Houston we have a problem

Buckingham – Actually we don’t have a problem but we are in Houston so we have to say it. We eventually leave New Orleans after taking a couple of wrong turns before getting on the Interstate – damn GPS!    One straight shot all 385 miles to Houston breezing through Louisiana, the freeway through Baton Rouge is interesting, with the road works it is cresta runnish, but I am still curled up in the back.

We stop briefly in Lake Charles for my lunch time pit stop but they fail to find a decent restaurant so we press on.

Once we cross the border into Texas things change, there is obviously more money here. After we negotiate the traffic of Houston Mark finds an off-leash dog park so we head straight for my 4 pm afternoon run.  Lots of dogs there but I ignore them and roam free for the first time since we left Kiawah Island in South Carolina.  This place even has pools in the shape of bones – how chic.

We check into a hotel and for the first time I ride in an elevator.  Very strange. My paws are on solid ground but it moves?!   I am weary of being elevated but luckily, only one floor up.  No problem.  I can manage.

It’s a long drive today so we relax a bit in the hotel room until they go out for food.  They leave me in the car whilst they go for Thai food.   Mark says it’s one of the best outside of Thailand and Lisa seems to enjoy it too.  What would I know about different cuisine?!

We’re back in the hotel room after they wolf-down their food, or is it dog- down?  I don’t know how they do it driving so many hours but I am exhausted so don’t have to count my spots to get to sleep. Need to prepare for the 5 days as we travel across Texas from south to north.

 

Four states and a time zone

Buckingham – I know it’s going to be a long travel day when Mark gets me up at 6:30am and we could still see the stars outside.   We take off after breakfast at 8:30.   It’s a long journey when one full tank of petrol isn’t enough for the day.  We cover 4 states today: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and finally Louisiana.   At the tourist information center in Alabama, Mark and Lisa change out of their shorts into long pants.  The temperature in the morning is in the low 40s and climbs to mid 50s when the sun decides to be kind to us.

We reach destination New Orléans which lies on the banks of the great Mississippi river.   Both of them put on their cashmere and jacket whilst I am just me!  Strong and tough.  No jacket, coats socks nor shoes but what I do get is the harness because they know it’s mega tourists… They also pull out their passports and credit cards and put them into their well stuffed pockets.  All is well except the car gets nicked and scraped even though it’s parked in a paid lot that charges exorbitant amount of money.

New Orléans is a sultry melting pot of Spanish, French, Italian, Caribbean and African.  This is where Rhett took Scarlett on honeymoon.  It is sensory over load.   Humans from all walks of life, including this guy who balances on a ladder for hours on end in the middle of the street.  Every restaurant/bar wants to outdo its neighbour by blasting its music.  Street performers block traffic flow and I go completely berserk, again… the horse-drawn carriages with those sickeningly ultra well-behaved mules. I can not contain myself.   It’s even difficult for Mark to grab onto me.

I come across a lady who’s Dalmatian won the best in show and I am told I am not extra large, nor fat, nor chunky.   Just right, and my spots perfect – of course, Lisa painstakingly draws them in every morning, especially my mascara!    Maybe she’s too good at her job.  I am constantly patted.  Perhaps if they start charging $1 each time someone pats me and $2 each time someone takes my photo, our hotel bills could be taken care of and they might just feed me real human food.  And I dream on….

Their 4 hour parking is about to expire so they quickly put me back in the car and they go the Ralph Kacoo’s Oyster bar across the road in the hopes of getting some Cajun/ Creole dish.  No such luck but at least they manage to order something not deep fried.    Lisa is good to me.   She gives me 1/2 of her mahi mahi for my dinner, mixed into my kibble.   So I go back to re-lick my bowl twice.  Yumms!

 

A new years day

Buckingham – happy new year to all my readers!

After exhausting myself by barking at the fireworks through the night we are on the beach before dawn to see a flight of 10 pelicans flying due west – a positive portent perhaps. We head off at 8am and are in Sarasota for breakfast at a great cafe in the sun on the street.   Within minutes they seem to have clicked with this town and there are murmurs that Florida could be back in the frame as a future home (it reminds Lisa of Vancouver).   With breakfast complete and following a chance conversation with a local realtor we end up in the very attractive St Amands Circle and Harding Circle Historic districts  – are the gods trying to tell us something?   We take a diversion up the coast,  Zillowing properties as we go, and regret not having spent more time in Sarasota, but then the beaches  do not allow my 4 paws to walk on them so I’m glad we didn’t stay here.

