Audio Touring A National Park

(Let it be known that I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park a full week and a half BEFORE Darwin…He tried to steal my thunder with his recent Instagram Post….)

Bowie and I recently found ourselves close by Lassen Volcanic National Park. I was not familiar with this park (as much as I hate to admit) and being less than an hour away, Bowie and I had no excuse but to check it out. Knowing that National Parks are not particularly dog-friendly I did some research on how I might enjoy exploring the park that was safe and comfortable for Bowie. As luck would have it, I found that Lassen had created an audio tour. It is formatted like a podcast with numbered episodes corresponding with various numbered stops along the main road of the park. With all my needed Lassen Episodes downloaded and the Clydesdale back to working order, we were off.

I had some hesitation at first on just driving the park. I had always felt that a National Park could only be truly experienced by getting out of your vehicle and exploring. I had to accept my limitations and experience what I could, how I could and it was honestly really great. Did I miss out on some up close and personal sights? Yeah. Did I miss out on some awesome hiking opportunities? Sure Did. But I did learn a lot beyond what the Visitor Center could provide me.

When I parked by a trailhead to a thermal pool, Bowie and I were still able to breathe in the strong odor it emitted as we listened to our audio guide tell us why it smelled so bad. When I was staring in awe of Lassen Peak, I was also learning more about it thanks to my audio guide. When I was parked right in front of Chaos Crags I was at the same time, being taught exactly how it was formed.

Some of the areas that were part of the audio tour I probably would have passed up without being directed to them; they simply blended into the park if you didn’t know any different. The audio tour made me go slower, and really take time to learn about the amazing formations around me. I found myself eager to see what the next stop was all about. I learned about the first woman who summited Lassen Peak, Helen Tanner Brodt and took in a breathtaking view of the lake named after her, Lake Helen. I was told about B.F. Loomis, another important figure of the park’s history and development. He put his life on the line to explore the forest floor and document what he could before Lassen’s last eruption in 1917. I was shocked to watch so many cars drive on passed these amazing spots.

Thanks to Bowie, I was forced to explore Lassen Volcanic National Park in a way I have would have never freely chosen to do before. I learned more about the area than I ever would have with just a map and a stop at the Visitor Center. My restricted visit to a National Park turned out to be yet another amazing learning experience.

As for Bowie, although limited to where she could actually walk around, she seemed to also fully enjoy the sights, smells, and the wind in her face as we drove to our next stop.

(From Left to Right: View of Lassen Peak from Helen Lake, Chaos Crags, Reflection Lake, View from Random Pull-Off,  View the Park from Outside Kohm Yah-mah Visitor Center)

Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:

Check Out This Video From the LNT Center on 10 Essentials for LNT in National Parks!

I’m Updating A Few Of Our Product Reviews, To Let You Know How Things Are Going:

Lifestyle Review: ROAM Silicone Rings

My Book! Mini Mis-Adventures Is Currently In The Final Editing Stages – Coming Soon! In mid to late July, is the goal!

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail – Newly Dropped Prices On Several Items! 

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

A Traveling Fear Comes True: Part I

In Defense Of Bowie: A Leashed Dog


A Traveling Fear Comes True: Part II

As we walked the dirt road, Bowie tried to sniff and piss on everything, oblivious to what was currently going on around her. I was practically dragging her down the road only adding to my current frustrations. Not even a faint rumble of a car could be heard on the road. I was silently pleading to the heavens that a car would approach; no such luck.

We came around a turn, and I could clearly see the campground below. “If only we could tuck and roll down there like that kid in Hook,” I said to a sniffing Bowie. Alas, we could only walk. I thought of my friend Amanda, dealing with situations like this when her husband is deployed with two children; surely I can get this figured out; I only have a dog. “I gotta put my big girl pants on; I can handle this.” I chanted over and over in my head.

Perhaps it was because it was all downhill or maybe I was lost in my chanting, but before I knew it we were on a paved road, less than a half mile from the campground. As I kept checking my phone along the way for service, I discovered I stupidly let the battery run low, and my battery was almost dead. Where was the charger you ask? Back in the Clydesdale, I didn’t pack it. I could now only hope that the campground had a landline.

