Monday, November 9, 2015

Adventures with Astrid

I am admittedly a homebody, most often preferring to stay in with my furbabies than to go out and about. However, sometimes I do like to get out in the world and do a bit of adventuring. This weekend was one of those times, when my parents, my sister, and I decided to make a fun daylong road trip (which, I apologize, will now lead me to a rather lengthy post).

I don't believe I've divulged this before, but I'm a born, raised, and still loyal Midwesterner. That being said, for my whole life I've lived just a couple hours from Shawnee National Forest, yet I had never before been there. But, now I have! And so has Astrid, since, rather than board her or get a pet-sitter for the day, we took Astrid with us on our little road trip. (Honestly, I don't think my dad, Astrid's pawpaw, would have let my sister and me leave her behind.) And so, I think you'll be learning a lot more about Astrid in this post.
I have this intense urge to caption this picture, "Astrid for President."
So, Astrid is a great, sweet dog, and she is a great traveler, as she absolutely loves car rides. She is also a very smart girl, if I do say so myself, and knows lots of commands and plenty of other words (peanut butter, Pawpaw and Gammy, walk, kitty, treat and/or yummy, and Do you want to go for a ride? being just some of her favorites). And she loves to cuddle, and she is just certain that she's a (60 lb) lap dog. Astrid is also a very quiet dog, vocally speaking, and rarely makes a peep, which makes it very easy to take her out in public, to hotels, etc.

All of that said, since the day my sister and I rescued Astrid, she has also always been something along the lines of a Nervous Nellie. This is primarily the case around other dogs and strangers. Even with regular walks and training and socialization exercises, Astrid just highly prefers to not mingle with her own canine kind. And, although she can easily be around people and actually seems to enjoy people-watching, she will scurry to hide behind the legs of her trusted humans if a stranger dares reach out a hand to pet her otherwise perpetually smiling face. And of course there's the fact that, on top of her dog and stranger anxieties, Astrid has a larger-than-life, thoroughly energetic personality.

I say all of that long-winded stuff about my girl Astrid because, for the reasons stated above, I was a bit hesitant to take Astrid with us on our excursion this weekend. I knew that some of our activities would involve walking along potentially crowded trails, with lots of strangers and perhaps even those said strangers' own dogs. But, I forced myself to realize that Astrid could benefit from such an experience, and that this little trip could serve as a training exercise.

So, now that I've bored you to tears with those ramblings, on to the trip...

After leaving plenty of food, water, litter, and cuddles for the feline furbabies at home, we left for our day trip at 6 am on Saturday. It didn't take long before we needed a pit stop, though, and we found a nice little rest stop (with surprisingly sparkling clean bathrooms!), which had some nice little scenery of its own.
Astrid decided not to take advantage of this rest stop, since roughly a dozen semi trucks were loudly running or driving all throughout the parking lot. Needless to say, she got out, looked around, and happily got right back into the car for a rest.
Back on the road, we made a quick detour to a town called Benton, which I learned was the first place in the US one of the famous Beatles (George Harrison, to be exact) made an extended stay.
 Then we took another quick detour at a lovely place off the road...
 ...with a wonderful view of Rend Lake.
 Astrid thought it was pretty, too.
I asked Astrid to turn around and smile.
Alrighty then.
And, of course, we made yet another quick detour. This time, though, it was to Metropolis, home of Superman!
I won't even lie, I found this statue a tad bit creepy. Cool to see, but creepy.
 This town of Metropolis takes its name very seriously.
I'm not sure Astrid trusted this Superman dude. She certainly wasn't about to let any of her humans out of sight with him around.
We finally made it out of Metropolis after stopping for a quick lunch, and then stumbled upon the Ohio River.
Perhaps I'm just easy to impress, but that barge was huge!
Then, many miles and hours later, we finally arrived at Shawnee National Forest and decided on traversing its famous Garden of the Gods. We were, of course, met with fair warning.
To get to those high cliffs there was first some walking, and a few tight fits.
 Then we started to find some hints of those high cliffs.
At this point, my mom (Astrid's beloved gammy) decided she would sit on a trail bench with Astrid while my dad, my sister, and I took to climbing some rocks. My mom wasn't too keen on doing any rock climbing, so both she and Astrid were content to leave that to us.

First, though, how was Astrid doing at this point? She was doing pretty well.
Still smiling, but no tail curled over Astrid's back in this picture, as a large group of nearby kids was in need of her keen attention.
Of course, being somewhere new, Astrid started out very, very excited and had to be frequently reminded of her "don't pull" walking rule. There were just so many new things to see and people to watch (and even a dog or two!), and she just was bubbling over with excitement. Of course, even during all of my "don't pull", "stop", and "wait" commands, people just couldn't stop oohing and awwing over Astrid. I've quickly learned with Astrid that people really just love seeing a happy, smiling dog, no matter how boundlessly full of life she is.

So, a bit calmer after the initial walk up to the cliffs, Astrid stopped and waited with her gammy. Of course, I didn't forget to leave Gammy with Astrid's #1 training tool - peanut butter!
Astrid eating her #1 training tool, peanut butter, while wearing her #2 training tool, her ThunderShirt. (It may be called a ThunderShirt, but Astrid is not in the least bit afraid of storms. My sister and I got her this shirt primarily for training against pulling and overexcitement on walks.)
So, with Astrid safely in the hands of her gammy and her peanut butter, my dad, my sister, and I went to rock climbing. There certainly are some amazing, breathtaking views from on top of the world.
 All climbed out, we made our way back down to earth and checked in on Astrid and Gammy.
Mmmmmm. Gammy sure is generous with that peanut butter!
At this point, my dad was thirsty from all that climbing but had forgotten his beloved iced sweet tea (I swear he has tea running through his veins) in the car. So he and my mom started on the path back to the car, and they decided they wanted to take their grand-doggie with them, to get her some fresh cold water as well.
There's that curly tail!
With Astrid happily taking a stroll with two of her favorite people, I took a few minutes to do a bit more exploring.
 But then it was time to head back.
There's the road we came in on down there in the bottom of the picture. Whew!
Soon enough, we were all tucked in the car and back on the road. And Astrid slept all the way home.
Did anybuddy else do any adventuring this weekend?

Happy Monday!


pilch92 said...

I am not bored at all. I love hearing about places I have never been. I am a homebody too and like to live vicariously through others. :)

The Island Cats said...

What a great excursion for you and Astrid! Thanks for sharing those great photos.

Annie Bear said...

I am also a homebody, but it's fun to do day-trips and I do like to travel although I miss the kitties terribly. This was a great post. I got a kick out of Metropolis! They sure do take the name seriously! Astrid is such a good girl. I'm glad she enjoyed herself. I enjoyed seeing all your pics!

meowmeowmans said...

Wow, what a great day trip you all had! We enjoyed your narrative, and the wonderful pictures. And we're glad Astrid had a good time, too. :)

Marg said...

Gosh what a great trip and such pretty places to see. Sounds like Astrid had a good time with everyone and what a great experience for her. Great post.