I’ve just set up a Flickr account to help you find the photos of trips, Land Rovers, and the critters. 


Does anyone know how I add a copyright to the images though? I couldn’t work it out. Thanks, s


What will you do with yourself?

After weeks, no months, of planning on my escape for summer, I have to admit I’m kinda worried. Slowing down is hard to do.

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I’m an active person, my days are spent making stuff, fixing stuff around the property, writing between projects, walking the dogs, and yes planning my trip. What will I do with myself when I have nothing to do? I’m so used to working at the grocery store four days a week recently that my days at home are a hive of activity. Although I say that with Stevie cat asleep on my pillow, Harold is lying on the tiles by the front door, and Rosie is taking in the sun. I’m exhausted. Tired from a job that is too demanding on an introvert like me, full of hundreds of strangers every day wanting to know where I grew up, what the tattoos mean, and don’t I love my job and all those ridiculous comments…too much stimulation.

No radio today, I can’t take any more conversations. No more blah blah blah.

The quietness of lakes and mountains are drawing me out of here. To sit by a lake and…and what? Can I relax? Will I be bored? Alone with two dogs and no internet? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I used to be at my happiest when alone, traveling, exploring, and yes, having the energy for conversations with strangers every so often. Now though, I like my alone time…


My plan is to create a new mindset, a new daily routine, one that feeds me and relaxes me both. The basic start of the day is coffee, walk dogs, and make breakfast. When I lived in Guatemala, I’d spend an hour or two on yoga, stretching, calming, slowing down. So yoga is back on my list. Writing is too. Each day, I will write, whether for here on the travel reports, for a new book, or for the Examiner. I will write. Stretch. Explore.

With only Harold and Rosie to consider and keep track of, it’ll be easier to hike the mountains and circumvent lakes, and cross creeks. Oliver, love him, was a long distance marathon runner. He’d be gone in a flash.

Harold however is an eight year old mama’s boy. I’m glad. I know where he is at all times.


Rosie is slowing down, not that you’d think that if you just met her, but believe me, she is.


Now she will run circles around us but no longer has Oliver’s bad example to follow. Walks, off leash because that’s all we really know, will take hours.
Setting up camp in new places first off, and then I’ll grab the courier bag and we’ll gather firewood for the evening ahead and the next morning too.
We’ll cook slowly over the fire as much as possible, taking my time and playing with ingredients. I’ll photograph the richness of forests and oceans, a huge contrast to my desert life in New Mexico. I’ll take naps in the shade of tall leafy trees.

Maybe I can do this after all? I’m out of practice, but am starting to remember the rhythm of slower days, of creative days, not those preparing for the job in town, or recovering from the job in town, but slow road trip days. And hours staring at lakes. Yep. I can do this.



How to build a First Aid Kit for camping with dogs

Rosie and the pups ran through the trees, barking madly, chasing a rabbit. Harold yelped from the left, Rosie to the right and Ollie ran full pelt right past the quivering rabbit. I walked around Morphy lake and took in the morning damp air, breathing deeply. The dense woodland hid the mountains around this State Park, deserted at this time of year. I sat on a rock and woke up slowly.

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The dogs found me, all three panting wildly, lapping at the fresh water, and finally settling down at my feet. We wandered back to camp and I made coffee over a fire. Rosie sat near me, my white dog with a red chest. Red chest…shit…

Rosie had a three inch gash across her chest and armpit. She licked herself but couldn’t reach the bleeding hole. Oh shit, Rosie has a three inch gash! We’re in the middle of the mountains. She pants and licks and pants some more. My coffee is ignored as I search the truck for a first aid kit. I’ve forgotten the bloody thing. Rosie and Oliver sit in the back of the truck as I scramble to find a clean cloth to clean her up. She did pretty well considering…white as usual within a reasonable time. It’s the least I could do.

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Yes, pack a first aid kit. I just did. I don’t want to go through that again, having to worry about keeping her wounds clean. It’s not the first time she’s come back bleeding. Harold and Oliver, not so much, but Rosie once came back with an inch deep puncture wound in her chest from spiking herself on a branch. Oh, and she got bit on the head by a foster dog, that wasn’t pretty.


Well, moving along, this Sunday morning, I pulled together a first aid kit for us, part human and part canine focused. I thought you might like to use this as a beginning for your own kit. First off, I found a clear plastic tub with a sealable lid to keep the dust out. And the mice, mice get into everything.


Then I emptied out the old metal container that I’d been using which was full of all those odds and ends collected over the years, good but not necessarily still within date. The trash pile grew on the floor and luckily enough a usable collection of goodies built up on the lid, ready to be checked off my lists.



I almost forgot to pack the spare reading glasses but then I grabbed the splinter removal kit. I’d need to see what I was doing, wouldn’t I?

What else?

