Hi all, so happy to have found this forum! This is the first roadtrip that I've actually needed to do extensive planning for, so this website has been a fantastic resource!
A friend and I are planning a week-long roadtrip for February 2012... not sure which week, since it'll all hinge on when we have to be in Tucson. It's going to be a doozy, but luckily we're used to long car rides since we're both very active in dog rescue and dog shows. With dog shows and rescue transports alone, I've put roughly 50,000 miles on my Chevy HHR in the last 12 months! A bit about us - both in our late 20's, married (but we're making the husbands stay home to care for the dogs!), both experienced "dog people."
Anyway, our rough itinerary to Tucson:
Des Moines IA to Tulsa OK
Tulsa OK to Amarillo TX
Amarillo TX to Las Cruces NM
Las Cruces NM to Tucson AZ
... and our trip back to Iowa:
Tucson AZ to Santa Fe NM
Santa Fe NM to Amarillo TX
Amarillo TX to Tulsa OK
Tulsa OK to Topeka KS
Topeka KS to Des Moines
We are aware that there will be some challenges:
1. Wide range of weather conditions - No problem! We're seasoned Midwestern drivers, so no amount of snow/ice/hail/etc. is going to scare us.
2. It's going to be a grueling trip, lots of hours at the wheel - Fingers crossed! We're going to alternate driving, which should help. Luckily, we're both used to 4-7 hour long solo drives for rescue, shows and trials, so we won't tucker out after 90 minutes of drivetime.
3. We'll be driving a clown car, basically - Again, we're used to it. Nearly 3000 miles in a Chevy HHR? Bring it on! We are super-packers, and this trip will have the advantage of not needing all the dog show paraphernalia that takes up sooo much room normally.
4. I have celiac disease, so eating on the road is going to be... interesting. - We're doing extensive research into restaurants, but I'm hoping we can find some interesting places to eat along the way... places that aren't chains!
... and last but not least....
5. We're going to be traveling to Tucson with two large dogs. On the way home, we'll have a small puppy. - That's right. We're hitting the road with two Doberman Pinschers, and bringing back a streetdog puppy from Mexico on the way back. A good friend of mine runs a small rescue in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico and is sending a puppy back to Iowa with us... that's the whole reason behind this roadtrip.
The Dobermans are highly trained, and accustomed to long car rides. One will be crated in back, and the other will be wearing a Ruffrider seatbelt harness and be belted in. They are roadtrip rockstars, and we're confident they'll be just fine.
We have hotels planned - I've already called to confirm they'll accept the dogs, and I'll be calling again closer to the trip. We have friends in Tulsa and Topeka, so we'll be staying with them for free.
Here are our questions/concerns:
1. What options do we have along the way for fun, outdoorsy activities where the dogs (at least the Dobermans) can come along? We love the idea of restaurants with dog-friendly patios, but not sure if any will be open in February. We'll probably be walking around in t-shirts since Iowa is usually in the negative digits in February - so 40's will feel like summer to us!
2. Friends and family in the southwestern states (AZ and NM) have told us that two young women traveling alone = somewhat dangerous. I find that hard to believe, but do we really have anything to worry about? We're young women, but we'll have two Doberman Pinschers (one of which is a proven protection dog) and I will have my CCW (don't worry, I've checked the laws in each state... my permit to carry is recognized in every state we'll pass through except for NM and KS) - so honestly, do we have anything to worry about?
3. Any suggestions for restaurants in the cities I mentioned above? Specifically ones that offer gluten-free menues or naturally gluten-free options?
4. Any state parks/monuments that you know are dog-friendly? We're already planning on visiting White Sands in Alamogordo NM, but we want to visit as many parks and monuments as time will allow. The dogs are seasoned hikers and are accustomed to carrying packs, so we're not afraid of a 5-10 mile jaunt through nature. I'm a semi-pro photographer and I'm chomping at the bit to get some good shots of our little journey! (urban settings are just as nice for photos - really want to get photos of the dogs with some of the unique architecture in NM and AZ!)
5. Are there any roads/cities/regions we should avoid? Conversely, are there any roads/cities/regions that we simply cannot miss? :)
6. Should we brush up on our Spanish? :)
Anyway, sorry to ramble - but I hope you can see how excited we are about this trip. We could easily fly down to pick up the puppy, but we're making a point of roadtripping it - we've never been to the Southwest, and we are really hankering for an ADVENTURE. If there's anything you can suggest to help make that happen, we're all ears!
I didn't see anything in the rules about posting photos... so here are photos of the dogs that will be our co-pilots:
Together on a hike...
If you got through that entire novel.... cheers! :)