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The Long View: My First Cross-Country Road Trip

Go Jules Go The Log View My First Cross Country Road Trip title graphic 12JUN2019

Colorado Rocky Mountain hi-igh…” I belted at the top of my lungs, cranking up the volume. Sorry, Uncle Jesse, but this has to happen.

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S’okay. I’m used to your sh*t by now, Mom.

All right, so maybe I wasn’t actually driving through Colorado, but close-a-freaking-’nuff.

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Somewheresville, Wyoming, as seen from I-80W.

“I can’t believe you’re already in Wyoming!” Jenn texted.

“My ass can,” I fired back.

After leaving my home state, New Jersey, last Friday to embark on my very first (…and last?) cross-country road trip, I was starting to feel the burn. I was also starting to feel like I was living on borrowed time, having survived three extremely questionable roadside motels and one AirBNB in a town where Uncle Jesse and I bumped the population to 750 for the night.

Elmwood, Nebraska. …Wow, you’ve never heard of it. Huh. …What? No. I didn’t say anything. …Wait’ll Kristen at the post office hears about THIS.

As part of my latest Grand Caper -which involved quitting a very stable job and selling all of my stuff- I decided to move to central Oregon because I heard they had good beer and I still wouldn’t have to pump my own gas. Unfortunately, since they haven’t perfected teleportation and don’t ship Labradoodles who only drink ice water and hide in bathrooms because they’re scared of the dark, I was forced to drive myself.

Maybe if someone around here could pull his weight…

All in all, though, I’ve hit the jackpot. Sunny weather, friendly people, working car. I hit a few snags in Cheyenne, but my Maine road trip in April prepared me for all of that and more.

Go Jules Go car stuck in mud
Maine mud or quicksand: you be the judge.

Things I’ve learned so far, having covered New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and (partially) Utah:

The (giant, giant) bugs on I-80 all have a death wish.

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I’ve been on a lot of highways, and I’ve never had to actually use the gas station squeegee until this trip. …Every time.

Some stereotypes are…well…

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Nebraska: Um… Yup. (Okay, in fairness, I did a quick pass through of Omaha and Lincoln, and both looked pretty great.)

Gary, Indiana is NOT what The Music Man will have you believe.

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Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture. Stopping my car would have been a baaaaad idea.

You can fit way more into a 4-door sedan than you might think.

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Photos of Cheyenne, Wyoming are invisible until an old-timey filter gets applied.

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Three days on the road turns me into a person who wears socks with sandals.

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And also a person who will tempt her dog to keep her company by giving him his own pillow.

The world is as big or small as you make it.

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OH MY GOD I HAVE A GREAT IDEA LET’S FACETIME GRAMMY!!!!!!!

As I hit the scan button on my radio for the thousandth time and massage my neck, the same thought I’d been having for days pops back up: Holy sh*t. I’m DOING THIS. I’m DRIVING -AND MOVING!- ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I remember all of the winding roads that led me to this moment and laugh. Jiggling my right leg and checking my odometer, I suddenly feel like I earned every mile and every view.

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Just For Fun, Wipe the Drool

Who Knew Connecticut Had it All

Go Jules Go I Never Knew Connecticut Had it All Title Graphic 29MAY2019Before I make the big move out west next week, two of my closest friends and I decided to spend Memorial Day weekend in one giant love fest.

We picked New Milford, Connecticut because Jenn told us to and everyone should listen to Jenn. Apparently I’ve never actually spent any time in the place just two hours from my home state, New Jersey. With Mother Nature on our side, I was shocked to discover Connecticut had it all.

WINE FOR DAYS.

NATURE FOR WEEKS.

SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPRESS MY FRIENDS WITH MY VEGAN CULINARY PROWESS.

SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNCLE JESSE TO IMPRESS US WITH HIMSELF (THEY LET HIM IN *EVERYWHERE*).

CHILDREN I ACTUALLY LIKED.

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“Your dog is older than me!”

GROWN-UP CHILDREN I ACTUALLY LIKED.

GOOGLE PIXEL 3 CAMERA PORN.

STORES I COULDN’T AFFORD EVEN IF I SOLD MY GOOGLE PIXEL 3.

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By the way, this photo is for sale.

FLEA MARKETS I COULD AFFORD BUT WASN’T SURE I WANTED TO.

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: THE MOST GLORIOUS HANDLEBAR MUSTACHE I’VE EVER SEEN.

Go Jules Go Elephants Trunk handlebar mustache 26MAY2019
The only thing wider than my smile – this beauty.

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Where have you traveled and found unexpected treasures?

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humor, Uncle Jesse

Caring for My Dog: A Simple 137-Step Guidebook

Dear Reader,

Congratulations! After careful review, you have been selected to oversee my 8-year-old Australian Labradoodle, Uncle Jesse, while I’m away. Given the exceptional taste you’ve demonstrated by reading this blog, I feel marginally concerned certain you’ll be able to accommodate my dog’s daily demands.

