Take a hike

When we moved to Florida almost three years ago everything was new. New restaurants, new places, new adventures….. then we started to fall into a routine of ‘favorites.’ (Netflix and delivery also took a toll on our adventuring and trying new things…). So for 2020 we set a goal to get out and try more new things. Woo hoo! (A nice vague goal, huh?)

For our first 2020 adventure we took our new pup, Winnie, to Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens.

Dogs (on leashes) are allowed on the trials, but not in some areas of the gardens. We meandered around on the trails for a couple of hours and I never ran into an area where dogs weren’t allowed. So there’s plenty to do/see/sniff with your pup.

Most of the trials are fairly ‘rustic,’ meaning bumpy and filled with tree roots and such. I saw people running, but they must have way better balance than I because I’d have been on my face. I’d say these trials are great for most ages that have decent balance and footing. There are some small climbs (this IS Florida, we don’t really have ‘hills’) and plenty of boardwalks. Mom enjoyed checking out the labels on the various trees and native plants along the trails.

There was a nice picnic area with several tables nestled under a stand of Live Oaks. Next time we’ll bring our lunch and plan a whole afternoon.

There were restrooms, but they looked ‘rustic’ as well. I didn’t go in to check them out so I can’t say for certain, but there were restrooms. And according to the website they’re handicapped accessible.

This will definitely be on our list of places to visit again soon!

Pup Friendly Winery

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Boo has recently begun traveling with us beyond the short trip to Gramma’s house or Home Depot and she’s really taken too it like a pro.  She hops into the car and makes herself comfortable without any fuss or anxiety.

We’ve had a recent warm spell in Missouri so we decide to spend the day at our favorite winery and take Boo with us.  She wasn’t as impressed with the convertible… though I think she mostly didn’t approve of the noisy motorcycles who had also decided to take advantage of the 75° February day.

FullSizeRender 5We knew that Chaumette Winery is pet friendly since we’d visited other times and met other pet families. The staff was great about seating us so we weren’t sitting right in the main crowd of people and everyone was really friendly to Boo.  It wasn’t long before our area got a few more pet families, but the waiter asked us if we minded first. Which I thought was really nice. I asked to make sure it wasn’t a big dog, since I wasn’t sure what Boo would think and I didn’t want her to get upset. She’s been a bit of a homepuppy for a long time… but she’s branching out and handling it all so well!  Our table neighbor was a Corgi/Pug mix named Jack and his parents.

It’s always amazing to me how pet people can come up and talk to each other’s furbabies without any hesitation… but without our furbabies around, we’d probably never speak to one another.  Another example of how furbabies improve the world!  IMG_7978

Boo and Jack shared a bowl of water, but Jack wandered off to say hi to a new diner, a Chihuahua, and Boo decided to sit on my lap so she could have a better view of things…. like bacon.

I’m really loving the new chef at Chaumette.  Chef Rob has been really great about modifying menu items to be gluten free for us.  Chaumette has always been good about having something GF on the menu, but this is was the first time the chef came out to talk with us.

Brian and I both had the Grass Fed Burger (applewood-smoked bacon, roasted sweet peppers, caramelized onions, IMG_7974white cheddar, herb cream cheese, arugula) without the bun and Garlic Fries.  We split an order of the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.  I’d had them as my meal last time… and had refused to share with Brian… I should have shared, they’re huge!  The BBQ sauce that it comes with has gluten in it, so the chef made a Romesco sauce for me instead. I reminded our waiter that I’d had a different sauce last time and the chef came out to check that we were thinking of the same thing.  The waiters are really good about checking that everything is safe for us too eat and never making us feel like we’re being a problem.  There is almost always something on the dessert menu that is gluten free (and delicious) too.  They had creme brulee today, but with the Shrimp appetizer and the hamburger… I was just too stuffed.

After lunch we took Boo for a walk around the winery.  Chaumette is really beautiful.  We first discovered it when we were venue hunting for my cousin’s wedding.  I tried to convince her to choose Chaumette, but she chose a winery that was closer to home.  I keep trying to convince Brian that we need to throw our Anniversary party at Chaumette, but he hasn’t given in yet.  Maybe now I’ll have Boo on my side!

After a trip around the little lake and a through the wedding barn (it’s SO cute!) we headed back home.  Boo made herself comfortable in the floor using one of Brian’s jackets and slept most of the way home.  Poor baby… it’s tough being a world traveler!

