Fitdog Friday – Hiking at Sunol Regional Wilderness

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Dogs at Sunol Regional Wilderness

Beginning last fall, we started exploring new hiking venues. We’ve somehow got into a rut previously, always returning to the same 3-4 places every weekend. Familiar hiking trails are nice – you recognize landmarks and have an idea of how long it’s gonna take to finish the hike, you know the types of dogs and owners that frequent these trails, you know what to expect. But after awhile, it gets a little bit boring. We’ve been to some of these trails so often that QQ isn’t excited during the trail, he doesn’t run back and forth, instead he keeps a steady pace sniffing along behind us. It’s familiar and comfortable, like a worn sweater.

But every now and then, I like to break it up. Previously we didn’t dare go to new places because we didn’t know how QQ will react.  Now we got his reactivity somewhat under control, I decided that it’s high time we break the monotone. Sunol Regional Wilderness has been on my list for awhile, it’s a little bit of a drive for us, which was another reason we kept putting it off, but one weekend last fall, we decided to go for it.

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Sunol Regional Wilderness’s Canyon View Trail

Sunol Regional Wilderness is a huge park with multiple loop trails of varying difficulties. It can be very hot in summer, which was a reason why we chose to go in fall. Being that this was our first time, we also opted to go for the easier Canyon View trail which loops in to Camp Ohlone Road to make for a total of approximately 3 miles round loop. Part of the trail towards the end goes near a creek. However, the ranger at the visitor center warned us that there’s algae in the creek that’s poisonous for the dogs so we made sure to stay a distance to avoid the dogs drinking any water out of the creek.

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QQ at the beginning of the trail

One reason we really wanted to try this hike is because it’s one of the rare off leash trails. Dogs are allowed off leash on undeveloped areas, which is most of the Canyon View trail. We did need to leash the dogs up when we got to Camp Ohlone Road but that was near the end of the trail.

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QQ clearly having fun

It was a crisp fall day and Sunol had plenty of fall foliage for us to enjoy along the trail. There was a mix in landscape with hilly views and meadows interposing with wooded trails. We went after lunch and although there was long lengths of trail where there wasn’t any shade, it wasn’t hot. We brought water and stayed hydrated.

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Fall foliage along the trail

 

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views of the hills in the distance. QQ looking back at us, likely wondering why we were so slow.

There was some elevation at the beginning but the trail soon flattened out before it led down to a small attraction called Little Yosemite. Unfortunately when we were there, there hasn’t been any rain recently so it was mostly dried. We plan to return in spring when the park is known to have plenty of wildflowers and hopefully the falls will have plenty of water too.

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Beautiful Fall Foliage near the Little Yosemite area

Towards the end of the hike, we also witnessed the moonrise. It was so beautiful.

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Moonrise at Sunol

 

Sunol also has many other longer and tougher trails for when we build up my stamina. It’s even possible to hike all the way to to Mission Peak (another yet to try park on my list). Also do note that the park charges a $5 fee per vehicle and a $2 fee per dog. Not expensive and we like to think of it being a way to support these parks.

Overall, we really enjoyed the hike. Because of the drive, this likely won’t become a regular hiking destination. But I do want to return for a spring hike maybe in April. And the park would be a great alternate destination whenever we feel we are getting into a rut again.

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QQ clearly likes this park!

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Fun in the Snow at Tahoe

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QQ at Lam Watah Trail, Lake Tahoe

Over Thanksgiving of 2015, we took the dogs to Tahoe for two days. We had one simple goal – for QQ to play in the snow. During our epic winter road trip of ’14, we discovered how much QQ love the snow. It must be in his Spitz genes, although it was the first time he encountered snow, he was soon galloping around the snow covered park and having the time of his life.

