Posts Tagged ‘road trips’

Hobbling Around in Holland

We would like to thank you all for the positive thoughts and good pug juju you sent to Sid regarding his hind leg and back. He’s doing much better now and his pug saunter is almost back to 100 percent. He’s got a few more laser therapy sessions at the vet lined up so we’re keeping our fingers/paws crossed.

I know we just finished up reporting on our HPWT trip that culminated with a stop in Holland, MI, so it’s only fitting that we went back there just a few days after I wrote that last post! This time my friend Anna (affectionately known as “Aunt Anna” to Sid) and her young son came along on our adventure.

Holland is about a three-hour drive from Chicago and midway through our journey we stopped for lunch at Panera. Anna and her son ate inside while Sid and I got our lunch to go and ate outside in the rear hatch of our rented Toyota Rav4.

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“Hold up!” you might be saying right now. Yes, I did say “ate outside”, and yes our adventure was taking place in the middle of winter. Well, let me explain. Somehow on this late January day the sun was shining brightly, the sky was cloudless, and the outside temperature was almost 60 degrees! It definitely felt surreal but certainly made our dining al fresco experience extremely enjoyable. Sid even got to indulge in some potato chips which he normally would never get.

We arrived in Holland and our first stop was the music store R.I.T. Music. You see, one of the intentions of this trip was so I could buy a guitar amp I had seen at the shop when Sid and I passed through Holland on our HPWT trip last September. Mission Accomplished! We then took a stroll down the main drag, 8th Street. Well, the three humans strolled; the pug rolled.

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Yes, this happened to be the day that Sid’s back leg stopped working properly, almost immediately upon arrival at our destination. After an attempt to carry him left me with a tingling arm in under fifteen minutes, Anna thoughfully suggested we prop Sid up in the vacant stroller her son had been riding in earlier.

Being carted around like royalty came natural to Sid and although I had now become “that guy that pushes his pug around in a children’s stroller” the smiles he put on the faces of passersby made it all worthwhile.

We got some delicious sorbet and ice cream at Kilwin’s and that’s when Sid laid into me and Anna with his classic guilt-trip stare.

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Like a sucker, I fell hard for it and soon the little furball was lapping away at my ice cream. Within minutes both Sid and Anna’s son were under the spell of a massive sugar rush!

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We checked out a few more shops on 8th Street and then hopped in the car and rode over to Windmill Island Gardens. In the winter there isn’t really anything happening in the garden department, but the grounds are open, and free, and THERE IS A HUGE DUTCH WINDMILL! How could we resist?!

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The sun was setting by this point and the sight of the pink and purple clouds reflecting off the canals was magical.

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If you ever are passing through western Michigan, be sure to stop by Holland. It’s pug-approved!

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Have Pug, Will Travel – Part 6

Everyone staying warm? We hope so! We’ve been having a pretty relaxing January so far. I was casually flipping through some photos on the computer last night and realized I never wrapped up our Have Pug, Will Travel trip from September (Boy, does time fly)! So here is the much-anticipated (I’m sure) HPWT finale!

(If you need to catch up with earlier installments, here’s the whole kit and kaboodle.)

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When we last left you in Part 5, Sid and I had enjoyed an evening stroll along the beachfront after a day of several amazing hikes at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. After a restorative forty winks in our home on wheels, we woke up the next day and made breakfast. Sid embraced his managerial role, making sure I split the blueberries evenly between us.

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Since our campsite was so close to the beach, we took an enjoyable post-breakfast stroll in the sand.

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And of course we couldn’t resist taking a few glamour shots.

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We then packed everything back up into the van and got back on the road. Our next destination was the town of Holland, Michigan. After a scenic drive along the western-Michigan shoreline, we eventually arrived at the Lake Macatawa campground located within Holland State Park. And, like most campgrounds we stayed at during this trip, we were just a short walk to the water! Time for a dip!

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As you can see in the corner of the picture, there are kayaks for rent on Lake Macatawa, but unfortunately it was a little too late in the day by that point to rent them, so instead we headed towards downtown Holland. Our first stop was Kollen park where there were lots of people out enjoying the sunshine and warm weather.

