Camping With Canines: 15 Travel Tips From Shae and Pip

22 07 2018

Shae and Pip, Accomplished Camping Canines

Having just returned home from a 15 day camping trip covering almost 3500 miles with our humans, we feel justifiably qualified to offer the following advice for traveling with four-legged friends.

  1. Help us get used to traveling in a car by taking us on short trips first. Nothing can spoil a trip faster than dog vomit.
  2. Whining? Experiment with us in different parts of the car. Shae says that although Pip loves to settle down in the wayback, she likes to be closer to the action in the seat behind the driver. That way she can keep the driver’s ears clean.
  3. We don’t really mind long car rides. After all, we usually sleep a good part of the day anyway. But it’s nice to stretch our legs every couple of hours or so.  And it’s good for you humans, too! So stop, already!

6.25.18 Grand Marais, Mi, near Pictured Rock (21)4. And how about a drink of water during those stretch breaks? The back seat and the wayback get a lot warmer than the front seats. Make it easy for yourself:  pack a jug of water and a bowl.

5. Hey, you humans pack snacks for the road. How about throwing us a doggy biscuit every now and then? It’s only fair.  But don’t feed us too much and certainly don’t give us those yummy human treats, no matter how much we beg (see #1 for details).

6. Would it be too much to ask that you put our dog beds or favorite toys in the car for us? That would make riding so much less stressful (again, refer to #1).


7. We should be your first priority when you pull into a campsite, picnic area, or scenic area. Put us on a long lead, feed us, and put a large bowl of water nearby. Please don’t ever leave us in a hot car!

8. After a long day in the car, we really appreciate going for a sniff around the campground. And before you head out in the morning, take us for a little stroll so we can tend to our bodily functions. Don’t forget to bring a bag to collect our messes!  (Really, we just don’t understand why humans are fascinated with our poop. But whatever.)

6.19.18 Clifty Falls, IN13


9. And speaking of messes, bring towels…more than you think you’d ever need. There are just so many smelly things to roll in, mud puddles to splash though, and opportunities to have messy fun! You’ll appreciate those towels when we climb up on your bed in the middle of the night!

6.20.18 Madison IN Ohio River

10. Why, yes, our doggy smell will pervade your car and camper. But you’ll get over it.

11. Don’t ever leave us at the campsite or in the car unattended. That’s just wrong.

6.26.18 dogs.png12. Make sure you pack our shot records, medicines, and medical history. We understand that sometimes you may have to put us in a kennel for a while so you can go off without us. Okay, no, we don’t understand.  But you might have to kennel us anyway.  So bring the paperwork.

13. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but think about chipping us before we go. On the off chance that we get separated, a microchip will help us get reunited. You would be so sad without us!

14. Not every place or everybody welcomes dogs. Hard to believe, right? So read up on the regulations before taking us places, and leave a wide berth around strangers. Parents sometimes freak out when we lick and jump all over their precious widdle pumpkins.  They just taste soooo good!

5.3.18 Taryn Shae15. Although we know better than to jump on your bed at home, there’s just something very comforting about snuggling up beside our humans in the camper. After all, someone’s got to protect you from all those nasty night creatures out there. And who doesn’t like to be awakened by sweet doggy kisses in the morning?

3.10.18 ColletonStatePark

With a little organization and aforethought, camping with us canines can be very rewarding.  We force our humans to be more active and get out in nature.  Even, or especially, when it’s hot and muggy and they are tired.  We make perfect conversation starters, allowing our humans to get to know other humans.  Curious human: What kind of dogs are those?  Response (choose one, depending on audience and mood): mixed breed, mutts, pit-bull mixes, pibble mixes, yard dogs, rescues, or Horse Creek Hound and Congaree Terrier (totally made-up breeds so as to inspire awe in those with pedigreed dogs with painted toenails).  But the best reason to take us along on your adventures is that we are loving and enthusiastic companions.  You’ll never get bored with us around!  Or lack for doggy kisses.

Camping With Canines: The Tail End

21 07 2018

After such a perfect day in Minocqua, we hated to leave.  So it didn’t take much arm-twisting to stop at the Farmers’ Market before we left for good, picking up some rhubarb scones, sugar snap peas, and ground cherry jelly.  Thus fortified, we started on the long downhill slope home.

Flashes of Illinois: fields of giant wind turbines slowly spinning; corn, dark green and lush, extending to the horizon.  We stopped at a rest area to stretch all 12 legs.  A lady trucker with a beagle-jack russell mix bent our ear for a good 20 minutes, hardly coming up for a breath as she told us how she had lived in Aiken for eight years, working in the horse industry.  Small world, made smaller by dogs!

We stopped for the night at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.  Although the state park was voted “the #1 attraction in the state of Illinois,” we were a little dismayed to see the row of porta-pottys in the campground.  At 6:00 pm, it was 92° and the air was as thick and still as the corn fields.  Regardless, after a day on the road we needed to walk so we headed for the trails that meandered along the Illinois River, granting panoramic views of the valley and the many canyons.

6.29.18 Ilinois River from Starved Rock

The Illinois River, as seen from Starved Rock. American white pelicans dotted the waters.

6.29.18 Wildcat Canyon (2)

Wildcat Canyon

I’d like to say that we enjoyed the hike, but we were so miserably hot, sticky, and thirsty that our only thoughts were of a cool shower followed by a restful night in our air-conditioned camper.

