When Jake and Polly hopped into the back of the Yukon they had no idea they would be travelling almost 4,000 miles before they returned to the familiar smells of home.
The puppies added new states and experiences to their repertoire. It was a great learning experience for both puppies and humans. We made no reservations before we left, we had only decided to stay at La Quinta hotels because they are pet friendly. We mapped out where all the La Quintas were from start to finish and each day would decide in the afternoon where we would stay.
We are learning the best places to stop to potty and feed puppies. We seek out gas stations with extra area, outer roads with places to pull off that look safe and have some room away from the interstate for the puppies to get out. We only stopped at a few Roadside Parks, those are usually ok, but so many people stop with dogs and do not pick up the poop, it is a host of germs. With puppies, even though they have had all their shots, we try to limit the exposure to other feces where possible. That said, the puppies are learning to do their “business” in unfamiliar places. Jake has never really had a hard time, Polly, on the other hand, takes forever to find the perfect spot. Even when we are home, she takes longer than Jake, but on the road it was a whole other issue. There were some nights I probably could have stayed outside with her for an hour and she would not have found the perfect spot. She is a sweet and spunky pup, with the carefree personality of a Lab, but she is a sniffer.
The first day we drove from the Lake area in MO to Elk City, OK. It was a long day for all, but it was a good introduction to La Quinta hotels. The pups had a long day but after a little play we crated them and turned in.
Day 2 was a day of crazy weather and temperatures. As we drove across New Mexico the wind picked up and the tumbleweeds were flying across the road. We had to get the pups out to go and it was just a painful experience for all due to the 30-40 mile an hour winds. I was a little afraid we would lose a dog like a tumbleweed.
We finished the day in Gallup, NM. This was the most difficult puppy area at any of the La Quintas we visited. It was a small fenced area with rocks. There were quite a few guests who needed to use it and we could not spend the time for Polly to get her sniff on. It was also bitterly cold, so staying outside for an hour was not feasible for multiple reasons. In the small area other guests did not use the bags provided to pick up after their dogs. That makes it even less desirable to take the puppies potty there. The next morning we drove down the road a bit to find an open space. That La Quinta itself was ok, clean and warm.
Day 3 we proceeded to drive out of the driving wind and into the snow. As we came closer to Flagstaff, AZ it became more and more snowy. This was to be our Grand Canyon day. It turned out to be a lot of fun! The puppies loved the snow and we were able to get them out on a trail to the amphitheater that was deserted. They ran and played and there was not a foot print or soul around. We got some wonderful photos and were able to wear them out a bit before we got out to take photos of the canyon. We did not leave them a long time in the car since it was cold. Although they have fur coats on, I was still worried since they are puppies.
As we drove away from the Visitor’s Center parking it began to sleet heavily and we were ready to head on to Vegas. We drove out of the snow as we made our way to Las Vegas. There were 5 La Quintas to choose from around the area and we chose the one on Surrey Drive by the airport. It is directly on the opposite side of the airport as the “Strip”/Las Vegas Blvd. But it was not far to drive to get around there. The puppy relief area at that La Quinta was GREAT, the second best of the trip. It was gravel but with a couple of benches and large enough to find a good place to go. It was also CLEAN! I think they had someone cleaning it up, or everyone staying there was a clean pet owner. The hotel was very nice and new. I will definitely go back there. They honored our request to be near an exit and it was easy in and out with the dogs. We also had a Silver Lab encounter there. That was fun. We met a dog trainer from the “Sit means Sit” pet training group who was in Vegas for a conference. He was outside at his car when we were packing up to leave. His silver was very well-behaved, but I was really proud of ours as well, they settled down quickly and sat while we talked.
We got them settled and went to dinner at Lemon grass at the Aria Hotel and Casino. It was wonderful. After dinner we did a little people watching and were tired from the day. We went back, pottied the pups and turned in.
