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!

Oct 2013

California, USA


3 thoughts on “South on the One

  1. Rhonda

    Looks like you’re getting off to a fun start! Jealous you’re in Mexico and on your way. Hey, if you get a chance check out our new website and like them on facebook:) then Neli can keep up with the black dog adventures. Would Neli be interested in doing a guest post or interview on life on the road for it?

    1. Neli Post author

      Hi Rhonda! It’s been a great time so far and mexico is amaaaaazing! We’ve bookmarked your blog and will find you on FB as well! Neli would LOVE to do an interview one of these days! Maybe once we get to the mainland as she has more to talk about? Best, Victoria


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