Tully’s Second Adventure: Utah

Swedes call it resfeber, that pre-journey feeling of anticipation mixed with anxiety. I’m feeling it already, with departure still half a year away. Though Tulliver did exceptionally well on our thousand mile trip last year, I don’t have the history with him – nor the absolute confidence – that Barley and I developed over so many miles. Running into canine recalcitrance 2500 miles from home is a whole different set of issues from experiencing it a day’s ride from home. And yet, I know from my years riding with Barley that things will turn out, that when traveling with a cherished dog the goal is never a particular destination, but rather the journey itself. The British call it coddiwompling: traveling in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination. For all my extensive planning of routes over the long winters, when I finally hit the road I tend to coddiwomple…

The Rockies have a powerful way of tugging on my wanderlust!

If Tulliver and I make it all the way to Salt Lake City we’ll have a great time at the BMW Rally meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old. Last year in Hamburg NY a few online friends who had never met in person were told to look for a big red dog in the beer tent. With his friendly demeanor and cherished orange  ball Tulliver was a big hit; that informal gathering was christened The Red Dog Saloon in his honor, and already plans are being made for another round this year. Even so, if storms, heat and humidity, or any other factors prevent us from getting that far, Tully and I will cut the trip short, find a string of nice spots in the Colorado Rockies in which to spend a week enjoying each other’s company before attending the smaller, more intimate Top of the Rockies Rally in Paonia, Colorado.

Tulliver did just fine at his first rally

I recall an enchanted evening three years ago, cuddling with Barley on the cold shoulder of Mount Rainier by the light of the stars and the burble of a nearby glacier-fed stream. Sitting next to the campfire while gently tugging Barley’s ear it dawned on me that what he and I shared – that incredible bond based on mutual love and respect – was older than time itself. Thanks to that dog I know what is possible and more importantly, how to cultivate it. I sense it flowering with Tulliver…and budding with Glenlivet. That relationship is more precious than any timeline or destination.

A bond older than time…

If conditions permit, the week between those two rallies will be spent meandering from Arches National Park in Utah all the way back to Colorado’s Front Range. Before we head for home we’ll pass through Colorado National Monument, the San Juan Mountains (including the legendary Million Dollar Highway), wander through abandoned mining towns, cross numerous high altitude passes both paved and unpaved, camp in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, and ride to the summit of Mount Evans at 14,265’.

The only plan that matters is having a good time together!

Stay tuned for updates on our training rides (once the snow melts) as we prepare for this trip. Right now, with Vermont locked up in winter’s icy grip, the bike and sidecar are being carefully dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled.

Friday, June 30th: One week remains till Tulliver and I head out on our Utah and Colorado adventure! Nothing is packed, though I believe all the pieces are present. I’d hoped to practice setting up the tent a few times before our departure, but that hasn’t happened thanks to our incredibly wet weather so far this year. As I type this, much of Vermont is under flood warnings after yesterday’s two inches of rain on top of already saturated soil. Tully’s tonneau cover has been modified with a larger zippered hatch to accommodate his much longer body. He is back to using his old memory foam mattress though, as the new bolstered version allowed him to lean out well past my comfort zone.

There is an art to packing for a trip like this, an art I’ve not yet mastered after repeated iterations. I get it right by the time the trip is over, but invariably forget the method in the year between each rally. And to be fair to myself, how things are packed varies depending on weather conditions, camping vs hoteling, whether we will be in bear country, and a few other factors.

Like heat.

While not experiencing the punishing heat wave that’s centered over parts of Arizona and New Mexico, part of our trip this year will take us through regions with highs in the high nineties or low hundreds. That’s too hot for my dog, and so I reserve the right to skip parts of our planned route and head instead for the coolness of the mountain heights. Even if it means we miss the annual family reunion that the BMW Rally represents.

That said, here is our planned route:

  • After our transit of the Midwest and Great Plains, we’ll visit the Morris Animal Foundation in Denver. These are the folks running the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, a well-designed prospective (as opposed to retrospective) study that hopefully will shed light on why so many golden retrievers are being lost to cancers.
  • The Peak-to-Peak Byway to Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Across northern Colorado to be at Flaming Gorge for sunrise
  • On to Salt Lake City via the Uinta Range and Emigrant Canyon
  • Two days at the BMW Rally at the fairgrounds in SLC
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Natural Bridges National Monument, Moki Dugway, Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods
  • Up Hwy 145 to Lizard Head Pass and Telluride, Colorado
  • Over to Ouray, then down US-550 to Durango, Colorado
  • US-160 to South Fork, Colorado, then Hwy 149 over Slumgullion Pass to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
  • Over Kebler Pass between Crested Butte and Paonia to the Top of the Rockies Rally
  • Over McClure, Independence, Tennessee, Vail and Loveland Passes
  • Say goodbye to Colorado from the summit of Mt Evans, then head east
  • Visit friends in Tioga, Pennsylvania, and possibly attend the US Sidecar Rally in Corning, New York before heading for home

Remember, though, that in all my years of motorcycle travel I have yet to follow one of my carefully plotted routes!