  • anti-biotic cream
  • gauzes of different sizes
  • bandaids
  • adhesive tape
  • allergy pills
  • ibuprofen
  • children’s aspirin (for the dogs)
  • eyewash
  • blunt nosed scissors
  • a cold pack
  • and oral anesthetic gel

Dog specific meds for

  • pain
  • anti-biotics
  • eye ointment
  • and Rosie’s knock-out pills (anti-anxiety for if she had to go to a vet.)

That day at Morphy State Park in New Mexico we ended up dressing her in a tee shirt from a friend to stop her licking the wound and simply hoping for the best. Little bugger that Rosie is, she seemed indifferent to be honest but it was a bit of a mess for a while there. Oh well, this summer, I have a first aid kit ready for her shenanigans and now nothing will happen, right? Right. Right, Harold?


The park was beautiful by the way, I’ll go back.

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Travel with Dogs: Packing lists.

The sun sets over the San Juan Mountains and I make a fire. Harold lies on the blanket near me and the two pups wrestle in the trees. I settle back with a beer and book, glad to have found such a perfect campsite in the woods.


A tree branch cracks in the hills behind us. The twilight closes in around us. Another tree cracks and breaks. Harold sits up, sniffs, and runs for the truck. Rosie and Ollie stop playing. They listen. They run for the truck and jump in. I sip my beer and wonder why. Harold and Rosie climb into the front seats and look away. Ollie sits on the tailgate, stares at me and then behind me. He clears his throat with a soft gruff bark. I look up. He does it again. And then again. A heavy footstep and a low huffing grunt reach my stomach. I stand up, slowly holding my beer and book; I walk over to the truck, climb in the back, and close the tailgate. Ollie relaxes.


Camping with dogs has its perks. Packing for a camping trip with two or three dogs can be challenging though. I have a list, a book filled with notes of what to bring, what would help, what I wish I had, and ideas of future trips. The lists help although last September I took a long weekend in the Jemez and forgot to check it first. I’d forgotten the bottle opener, a jacket for Ollie who always got cold at night, I’d only brought two leashes instead of three, and the batteries in the flashlight died after a couple of hours. Not my most effective packing. Stevie likes to help but he’s not into the 4Runner, we need a van he says.


This year, we’re heading off for three months into the Northwest. A long time gone. I need to be more aware of what we’re doing and where we’re going. The 4Runner is our home for three months, along with a tent, bedding, tools, and food for at least four days at a time, coffee making supplies, and dog food. That is the basic list but there is more to it than that. I pile up the camping gear, the tent, and the big thick plastic container for the kitchen and congratulate myself for being ready to go. Then I add a 5-gallon container of water, the cooler, a folding camp chair, and the pile grows larger. Still, it’s not too bad. Oh, but then there’s the clothes, enough for the potential snow and freezing nights in Montana and also for the beaches of Oregon in August. The containers and piles keep growing. It’s still pretty minimal though…


It’s time to recheck the lists.
This year, I am taking two dogs only as Ollie has found a new family in Arizona and is off on his own adventures. These days Harold and Rosie are my companions, and I pack accordingly.
• Two leashes.
• Two harnesses.
• Two ropes and tie-downs (for in the regulated campsites).
• Blankets.
• Medicines for Harold.
• Bowls for food and water.
• Bucket for water when we’re near a lake.
• Dog food for a week at a time, in this case, approx. 10 #s total for the 2 pups, contained in metal canisters if you’re heading into bear country.
• Water: my biggest challenge when we’re camping is the water. They need at least three gallons a day, preferably more if we’re going into the forests and the lakes are not within reach. Two smaller containers are easier to deal with.
• Paperwork: including their rabies certificates, Health Certificate from the vet. License and microchip information, a couple of photos of each one. I should be able to cross into Canada with this file on hand. How could they resist us?

Notes to self: I never used the oil lamps. I needed better firelighters and starters for damp days. Some of the newspapers burnt easily and others didn’t, but I won’t mention names here. I need to bring rain gear and wellies, just because I have lived in New Mexico for so long doesn’t mean that rain doesn’t fall in other places. I’m most relaxed when we stay in dispersed campsites rather than the official campgrounds. My mind quietens finally when we’re in the trees and near lakes. This is my goal for summer, to find free dispersed camping areas near water and trees. Oh, and my dogs are amazing on road trips, staying close, listening, playing, running off-leash, and loving the attention of strangers.

Last but not least, I need to bring the dog brush, the Ferminator! The truck seats become a fur magnet over the days and weeks on the road. Sheesh, it’s bad. I need to find a 12-volt vacuum that can deal with their fur. Any suggestions?

Faith the 4Runner is ready to go.


With a clear bill of health from the mechanic, Scott, this old beast with over 201,000 miles is ready to go. My only task now is to a spare couple of keys cut. That would suck, camping up in Glacier mountains, pop out to pee only to hear the doors locking and Rosie smiling at me through the
window, paws on the door.
Yep, spare keys.