Biggest Adventure Yet

Dog-Mounted GoPro

Hey, guys! Molly the Adventure Dog, here. I’ve been so excited to finally share my latest video with you! I made it myself!

Last summer, my girl and I went on the longest car ride ever–all the way to Lake Geneva Wisconsin! (You’re almost in Chicago once you’ve gone that far!) My girl was doing research for a novel. I wanted so bad to help. So she gave me her GoPro camera and said I could record her reference footage of the town!

We also camped and hiked in the amazing Dalles of the St. Croix River, on the opposite end of Wisconsin from Lake Geneva. It felt like we were in the mountains! My girl and I had the best time ever.

Snowed Under

DSC01290 (600x800)Hey, everybody! Molly here. My girl asked me to drop in and leave a note for all our friends who read our blog.

My girl says she’s awfully busy right now, and I guess she must be, cuz I haven’t even had my daily bike ride in a while. (Which is okay. It’s been kinda hot, anyway.)

We’ve been traveling a lot (woo-hoo!) and we’re gonna be traveling some more (and camping!) and she’s got paper and pencils and folders scattered all over the living room like cat toys, so she must be up to somethin’ …

Anyhoo, she wanted me to let you all know that there won’t be much going on here at the blog for a while, maybe a week or two or at the worst three. But she’s got photos of our latest adventures pre-scheduled on our Facebook page for a while yet, so it won’t be like we totally dropped off the face of the earth. And we’ll still be watching your comments here and on Facebook. Just no stories for a little while, that’s all.

But when we come back–boy, will we have stories to tell! I can hardly wait.

So she says thanks for your understanding (or something stuffy like that), and I say a puppy kiss says it all. We’ll check in with ya later!

~Molly the Adventure Dog

Have Dog, Will Travel

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Molly on top of the Rimrock overlooking Billings, Montana.

I hardly even go to the grocery store without my dog–but I never realized until last week that traveling with a dog is actually massively inconvenient.

Molly and I were on the road again, this time to Bemidji, Minnesota. Like our trip to Billings, we were visiting family, and once again we were traveling with my brother Robert.

Robert and Molly at Fort Totten, near Devils Lake, North Dakota

Robert and Molly at Fort Totten State Historic Site, near Devils Lake, North Dakota

These past two road trips were (so far as I know) my brother’s first experience traveling with a dog. (We never had a dog growing up.) I was a little bit dismayed to realize just how inconvenient dog travel is, and how much I’d learned to take it all for granted. How far I’ve fallen.

As for my brother … well, it was a learning experience for him, too.

Drool

Now, Molly is not what anybody would call a slobbery dog. But she does like to hang her head over your shoulder while she’s sitting in the back seat so she can see out the windshield. I guess I’ve just gotten used to a fifty percent chance of precipitation in the car. But I can’t say my brother was all that impressed with the odd glob of saliva running down his shirt collar.

Two-Lane Highways

Two-lane highways, a staple of American road travel, became a matter of life and death. I suppose I shoulda warned my brother that Molly barks at on-coming traffic. Very loudly. In your ear. Sometimes she throws herself against the rear seat window so hard, the whole car rocks. And you’re never really sure when all this is about to happen.

I tried, years ago, to train Molly out of this habit, but it’s one of her few besetting sins. I finally gave up on it, and now I don’t even notice it anymore. But Robert narrowly avoided swerving out of his lane a couple times. If Molly’s just making sure the driver’s still awake, it really works.

Fortunately, my brother isn’t the sort to apply human standards of behavior to dogs. “Those cars are clearly a threat and they must be eliminated,” he concluded. He assured Molly that the fact she never caught one didn’t reflect badly on her. And on the way home from Bemidji, he began to work on a theory why she barked at some cars and not at others. Black cars (and other dark-colored vehicles) were bad luck.

Road Food

View of Lake Bemidji from our picnic bench in downtown Bemidji, Minnesota

View of Lake Bemidji from our picnic bench in downtown Bemidji, Minnesota

Apparently my taste has hit rock bottom since I adopted Molly. I take drive-up windows and in-car dining for granted. (And you should always save the last bite for Molly.) My brother usually enjoys a more cultured experience. Locally-owned restaurants and dishes he’s never tried before are his big thing.

We ended up with a variety of strategies to get our three square meals a day. Sometimes we called ahead to restaurants with outdoor patios and asked if dogs were allowed. Sometimes we ordered take-out. And other times we broke down, went to a drive-through, and ate in the car or in a park. But never did we lock Molly into a hot car or leave her alone at the hotel.

