The “Monthly” Bucket- August/September 2017

Uhh…what happened? I landed back in the US, got hit with some killer jet lag, blinked, and then suddenly it was the end of September. Oops. Sorry about that. I’ve gotten up to some really neat stuff, though!

www.myadventurebucket.com August September

Where in the world am I? Settling into my new home in North Carolina after being a nomad for almost 6 months. From two weeks in India to three months in Sri Lanka to six weeks of road-tripping the US with my faithful adventure dog, it feels really good to sit still for a few minutes.  

Items checked off the bucket list this month:

#367- Pizza at Lombardi’s in NYC

#169- Drive the entire length of Interstate 80 from New York’s George Washington Bridge to the Bay Bridge in San Francisco

#382- Attend the Iowa State Fair

#221- Browse through Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley, California (the 100th thing I’ve checked off my list!)

#337- Visit Half Moon Bay on the California Coast

#588- Visit Sedona, Arizona

See? I told you I’ve been busy!

Highlight of the month: Picking up my best girl from summer camp! If you’re a dog person, you’ll understand- being separated from your best friend for four months is the absolute worst! She had a great time at summer camp, though, and I know she was well taken care of while I was off poking around ancient temples in Sri Lanka. I sure do sleep a lot better with her sprawled out across most of the bed, though. We immediately made up for lost time by setting off on a 6 week road trip around the US!

www.myadventurebucket.com
Touring the desert in Sedona, Arizona by Hummer

 

Lowlight of the month: Having to cancel my month-long trip to Brazil due to Hurricane Irma. I should have been celebrating my birthday on September 24th by heading to the airport in Fort Lauderdale, but apparently Mother Nature had other plans. 

Best meal: Duck fat cheese fries at Village Whiskey in Philadelphia.

www.myadventurebucket.com
That’s my friend Matt getting the perfect instagram shot of his duck fat cheese fries. Say hi, Matt!

Super close second: Carne Asada Waffle Fries at Loco Patron in Scottsdale, Arizona- one of my favorite cities on the whole entire planet.

www.myadventurebucket.com
I know you just licked your screen.

 

New blog posts published:

July Monthly Bucket

I look like a great big slacker, don’t I? Oops. Sorry about that! In my defense, I’ve been working on some other projects, too. Like this article for the Gay & Lesbian Review:  Pride in Sri Lanka: Still an Act of Rebellion

What I learned:

  • Always get the travel insurance! I would be out a huge chunk of money from my canceled Brazil plans if it wasn’t for my World Nomads travel insurance policy. I used to travel without insurance all the time, and I’m really lucky that something like this never happened to me before. World Nomads policies are really inexpensive, and you need to have one when you travel, period. (If you use my affiliate link to sign up for your policy, it won’t cost you anything, but I’ll receive a small commission to help with the running of this site and my weekly pedicure habit.)
  • It is pretty much impossible to lick the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair because they keep it behind glass.
  • The Residence Inn by Marriott Austin South takes a Polaroid of every dog who stays there. How cute is this??

www.myadventurebucket.com

  • Restaurants all over Scottsdale have started offering doggie menus. Murphy Ann really likes Dog Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast.
  • The Grand Canyon is a really nice hole in the ground, but it gets unbelievably hot during the summer. (And September is still summer in Arizona!) Bring tons of water, especially if you’re visiting with a four-legged friend.

www.myadventurebucket.com

  • Prickly pear margaritas are amazing.
  • When in Sedona, get up before sunrise at least once and do a hike through the desert while watching hot air balloons glide overhead.

www.myadventurebucket.com

  • Everything you’ve ever heard about California traffic is true, and then some.
  • Watermelon beer is amazing (I’m looking at you, 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon)
  • Utah is gorgeous.
www.myadventurebucket.com
Like, seriously gorgeous.
  • Lincoln, Nebraska is super dog friendly and adorable. Who knew?
  • The Iowa State Fair sells hot beef sundaes and they’re exactly as amazing as you’re imagining.

www.myadventurebucket.com

  • Cleveland is also super dog friendly and adorable. Who knew??