2011: Lessons Learned

  • The torrential rains of this trip demonstrated that we needed far better weather protection than we set out with. Even zipped shut, the tonneau cover’s hatch allowed significant amounts of water to enter the sidecar.
  • Memory foam is extremely comfortable, but it is also a very efficient sponge…and very slow to surrender water it has absorbed. Waterproof covers tend to be coarse and slick. A good compromise was removing the cover, using construction grade garbage bags to wrap the foam, then slipping the protected foam back into the cover.
  • A two-person tent is too small for a dog and a human. In his dreams, Barley would claw my back hard enough to draw blood. After this trip we upgraded to a Nemo Losi 3 person tent. Nemo offered paw pads, a durable floor liner that keeps claws from damaging the fabric.
  • There are times when camping that you will be forced to put up with uncomfortably hot conditions that last all night. A human can sweat; a dog cannot. I invested in battery-operated fan to keep air flowing over Barley in his sleep.
  • Shade is not always available when camping. A tent exposed to direct sunlight – especially with the rain fly in place – absorbs a lot of heat. We added a large Noah’s Tarp and a couple of sturdy poles to our equipment. The poles are tall enough that I can erect the canopy first, then erect the tent underneath it safe from exposure to sun or rain.
  • It is easier for a solo motorcyclist to strike up conversations with locals than it is for a group of motorcyclists. As for a solo motorcyclist with a dog in the sidecar, well, it’s simply not possible to remain an introvert! Give it up, have fun, and meet new friends!



New Friends in Pennsylvania

Buggy in the backroads near Tioga PA.

I met Linda and Dennis on a Golden Retriever forum where we had exchanged advice and

I met Linda and Dennis on a Golden Retriever forum where we had exchanged advice and pleasantries. Barley reminded them of a beloved golden they had lost some time before, and when I asked for information about dog-friendly campgrounds in north-central Pennsylvania, they offered use of their camp a short distance north of scenic Route 6. I was looking for a safe place to pitch our tent, but they wouldn’t hear of it; the camp was mine for the night. I tried to protest, but the thought of a hot shower and a roof over my head in case of rain was just too good an offer to pass. And so it was to that camp we were headed on our home stretch.

We arrived late in the afternoon, having finished an easy crossing of Ohio and Pennsylvania on forested back roads. I unlocked the gate, pulled through, and locked it back in place behind us. Up a curved gravel driveway to a shaded camp with – Barley whined in anticipation – a large pond! No sooner had I let him out than he caught and ate a mouse. I was toying with the idea of sleeping in the carport instead of invading their privacy when a car pulled up to the camp. Inside were the grinning faces of my hosts, a couple I would soon feel I had known for years. Barley bonded to them instantly.

And that is one of the unexpected blessings of the long distance traveler. You meet the most wonderful people on the road, people who share kindness small and large, people you expect to stay in touch with for the rest of your life.


Southern Wisconsin and Two Naked Ladies, then a rush to the east

Next stop: online friends in Janesville, Wisconsin, a few miles above the border with Illinois close to Madison. We rolled south-southwest through verdant farmland, crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa, rolled through a few small farming towns before our very presence seemed to bother a shirtless, toothless, skinny man driving a huge Cadillac. He paced us for miles, glaring at us from one lane over in a sort of stupefied fury I would learn was typically driven by meth. We crossed the mighty river again. He turned left so I turned right and accelerated sharply to put him behind us.

The Great River Route is fun for about twenty minutes. The scenery doesn’t quite change often enough, the pavement doesn’t have a lot of curves to it, and the majority of businesses have either Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn in the name. I turned west again to run through rolling hills covered in crops. We pulled up at Susan and Stephen’s home on the outskirts of Janesville late in the afternoon to a chorus of barking from home and kennel.

Dog people: this was going to be good.

For a busy woman, Susan has vast reserves of energy. She raises dogs, kennels dogs, trains with dogs, hunts with dogs, manhandles cattle, manages to care for two very young and curious granddaughters. Inside the house was a young bitch named Shine. Shine liked me so much she peed every time I looked at her, puddled every time I touched her.  Susan spent much of her time yelling, “Don’t touch the…ah, let me get a paper towel!”

