason packed up the camper and we drove off. More errands, but then a very short drive to our friend Erik’s apartment. Erik is a super nice human, and he let my whole family stay in his apartment while he was out of town!

I mean, how great is carpet, right?

I mean, how great is carpet, right?

Although awesome, this was pretty strange at first. Other than that one night with Jason’s family when the big truck was in the shop, we hadn’t stayed out of the camper since we lived in San Miguel de Allende over the holidays. I don’t know if this is a human years versus dog years thing or what, but that felt like forever ago. Suddenly, there we were, with a bed, and carpeting to roll around on, and a whole big kitchen with room for our bowls and everything! I settled right in; after all, I’m a cosmopolitan pooch. Maya, on the other hand, didn’t really know what to do with herself. Jason keeps calling her a ‘country dog’, and I guess that’s true. She’s from Guatemala, hasn’t spent much time in her life in cities with lots of people, and has spent even less time in people’s houses. Jason called her a ‘bull in a China shop’, and he and Victoria spent a lot of time chasing her around making sure she didn’t break any of Erik’s cool stuff. I didn’t see anything Chinese in there, and there definitely wasn’t anything for sale, but whatever. Humans…

Three-legged dog at the dog park.  Sort of like Keryn's scary cat who only has two and a half legs, but much less cat-like and therefor much cooler.

Three-legged dog at the dog park. Sort of like Karyn’s scary cat who only has two and a half legs, but much less cat-like and therefor much cooler.

The next week passed quickly. Jason kept going to work, and Victoria kept researching. Apparently, instead of looking for campsites, we were looking for houses. We were going to stay in Los Angeles! They didn’t tell me much, so I’m not sure how long this was going to be for, or where it was going to be. All I knew was, My Family was looking for somewhere to call home. Jason and Victoria spent a lot of time on the computer, searching for places that looked nice and were okay for dogs. We even went off and looked at some places. Nothing seemed to fit, though, and My Family was starting to get nervous. They weren’t really sure where we were going to stay after Erik came home. We had a lot of friends in Venice, but not everyone has room to put up two humans, two dogs and a big camper. What would happen?

Me and Allison at Stoop Happy Hour.  Happy Hour means humans sit around and drink alcohol.  Fun!

Me and Alison at Stoop Happy Hour. Happy Hour means humans sit around and drink alcohol. Fun!

One day, Jason called Victoria from work with some good news. Our friends Tanya and Sean were going out of town for a whole month, and they had offered us their place while they were gone! How cool is that?! Jason and Victoria were super thankful and super excited. Our friends were all being so nice, and really supportive of our traveling lifestyle after so long away from home. I readied myself for another errand run and another quick drive to another part of Venice. We packed down, said goodbye to our good friends Hani and Alison (who lived in the same building as Erik), and hopped in the truck.

Then, something truly unexpected happened. We left Venice behind. I was so confused. Were were not going to stay in our old home town anymore? I discovered that Sean and Tanya live in a place called Studio City, also in Los Angeles but quite a ways from Venice. This was the end of our Dogtown Days, and I couldn’t figure out how I felt about that. On one hand, I was excited about a new adventure, and exploring another part of Los Angeles made it feel a lot more like our Big Adventure, when we were always checking out new towns. On the other hand, it seemed clear that we weren’t going to live in Venice anymore. Our old block was just that, an old home, no longer ours. New people lived in the wee blue house, and as awesome as our old life was, it was impossible to recreate it. We had to chart a new path. Well, Victoria and Jason did. All I get to chart is my pee spots but I’m sure hoping that during our time in Studio City I get a chance to overhear what’s next. Right now, it all feels a lot strange, and I’m kind of missing our old life on the road.

 PS: To see some of the photos My Family took during our time in Venice, click here.

05
Apr 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

California, USA

DISCUSSION 1 Comment

Reunions, Regulations, and Repairs

After 500 days south of the border, we're baaack!

After 500 days south of the border, we’re baaack!

Our last morning in Mexico dawned cold and wet, with heavy, chilly rain pounding the roof and turning the campsite into mud. As you can imagine, all I wanted to do was huddle under the covers and wait for the sun. Victoria and Jason, however, were eager to get our last border crossing handled, so out of the camper we popped. The rain was coming down so hard that even Maya wanted nothing to do with it. Jason scrambled to get us broken down and ready to go, and soon we were back in the truck and on the road towards the border.