Given that we live in the Bay area, if we want to let the dogs have fun in the snow, we have to drive to higher elevations. Tahoe was the best choice. Neither the husband and I ski so it never crossed our mind to make the snowy trek to Tahoe in winter. It is a testament as to how we plan our lives around QQ and Chyler that this trip happened. We were lucky in the sense that this year Tahoe got a ton of snow and there was snow EVERYWHERE. One of the local guys we met said Tahoe got more snow in the one month of November 2015 then it did in the whole winter of 2014-15.

I was a little worried that there won’t be anything for us to do in Tahoe, given that we don’t ski or snowboard. But as it turns out, there’s plenty of fun to be had with the dogs! We did two snow covered hikes and went to a couple of beaches for the dogs to just run and also visited the local dog park.

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small little dog lost in the woods

The first hike we did was the Lam Watah Trail on our first day. This is a short 2.2 mile hike that was a great starter. It’s not too long so you won’t feel that you’re out in the elements, and also, it leads to Nevada Beach, a dog friendly beach. We had a lot of fun in this short hike and the dogs got to run off leash.

Chyler did not like the snow at all last year. One of our funniest memories was Chyler trying to climb up a tree to get away from the freezing cold snow. This year, we came prepared. I bought a thick waterproof jacket that she looks uber cute in. Everyone commented on how cute she looked in the jacket. It might be because of the jacket, or it might be because she trusts us more (we’ve only adopted her for 2 months during the road trip last year and she came to us really scared), this year, she had a lot of fun in the beginning running around with QQ too! After about an hour, we noticed that she was getting icicles stuck on her paws and fluffy bottom that wasn’t as easy to brush off, and the husband decided to pick her up.

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Nevada Beach

The beach was mostly covered in snow and there was only a skinny stretch of sand, but QQ still had fun running up and down.

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Bijou Community Park Dog Park

The second day we visited Bijou Community Park. This park actually had two dog parks within it. The first is a agility park, the second is a large open space dog park. We started off trying out the agility equipment in the agility park before moving on the the large open space park. I guess we were the only people crazy enough to go to the dog park in such subzero weather. We had the whole park to ourselves. The dog park is the most beautiful dog park I’ve ever seen – all covered with snow and surrounded by white tipped Christmas trees.

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QQ sinking into the fluffy white snow at the dog park

After the dog park, we visited Regan Memorial City Beach. The beach is dog friendly on the east side. The first question on my mind when we arrived was, what beach?

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Regan Beach. What beach?

All we saw was a huge expense of white. We couldn’t tell where the beach ended and the lake began! But this made for a really large expanse of “land” for the dogs to run in! There were already a lot of dogs having fun chasing each other around. I asked a local how far we can walk out, and she said the ice is pretty thick so it’s pretty safe to walk. I took QQ and we made it out really far until I could see that we were walking on ice then I played it safe and walked back to meet the husband and Chyler.  We made QQ wear his shoes here because he was also getting icicles stuck on his paw pads after the morning fun at the dog park.

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QQ on Lake Tahoe

After lunch, we tackled our second hike at Van Sickle Bi-State Park. This is a large park with long trails. We did not attempt to hike for too long, but instead made our goal the vista point.  We hiked for about 2 hours. The sun came out and so it wasn’t too cold, the trails were covered in snow, but mostly flattened so it was actually quite easy. There were orange markers on the trees so we didn’t get lost either.

It was a beautiful hike, it was like hiking in winter wonderland. The white tipped trees and pristine snow and clear blue skies all made for a perfect day. The dogs had a lot of fun too.

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QQ camouflaged in snow

When we got to the vista point, we could see the lake

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view at the vista point of Lake Tahoe

We took a lot of photos of the dogs.

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QQ and Chyler at the vista point

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QQ ruling the world

Overall, it was a fun filled two days at Lake Tahoe and both dogs had their fill of playing in the snow. After seeing how much fun the dogs have, we decided that even though there’s no snow where we live, we will make it a personal goal to ensure QQ gets to play with snow at least once a year!

