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A Boy and a Dog. A Dog and a Boy.

The morning after Eko died, Emily told me she was pregnant.

I can only imagine what my reaction to the news might have been the day before, but at that moment I felt nothing.

I wanted to cheer, but I could find no joy within me. I wanted to cry, but I had shed all my tears for Eko. I loosed every valve in my heart, hoping to give the moment the love it deserved, but there was simply no lifeblood left to pump through it.

I was an empty man.

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How to Book the Best Pet-Friendly Hotel Room

Increasingly, I see articles (like this one from The New York Times) discuss the rapid growth of pet-friendly hotels.

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

As someone who travels extensively with their dogs, I’m happy to see hospitality groups realize us adventurers-with-dogs are a growing and loyal breed

But invariably, all the articles I read neglect the most important question. With the growing pet-friendly hotel options, how do you decide which hotel to pick?

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

Trust us, this is not a decision you want to gamble on

All “pet-friendly” hotels are not created equal. “Pet-friendly” is a catch all phrase which can mean anything from “We will barely tolerate your pet while charging you a mortgage payment for staying here” to “OMG I love your dog…and I guess you can stay here too.”

How to sort the wheat from the chaff? Here’s what I’ve learned are the best steps to ensure you pick the right dog-friendly hotel for your trip.

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

First, look yourself in the mirror and ask what your needs are for the trip

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

If you want high-end, top of the line service, great. Most luxury hotels are happy to serve (and charge you for) extensive pet-friendly amenities

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

Just need a place to crash? Many major motel/hotel chains offer pet-friendly rooms. Be sure to double-check what the pet-fees are. Avoid places that charge daily pet-fees. If possible, book at La Quinta or other chains which charge no pet fee

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

Do the math! We loved staying at Kimpton brand hotels. No pet fee, no pet-size restriction and dogs were loved, rather than tolerated. The nightly room rate was slightly above other major chains, but since there were no pet fees we often came out ahead on the bill

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

Look off the beaten path. Some of our best stays were at small B&B joints who welcomed both Eko and me like old friends. With the proliferation of smaller/independent operators, don’t forget to open your search up beyond the traditional options

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

Trust no one! I’ve been burned by third-party/review sites on more than one occasion. Always call ahead to verify the hotel is everything it claims to be online. If you’re expecting bowls and a (properly sized) bed, you’ll want those details confirmed before you arrive

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

Be the best guest! I really appreciate all the hotels along the way that have gone the extra mile to make me and the pups welcome. In return, I make sure we’re quiet and respectful during our stay. Every dog-guest is an ambassador, and hopefully by being great guests we can encourage more hotels to open their doors to pets

dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

Because travel adventures with your dog are awesome! 

For others who have traveled with pets, please chime in with any tips or guidelines you’ve found helpful along the way.

I know bringing your dog to a hotel may seem nerve-racking or expensive. But in truth traveling with your pets is often cheaper, and almost always more fun!

Has Your Dog Done These Fifty Things?

I’m always looking around for new additions to the Marking Our Territory Bucket List.  Recently I found an article in the UK’s Telegraph that listed fifty experiences every dog should have and I thought it would be good to see how Eko’s experiences stacked up so far.  I crossed off the numbers of the ones Eko has taken care of and I included some of my favorite photos along the way.  Check out the list below and let me know what you think of it.  Also, if you are British we need your help understanding a few of these!

1. Flop down in front of a morning fire

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You rang?

2. Go for a swim in the sea

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Eko right before he abandoned ship for a swim in the Atlantic

3. Go mad in the snow – Yup! Video evidence here.

4. Dig up a flower bed – Luckily Eko has never made a break for it and torn up a flower bed.  Hope to keep it that way!

5. Do the ‘Beethoven’ shake and soak everyone around you – Every. single. bath.

6. Have your own spot on the sofa

pet adventure, rhodesian ridgeback, dog blog

Check

7. Accompany your owner on a run/cycle ride

rhodesian ridgeback, pet blog, dog adventure

Oh yeah!

8. Attend a family picnic – Eko has always been a friendly pup, but one of the ways I socialized him was bringing him along to summertime family parties.  He’s always welcome…now that I think about it, Eko is probably the only reason I still get invited to family gatherings.

