June 16th 2021, I set off on a 26 day road trip. They say a journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step…Well a journey of thousands of van miles begins with a crazy amount of what mom calls packing. Mom quite often hears people say they wish they could travel like we do…you can dawgs, you can…you just got to choose and then let your head hang out the car window like i do and let the wind go through your fur, i mean hair and not look back! I’m actually a very routine type of guy, so traveling has grown me and I’m quite adventurous id say now. If I could get my Phd in traveling I would. For Mom, traveling requires her pushing through her anxiety especially around my cancer and being far from the doctors, packing up all my stuff and it requires her to make sacrifices with losing work/money …but isn’t it worth it? The travel has grown us both into dawgs that see life as a box of dog treats, even though you don’t know what you’ll get on a road trip, you’ll usually get something yummy.
The first day of our road trip we were in Yosemitie National Park, my stomping ground where dad works a lot capturing the beauty of the place. We normally camp in our van, but one of his clients got us a nights stay at the most expensive hotel there called the Awhanee hotel…we were rolling with the big dogs. The Awhanee caters to the foo foo type of dawgs. Sadly, my kind wasn’t allowed there but we were mom’s emotional support animals for the evening….laugh out loud mom says, ‘she misses me if Ii’m in the other room for a few minutes without her!’ In the morning we sat outside on the beautiful grounds of the hotel and got admired by tourists. Lassen and I were a class act according to mom as she took photos of us at the hotel. After Yosemite, we drove to Park City, Utah and found Grandma and Grandpa at the hotel there! Wow, so fun having my pack be together! Very funny that I went on a dog walk in the hotel because the pack got lost trying to find their hotel room so we literally walked forever…although the humans complained i thought it was a great dog walk in what they call air conditioning! We enjoyed a hike in Park City along a Lake and going with friends from Utah to the High West distillery…per usual the crumbs on the ground were delicious. I’m not much into what the humans call alcohol, but Lassen’s first name was whiskey because he loves the stuff!
My Mom wrote about the photo shoot:
*I will never get back this time with eben lassen and mike.
It feels as if Everything is as it should be…the 4 of us on the road in our van exploring.
If I could stop time I would.
I can’t control time and I can not control cancer.
The hours of listening to music, reflecting, looking out the window at nature seeing our boys look at cows.
We stopped in Utah with photographer josh rose who works with a type of photography from the 1860’s…a camera from the 1920’s and lens from WWII and printing on tin.
I’m freezing this moment in time. I’ll keep these moments hidden deep in the part of me that is eternal … that will meet my boys on the other side one day. For now I have this timeless tin.”
We drove to another part of Utah where we ended up at a college with a photo studio where we got our photos taken by artist Josh Rose. Mom and Dad said he created photos out of tin types from the 1800’s and that they made us look like we were from the olden days whatever that means. The camera he used was from WWII. The light was so bright when the old flash went off! After the photo shoot we drove to Jackson, Wyoming. By that evening i had had what the humans call diarrhea 5 times a day for 5 days at that point. The chemo and vitamin C infusions before the trip just left me in a state my pawerents were concerned about. They took me to a doctor in Wyoming, but that didn’t seem to help much. That night we camped at Jenny lake campground in the Grand Teton National Park and we hiked around the lake exploring! We even saw a bear at the campground, not the grizzly kind they call them so the pawerents were happy about that! The pawerents and Grandparents took a boat across the lake to hike waterfalls, but the national park wouldn’t allow our kind so we had to stay back in the van. After that we headed to Signal Mountain campground and went to the beach there where i showed off that i was becoming a swimmer at almost 11 years old! Mom paddled boarded and i swam by her side. The Grandparents kayaked and then it started to rain really hard so we had to all jump in our vans! That night we stayed in the van while they went to something called the Million Dollar Saloon. I’m not really into the whole cowboy thing so they enjoyed it without me. So many places in Jackson Wyoming were not friendly to our kind, so sad and yet again we had to stay in the car while the pawerents went river rafting. I love being on the water! We met up with old friends at Holly Sage Art aka Ericka, Mike, and now baby (we met on our last road trip here) in Jackson, Wyoming. The sign in front oof the public park read “no dogs” lol so we had to stand with our friends to get caught up outside the park. Mom says Wyoming get with how pawsome dogs are!’ So fun seeing our friends! Then we camped at a different spot in the Grand Teton National park called Colter Bay…this is the gem folks if your planning a trip to the Tetons. I love this campground from the last time we were here. I do lots of seal watching from the shore. They say there’s no seals, but i know they are mistaken. We headed off to Yellowstone national park. I love the Grand Teton national park, but i do love seeing the bison and animals at yellow stone! Lassen and I were trying to jump out the window of the car to get the guys taunting us with their good smells! Yummy Bison! We headed to dad’s photo shoot in Ten sleep, Wyoming. There is the coolest brewery there and we met some really cool dawgs from Cody WY and Michigan with their lady and the tramp dog and the pawerents drank their beer with them. We camped outside of Ten Sleep (which only has 200 dawgs live there and is known as one of the best rock climbing destinations in the US for visitors). The campground was beautiful and along a full river. It did feel like grizzly country and mooseville on our morning walk so mom kept us close. Mom made us a fire and we sat out in the gentle rain all cuddled up together around the campfire that morning while we waited for dad to complete his 10 mile hike to photograph an elopement. That afternoon we headed back to Ten Sleep brewery for more beers which lassen loves and we stayed at the campground right in front of the brewery that was an old barn. Too cool! Did i mention that on this trip that Lassen and I fell in love with cows? We literally looked for them the whole time out the van windows as we drove through the countryside throughout Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. In the van we listened to Brandi Carlie’s song ‘Keep Your Heart Young’ The pawerents howled this one out! These are the things Mom will always remember
“Don’t trade in your Tic-Tac box for a ball on the end of the chain
And don’t go spending grandpa’s pennies buying into the game
You gotta keep your heart young
Don’t go growin’ old before your time has come
You can’t take back what you have done
You gotta keep your heart young”
We arrived in Bozeman, Montana. I guess the Monataners as Mom calls them, call Bozeman Boze- Angelos because its like los Angeles… honestly i think its way better than that LA except for the mosquitos that wanted to eat me. My pawerents fell in love with a place called Walking Mountains brewery…our kind was not allowed yet again in the brewery but they loved their food and beer. We walked around Boze Angelos and enjoyed the cute homes and nature. That evening we drove to a beautiful large campground in Montana along a river. The campground hosts who were an adorable very kind older couple of dawgs greeted us and they told us that two cows roam the campground. This campground stretched for miles along a river, so i had to realize that the chances of my dream coming true to see the cows up close and personal may be slim. Ok dawgs, the next day i woke up in a luscious beautiful campsite with who do you think was there?! The cows! The cows came home…to me! Mom videoed ;Lassen and I freaking out over them from the van. Its hilarious because one of the cows stares at us like we are crazies! From there we drove to Big Sky, Montana and Dad went mountain biking with some cool cats. he met That was good to be in a pack biking, because he was concerned about running into a grizzly bear by himself! I was in the van with Lassen and mom while she poached some internet from a local coffee shop and worked remotely. We took breaks for me to lay and roll on the lawn in front of the coffee shop and her rub our bellies. Then i met the cool cats dad biked with at a local brewery and realized they were cool dawgs! We set out and drove to Glacier National Park and got a beautiful campsite. We went to Lake McDonald where the lodge was. We met some wonderful dog parents who had their boston terrier tattooed on them and we all watched the sunset. The next day, dad decided to stand up paddle board the river that led into lake McDonald and specifically told mom he’d look out for moose and grizzlies in the water. We were there waiting for him when the river led him out to the lake. Some old cats in the gift store wouldn’t allow me and Lass to go into the old McDonald lodge waiting area. The old cats kept watching us and called security. On the way back to our van i kept trying to pull dad away from the parking lot from going back to the van. Usually he makes me go where he goes, but this time he followed me….who’s walking who?! Mom was so impressed because i led the family to a beautiful cliff to sit and look out at a huge waterfall. We all sat up on the cliff looking out at the loud vibrant waterfall that led to a river and overlooking McDonald lake. That was such a special moment taking that all in together. Boy do i love nature. I bet there was some seals in the water! We drove to the other side of glacier national park and stopped at the over looks which are almost as good as Three Dog bakery! We went to different lakes and my courage was in full effect. As my mom’s fav author Brene brown says ““Vulnerability feels like courage. Courage