 

What I read:

What’s next? I had to rewrite this section because I was supposed to be on a plane to Rio de Janeiro on September 25th for a month of picking coffee beans, lounging on gorgeous South American beaches, and trying to look cool in Brazilian cocktail bars. Then Hurricane Irma happened, the Brazilian consulate in Miami had to close unexpectedly, and I wasn’t able to get my visa in time. I’m really, really bummed, but I also know how lucky I am that this devastating storm only caused me a relatively minor travel interruption. Considering how many people lost their lives and homes and businesses, I’m only going to thank my lucky stars that some travel issues were my only problem. Instead of Brazil, I’ll be writing about my new home in North Carolina and throwing myself into the planning of my next big bucket list adventure, driving Australia’s Great Ocean Road.

Did you get up to any cool adventures in August and September? Got any good travel tips for Australia? Leave a comment and let me know!

Have Dog, Will Travel

I’m spending a lot of time behind the wheel this week, taking My Adventure Bucket’s mascot, Murphy Ann the adventure dog, on a road trip to celebrate her 9th birthday. Since I’m busy driving, I’m going to turn the blog over to Murphy to document our adventures. It is, after all, her trip.

Friday, March 17, 2017- Mama wakes me up early this morning to tell me we’re  going on an adventure! I’m so excited I can barely eat my breakfast, which should tell you a lot. I don’t know where we’re going but she says I need to get my backpack, so that must mean it’s a really big adventure. She doesn’t know I hid my backpack in the garage because I chewed one of the straps off.

Mama turned the back of the car into a great big bed for me with lots of pillows and blankets, and gives me a frozen peanut butter Kong when we leave. This is already the best adventure ever.

We drive for hours and hours and I invent a new game. I try to climb up front with Mama and she yells at me to get in the back before I make her crash the damn car. It’s great. We play so many times her voice gets hoarse. When we finally get out of the car, we’re in a town full of people. I’ve never seen so many people in my life. I wag at everyone.

Then we get on a boat! A great big one with sails and everything. Everyone loves me and the crew takes turns sitting with me and giving me skritches and telling me I’m a good girl. The captain lets me stand with him and help him steer the boat, and we see dolphins! This is the best day of my life.

Editor’s note: We sailed on the Schooner Freedom, which is, in my opinion, the absolute best attraction in all of St. Augustine. If you haven’t gone sailing with them yet, you’re missing out on an awesome experience. www.schoonerfreedom.com

We’re going camping tonight! I’ve always wanted to go camping! This is the most exciting thing ever. Mama sets up the tent while I watch. I don’t say anything, but I’m a little concerned. I’m accustomed to sleeping on a nice mattress with an electric blanket and several extra firm pillows. I don’t see her put anything in the bottom of the tent except a sleeping bag. I’m sure she’s got everything figured out, though. Then she makes fire appear out of nowhere and other campers come over to pet me and tell me I’m a good girl. I love camping.

Saturday, March 18, 2017- I hate camping. It got so cold overnight that I climbed into the sleeping bag with Mama and we were both shivering and we pressed our faces together and tried to get comfortable but the ground was hard and awful. A rooster starts crowing at 7:00 a.m. and I decide I will kill it, but Mama yells every time I try to claw my way out of the tent. I think about telling her that it wasn’t my idea to sleep on the frozen ground but then I notice the look on her face and decide to keep that to myself. We’re supposed to camp again tonight but she gets out her phone and makes a hotel reservation before we even get out of the tent. Maybe she can read my mind.

We get in the car and we’re both a lot happier once we’re warm and on the road again. In a few minutes Mama turns down a dirt road and my ears perk up immediately. I hear dogs. Lots of them. I’m already wagging before I realize we’re at the biggest dog park I’ve ever seen in my life. I know I’m not supposed to pull on my leash but between you and me, I drag Mama into that park so fast we both almost fall over. As soon as she takes my leash off, I take off running. I run straight into the lake, because I like to get as muddy as possible every chance I get. There are so many other dogs, I run from group to group and sniff every butt I can find. This is the best day of my life. The park has a great big wooded area; Mama lets me through the gate after I promise to stay where she can see me and not run off.

I run off as soon as she opens the gate. We have so much fun for the next two hours. She runs around the woods calling my name and I hide. When I finally come out of hiding she kisses me on the face for a long time so I think she had fun, too. Mama says it’s time to go, but I could stay here and play all day. She says we’re going to get lunch, though, so I allow myself to be convinced.

Editor’s note: We spent the morning playing at Dog Wood Park (7407 Salisbury Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256), which is the most incredible dog park I’ve ever seen. Set over 42 acres, the entire park is fenced and has everything your dog could want in a park, from a great big beach to a huge wooded area full of walking trails. Admission is $11 for a single day, but if you’re local you can buy an annual membership.