As we arrived at the main building to the campground, I noticed a sign on the door to the store. The air caught in my throat. The thought flashed in my brain, “they are closed for the season still,” but at the same time the thought came, the words on the sign read clear. They didn’t open till 8am; it was just 7:30 am. I breathed a small sigh of relief, as Bowie and I made ourselves at home on the front porch of the main building.

Ten minutes later a dark-haired woman walks up on the porch. I hardly noticed her as I racked my brains on what I needed to do. I had decided I would call roadside assistance for possibly a tow; I would get the Clydesdale into town to a mechanic, then get whatever the issue was fixed. I would at some point try to get ahold of Darwin; he was expecting me to pick him up at Sonora Pass in the morning. Tomorrow was our wedding anniversary, and we had a date planned. As my thoughts started to overwhelm me, the lady interrupted them by asking if I needed help. I hurriedly explained my situation surprisingly without dropping even one tear, and she very casually put out her cigarette and unlocked the office door; she was the manager!

She allowed Bowie and I to enter the small building all the while informing me I wouldn’t get service until I went a mile further up the road. She also bashed my dreams of a tow truck stating that it was would be nearly impossible to get one out that far up a washboard road and there was no mechanic in Bridgeport. I couldn’t doubt her as she had worked at the campground for almost twenty years and knew the area but I had to try something. I politely ignored her information and continued my focus on getting in touch with Good Sam Roadside Assistance while simultaneously trying to make sure Bowie didn’t eat her two cats.

Forty minutes later, Good Sam still had me on hold for the millionth time and could not tell me if a tow truck was coming. Finally, when a voice returned on the other end of the call, I informed it I had to disconnect as I was on a business line. The voice told me she still could not locate a tow truck and asked to call me back on my cell phone. At this point my own voice broke, revealing how upset I was to the manager and to a campground guest waiting for me to end the call. I again asked if a tow truck was on the way and the voice on the line told me she still couldn’t locate any cities around me with a mechanic but would get one out soon. I hung up.

After a forty minute phone conversation with the company that I was paying to help me in such situations, I was told they couldn’t even locate the nearest city mechanic around me! What!? I was utterly frustrated, and I still hadn’t had any coffee! As my eyes started to water, the guest waiting for me to get off the phone must have seen the defeat on my face and offered her help, well at least her husband’s. Thirty minutes later, Bowie and I found ourselves in the back of a truck heading up to the Clydesdale with the woman and her husband.

Now back at the van, her husband popped the hood and immediately saw the issue, the clamp on the battery had wiggled loose and was hardly connected to the battery. As soon as he tightened the clamp, I turned the key, the Clydesdale immediately roared to life! I hugged both of them not caring I hadn’t showered in a week! I was overwhelmed with happiness and relief!

I followed them back down the dirt road Bowie had peed all over earlier in that morning and waved goodbye as they turned back into the campground. I still didn’t have signal, but I was on a paved road and heading back into town. Unfortunately, the Clydesdale started puttering again as soon as I got to a reasonable speed. Not wanting to chance pulling over, I kept puttering along until I reached my safe zone in Bridgeport, the library. Smack in the middle of town. A town that was full of people and cell service.

After a few phone calls, I somehow got the number of a mechanic in town. Well, he worked at an auto part store doing auto body work on the side at his home. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a little nervous going to a stranger’s house but I was desperate, and the only other option was to risk an hour drive to the nearest auto body shop. I put my trust in the older lady that gave me his number, and after I called him, I followed his directions to get me to his place.

When I arrived, I found him elbows deep in a truck. He greeted me with a big friendly smile that put me a little more at ease. He listened to me as I explained my situation and talked with me giving me his full attention. He told me what he thought it sounded like the problem was but explained he wouldn’t have time to look at it until late afternoon and he would call me back. By five o’clock my patience was running thin. I pictured Darwin hiking closer and closer to Sonora Pass and the disappointment on his face when I wasn’t there in the morning. I couldn’t wait any longer and called again. I was greeted again by his warm tone; He would look at it at 6 pm.

