The trip that went to the dogs

by Steve Brock on May 2, 2012

Last time we looked at how having a quest or a theme for a trip or for a set of photos can add a great deal to the experience. Sometimes you start with the theme in mind. Other times, it just comes to you on the trip.

For example, on our trip to Peru last year, we hadn’t been out of the airport there for more than five minutes when we noticed the vast numbers of dogs running all around. My wife and son made a game to count all the dogs on our drive to the hotel, but they gave up after 300 – and that was within about 10 minutes.

So, here’s a small photo essay (click the photo to expand) on just a few of the dogs we encountered in Peru and an illustration of how what you discover along the way can become a theme all on its own.

Even if it means your trip ends up going to the dogs…



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Dog Envy

by Steve Brock on February 9, 2012

I have no photo of Easter in this pose so Ginger will have to demonstrate the pose that solicits envy...sometimes.

In case you haven’t noticed, over the last several months, I get into themes and, some might say, run them into the ground. I prefer to think that I explore all the nuances of a topic. You be the judge.

So, having raised the topic of my dog, let me, uh, explore the nuances of her and how she (and other pets from my past) relate to travel.

One relevant pet from the past was my first dog ever, Easter. She was a beagle named after the day on which we brought her home. With the exception of the rather lengthy baying she would let out when miffed or her tendency to dig holes in the most unusual spots (including attempts to do so through the plywood bottom of her doghouse), she was a great dog.

We got her when I was in Kindergarten and each day when I would head out to school, there she’d be either standing by the door wishing me goodbye or relaxing in the sun. And therein lay the problem.

I liked school and was usually glad to go, but I would have days, as most kids do, when I just didn’t want to be in class. On those days, all it took was to see Easter lying on her side lazily glancing my way and wagging her tail as if in a farewell wave and that’s when it would descend on me faster than a hound to a fire hydrant: dog envy.

Dog envy occurs whenever we wish we were dogs or rather, simply wish we weren’t us, or at least us with all the responsibilities or deadlines or concerns that go hand in hand with being us. On days like that, I would call out to Easter, “You lucky dog,” with no sense of irony. Just a sadness that she could stay home and I couldn’t.

Or so it was until one night when my entire perspective on dog envy flipped like a trained poodle in a circus sideshow.  

I grew up in Southern California and once a year we’d go to “Bank Night” at Disneyland, an evening when, after 5:00 p.m., they closed the park and admitted only the employees (and their families) of the bank where my dad worked. It was Disneyland at its best: Nighttime at the park, and so few people that you never had to wait for any rides.

So on this one Bank Night as we headed to the car to leave for Disneyland I looked back. And there sat Easter looking forlorn, her family having abandoned her (or so I projected at the time). And that’s when I realized it: Not “lucky dog” but “poor dog.”

On the ordinary days, I wanted to be her and stay home. But on a special occasion like taking a trip, a trip to Disneyland no less, being a dog was the last thing I’d want to be. I felt so sorry that she had to stay at home…and so happy that I didn’t.

So it is today. My friends who wonder why on earth I’d ever want to travel anywhere outside our city limits, sleep in a bed other than my own or eat unaccustomed food, all these friends are like me back when I had dog envy.

They see the familiar as the better option.

But me…and likely, you if you’re reading this…we know better.

I’ve been to Disneyland– and beyond. And there’s no turning back.

So when these homebody friends ask, usually with some derision, where I’m off to next, I answer them politely and then I just smile.

Poor dogs…

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The unimportance of travel

by Steve Brock on February 1, 2012

Several weeks ago, I used the example of The Civil Wars concert to illustrate my first entry of the series, You Had to Be There. I received many comments (mostly by email or ways other than comments on this site which, you realize of course, you can use…). Most of those comments related to the video and the group.


I’m glad to introduce music to people since it plays such an important role in my life and that of many others.

Then, in Part 4 of that series, I used a photo of my dog Ginger to illustrate the point of how our senses on a trip are more attuned and alive, like those of a dog. And what did I hear back on that profound topic? “Oh, what a cute dog!”

To be fair, many of you commented on the travel aspects, but those were the minority comments. Which leads me to this chilling conclusion:

Who are you calling cute?

Most of you don’t really care that much about travel all the time.

And to that I say:


Neither do I.

Gasp! How can that be? The Meaningful Traveler himself doesn’t care about travel?

Not all the time, no. Here’s why.

Travel is extraordinary. We don’t do it very often though we may dream of it much of the time. So it is right that travel for most of us is a secondary thought. Music or dogs or other interests occupy our time more because they exist in the places where we live. They are part of our everydayness.

Travel, at least for most of us, isn’t. Travel is special or it should be. As I’ve found out with business travel, you do it too much and it becomes just another routine.

Remember: Every day is not your birthday.

And that’s a good thing.

So it is only right that travel retains its special place in our lives, something that we look forward to for adventure and escape and even meaning. For when it becomes part of our bread-and-butter existence, the glow fades.

Having said that, I also think that we can learn from travel and try to apply some of that glow, that special-ness to our daily lives so that our daily routines become something more.

I'll never be able to smell what Ginger does, but I can enjoy watching her "scent the wind"

When we do, I can listen to a song by say, The Civil Wars, and smile just a bit more. Or I can look at that big snout of my favorite pooch, Ginger, and remember that I will never sense the smells she does, but I can enjoy watching her do so. I can be thankful for her and for so many things I might not notice had I not traveled.

So even though travel isn’t important ALL the time in your life, there’s value in travel and thinking about travel even when we’re not thinking about travel, if you know what I mean.

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