Tips for Holiday Travel with Pets

Tips for Holiday Travel with Pets

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With the holidays coming up, many of you will be traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. Pet lovers may be taking their precious pups and furry felines on the road with them, perhaps for the first time. If you are new to the ways of Woof Trekking (road tripping with your pets), this may cause some anxiety for both the humans and the pets. But have no fear, we are here to help.
We have been traveling with our two dogs, Izzy and Nana, and one cat, Billy, for four years. We have gained a lot of knowledge to share with you. If you are new to our blog, you can take a look at our previous woof trekking posts here. We have also written a book about our experience with traveling with our cat and two dogs. You can get your copy on Amazon and Kobo.
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You may be surprised that we travel with our cat, however Billy is a pretty chill cat who does fairly well on the road. If you want to take your cat with you (or a skittish dog for that matter), taking them on short, little trips to see how they handle going in the car is a good idea. We actually have two cats, but Tyra doesn’t travel well and prefers to stay home and be kenneled.

We have previously talked about what to pack for both your dogs and your cats. Some important items include: food, bowls, and kitty litter box.

Safety is very important while traveling with your pets and we have some tips to keep everyone safe. First of all safety in the car is very important, both of our dogs wear car harnesses so they can be buckled in. Billy also wears a harness so he too can be buckled up while riding in a human’s lap. You can read more about car harnesses here.

Some dogs and cats travel really well on the road and have no problems. Nana is one of these dogs. She loves car rides and watching the world pass by. Izzy is the opposite, she loves getting into the car but as soon as it starts moving, she becomes anxious and starts to whine. When we travel, we give her Dramamine, per the recommendation of our vet, and it takes the edge off. (Always talk to your vet before giving your pet medication.) Billy on the other hand gets motion sick in the car. He also gets Dramamine to help him deal with this. You can read more about Anxiety and Motion Sickness here.
pacific coast highway 9
The last point we would like to make is about hotel safety. Some hotels are better than others but all should be inspected before letting your pets loose. We have found some interesting objects hidden under the bed. Our biggest tip is to get down on your hands and knees with a flashlight to clear the floor of any dropped pills and other foreign objects.

Go forth and don’t be afraid to take your pets on the road with you. If you want to read more about our travels, get a copy of our book. Bringing your pets on your travels will make your adventures even more memorable!

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Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service + Another “Woof Trekking” Excerpt

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service + Another “Woof Trekking” Excerpt

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Today marks 100 years since the National Park Service was established. On August 25, 1916, the National Park Service Organic Act was passed and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. As of right now, there are 59 National Parks, you can see the full list here.

National Parks Centennial Featured Image

The following is an adaptation from our book Woof Trekking: How to Road Trip with Your Pets.

woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets

We love going on adventures to National Parks and exploring the amazing sights. They are spectacular locations to take in nature and most allow dogs in at least some areas of the parks. Some say that National Parks are not very dog friendly, however, we have always felt welcome, even if we didn’t get to explore the whole park. You can visit the National Park Service website before your trip to determine where your dog is allowed to visit. In all cases, dogs are required to be on a leash.

Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks

We have visited two National Parks in California, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. We visited both during one Woof Trek since their location is quite off the beaten track. We mostly drove around Sequoia National Park to see the towering sequoias. Dogs are not allowed on the trails but are allowed on leashes in the camping areas.

Sequoia National Park
General Sherman

National Parks Centennial - 2

Yosemite National Park is much more dog friendly. The park has lots of paved trails and dogs are welcome on these paths. We enjoyed exploring both of these Parks in the cool mountain air.

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls
National Parks Centennial - 4
The Pika is arguably the cutest rodent in the world and is a resident of Yosemite.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah and is one of five National Parks in Utah. It is a bit of a drive off the interstate, but totally worth it. This National Park is unique because most of scenic views of the Park can only be visited by shuttle bus. Since we Woof Trek with our dogs, we didn’t go on the shuttle.