Bowie and I sat in the van as he worked, accessing the Clydesdale’s engine from inside. He explained everything he was doing before doing it and looked me straight in the eye when he talked to me. We made friendly conversation as he worked. I watched as his son and wife walked by, thanking him over and over again for taking time out from his family to help me. Within an hour, he had found the culprit, a bad spark plug, and once replaced, the Clydesdale galloped on as usual. I gladly paid him for his work and he assured me I would be okay to drive up the mountain road to meet Darwin in the morning. I was almost sad to leave such good conversation as Bowie, and I drove into the sunset heading towards Sonora Pass.


That night I reflected on my day. I was in a desperate position and had to rely on strangers to get me through. My needs were met by people who were honest and good. It’s risky these days to give your trust so willingly to others, but in my case, I was rewarded with a few beautiful examples of humanity. Thanks the campground manager, the camping couple, and a resident mechanic in Bridgeport, I was the one waiting on Darwin the morning of our 11th anniversary and not the other way around.


(An Awesome BLM Spot Complete With Fire Ring, Picnic Table, and Lake View!)


Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:

Review On The Macabi Knee Length Skirt – Coming Soon! 

My Book! Currently In The Final Editing Stages – Coming Soon!

(in mid to late July, at least that’s the goal!)

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:  

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail – Newly Dropped Prices On Several Items! 

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries

Other Van Life Posts You May Enjoy (featuring The Clydesdale or The Stallion):

A Traveling Fear Comes True: Part I

The Stallion Gets Broken Into


A Traveling Fear Comes True: Part I

There have always been a few fears about traveling alone that have floated around in the back of my head. I try not to completely ignore them but think about how I would deal with each if one if it ever were to happen. Last week, one of those fears became my reality.

I wasn’t planning on stopping in Bridgeport, CA but this would be the closest city to meet Darwin on our anniversary. I headed North from Mammoth Lakes, CA. towards Bridgeport. I had been lingering in Mammoth for several weeks as it provided me with everything I require: a good grocery, great BLM area, and a nice library. Needless to say, when I arrived in Bridgeport compared to Mammoth, I was less than impressed.

Bowie and I had arrived in the late afternoon having stopped at a few sight-seeing places along the way. I pulled off at a gas station and looked up the directions to the BLM area. Noting that I wouldn’t have any signal at camp, I contacted a few people with my evening whereabouts and further agenda before heading out. I had noticed early in the day the Clydesdale (our van) had been “puttering” a little. I ignored it blaming it on the washboard roads I had traveled on earlier, but just as I hit a “no service” area on the way to camp, the puttering increased. Everything was already closed in town, so I made a mental note to check in with an auto body shop when I returned in the morning.

Bowie and I once again found ourselves being bounced around on a washboard road up into the BLM area. The thought struck me to turn around with the Clydesdale acting weird, but I found a cliff to my right and a rock wall to my left; I had to continue on. Three miles later, I finally came around a turn showing off a few great camp spots not surprisingly all taken since it was late. Bowie and I had to drive a little further in before finding an open place. The spot was incredibly uneven but not willing to push the puttering Clydesdale any further, we set up for the night.

I had an overall ill feeling. I felt the urge to just leave but being tired of driving I continued to settle in and make the best of our uneven spot. I felt a little nervous as a man pulled up somewhat close to the van to camp. It was dark at this point, and I felt too unsure of the road to leave. I should note that this “man” did nothing to directly make me feel unsafe. I just thought it a little odd someone would park so close being we were in a National Forest, with tons of camping opportunities surly further down the road. I was also listening to a podcast about murders, which also may have been making me a little paranoid. Regardless, Bowie and I didn’t linger outside as we usually do, but locked up the van and continued to listen to my podcast. Stupid? Probably.

