Monday, August 4, 2014

Vacationing with Basenjis

Bill and I planned a last minute trip to Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois to enjoy one of the last weeks of my summer break from school.  Planning spur of the moment involved some difficulty in securing a pet friendly cottage however one was found and reserved at Bear Branch Horse Resort.  We are not horse people but figured horse people are as friendly as dog people, and I knew we’d find ourselves among kindred spirits.  We also did some arm twisting to get our sixteen year old grandsons to come with us for a few days of fun.  The boys had never been to far southern Illinois so had no idea the corn and bean fields which are so common in the Central part of our state are much less prevalent in the rocks and hills found near the Illinois-Kentucky state line.

Planning and packing involved making lists of food, supplies, and basenji creature-comforts we would need to keep the boys and the basenjis happy, well fed, and adequately entertained.  Yesterday evening as I sat typing the boys and Bill were watching public television on what appeared to be an antique TV with no remote.  I am sure our grandsons think this is "roughing it" although our cottage had queen-sized beds, a futon, and a fully equipped kitchen.  The ad for the resort listed “Free Wi-Fi” without mentioning one must sit in a lawn chair near the now closed restaurant in order to pick up a signal.  Also, being so far in the sticks even Smart phones are of little use until driving closer to civilization. The owner and others staying at the resort were very friendly and asked all the typical questions about our basenjis.  I enjoyed explaining that they are an ancient breed and the reason they are not barking is because they are barkless, not because they are as well trained as they might seem.
We auto-toured the central part of the forest from Harrisburg south to KY and hiked at Garden of the Gods accompanied by the basenjis. 
Before hiking I reminded everyone that there are three species of poisonous snakes in the region and the safety rules of hiking and rock climbing include watching where you step or reach.  I also instructed everyone to be watchful of the basenjis because if they alerted to something it could indicate danger.  Thankfully, we encountered no frightening wildlife but Blaze warned us when she found a big toad.   Katy thought the cement bear in the camp ground looked scary and made me laugh when after getting her Mohawk up and sniffing from a distance, she moved closer to smell its feet, then, ventured behind it to sniff its concrete butt!  Blaze, always more cautious, was reluctant to get too close.
The pet friendly cottage rules allowed us to leave the basenjis crated indoors in comfortable air conditioning while we enjoyed activities not meant for dogs.  We took the boys to a family amusement park on Kentucky Lake on Saturday and for their first ever horseback ride on Sunday.  Later, after a long walk the basenjis and the boys enjoyed a long afternoon nap.
Family vacations are an important part of life for us and I hope our grandsons have some good memories to share with their friends when school resumes in a couple of weeks.  Everyone, including the basenjis, seemed to enjoy the change of scenery.


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