I guess I doze off in the car after playing so long, because when I wake up we’re parking next to a great big farmer’s market. I see more dogs, and even more exciting: vegetables! Mama says I’m the only dog in the world who would rather have broccoli than steak. As soon as we get out of the car I go crazy sniffing everything I can find to sniff: dog butts, people butts, food, grass, and more. Mama lets me pick out some vegetables from a nice lady’s stand, then she gets us a ham and cheese panini from a truck. There’s a band playing music and we sit in the sun and eat, and everyone who walks by pets me and says I’m a pretty girl. This is the happiest day of my life.

Editor’s note: The Riverside Arts Market (715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204) is held every Saturday from 10am to 3pm. It’s a whole lot of food, music, art, and fun. Don’t miss it if you’re in the neighborhood.

It takes a lot of energy to look this cute all the time.
It takes a lot of energy to look this cute all the time.

As soon as we get to our hotel, I climb into the bed and I’m out like a light. I don’t know how long I’m asleep, but it’s dark outside when I wake up. Mama says we’re not done having fun yet today, and we walk down the street to an Irish bar. There are tables outside and everyone thinks I’m adorable when I climb up on a chair instead of sitting on the ground. At first I’m nervous about all the motorcycles going by, but then a nice lady starts feeding me potato chips and I relax. There are lots of big burly men in kilts, and they all skritch my ears and tell me I’m a bonnie wee lassie. We stay out later than I’ve ever stayed out in my whole life, and by the time we get back to the hotel, Mama has to pick me up and put me in the bed because I’m too tired to jump.

Please make her stop singing. I'm serious, this is terrible.
Please make her stop singing. I’m serious, this is terrible.

Sunday, March 19, 2017- Today I learned that Mama likes to sing along to John Denver songs on the radio. Loudly. And badly. (Sorry, Mama.) This is going to be a long trip. But I forget about all that as soon as we arrive at our hotel in Savannah. They’re playing all of my favorite 50s music in the parking lot, so I know they’re my kind of people even before the nice lady at the front desk gives me popcorn. Then we get to the room and I find out they’ve made it extra special for me with dog bowls, treats, and some new bling for my collar. I could get used to this kind of treatment.

We don’t waste any time hanging out in the room, though. There’s adventure to be had. We walk at least a bazillion miles around Savannah and I have a lot of fun running up and down staircases on pretty old houses and sticking my snout in all the nice flower bushes.

I don't know what dog yoga is, but I want to try it.
I don’t know what dog yoga is, but I want to try it.

We see lots of other dogs, and finally stop and have dinner at an outdoor restaurant where the waiter dances with me and everyone who walks by makes a big fuss over me. Once I see another dog I really want to meet and I almost pull Mama’s chair over but other than that she says I was a good girl. That’s a relief because only good girls get pieces of cheeseburger.

By the time we get back to the hotel Mama has to pick me up and put me in bed again. I never realized that adventuring was such hard work.

Editor’s note: We stayed at the supremely dog-friendly Thunderbird Inn (611 W Oglethorpe Ave, Savannah, GA 31401), one of my very favorite spots in Savannah. If you love retro kitsch, this is your place- right down to the RC Cola and moon pies they’ll leave in your room. We ate at the Public Kitchen and Bar (1 W Liberty St, Savannah, GA 31401, USA), and yes, our extremely accommodating waiter did dance with Murphy Ann. Not that she gave him much choice. Sorry about that.

Monday, March 20, 2017- I’m not sure what happened, but I close my eyes for just a minute when we get in the car, and when I wake up we’re in North Carolina. We’re visiting my Uncle Gary and my cousin Archie for the night! We’re gonna go hiking and eat pizza bones and stay up late.

Mama says if I try to climb in the front seat one more time I'm ever getting another Snausage as long as I live.
Mama says if I try to climb in the front seat one more time I’m never getting another Snausage as long as I live.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017- Well, we didn’t stay up late because I fell asleep. But in my defense, Archie wanted to go for a really long hike so I only got about a 9 hour nap. I could stay and play with Archie for a long time, but Mama says adventure calls, so we have to hit the road again. I’m not sure what happened, but I close my eyes for just a minute when we get in the car again, and when I wake up we’re in Virginia. It’s kind of rainy out, which I don’t like, but Mama stops for pizza so I get over it. I consider myself a connoisseur of pizza bones, and these are some of the best I’ve ever had. I try to sneak onto the table and help myself to a whole slice but I guess I’m not that sneaky because I just get my butt swatted. It was worth a shot.