After a fitful sleep, Bowie and I ate breakfast and packed up to leave, deciding we would hike later in the day. I really wanted to get back into town; I had a lot of work to do to cover the time I would take to spend with Darwin, and I wanted to see about getting the van looked at. I put the key in the ignition and turned it. Nothing happened. I tried again. Silence. Not even a click. This was it! My fear of the van breaking down! It was happening! Alarm bells were going off in my head. I instantly felt nauseous when I remembered, the two little words on my phone….NO SERVICE. When was the last time I still had service? I panicked but tried to focus on my options when all I really wanted to do was just cry. I had made a stupid decision by driving up to “no man’s land.” My instincts told me this would happen; I didn’t listen.

It was only six in the morning. No one camping around me was even moving, and I didn’t want to just walk up into someone’s camp, that’s an excellent way to get shot! I had no service, but I did remember passing by a campground at the entrance of the BLM. I couldn’t remember if I still had service when I passed by, but I felt confident they would surely have a landline phone.

Thus, my plan was decided; I would hike out the three miles with Bowie to the campground. I packed up the essentials like we would carry on any hike and thus we started our unplanned adventure, me cussing the whole way.


(One Of Many BLM Sites I Have Found For The Clydesdale) 

Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:

Review On The Macabi Knee Length Skirt – Coming Soon! 

Check out the Original Macabi Skirt Review Here!

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries

Other Van Life Posts You May Enjoy (featuring The Clydesdale or The Stallion):

Van Life: This Is My Day

The Stallion Gets Broken Into

A List Of Week Events…

In Defense Of Bowie: A Leashed Dog

Traveling with a dog is not always laughs and licks. Similar to long-distance hiking with a dog, it is not YOUR hike but the dog’s; it is very much the same when road tripping. My adventures are limited because of Bowie our Black Lab. She can’t hike as far as I would like too, I can’t go places I am sometimes interested in because dogs are not allowed, trails sometimes prohibit dogs, National Parks are not precisely dog-friendly, staying in pet-friendly hotel rooms is more expensive, boarding facilities and doggy day care expenses add up, etc. etc. etc. I, however, love Bowie, and I am happy I have her as a travel companion. I knowingly accepted the limitations in which her dog presence would have on my travels. There is however, one big thing I have noticed while traveling with her that I personally am bothered by: The LEASH or lack thereof.

***Warning! You Are About To Read My Personal Opinions!***

A Little About Bowie:

Like humans, dog’s each have their own personality. Also like humans, sometimes a dog’s temperament will change with age and Bowie is a prime example of this. Bowie was once friendly with any living creature she encountered. Now at eight and a half years old, she can be aggressive towards other dogs she hasn’t spent time with. Like an old lady, Bowie doesn’t pretend to like every dog she meets and is a little on the grouchy side. When on the road, she can also be protective of me and any other humans in her “pack” and aggressive towards people who approach her or the Clydesdale (our van) to quickly. This protective or aggressive nature increases as she ages.

Bowie does have many dog friends across the United States that she gets along with perfectly, however, upon meeting these friends for the first time, the meeting was supervised and a slow, relaxed process. She has been to dog parks and dog beaches and gets along great with other dogs in these settings. However, these environments tend to be contained and controlled. I let her smell around and adjust to her environment before letting her play.

The Leash Issue:

In now my two months of travel, I find it disturbing and unfair when Bowie and I get glared at or even verbally snubbed because Bowie is barking, snarling, or growling, at another dog OFF LEASH that has run up to her. Such incidents have happened periodically but recently seem to be almost a common occurrence. These incidents to me, show a lack of respect on the owners part for other hikers and the wildlife around them.


While at Big Sur on the beach, with signs stating that all dogs should be on a leash, two unleashed dogs ran up to Bowie and she immediately became aggressive. Where were the owners? Smiling and calling their dog’s names from several hundred feet back as they casually walked closer. No consideration for the sign they just passed stating dogs are to be leashed or for me, trying to control and calm my leashed dog.

