A dachshund’s summer vacation

13 Aug

Gia went on a road trip this summer and spent time on beaches, on a boat ride, at interstate rest stops, in historic restaurants, and even drank from the Fountain of Youth! She crossed the state from Pensacola to St. Augustine and back to South Florida. She met lots of new people and a few other doggies as well.

Early in the year when planning the trip, I realized that 10 days away from home was too long away from my baby girl and best friend, Gia Carangi. Since it was a road trip and we were spending part of the time visiting various family members, I checked into some pet friendly attractions and hotels for the rest of the trip. We spent 5 days in Pensacola, FL and five days in St. Augustine, FL, driving to both cities from SW Florida, thus driving in a huge triangle across the state.


Pensacola, Florida

The first leg of the trip was to Pensacola to visit family. It’s about a 10 hr drive, so we got an early start the first day. Gia has been on the Pensacola trip before, and she’s a good car dog anyway so I wasn’t concerned about her traveling. We drove on a Monday, so we made good time on the interstate and didn’t encounter too many people at the rest stops. It’s uber hot in July in Florida, so we kept a bowl of water in the truck for her the whole time. Each rest stop and gas stop was a relief for her, and she had so many new things to investigate, but she was always excited to jump back into the truck and get going again. We made it to Mom’s house and got all settled in rather quickly, Gia does her normal meet and greets and sniffing around and THEN, we go outside. My parents live on an acre lot, in a neighborhood of same size lots. The house sits in the center of the property, so there’s a huge front, a huge back and both sides are wide. Gia is five now, and well behaved and extremely attached to me so I just couldn’t resist letting her off her leash to run free. She never once ran off, but I kept a close eye on her knowing that she is after all a hound dog, if she picked up scent she’d take off running. We happened to meet a family member of the neighbor, who coincidently also had a five year old dachshund and was also visiting for the week. After a few days we were outside having coffee early in the morning and saw the neighbor dog take off running with the neighbor running after him, my exact fears of what Gia might do. She did not however, instead she was too interested in what was right in front of her and what we were doing. She enjoyed chasing lizards, butterflies, bugs and anything else that moved, and especially enjoyed rolling around in the grass and digging holes. Mom has lots of trees with lots of squirrels, but Gia didn’t seem to care too much for them, which I found odd, ha. During our time in Pensacola we stopped at the groomer’s and got cleaned up, had nail’s clipped and a pretty little pink bow for her collar. It lasted less than a day, however.

Gia Carangi

Road Trip!

After a fun filled visit with family in Pensacola we headed to Jacksonville, FL to stop by the JAX airport and pick up my son. He had been at summer camp in North Carolina since before Memorial Day so we were all eager to see him. Jax is 6 hrs from Pensacola so we were on another road trip! Got an early start again and headed East. Made it to the airport an hour early and went to the cell phone lot to wait. Luckily there were big trees, park benches and lots of grass to run around in so we had a picnic lunch and waited for my son to call. After we got him all loaded up, we headed 45 minutes south to St. Augustine. Dropped my son off at Flagler College for a 4 day soccer camp and went to the hotel to check in. I love pet friendly hotels, by the way. There are many to choose from in St. Augustine, as it’s ranked #4 in the nation for pet friendly cities by DogFriendly.com. The majority of the attractions, many restaurants and the beaches are all pet friendly. Smart move on their part, since St. Augustine is such a great tourist town, there’s so much to do and see and who wants to leave their companion’s at the hotel? They should be able to enjoy the sights too.

Fountain of Youth

Gia at the Fountain of Youth

We spent the first night relaxing at the hotel and getting settled in. Found the dog run and potty places, which were conveniently located near our room. It was a large enough area that more than one dog could do their business without having to do any introductions. Saw the cutest mini-mini-dachshund there, couldn’t have weighed more than 7-8 lbs. Planned out our adventures for the next few days in the room that night with take out food. Checked out which attractions and restaurants were pet friendly, and what not to miss. I must say, St. Augustine is a beautiful city and the history there overwhelms you. As a lifelong Floridian I am ashamed to say I had never been there before, boy was I missing out. We started out at…you guessed it, The Fountain of Youth.

Gia at the Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine, FL

Grounds at Fountain of Youth

The grounds are amazing, and you get a sense of calm and peace while appreciating the beauty and history. You can take your time on a self guided walking tour, so it’s a great place to bring pets, and Gia thoroughly enjoyed herself as well. Wild peacocks roam around, so I kept Gia close to me when they were near. The best part of the attraction is of course, drinking from the fountain. She was thirsty anyway, so she had no problem drinking her cup. After we explored the park we stopped in the gift shop. I was concerned they wouldn’t let her in, but as it turns out it is commonplace for small dogs to be in stores in St. Augustine. She got a lot of attention and lots of pats on the head, and seemed to be in her glory. She’s not always the friendliest dog to strangers, especially small kids, but she was such a good girl on this trip. After shopping we had a picnic lunch from the snack bar and got some rest in the shade before we headed to our next stop.