National Parks Centennial - 5

We did take a driving tour of a portion of the Park through the amazingly colorful canyons. One of the coolest parts of the drive in Zion National Park is when you go through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. This tunnel has cutouts where you take a quick peek out into the canyons as you drive through. Dogs are only allowed on one trail at Zion, called the Pa’rus trail.

Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

National Parks Centennial - 7
Izzy enjoying the South Rim of the Grand Canyon after a cloudburst.

We have visited the Grand Canyon, both the South and North Rims, with our dogs. They loved exploring the trails as much as we did. Lots of people from all over the world visit the Grand Canyon; we were surprised by how many different languages we could hear. Then again, it is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

If you make the journey to the Grand Canyon, you may also want to visit Horseshoe Bend while you are there. Horseshoe Bend is a large curve in the Colorado River that is about 5 miles from the Glen Canyon Dam and about 140 miles from the South Rim. It is a breathtaking view and we highly recommend it.

National Parks Centennial - 6
Nana the Brave enjoying the view of Horseshoe Bend.

There are no Park Rangers or facilities (restrooms, water, etc.) at Horseshoe Bend. Dogs are welcome on the trail on a leash. It is a bit of a hike, up and down a hill, which takes about 45 minutes round-trip. Once you get to the Bend, you can look straight down into the canyon. The view is excellent, but there is no guardrail or any sort of protection from falling. This location is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of stomach; skip it if you are afraid of heights.

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #3: Apple, Duke of Edinburgh, and Oyster Point, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #3: Apple, Duke of Edinburgh, and Oyster Point, July 2012

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It’s #TravelThursday! Today we present Woof Trekking Dispatch #3! In our last dispatch, we travelled on the PCH and through Carmel-by-the-Sea.

We left our hotel in San Jose and started the leisurely journey toward San Francisco. Our first stop was the Apple Campus in Cupertino. We were pretty excited, since we are Apple fans, but to be honest, there wasn’t much to see. The store on site (The Company Store), looked just like the one in our local mall so we didn’t spend much time there. Maybe when they open their new Campus 2, there will be something more exciting to see.

computers, silicon valley, cupertino

We stopped to grab lunch at the Duke of Edinburgh Pub and Restaurant. We got our order of Shepherd’s Pie to go and went on a hunt for a park to enjoy our meal with Izzy and Nana.

restaurant, pub

restaurant, pub

We ended up finding a park nearby called Ortega Park. There was a shady picnic table and then took a lovely stroll with the pups.
silicon valley, cupertino

After lunch we drove around the Stanford campus and spotted the famous Hoover Tower. It is named after Herbert Hoover, our 31st President, prior to him becoming president. It contains materials relating to 20th century history that Hoover had collected and then donated to the university to found a “library of war, revolution and peace.”

stanford, university

Our final stop of the day was Oyster Point, a local marina. By this time of day, the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped. We were freezing and Izzy looked hilarious with her fur plastered to her face.

boats, bay area, south san francisco,

Here is a map of all the locations featured in this dispatch.

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #2: Pacific Coast Highway and Carmel-by-the-Sea, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #2: Pacific Coast Highway and Carmel-by-the-Sea, July 2012

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After we departed Los Angeles, we decided to jump on the famous Pacific Coast Highway (aka PCH) to head north up the coast. This stretch of highway is 147 miles long and runs right next to the ocean, providing some extremely scenic views.


Our first look at the PCH started in Santa Monica, pictured below.

pacific coast highway 1

As we drove along, we watched waves crashing and people frolicking on the beach. We drove as far north San Luis Obispo before we had to drive inland to our hotel in Paso Robles. (La Quinta Inn and Suites Paso Robles – it is one of the nicest La Quintas we have visited in the country! Very spacious rooms and artisanal lotions/soaps in the bathroom!)

First thing the next day, we stopped by Hearst Castle, but there was no way we could go since we had the dogs with us. (The only animals allowed on tours are service animals.) That being said we did stop by, get some brochures and used the facilities in alternating shifts. After that, we stopped by Elephant Seal Vista Point about 5 miles down the road.

pacific coast highway, california
The seals blend right in with their surroundings.
pacific coast highway, california
Do you spy the seals?