Another incident happened while peacefully hiking in a National Forest, three dogs bounded out of the woods in front of us. Bowie, of course, went bezerk. Where were the owners? So far up ahead I never saw them. Did they consider the danger their dogs could have been in from either another dog or wild animal? I can only assume no. On our way back to the Clydesdale, another dog off leash again runs up to Bowie. This time I was able to step off trail away from the dog hoping the owners who were shortly behind him, would grab him. I guess I assume too much. They politely informed me their dog was friendly at which I politely told them, mine was not. How did they respond? They casually kept walking never restraining their dog but glaring at my snarling and barking one.

That same night at camp, Bowie was already asleep in bed, and I was reading when she immediately rose and jumped out of the van. She, of course, was still on her tether, which I keep her on until all the van doors are closed for the night. What was she after? A dog who came right up alongside the van. After I pulled her away, I began to look for the owner. I spot him on the other side of the Clydesdale; He waves, smiles, says he’s sorry and casually walks off, his dog still standing by the van until the man, finally called him away.

Why I Think The Leash Is Important To Bowie And All Dogs:

Using a leash or tether helps to protect smaller wild creatures like lizards, rabbits, and chipmunks from harm that Bowie may cause them. I can also restrain Bowie from running up on Snakes, Porcupines, Coyotes, Bears, and Mountain Lions or edibles that are found to be poison to dogs. A leashed Bowie protects me from dealing with a skunked Bowie and decreases exposure to poisoned plants that may leave residue on her fur which in turn can come in contact with me. I also have control of her if her instincts kick in causing her try to run after another animal. I don’t know what I’d do if she took off and I couldn’t get her back; I’d be heartbroken. If you think of it, there are lots of safety concerns for a dog off leash, and often you will find the leash is required in many areas by law.

Leave No Trace For Dogs and Laws:

Only a small few National Parks allow dogs on specific paved and unpaved trails and hardly ever in the backcountry. National Forests ask that all dogs be leashed in campgrounds and any other specially designated areas. Some National Forests encourage dogs be restricted in some way to prevent roaming freely, at all times. Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles state to manage your dog and obey leash requirements and private property. LNT also asks to respect others out in the wild and ask before allowing a dog to approach. It seems with all of the above there is still a lot of gray area, but it all seems to say “keep control of your dog”. Regardless, you should ALWAYS check on the specific park and forest you are traveling to for current rules, laws, regulations, what have you on dogs.

A Few Requests From Me And Specific Leash Related Thoughts:

Next time you’re out on a hike or even at a park with your furry friend, make sure you know for sure it is legal to have your dog off leash. If it’s not, please don’t ignore the sign. It’s not fair for the other dogs and their owners who are following the rules.

If planning on letting your fur baby go off leash, are you 100% sure you can prevent your dog from running up on a wild animal or up to another dog? Having previously worked at an animal hospital, I have met many an owner that was 100% sure of their dog’s actions before their walk, hike, camping trip, etc. and their minds were changed when an encounter with a wild animal or another dog, caused a visit to the hospital.


You may find all this nonsense and boring. You may see “Bowie” as the problem, or maybe you don’t even care, and that’s fine. But for those of you who have a dog or are thinking of getting a dog, take this as a learning experience from someone who’s dealing with it and as something to consider when traveling with man’s best friend. Overall, I personally feel a leash and tether are a must have in all traveling situations.

As for Bowie I know she’s not perfect and has developed some behavior issues in her older years, but I recognize that and keep her in control with a harness, leash, and tether. We always try to stick to the less dog populated trails/areas and Bowie will always be on a leash when required, and usually even when not for her protection and others. I only ask that if you see us, take control of your dog until you pass and please take into consideration that grumpy old dogs deserve to be outside too.

Have any experiences with a dog off leash or further thoughts you would like to share? Feel free to comment below, but remember to be polite! Also, make sure to check out the related links both above and below to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of hiking and traveling with a dog. 


(Bowie Exploring An Open Tufa; Bowie At Camp Staring Down a Tree) 

Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:

Another traveling dog-friendly website: Pet Friendly Travel

For more information on hiking with a dog check out My Open Country

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries

Other Posts Featuring Bowie:

Bowie Poops and Bolted Floors

You, Me, Bowie and the Trees

The Dead-End Trail To The Couch