My First Road Trip With JJ Was Full of Activity, Healthy Eating, and Only One Doggie Health Scare

I have a new road trip buddy!

I adopted JJ two months ago, and up until last weekend, the longest he’s been in a car has been about an hour. So I was excited (and a little nervous) to see how he would handle a six-hour drive.

He did great! We went to the bay area to visit family, and so that I could compete in the Runyon Up stair race. (Read about the race here.) We left on Friday morning, after I took him on a nice walk and then completed my own workout.

I learned, while packing the car, that his crate just barely fit in my trunk, which was perfect, because I was anticipating having to put the backseat down and potentially making JJ ride in his crate, which would make for a long six hours for him.

But with the crate in the trunk, and all the other stuff piled up on the floor and seat on the front row passenger side, JJ had the whole backseat to stretch out in, and windows on both sides that he could look out of.

We made one stop during the drive up, for gas, bathroom (both JJ and me), and I bought iced tea and almonds as a snack. I made sure JJ’s water bowl was handy when I packed, and offered JJ water during the stop, but he was uninterested, because he was fixated on another doggie in a backseat across the parking lot.

We arrived at my brother Steve’s house in Marin County a little before dinnertime, and I called Steve when we were two minutes away, to have him meet us outside. JJ is pretty much housebroken in my place, but I wasn’t sure I could expect that in a new environment with new people, so I wanted to give him extra time to relieve himself outside before we headed in. We walked to a park about a 1/4 mile away, and let JJ run around and explore (and poop) in a fenced-in area before heading back.

JJ was a big hit in the neighborhood. Steve, my sister-in-law Alexis, and my nephews Marin and Eddie (13 and 11) live on a quiet cul-de-sac with five houses, and they’re good friends with most of their neighbors, many of which have dogs. We ran into some of them on that first walk, and by the end of the evening, Alexis was receiving texts with hike recommendations and doggie playdate invitations!

Alexis and I took JJ for a wonderful hike the next morning, on the Big Rock Trail near their house. It offers great views, when you get high enough, of Lucas Valley and Skywalker Ranch, the movie facility that George Lucas built for movie sound design and editing. (Lucas Valley isn’t named for him, it’s named for another guy named Lucas who owned the land 100 years ago and isn’t related to the “Star Wars” director.)

Skywalker Ranch near my right tricep!

We hiked for two hours and went 3.7 miles. I just read that Big Rock Trail leads to the second-highest peak in the county, but that’s a 7-mile hike. Maybe next time!

The whole family took a shine to JJ. Everyone gave him lots of attention and love. Steve really enjoyed playing with JJ.

Alexis’s sister Katharine came over for dinner on Saturday and fell in love, and insisted that JJ smells like snickerdoodles. I can’t smell it myself, but she did get my nephew Eddie to agree that while it may not be snickerdoodles, JJ definitely smells like baked goods of some kind.

JJ wasn’t the only animal in the house, either! I met Dexter on this visit, Eddie’s new leopard gecko. He’s a cutie.

We made sure JJ was never even aware that Dexter existed. It was best that way.

On Sunday morning Alexis and I went to the race, and since Steve had to work, Eddie and Marin looked after JJ. I felt confident that they could dogsit for a morning, but then I found Alexis after the race, and the first thing she said to me was that the boys had texted her and said that JJ had gotten into and eaten a box of chocolates.

It sounds scary, but everything was fine. It wasn’t a huge box, and we later calculated that JJ ate the equivalent of 15 or 16 Hershey kisses, and that’s not nearly enough to poison a dog as big as JJ. Eddie was distraught, and apologized multiple times when we got back, but this stuff happens.

Plus, JJ didn’t show any signs of sickness or distress. No vomiting or diarrhea, either. We drove home that day, and I made a couple extra bathroom stops, to give JJ ample opportunities, but there was nothing out of the ordinary when he did his business.

Unlike JJ, I stayed out of culinary trouble all weekend. We all ate very healthily. I did indulge in 1/2 an eclair, homemade by Nancy, one of the neighbors on the cul-de-sac, and it was worth it.

Here’s some food pictures from the weekend. Alexis did all the cooking, and I helped chop and prep and clean up. (And I forgot to photograph one of our meals, grilled chicken, grilled bell peppers, and salad.)

Burger and toppings (no bun), roasted cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes and fingerlings.

Two eggs poached in onions and tomatoes, with a piece of bacon.

(For the poached eggs recipe, click here)

Post-race breakfast: egg scramble with all sorts of veggies, cheese, avocado, and one slice of wheat toast.

I also tried kombucha for the first time! It’s a fermented tea beverage that’s great for gut health and has a load of other benefits. It tastes like tea mixed with a little vinegar.

This was the first of three weekend trips in a row. Looking forward to having fun on the upcoming ones, too – although JJ will be staying at a dog hotel while I’m gone.

Keep it up, David!


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