With the winter season imminent, the 2015 road trip season was coming to an end. We had driven to the west coast and driven to the east coast. I had thought about driving to the north border of Ontario, but with my little car it was an expedition beyond my abilities. And so we turned our attention elsewhere. Pelee Island is the farthest point south in Canada and so that was where I wanted to go. In an uncharacteristic moment of forethought, I researched the island. Ferries had to be reserved in advance and with an upcoming quail hunt, most spots were taken as were all dog-friendly accommodations. So we did the next best thing and drove to Pelee Point instead. It may not be the farthest point south but was as south as we could go.
On October 20, 2015 we left home and put some serious road under the tires by the time we arrived at Pelee Point National Park. It was warm and sunny that day and the wind blew tirelessly over the waters of Lake Erie.
We walked the trails and the beaches until we arrived at the tip…
For a little while we just sat and watched the waves roll in. Even the dogs seemed to be mesmerized by the constant buffeting of the waves. Reluctantly we left the shore and made the slow trek back to the car. The trails were all well-cleared and level so the walk was easy.
After we left, we stopped at the Pelee Island Winery and I bought a bottle of prosseco. It seemed appropriate to have a bottle of bubbly. I then stopped at a farmers market and bought a cherry pie.
I had toyed with the idea of staying in a hotel for the night but decided against it and continued back home.
It wasn’t my usual road trip: I didn’t keep track of my mileage. I had a very set destination. There were no side trips and I didn’t really keep track of anything. This was a drive for the sake of driving kind of trip. I thought of it as a way to end the season.
And now dear reader, the question that I get asked all the time: Why? Why drive across vast distances with three dogs in a little car? Why not fly somewhere and really explore a place?
It’s more than just the destination. I enjoy the journey. I like watching the terrain change around me; sometimes it’s so subtle you don’t really see it and other times it’s amazingly abrupt. I like the freedom of going where I want to go and when I want to do it, eating different foods, and listening to how dialects change as the distance increases.
And if I flew, forget about taking the dogs. Yes they can be a bit of extra work but I think they’re worth it. They are some of the best company anyone could hope for and I am so lucky that they enjoy the road as much as I do.
But there’s something more than that; something more profound. Our time on this world is short and theirs is even shorter. I feel that the reason why our pets don’t live as long us is because they give so much of themselves they just run out of life sooner. All they want is to be together as one big pack. Their whole existence revolves around their alpha, which just happens to be me. How could I not include them in the biggest moments of my life?
Then when I look at them, I don’t always see them but their stories: Jack with his eyes slowly becoming as grey as his muzzle and his gait becoming more stilted as the days pass.
Piper: her young body bearing the marks and scars of illness and injury with every day a step closer to a surgery I don’t even want to think about.
And Leo: sometimes I still see the terrified little dog shaking in fear and confusion as he stood guard against something he could not comprehend.
That is why I do what I do. As I experience all these adventures, who better to have them with than my dogs? I want to know that when that inevitable and terrible day comes, I’ll be able to hold them close so the only thing they hear is my voice and whisper in their ear: “Hey pup. We had a good run. I showed you the world. And when we meet again, the whole pack will be waiting. The car will be ready, the tank will always be full, and there won’t be a leash in sight. And then little one, and then the adventures we will have.”