One thing to know about traveling along the PCH is that in some of the more rural areas, gas stations are few and far between. So if you plan to take a road trip along this scenic highway, be sure to get gas when it is available. We nearly ran out of gas, mostly because we were kind of balking at the price. California has some of the most expensive gas in the country.

pacific coast highway, california

It’s better to buy expensive gas than run out of gas, pull off the highway and have to call for emergency roadside assistance. You can use GasBuddy or Trucker Path, an app we mentioned in Tuesday’s post, to find gas near you (including the price).

pacific coast highway 6

Billy was not a fan of some of the more curvy sections of the PCH. So if your pet is inclined to motion sickness, you may want to skip the Pacific Coast Highway or other winding roads whenever possible. See our post Woof Trekking: Anxiety and Motion Sickness for more.

pacific coast highway, california
The Bixby Creek Bridge, an extremely photogenic bridge along the PCH.


After driving for a couple of hours, we came to the artist enclave of Carmel-by-the-Sea. This quaint little town is about 330 miles north of Los Angeles and 120 miles south of San Francisco. Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, a group of artists left the destroyed city and migrated to Carmel-by-the-Sea, thus establishing the small sea-side town as a now well-known hub for art and culture.

This was the perfect stop for us to hop out and stretch our legs. It was the first trip to the ocean for both Nana and Izzy.

Version 2

Nana thought it was just ok. ?

pacific coast highway 8

Contrastingly, Izzy thought it was SUPER FUN!!! ?  She loved romping around in the surf.

pacific coast highway 9

We already cover our car seats with towels (so it’s easy to clean up unexpected messes), but we also had the foresight to bring a couple extra towels, so we could wipe off Izzy’s sticky paws.

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Woof Trekking: Rest Stops, Apps, and a $14.5 Million Price Tag

Woof Trekking: Rest Stops, Apps, and a $14.5 Million Price Tag

posted in: On the Road, Travel, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Today’s post is an adaptation of a chapter from our new book, Woof Trekking.

woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets

When Woof Trekkking, some people can drive for hours and hours without stopping to use the restroom. These people must have bladders of steel. Our family does not, probably because we like to stay well hydrated while on the road.

Sometimes when you are driving along, nature can call rather abruptly and adamantly. You feel relieved when you see a rest stop is near on the roadside sign. You only have to wait a couple more minutes and then as you approach, you see it is barricaded and closed. Oh no!

We recently discovered that there is an app called USA Rest Stops that can be downloaded for free for both Apple and Android users. It relies on reporting from users, a lot like the Gas Buddy App.

Another cool app is called Trucker Path. From the name, you can tell that the app is geared more toward truckers, however, it could also be helpful to you on your Woof Trek. Besides weigh stations and large vehicle parking availability, the app also includes rest stop locations and gas stations with current prices (like Love’s and Pilot). It is also available for Android through Amazon.

As an alternative, most states have a list of rest areas online that can be found with a bit of Googling. Some sites also list whether each rest area is open or closed. If a rest stop isn’t nearby, there are always those golden arches available, as well as other restaurants or gas stations.

Most of the time we need to stop at rest stops for the human bladders amongst us. The dogs don’t get out every single time we stop. Izzy and Nana are on opposite ends of the spectrum: Nana can hold it forever, while Izzy can always squeeze out a few drops. Most rest stops have dog designated areas and many of these areas also provide small bags for pet waste. They are usually quite dependable to be free of holes. We like to take a couple each time we run into one of these stands. This way, we are always prepared. That being said, we always bring a good supply of waste bags with us, too.

One quirk about Nana is that when we are on a Woof Trek she enjoys marking her territory. She pees on significant places like prominent rocks and tree trunks. It’s like a big flashing sign, “NANA WAS HERE!”

If we have been driving for an extended period of time, everyone gets out to stretch their legs and investigate the new surroundings. There are some nice rest areas across the US. One of our favorites is in west Texas, Ward County West/East Bound and no wonder… According to the local Texas news, it came with a $14.5 million price tag! ? ? ?