Gia in the Park

Historic District Park St. Augustine

We went a few blocks over to St. George Street, which is a non-vehicle cobblestone road that you walk on and go from store to store, stop at a restaurant, sit on a bench, or venture to the many parks and monuments nearby. We easily found a parking space and gazed at all the historic buildings and fantastic architecture. As we walked from store to store, I was again catching myself being worried they wouldn’t let her in, then I started noticing that most of the stores not only welcomed dogs, but they had bowls of water set out for them. Again, she got a lot of attention, and a lot of pats on the head and my anxiety that she may snap at someone quickly faded away. She was truly enjoying it! We stopped to rest quite a bit, each time pouring her a bowl of water that she lapped up. I know I was hot, so of course she was hot too, July in Florida is scorching. I carried her a lot by choice, and we went in and out of air conditioned stores frequently. After our shopping overdose, we made our way to a shaded park area and laid in the grass for Gia passed out in the hotel rooma bit under a big tree. I marveled at the beautiful churches, fountains, monuments and buildings and imagined all the history in that area. After resting we strolled through the park a bit, and waited while my sister went into the Catholic church to light a candle. Saw the most beautiful dachshund from across the park, a long hairded blonde standard. Wasn’t close enough to meet though. It was a long day on our feet, so we grabbed something to eat and went back to the room to relax in the air conditioning. Gia was wiped out, she plopped up on the bed and passed out, right where the A/C was blasting of course.


Vilano Beach Pier

The next day we planned to visit the beach, which I was particularly excited about since we live on a beach as well, so I knew Gia would feel right at home. I love visiting other beaches in Florida, it’s amazing how different each coast is, north and south. St. Augustine beach did not disappoint, it’s absolutely beautiful and so well maintained. There’s even parts that allow you to drive out on to the beach. First we went to Vilano Beach, on the bay side to the public pier. From the pier you can see the historic district, a few monuments and the St. Augustine Lighthouse. We spent time gazing and taking photos, and Gia spent time sniffing and sniffing, especially since this was a fishing pier. We craved a breeze though so we headed to the ocean side, to the beach. Gia played in the sand, chased waves, and went on a long walk with me to check out the ocean. Even though it was mid week, the beaches were busy. After soaking in some sun we packed up and headed back to the historic district to catch the next boat leaving for the Scenic Boat Cruise.

St. Augustine Beach

St. Augustine Beach

Gia Carangi

Gia on the Scenic Boat Cruise

We were about a 1/2 hour early for departure, so we drove around the back streets of downtown St. Augustine through the old neighborhoods. Some of the homes we saw were incredible, reminded me of real life dollhouses. We made our way back to the marina, bought our tickets and boarded the cruise boat. Luckily it wasn’t too crowded, so we were able to get a great table at the front of the boat. Once we began moving Gia was instantly on the railing hanging over the side with her face in the breeze. We cruised past some historical monuments and enjoyed the boat captain’s stories about the locations. The boat ride was about an hour and a half, and Gia spent the entire time on the railings. I was holding her tight, hoping she wasn’t seriously thinking about jumping in the water, but I think she was. We pulled back into the marina and walked along the seawall on the Bay back to our truck. Exhausted and hungry, we headed back to the hotel to take showers and pig out.


At The Florida Cracker Cafe

The next day we wanted to go back to St. George Street and get a few more things in the cool little shops before we headed home. We went in the afternoon and decided to have a late lunch at The Florida Cracker Cafe. The food was excellent, and the staff is very accommodating to dogs. The waitress immediately brought over a fresh bowl of water and some treats. Gia was more than happy to take a break and sat very quiet and patient while we ate lunch. She didn’t even care that there were 2 other dogs in the restaurant doing the same thing. By now I’m thinking, who is this dog and where is my grumpy little weiner dog? I just couldn’t have felt more blessed that she was being so good on this trip. Later in the afternoon we had to pick up my son from Flagler College and make the 6 hr drive home. We packed ourselves up, packed my son up and got back on the road headed South. It was bittersweet to end our trip, but I planned it so that I still had a week at home before I had to go back to work. Kind of a stay-cation after our vacation.

After 10 days of being away, we were all glad to finally be home. Gia however, spent the first hour back home sniffing and investigating her toys, bed and all our furniture. She didn’t know that friends of mine were house sitting while we were gone and had their chihuahua with them, Gia figured it out as soon as we walked through the door. Regardless, her and I both slept like a rock and were so glad to be back in our own bed. We spent the next 7 days sleeping late, going to the beach, playing in the yard, snuggling on the couch and just being together at home.


Summer Vacation – July 2012



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