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Trip cut short...

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I am so sad to say that we had to cut our month long roadtrip short. Well technically we only got 3 days into it, so it almost never really began.

After leaving Vegas and arriving in Evergreen, CO we quickly encountered 2 issues. One was with my husband. Before we left town he had some major dental work done. He was trying to get it all taken care of so he would be good to go for this long trip. A few days before we left he had another issue and quickly went back to the dentist. They told him he was going to be fine and that it would heal. Well... instead it got about 10 times worse. In fact so bad, that he couldn't lay his head down, which meant he didn't sleep. Which meant there was a new bear in the cabin. And deservingly so.

The second issue was our elderly dog Averi. I knew that this wasn't going to be super easy on her, but thought that I did everything possible to make it comfortable for her and that she would settle in and relax. She always loved exploring new places and the scents that went along with it. Well, I was completely wrong. I really believe this trip was a mistake for her. I tried so hard to accommodate all her special physical needs but didn't take into account for her mental ones.

As soon as we arrived you could tell the drive was a bit of a drain on her. I thought she would just relax and go to sleep and be better in the morning. Unfortunately, it just went down hill from there. The poor girl just could not relax. The first night while my husband struggled to sleep because of his new throbbing jaw pain, I slept next to my best friend of almost 14 years on the floor in the closet to try and calm her nerves.

While I spent so much time looking for the perfect places for her and talking with all the cabin owners, you just can't express how the smallest things just are difficult for her. The cabin had 3 steps to get into it. Which for her is more like 50. I thought it had only one. The ground around the entire cabin was uneven. Again not a big deal for anyone else, but for her a complete struggle. She ended up hurting her back leg and limping on and off the entire time we were there. And to top it all off, she just couldn't relax. She just kept circling the cabin in pure misery. Both my husband and I knew it wasn't looking good for her. Then he said, "...she just doesn't seem happy". That is when it really hit me. This isn't fair to her!

Around 5 am the next morning my husband woke me up. He hadn't slept in 2 days and was in so much pain he just couldn't take it anymore. He wanted to go home. To say I was upset is an understatement. I was upset, sad, disappointed, heart broken, confused and a bit overwhelmed. My sister and her family were on their way up to meet us. I hadn't seen them in about a year and a half and had an entire weekend planned. They were about an hour from leaving their home to come up, so I knew we had to make a decision fast. Of course there was the other big reason we planned this trip. Our families in Michigan. This was going to be the first time since we left 4 years ago that my husband and I would be back in Michigan together. All of us were really looking forward to it.

While we talked about lots of options on what to do for me it came down to 1 question. What was best for everyone? While my husband was in a ton of pain there was a chance we could get him into a dentist in town, but Averi was another story. We came to the conclusion that this trip was going to be just to hard on her. We were only at our first stop and had 8 more to go. Even if we got to the next cabin where it would physically be easier on her, or we hoped, it still didn't stop the fact that mentally she was just to uncomfortable. Something I didn't account for. Sometimes I look at my furry friend and choose to remember her as she once was. I forget that all the things she once loved so much just are not the things she loves today. I feel so guilty for even attempting to put her through that. I forget that her age is equivalent to a 96 year old woman.

So we made the decision to go home, all of us. I called my sister and broke the news. She was completely understanding. I am very thankful that our families and friends understand our love for our animals. We still had the cabin rented for 2 more nights, so I encouraged my sister to come up and enjoy it. She has two young boys that just love the wilderness and I knew they would absolutely love it. There was no need for this cabin and great surrounding to go to waste. They accepted and made a nice quick getaway out of it, which made us all very happy. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see them. We were on our way home while they were on their way up. I am working on planning something to get back together with them.

Back to the van and the road we went. We definitely didn't mess around getting back, in fact we shaved an entire hour off the trip without getting a speeding ticket. I think we both felt the uncontrollable need to hurry up and get Averi home. I am not sure what we thought was going to happen, but it was like we were racing against some unknown clock.