Other nice rest areas are located in tandem with State Welcome Centers, where you can also pick up maps and brochures. One of our favorite examples of such a rest stop-welcome center combo was in Mississippi (pictured below).

rest stop


We hope this information helps you on your next Woof Trek!

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Buckle Up for Safety: Woof Trekking, Car Harnesses, and Booster Seats

Buckle Up for Safety: Woof Trekking, Car Harnesses, and Booster Seats

posted in: On the Road, Travel, Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Safety is of the utmost importance while Woof Trekking. Accidents can happen, and it is best to have preventive measures in place. Some people let their animals roam freely in the car while they are driving, but we do not. All of our pets wear harnesses and are buckled in while the car is moving. Today’s post is an adaptation of a chapter from our new book, Woof Trekking.

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When we Woof Trek, Billy wears a harness and leash at all times. The harness goes around his neck, then under his arms, and ends up around his chest. We use his leash to tether him to the seatbelt of the human holding him. He spends most of the car ride asleep on a pillow in someone’s lap, since he takes Dramamine for motion sickness (read more in our article Woof Trekking: Anxiety and Motion Sickness).
cat, booster seat, car sick, car sickness, pets, pet,

We tried using an inflatable car seat (pictured above) for him that could be buckled into an empty seat, with the hope that looking out the window might ease his motion sickness. However, he didn’t actually look out the window that often, so we gave it up. The other downside of the seat for us was that it took up too much space, especially since he still preferred sitting with a human. That being said, it may be the right solution for you, so feel free to give it a whirl.

The specific model that we purchased in 2012 has since been discontinued, however there are plenty of alternatives available today.

Pet booster seats were featured on a recent episode of the show Lucky Dog (part of the CBS Dream Team… It’s EPIC!) shown on Saturday Mornings. All Woof Trekkers will enjoy this show, and FYI, it won a Daytime Emmy this May for “Outstanding Special Class Series.”

Nana and Izzy wear car harnesses that allow them to be buckled into a seat. We currently use the Canine Friendly brand. We previously used EZ Rider, but after viewing the 2013 Harness Results from the Center for Pet Safety, we decided to upgrade.

dog, pet, car harness, safety, buckle up
Nana and Izzy sporting the EZ rider harnesses from Petsmart before the upgrade.

Nana does not really like to be buckled in since it impedes her ability to look out the windows. Still, she allows us to buckle her in, even if it is a bit begrudgingly. She either sits or lays down in her seat depending on her mood. Izzy does not like to be buckled in either, but for the opposite reason of Nana. Izzy would much rather sit in a person’s lap while driving.

dog, pet, car harness, safety, buckle up
Nana sporting her sturdier Canine Friendly Harness. It has metal buckles and overall, the harness seems to be made of stronger materials.

For the most part the dog harnesses work well at keeping the dogs safe and secure. But as the old adage goes, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” If a noise startles Izzy during the trip, she will squirm and fight her way out of her harness and rampage to the nearest lap. But we always get her back to her seat, or on a few rare occasions, buckled in with the nearest human.

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #1: Angels Flight, July 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #1: Angels Flight, July 2012

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Los Angeles was our very first stop on our very first Woof Trek. On our second day there, we drove around the downtown area and found a parking spot in the shade of the towering skyscrapers. We were on a mission to see Angels Flight.

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twitter angels flight

Angels Flight is a funicular railway that runs up and down Bunker Hill. It originally opened in 1901, then closed in 1969, and reopened in 1996. Another fun detail is that the cars are named: Olivet and Sinai.

angels flight - 8

As we sat down to write this article, we discovered that Angels Flight closed in July 2013, due to apparent safety issues. What’s more is that the green space around Angels Flight, aka Angels Knoll, has also been closed according to this LA Times article. The park was featured in the movie (500) Days of Summer (Source).

angels flight - 5

We first heard about Angels Flight from one of our favorite mystery authors, Michael Connelly. The 6th Harry Bosch novel is titled Angels Flight and is an excellent book that we highly recommend for fans of the mystery genre and of Los Angeles.

