We hear that question a lot. Whenever, we talk about the Big Dogs Road Trip, people wonder why we chose to leave our home and live in a 25 foot travel trailer for seven months. While some people sigh and say, “I’ve always wanted to do that,” most think we have taken on a daunting task. To see the entire continental United States and all its 62 and growing list of National Parks in seven months seems crazy to them. “I could never be shut up in a trailer for so long.” “I’d miss my… (fill in the blanks).”
In some ways we agree. The trip has taken three years to plan starting with a vague idea of direction, timing and weather conditions and morphing into not only a list of almost 100 campgrounds, but a schedule of when to make reservations, even down to the hour in some cases. It requires middle of the night forays onto reserveamerica.com or recreation.gov to get the best campsite or to even get a campsite at all. There have been unexpected changes that left us (us? really only Cathy, the planner) scrambling for alternate sites. Even the choice between having a schedule and being spontaneous was difficult. (More about that in a future journal entry)
So, why are we doing it? I guess you could blame our parents. Glen’s favorite childhood memories include tracing the Eastern Seaboard in a used camper trailer. Cathy’s father loved international travel and took the family to Central America, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. Later, her parents took the grandkids across America in an RV many times, creating tales of adventure. In the 38 years we have been married, after reading an article or watching a television show, we’ve often said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to just go?” Jobs held us back as Glen could never take more than a week off at a time. Other responsibilities kept us at home, as well.
When Cathy entered the State of Florida’s Deferred Retirement Option Program in 2015, the clock started ticking on the firm retirement date of February 28, 2020, and the dreams were put on paper. Another question we often hear is “Why not pace yourselves? Why not visit some places now and some later?” Our clocks are ticking in more ways than one as we both deal with chronic illnesses. We live with the idea that there might not be a later. So, the time is right. We are going. Now.
But, what about our two big dogs, a Doberman and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, successors to a line of many big dogs we have had during our marriage? Of course, they will go with us. Another advantage of having a travel trailer is that we won’t have to haul them into a new hotel every night. They will be in familiar circumstances.
However, we have found that even the most dog friendly advertised campground may have limits on the types of dogs that they will accept. Read the fine print and they say, “No aggressive breeds. No Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls… No dogs over 30 pounds.” Even most of the National Parks limit dogs to parking lots, overlooks, roads and campgrounds. So another idea grew out of our wanderlust. As we travel, we will be looking for places to visit, eat and stay that are truly dog friendly, not just to some, but to all dogs.
So, the answer to the question “why?” is “we are fulfilling our dreams and in the process, helping others to fulfill theirs by discovering dog friendly destinations.” Join us as we go, won’t you? Take off is March 18, 2020. Subscribe now to our journal, because it’s going to be the Road Trip of a Lifetime!