The trip east is planned. I have somewhere to pitch our tent while staying in New York. So it is time to plan the return trip West. One of the hardest decisions I have had to make in planning my road trip across the country with 3 dogs so far was how to return home. I definitely leaned towards taking a different but longer route West. Yet I was concerned about what was best for the dogs. The decision was made when my step-mother told me "you know, I don't believe in back-tracking; if you're going to have an adventure, have an adventure." I grinned ear to ear and realized that if I am happy and having fun, the dogs will be too. So I began searching for a different route home to Seattle from Buffalo.
Since I am dipping South to visit a friend in Columbus on the way to New York, it was easy to find a different route West through Michigan. The dogs and I will have a long day of travel on our first day heading West but we'll get to camp on Lake Michigan. The Michigan State Parks website is full of information. A bit too full. It is difficult to find their pets in state parks policies but once I found it I was pleased that it is so thorough. Other searches about the campground at which I wanted to make reservations revealed it to be a very dog friendly place. Even my reservation receipt has specific instructions regarding which part of the beach dogs are allowed on. Impressively pet friendly, Michigan State Parks. Thank you.
We're taking our time the second day so we have time to explore the beach and, if all goes well, Chicago. I haven't been to Chicago in years and I
Iowa State Parks use Reserve America so reserving the campsite was a breeze. Reserve America makes finding campsites where pets are allowed simple with their black and white dog icon. Individual parks pet policies still vary so I always do a bit more research. We don't want to be limited to only staying in the campsite. I want to be sure the dogs are welcome on trails and in the rest of the park. Iowa State Parks have a less specific but easy to find pet policy. Again, other research and reviews from Tripadvisor, Google and Camping Road Trip helped me to discover our park was a local dog hiking favorite. Perfect! The best part of the site I reserved in Iowa is the price. It is by far the cheapest campsite I have reserved. Sort of unbelievably cheap. Judging by the photos of the park, I believe I will get way more than I paid for. We'll see. It is an adventure, after all.
On day three of our return trip we drive all day into Nebraska. Nebraska State Parks also use Reserve America so the campground pet policy was the usual (six foot leash, no unattended pets, clean up after them) but it was more difficult to find out if the dogs could explore the park and historic sites with me. I ended up calling, a person answered and I easily found our the dogs are welcome. They are allowed throughout the park, on a leash, not in the buildings and I have to clean up after them. The park ranger was very friendly! Nebraska State Parks seem to be overall very pet friendly as well.
Great planning so far. 13 states down, 3 or maybe 4 more to go! The last half of the trip West I have yet to plan is one I am most looking forward to. I could linger for quite sometime in and around the Rockies. And even though I know the dogs will be happy if I am, I think, after over two weeks on the road, we may all be eager to get home.