Day 4 was desert drive day. We left Vegas and headed to LA. We decided to stay in Santa Clarita/Ventura area. This was the BEST La Quinta we found. The pet area was large and grassy, a great place to play some ball and stretch the legs. We were very cautious and considerate of others wanting to use the area, but it was not terribly used or crowded. We kept leashed on and e-collars as well. If we dropped leash to let them go potty or chase a ball we were cognizant of our surroundings. The dogs were very well-behaved and came right away if we called. I able to only use e-collar correction sparingly.
Day 5 was meeting day for Rob in LA and the puppies and I took full advantage of not being in the car. We took several walks, we played in the room and we were alone outside in the big green space behind the pool for a long time to play ball late morning. It was great! There were also plenty of places for me to walk and pick up some food for lunch since I did not have the car. I just crated the pups and walked to Chuy’s, brought my food back and ate in the room with the pups so they could play. As I left I stood outside the door for a few minutes to make sure they stopped barking and they did. When I returned they were quiet, which I thought was wonderful since the cleaning crews were all up and down the halls. That evening we walked more and played outside.
Day 6 was Beach Day! We took a short detour from our path to Bakersfield so I could see the pups at the beach. We had photos of them in the snow, in the desert and I wanted photos at the beach. It would be yet another life experience for them and us.
Well…the beach was the least favorite location for the pups. The roar of the waves at Ventura Beach was scary and the rush of the waves was disconcerting to the puppies. They were a little curious at first but became afraid quickly. I kept trying to just walk down the beach close to the water but they were having none of it. As you will see in the photo at the beach. It was at the beach stop that we also found the one casualty to the Yukon of the trip. At some point prior the pups had chewed the back window defrost line. We were able to salvage the connector and Rob thinks he can rewire the defrost a different way around the door so they cannot get to it again. I was glad they were ok.
Side bar comments-the pups were in the rear of the Yukon XL with a gate. That way we could just open the back to get them in and out, they were confined and we could open the back window to give them water or treats. It was really a great set up. We had a plastic tray made for the car from Petco and we we glued some outdoor carpet to it so the dogs would quit sliding around. (Yea, the first time they were in the back it was bad, they had nothing to grip.)They also had fleece blankets, toys, bones and could look out the back side windows. It was optimal for all. We put the large wire dog crates, luggage, food, etc in on the folded down seats.
So after the beach we drove on to Bakersfield. We checked into the La Quinta South and it had to be the worst La Quinta hotel of the trip. It was old, think -first Holiday Inn ever- old. The one bright side was the door opening to the outside on the ground floor so it was ultimate ease of taking the pups outside. We stayed there two nights and I would definitely check out the north one next time or possibly the Doubletree which also takes dogs, but has an up-charge. There were plenty of places to potty the pups but the hotel itself was a bit questionable. When we came back in the evening from visiting our family it seemed a bit shady. We just took the dogs potty and locked up.
Days 6 and 7 while in Bakersfield the pups were able to play in the back yard of the people we visited. Our grandchildren loved the puppies and the puppies loved them. I was a little concerned at first about nipping since they still do it some with us, but they did not hurt the kids at all. They were licking machines but very respectful and gentle with them. I talked to our granddaughter about being gentle and respectful of the puppies so they learn to behave the same way. She was really good with them and they listened to her incredibly well. She said sit and they sat.
Day 8 we went back to our family to say so long and then set off from Bakersfield to Las Vegas. It was a different route than we had taken out there and there were wind farms to see. The change of scenery was nice. We arrived in Vegas and stayed at the same La Quinta as before since we were really happy with it and it was familiar to both the pups and us, it proved to be a super experience again. We were able to go to Caesar’s Palace this time. We drove down Las Vegas Blvd people watching. We ate at the Palm and sat out in the atrium so we could people watch some more. After dinner we had coffee and just watched the people go by from the coffee shop. We went to the casino and played a little craps. When we returned to the room the dogs were quiet and well-behaved. They were so happy to see us. We played a little and hit the hay.