The rain cut out, and after a quick stop to handle some paperwork, we rolled to a halt in a line of cars heading for the United States. Talk about boring! There was nothing to look at but a big ugly wall, and nothing to do but sit while we inched forward for the next hour and a half. Finally it was our turn at the border. I knew My Family was a bit nervous, after hearing some horror stories from friends who had crossed back into the US before us. The border agent took one look at me and broke out into a big smile. They didn’t have any problem with Maya coming home with us, and only seemed to be concerned about fruit. Five minutes later we were across the border, and back in our home country!

Other than crossing through a giant wall, I didn’t notice much of a difference right away. Jason and Victoria were beside themselves, however. Jason couldn’t get used to the speed limit signs being in miles instead of kilometers, and Victoria griped that we couldn’t just pick any old spot for a pee stop. We made our way out of the unincorporated country east of San Diego, and soon found ourselves surrounded by brand names and mini-malls. A few twists and turns later, we pulled onto a cozy, quiet street filled with homes. Where was our campsite?

Goodbye sand and grass.  Hello pavement...

Goodbye sand and grass. Hello pavement…

A moment later I understood: Jason’s family lived here! I thought my tail would wag right off when I got to say hello to Lilly, Rosie Pants, Jason’s sister Samantha, her daughter Abby, and Jason’s parents Gail and Elliott. I hadn’t seen them in FOREVER, and I had never met little Rosie Pants before. What a reunion! Everyone was so excited to meet Maya and to hear about all of our adventures, and Abby wanted to hang out in our camper as much as possible.

Lots of room for running around in Jason's family's house!

Lots of room for running around in Jason’s family’s house!

We spent more than a week with Jason’s family, and it was super cool to have a house to run around in, a yard and a patio for lounging, and nice people who love to snuggle up. But I couldn’t believe all the rules here! I guess I’d been out of the United States so long that I had forgotten. The part of Oceanside we stayed in isn’t actually ocean-side, rather it was full of houses, people, and dogs. Not only is there no sand, but us dogs have to be on leash pretty much everywhere! There are even signs about it, and you have to pay money if you break the rules! We even heard that dogs can’t even go on the beaches here, let alone run off leash! I got a little bit sad, wondering if Maya and my days of freedom were gone forever. I did enjoy all the great humans who were around, and it’s pretty cool that most of them like dogs and aren’t scared of us. The other dogs don’t seem quite as happy. The traveler and camp dogs we had met during the Big Adventure smiled so much, and spent their days running around in happy little packs. Most dogs around here spend their days on leashes or behind fences, which seems to make them grumpy and want to bark at other dogs all the time. I noticed that even I started barking more at these dogs, a habit I had really tried to break while we were traveling. I guess it’ll take some getting used to.

Even the 'green spaces' are full of concrete :(

Even the ‘green spaces’ are full of concrete :(

Rules schmules. We don't need no stink in' rules!

Rules schmules. We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!

We ignored the rules one day for some much needed off-leash time

We ignored the rules one day for some much needed off-leash time!

We ran so hard, even Maya got tired out!

We ran so hard, even Maya got tired out!

What won’t be so hard to get used to is the food. Oh my gosh! So many choices! Victoria was giddy that whole first week. She couldn’t believe how many options we now had, and she and Jason sure took advantage. I was getting tasty bites of delicious cheeses and meats I hadn’t seen in over a year. And the dog food? Que fancy! We finished our Mexican kibble and found ourselves treated to what felt like super food. Maya was sure happy about this new development. Jason loved the crazy fast internet that made working so easy, and gushed about the selection of good beer, and the fact that you could find it almost anywhere. I guess San Diego is a big beer place, because the humans here talk about it all the time. It was so good that Victoria’s parents treated Vic and Jason to a night out on the town so they could sample some of what this area had to offer. Don’t worry, just as when we were south, Maya and I were left behind in the camper…

Holy choices, Batman!  A dog could get used to this!

Holy choices, Batman! A dog could get used to this!

We spent a ton of time with Jason’s family, which was quite alright with me. Elliott absolutely loves dogs, and Lilly and Rosie Pants showed us the best methods for getting treats out of him. It wasn’t that tough. Abby really loved us dogs too, and spent a lot of time running around with Maya and me. She even gave Maya a new toy, which was super nice of her. One night, Abby joined us for a sleepover in the camper. After all this time, she was our first sleepover guest! It was pretty fun snuggling up with her on the couch, though I did make sure to get safely back to my spot under the covers with My Family once she was ready for bed. We also had a games night, and My Family broke out the UNO deck that had been so well-used during our time in the Costa Rica house. Who doesn’t love UNO? I jumped from lap to lap, trying to help out, but I wasn’t as much of a good luck charm this time around. C’mon, people. You can’t blame the dog!