Angels Flight (A Harry Bosch Novel)

We hopped on at the bottom and prepared ourselves for an excellent adventure!

angels flight - 9

The view from the top. Not a particularly long ride, but fun none the less!

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Here is an official ticket stub that we received once we exited the little train.

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Here you can see the ticket booth at the top of the hill.

angels flight - 4

Another beauty shot of the tangerine titans.

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We had a great time going up on Angels Flight. The dogs did not ride with us, as it seemed unlikely that that would be allowed. We realize that this article is not very “Woof,” so we found a couple other articles to compensate:

‘Table for two. One of us will sit on the floor.’ Pet-friendly L.A. restaurants
We particularly like the sound of #3, Lazy Dog restaurant and bars with its dog friendly meal options.

13 Things Your Dog Really Wants To Do With You in Los Angeles
Our favorite from this list is #7, the BowWow Workout, with its human + dog workouts! Check out the video below!

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Woof Trekking Now Available!

Woof Trekking Now Available!

posted in: Nonfiction, Our Work, Travel, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Yesterday, we introduced you to our new series, Woof Trekking. We also shared with you all about how our grandparents inspired us to go on our very first Woof Trek. These travels have taught us so much about road tripping with our pets that we decided we needed to share our experiences.

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On June 23rd, we announced our newest book, Woof Trekking. Today, the book is finally ready for you! Woof Trekking is currently available through both Amazon and Kobo. It will also be available soon for iBooks and Nook.

Read the full description below:

wooftripping kindle cover new author name

Have you ever wanted to take your pets on a road trip with you but didn’t know where to begin?

Let Woof Trekking: How to Road Trip with Your Pets be your guide. Since 2012, we have racked up over 20,000 miles Woof Trekking to such diverse destinations as: Los Angeles, Savannah, Philadelphia and Portland picking up many useful tips and tricks along the way. Now they are ready to share their knowledge and experience with you. So buckle up and get ready to Woof Trek!

This straightforward guide is packed with helpful features including:

• What is Woof Trekking?

• Top 3 Reasons to Woof Trek

• How Far Can You Drive in a Day?

• Navigating Your Way

• Anxiety and Motion Sickness

• Car Harnesses

• Keeping Cool and Hydrated

• Finding Pet Friendly Hotels

• Keeping Your Pet Safe on the Road and in the Hotel

• Discover Pet Friendly Activities

• Packing Checklist

For those of you who follow our posts regularly, you may remember that our initial release date was July 1st. We published the book as promised on the 1st, however, we encountered some unexpected technical difficulties. These have since been resolved, and the book is now officially ready for purchase. If you purchased an incorrect version of the book, you should receive an email from Amazon with access to the correct version of the eBook. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Please check out our latest book and tell your friends and followers!

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90’s Road Tripping vs. 2016 Road Tripping

90’s Road Tripping vs. 2016 Road Tripping

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Now, we have already established that we are millennials. That means we are around the big 3-0, and when you’ve been around for about three decades, we think it is okay to give into a little nostalgia now and then.

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One of our most cherished childhood memories is going on road trips and one of the best parts of said road trips was listening to books on tape. On one road trip, we listened to the entire delightful cassette tape version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, narrated by the many charming voices of Jim Dale. Only recently did we discover that Stephen Fry was the voice of the UK version of Harry Potter book on tape. We love Stephen Fry, but when we listened to a sample, it just wasn’t the same. Jim + J.K. forever! <3 <3 <3

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Book 1

On another road trip, we listened to a book called The End of the Road, also on cassette tape, written and read by Tom Bodett. Penned in 1989, it is a hilarious novel featuring several interconnected stories about a small town in Alaska. The most memorable section was about an outrageous lime green fire truck. You should read it! Actually, you should listen to it. It is Tom Bodett after all! An abridged version is available through Audible. Bodett’s voice draws you in like few other audiobook narrators. No wonder he has been the voice of Motel 6 for 30 years.