Shine had way too much energy for Barley. He wanted to hunt. She wanted him to love her. She’d flounce in coquettishly and “accidentally” bump into him. He’d give a low warning growl. Mice were more interesting. But she finally overdid it and found herself Alpha rolled in a flash! Barley had had enough. At least he didn’t draw any blood, I told myself, so Shine must have still had a bit of puppy license left in her.

We packed up in the minivan for a trip to an area treasure, the New Glarus Brewery. I love beer and I love clever marketing; this place had both. We took the tour and drank the samples: Cow Tipper Ale, Flying Squirrel, Two Naked Ladies. I bought a case, plus a few bottles of red ale made from cherries for the wife, shipped some clothing home to make room for it, and stowed it securely in the sidecar for transport back home.

With thank you hugs for Susan and Stephen we were back on the road the next day, the Fourth of July. We hooked around a big city below us, taking backroads all the way to El Paso, Illinois, then turned east on US 24 across Illinois and Indiana. It became US 224 somewhere before Ohio, and it was a hotel in Ohio where we stopped for the night. We had seen a lot of corn that day. Acres of corn. Miles of corn. Lots.

We also saw something beautiful and unexpected…

Barley sat up in the sidecar, facing forward, his nose busily working a scent I was completely unaware of. I scanned my surroundings – fields of corn stretched to the horizon in every direction, US 24 a straight line endlessly in front of me. There was a small rise coming up, just high enough that I couldn’t see over it even when standing on the pegs. I rolled off the throttle, having learned to trust my dog. The BMW quivered slightly beneath me as it bled off speed. We topped the rise.


There were four beautiful horses cavorting on the highway, their manes and tails rippling in a breeze of their own making. I slowed to a crawl and hit the flashers, pulled the Nikon out of my tank bag and snapped a quick photo. The horses eventually wandered to the side of the highway and began grazing. We passed slowly, then accelerated back to our plains-crossing pace.

“Good dog! Clever dog!” Barley smiled behind his Doggles, then settled back under the shade of his cockpit cover.

We pressed on.


The RA Rally in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

The next day was OMG hot and humid! We felt the humidity even before dawn, and knew it would be a scorcher. Abandoning plans to check out Lake Michigan to our south, we pointed the nose toward Eau Claire, Wisconsin and stuck to highways. By late morning we were both uncomfortable. At a gas stop in Rhinelander a couple of old men in a beat up Chevy truck gave us thumbs up and friendly grins. I asked if there was a park nearby with some shade trees where we could stretch. The driver started giving directions, but stopped after the sixth change of directions. “Just follow us,” he hollered, and led the way to a tidy little park we would never have found on our own. “Ride safe!” he shouted with a wave, then drove away.

It was a perfect place for a pitstop: restrooms, picnic tables, cold water fountains, mature shade trees overhanging large boulders for Barley to climb on. We rested in the shade, soaking up the relative coolness as we rehydrated. Two adults leading a large group of children on bicycles rode past, then spotted us and turned around. It was a fourth grade class from the local elementary school; their interest in Barley and his rig outweighed their interest in the playground. And so we found ourselves surrounded by little kids, fussing over my dog and his story, the teachers pointing out the protective gear I was wearing and how the bright colors were so much easier to see than dark colors. ATGATT: All The Gear, All The Time. Not a concept you expect to hear from a grade school teacher!

Barley and Trey cooling off in the river

We reached the rally site by mid-afternoon. The temperature was pushing one hundred, and the humidity so high it looked like thin fog. We lingered in the air conditioned registration building, then reluctantly went back outside and rode to the fairgrounds, hoping for a spot of shade. No luck – all the trees were surrounded by tents. So we found a grassy spot and set up camp, but Barley was having a lot of trouble with the conditions. There was a cool river a few hundred yards from our tent, so we walked to it and soaked in the coolness for several hours till the sun was low enough to cast shade. Afterwards we returned to the grounds and sought refuge in the Beer Tent. Barley was carded, but being over 21 in human years was allowed to pass. We reconnected with old friends and met some new pals over cold beer, but it was a tough night. I fanned Barley with my hat, and he fanned me with his tail. Not much sleep was had.

We had a great time the next day despite the heat, though much of our time was spent alternating between the river and the big fans in the vendor buildings. We managed to locate some riders we knew only from online forums, checked out some nifty new accessories, studied what other riders had installed on their bikes, and ate a lot of ice cream. But as the sun began to retreat with no relief from the miserable conditions I knew I could not ask my dog to spend another sleepless night with me. I fired up the laptop, found a hotel about twenty miles away, broke camp and retreated to air conditioned comfort.

