Monday, October 8, 2007

How to survive a long car ride

Well, although I have not finished my Mackinac Area tales, I have just been slow to blog because we haven't had a chance to camp in the last few months. We have traveled, most recently to the UP. There was no camping, however I thought talking about how to survive a long car trip was relevant to those that like to camp with their dogs.

Two weeks ago we loaded up the car with the two dogs, two kids, and the two slightly insane parents. I was convinced I would need Valium as the drive would take us 10-11 hours. See, the reason we never leave Michigan when we camp is that I am just not brave enough to last when the kids and the dogs all get whiney. Ask my daughter what rule #1 is, and she'll tell you, "No whining!" That rule actually trumps no hitting. But, our love of the the Keweenaw peninsula is so great that I was determined to take Valium and get over it.

However, since you need a prescription for that, I had to resort to plan B, which was get DVD players for the kids and just stop as often as possible to walk the dogs.

We started out around 9am. We got the kids up earlier than usual in hopes that they would nap on the road. The dogs got walked. My rule was that I kept walking them until I was dragging them.

On the way up we stopped every 2-3 hours, and everyone that was awake had to get out and run. Now, this rule doesn't work the same for all dogs. Since greyhounds are sprinters, it doesn't take them long to wear them out. We walk/run them for 15 minutes and they're good for a while. For higher energy dogs this might actually make things worse (just as their adrenaline is building you stop te exercise and the dog is more high strung than before). These are the dogs that I advise playing a high energy game like Frisbee, until they drop. Of course you can always give them Kongs and other chews too to help keep them busy. My dogs were forced to share a small space which could equate into some resource guarding, so I stayed away from the chews.

We also stopped for lunch, only because it was cool enough to leave the dogs in the car. We parked them right in front of the window so I could keep an eye on the car, to make sure that no one was approaching the car to agitate them... people usually do this with the best of intentions ("Oh, look at the doggy, HI DOGGY!") but again, the less agitation the more peace.

Then we got some french fries and I had my kids slowly feeding those to the dogs (dogs go into carb comas too!). This is only something I would suggest if you know how your dogs digest fries... the one thing worse than a 10 hour car ride is one with lots of dog gas.

Well, we made it up to the Keweenaw (the northern most peninsula of Michgan's Upper Peninsula, we were headed just south of Houghton/Hancock) in better shape than I thought. No one fussed much at all. I was impressed. Maybe it was because I was so well prepared, maybe it was the prayer! In any case I am ready to do it again come spring.

We are headed out for a Halloween Campout this weekend, so stay tuned!