We are also planning on returning to Tahoe in the summer so we can utilize the dog friendly beaches to teach QQ how to swim. There’s also several trails that we gave a miss this time round because we were afraid that the snow might be too thick. Those trails would be great for summer!

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A to Z Challenge: I is for Itch

Today’s topic is not a fun one. But it is a necessary one, especially for first time dog owners that like to take their dogs hiking off leash like we do.

We love to take the dogs to places they can run off leash, partly because QQ is a high energy dog and loves to run, and partly because we love to see them run. Chyler didn’t run when we first adopted her, she barely even walks.  But she has since blossomed and we discovered that she loves to run, she’s even faster than QQ sometimes. She has no problem keeping up with him at all. Many people commented to me when they see her run that she might be small, but she runs like the wind.

Chyler and QQ are have their own unique preferences. QQ loves to run at the beach. He loves playing with the waves and speeding off at wide open places. Chyler loves the woods. She is small sized enough that shrubs and bushes post no obstacles to her. When we go hiking in wooded areas, she’ll disappear off trail and re-appear moments later with a ear-to-ear grin on her face. Before we got Chyler, QQ never goes off trail when we hike wooded areas, nowadays, he sometimes will dash off after Chyler, but he always returns very quickly to stay with us. At the beach though, he can spend hours running circles and dashing in and out of waves. Chyler on the other hand usually sticks close to us when we are at the beach, only dashing off to chase the occasional seabird. It’s strange how they each like different off leash places.

The video below shows QQ having fun off leash at the beach. Chyler is way more sedate.

#fun at the #beach today! #pressplay

A post shared by QQ & Chyler (@clearskiespup) on

 

Because of this, we try to visit both type of places often, so that they each get to enjoy their off leash freedom to the fullest. However, recently, an event happened that made us rethink if we should just let the dogs off leash at the beach.

Two words.  Poison Oak. Yep, I is for Itch, the itch that comes with the rash one gets after coming into contact with poison oak.

We regularly take the dogs to a off leash park nearby. This is Chyler’s favorite park. There’s a loop trail circling a wooded area and she loves to run into the woods. Before we got Chyler, QQ never ventures off the trail. He’ll run up and down the trail and sniff at the edge. But since Chyler loves to take off, he sometimes follows.

The video below was taken about 4 months ago, when Chyler first started to really have fun and explore when we took the dogs to the off leash park nearby.

Doggies having fun in the #woods 🌿🍃🌾 #dogshavingfun #offleash

A post shared by QQ & Chyler (@clearskiespup) on

 

A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly developed red and itchy rash on my right arm. I couldn’t figure out the reason, until a week later when I  visited the doctor. He asked if I’ve been hiking recently, and I said yes. And he said it’s likely poison oak.

I went home and did some research. Before this, I had very little knowledge of poison oak. I thought only few places have this. I looked at the images of poison oak online, and being a plant idiot, it looks like any regular shrub to me.

Image of Poison Oak – those reddish shiny leaves – stolen from the internet. even after I see this, I won’t recognize it if I see it in the park. that’s how much of a plant idiot I am.

 

Apparently, most “wild” parks in California has poison oak, and yep, that park that we visit often has poison oak. The rangers do their best to keep it restrained and far from the trail. But because we allow the dogs to run off trail, it’s likely that they brushed against it and it transferred onto me.

Seeing as how I always wear long sleeved jackets and I avoid touching any plant during our hikes, the only possible way I could have gotten poison oak is from the dogs.

Poison oak do not affect dogs at all. QQ and Chyler are both perfectly fine. However, we humans will get itchy rash. And although it’s likely I only come in contact with the oils from the poison oak on my right forearm, my body’s immune system went into overdrive and developed allergic dermatitis, and small little itchy bumps started to pop up all over. And accordingly to my doctor, this lasts for 2-3 weeks.

The whole experience is enough to make me rethink if I should allow the dogs to run off the way they do at the park.