Editor’s note: Pie Hole Pizza (314 England St, Ashland, VA 23005) is one of the coolest pizza places around. They make everything from scratch, have a ton of great beers on tap, and the spicy chorizo pizza is absolutely killer. Try it, you’ll thank me later.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017- Hey! It’s my birthday! I’m nine years old today! Honestly I kinda want to stay in bed because it’s really, really cold outside, but Mama says she has a special birthday surprise so I have to get up. Maybe I’ll just sleep in the car until we get wherever we’re going.

All I want for my birthday is to go back to bed.
All I want for my birthday is to go back to bed.

Surprise! We’re going to Mount Vernon! I’ve wanted to go here ever since I found out that George Washington first created my breed, the American Foxhound. It’s on Mama’s bucket list, too. Everyone is so nice and wishes me a happy birthday and welcomes me “home”. Even though I’m still cold, I still have a lot of fun exploring my ancestral homeland.

#596- Take Murphy Ann back to visit her ancestral homeland at Mt. Vernon
#596- Take Murphy Ann back to visit her ancestral homeland at Mt. Vernon

There are a lot of school groups here and I get a little bit overwhelmed with all the running, yelling kids. We end up having to leave early because I kind of freak out a little bit. Don’t tell anybody, OK? We were supposed to go out for a fancy birthday dinner but I’m cold and I don’t feel good so Mama says we can just get some takeout and go back to our Airbnb and go to bed.

It's my party and I'll whine if I want to.

Thursday, March 23, 2017- I’m still not feeling great this morning so Mama says we can scrap our plan to get up early to go hiking. I pretend to be sad about this while I burrow back under the covers so far only my tail sticks out.

Eventually we have to get up and get moving again; we’re headed for Johnson City, Tennessee and I have a feeling Mama is going to spend all day singing John Denver songs in the car again.

Friday, March 24, 2017- Hey! Is that country music I hear? We’re in Nashville! This makes me wag so hard. As soon as we get checked into the hotel we head downtown and I’m amazed by all the music and the neon signs and the people. I try to wag at everyone but the crowd becomes kind of a blur. Mama says we’re looking for a place where I can listen to music and she can drink moonshine, and we’ll know it when we find it. What’s moonshine? She won’t let me try it. We find the perfect spot, on a patio next to a nice toasty heater, listening to a pretty lady sing some of my favorite songs. I love Nashville. This is the best day ever.

A perfect night in Music City for dogs and humans.
A perfect night in Music City for dogs and humans.

Editor’s note: We got away from the crowd and found the perfect spot at Tavern ‘96 (501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203). The music, and the moonshine, were perfect. Get the Nashville Hot Sliders.

Saturday, March 25, 2017- I’m going to daycare today! Apparently Mama is going sightseeing without me because some places don’t allow dogs, which I think is pretty rude. But I love going to daycare and getting to play all day with lots of different dogs, so I don’t mind.

No dogs allowed! Bucket list #219- Visit The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson
No dogs allowed! Bucket list #219- Visit The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson

She picks me up after lunch and we drive all the way to Little Rock, Arkansas. We’ve been having so much fun eating outside and listening to live music, Mama says we’re going to do it again tonight. The owners of this restaurant have seven rescue dogs and they make such a big fuss over me I almost blush. They spend most of the night petting me, bringing me treats, and telling me I’m such a pretty girl. I didn’t know anything about Arkansas before this trip but I can tell you everyone here is just lovely.

Mama says the name of this restaurant is funny because it's Gilligan's Island themed. I don't get it.
Mama says the name of this restaurant is funny because it’s Gilligan’s Island themed. I don’t get it.

Editor’s note: Who knew Little Rock was so much fun? We’re definitely coming back here for a longer visit. When we do, we’ll come back to Thirst N’ Howl (14710 Cantrell Rd, Little Rock, AR 72223), drink some more Stones Throw lager, and continue to marvel at how great the people are here. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017- We’re up at the crack of dawn and Mama says we’re going bucket listing again! This time with actual buckets. We’re gonna go digging for diamonds and she says I can dig as many holes in the ground as I want. If you ever looked at our back yard you would assume this would be great news for me, but I don’t know. Who wants to dig holes when they have permission? I’m just not feeling it. I think Mama’s frustrated.