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The town of Holland is very charming and we enjoyed just walking around and people-watching. The main drag, 8th Street, is lined with little specialty shops, brew-pubs, and restaurants.

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Oh, and of course DOG BOUTIQUES!

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The staff at Decadent Dogs were very sweet and extremely generous with free samples of their gourmet treats, which Sid very much appreciated. They seemed to be giving Sid extra-special treatment and I didn’t know why until they told me about their town mascot: a pug named Lucy. Yes, you heard me right — A PUG!

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(Photo of Lucy from Discover Holland Facebook page)

Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Lucy in the fur because she was on vacation, but Sid left her a message (via “pee-mail”) at her headquarters for when she returns.

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We were in our element as it seemed like everywhere we looked, the town of Holland was obsessed with pugs. Even in the old-fashioned clock shop!

After a nice afternoon out strolling through the town, we arrived back at our campsite and Sid enjoyed a few treats he picked up at Decadent Dogs. Yum!

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The next morning, we packed up and headed back to sweet home, Chicago.

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Sid and I had such a fun time on our adventure and we hope you enjoyed traveling along with us! We can’t wait to make plans for our next Have Pug, Will Travel adventure!

Have Pug, Will Travel – Part 5

We hope everyone had a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Sid certainly got spoiled and will need to exercise all week long to get his waist back! I’m sure he’s looking forward to it.

Anywho, Sid and I are back today to continue the recap of our “Have Pug, Will Travel” (HPWT) road-trip from September. If you need to catch up with earlier installments, here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

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At this point in the trip we were back on the road heading to Traverse City, MI. We took a scenic route that hugged the lakefront led us out to the very tip of the Old Mission Peninsula where we were greeted by a cute lighthouse that was built way back in 1870.

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Sid explored the beach – scanning for treats as usual.

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When he didn’t find any, he decided to do the next best thing and take a dip in the lake.

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The long and narrow peninsula is home to several wineries. We picked up a bottle for the grand-pugrents but since Sid is under 21 years old, he was unable to sample any vino.

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We arrived at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and set up our camp at the Platte River Campground.

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We explored the area around the campground, which was lush with trees, then made some dinner and went to bed early so we’d have plenty of energy for hiking the next day.

After a good’s night sleep, we had breakfast and then headed for the Empire Bluff Trail. It was a very lovely trail that wound through the forest.

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The trail kept slowly ascending and by the end a little boardwalk led us onto a sand bluff that rose up 400+ feet above Lake Michigan! I couldn’t believe how far we could see off into the distance when perched up so high.

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Sid couldn’t believe it either. See how excited he looked?!

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After that breathtaking view we hopped back into our HPWT Home-on-Wheels and followed the route of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This “trail” is actually a narrow paved road that winds through the forest and sand dunes and is dotted with a dozen scenic viewpoints where one can pull over, get out, and take a closer look. The concept behind this road is that it permits anyone – even those people that are unable to hike by foot on a rugged trail – to experience the beauty of the nature here.

Lookout points #9 and #10 were particularly spectacular – and extremely windy!

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We had a delicious picnic lunch at the Glen Haven Historic Village, which Sid was pretty happy about. He perked up after chomping down a few tasty b.c.’s. I suppose all that “scenic looking” must be considered arduous work for a pug.

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After our mid-day recharge, we headed to Pyramid Point to tackle another trail.

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Along the quaint tree-covered trail, we saw lots of cool little flowers, a few snails, and even some impressive looking mushrooms!

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And just like the previous trail, this one kept slowly going up. And up. And up.

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All those calories expended on the way up were definitely worth the view we experienced when we reached the point.

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Sid stared out onto Lake Michigan and took time for some deep thoughts. Either that or he was just thinking about ways to hijack the remaining b.c.’s from my backpack.

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At this point we were both ready for dinner so we headed to our campsite for the night which was at the D.H. Day campground.

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Sid wolfed his food down and then proceeded pass out while I relaxed and made some food for myself and lit the campfire.

