Archive for the ‘Travels With Rosie’ Category

Day 3: Travels With Rosie

Monday, February 15th, 2010

WARNING — Today was a bit of a yawner. One of the things that goes with a driving vacation is the occasional uneventful day — a day when you’re mostly getting from point A to point B. Unfortunately, point B (Birmingham, Alabama) is frigid, so we still haven’t shaken the cold.

We slept in late this morning, and spent a leisurely morning with our friends in Atlanta. Our kids had a blast playing with their Bearded Dragon Spike and two dogs. And their kids really love Rosie. A neighbor really wanted to meet Rosie as well, so Elizabeth and Sterling took Rosie on a neighborhood walk.

We decided not to spend much time in Atlanta. It’s a great city with lots to do. But it’s also a city that’s easy to get to from Charlottesville (direct flights daily), and we’ll be back many times in the future. Besides, with Birmingham, Alabama, beckoning, why dawdle in Atlanta seeing things like a great zoo, the nation’s best aquarium, the High Museum, . . . We did go to the Atlanta History Center, and spent time on their Civil War exhibit.

After a quick lunch, we headed west, through pretty uninspiring scenery in western Georgia and eastern Alabama. There are advantages to a slower-paced drive (as Gibson said from the back seat, “It’s so much better to drive, because you see so much.”), but today was a day where the “fast forward button” would have been nice.

At one point during the drive, Elizabeth had Rosie in the front seat on her lap. She then needed to call the architects working on some revisions to our house, and she was juggling a cell phone, architectural drawings, and a pig! Thank goodness she wasn’t driving. And I was relieved that the pig didn’t eat the drawings, something she could easily do.

We ended the night by taking in the new Percy Jackson movie, despite snow here in Alabama! We left the pig in our hotel room, and hoped that the staff doing turn-down service would take the “Do Not Disturb” signs on the doors seriously. The signs seemed to do the trick, and Rosie was still here when we returned, with plenty of loud snorts from the bathroom where she sleeps.

I doubt if we’ll hang for long tomorrow in Sweet Home Alabama, but the prospect of a five hour drive to Vicksburg isn’t appealing. However, the forecast of temperatures above 50 in Vicksburg, together with all the things we want to do there, is pretty motivating. So I’m hoping my next couple of reports are more interesting than this one.

Day 2: Travels With Rosie

Monday, February 15th, 2010

“I like pigs. Cats look down on us. Dogs look up to us. Pigs treat us as equals.” — Winston Churchill.

First, to set the record straight, while Churchill is clear about his feelings about pigs, I’m not. At this point, call me undecided. Maybe by the end of this trip, I’ll have made up my mind, for now now, I’m just not sure how I feel about our daughter’s pet pig. Now, back to our trip . . .

Well, it’s still incredibly cold down south, with no let-up in sight. We’re now in Atlanta, where there’s still some snow on the ground, and more snow forecast for Monday. We’ll keep driving until it gets warm or we hit water. Why do I feel that we’ll hit water first?

This morning, we were slow out of the starting blocks. The night passed uneventfully, with the four of us in beds and Rosie on the bathroom floor. I generally get up early, and tried to get a newspaper (“We don’t have newspapers on weekends”) or an early cup of coffee (all out) at our hotel. We found a Peete’s but — in a way that can only happen in the deep South or on a Caribbean Island — it took twenty minutes to get coffee and juice.

Despite some early hassles, we were happy that we exited the Sheraton without being arrested for pig smuggling. As you can see from our luggage cart, though, we may not have been completely transparent about having a pig with us during our stay. Where’s Rosie?

We then headed southeast toward Atlanta, passing through the westernmost corner of South Carolina on the way. A couple of years ago, we lived in Charleston for four years, but never made it to this region of the state. Well, today we finally made it to Spartanburg, briefly (see left for scenery) and concluded that Spartanburg makes Scranton or Gary look good.

But we loved Greenville, a cute little town with a great downtown area. We ate lunch there, and strolled around the city. We had heard good things about Greenville, and we were really captivated by it. Funny how some out of the way places can be so appealing.

The same phenomena that happened in Roanoke was repeated in Greenville, with Rosie turning lots of heads. I’m sure the adults we meet have all seen pigs before (although many of the young children probably haven’t), but there’s something about seeing a pig in the middle of the city. It reminds me of the way people used to react on the old television show Candid Camera. At one point today, someone a half block away was yelling congratulations to us for having such a “great dog.”

Greenville, it turns out, is also hometown to Shoeless Joe Jackson. Our son is a big baseball player, and has always been interested in Shoeless Joe. So we were excited to see his statue in a city square, and to be reminded of how he was banned for fixing the World Series — a series in which he played excellent baseball and forever denied involvement in the fraud.