9. Help your owner bad a date – Hey, Brits!  Is this some kind of typo here, or does “bad a date” mean something to you guys?  It sounds like something Hugh Grant would say in a romantic comedy, so I can’t be sure it’s a typo.  Let me know!

10. Cheer your owner up when they are down 

rhodesian ridgeback, dog blog

A hug a day keeps bad feelings away

11. Visit a different continent – Now this is one we need to add to our list!  Gotta dream big.

12. Roll around in a really stinky, muddy puddle – Yup.  Eko thought more of it as a really awesome, fun, splash maker.

13. Ruin a pair or slippers or shoes – I don’t think you can officially be a dog until you ruin your first pair of your human’s favorite shoes.

14. Sleep in your owners bed 

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Sometimes he forgets to leave room for me!

15. Wake your owner with a big wet sloppy kiss

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“Morning, Will!”

16. Chase a cat during a dream – It’s the best part of watching him sleep!  His feet twitch and he sleep barks like crazy.

17. Learn the word for ‘sit’ in another language – I taught Eko a little Spanish while we traveled along the Mexican border

18. Join in a football game in the park – This list is certainly not referring to American football.  Regardless, Eko has played every game of every sport with a ball.  In fact, I still owe my friend a kickball after Eko played a little bit too hard!

19. Meet a famous dog

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At the National Dog Show we got to meet Eli, a famous 9/11 therapy dog

20. Try your paws at dancing – Another one for our list.

21. Convince your owner you can howl English words – A couple times I’ve sworn that I could hear Eko whine “coommme onnnn” when he was hungry…

22. Get filthy within 30 minutes of a bath – Another requirement for all dogs.

23. Howl along with your favorite song – Eko doesn’t usually howl, but he wailed along with this harmonica player.

24. Ride in an open top car – Not yet.

25. Learn to skateboard – Already on our list!  We’re working on it.

26. Have a personalized Christmas stocking – Another one to take care of.

27. Show the postman who’s boss – Can’t we all just get along?

28. Be a ring bearer at a wedding –  Easyyy.  We can kick this one down the road.

29. Try to follow a squirrel up a tree – What’s the fun of being a dog if you don’t rip out your human’s shoulder while chasing after a squirrel.

30. Go to work with your owner

rhodesian ridgeback, dog adventure

Another day at the office

31. Have your own social media page – Yup, check it out here.

32. Bound through a forest

33. Have a personalized kennel –  Nope, but Eko can’t read that well, so I don’t think he minds.

34. Go on a boat and get your sea legs

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Ready for adventure on land or sea

35. Play frisbee on the beach

rhodesian ridgeback, pet friendly blog

A little frisbee and a lot of romping – Eko loves nothing more than a trip to the beach

36. Receive your own birthday card

rhodesian ridgeback, pet adventure

Eko had a rocking birthday in Memphis

37. Steal someone’s lunch when they’re not looking – Never!  Well… he may have tried when he was a puppy, but luckily I always caught him.  I think.

38. Watch an entire episode of ‘The Washing Machine’ –  British people, you’re up!  What the heck is The Washing Machine?

39. Eat doggy ice cream

rhodesian ridgeback, pet friendly blog

Frosty Paws are Eko’s favorite!

40. Create a diversion and steal another dog’s dinner – My mom’s dog, Scout, has fallen victim to Eko’s thievery more than once.

41. Rug a doggy marathon – Not sure what this one is exactly.  Any ideas?

42. Receive a doggy birthday cake – Guess I know what I’m getting Eko in February.

43. Rip the stuffing out of a pillow or cushion – I have a small graveyard of cushions that Eko got to as a puppy

44. Unwrap birthday presents

pet friendly blog, dog blog, rhodesian ridgeback

It counts if he unwraps himself, right?

45. Watch Lassie on TV – Haven’t seen Lassie but we just watched an awesome dog documentary.  Check it out. 

46. Be in a family portrait – We have plenty of photos together, but not a family portrait. Yet!

47. Have a stand off with your own reflection

rhodesian ridgeback, pet friendly blog

“Hello, handsome.”

