The Joy of Road Trips, with Ambassador Jodi Stemler

Is there anyone who doesn’t like a good road trip? I know our family loves to take the opportunity to pack up the car and hit the road. Usually, it involves some form of outdoor recreation like hunting, fishing, hiking or camping. And whenever that occurs we almost always bring along our dog, Mesa, and I’m not sure there is anyone in our family who enjoys a road trip more than Mesa. Her joy comes from the fact that most trips we take are to some of the wonderful federal public lands we are blessed with here in the west—and when we hit BLM or Forest Service lands, the leash comes off and she gets to run.

This summer we ventured out to Gunnison and Crested Butte to enjoy the mountains and wet our lines in the great trout streams they have in the area. Once we hit the public lands and Mesa comes out, she is in her glory. As a hunting dog, her typical pattern is to run ahead of us and “cast” back and forth in a shape somewhat like a large figure eight, always with her nose to the ground. The style of running helps bird dogs to catch the scent of the birds that hold in cover. Even when we’re not hunting, she’ll still cast around hoping that there might be a stray bird to find. After our morning in the woods, we headed into town to enjoy the Crested Butte Art Festival and our sometimes-crazy dog became a pleasant companion as we strolled amongst the booths. She’s a beautiful dog at any time, but her Dublin Dog Cherry Blossom collar and lead make her even prettier.

In early September, we ventured to the western part of Colorado once again, this time to go on our first bird hunt of the year looking for sharptail grouse in the sage brush. Mesa knows when our blaze orange vests and shotgun cases go into the back of the car that good times are ahead of her. The first hunt of the season though, she’ll cast back and forth just like we’re on a hike and not hunting, she’s not expecting anything because most of the last trips didn’t end up with birds. And then the scent will hit her nose and she freezes, remembering her training and her instincts that led her to this moment. Within a few hours on this trip, my husband and I had our limit of sharpies. Mesa had once again worked like a pro, locking into a point and retrieving birds to us before heading out to do it all again.

Road trips are a highlight for our family, and Mesa couldn’t agree more. If you could ask her where her happy place is, it would certainly be in the field—but I think she recognizes that you have to do the car time in order to get there. The hours in a crate in the car are quickly forgotten as we head out to the public lands that abound near our home. With her Nomad travel bowl in tow, she knows that it really is about the destination, as well as the journey.-4

by Jodi Stemler