In Atlanta, we’re staying with our great long-term friends, the Seabrooks. They have two great boys, and a household full of pets (two dogs and a Bearded Dragon), so our gang is having a blast. We went for a river walk this afternoon, and watched some of the Olympics tonight after a fabulous dinner. Now that we’re back on the east coast, we’re able to spend time with our very best friends, and are really thankful for the proximity.

At this point, we don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow night. We’re debating heading west toward Vicksburg and New Orleans, or east toward the Okeefenokee Swamp and Jacksonville. We’ll spend a bunch of time tomorrow exploring Atlanta, and then figure something out.

Day 1: Travels With Rosie

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Our driving trip through the Southeast got off to a terrific start, as we got in great explorations of Roanoke (left) and Lexington, VA. Weather was great, and driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains was glorious. And traveling with a pig proved to be, well, full of surprises.

Have you ever walked down a city sidewalk with a new puppy? Well, walking in downtown Roanoke with a baby pig was an eye-opener. EVERYONE wanted to see this pig. Children wanted to pet her, adults wanted to photograph her. A group of street people were all over her. Almost everyone was excited to see her, and she brought out huge smiles in everyone. It was surreal to see a pig bring out the very best in humanity.

We did encounter one couple who seemed scared to death of this “ferocious” pig. They would look at her, but always stay fifteen feet or so away. But, with this one exception, Rosie was a smile machine, bringing out great big grins and laughs along our path. Anyone single in a city looking for a way to meet people . . . well, get a miniature pot-bellied pig.

At one point, as we walked along, a cab driver stopped and honked at us. We thought he was trying to convince us to use his taxi services. But, no, he wanted to know where he could get a pig like Rosie. “Where did you get it?” “How much do they cost?” “What do they eat?” “How much bigger will she get?” I have a feeling we’ll be hearing these questions a lot on this trip.

Not that everything about Rosie in the city was all that attractive. This pig can poop. She must have launched twenty little poop balls while we walked around Roanoke. We brought a lot of Kleenex with us to clean up, but ran out. And sometimes the poop didn’t exactly get away from the body cleanly. If you look closely at the photo on the left, you’ll see the exact size of her poop balls. Also, Rosie proved to have interest in eating anything in her path. ABC gum . . . down the hatch. Old cigarette butts or bits of paper and plastic, yummmmmm. We quickly learned that we couldn’t just watch all the people gawking at her; we needed to make sure she wasn’t eating something harmful or disgusting.

We had lunch and a great visit to Lexington, Virginia, a town new to all of us. Lexington is home to two universities — Washington and Lee and Virginia Military Institute. Curiously, the colleges are located right next to each other. Pick which is which from the photos on the right.

At VMI, we toured the Marshall Museum, dedicated to the life of General George C. Marshall. Marshall commanded some 11 million troops on the European Continent during WW II, then architected the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after the War. He was the first military officer to win a Nobel Prize. And he later served as Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and President of the American Red Cross.

We also managed to check out the Natural Bridge, complete with some really impressive icicles. Pigs were not welcome here, so Rosie stayed in the car as our trusted guard pig. Believe it or not, at one point in time, Thomas Jefferson bought the Natural Bridge from the King of England.

We ended the day in Charlotte, NC, a city without much charm. But, after several tries, we found a hotel that accepts guests with dogs. We figured Rosie was close enough, and we’re set for tonight. But several hotels we called said “no way,” so we’re a little concerned about hotel options as we go forward on this trip. So tonight we’re watching the Olympics, and tomorrow, on to Atlanta, with no worries on the hotel front, since we’ll be staying with our long-term and fabulous friends, Connor and Martha Seabrook.

We also got a couple of short videos of Rosie today, including one on the streets of Roanoke, and one in our car.

Travels With Rosie

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Tomorrow I get in a rented car and begin driving. To where, I don’t know. But I do know who will be with me. I’ll be traveling with my wife, my two children, and . . . a pig. Yep, no typo. A pig. And we’ll be traveling for three weeks — just the five of us.

Just how did I get myself in this situation? I sure as heck don’t know. It started when my eleven-year-old daughter asked for a pig for Christmas. Not just any old pig, she wanted a miniature pot-bellied pig. And she used Craig’s List to find the perfect pig (thanks, Craig!). So Rosie, born on Halloween of 2009, joined us about three weeks ago, and has quickly become an indispensable travel companion.

So the adventure begins. Three weeks on the road with a pig. Two years ago, we traveled around the world for ten months (without a pig, thankfully), and had everything planned in advance. Now, we have nothing pre-planned. My only real preparation has been buying a copy of Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, so I can contrast pig travel with dog travel. How will hotels react to Rosie? Will she be banned from all restaurants? How will she do in a car? How will I do in a car with a pig? Pigs are supposed to be smart, but so far, Rosie hasn’t shown me much — will that change? Time will reveal. Stay tuned for daily updates on Travel With Rosie.