The husband has successfully trained Chyler to not run into the woods if he says “No” very firmly. QQ doesn’t run into the woods voluntarily. He only does it to go after Chyler.

However, Chyler seems so incredibly happy whenever she gets to run into the woods. The grin she has on her face when she returns is something we rarely see elsewhere. In fact, I berated the husband when he told me how he restricts Chyler from running off trail.  Chyler came to us so frightened and sad that I want her to have any happiness she can have.

Video below is a recent video of Chyler and QQ at the off leash park. We discovered that Chyler climbs trees!

 

But if we let her run off trail, then we have to know that there’s a high possibility that when she returns, she might have poison oak on her, and it will very likely transfer onto us. That means 2-3 weeks of itching and red, angry rash. And the itch is very bad, I actually woke up from the itching a few nights!

We do use a towel to wipe QQ and Chyler down now when we return from off leash hikes. I’m not sure how much that helps with oils transference from poison oak. The most effective method is to bath the dogs, but we don’t want to bath them too often. It can take 7 to 10 days before there’s any skin reaction after contact with poison oak so we never really know when exactly did the dogs come across it.

To be honest, I still don’t know what we are going to do.  We are lucky in the sense that we have been taking QQ and Chyler hiking for over a year and this is the first time it happened to us. It’s also likely because QQ doesn’t like to go off trail until Chyler came along about six months ago. And for the first two to three months, Chyler stuck pretty close to us. So technically, it took about 4 months of off leash running in the woods before it happened to us.

Do anyone else have any experiences with poison oak? Any ideas on how to best compromise so that Chyler gets to run off leash in places she like and yet we don’t come in danger of poison oak?

 

A to Z Challenge: F is for Fall Hikes

Spring time is a great time to check out waterfalls. I have a soft spot for waterfalls, and took advantage of the lovely weather this spring to take the dogs for two hikes to see falls at their peak.

And therefore, F is for the Falls we saw. I’ll be writing about our experiences with these two hikes.

To be honest, California is going through a drought right now, and even though it’s spring now, we haven’t had a lot of rain. The falls weren’t as impressive as they should be, but the hikes were still very enjoyable. Both are leashed hikes.

The first hike we did was Fairway Falls in Novato, CA.

The entrance to the trail was a little hard to find as there isn’t any real signpost. You basically walk in passing by a set of closed gates that makes you think you are trespassing. But you really aren’t.

The information I read online warned of crossing bubbling creeks and getting wet. But because of the drought, the creek barely had any water in it. We did walk across on a plank, and that was exciting. But there was no danger in getting our shoes wet.

Once we crossed the creek, the trail path was clear. It’s basically one way up and one way down, so there isn’t much likelihood of getting lost.

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The beginning part of the trail is unshaded, but midway through you enter the woods and it’s shaded all the way until you hit Fairway Falls. This part of the trail is really nice, and it would be even lovelier is the creek alongside had more water.

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Fairway Falls

The falls is located in a little clearing and very accessible. You can walk across the rocky pool and go right up and touch the water, and even stand underneath it if you want.

This was the first waterfall QQ and Chyler encountered. And you can tell they didn’t like it. It’s probably the sound of the falling waters. QQ is usually very good about posing wherever we put him at, but he refused to stay still when we tried to put him on a rock near the waterfall. He kept jumping around the rocky pool and tasting the waters in the pool. Chyler refused to even go near the waterfall. We ended up having them pose on a rock that is outside of the pool.

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The rocky pool where the falls ended is behind the rock Chyler and QQ is sitting on..

I guess this was far away enough and both doggies were willing to sit and stay for some treats.

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Does QQ look like he’s drinking the water from the falls?

 

Fairway Falls is basically the end of the trail and we turned back after spending about 30 minutes taking photos. The trail used to continue up where there’s supposed to be more waterfalls above. There’s several signs saying that part of the trail has since closed as it’s not safe anymore. We did see several groups of people disregarding the signs and fencing and continuing up anyway but we decided not to chance it.

