While 2017 ended our two-year bicycle journey that began in Oslo, Norway and ended in Medellín, Colombia, it by no means meant the end of our adventures.
I try to stress that adventure doesn’t have to mean putting your dog on a plane, flying across the Atlantic, and cycling across 24 countries together. That is just one type of (extreme) adventure to share with your dog.
Explore nearby parks or hike near your home. Try a new sport together. Go on a road trip. Grab your camping gear and spend the night under the stars. It can be in an established campground or on a longer backpacking trip.
All that matters is that you’re having fun. I think getting a bit out of your comfort zone is good, too.
We worried a bit about what would happen when completed our bicycle tour. Would our fans still think we were adventurous? Would you be interested in our new endeavors? How could we stay excited (and exciting) in a stationary location? Where would our content come from?
Turns out, you did, you were, we did, and our content came from all the adventures we completed in 2017.
So without further ado, let’s take a look back into 2017!
A few quick stats:
Countries visited: Four (Ecuador, Colombia, Canada, and the US, of course)
States visited: Eight (for all of us), Nine (for Dave and Me) (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, California)
Instagram friends met in real life: 21!! (and maybe more, let me know if I forgot to add you!) (@laducb, @youdidwhatwithyourwiener, @pupfrankie, @mazamadog, @remdawg.the.tripawd, @socaladventuretrio, @5280coloradodogs, @lifewithmutts, @trustyourtrail, @trailswith4tails, @dustydesertdogs, @gypzygyrl, @mako.thehusky, @little_desert_fox, @goldentrailz, @thedesertdoodle, @prospectorpups, @travelationship, @tala_the_nubianhound)
Photo contests won: Three (Lonely Planet Epic Rides Instagram contest, the Blog Paws Nose to Nose Award for Best Photo on a Blog, and the Seattle Times Reader’s Lens “Dog Days of Summer” contest.)
Adventure Highlights from 2017
Getting the VIP Treatment with Turismo Quito
We experienced our first collaboration project with a tourism board with Turismo Quito. The team put together an amazing dog-friendly itinerary for us that included a fantastic vegan breakfast and bird watching at Pachihal Ecolodge Reserve in the cloud forest, a visit to La Mitad del Mundo, meals at several dog-friendly restaurants, a trip on the TeleferiQo to Pichincha at 15,696ft (4,784masl), and a visit to one of our favorite parks, Ichimbía
Finding Secluded Waterfall after Secluded Waterfall in Colombia
Traveling with a dog often means that we don’t always get to visit the more popular tourist destinations. And you know what? That’s ok with us. We tend to stray from them anyway.
So how do we find fun dog-friendly adventures? We talk to the locals. We’re suckers for a good waterfall hike, and Colombia did not disappoint. Locals directed us to hidden waterfalls all over the country. Sometimes they went with us. Sometimes, they drew us maps. Sometimes they just told us to ask the guy at the house with the angry dogs where to go next.
Sora Becoming the Face of Animal Adoption in Medellín
We realized that an important part of our journey was to give back. We met and fell in love with so many abandoned animals during our trip, and since we were unable to bring them all back home with us, we gave back in ways that we could.
Prior to arriving in Medellín, where we stayed for a month, we contacted Defenzoores, a non-profit organization that fights for animal rights in the city. The director, Mauricio Gomez fell head over heels for Sora (who wouldn’t, really?) and requested that she become the face of adoption in Medellín. We spoke before city council, were interviewed on local TV networks, and spoke in a panel with over 100 attendants. And Sora’s face was plastered all over the city.
As we pedaled across Colombia, Dave and I launched Pedaling for Pooches to raise $1,125 for the organization, one dollar for every kilometer pedaled in Colombia. So many of you came through and contributed, pushing us past our goal, raising a total of $1,450 for Defenzoores.
Exploring Washington, My Native State
Growing up, my family wasn’t overly outdoorsy, so we didn’t do a ton of hiking or other outdoor activities like camping. I discovered it more with friends as I got older, but I still never really felt like I truly knew my state. I had grown up in this land surrounded by towering mountains, rough coastline, and the Puget Sound, but had barely made a dent in all there was to explore. I was determined, that while we were here in between travels, I would finally become acquainted with Washington.
We hiked and camped in the Mt. Baker Wilderness, explored a tiny piece of the Olympic Peninsula, traversed the trails around Snoqualmie, and trudged in the snow near Steven’s Pass. We ran miles and miles and miles at Cougar and Tiger Mountains and discovered countless running trails within an hour and a half drive from where we were. While there is still so much left to discover, the Pacific Northwest is my home and I will continue to explore each and every return.
Oregon Rode Trip
The summer brought about our second collaborative project with a tourism board. This time, we got to work with some of my old colleagues from Oregon tourism boards on a month long, dog-friendly cycle trip through Oregon, dubbed the Oregon Rode Trip.