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The D.H. Day campground was right next to the beach which is what made it superior to Platte River. So of course we couldn’t resist watching another stunning sunset and enjoying twilight time on the beach.

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With the brilliant moon and multitude of stars high above us, we settled in for the night.

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And…the HPWT epic tale will conclude in Part 6 where we visit Holland!

Have Pug, Will Travel – Part 4

After celebrating Sid’s 11th Birthday (for two full weeks, per his instructions!) we are back to continue the recap of our “Have Pug, Will Travel” road-trip from September. If you need to catch up with earlier installments, here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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When we last left you, we had set up camp at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which is located on the east side of Michigan’s upper peninsula. In the lower falls area, you can row a little boat out to an island that is surround on all sides by several cascading waterfalls. We definitely weren’t going to pass this up!

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After acquiring his sea legs, Sid enjoyed the easy rowboat ride to the island. On the island is a trail that winds around the perimeter so you can get right up close to each waterfall. I made a little video of some of the lovely sights that Sid and I observed.

The shots at the end of video are actually of the giant upper falls. With a drop of nearly 50 feet, it is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.

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I asked Sid if he wanted to try riding over the upper falls in a barrel, and this was his response:

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There were quite a few sets of stairs around the upper falls that connected the various viewing locations, and even though I had to carry a 24-pound furball up and down each set, the views were totally worth it!

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After a fun day of exploring the falls and some nearby trails, we hopped back into the car and headed south towards the lower peninsula of Michigan. My flat-faced navigator decided to switch to auto-pilot.

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We soon approached the enormous suspension bridge, affectionately known as “Mighty Mac“, that connects both the upper and lower parts of Michigan. I was slightly terrified as we crossed, since the roadway is over 200 feet above the water at the midpoint! Eep!

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Our next stop was Petoskey State Park, where we set up camp. The campground was fantastic, with lots of tree coverage, and a quick walk right to a lovely beach.

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We parked our van, got settled in, lit a campfire, and had some dinner.

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After we filled up our bellies, we headed to the beach as the sun was beginning to set.

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There was a picture-perfect sunset over Lake Michigan that evening.

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The moon was full and bright, making the conditions ideal for some dramatic pug posing.

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After a good night’s sleep, we awoke the next morning and headed straight for the beach!

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There were lots of smooth round rocks on beach. Sid insisted upon sniffing every one in the event that one of them was actually a disguised treat.

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We had a great time exploring the beach and dipping our toes in the soft rolling waves. After we had our fill of sand, we went for a hike on one of the nearby trails: the “Old Baldy” trail. The woods were very beautiful, especially when the soft breeze would make all the leaves flutter.

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I wished we could have stayed another day in Petoskey as the campground and beach were lovely. However we had to get back on the road and make way to our next stop: Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear Dunes! We’ll tell you all about it in Part 5!

Have Pug, Will Travel – Part 3

We hope you have enjoyed hearing about our adventure around Lake Michigan. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them earlier.

Onward to Part 3!

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So as we were sleeping that night in Munising, we awoke to the sound of pinging and plunking noises. They started getting more frequent and louder in volume. It sounded like a steel drum band was having a concert right on our campsite. When I peaked out the window, there was no steel drum band, but rather a HUGE thunderstorm coming in and millions of raindrops bouncing off the metal panels of our home. The wind and rain were fierce! In the morning, this is what our view looked like:

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Luckily we stayed nice and dry inside our van, though the poor folks in tents did not fare so well. Most of the tents were flat on the ground and sitting in large pools of water.

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Sid didn’t really mind since he just ate his breakfast in the car instead of outside. But little did he know he’d have to soon run out in the monsoon to do his business (He was not happy about this!).

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The wind and rain did not abate so we decided to leave our campsite and hit the road towards the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We were hoping to do some more exploring there, and possibly a kayak trip to see the enormous striped cliffs along Lake Superior, but the weather was not cooperating. We were still able to drive to a few lookout spots to see some of the wonder of the lakeshore.

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The rain eventually subsided, so we were able to explore a bit at the north-east end of the park. Here’s a shot of the lovely Sable Falls.