Overall, we were a little disappointed that Fairway Falls wasn’t as impressive as it should be due to the drought. The trail itself wasn’t very long either, it took us maybe 30 minutes plus to get to the waterfalls, so the whole trip was about 1.5 hours (because we spent so much time at the waterfalls). But it was a pretty hike and a good experience overall.

The second Falls Hike we did was Uvas Canyon.

Uvas Canyon County Park is located on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We did this hike when we were driving to Carmel for my birthday getaway. There is a $6 fee per car for park entry. There’s six to seven miles worth of a trail within Uvas Canyon, but we opted for the fairly easy and flat 1 mile Waterfall Loop trail because we were mainly there just to see the waterfalls.

There are multiple small waterfalls along the trail before you get to the more impressive Upper Falls and Basin Falls.

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Little Falls

The trail itself is very lovely. We went in early spring and it’s mostly shaded all the way.

Part of the loop is a big flat trail that is extremely accessible. It leads all the way up to Upper Falls with a slight detour off to Basin Falls. You can choose to go up and down this way instead of taking the loop. To take the loop, you turn off near the beginning of the trail, and cross a creek. This part of the path is narrow and not as well maintained, but still very doable.

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The trail is quite rustic, and we came across interesting bits of scenery, as well as this huge trunk that could fit QQ inside.

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It’s like a little room or condo for him.

 

 

It brings you all the way almost to the Upper Falls.

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Upper Falls

This is QQ and Chyler’s second encounter with waterfalls. The falls here aren’t as accessible as Fairway Falls, and we couldn’t go all the way up and touch the waters. Perhaps it’s because of that, or perhaps because it’s their 2nd experience, QQ and Chyler weren’t as nervous as they were.

There’s another falls along the waterfall loop called the Black Rock Falls, we missed it because it required another detour that we didn’t see until we were back at the start of the loop. There’s also a possibility of hiking a more strenuous 5 miles hike to Triple Falls, but this requires a 1.4k  elevation.

Overall, we very much enjoyed our fall hikes and look forward to next spring, where we can check out more Falls hiking trails in the area, or perhaps attempt the more strenuous hikes we skipped this year!

A to Z Challenge: C is for Carmel

Every year on my birthday, I like to do a short weekend getaway to somewhere nearby. We don’t go far so we don’t have to take more than 1 or 2 days off work. But we  go far enough so that we don’t have to think about work and can have some time to enjoy and relax.

Last year we went north up to Napa, and it was the first time we took QQ on a trip. We had a wonderful time. And this year, we decided to go south down to Carmel, and we have a new addition to our family, Chyler.

The first place we visited was Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove.

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This is a beautiful park with gorgeous views of the Pacific. We visited on a Saturday on a sunny day and it was extremely crowded. That didn’t detract from how awesome it was. There was carpets of wildflowers backed against the blue, blue sea.

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We spent quite some time walking up and down the coast, and also sat on a bench to do some reading. The only sad thing was we didn’t bring the dogs down to the beach because there were so many people on the beach, and QQ was quite forlorn when he looked down at the sandy beach he could not run on.

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This was quickly rectified the next day when we visited Garrapata State Park for a day of hiking and beach fun. But before we set off for a day of fun activities, we fueled up with a heavy breakfast at Bistro 211, a lovely restaurant with patio seating and a doghouse menu!

bistro 211

We didn’t actually buy anything from the doghouse menu because QQ and Chyler already had breakfast and also, they are on a raw diet. But it’s too cute not to take a photo.