Sight Seeing

The boardwalk Bog Walk at Lake Bemidji State Park

The boardwalk Bog Walk at Lake Bemidji State Park

Fortunately, my brother and I are both the trail-hiking, bug-swatting, tree-hugger type. And fortunately, hiking trails are pretty much the most dog-friendly tourist attractions in the country.

Museums and interpretive centers … not so much. Which was a problem. My brother thrives on museums. And frankly, I like them, too, when I get a chance to see them. Which isn’t often with Molly.

Interpretive Center at Pompey's Pillar, Montana

Interpretive Center at Pompey’s Pillar, Montana

We again used a couple of different techniques. One involved taking turns going inside while the other one of us dog sat. Sometimes this method only gave us five to fifteen minutes inside any building–but for me, this was five to fifteen minutes I ordinarily never get to have!

Another technique took advantage of Molly’s irresistible cute factor.

I explained to my brother that if there were no signs saying “no pets,” my policy was to walk in–with Molly–smile sweetly, and ask if my dog could come with. Molly would take over from there. Or more accurately, she had usually taken over everyone’s heart the minute she set paw in the building. This is where good training, a calm demeanor, and a winning expression pay off.

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Oh, please, can I come, too?

This technique doesn’t work every time, but you’d be surprised how often it does!

The Payback

And why did we go through all this extra hassle to bring Molly? Because some of the relatives we visited were in nursing homes–and had specifically asked to see her.

My brother had another dog epiphany as we walked down hallways of care facilities and were stopped by almost everyone we passed, residents and nurses alike. “She makes people happy,” he observed.

That’s true pretty much everywhere she goes–and that’s another reason why I love to travel with her. I’ve even gone to some attractions, only to find that Molly became the attraction as soon as she arrived. I love the way Molly can become the highlight of somebody’s day, just by being a dog.

Molly making new friends at Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota

Molly making new friends at Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota

And for not being a born dog person, my brother did an amazing job on his maiden canine voyage. He put up with a lot, and never complained (okay, except for the dog drool). But he even shared the last bite of his last in-car dinner with Molly!

Best of 2013

By Danielle Hanna

Molly & Seaman

One of Molly’s most popular pictures, posing with Seaman, the dog from the Lewis & Clark Expedition

It’s the end of the year, and Embark On Adventure has been live for just shy of six months. The vision Molly and I had for this blog has morphed over time in response to what you, our readers, seemed to really enjoy–and you said you enjoyed a good story about a girl and her dog.

So with that in mind, here are five popular posts to ring out the old year and bring in the new.

Wish I could say these favorites were based on your actual votes, but I only just put up the cool thingy that counts how many times each post is read. So I’m going based by a combination of things, such as response on our Facebook page, the uber-cool Google Analytics tool, and (shameless selfishness) my own personal favorites (and Molly’s).

The first-place winner, however, was clearly our most popular post, based on YOUR response, so that one’s for you!

In reverse order, then … (drum roll, please) …

5. Dog Traveling Theory – A Post by Molly

This is the first time I let Molly have the stage, and she was so well received that “Pawnotes from Molly” became a standard feature on our travel posts. Now she wants the blog’s byline to read “Adventures of a Dog and Her Girl” …

4. Campfire Cooking: The art, the nostalgia, the pain in the neck …

It looks so simple, right? This was one of my favorite posts. BTW, I did get the hatchet sharpened and actually learned how to use it.

3. It Took Me 138 Years to Get to the Christmas Party 

When my car wouldn’t start, I thought I’d never make it to my favorite Christmas event. But I beat all the odds and sub-zero weather to get there.

2. Epic Fail: Three-Mile Ski 

Admit it. You guys enjoy laughing at me. It’s okay–I do, too. But I still don’t get what was up with the giant, car-sized holes on my ski trail.

1. The Day I Drove a Patrol Car

What a memorable way to end the year. Apparently, you guys thought so, too, because this one got a good number of shares on Facebook and drove my new view count feature higher than I anticipated. Dog rescue, small town adjustment shock, and (the kicker) driving a sheriff’s car. I’m going to have a hard time topping this one.

Thanks for sharing all these memorable events with me, Molly, and our new friend Juliean. I can’t wait to see what happens to us next year! In the meantime, check out our Best Photos of 2013.

BTW, if you know anyone who would enjoy these true-life stories and a bit of a laugh, then share! Your friends are welcome here.