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Tag: rest area

Roadside Encounters: Charlie

Name: Charlie

Breed: Saint Bernard

Age: 4

Encountered: At a rest area in western Montana, just a couple of miles before the Idaho state line.

Backstory: Charlie, a female with a sweet disposition, was headed back home to Seattle from a road trip to Wisconsin. She lumbered out of the car to meet Ace, but Ace was more interested in the treats her owner — a former Baltimore resident — had in her pocket. Ace and Charlie stared at each other, sniffed, and munched some more treats together before doing their business and climbing back into their respective cars and rolling through Idaho.

Roadside Encounters: Brownie and Coco

Names: Brownie (left) and Coco (right)

Breed: Labradoodle mixes (Mom was a Labradoodle)

Age: 18 months

Encountered: At a rest area on Interstate 40, near Winston-Salem

Headed: Home to the Raleigh area

From: A few days in the mountains of Georgia

Interesting fact: Coco and Brownie are from the same litter. It appears Coco got more Labra; Brownie got more doodle.

Roadside Encounters: Domino

Name: Domino

Breed: Dalmatian

Age: 13

Encountered: Arizona’s Painted Cliffs Welcome Center, on Interstate 40

Headed: Back home to Oregon

From: A trip to New Mexico

Travel habits: When Domino’s owner fires up the RV, Domino is happy to ride along. Domino gets restless about every three hours, though, and wants to get out for a walk, as he was doing at this rest area  just across the New Mexico line. Despite Arizona’s new hard line on immigrants,  both the predominantly white Domino and his black spots were able to gain admittance to the state. (My overly tanned left arm had no difficulties, either.)

Domino’s owner, who lives with his daughter, hits the road for two or three months at a time, seeing the country and drifting where the spirit moves him. “I call it tumbleweeding,” he says.

Roadside Encounters: Charlie

Name: Charlie

Breed: Golden Retriever

Age: 7

Encountered: A rest area in Middleofnowhere, Texas.

Headed: To California

From: Raleigh, North Carolina

Travel habits: Sleeps a lot

Don’t mess in Texas

Not unlike the one we showed you in North Carolina — Texas has some ridiculous designated dog areas at its highway rest stops, too, like this one we encountered while driving down I-10.

Call it the cage of poop — almost totally unshaded, lined with large hunks of rock that can’t feel good on the paws, and about the size of a prison cell.

What better way to let your dog unwind from being cramped in the car than to stick him in a cramped, brutally hot, rock-lined, chain link-surrounded pen?

Wake up, highway departments. Our dogs, generally speaking, are traveling with us on vacation, not serving time. If you’re seeking tourists with pets, show a little respect for them as opposed to providing an Attica-like experience.

All the way to Alabama

Your guess is as good as mine, but my guess is the person in charge of rest areas in North Carolina is a cat person.

Why else would have they created this giant litter box, installed at an I-40 rest area west of Asheville?

My dog certainly wasn’t interested in doing his business there, and I doubt many others are. Not to mention the dangers inherit in tying your dog, the sheer indignity of having to poop or pee while lashed to a wooden post, and the distinct possibility — in the event you and your dog do follow the directions — of soggy leash syndrome once the deed is done.

Perhaps I’m just not getting it. At the rest area, there’s a sign with an arrow pointing in the direction of a designated dog area, but no designated dog area — unless this horseshoe pit is it. We can only  hope children don’t see it, say “yeah, a sandbox,” and jump in.

Another traveler I encountered, accompanied by her Rottweiler mix, Bianca, couldn’t figure it out either. So both Bianca and Ace peed where they wanted, despite the state highway department’s apparent desire to have dogs tinkle only while tied.

Not long after the rest area stop, after cruising along that wonderfully winding stretch of I-40, we were in Tennessee, passing through Knoxville, Chattanooga, a smidgen of Georgia and then back into Tennessee before turning south and making it as far as Huntsville.

There we checked into a room at a La Quinta (Spanish for “we don’t make your dogs pee while tied to posts”), turned the air conditioner as low as it could go and cooled off, which we intend to do for the rest of the night and well into the morning before taking off for Florence, Alabama.

After two nights of free lodging at my mothers, and free meals, our budget took more of a hit today, after spending nothing yesterday.

Here’s how today’s expenses broke down:

Gas: $70

Food: A $2 meal deal at Taco Bell. (Ace got most of the tortilla and all the burrito filling that oozed out of it and hit the ground.)

Lodging: $60 at La Quinta.

Dog-friendly motels that don’t charge deposits, and air conditioning: Priceless.

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