Tag Archives: California

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!

Mar 2015

California, USA


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


And So It Begins

This is basically where I spent the first week of my Big Adventure. Thankfully, My Family didn't get rid of MY bed.

This is basically where I spent the first week of my Big Adventure. Thankfully, My Family didn’t get rid of MY bed.

So this is the ‘Big Adventure’ Victoria and Jason have been talking about for so long? Well, I didn’t especially love how it began. They woke me up at 5AM to pull the last comfy thing out of our home, the mattress. Victoria and Jason were laughing the whole time, but I’m not really sure what was so funny. They emptied the rest of the house, which made me pretty anxious, scrubbed the house clean (Victoria kept saying it was “probably for no reason”) and put all of our stuff in the big truck and the comfy box.  I didn’t really get to say goodbye to my friends Beverly and Wickets, but their family came over to say goodbye, which made Victoria cry. Finally, Jason grabbed me up and we were off.

We spent the next three hours driving around while they ran errands and I waited in the car. This seems to be a common theme for this ‘Big Adventure’, and I DO NOT approve. After a few more stops we drove on, and suddenly our little blue home was far behind us. We drove a long time, and didn’t stop until it was almost dark. This was another one of those “campsites”, so I knew we weren’t going to stay long. We set up right by a big river that sounded more like the ocean. Apparently, this is the town of Sequoia National Forest, and My Family was all in a fuss. It seems there’s this thing called “the government”, which decided they didn’t want the forest to be open anymore. I don’t know how you can close a forest, but apparently it’s closed. Still, we got to go on a long hike up a mountain and sniff around our neighbors’ campsites. But when Victoria and Jason took me for a walk to the general store, the people there told us we were lucky they were still open. The National Forests are going to be shut down. That’s going to take an enormous gate.

Crossing the river to go on a hike

Crossing the river to go on a hike

We still had a lot of fun before we had to leave. Jason was worried about the fire ants, and Victoria liked watching him put the fire out with sand. Sand is one of my favorite things, so I definitely knew how she felt. We stayed in this place for two nights, before an old lady ranger with a nose ring told us we had to leave. Time to pack up and get back on the road.

Victoria was really worried we wouldn’t find a comfy home for the night, with this “government shutdown” going on. We didn’t get to see the sequoias, which Jason said would be the biggest trees I’ve ever seen. In fact, there’s a tree called General Sherman, which is one of the largest living things on the planet. That would have been cool. Instead, we left for the town of June Lake, in the Inyo National Forest. Victoria and Jason were both pretty relieved that the campground was still open.

I've basically spent the last week inside the camper because it's so cold outside of Venice.  This is my view.

I’ve basically spent the last week inside the camper because it’s so cold outside of Venice. This is my view.

It was beautiful, and really quiet. But I’m not sure why they wanted to come here. It was really REALLY cold. I took one step out of the camper and couldn’t stop shivering. I spent the whole time layered up in both my pink hoodie and my puffer jacket. When I did go outside I saw deer, which are pretty but don’t want to play. Victoria was pretty worried about bears, and kept shining the huge flashlight into the bushes and asking where the bear spray was.  She didn’t need to worry, I could smell that no bears were around, and we were totally safe.

So this is interesting… Did you know that when it gets extra cold water turns solid? It’s called ice. I didn’t know that, and apparently neither did My Family, because that night when they tried to wash dishes the water in the hose turned into ice, and the whole sink and stove in the camper flooded. It was a mess to clean up, and Jason was panicked that they had already broken our new home. The stove didn’t work after that, and the next day Jason called the people who made the camper to tell them what happened. They laughed at us for being from Southern California, but told Jason that everything would be okay in a few days. Right after that a different ranger came over and told us we would have to leave the forest. It was closed…

I'm pretty sure we've spent most of the last week driving.  It's not so bad because I get to sit on Vic's lap and look out the window.

I’m pretty sure we’ve spent most of the last week driving. It’s not so bad because I get to sit on Vic’s lap and look out the window.

We hopped back into the big truck and stopped by a “RV Resort” nearby. They had showers there, so Victoria and Jason finally got clean. I know I only have a bath now and then, but they were starting to smell. From there we drove around what Victoria called “the June Lake Loop”, which just seemed like more boring driving to me. An hour or so later we stopped in a town called Kernville, so they could get coffee and I could run around the big lawn for a while. I wanted to put up a blog post there, but Jason and Victoria were busy eating, drinking and hogging the computers.

After they ate breakfast (and didn’t share any of it), we kept driving, eventually ending up near a town called Lake Tahoe. Jason didn’t know where we were going to spend the night, until Victoria saw a sign pointing towards a hot springs and campground. They thought that sounded good, so off we went. I never got to see the hot springs, as they left me in the car (again), but Victoria and Jason came back smiling and relaxed. I’m glad they had a nice time, but maybe next time they will take me with them?

Jason looking at the big trees.

Jason looking at the big trees.

We stayed in a really cool campground, with plenty of people to meet, huge pinecones to play with and lots of trees to sniff. But we were absolutely freezing. Look, I am not made for cold weather. My tummy is hairless! After that night, Victoria and Jason decided a change of plans was necessary. They didn’t want to keep going north, as they thought it would only get colder. It could get colder?! So instead, we drove for hours and hours and hours, until the sun had set.

That was the craziest part of the whole week for me. The road was all twists and turns, and we had to drive really really slow. The trees were HUGE. Apparently, these were Redwoods, and it seemed like they were leaning over us, wondering why we were there. Everyone was getting tired and grumpy after such a long day in the car. And where were my treats? We finally found a market, where I was left in the car (note the pattern) while Jason and Victoria went for food. At least I knew I’d get some treats after that stop. Back on the road, we looked for a beach campsite, but those were way too cold. Victoria saw a small sign in the town of Mendocino for a campground, and we finally pulled in for the night. We’ve been here for four nights now, which is pretty cool. It feels like home, except still way too chilly for me. Tomorrow we’re going to start heading south again, towards something called “the border”. I hope it’s warm there.

More big trees, Mendocino-style.

More big trees, Mendocino-style.

Some numbers from my first week on the Big Adventure:
Pieces of sausage eaten: 2
Pieces of bacon eaten: 2
Pieces of bacon eaten that Victoria and Jason didn’t know about: 1
Pieces of pate, brie, grilled cheese, and breakfast sandwich eaten: 0 (my family needs to learn how to share)
Dog fights: 1 (dogs on the road apparently don’t know what “get off my lawn!” means)
Hours spent waiting all alone in the big truck: 5

P.S. If you want to see some of the pictures my family took during the first week of the Big Adventure, you can check them out here!

Oct 2013