Because I’m so confident in your abilities, I’ve attached only the abbreviated version of my 137-step guidebook. If at any time you find yourself doubting your caretaking capacity, please call one of the nineteen numbers I’ve listed in the back of this manual.

Go-Jules-Go-Caring-for-my-dog-guidebook

STEP #1 – HYDRATION

It’s imperative that both you and Uncle Jesse remain hydrated at all times during his stay. This includes, but is not limited to: chilled, Brita-filtered water, refreshed 6-30 times per day, washing and drying the bowl after each rotation. In a pinch, you may provide tap water; we strongly discourage the use of bottled water.

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You will know you’ve misstepped if you’re greeted by this pose.

STEP #2 – NUTRITION

Uncle Jesse insists upon an on-demand supply of V-Dog kibble. If any kibble goes uneaten for more than 12 hours, please sample before deciding whether to discard.

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Regarding the placement of his bowls, please select a warm, well-ventilated, cushioned area of the home where he will feel comfortable dining in his preferred reclined position.

Each time Uncle Jesse reenters your home after his mandatory nature bathings (see Step 3), he will expect a “treat” for his willingness to return to your humble dwelling. Acceptable treats include homecooked, plant-based items, arranged on a ceramic plate as follows:

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Should you question your ability to select a permissable food item, I’ve drafted this reference card:

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STEP #3 – EXERCISE

Uncle Jesse has grown accustomed to 5 miles of brisk walking out-of-doors each day; however, this can be broken into 2+ segments as we understand your employer refused to provide a leave of absence for this visit.

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Uncle Jesse prefers the unsullied Maine wilderness, so I’ve emailed you a weekend itinerary that would allow for the 16-hour roundtrip.

As with hydration, stretching is paramount before each session. If you find he is panting for more than three and a half minutes upon returning, please encourage him to lie down and point your fan directly on him:

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STEP #4 – ELIMINATION

Assuming you’ve strictly followed steps 1-3, you can expect an impressive number of bowel movements per day. These occur in varying volume and composition during the aforementioned 5-mile walk, so carrying an array of multi-sized “poop bags” is prudent.

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Please refer to attachment B for a list of defecation coordinates that meet Uncle Jesse’s poop-to-house-distance ratio requirements.

STEP #5 – SLEEP

Uncle Jesse is deeply committed to “total wellness” and therefore insists upon 12+ hours of uninterrupted rest time per day. Please leave your bedroom door ajar at all times. I noticed you had extra pillows on the couch. I suggest moving these to the bed while he adjusts to sleeping in a new location.

Placing towels on the bed to protect your linens will only arouse his rancor.

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STEP #6 – PLAY

You’ve probably heard that most dogs enjoy fetch. Being of a highly sensitive nature, Uncle Jesse would rather remain indoors for playtime, with you sitting on the ground and tossing his toys directly into his mouth while he perches on the couch.

If you fail to amuse him, he will notify you by placing the toy between his chin and the pillows that I’m sure you have remembered to return to the couch before beginning this exercise.

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STEP #7 – INTERACTION WITH LESSER BEINGS

Uncle Jesse and I are still reviewing the finer points related to the presence of any…well. You know.

Sophie

At this stage in our discussions, we would both prefer if you locked any “Others” in the basement for the week as we believe it will reinforce the natural balance of things and keep all parties safe from psychological harm. We’re just looking out for your well-being here.

STEP #8 – EDUCATION

Uncle Jesse has an ever-expanding repertoire, with evidence of his aptitude appearing at 10 weeks old.

To maintain this intellectual agility, we enjoy practicing shake, stretch, sit, lie down, paw, other paw, little speak, big speak and “Watch the hair, huh!” on a daily basis.

Please also feel free to pass by our local Catholic church at 7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am, 12:00pm and 6:00pm so that he might work on his pitch.

STEP #9 – GROOMING

Do not, under any circumstances, tamper with his hair, nails, ears, or teeth. If he appears standoffish, remember to say “please” before asking to pet him.

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Soooomebody forgot her manners.

STEP #10 – TRAVEL

Should you need to chauffeur Uncle Jesse, please leave the back passenger side seat free (he will not tolerate the other side), and leave the window rolled down fully, provided the speed does not exceed 45 MPH and/or the temperature remains above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

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If you do not excessively stare, he will permit one rearview window photograph per car ride.

And not to worry, dear reader – those new lights in each room are simply CIA-approved surveillance cameras.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Uncle Jesse

Why I Should Just Leave My Dog at Home

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When I got a dog, I vowed never to leave him home alone for more than a half a day, tops. “It’s not fair to him,” I said. “I’ll be his whole world, the side pony to his elastic hair band, the ‘stache to his wet nose, the Kelly Kapowski to his Zack Morris.”

And for the past six and a half years, I’ve been pretty successful.

This week, I took my dog with me on a trip to Maine, and for the most part, the scene out and about has looked like this:

RANDOM PASSERBY 1: Is that a Labradoodle?

ME: Yup.

RANDOM PASSERBY 1: What’s her name?

ME: His name is Uncle Jesse.

RANDOM PASSERBY 1 (smiling): Dukes of Hazard?