48. Have a favorite local pub – Of course!  Eko loves our trips to Wrightwood Tap.

49. Star in a YouTube video

Just one of many!

50. Sleep in a boutique dog hotel – 

rhodesian ridgeback, dog adventure

It doesn’t get much more boutique than a hotel with a pet-friendly wine tasting!

Eko can check off most of this list, but it gave me a few great ideas to update our own bucket list.  What do you guys think of the Telegraph’s list?  Are there any additions you would make?  I’m always looking for new adventures and challenges for Eko and I to tackle, so let me know!

My Ten Favorite Videos From The Road

Last week I shared my favorite photos from our journey across the country.  I received a bunch of emails from people sharing their own favorite photos from our trip and many of you mentioned that you also enjoyed the videos we made along the way. I linked to a few of those videos in my past posts, but I thought it would be good to have them all in the same place.  Check out our top ten videos from the road and let me know what you think!

1. The one that started it all

2. Can’t go to Philly without making a Rocky montage

3. Never a dull moment at the National Dog Show

4. Life behind the scenes

5. Thankfully Eko always kept me entertained

6. The Most Incredible Dog In The World

7. A look back on the first half of our adventure

8. Only one way to find out who is the fastest

9. The professionals took over and helped us make this great NYC video

10. The story Vegas doesn’t want you to hear

Making these videos was one of the best parts of the trip and my plan now is to have a new video each week.  Have a suggestion for a new video that I should make with Eko?  Send your idea to willandeko@gmail.com

Photos From The Road (Part 2)

Yesterday I posted my favorite photos from the first half of our journey across the country to discover the best pet-friendly destinations.  Today I’m posting my favorites from New Orleans through Chicago.  Take a look and let me know if I missed any photos or posts that you liked!

dog friendly new orlens

Anything goes at Mardi Gras.  Usually a dog in a bar is a big deal, but it was the most normal thing happening in New Orleans that day.

dog friendly houston

A good dog and a good beer, what more could you ask for?  In Houston we hung out at a combination bar/dog park.  The world needs more of these!

dog friendly austin

Austin was one of the best cities we visited and we got to stay in style at the Decker Creek B&B. To top it all off, we were on TV!

dog friendly dallas

One and all are welcome on Dallas’ trolleys

dog friendly oklahoma city

I still can’t believe that Ridgeback Wrangling didn’t catch on with the Pro Rodeo Association in Oklahoma City

dog friendly wichita

Eko was the ultimate geocache companion for our adventure in Wichita

dog friendly wichita

Only one way to end a Kansas adventure…

dog friendly denver

Bad weather was no problem in Denver – we found an indoor park where Eko could zoom. Eko and I also made a video to find out who was faster – check it out!

dog friendly salt lake city

Salt Lake City had some of the best off leash hikes in the country

dog friendly las vegas

Ever hear the one about the dog that took down Vegas? This video has the 100% true story

dog friendly phoenix

Gravity is just a myth!  We scaled Phoenix’s toughest hike with Eko in the lead

dog friendly san diego

Yes, that is Eko surfing. Yes, it was awesome.

dog friendly los angeles

We made it to the top of Hollywood. Literally.

dog friendly san francisco

Nothing like a run to the Golden Gate Bridge to start the day

dog friendly portland oregon

The Vintage Plaza Hotel took top notch care of us during our visit to Portland

dog friendly seattle

And just when I thought Eko couldn’t live any better, he got this amazing treat in Seattle

dog friendly montana

Our first stop on our way home was Montana.  It is a breathtakingly beautiful state and it has plenty of room for dogs to romp.

dog friendly road trip

We only spent one day in Rapid City, but boy, we sure saw some things

dog friendly chicago

We made it to our new home, but the adventure is far from over!

Looking back, I still can barely believe how far we traveled and how lucky we are to have gone on a once-in-a-lifetime journey.  Even though we’ve settled down we definitely haven’t slowed down.  Check back tomorrow for our first video from Chicago to see what we’re up to in our new city.  It will also be the first display of the Ekocam 5000™ so you can see our adventure from Eko’s point of view!