We spend all day digging for diamonds (well, Mama digs, I just wait until she’s not looking and then knock over all of her equipment. And once I knock her into a mud puddle but I swear it was an accident) but don’t find any. What do I care? I’m a dog.

I have so much mud between my toes I don’t think it will ever come out.
Editor’s note: True, we didn’t strike it rich at Crater of Diamonds State Park, but we had fun anyway. Muddy, muddy fun. Bring a picnic, make a day of it. Maybe you’ll have better luck than we did. I’m serious about the mud, though. It was ridiculous.

Bucket List #376- search for gems at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Bucket List #376- search for gems at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas

Monday, March 27, 2017- We’re finally on our way home! Thanks for following along on my adventure! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Mama says we have another big adventure coming up soon, so stay tuned! 

 

The Monthly Bucket- March 2017

 

March Adventure Bucket Collage

Hey Adventurers! Do anything exciting this month? Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Where in the world am I? Currently traveling around the Southeast USA: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

My beloved Adventure Dog, Murphy Ann, turned 9 years old and we went on a two week road trip to celebrate. I’m not sure which one of us had more fun.

 

We had quite a few picnics in the back of the car. Can you tell she full expects me to share my french fries with her?
We had quite a few picnics in the back of the car. Can you tell she fully expects me to share my french fries with her?
I could have wandered around the grounds of the Hermitage in Nashville for days.
I could have wandered around the grounds of the Hermitage in Nashville for days.
Savannah is such a dog friendly city! We had so much fun wandering around and exploring.
Savannah is such a dog friendly city! We had so much fun wandering around and exploring.

Items checked off the bucket list this month:

  • #596 Taking Murphy Ann to her ancestral homeland at Mount Vernon- Did you know that the American Foxhound breed was created by George Washington? I’ve always wanted to take her home to see where her ancestors came from! They made the biggest fuss over her and were so sweet. 
Murphy Ann making herself at home on the grounds of Mount Vernon.
Murphy Ann making herself at home on the grounds of Mount Vernon.
  • #219 Visit the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee
  • #376 Search for gems at Crater of Diamonds, Murfreesboro, Arkansas- I’m sad to report that we didn’t find a single diamond, and the dog who spends her days gleefully digging holes in the backyard and destroying my garden couldn’t be convinced to dig a single hole in the diamond crater. We did, however, have a great time looking. One of us had a great time splashing in mud puddles, but I’m not naming names. 
Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Arkansas

Highlight of the month: Listening to live country music in Nashville, outside by a fire, on a gorgeous spring evening, drinking moonshine and eating Nashville hot chicken.

All the best parts of Music City.
All the best parts of Music City.

Lowlight of the month: Camping on a blueberry farm in Jacksonville, Florida. Sounds great, until the temperature drops to 40 degrees and your dainty Southern behind nearly freezes to death. Also, sleeping on the ground? I used to do that with no problem in my early 20s. Let’s not talk about how long ago that was. I’m not ashamed to say we left the campground a night early and checked into a hotel. 

Best meal: Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gravy with hoecakes and apricot butter at the Ice Plant, St. Augustine, Florida.

I didn't even know what a hoecake was before this meal. Turns out it's basically the love child of a pancake and a biscuit, and it's amazing.
I didn’t even know what a hoecake was before this meal. Turns out it’s basically the love child of a pancake and a biscuit, and it’s amazing.

New blog posts published:  Athens is Magic (Delphi is Pretty Great, Too)

What I learned: The best way to make your dog a good traveler is just to travel with them and let them get used to life on the road. Even if they do spend the first few days trying to climb onto your lap and nearly crashing the car. Frozen peanut butter Kongs help. Screaming, not so much.

What I read: “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. I listened to this audio book, read by the author, during my road trip and it was so engrossing, hours of driving passed by without notice. Part heartbreaking, part screamingly funny- just do yourself a favor and pick it up. 

What’s next? Leaving April 19th for Bangalore, India, followed by 3 months in Sri Lanka. It should surprise no one that I haven’t even started packing yet. 

Those are the highlights of my month- how about yours? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know what exciting things you got up to in March.