We began in in Portland and hopped on the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway toward Eugene. From there, we made our way to the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway before detouring to Bend, where we spent a week with our friends, Dakota and Chelsea. Finally, we completed our journey back to Portland after cutting through Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory on the Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway.
I had visited all of these locations previously on various road trips, but to see it all by bicycle gave us an entirely different perspective of our beloved state.
Paddleboarding with Sora in Bend
I was dying to get Sora on a paddleboard for a long time, so when we found ourselves in Bend during the Oregon Rode Trip, we had the opportunity to work with Tumalo Creek Rentals and take Sora for a ride. She took to the board like a natural and settled after just a few minutes.
The experience showed us, once again, just how adaptable she is. We have put this dog in some seriously strange situations, and she just goes with the flow every time.
Canada Road Trip
My family lives all over the world, so it is rare that I get to see them. My aunt’s family has a property in BC sorta kinda on the way to Alberta, so when I learned that my aunt, uncle, and cousins would be there, we decided to stop by for a visit.
We went back and forth as to whether or not we were going to do this road trip. It was far, peak tourist season, and wildfires were clouding the views of the mountains along the Icefields Parkway. We didn’t know when we’d have the opportunity again, and though the circumstances weren’t ideal, we went ahead with the plan anyway. Plus, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, all national parks were free and are always dog-friendly (but not so much bars and restaurants).
The road trip took us from Mazama, WA through the Okanogan Valley and up toward Mt. Robson, the start of the Icefields Parkway. With all the crazy tourists and smoke, we missed places like Jasper and Moraine Lake and instead opted for Abraham Lake and Kananaskis Country, as suggested by @domcarson and @atlastheadventuredog.
Backpacking with You Did What with Your Wiener
After developing a fast friendship with Jessica of You Did What with Your Wiener, she and I planned a somewhat last-minute backpacking trip on the Chain Lakes Loop in the Mt. Baker Wilderness. It was a trek I had put on my list when we arrived back in the US, and given that it was September, I was thinking that my window to do the hike had closed.
Jessica and I found perhaps the last beautiful and warm(ish) pair of days to do this overnight trek. We started late because I had to take Sora into the vet that morning to have a lump on her leg aspirated (turns out that it was indeed cancer). It was already cold when we arrived, and we had only a few daylight hours left, so we set out quickly.
The following day gave us blue skies and brilliant fall colors. It was plenty warm and perfect hiking weather.
Solo Backpacking with Sora
Another item I wanted to tick off my list was a solo backpacking trip with Sora. Just an overnight. I wanted to test my abilities and put myself out of my comfort zone a bit. So after returning from the Chain Lakes trip with Jessica, I set out the following afternoon for an overnight with Sora. I had just learned that lump growing on her leg was cancerous and wanted to take her out for an adventure before she’d be on bed rest for several weeks.
Hiking and camping alone with your dog is so empowering. I had to rely entirely on myself for everything and be prepared if something were to go wrong. Further, it’s a beautiful bonding experience to share with your dog.
Dave and Jen Get Married!
A lot of you probably thought that Dave and I were already married, but we weren’t! We’ve both been married before and didn’t see the need to do it again.
However, we’re applying for a visa to Spain (more on that soon), and it just made it a whole lot easier if we were wed. So that’s what we did!
We assembled a few friends and dogs and went for a walk in the woods, picked a nice spot along the river and had a lovely ceremony. After toasting Pachamama (the earth mother to Andean indigenous people), a bald eagle flew directly above. We wore hiking boots and pants and my hair was wet and it was perfect.
The Ultimate Adventure Dog Meetup: Arizona Edition
Back when we first arrived in the US, several adventure dog Instagram friends began discussing the possibility of a giant meet up in Arizona. There was a large percentage of us in the Southwest already, one of us was planning a cross-country road trip that direction, and the remainder of us were somewhat nearby on the West Coast.
I joined the conversation tentatively, not wanting to get my hopes up because I didn’t think that Dave and I would still be in the US. I thought we would be long gone. However, here we still are, so we hopped in Jessica’s car with her dog, Gretel and headed off south.
We experienced slot canyons for the first time, exchanged the cold for some serious warmth, ate fabulous (and not so fabulous) Mexican food, saw some of the best starry skies we’ve ever seen, spent the night squished in the car after getting stuck in the mud during a passing storm on a dirt road, and woke up to the wind howling and threatening to snap our tents in two at a remote campground in Idaho. We camped with 20+ dogs and people and went on several hikes.
The trip was short and we drove many miles to go see these people, who at the time were strangers. And it was 100% worth it. I have met some really amazing people on Instagram and I cannot wait to meet more of you.