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As we continued on, now back in the van, the pavement started getting very rough and then suddenly it just ENDED! I kept rechecking the map to make sure we weren’t lost, and sure enough I had missed a small detail that explained that the dashed line we were now riding on was an “improved” road which really dirt and/or gravel. Well, add some heavy rain to an “improved” road and you end up with mud. Lots of it!

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We bounced and splashed along for many miles – not sure when, or if, we were ever going to see pavement again. I laughed out loud every time we made it through a huge puddle – it was pretty thrilling and the forest around us was really breathtaking.

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I’m not sure how we survived but we did eventually reach pavement again. Our pristine white van was now a brown splattered mess. It was ok though because all the vehicles up there looked exactly the same way. Now we finally fit in!

When we arrived at our next campground, Sid didn’t want to emerge from his bed-cave – for fear of getting soaked or splattered with mud.

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He eventually came out when he saw I was whipping up some food.

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Our campsite at Tahquamenon State Park was really lovely and was right in the heart of the lower falls!

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We’ll see you next time in Part 4, when we actually visit the falls up close and Sid rides in a boat!

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Have Pug, Will Travel – Part 2

If you didn’t catch Part 1 of our Have Pug, Will Travel adventure, you can click here.

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After we visited Au Train Falls, a quick drive took us to our next campground – Munising Tourist Park– which is located right on Lake Superior in the town of Munising, MI.

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Of course the first thing we did was head to the beach so Sid could take a little dip and I could stretch my legs and take in the view.

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This was our first time ever at Lake Superior, and Sid didn’t hold back when he hit the water. He even dunked his entire face! Although he was disappointed to find that the hundreds of small dark objects under the water’s surface that he was bobbing for were small rocks and not treats.

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The beach was very relaxing, especially when the dune grasses swayed in the breeze.

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After checking out the beach, it was time to set up our camp.

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I was feeling a little hungry so I made a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Sid wanted to know where his sandwich was.

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Since we had arrived at the campground so early in the day, I had plenty of time to get a roaring campfire going which helped set the mood.

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While we sat by the campfire, I made some popcorn on our little Coleman butane stove. It actually worked really well! Sid was pleased to know he would be partaking in the noshing this time.

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Sid kept watch from his lookout post in the van anytime I had to use the restroom at the bathhouse.

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The sunset that evening was truly magnificent.

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The next morning, we had to sleep in and eat breakfast inside the van because of something we’ll tell you about in Part 3

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Have Pug, Will Travel – Part 1

Ahoy everyone! Sid and I have finally returned from our week-long camping and road-trip adventure around Lake Michigan which I’ve dubbed Have Pug, Will Travel. This is Part 1 of our story of the trip; we hope you enjoy it.

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For this adventure, I had originally considered renting a small RV. But after looking at the costs involved and also the size of an RV, even a small one, it was just overkill for one human and one pug. So I ended up renting a Ford Transit Connect cargo van because it provided ample room for sleeping and storage in the rear cargo area yet was as easy to drive as a normal car. So on the first day of the trip, I loaded loaded up the van with our camping gear, food, pug supplies, and mostly importantly: the pug.

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Welcome to our tiny home for the next week!

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We left Chicago on September 8th and made our way north through Wisconsin, into Michigan, and up to the charming Gladstone Bay Campground located in the small town of Gladstone.

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The campground was right on the shore of Little Bay de Noc, which is a bay of Lake Michigan. Our site was just a short walk away from the beach and as soon as Sid caught site of the water, he just had to take a little dip.

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At one edge of the beach was a cute little boardwalk that snaked along the water’s edge through an area with lots of tall grasses and plants.

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Sid liked the boardwalk so much he decided it would be the perfect place to take a little nap in the sun.

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The next morning we got up and had some breakfast while the sun was still pretty low in the sky.

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After breakfast and another visit to the beach, we got on the road and headed further north towards Lake Superior. Along the way, we stopped off at Au Train Falls. It was a lovely sight!

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The adventure will continue with Part 2