Jason and Me.  Turns out I am a good luck charm when it comes to UNO, Jason won!

Jason and Me. Turns out I am a good luck charm when it comes to UNO, Jason won!

It was all super fun, but there were some hiccups. Remember what I said about all those rules? Well, it’s not just for dogs. There are rules for cars too, and apparently the big truck wasn’t yet following those rules. Jason spent a lot of time at some place called the Dee Em Vee, and then we spent two entire days driving around from repair shop to repair shop, panting in the heat while humans stood around scratching their heads and talking about fuses, computers, wires and smog checks. In the end, we had to leave our truck and camper overnight to get fixed! It was weird being away from it, even though we had a cozy home to stay in thanks to Jason’s family. Luckily they were able to get everything taken care of, and soon we were back in our comfy home, finally “street legal,” as Jason said.

Abby's got treats, you say?

Abby’s got treats, you say?

Once we had the truck back, it was time to pack up and hit the road. No, there were no more borders to cross, but My Family said the adventure was going to continue. We were headed back to Venice! We were going to spend time with Beverly and Wickets, and their humans, Mike, Katie and little Marley, who was like two weeks old when we left on the Big Adventure. I was super excited to see our old home again, but a little bit anxious about what was to come. I knew Jason had to go back to work again, and we were going to spend some real time back in Los Angeles. Would we still all be together? Would it be fun? How would Maya cope with city life? There were so many questions swirling around my little head, I thought my eyes would pop out. I felt lucky that we were able to stay with Jason’s family and have a safe place to start our journey back into the United States, but where would we go from here?

PS: To see My Family’s photos from our time in Oceanside, click here!

20
Mar 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

California, USA

DISCUSSION 4 Comments

South on the One

Me, bundled up on our last night in Mendocino. Brrrr!

Me, bundled up on our last night in Mendocino. Brrrr!

So, we’re in Mexico! Mexico is a “country,” and apparently we used to live in country called America, but now we live in a truck and are going to be visiting a bunch of countries after Mexico. Cool, right? Anyway, we’ve actually been here for five days, and it’s amazing, you guys! Before I tell you about that though, My Family said I have to tell you about the second half of our trip through California so here goes. Honestly, I barely remember it at this point, except that it was cold! When we left the town of Mendocino I was just about done with all of the shivering and the layers, and was more than happy to hear we were headed south. I don’t know much about directions and all that, but I know that south means closer to Venice, and it was almost always nice and toasty warm in our wee blue house.

The ocean on our way to Sonoma, we’re definitely not in Venice anymore!

From Mendocino we headed towards the town of Sonoma. It was so nice at the campground we found, sunny and warm, and there were dogs and kids and all sorts of fun stuff going on. Jason was a bit disappointed that we had to leave just as soon as we got there, to go get money from the ATM. Apparently, this is a machine that helps you pay for things. We took care of that pretty quickly and were settled into our campground in no time. That night we had a great big fire, and even though it was still chilly I was nice and cozy in Victoria’s lap. Our neighbor was playing the guitar, which sounded pretty nice too. Victoria said it was ‘classical music’, whatever that means. But it was soothing and good, and in no time flat I was asleep.

Twisty turny roads on the way to San Francisco!

The next day we got up pretty early and spent a long time in the car. We were headed towards San Francisco, and My Family was pretty excited. We were going to visit some new friends and spend a night in a house. That got me perked up in a hurry. But before we got there we had to go up and down some of the biggest hills I’ve ever seen. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, which made Victoria very happy. Jason pointed out some town called Alcatraz, but it doesn’t sound like anyone lives there any more. I don’t know why – it’s on an island that looked kind of pretty.

Anyway, after we got into San Francisco, I was amazed to see a huge town! I hadn’t seen that many people in what felt like forever. San Francisco is filled with great smells, lots of dogs, plenty of corners to explore, and streets that had Jason almost panicking. We drove on a street called Divisadoro, and I thought we might just slide right back down before we got to the top! It was nothing but huge hills, up and up we drove, and My Family was plenty nervous. They also had to pee really badly, and I know from experience that’s not a good combination.

My new friend, Bruthcar. He does NOT like to share his food but he's fun to play with!

My new friend, Bruthcar. He does NOT like to share his food but he’s fun to play with! (Photo by Roger)

Once we got to our destination, we found a great welcome by a couple named Diane and Roger. They have a great house, and they love dogs. In fact, their dog Bruthcar might be the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. He was happy to share his toys, but he got really annoyed when Diane shared his gourmet food with me. I mean, this dog gets people-food! On a giant white people-plate! Lucky!

