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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Travels

These aren't sled dogs! Copper and Pip take a spin around the living room. I've never thought of Copper as a big dog before I saw him next to Pip!

Nephew, Andy, helps prepare the traditional yam and apple dish.

All six dogs are in there somewhere!

Garvan Woodland Gardens lights

Neil took some great photos of the lights.

Our Thanksgiving travels included a visit to some old friends in Iowa on our way down to visit family in Arkansas. After my father's 30+ years of service with the USDA Forest Service, my parents decided to stay in the Hot Springs area for retirement. We'll talk them into moving up to the snow sooner or later! Unfortunately it was too warm and an unnecessary journey for all of the sled dogs so they stayed home and hung out with our handler, Chris while Neil, Copper, Blue, Zulu and I drove the over 1700+ mile round trip journey.

It was Zulu's first warm weather "vacation" as a retired sled dog. He understood being let out of his crate every so often for a quick run around before being put back in and heading back out on the road. What he didn't quite seem to understand was the warm temperatures and lack of snow at our destination. After a bit of disorientation and a "walk through" of the large fenced yard at our destination with Neil so this mostly blind retired leader could get his bearings, he took to being away quite well and enjoyed exploring a new area with the little dogs.

We've got a dog family and six of them were in attendance at the Thanksgiving Day feast. There were our three, a Sheltie and two Chihuahuas. Mollie is the Sheltie and the queen of the bunch. She had no desire to spend any time at all with the little dogs but did take a shine to Zulu. My brother and his wife were instructed to keep the Chihuahuas at a safe distance from Zulu. He's 13 and mostly blind but he's still got some get-up-and-go when he feels the urge so he might mistake the little guys for rodents and well, need I say more. The oldest Chihuahua, Pip, did spend some time playing with Copper and Blue while Zulu was napping in his crate.

A traditional Thanksgiving meal of Turkey and all of the fixins was prepared. My mother goes out of her way to make sure that everything is perfect and everyone is well fed, dogs included as they were treated to some table scrap turkey.

Holiday lights are in full force in Arkansas and it is a family tradition to drive to wherever they can be seen. Garvan Woodland Gardens is a botanical garden in the Hot Springs area and does a fabulous job at stringing lights all through their grounds. It is quite a sight and best of all, they allow dogs during this event!

The 15 1/2 hour, straight through, return drive home began in the Ozark Mountains. There are vast views of the valleys below from the windy and mountainous roadway where switch backs are not uncommon. As we drove, I thought about how exciting and treacherous a dog mushing trail with this topography would be!

Back at home that evening, we reflected on a fun trip away visiting loved ones, our aches and pains from the long journey and the fact that we were now back at home with the dogs where we love to be. Of course, our first steps out of the truck were to the dog yard.

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