Photos From The Road (Part 1)

The bad news is that the indoor dog park we tried to visit yesterday apparently shut down a while back.  The good news is that while Eko munched on a Frosty Paw on our porch, I had time to look back at some of the great adventures we had on the road.  It was fun to relive all of our best moments without having to do any of the driving!  Whether you have been following our journey since day one or you hopped on sometime later on, I think you’ll enjoy taking a look back at some of the stops on our trip.

It wasn’t easy, but I picked one photo from each city we visited and included a caption and a link to the post it was originally from.  Below are some of my favorite moments from Philadelphia through Memphis with links to some of the best posts and videos.  Enjoy!

dog friendly philadelphia

Our tour kicked off with a visit to the National Dog Show.  Eko was Best In Show…in my heart at least!  Check out our slideshow from the event. 

dog friendly vermont

Armed with his new jacket Eko had no problem taking on the snow in Vermont

dog friendly montreal

We rode through Montreal in style

dog friendly boston

One of these ducks in Boston was not like the others

dog friendly new hampshire

Eko tried his paws on the ice in New Hampshire – take a look at our behind the scenes video to see what life is like on the road.

dog friendly maine

We took a ride on the Polar Express in Maine and Eko got to audition as a reindeer in front of the big man himself

dog friendly providence

It was December, but it sure didn’t feel like winter in Providence, RI

dog friendly new york city

We linked up with a film crew and took NYC by storm!  Check out the video here – it’s one of my favorites.

dog friendly washington dc

What kind of dog would mail himself as a present from Washington, DC?  Only the Most Incredible Dog In The World

dog friendly charleston

Our adventure didn’t stop at land’s edge – we hit the high seas on a kayak in Charleston

dog friendly atlanta

Eko was all smiles in Atlanta

dog friendly nashville

Your trip to Nashville isn’t complete without a photo with the King!

dog friendly st. louis

Two dobermans riding a tandem bike attached to a crank-wheel music player?  Just another Beggin’ Pet Parade in St. Louis.  This one of a kind event is a must see!

dog friendly memphis

Eko turned 1 in Memphis and we celebrated in style

Check back for Part 2 tomorrow, I’ll post my favorite photos and videos from New Orleans to Chicago.

Did I miss any favorite photo or moment of yours?  Let me know!

Dog Friendly Seattle: Cedarbrook Lodge

Eko and I usually set up shop each week in the heart of the city we’re visiting but on occasion it’s nice to stay somewhere low-key.  This week we found the perfect spot to kick back and relax after an adventure – The Cedarbrook Lodge.  Tucked behind a residential area just a few minutes south of the airport, Cedarbrook offers a more serene alternative to downtown hotels.  Our morning walks usually involve dodging rush hour traffic, but the path around the landscaped Cedarbrook grounds has made our mornings quieter.  I definitely don’t mind not sprinting across four lanes of traffic to beat a stoplight.

For those traveling with a dog, Cedarbrook places you in a convenient first floor room near one of the exits.  The room will be stocked with bowls, treats and a bed for your pup.  And about that bed…

dog friendly seattle

Cedarbrook may have slightly underestimated what size bed Eko uses, but it’s the thought that counts!

Cedarbrook’s restaurant, Copperleaf, has pet-friendly patio seating.  Not only that, but they have a special “Puppy Pantry” menu so your four-legged companion can dine in style with you.

dog friendly seattle

I ordered this nice little chicken and rice appetizer….for Eko! I couldn’t believe this treat was not on the human menu.

dog friendly seattle

Eko couldn’t believe it either!  He thought it was too good to be true.  Usually when I give him the “take it” command he dives on the food.  This time though he just stared at me trying to figure out what the trick was.  No trick, just a top notch treat.

dog friendly seattle

I finally convinced Eko that the treat was his and he happily gobbled it all up.  Well not all of it…

dog friendly seattle

Turns out that your kids not eating their vegetables is a cross-species problem for parents

dog friendly seattle

While I finished lunch, Eko enjoyed the view from the patio

On our walk back to the room, Eko spied a toy that no one else was playing with.

dog friendly seattle

“Come on, I think I might be good!”

dog friendly seattle

Eko said he was going to try his paw at playing some ragtime.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the piano wasn’t designed for creatures without opposable thumbs.  Luckily, I caught a break…

dog friendly seattle

I told Eko that I really wanted to hear him play, but unfortunately we had to follow the rules.  