isn’t always comfortable, but it’s never weakness.” And it was this trip that i started my passion of swimming in lakes! Yes, you can teach old dog new tricks! I have this thing, I’m really anxious around water and when i see the paddle board i jump on it and try to attack the paddle out of my nervous anxiety…so me swimming in all the lakes we visited was me being the courageous self i am on land. This was a growth trip as mom puts it. My dad talked mom into going down a river by herself for 30 min dodging moose and grizzlies just in case…there were none and we picked her up on the other side…boy was mom happy to see me! Dad got a wild hair idea to paddle board out of the national park for many miles down some little classes of rapids. He told us he’d be to the location for us to pick him up. When we got there dad was not there and the rafting guides laughed and said that would take him all day and many hours even though dad has said 1.5 hours. Well after an hour, here came dad and we were so happy and that i jumped on his paddle board! I think the rafting guides were confused how he got there so quickly on his paddle board braving the river, but dad is a surfer and a strong waterman. We stopped along the way in little towns in Montana and some people really liked us in a coffee shop. We made it to Idaho that evening on the 4th of July . It was raining cats and dogs…ok not literally but it was raining, lightening, and thundering. My pawerents sat out in a natural hot spring in the rain under God’s fireworks the thunder and enjoyed the 4th with beers. I, on the other hand was so happy to be in the van not in the rain with my bro Lass. My pawerents listened to a book called Educated someone recommenced along our trip. My pawerents got so into the book on audible that my dad actually ran out of gas not paying attention. We camped near Stanley Idaho that night and dog gone it it was so beautiful! We drove to Red fish lodge and there was a dog beach there that I of course showed off my new confidence and wonderful swimming skills Mom says! Mom loved this place because people were hiking with their dogs ,…unlike in Wyoming and Montana where they don’t allow dogs in so many places. Mom says, “Ridoncluous “ “as my aunt puts it to not let dogs out in nature..we were so grateful to be in dogs land in Idaho. We drove to Ketchum Idaho, and met the nicest people at a brewery including a family that itched my butt and my parents enjoyed talking with and they also met other dog parents including a guy traveling around with his dog and another gal traveling with her pup in her van. Life is so good!
We made it back to California, but our trip was not yet over…and I was loving every minute of it! Lassen and I were enjoying the cow watching from Idaho to Lake Tahoe where we enjoyed the last part of our trip. We visited Daddy’s parents who live there and our cousin’s Brinkley dog and Allie dog who mom calls devil dog. I showed off my swimming skills in the lake and we met with my parents friend’s Jason and Kristen. We enjoyed our sunset walk at Zephyr Cove and my parent’s saw Rob Schneider the actor in a show. We were very sad to find out while we were visiting Lake Tahoe where my cousin Brinkley lives that that he had bone cancer. We all took him to the lake and celebrated him letting him run and play in the water and i swam with him and we all cheered him on. I bet thats what heaven is like…we all are cheering each other on and laughing and we all feel so much love like Brinkley did in that moment.
The 26 day road trip was 26 days of diarrhea for me as i was on chemo and stuff went hay wire, not related to cancer but to the side effects of treating cancer. Mom says of course i showed no sign of stomach upset as i hiked and played and adventured like nothing. You never know what you’ll get on the road! it can be poop or it can be a hoot! I will always go back to that moment of Brinkley, Lassen, myself, Daddy’s mommy, and my mom laughing and all playing in the lake water, where although there was pain knowing Brinkley (who is younger than me and had no signs of cancer before but had just had a diagnosis hours before) wouldn’t be here much longer, yet there was so much joy and peace and goodness. This is life my dawgs…as my main man Jesus said, ’Tomorrow is not promised to no dawg.”’ So live life today my friends…laugh, play, run in the water, splash, wag your tail…cheer each other on….this is what life is truly about. As mom would say stop your barking about politics and religion …rather start cheering each other on. Go run into a lake with a dawg you dont like and see what happens. As Brene Brown says, “Its hard to hate people close up.” I hate no one. Mom always says its funny how friends of hers think their kids are superior to dogs, but their kids have the ability to hate and i do not..i just love.
Sometimes the road trip only represents what life is about …we get lost, we pull over and swim and laugh, we see an old friend, we lose a cousin, we see so much beauty…we come home changed. My dawgs all we have is now…so maybe its time to hit the road and drive with the wind going through your hair! Where shall you go next?