Garrapata State Park is a big park with coastal trails and a 2 mile beach. It’s not very crowded and we didn’t come across many people. The coastal views are breathtaking.

coastal

It’s not an off leash park, so we kept QQ and Chyler on a leash most of the time. But when we climbed down to the beaches that are not easily accessible, we allowed QQ and Chyler off leash. Mostly because we needed both hands to climb up and down the rocky cliffs, and also because the beach had nobody else around that QQ and Chyler can disturb, excepting a couple of lone fishermen.

chyler on a beach

Because it was our first time at the park, we didn’t know where the “2 mile beach” was. So when we asked some people we met on the trail if the trail leads to the beach, and they said “Yes, it’s a little steep, but it does lead to the beach”, we took that it meant the 2 mile beach. As it turns out, the 2 mile beach is easily accessed with a wooden staircase if we drove a little more down the road. The beaches that we had to use both hands and feet to climb down to is not 2 miles. It’s barely half a mile in length. But it’s still beautiful.

QQ on a beach

And we had it all to ourselves, so QQ and Chyler had a blast.

We still made it to the 2 mile beach later in the day. It was more crowded and we couldn’t really let the doggies off leash. We returned the next morning where there was barely a soul and we did allow the dogs off  leash for a quick morning run.

beach

The highlight of the park is a ravine filled with wild Calla Lilies, accessible from the beach, and the main reason we returned the next day, so as to see in in all its glory.

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calla view

There are no words for the beauty.

Carmel is well known for being dog friendly. On the third day, we visited the little town with its storybook cottages.

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In Carmel Plaza

We ate at Porta Bella, a restaurant housed in one of those story book like cottages. It was so dog friendly, it even allowed us to walk QQ and Chyler through the restaurant to reach the dog friendly back patio.

And the definite gem of the town must be the long off leash Carmel beach, within walking distance of Carmel downtown. A haven for the dogs to run and play. Sadly, QQ wasn’t the most well-behaved when we visited the beach, so we only allowed him off leash sporadically. But we did walk about half the length of the beach and sat down to enjoy some reading.

carmel beach

However, we visited Mission Trails Park later that day and QQ was very well behaved, so he was allowed off leash together with Chyler for the entire loop trail.

mission trail

Mission Trail Parks kept to the story book theme of Carmel with the pretty wildflowers lining the trails. It felt a little like the woods in fairy tales. The trails are mostly flat and consist of interlocking loops. There are varying entry points though, and a couple of close to the road so it’s a good idea to keep a watch on the dogs when near an entry point. We spent about an hour plus walking the wide loop and barely saw a soul.

On our last day, we visited Asilomar Beach, yet another off leash beach. We went in the morning and there wasn’t really anyone around. QQ and Chyler spent about an hour running on the beach before we started off on the drive home.

All in all, we really enjoyed Carmel, with the multitude of off leash beaches and beautiful hiking trails. It was a wonderful getaway!

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Downtown Carmel

Monday Mischief – Winter Road Trip Final Part

This is the final part of our 6 part recount of our winter road trip. You can find Part 5 here.

Day 13 was also January 1st, the first day of 2015! Happy New Year! (2.5 months belated here)

This was an especially exciting day, because this is the day we visited Iku and Reenie, QQ’s Mom and baby sis.

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Reenie taking a first sniff at her big brother.

We picked QQ up from LA on Nov 2nd, 2013, and this is the first time we’ve brought QQ back for a visit. So it’s been 1 year and 2 months. Amazing how times flies! Iku’s Mom and Dad were really happy, they kept saying how QQ was their favorite of the litter and how glad they were to be able to see how he turned out.

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Reenie, QQ and Chyler sniffing around the front yard

On our end, we were very excited to meet Iku and Reenie too! Reenie looks almost exactly like QQ, it’s so amazing. Except Iku and Reenie both just had a bath, while QQ and Chyler were way past due for a bath. QQ especially have been rolling around in snow, sand and grass for the past two weeks. It doesn’t show all that much in the photos, but he looks positively yellow next to his fluffy and white relatives.

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Three Japanese Spitz sit for a portrait shot. Chyler feels very left out indeed. In this indoor shot, you can clearly see how dirty QQ looks next to his sister and mom.