The End of the Road

Road Trip Activities in the 1990’s

batteries road trip

-Listen to cassette tapes on your Walkman. These could be the aforementioned audiobooks or something cooler, like Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album. That cover was gorgeous!

-Play your original Gameboy. Remember the thick gray plastic body with the greenish-yellow screen and gray graphics? Remember carrying around all of your game cartridges with you? Those were the days…

-Play CDs on your bulky portable CD Player. Whip out your 4 slot mesh binder CD collection on the bus to band camp. Yeah, I’ve got Chumbawamba. Wazzup?

-The Old Standbys: the license plate game, Slug Bug, and I Spy. Not sure if these are still popular with the kids these days.

Road Trip Activities Now

Don’t Forget Your Charging Station!

-Stream podcasts, audiobooks, or music on your phone.

-Read books on your eReader or phone.

-Play realistic games or watch TV on your phone.

We may be biased, but just looking over these two lists, it seems obvious that road tripping in the nineties was da bomb diggity.

That being said, there is no doubt that smartphones changed the road tripping game forever. The only limit is your data plan and the amount of coverage provided by your network. In some remote areas, there is no service. Now what, Gen Z? Now what? SLUG BUG!

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Book Review: “Dogtripping,” A Wild and Endearing Ride

Book Review: “Dogtripping,” A Wild and Endearing Ride

posted in: Book Reviews, Entertainment, Travel, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Since 2012, we have been going on semi-annual road trips with our two dogs and cat (Izzy, Nana, and Billy). Earlier this year, we stumbled upon a book at the library that is about precisely this topic.

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It seemed like fate. We had to take it home. And what’s more, when you take home a book from the library, you feel none of the bookstore guilt.

You know, when you pick out a book, read five pages, decide to buy it, then watch it sit on your shelf, accumulating layer after layer of dust. When you get books from the library, they come with a read-by date. This institution-imposed structure is exactly what we need when it comes to reading a book cover to cover.

The book is titled Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure by David Rosenfelt. It is a fantastic and interesting read. Al read the physical book, while Mac listened to the audiobook on the OneClickdigital App. Both editions are great, although there are no photos with the audiobook. That is easily remedied. You can see photos from the journey, nicknamed Woof-a-bago, on David Rosenfelt’s website at

Rosenfelt weaves together the story of the road trip with endearing, personal stories about his dogs. Sounds simple enough, but neither the trip nor the dogs are typical. The trip was all the way from Los Angeles to Maine and the dogs were all from the shelter/pound, dogs who were either too sick or too old to be adopted from the rescue group run by David and his wife, Debbie. Yes, read this book with a tissue box.

Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure

We loved his self-deprecation and dark humor in the writing of this novel. (FYI: Mr. Rosenfelt is also a mystery author.) All dog lovers will enjoy the relatable tales of quirky rescues. We definitely recommend this book and give it 5 stars! It was the catalyst and a source of inspiration for our upcoming book, Woof-Trekking.

We hope you enjoyed this book review and that you check out “Dogtripping”!

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Minidoka Internment Camp

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Minidoka Internment Camp

posted in: Our Work, Photography, Travel | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Happy Memorial Day. Today we remember the 1.2 million soldiers who have died fighting for the United States, starting way back in 1775 with the American Revolution. May is also Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The Asian Pacific American Heritage website features a wide range of information and digital records from the Library of Congress, National Archives and other institutions.

We are Japanese Americans and in honor of this month, today we will be discussing our 2012 visit to the Minidoka Internment Camp in Idaho.

When you drive up you can see a replica of the the Honor Roll, which lists all the men that served in the US military during World War II from Minidoka. Two of our great-uncles are listed on the Honor Roll, both part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and both receiving Purple Hearts for being wounded in battle.

“The 442nd… became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service.” –Densho Encyclopedia

the honor roll
Honor Roll

The site is surrounded by lush farmland. A lot of the local farms harvest sugar beets, our grandma and her family helped during the harvest season while they were interned.

Before we arrived at Minidoka, our first stop was at the Hagerman Fossil Beds, 40 miles away, which had a small exhibit about the Minidoka National Historic Site.