You can follow more of Boo’s adventures on Facebook!

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Gluten Free & Pup Friendly

When I went Gluten Free in December of 2012 and Brian joined me a few months later, our traveling lifestyle changed.  We’d never been huge fast food people, but going Gluten Free eliminated most fast food restaurants…. which made traveling a bit more tricky. The Find Me Gluten Free app (iOS & Android) has been priceless.  We’ve discovered several amazing little places that we’d have never discovered on our own.  We picnic a lot too. Fill a small cooler with deli meat and cheese and a bag of chip and you’re good to go.  There are a lot more Welcome Centers and nice rest stops along the road than I ever realized. Brian has become a master at locating cute little parks and picnic areas for us to eat our picnic lunches.

Well…. now we’ve added another challenging element….. Our Pomeranian, Boo has started traveling with us.  Mom is traveling with us too, but she’s pretty easy.  Mom is GF too and our travel style works for her, but since she’s going with us we’ve lost our baby-sitter for Boo.  I just can’t stand the idea of leaving Boo in a kennel and most of our friends know how neurotic I am about Boo and they’re too afraid (of me) to baby-sit. So Boo has to become a traveling pup.

I wanted to introduce Boo to road trips gently, so we took her on a day trip to Alton, IL to see the eagles.  She was a bit nervous at first, but but got bored pretty quickly and slept through most of the ride home.  We didn’t see any eagles… I don’t think she was too disappointed…. she does look like a little fox, so I don’t think she’s a huge fan of eagles.

I’d been thinking of a short weekend trip for Boo’s next excursion, but our ‘short trip’ turned into an 8 day adventure all around Texas and into New Orleans.  Boo was nervous for the first 20 minutes and then got bored and fell asleep…. which is pretty much how I travel too.

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Boo had a great time.  She was totally relaxed in the hotels… Love the Holiday Inn Express (some are pup-friendly) and Candlewood Suites… (Most were pup-friendly).  Boo snoozed in the car and had a great time running around the parks and rest stops.

Breakfast is always easy.  Since we like to stay at Holiday Inn Express’ we usually grab breakfast at the hotel. The omelettes, sausage and bacon are usually GF. The scrambled eggs make me nervous.  I haven’t been able to get a hold of the packaging for the scrambled eggs to confirm that they’re GF and I’ve heard that some places add flour to their eggs to make them extra fluffy.  So on the mornings where my option is scrambled eggs I grab a banana and peanut butter from the breakfast bar instead.  When we stay at the Candlewood Suites we usually opt for Cliff Bars or Laura Bars brought fromIMG_7757 home.  We’d get our food from the breakfast bar and then eat in the room since fur-babies aren’t invited to the dining room. 😦

Lunch is easy too… Boo is a huge fan of picnicnicking at parks and rest areas.  Dinner is the bigger challenge.  By dinner time I want real food… I want to try the local foods and sit down for a real meal.  Finding a sit down place that accomidates fur-babies and offers GF food is a bit more of a challenge.  Most places with a patio or outdoor seating are likely to allow pups (always ask first!).  I found the BringFido app (iOS) which lists pup-friendly hotels, parks and restaurants.  We didn’t bother using it for the hotels, but it really helped finding restaurants.  I do wish it had a section for Gluten Free restaurants.

Boo was super well behaved at the restaurants.  She usually sat under the table and then sat on our lap after the meal so she could join un while we finished our drinks and chatted.  She loved the attention from the waiters and waitresses… especially when they’d bring her a fresh bowl of water and talk to her.

I’m pretty sure we’ve made a spoiled monster now.  She’s never going to want to be left home alone again.

Some of Boo’s favorite places were:IMG_7773

Freebirds in Waco, TX

Austin Terrier in Austin, TX

Cafe Amelie in New Orleans, LA

The Rum House in New Orleans, LA

Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop in New Orleans, LA (We ordered take out, since it wasn’t actually pup-friendly, just GF, but we took it back to the hotel and had a fabulous dinner… and Boo got to try a bit of Cajun food.)

And, of course, Starbucks!  Boo is now addicted to the Puppuccino on the Secret Starbucks Menu.  Just ask for a Puppaccino and they’ll give you a little cup of whipped cream…. Boo thought it was the most fabulous thing ever!