It still seems foolish or unreal. Yet the planning for my road trip across the country began last week. I have said it out loud, typed it and even my mother didn't try to talk me out of it. So it's official. We leave at the end of May.
I have known I needed to be in Buffalo this summer for my uncle's wedding since last spring but I planned to fly, and leave the pets with our pet sitter, until last Monday when our pet sitter let us know she is ill and cancelled.
I woke up bright and early Thursday morning, excited (and a little nervous) about getting started with planning the trip. How long/far could we drive each day? Where would we stop and stay? What special places along the way would the dogs and I enjoy spending some extra time? My initial plan was to take it easy on the first day and stay in familiar territory driving only as far as Spokane. But that short day didn't factor in properly when I divided up the driving hours and distances for the rest of the trip. So on the first day of our trip, we leave early and drive to Missoula, MT.
With an easy call to Montana State Parks, I confirmed their simple and pretty typical pet rules. Pets are allowed in campgrounds on a no longer than 10 foot leash. Be respectful and clean up. They have a nice link from their home page with a paw print to "Pets in Parks." Very helpful and pet friendly. I was also surprised at how easy it was to reserve our camp sites. They use Reserve America, as do a lot of parks these days, but what shocked me is that, just a little over 2 months from our stay on a weekend, there were plenty of sites to choose from. Maybe I am too used to trying for Washington and Oregon State Park camping reservations. These states camp spots are usually gone within hours of when reservations begin. Just in case, I doubled checked reviews of the Montana campgrounds to make sure there wasn't a reason the sites weren't all taken. Both parks and campgrounds I was looking at seem highly thought of. It was a relief to have choices even with such little time to plan. I think more time in Montana may be in our futures. Anyways, I am really looking forward to our stays in 2 Montana State Parks and hopefully we will have time along the way to stop at more. I did buy a non-resident park pass, just in case. Plus, with the park pass I saved $5 per night on our camp sites.
I have only planned one more leg of the trip so far and it is the one I am most nervous about: the long, boring drive through North Dakota and camping just outside of Fargo in Minnesota. I kind of wish I had explored pet friendly lodging in Fargo before reserving my campsite but I was already in camping mode! When I found the campground, the reviews were as expected: "The mosquitoes come out in the afternoon so get ready to run." Yikes. But I want an adventure, right? My mom, who has driven across the country many times- including a few times with 2 dogs and 2 kids!- said the black flies won't be too bad so close to North Dakota. But the mosquitoes. I'm just not used to it. This is why Cascadia is paradise.
The Minnesota State Parks pet policy was a little more difficult to track down than Montana's super pet-friendly link but Minnesota's rules are the usual as well. Pets must be on leash, not left unattended, may not go in buildings or on beaches and owners must clean up. The pet policy is
So far the planning for what feels like a last minute trip to me has gone really well. I am over half way done... with the trip East. I do still need to make the drive back official too, don't I? Ah, a lesson from the dogs moment: one step at a time!