We spent over three hours visiting and were quite sad to leave. The dogs had a wonderful time running around the front yard before going in for treats. And then coming out to run around again.

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Outdoor family shot. Reenie has the exact side profile as QQ, so many people guess that she is QQ when looking at this shot!

After we left Iku and Reenie’s house, we went to the nearby Arroyo Pescadero Park for a short hike.

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QQ looking quite sassy on the hike

This is a 2 mile dog friendly loop hiking trail. Dogs must be on leash. We went around 4pm and met some dogs and families. It’s a easy trail, there’s some elevation, but nothing too difficult. The dogs were happy to get some walking in before the end of the day.

On Day 14 though, we did what I feel must be the best hike of all 2 weeks of our trip. We went to Runyon Canyon in LA.

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Interesting graffiti art at the entrance of the trail

Runyon Canyon is off leash for dogs. It’s a moderate trail with quite a lot of elevation. Some parts of it was quite steep for us. But the views are amazing! And the dogs had so much fun. Not the entire trail is off leash though, some parts towards the summit isn’t. There are signs stating the off leash and leashed areas. I don’t think all the people follow the rules, but we decided to just stay within the off leash area as that’s quite a workout for us already. It took us about 2 hours to finish the off leash loop.

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Chyler with a wide grin. She approves of this trail.

As the trail is a loop trail, you have a choice of going up either the flattish trail, or the steeper trail. I wished I knew this beforehand, as we went up the flattish trail. I think it would be easier to climb up the steep trail and come down the relatively gentle flat trail. Instead we stumbled most of the way down. By “we”, I meant the humans. The dogs have no issue running down like the wind.

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Dogs ready to take off

Although we didn’t hike to the highest summit, the views we saw were gorgeous enough. We had a view of both Los Angeles skyscrapers and Hollywood.

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QQ and the Hollywood sign

All in all, Runyon Canyon lives up to the expectations as one of the most popular off leash hiking choice in LA. We wish we live closer so we can do this hike regularly, but alas it was not to be.

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Chyler takes one last look before leaving

Another reason we chose to stay in LA for a couple of days during our road trip was the food. LA is known for the many good food and the husband has been hankering to do a foodie road trip for awhile. While I like good food, I’m not really up to driving long distances just to eat, so I’ve been telling him no. But it’s easy to incorporate visiting some well known restaurants during our road trip. Since this is a doggie blog, I’m not going to spam a ton of food photos here. But here is QQ in front of the signage of one of the restaurants on our list.

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This place serves a mean Chicken Cracklin sandwich! And it boasts patio seating so the dogs get to hang out with us while we dig in. They didn’t get to eat anything though. Hence QQ’s sulky look.

Day 15 is our last day before driving home, and we decided it was way past time to just relax. And what better way to relax than to spend the day on a beach?

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QQ is pouting because he wants to run and not sit and pose. Chyler is clearly happy where she is.

We drove to Summerland’s Lookout Park, 10 mins south of Santa Barbara.  It’s a pretty green park with benches on the cliffs that look over the ocean. And there’s a small pathway that leads right down to the wonderful off leash beach!

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The beach stretches super long. We started walking north and didn’t even manage to find the end even after walking for more than an hour. One thing to note though, horses share the beach and we came across two set of groups on horseback. QQ isn’t entirely trustworthy around horses so we leashed him until they passed. Also, this means there’s horse poop on the beach, another thing that QQ is prone to eat.

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But other than that issue, the dogs had the time of their lives running along the beach, chasing seabirds they can never catch. It was an easy day with no place to get to, and no other plans other than relaxing.

It was a perfect end to our epic two week road trip.

Thank you for reading our recount and sharing our adventures with us!

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Mischief Monday – Winter Road Trip Part 4

This is Part 4 of our recount of our Winter Road Trip. You can find Part 3 here.

On Day 8, we left Taos to drive back to Albuquerque.