6.29.18 Wildcat Canyon (5)

Hot dogs

We drove to the only bathhouse in the entire campground where Brian stayed in the car with the dogs and the AC running while I went in for a shower.  There were only two shower stalls, so I was expecting a long line.  Surprisingly, there was a shower open, so I quickly disrobed and prepared to rinse the day’s sweat off my tired body.  I learned an important lesson that evening.  Always check the shower controls before committing. No water, no matter how I manipulated the handle. Ugghh.  I had to wait until the other stall was open, then scoot over for a shower that left me even more sticky and hot by the time I was done.  We ran our AC full blast that evening.  Not sure how the pioneers survived.  Or how we ever camped without AC.

The next morning we pulled out by 7:30, determined to get an early start before the heat sucked us down.  We decided to by-pass Atlanta, that City-Of-Never-Ending-Congestion, by heading for Knoxville instead of Nashville as previously planned.  On the map, Levi Jackson State Park in Kentucky looked like a good stopping point before hitting Knoxville, Ashville, and then home. We pulled in to find a campground that would put WalMart on a Saturday to shame.  RVs were jammed every which way, and each site contained the entire clan with grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, and dogs.  The narrow road was busy with kids zipping by on bikes and pre-teens tooling around on golf carts.  We were smack-dab in the middle of Appalachia on the weekend before the Fourth of July.

We didn’t even unhitch the camper.  A short walk on a trail, a quick dinner, and we were out of there by 7:10 the next morning.

Our last day on the road was deliciously uneventful and decidedly scenic, taking us through mountain passes and valleys that made us forget the long miles.   A delightful Welcome Center on the Tennessee-Kentucky border was complete with music notes on the sidewalks, log cabins, and a paved walking trail to the top of the mountain that afforded a gorgeous view.

7.1.18 view from TN rest area


The miles slipped away as we listened to our audio-books and finally pulled into our driveway.  The dogs jumped out of the car for the last time, tails wagging.  We were home.

The Stats

Trip length: 15 days  Car: 3450 miles (avg. 230/day)   Feet: 57.2 miles (avg. 3.8/day) Gas: $412 (12¢/mile)   Food: $219 ($14.60/day)   Lodging: $562 ($37.46/day) Miscellaneous: $198   Total cost: $1391                                                                Average cost of food and gas had we stayed home for two weeks: $300 Adjusted cost of trip: $1091 or about $73/day

Not too shabby, especially considering all the sights we saw and the adventures we experienced! Memories to last a lifetime.

Camping With Canines: The Legendary Land of Minocqua

20 07 2018

Ever since my niece Becky got married, I have been hearing tales of Minocqua, Wisconsin.  Her husband John spent his formative years there and at every chance has regaled us with stories of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor adventures in this small northern Wisconsin town.  So when we started planning our trip and saw that we would pass very close, we were intrigued. And when we found out that the Becky, John, and their boys would be vacationing in Minocqua at the same time that we were in the area, stopping at Minocqua was a no-brainer.

Minocqua will never have a water shortage.  Everywhere we turned, there was another lake.  And the streets were lined with businesses selling floating docks, boats, and fishing supplies.  My favorite had a sign out front saying, “You complained about the fish puns, so we’ll scale it back a little.”

We camped at Patricia Lake Campground just outside the town.  A whole section of this campground was devoted to folks who stayed all summer.  Wooden porches, landscaping, yard art…it was obvious that these summer residents had been coming back here for many years.  John wasn’t the only one with Minocqua Fever!  But the best part of the campground for us was the fenced-in doggy park where our dogs could run free, sniffing at their leisure and rough-housing with each other off-leash.

John recommended that we spend the evening downtown at Lake Minocqua, watching the Min-Aqua Bats perform their thrice-weekly summer ski show.  So after dinner we gathered up the dogs and headed into town.  Min-Aqua Bats: the perfect name for this amateur group of acrobats on water skis!  These teenagers did not disappoint, performing stunt after amazing stunt.  The boats pulled multiple girls at a time who performed synchronized movements, even forming pyramids as they passed by the viewing stands.

6.27.18 Minocqua Min-Aqua Bats (56)

A group of three guys skied barefoot, but then were overshadowed by one who skied on his backside.

6.27.18 Minocqua Min-Aqua Bats (48)6.27.18 Minocqua Min-Aqua Bats (81)

And then, a skier on a hydrofoil. A chair ski.  And ski jumping, three in a row, one skier pulling the next.  An hour passed with one more astounding trick after another.  Our dogs were the only ones not impressed.

6.27.18 Minocqua Min-Aqua Bats (60)

A hydrofoil ski

6.27.18 Minocqua Min-Aqua Bats (68)

This was the second of three jumpers in a row, each pulling the ones behind!

6.27.18 Minocqua Min-Aqua Bats (73)

The next day was fairly chill.  While waiting for Becky’s gang, we took the dogs for a hike on the Bearskin Trail that follows an old railway bed across Lake Minocqua.  The trail was ripe with enticing smells for our pups and delightful scenery for our human eyes.  A deer slogged through the marsh and a pair of bald eagles flew overhead, but alas, both passed too quickly for my camera.

6.28.18 Minocqua (3)

Later, I went swimming with Becky, John, and the boys at Lake Katherine.  Dogs weren’t allowed, so Brian stayed behind at the campsite, enjoying a quiet afternoon by the lake.  For dinner, we got pizza and then ate s’mores at the campsite.  A solitary loon called across the lake, ending a very relaxing day in Minocqua, Wisconsin.  I’d like s’more, please!

6.28.18 Minocqua Lake Patricia

Sunset on Patricia Lake