We were happy to discover while writing this post that in 2017, they will begin construction of an official Minidoka NHS Visitor Center. We will have to visit again then.

A photo of the Minidoka when it was in use. (Take at Hagerman Fossil Beds, Minidoka Exhibit).

But before we get into too many details, let’s talk a bit about our grandparents.

Both sets of our maternal great-grandparents immigrated to America from Japan in 1906. Our grandma’s parents settled near Portland, Oregon and our grandpa’s parents settled outside Salt Lake City, Utah. They both had large families and were farmers.


As you may recall from history class, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ordered all people of Japanese descent who lived on the Pacific coast to be moved inland and interned in camps.


One of the ten camps was in Minidoka, Idaho, which is where our grandma and her family were held for nearly two years. Our grandpa’s family was not ordered to an internment camp because they lived further inland in Utah.


The Minidoka War Relocation Center became a National Historic Site in 1979. It is maintained by the National Park Service. Our grandma never had a desire to go back to see the camp after she left, but four years ago, after she passed away, we drove up to Minidoka to see where she was interned.


There was a walking path to tour the grounds, and although the buildings were all gone, there were a few concrete slabs left on the ground so you could visualize where some of the buildings were. There were no park rangers at the location but there were several informational plaques along the path to help tell the story of the location. They have made additions to the site since our visit in 2012, including a replica of the guard tower.


Grandma was very patriotic and was not angry or resentful about being interned. Maybe the two signs below offers some insight as to why.

minidoka 11


minidoka - 8 small

It would have been a great experience to share with our grandma, but even without her it was definitely worth the drive to see the camp.


You can stay up-to-date with the progress at the Minidoka NHS website. View all the progress at Minidoka from 2011-present in this PDF by the National Park Service.

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Happy Boys’ (Children’s) Day and Let’s Make Mochi!

Happy Boys’ (Children’s) Day and Let’s Make Mochi!

posted in: Food, Side Dishes, Travel | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The fifth of May is well known in America as Cinco de Mayo, which is sometimes also referred to as Cinco de Drinko.

But for Japanese families, May 5th is Boys’ Day, also known as Children’s Day. The celebration has transformed over time to celebrate not only boys but all children on this day. Girls’ Day is celebrated on March 3rd, also known as Dolls’ Day.

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According to Chinese legend, it is said that carp (koi in Japanese) that swim through the Dragon Gate rapids in the Yellow River turn into dragons. (For more, read The Animal in Far Eastern Art by T. Volker (1950).)

On Boys’ Day, families in Japan proudly display carp windsocks affixed to a pole, one for each parent and one for each child. When the wind catches the carp it appears as though the fish are swimming.

carp, koi, boys day, childrens day, japan
A koi windsock pole we picked up in Japantown in San Francisco.

A traditional celebration of Boys’ Day includes the eating of mochi which has gained more popularity in the US over the past decade. For those unfamiliar with mochi, it is sweet rice that has been cooked in water, pounded into a thick, sticky paste and then formed into disks. On it’s own it can be kind of bland. You might say it is an acquired taste. I like to consume it in a brothy shoyu soup with shrimp and spinach. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.

Zojirushi Mochi Maker

The process of making mochi is pretty easy now since we have mochi making machines (pictured above) that cook the rice and beat or “pound” the rice to the correct consistency. All you have to do is soak the rice in water overnight. Watching the mochi spinning, round and round is mesmerizing, as you can see in the video below.

The only difficult part is once it is done, it is an extremely hot (like molten lava hot) mound of rice paste. It can be difficult to handle if you have sensitive hands, but the end product is totally worth it.
The mochi needs to be portioned out into smaller servings before it has cooled and hardened too much. This is the time to put sweet red bean paste in the center of your mochi if you enjoy daifuku.
You can read more about how to make mochi with a mochi maker with step by step instructions at Of Rice and Ramen.
If your mouth is watering too, here’s a great recipe for Mochi Ice Cream from Just One Cookbook. The recipe uses Mochiko, sweet rice flour, which is a much quicker method than using a mochi maker.

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