Tag Archives: Venice

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

Venice Life

This is me at the beach, my favorite place

This is me at the beach, my favorite place

Venice. It’s where my Family and I call home. For now anyway, before I’m forced to live in the back of a pick-up truck. Oh, am I still harping on about that? I am? Okay, I promise to stop complaining. Anyway, I thought I’d start put together a selection of photos of what I love about living here before I am ripped from my favorite home ever.

Not entirely sure what this is but there are always people milling around, taking or dropping off new books, which means there are always people waiting to pet me.

Not entirely sure what this is but there are always people milling around, taking or dropping off new books, which means there are always people waiting to pet me.

Every time we go by this truck on a walk my Family stops and stares. I wish we were living in this one on our Big Adventure. I'd actually be able to get into it on my own.

Every time we go by this truck on a walk my Family stops and stares. I wish we were living in this one on our Big Adventure. I’d actually be able to get into it on my own.

Good advice.

Good advice.

Going for walks in our town is fun because there are plants everywhere just waiting to be peed on. It also makes things pretty.

Going for walks in our town is fun because there are plants everywhere just waiting to be peed on. It also makes things pretty.

In Venice the artists even work down on my level! Thanks guys!

In Venice the artists even work down on my level! Thanks guys!

 

PS: If you want to see what my family loves most about living in Venice, check our their photos on Facebook


14
Jul 2013
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

USA

DISCUSSION No Comments