I’ve never seen these people before, or I would have recognized their smell. Victoria said they met through something called ebay, and I did recognize a chair in their living room that used to be in ours, back when My Family first took me in. This was the first time Victoria was meeting Diane, and they were really excited to see each other. We had a delicious dinner together, and I got more treats than I’d seen in what felt like weeks! We also got to take a long walk through the neighborhood, checked out a place Jason called “The Haight”, and ran up and down another bunch of gigantic hills.

The beach in Monterey. Still lots of rocks but at least there is sand here!

The beach in Monterey. Still lots of rocks but at least there is sand here!

Although we had a great time, shared one of the comfier beds I’ve ever been in and stuffed our faces what seemed like the whole time, the next morning Jason and Victoria said we had to go. I probably could have stayed in that comfy bed forever, but it was time to keep moving south. So we made it back down those huge hills, left San Francisco and started even more driving. I was okay with it at this point, with a full belly and a good night’s sleep. We stopped in a town called Monterey, and the second Victoria opened the door I smelled the ocean! There were seals that sounded like dogs, huge birds that looked like they might have wanted to have me for a treat, and all sorts of delicious smells. The people were happy, the sun was shining and it was basically a good day to be a dog. It wasn’t nearly as cold either, which certainly helped. We stopped for lunch so Victoria and Jason could have clam chowder. There were some grumpy people on the patio with us who didn’t like that I was there, but I just ignored them and enjoyed the bits of clam and calamari that My Family gave me to try.

Big Sur. My Family thought it was beautiful, I thought the big rocks looked like monsters coming out of the ocean.

Big Sur. My Family thought it was beautiful, I thought the big rocks looked like monsters coming out of the ocean.

After that we got back in the car and drove for a long time. It was pretty out the window, but that doesn’t really matter much to me. Victoria and Jason liked it, though. They were in a great mood, until the sun started getting low in the sky. We were on some super twisty turny roads in a town called Big Sur, and Victoria and Jason weren’t sure where we were going to spend the night. All of the RV parks were full, and the Parks and Forests were still closed. Like, for real? I still don’t get how you can close a forest. But anyway, Jason was getting pretty tired of driving at this point, and when we reached the campground we were trying for and found it still closed, I could smell My Family starting to worry. The only options were to keep driving and hope that some sort of campground was open, or follow directions Victoria had found up a dirt road across the street. They chose the dirt road.

We drove up even steeper and more twisty roads, higher than I could remember going on a single road. There were all sorts of other campers just pulled off on the side of the hill, some with kids, some with dogs, and some just watching the sunset. We went higher and higher, and Victoria was starting to get really concerned. The sun was almost gone, and the campsite we were trying to find didn’t seem to be getting any closer. By the time we reached the road it was supposed to be on it was totally dark. Now I was getting nervous, because I could smell Victoria panicking. We drove even further up a rocky dirt trail that was now closing in on either side of our big truck. I didn’t know if we would ever get down again! Finally, Jason found a place to turn around, we got back onto the pavement and chose a spot to pull over and set up for the night.

Our morning view from the top of the mountain.

Our morning view from the top of the mountain.

It was quiet and pretty lonely. I could smell all sorts of animals, and Jason might have been a bit worried too. He strapped a knife to his waist, and kept shining the big flashlight around the hills. My Family ate cold leftovers, didn’t give me any, and we went to bed.

The next morning we woke up to what felt like a different world. We were really far up this mountain, totally alone, and you could see all the way to the ocean. I spent some time sniffing around, while Jason and Victoria laughed about the amazing spot they had found and how nervous they had been. A couple of other people stopped by to check out the view, so I guess it was pretty good. It took us quite a while to get back down the mountain, and then even longer to get away from the scary road on the side of the highway. When My Family was ready to stop for lunch they found a town called Cayucos. Now this was starting to feel like home. There was a beach, all kinds of birds, and definitely delicious food. Victoria spotted a place called The Smokehouse, and that lunch was one of the best of the trip so far. I got to have smoked salmon and a bit of shrimp, so it was a win all around! After that Victoria and I ran around on the beach while Jason spent some time on the computer doing something called “work.” We bought some cookies at a shop nearby and kept going down the road.

These are Elephant Seals. I was not allowed to play with them.

These are Elephant Seals. I was not allowed to play with them.