We’re always on the go, so I doubly appreciate the quiet comfort offered at the Cedarbrook Lodge.  After a day of work or play, Cedarbrook has everything you need to take it easy with your pup.  Check it out!

Dog Friendly Portland: The Vintage Plaza Hotel

Now, it was not my intention to tell a lie to a bride on her wedding night, but it wasn’t entirely my fault.  Just hear me out.

When you book a hotel room online there is usually a little box where you can submit any additional information/requests.  For the most part, I leave that box blank.  But for some reason when I booked our room at the Vintage Plaza in Portland I decided to write “Eko is trained to hunt lions, so please make sure no lions are staying at the hotel.”  As soon as I booked the room I completely forgot about what I wrote.

When I checked into the hotel the front-desk employee looked at Eko with wide eyes and said, “Oh, is that the dog that hunts lions?”  I thought she knew about the history of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, so I just smiled and jokingly said, “Yeah, that’s him, but he’s still young so he’s only caught a few so far.”  I assumed that her jaw-drop was just her way of being in on the joke.

As it turned out, she actually believed me, and soon the entire hotel staff was asking me about the “lion-hunter.” I was totally oblivious and assumed everyone was joking. I didn’t realize the truth until a very inopportune time.  The Vintage Plaza hosts a complimentary wine reception every evening where dogs are welcome.  On Sunday night a bride and her bridal party happened to be in the lobby taking photos at the same time as the wine reception. Eko and I were debating the finer points of Italian vs Chilean wine when one of the hotel employees said,”Oh look, it’s the dog that hunts lions!”  Something in her voice made me realize that she wasn’t kidding.  The bride then turned to me and said, “Your dog hunts lions? That’s amazing! How does he do it!?”

I would like to say that I fessed up and told the truth, but that was not the case.  I didn’t want to be the guy who ruined the party!  So instead I was the guy who lied to the bride.  I said something very articulate like, “Well, he…ummm…chases them!?” and then quickly ran away.  Eventually I straightened out the truth with the hotel employees but I just wanted to say sorry about the mix-up bride lady, hope you had a good wedding!

Ok. My conscience is clear. Now I can tell you about why the Vintage Plaza rocks.  Exhibit A:

dog friendly portland oregon

I have seen contestants on Wheel of Fortune win prize packages about half the size of what the Vintage Plaza laid out for Eko in the room.  A mat, bowls, treats, water, bags and a list of some nearby pet-friendly destinations – the Vintage Plaza really knows how to hook a dog up!

dog friendly portland oregon

As if that wasn’t enough, the hotel also gave Eko a plush toy to play with. And come on, does that look like the face of a lion hunter?

dog friendly portland oregon

Eko with his new friend and the only lion he’s ever hunted

dog friendly portland oregon

Eko and his friends waited out the rain together

The Vintage Plaza also happens to have a canine employee (I’m not sure how the tax situation works) named Georgie who hangs out during the wine hour.

dog friendly portland oregon

Georgie hangs out with the guests, and when she’s tired, she literally hangs out of a bag.  Eko wanted me to get one for him, but my doctor said that’s probably not a good idea

dog friendly portland oregon

Eko was infatuated with Georgie, but she is an upscale Portland socialite and he is a vagabond traveler – it could never work out between them

dog friendly portland oregon

“Will, do you think Georgie will remember me when we’re gone?”

The Vintage Plaza knows how to show a dog (and a human) a really good time.  You and your dog will always feel welcome and right at home.  I can’t recommend the hotel highly enough.

Portland, it was wet but it was a whole lot of fun!  We’re making our way to Seattle today for the last stop on our tour of the left coast.  If you look at the itinerary you can see that Seattle is the last marked stop on the list, but there are big plans in the works.  Be sure to check back next week to see what’s in store.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend, grill a burger for me and give your pet a treat for Eko!  And if anyone knows Bill Gates let him know that Eko and I will be on his home turf for the next week and want to meet up.