For the first time since our journey on 15th November we drive westward.  We arrive at our first  La Quinta hotel (they allow dogs) at way past my dinner time, but Lisa is happy because it’s a good size room with king size bed and white cotton sheets.   Never would have expected a roadside motel could be so clean and comfortable.

Apparently I am not allowed to stay in the hotel by myself so they buy take out for the first time:  Chinese food.   So much food that they can’t finish so everything’s in the bin except the rice.  My first 2012 dinner contains rice. wow!

I hear it’ll be an early start tomorrow again to cover another near 400 miles so I’ll better get some beauty sleep in now.

Final day of 2011 & SW Florida

Final sunset of 2011

Buckingham – We actually saw a dog wearing sunglasses on the beach this morning and yes they did match those of its owner. There is absolutely no chance that my two will ever put me through such an indignity.

We have lunch at a dock side restaurant where I completely miss the resident cat (splash) who was apparently rescued after being thrown from the adjacent bridge and has never left the restaurant since.
In the afternoon the fireworks start and I begin the howling on the beach, this is going on all night and my worries are multiplied as we come back and they pull out the bags to begin the packing – again.  I’m not sure if the fireworks are worse or the uncertainty.
In a way it is fitting that we turn a corner in our trip at the end of the year, we no longer head south but west and will no longer be in the sun but into the sun. Geographically we are less than 1/3 of our way but in reality probably closer to 1/2 way into our time frame. Let’s see what serendipity will bring as we make the mad dash west through the deep south.

2012 will be our year of the unknown, for the first time ever we have no idea where we will be this time next year other than it will be somewhere new and that we will have visited many places in between.

Happy New Year everyone – enjoy!

Geese-a-laying day

Buckingham – Back to the deserted dog beach this morning and for a while we had the place to ourselves, then three other dogs turned up and hijacked my ball – whatever! One of their humans actually used to work in Norwalk (home) so we reminisced for a while. Amazing this 6 degrees of separation stuff. Sensing that I am getting fat (or perhaps it’s him) Mark takes me for a run along the other beach which thankfully has more humans and far fewer 4 legged friends. We run for a while and receive the usual platitudes before returning home to wake Lisa and have breakfast.

In need of some futile retail therapy Lisa heads out with an excuse that her watch needs a new battery but to no avail.   She couldn’t find a place in any of the nearby towns that could put in a new battery so the phone will have to be her new time piece.

We’re not so sure if this place that’s nearly 100% shaded is good.   It certainly keeps us cool but … perhaps they’ll take me back to the beach this afternoon so I could soak up some rays  because the nights are getting cooler now.

I sense that we are about to move yet again – they are spending increasing amounts of time on the computer and phone booking up dog friendly places along our chosen southern route. Apparently we will have long days in the car for about a week before settling down in the snow of Santa Fe New Mexico for a while. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We do spend the afternoon on the beach again and Lisa attempts a sand sculpture of me, very much appreciated but I am forced to paw it into oblivion – I just can’t be replicated! Walking home we get attacked by some pea sized mute that rushes out of its driveway – I gave as good as I got  – I think.

They leave me to my own devices in the evening as they have dinner with a friend of Mark’s who lives up the road – back to bed…

On the 5th Day of Christmas…

Buckingham – Yes, I know I took a few days off over the holidays – well so did everyone else and even Dalmatians need a break! Normal service is now resumed.
A praying ibis

We have had a busy few days exploring the surrounding towns of Fort Myers Beach – Naples again, Bonita Springs, the islands of Captiva and Sanibel and Fort Myers itself. We also found an off leash dog beach – which was great apart from the multitude of other 4 legged brethren who were just acting plain mental at times, when we first went there. To compensate Mark took me back early the next morning so that I could act mental alone.

We enjoyed Captiva and Sanibel even though the single road access did make the traffic a bit slow – also due to the traffic cop trying to direct traffic – why do they bother?

Chick magnet in Naples

Naples is one of the nicer (monied) towns with a major disadvantage – I am not allowed on the beach – so we won’t be moving there. In fact I hope that we won’t be moving to Florida at all – the people are nice enough but there aren’t enough green places fo me to run around freely, and it is too damn hot – and this is December! Worringly they have been looking at a few properties – I am sure that they will see sense.

Today was our first real beach day of the trip – unfortunately they only took two chairs but that didn’t bother me as I got there before Lisa. It got a bit uncomfortable after a while so I did the honourable thing and let ma’am have the seat.
The fireworks in the ‘hood’ have started early for New Year so I am getting some practise howling in this evening.