The driving is still kinda boring if you ask me, but we do get to see some pretty cool stuff. We stopped at one place where there were literally hundreds of these huge animals laying on the sand! Victoria called them elephant seals, and they were pretty cute. They almost sounded like dogs, but you could smell they were really different. We spent what felt like forever standing there checking them out. I made sure to poo in a really awkward spot so Jason would know I wasn’t particularly thrilled with this long a stopover that didn’t involve food. So back in the car we went.

Our campsite in Santa Barbara county. I think this was a better choice than breaking into the forest.

Our campsite in Santa Barbara county. I think this was a better choice than breaking into the forest.

You would think My Family would have learned their lesson by now, but again we found ourselves still driving when the sun was going down, with no particular place to stay. We drove into a beautiful forest, where everything was still closed down. Luckily, there was a campground that was open, and it was pretty awesome. It was HUGE! There were hundreds and hundreds of people there, all having parties and hanging out with their families. There were other dogs, too, and a couple of them even came over to our camp to say hi. We found a nice spot with lots of trees across from a big family playing music in a different language than My Family speaks. Jason laughed that it was “a preview”, but I didn’t really get the joke. It wasn’t as cold as it had been, but I was still more than happy to snuggle up under the covers at the end of the night.

This is the Santa Barbara Pier where I got to have lobster tacos for the first time. They were delicious!

This is the Santa Barbara Pier where I got to have lobster tacos for the first time. They were delicious!

The next day we didn’t spend quite as much time in the car, which made me very happy. We ended up in a town called Santa Barbara, which my family had been to before. They didn’t take me last time, so I was pretty happy to check it out for myself. Santa Barbara had a great pier, and delicious lobster tacos. I know, because Victoria let me try it. She’s the best. After a great lunch we enjoyed our first really warm day in a long time. I was even able to take my hoodie off. We walked on the beach a bit, checked out the art that some people had made and were showing off along the bike path, and then headed back to the car to go find a wine shop that My Family had tried to go to once before. We found it, and I was all excited to see what the fuss was about, except they tied me up outside! I let them know I wasn’t happy about it. Jason didn’t understand why I was so upset when I could even see them through the door, but I just don’t like it. The owner of the shop came out to pet me and say ‘hi’, and after Jason came out to talk to him he even let me come inside! He said they had a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy, as in don’t ask permission and I won’t tell you she can’t come in” which they laughed about. I just don’t get these people jokes.

My new friend Cherry, she likes to share her food and toys. She kind of looks like a ghost here. Victoria says she's not a ghost but that the picture is "blurry" because Cherry moves so fast.

My new friend Cherry, she likes to share her food and toys. She kind of looks like a ghost here. Victoria says she’s not a ghost but that the picture is “blurry” because Cherry moves so fast.

A few minutes later we got back into the car and headed for the town of Topanga. This was a really pretty place with more big hills, lots of trees and one of my favorite stops yet. We were staying with friends called John, Toby, Lulu and Zelda, and they were pretty cool. They have an awesome dog named Cherry, who was really nice to me right away. She also protected us from the coyotes, which spent a lot of time howling and generally making a racket. They sounded pretty scary, so I was glad that Cherry was there. We had dinner together, which smelled really good. I even got to lick the lasagne pan, which may have been the best treat ever in my entire life. We had a lot of time there, and I could tell that My Family would have been more than happy to stay longer. But the next day, like always, we packed up and hit the road.

The next stop was in Carlsbad, to visit with Jason’s family. I really love them a lot. Their dog Lilly is always smiling, and we got to play together a lot. They have stairs that you can run up and down, and landings you can jump off that are a lot of fun. I got to try something called “pot roast,” which was delicious, and Jason even got to have a birthday cake! I didn’t get any cake, but he seemed pretty excited. Jason and Victoria spent the next three days pretty much ignoring me, running constant errands. Luckily I had Lilly to play with, and a little girl named Abby who liked to rub my face and give me hugs. We had a comfy bed to sleep in, and after a while I began to wonder if this was the end of the Big Adventure. After all, we had spent what felt like forever living in the camper, going from place to place to place all the time. We had been in freezing cold, been up in the mountains, down on the beach, and basically everywhere. We had met so many great people, eaten so many yummy meals, met all sorts of dogs and smelled some of the best smells ever. That was it, right? That had to be it.

Now I know that was just the beginning of the Big Adventure. After three days with my extended Family we packed up and I suddenly found myself in the big truck on Victoria’s lap again. We were going even further south, farther than I had ever been before…

PS: If you want to see some of the photos My Family took you can find them here!


22
Oct 2013
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

California, USA

DISCUSSION 3 Comments