ME: Full House.

RANDOM PASSERBY 2: Adorable!

ME: Thank you!

RANDOM PASSERBY 2: Is she a puppy?

ME: Nope, he’s six.

RANDOM PASSERBY 2: Wow, she looks like a puppy.

RANDOM PASSERBY 3: Oh my god. She’s so cute.

(Repeat above to infinity.)

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And then we dine al fresco.

On Wednesday, I took Uncle Jesse to Jordon Pond in Acadia National Park, and just as we set foot on the trail, a shout stopped us.

“Hey! Hey! Can I see your dog?”

A thin, middle-aged man took his foot out of a red kayak and jogged over.

No! Shut your eyes and turn around, madman! I thought.

Uncle Jesse squatted and pooped.

“Goldendoodle?” the man asked.

“No, Labradoodle.”

“I have a Goldendoodle. I couldn’t bring her today because I’m going kayaking.”

“Yeah… well… that makes sense,” I offered.

“Here, let me show you a picture.”

Kayak Man pulled out his phone and took three minutes to bring up a blurry photo of a giant Goldendoodle in front of a tent.

A park ranger who’d been within earshot approached. He stared at Uncle Jesse.

“Are you sure she’s a Labradoodle?” he asked.

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I hate you so much.

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Animals, Just For Fun, Uncle Jesse

My Dog Is About To Make Your Weekend

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Some of you may already be familiar with my obsession with my Labradoodle dog, Uncle Jesse.

He’s a model.

He eats lying down.

He answers to ridiculous commands.

He’s the inspiration behind my inaugural blog post.

Recently, I began to notice something even more incredible than the fact that he turns his snout up at the sh*tty knock off Milk Bone biscuits from the local bank teller.

I noticed he learned a command entirely unintentionally.

Because he’s the most amazing f%$&*@ dog in the world.

Happy Friday!

What’s the best pet trick you’ve ever seen? (Links to videos STRONGLY encouraged.)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Uncle Jesse, Vlogalicious, Wipe the Drool

What Do You Get For the Australian Labradoodle Who Has Everything?

Dear Uncle Jesse,

I’m not sure you’ll recognize that today is special, when we shower you with gourmet, organic treats, long walks and hour-long massages. Or when we coo over and over again, ‘He’s a good man. That’s a good man. Who’s the best man?’

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Oh. Is this not an appropriate excuse to drink champagne?

But it’s true!

Today’s your 3rd birthday!

Birthday surprises from your BFF, Shunderson!
Birthday surprises from your BFF, Shunderson!

Already you’ve been with us for 2 years, 9 months and 28 days. Now’s not the time to talk of my guilt over your silver-spooned upbringing, but rather to praise your genetic superiority and extremely reputable entry into this world thanks to your mother’s tireless research and your father’s stubborn allergies.

We named you after John Stamos’ character on Full House because we knew you were destined to be the cool one. And have great hair.

Have mercy
Have mercy.

Here are just a few of the things we love about you, Uncle Jesse:

BlogHer12-hotpocket-UncleJYou fetch your Hot Pocket toy when we sing the jingle (“Ho-ot Pocket!”).

You dry your tongue on our pants after you take a drink.

You have access to your kibble all day, every day,UncleJesse_eatslyingdown2 and only eat it when we sit down to dinner; then you nosh lying down.

You help Dad tune the guitar when he gets to the 4th string, every time.

You learned how to do Full House-themed tricks at 9 1/2 weeks old.

 (If people don’t believe the last two, they should play thE video!)

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Please stop touching me.

If you disapprove of someone’s petting methods, you lick them aggressively to correct the faux paw pas. They mistake this for affection. I’m sorry we blew up your spot, but you do it to us, too, you ungrateful bastard well-bred specimen.

Hello, Ceiling Fan.
Hello, Ceiling Fan.

Your legs are super long and your paws are incredibly fancy, especially when you tuck them under, or cross them just so.

You’re convinced the bedroom ceiling fan is possessed and/or omnipotent. If it’s been too quiet for too long, or something is otherwise amiss, we catch you staring at it dubiously.

I hope you enjoy this birthday tribute video I made especially for you:

Love,

Your doting and equally adorable mother

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So what do you get for the Australian Labradoodle who has everything? Well, you can make like a Shel Silverstein tree, and give. Please join me in helping friend and fellow blogger, Valerie from Nikitaland:

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Note: The ad below the Pledge for Pets button is not part of this post.

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Blonde Moments, Just For Fun, Uncle Jesse

Does Anyone Know a Good Dog Therapist?

I really love fireworks, Chipmunks.

And I was convinced Uncle Jesse, my 2-year-old Australian Labradoodle, would too. After all, he’s not afraid of startling noises; his [human] father has perpetual allergy sneezes and coughs that could wake the dead.

So, brimming with an overconfidence usually reserved for Spring Breakers and Donald Trump’s hairstylist, I headed out on 4th of July with Uncle Jesse and Mr. Sneeze in tow.

Here’s what happened:

Have you ever scarred your own pets or children for life?