Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Adventures in New England

The weekend of Patriot’s Day was a full one spent with loved ones from Maine to Rhode Island so I thought I’d share some of our adventures in case anyone has travel plans this summer and needs ideas for dog-friendly pit stops!  All the places listed below have broad appeal to those with families, close to the highway for a quick travel break, potential for a longer walk/jog/snowshoe/horse ride/picnic with family, or to steal some solitude between visits.

Goddard State  Park, East Greenwich, RI.
Less than 10 minutes from Rt 95 and downtown East Greenwich (which has lots of shops, outdoor cafes, and a dog bakery).  

Starting Line (on a different day many years ago!)
Saturday, Ty and I completed our first 5K road race together.  It was a dream experience where all the little details and preparations came together for a great day.  Our “warm up” was meeting my aunt and uncle with their new pups for their first true dog-dog introduction.  Everyone’s training and laid back but attentive attitude led to a great meeting that will help the dogs re-connect when we see each other again next month.  The leg work for the run included obtaining permission from the event host and a couple practice jogs.  No doubt, Ty can run three miles, but in sync with me in that sort of environment, we did some mock exercises to mentally prepare.  We haven’t done much with the canicross; I’ve been waiting for our foster dog Jessie for that but I have been fitting Ty with the Hurtta harness Backcountry K9 sent us for testing and Ruffwear’s Slackline leash which was perfect for the race, allowing her more or less room depending on the crowd’s density while I remain hands-free.  I held her for the opening speech and horn, knowing that would frighten her but once her paws hit the ground, we were off and she was a superstar. We moved seamlessly, taking turns, maneuvering around participants, and passing other dogs with confident grace.  As a condition of Ty’s participation, we were asked to keep to the side of the road and I tried encouraging her to run on the dirt for less of an impact on her joints but she really wanted to be between me and my stepmom.  Or just next to Linda and I’m giving myself too much credit.  Anyhow, we shared some pizza to celebrate before moving forward with the day (which was also stellar but more fitting for a journal entry that I spare the folks kind enough to read ;) ).

Goddard is a massive park that caters to multiple hobbies.  Fields accommodate sports and picnicking, multi-use wooded trails for horseback riding and walking, a boat launch, beach access, a golf course next door and a good deal more.  There are also many pavillions and the carousel house set up for events from family functions to car shows. Seriously, it's massive!

Local Trails at Orr's Pond, 1296 Route 123, Attleboro, MA.
Less than five minutes off of Rt 95 in Attleboro, MA (between Boston and Providence).  Nothing official about this place, just an easy walk in the woods.

One thing I am always doing while on the road is watching for parking areas with no obvious destination, trailhead signs, and clusters of rugged-looking vehicles.  I spent decades watching cars park in a small pine needle covered space to the side of one of the town’s wastewater treatment facility’s properties, evidently to fish, among other things.  While Ty and I had our fun at the race, I had left Tango with my husband and his family, knowing he hates jogging, would have suffered in the heat, and gets spoiled by them with food and lovins.  I’m not generally the type to separate our pack but this was definitely a win-win.  After we reunited and the temperature cooled, more exercise was in order.  We needed a fun walk with a short commute so we drove over, fingers and paws crossed.  It is a nice, quiet walk with lots of options but stays close to the road.  Despite it being completely unofficial, many of the trails are broad and there are quite a few, well-worn footpaths.  Beware of trash and critters but the kids fishing were friendly.  I can’t pretend to know any of the rules aside from my assumption that the town’s leash law is in effect and the abide by the rules signs at other water department facilities that include “no fires, no littering, no swimming, etc.,” pretty much none of which appear to be observed unfortunately….

The Great Woods, multiple entrances, we used Oak St., Mansfield, MA.  Another park that's approx. 10 minutes from Rt’s 95 and 495!  (Beware googling “great woods,” the archaic name of the Xfinity Center!)

Love this place!  Another property that, based on a quick Google Maps search, had been on the radar for a bit. It is a beautiful, interesting place – working hayfields, farming/local history, and young pine and deciduous forests that let the light shine through.  The trail system is impressive and allows for endless possibilities; we easily spent over an hour. The primary trails are broad but some have become trenches allowing for seasonal vernal pools (that will become very buggy before soaking into the earth).  Side paths are abundant.  The trails are not always marked, fair warning on that one!  There was one lovely stream crossing on the White Trail that was crystal clear and perfect for the dogs to wade in.  A notice was posted by the entrance advising visitors to leash dogs during hunting season so I assume the default rule is that voice command is acceptable. 

All in all a wonderful, busy weekend with happy pups and family.  Also added a couple places to the list to re-explore in depth so check back with us over the summer!  Traveling with the pups adds extra steps and gear (foldable bowls and travel beds are great!) to the equation but it’s all second nature now.  Evaluating when they can stay in the  car safely and comfortably, getting them out on walks, hopefully tying that in to a visit with outdoorsy family members, and trying to keep the burden on family minimal is a logistical game but I wouldn't have it any other way and am grateful for flexible family!

Successfully traveling with dogs!

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