In the morning, we planned on doing a hike at Elena Gallegos Park. I read up on it and it’s a dog friendly park with wide spaces and plenty of trails. Dogs has to be on leash though.

I originally planned for all of us to go on the hike. However, I didn’t expect it to be so cold! It was minus 3 degrees Celsius. The cold weather made it unsuitable for Chyler, who has shown that she doesn’t tolerate freezing cold weather well. So the husband opted to stay in the car with her, quite gleefully too I might add.

I took QQ and went on a 1 hour walk with him. It was cold, but it was quite pretty. Parts of the trails were covered in snow, and we had a view of the distant mountains.

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It took QQ awhile to understand that the husband and Chyler isn’t joining us. For the first 10 minutes, he kept standing up on his hind legs and looking back towards the car. But after awhile he started to focus on enjoying the cool weather walk.

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I wished we could have gone for a longer walk, the views were really quite breathtaking. Sadly, the freezing weather is also breathtaking, and not in a good way. So after an hour, we got back in the car and headed for lower elevation.

In the afternoon, we visited the Petroglyph National Monument. The lower elevation and afternoon sun warmed the weather up nicely, and this time, the whole family get to go for a hike together. Petroglyph National Monument is famous for the many petroglyphs created by Puebloans 400-700 years ago.

Not all of the Petroglyph National Monument is dog friendly. The more popular Boca Negra Canyon isn’t. We first visited the Rinconada Canyon, which is supposed to have up to 400 petroglyphs.  Leashed dogs are allowed at this trail.

QQ's first sniff of this strange white substance.

QQ atop a rock that do NOT have a petroglyph.

Petroglyphs are hard to spot. A lady that looked like a local passed by and told us not to lose heart if we don’t see any. Apparently it depends largely on the light and angle. Visitors were advised to bring binoculars. We didn’t have any, but it didn’t matter really. The weather was wonderful and we just enjoyed the walk. We did see some though!

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petroglyph sighted!

The trail was a loop trail, approximately two miles. We did not see many people on the trail and enjoyed taking our time trying to spot the elusive petroglyphs.

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We also visited the Volcanoes day use area, which do not have any petroglyphs, but do have some volcanoes that you can climb. We climbed the smallest one and had a lot of fun before finally calling it a day.

Day 9 was the best day of our road trip.

We drove down south to White Sands National Monument. There really isn’t much to say, except that if you ever have a chance, you should definitely bring your dog there.

White Sands National Monument is dog friendly. The place is what its name say, a place entirely covered with white sand dunes. The sand is so soft, I heard someone saying it’s just like snow. We went on a beautiful day, and it might have been the best day of QQ’s life. Dogs has to be leashed. But White Sands National Monument is huge. It’s easy to find a space for your own enjoyment. We walked the dogs on leash far away from the road until we couldn’t see anyone, and basically let them drag the leash. If we see anyone coming, we picked up the leash quickly.

QQ is a sand dog. He loves running on sand, and digging in sand, and basically anything that has to do with sand. And this sand is so, so soft!

Prepare for a photo spam.

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QQ, ecstatic.

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More fun than he ever had yet.

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Even Chyler loved the sand. And she usually isn’t all that into sand.

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it might be difficult to see, but QQ’s airborn here. A display of his excitement.

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White Sands is beautiful.

To be honest, there isn’t really much to say about White Sands National Monument. There really isn’t anything there but sand. But just the sand is enough. Sometimes, simple is best. The husband isn’t a fan of traveling, but even he talked about returning, just because of how much fun QQ and Chyler had. And when you love your dogs as much as we do, seeing the joy in your dogs makes anything and everything worthwhile, even if you really hate driving 3000 miles. We spent almost the whole day there and had a hard time leaving. The dogs were absolutely zonked out at night.

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QQ pensive about the impending departure.

And with the photo spam, we conclude Day 9 and Part 4. To be continued…