We made it back into Vegas 3 days after we left. Two days on the road and one actual day of "vacation". But the good news was we were home and everyone was happy. You could immediately see a sign of relief on Averi's face as she walked through the house. After cruising around a bit she went right over to her bed and laid down. She was relieved. And we all knew we made the right decision. Unfortunately the change in altitude wasn't the cure for my husbands pain, so he continued to struggle.

After we were home and visibly saw a difference in our friend, we were thankful she was back to her current "normal" self. While I wouldn't wish the pain my husband went through on anyone we both did agree it was a blessing in disguise. If he would not have been in so much pain and discomfort we wouldn't have went home. Which means we sadly may have pushed Averi harder than we should have, hoping that she would feel better at the next place. Who knows what may have happened. But that wasn't a risk either one of us wanted to take. I think the only exploring Averi and I will be doing is around the neighborhood. Which as long as my friend is happy, I am ok with that.

Oh... and about the human. My husband is fine. We got him home and all fixed up on Monday. As far as our other great explorer Kati, she is just as content running and chasing the rabbits in the canyon behind our house. For her, that is still heaven. And for me? How can I complain? I will spend the next week rotating between my bathing suit and my pjs before I head out to see my family. I might sprinkle in regular clothes and a shower to run those pesky errands that always pile up. While it is not the trip or the plan I had in mind, it will still do just fine.

Posted by brandivee 22:07 Comments (1)

The First Hike

Evergreen, CO

Here are some pics from our first hike in Evergreen.

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Kati running free.... or as free as my leash will let me be!

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Grass! So simple, but when you live in Vegas this is a nice treat.

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The bathrooms we will never use.

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View from our back deck.

Posted by brandivee 21:53 Comments (0)

Our new neighbors

Evergreen, CO

sunny

We started the day out right this morning when we were greeted by the largest mule deer I have ever seen! He was in our yard, about 20 feet away just staring at us as we let the dogs out. He was around a 10 point and had a huge body. I would have to say we did share a moment. :)

The next wonderful surprise was the herd of elk bedding down in someones front yard along side the road I was traveling to go into town. Talk about an amazing sight! There were at least 30 of them laying together in various spots throughout the yard. I pulled over and tried to snap some pics of them, but unfortunately only had my cell phone with me. On my way back to the cabin they were still there. Except this time they were on the move and had traffic backed up as they walked slowly down the road. There were even young calves attempting to feed in the middle of the road. It was quite the experience.

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Mule deer seem to be frequent visitors of this area. It seemed like everywhere we turned there was one.

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The next little neighbor we had the pleasure of meeting was a red fox. He also wandered through our yard until he saw me, then was on the move. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of him. You will just have to take my word for it that he was a cutie.

As fortunate as we were to see all of these beautiful animals in their natural habitat, we were very thankful that we didn't run into this one. As soon as we arrived at the cabin we had two warnings that a bear had been spotted in the neighborhood this week and to leave all trash indoors. Did I mention I am scared of bears?

My husband and I both agreed that we would love to see a bear... but from our car and no where close to where we were staying. Letting the dogs out to go the bathroom in the middle of the very dark night just gets that much more scary when you start adding bears into the mix. At least for me...

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The last animal we saw in the woods was our own Kati. We affectionately always called her Pooh Bear or just Bear. But after the posting above we agreed that shouting the word "bear" may not be the best idea on this trip.
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Posted by brandivee 21:32 Comments (0)

We arrived! The first leg of our 8 leg trip is complete.

Evergreen, Colorado

sunny

I am happy to say that our first long drive is complete and it actually went well. We arrived in Evergreen, Colorado around 10 pm pretty tired after 13 hours on the road.

The Route:
We traveled north on I-15 through Nevada, the tip of Arizona and Utah, then took I-70 east.