Pet Friendly San Francisco: The Laurel Inn

The Laurel Inn really knows how to make a dog feel welcome.  Water and treats are always on hand at the front desk and the hotel even has a dog concierge working a few shifts each week.  The Pet Package I booked included treats and a toy (which Eko loved) and tokens for free use of the dog wash around the corner (which Eko did not love).

dog friendly hotel san francisco

The Laurel Inn has the answer to all of your dog’s questions

The hotel is within walking distance of Presidio Park, so after another trip to the off-leash area we swung by the Pet Food Express to get Eko a well-earned bath.

dog friendly san francisco

The Marking Our Territory Motto

dog friendly san francisco

Have I ever mentioned that Eko is not a big fan of baths?

dog friendly san francisco

With dogs walking in and out of the store, I had to use some serious reflexes to keep Eko from jumping out to say hello

dog friendly san francisco

Eko disagrees

Between the pet-friendly amenities and the hotel’s location between a pet store and an off-leash park, the Laurel Inn has everything a pet-owner could ask for.  Be sure to check it out if you and your pup ever visit San Francisco.

dog friendly hotel san francisco

If your pup likes people watching, be sure to ask for a room facing the street

Word on the street is that dogs are welcome on the city’s famous trolleys, so Eko and I are looking to hop aboard one as we explore downtown.  If you’re around after work, Eko and I will be headed to Allyne Park around six.  Come stop by for a romp!

Do You Believe In Miracles!?!? Yes!!

As I watched what seemed like gallons of coffee pour onto my laptop on Friday morning, I was certain that it would never turn on again.  Thanks to some sage advice from a number of readers I dried out all the components over the weekend, and voila, we are back in business, baby!  Sure my laptop now permanently smells like a Starbucks, but it’s a small price to pay for a miraculous recovery.

We had a whirlwind weekend winding our way up from Los Angeles to San Francisco along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.  Take a deep breath and see if you can keep up with this rapid fire rundown of what we’ve been up to!

dog friendly los angeles

No, this photo is not the result of an Eko cloning experiment.  On Thursday afternoon we met up with Marci, a local LA resident and Ridgeback owner.  I met Marci thanks to Barbara, another Ridgeback owner who posted on the blog.  Marci also happens to be a casting director, so hopefully she can get Eko a part in the next blockbuster she casts for!

dog friendly los angeles

On our our way out of LA LA we stopped by Three Dog Bakery and saw this for sale. Did I have any idea what it was? No. Did I buy it? Obviously. Turns out that it’s just pure beef broth with some glucosamine and vitamins – Eko loves it as a treat!

dog friendly california

 Before we hit the Pacific Coast Highway we spent Friday Night in Morro Bay at the Bayfront Inn.  They really knew how to make their guests, both human and canine, feel right at home

dog friendly california

The squirrels in Morro Bay were entirely unconcerned that Eko was just a few bounds away from their Friday night dinner party. Luckily for them I had a tight grip on the leash

dog friendly dining california

Gracious as always, Eko allowed me to join him for dinner at Dockside Too in Morro Bay

dog friendly dining california

I need to figure out where Dockside gets its signs

dog friendly californiaWe started off Saturday with a trip to the Morro Bay Dog Beach – you can see Morro Rock half-lost in the morning fog.  I managed to momentarily subdue Eko for this stoic shot…

dog friendly beach california

…and then he went right back to his usual happy-faced romping

dog friendly california

Our next stop was the Elephant Seal Rookery. Although it appeared like these seals may have partied a bit too hard the night before, we learned that they were actually just resting before their northern migration.

dog friendly california

“Hey seals, meet me at dog beach!”

dog friendly californiaIt may take longer to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, but the views are well worth it.  The road had plenty of points where you can pull over and get some amazing photos. 

dog friendly california

The views are so incredible that you’ll just feel like hugging the nearest creature

And so after an adventurous few days we find ourselves in San Francisco.  The first order of business is to buy an external hard drive so I won’t have to worry about losing all my data again.  After that, we’re off to find the best Bay Area pet-friendly adventures.  We’re finishing up our time in California this week, so if you have any last minute suggestions be sure to let me know.