Day 8 was a loooooonnngg day for all. But, it was also filled with beautiful scenery and some fun stops. We drove from Las Vegas, NV through Utah to Rifle, CO. It was a bit long, but there were no La Quintas between St. George, UT and Rifle, CO, so we decided to go on ahead to Rifle. We stopped at a scenic area/park with a trail down to the river. We took the pups down and let them play by the river. When some other people approached we gathered leashes and moved on. We are always very diligent about the dogs not bothering others or being a nuisance. We went to the car and all had some water. It was a beautiful day. We were able to stop a few more times for the pups and one spectacular view for us. We stopped in Grand Junction, CO for dinner for all. We found a place to take the dogs so they could have dinner and go potty before we stopped for our dinner. We arrived at Rifle around 11pm and it was a welcome sight.
The La Quinta was adequate for one night. The room was clean and nice but they did not put us in an end room. We were near the main exit on the main floor but had to go out the front for potty. There was a snowy area to take the dogs and there did not seem to be other dogs and not many people so they were able to run a bit as well. I definitely had the e-collars on and kept them close.
Day 9 we drove through Colorado and half of Kansas. We had another gorgeous day to drive and the mountains were stunning. We stopped at Vail Pass Roadside Park to let the dogs out and found out that in the winter it is closed as a Roadside Park and used by the park service as a recreational area. They charge daily admission. It was a far cry from Oct, 2011 when we were there driving the trails with the truck. The ranger was super nice and when Rob told them we were looking for somewhere to let the dogs out for a few minutes to play in the snow, he said we could go on in and let the dogs out to play with out a charge. The puppies had a marvelous time running and jumping in the snow. They were king and queen of the mountain and had white faces from burying their heads in the snow. Goofy pups!
We made it through the mountains and stopped to let the brakes cool down in Denver. We had a bit of an issue at a nature area where we stopped to take the dogs out. We had leashes on and e-collars on but had let go of the leashes to let them in a big open area. They stayed right with us and I saw others with their dogs off leash running with them so I figured it was fine. As we walked back to the car we were stopped by a park ranger. I picked up Polly’s leash right away so she did not run to him. He threw his arms up and asked Rob to “take control of his dog” as Jake and Rob walked up to him. (Walking side by side I may add.) Rob picked up the leash and I said, “um, he was not “out of control” he has on a leash and an e-collar and was walking right by us. He was not amused and proceeded to inform us of the Denver leash law and that it is his duty in the parks to enforce this. They take it very seriously, so if you are ever in Denver, do NOT let your leash go! We narrowly avoided a ticket because we were just driving through looking for a place to walk the dogs and he gave us a verbal warning. He said, “as a dog owner I always check the laws of the area I am visiting”. That never crossed our mind. Hmmm. Probably really a good idea.
We lived and learned and headed for Kansas. The funny thing, we were both kind of thinking we could live there, it was close to the mountains, lots of green space, nice city, etc. Then the very serious Ranger changed our mind.
We drove and drove, we finally arrived in Salina, KS around dinner. We took care of the pups then went to find our dinner. The pups got some play time in the room when we returned, then it was lights out. The room was nice but not optimal for taking the dogs out. They did not give us an end room of any sort. We were on the main floor but far from the puppy potty area. We were not there long, so it was not a huge problem. I would stay there again as a stop over as we did this time. It is not a vacation destination like the Santa Clarita or Vegas hotels, so it was acceptable.
Day 10 was our last day of driving. We drove from Salina, KS to Jefferson City, MO and picked up my car. (It had been in the shop while we were away.) We drove home in the rain and had a brief break to unload the car before the thunderstorm hit. We had driving winds and hail. It was a big one, but we were home safe and sound. The puppies were happy and so were we.
Jake and Polly had a great trip and were so well-behaved. We did learn that Polly is very particular where she likes to potty and it takes her longer to find the perfect spot, but she will eventually. We had a few accidents, none in the car. They were mostly on tile too, which was fortunate. We always cleaned up and were conscientious about taking the dogs out and being good guests wherever we stayed. It was a an amazing and memorable trip. We only had a few issues and they were minor. We will definitely take many more road trips with the pups.
They keep life interesting and fun! So stay tuned for more adventures.