The Stats:
• 13 hours on the road
• 750 miles
• 3 stops - Joseph, UT, Fruita, CO, Gypsum, CO
• 4 States - Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado
• 1 Speeding Ticket - husband in Utah, 3 hours into the trip. Totally out of character for him.

The drive wasn't too bad, long but not bad. As always when we travel north on I-15 the roads in Arizona are just awful, but thankfully you aren't traveling them that long. There is that stretch in Utah that is really pretty, but the last part of I-70 in Utah before you reach Colorado can be quite boring. This is the exact same route we took when we moved out to Las Vegas 4 years ago almost to the day.

Of course once you get into Colorado the scenery is simply gorgeous! The river that follows you along the highway is breathtaking and the beauty continues through the Rocky Mountains. The challenging part for us was traveling on these very dark and curvy roads after hours of driving. If I was to do it again, I think I would plan it a little differently.

We broke the trip up into 3 legs, hoping to do about 3.5 - 4 hours and 250 miles between stops. As the day got longer, the stops seemed to get a bit closer together. Both dogs really did great! Averi our oldest dog did well, but towards the end you could tell she was over it. For the life of us, we don't understand why but neither one of our dogs will sleep in the car. Unfortunately, they have always been like this. They might close their eyes for a split second, but fight sleeping the majority of the way. If we could just get them to sleep, then I think we would push the distance between stops even further. Although, I think we also need the stops just as much as they do.

Posted by brandivee 18:15 Comments (0)

Lodging.... is like finding a needle in a haystack

Finding places to stay is by far the hardest part of planning this trip. Since a good part of our trip is about enjoying the scenery, the place we stay is very important. Whenever we go on vacation, we always rent either a cabin, cottage or house. We tend to enjoy the cabins inside and out and the hiking and exploring around them just as much as what the towns they are located in have to offer. Hotels really aren't our thing, especially with 2 dogs. Unless of course we have to make a quick stop to stay overnight. Which, for this trip we definitely will have to do a couple of times. For that I always rely on Super 8 Motels. For us they are perfect. They are all over the place and most importantly I can always count on them allowing our dogs.

The goal for this trip was to drive 1 day, then stop and stay a couple of nights in a new location, then repeat until we made our way from Las Vegas to Michigan. Then on the way back do the same thing, but take a different route without straying to far off the path. Ideally, we would like to drive no more than 12 hours per day. The longest we ever went with the dogs was 13 hours and that was more than enough. Now this is where the challenge begins. If we just drove 12 hours then stopped that would've been easy. However, we really wanted to make sure where we stopped had everything that we needed and wanted.

This is what we are looking for in a place to stay:
• Wooded or rural area
• Not to far off the original route or highway
• Must be a cabin/cottage or house
• Private to Semi Private. No subdivisions
• Takes pets
• Takes no longer than 1 day or less than 12 hours to get to
• Within our travel budget

Here are some of the websites I use to find our places:
Homeaway*
Vrbo*
Vacation Rentals
Airbnb
Rental Bug
Always on Vacation
FlipKey

The next challenge we had is our older dog Averi. She is a german shepherd mix and just about to turn 14 years old. Although she is still in good shape, with her age comes some challenges. In particular, climbing stairs is just not an option anymore. So we almost had to look for cabins that were handicap accessible. Which is very difficult...

The Travelers List:
Averi's Needs:
• No or less than 3 stairs into the cabin
• Limited tile floors
• Bedroom on first level

Kati's Needs:
• Deck to sunbath on
• Chipmunks, squirrels or rabbits to obsess over

Our Needs:
• Washer and Dryer
• Cable Television
• Full Kitchen
• Privacy
• Wooded or Rural Area
• Internet (if possible, if not will use our MIFI)
• While in Michigan - close enough to both of our families that live in 2 different locations

Whew... what a list! See, what I mean? This is going to be challenging. Not only do we have to find one cabin that fits this list, we will have to find 5 - 6 of them for the entire trip! Wish us luck!

Posted by brandivee 21:56 Tagged planning Comments (1)

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