That night, in the safety of our room, the world erupted in loud sirens. We went outside and looked to the north, north where the rally grounds were. Huge bolts of dazzling lightning streaked across the sky! The sirens added a sinister flair to the display, and I was glad we had not stayed behind. Within a few minute the high winds and torrential rains reached us, and the entire hotel was buffeted by the storm. (I learned later that the campers had been moved into the solid buildings for protection with instructions to bring only what they needed. Parties broke out spontaneously as a large portion of those critically needed items turned out to be alcohol.)


Barley generally takes the bed closest to the AC

South Shore of Lake Superior

We left our friends at Aerostich and headed east, sticking close to the southern shore of Lake Superior except where we couldn’t find roads. We roared through Porcupine Mountain State Park, continued along magnificent roads to Copper Harbor, then backtracked to a nice municipal campground in a small lakeshore town with a name I can’t remember. Another thing I didn’t remember that day was to stop for photos; the ride was so much fun I simply forgot that I carried a camera, except for a couple of times when we pulled over to stretch!

We came across a delightful roadside café called Coco. I ordered for both of us, then sat outside in an Adirondack chair, Barley at my side, watching the world go by as we shared a panini and a cappuccino. Barley loves the foam!

We pressed on to the south and entered the small town of Gay, Michigan. For the first time ever Captain Bligh lost his bearings, sending us in a continuous loop that had me pulling out the backup paper maps. A man on an ATV noticed us fighting the breeze for possession of the map and pulled over to help. With his directions we were quickly back on track; the GPS regained its senses as we found the Gay Bar.

South again, south to Baraga and our hotel for the night.


North Shore of Lake Superior

Up early and on the road by seven o’clock. We refueled in North Bay, then continued west on Highway 17, the Trans-Canada Highway. It was remarkably flat, with vast expanses of solid granite often stretching for miles on end. Now and then we caught a glimpse of Lake Ontario to our left, but by and large it was granite I remember most about that leg.

We reached Sault Ste Marie on the cusp of rush hour, so refueled and continued north without delay, now with Lake Superior to our left. Several miles up the road we came to the practically empty campground at Agawa Bay, our destination for the night. After checking in with the ranger I pulled into our lakefront site and killed the engine. Barley, who loves playing in our quarter acre pond at home, took one look at the lake with an expression that said, “Look at the size of that freaking pond!” and bolted for the water. It had been a warm day, so I shed my riding gear and ran after him, leaping into the crystal clear waters of the largest of the Great Lakes.

Barley exploring the Superior shore

Holy cow, that water was cold!

Barley hadn’t noticed, and happily paddled up and down the shoreline. At one point he saw something moving under the water in front of him. The prey drive kicked in and he lunged at it, coming up with his own paw! He gave me a dirty look, then moved up to the shore. It was pea gravel, not sand, and he happily rolled in it for several minutes. I gathered up some kindling, got a fire going, and carefully added the poorly seasoned wood I’d bought from the ranger. We had dinner, camp food and kibble, lit off the ThermaCell to keep the mosquitoes at bay, and snuggled by the fire watching the sun go down.

The landmark totems at Wawa, Ontario

Rest stop in one of the coves north of Agawa Bay

The next day we stopped at a couple of small rocky coves to the north, had breakfast in the town of Wawa, then continued to follow the shoreline along the north side of this greatest of lakes under constant threat of rain. We outran the weather, refueled in Marathon, then took a side trip to Quimet Canyon. It was there the rain caught us; it would not let go for the rest of the day. Cutting our canyon visit short, we were stopped by the Provincial Police, who instructed us to pull as far to the side of the road as possible. A very wide load was coming down the road.

It was the single blade of a windmill, a massive, gracefully curved thing of beauty that rested on a tandem set of fifty-three foot long flatbed trailers. You can’t grasp the scale of these wonders till you see one up close and personal!

We had intended to camp at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay, but by the time we returned to Highway 17 the rainfall increased to torrents, big, fat drops blown sideways by the wind so it worked its way under my helmet and down my collar, between the zipper teeth of Barley’s sidecar cover and soaking him and everything in the tub. Huge bolts of lightning chased us toward Thunder Bay and the open ground we were traversing offered no shelter whatsoever.

We pressed on to Thunder Bay, pulling into a gas station to take shelter under its well-grounded canopy. I used the Web to find a dog-friendly hotel, making a reservation at the first one that had a vacancy. I keyed the address into Captain Bligh, then followed the instructions to the front door. Just my luck – no canopy! We unloaded in the rain so heavy the water in the street overflowed onto the sidewalk. The hotel staff watched passively from the dryness of the lobby; not one offered any help. I felt no pity when Barley shook all over their immaculate lobby, in fact, I took the bellboy’s cart into my room and used it as a drying rack.

Everything we owned was wet except for the laptop and camera gear that was in waterproof bags. I cranked the room temp up to ninety degrees but even so had to use the hotel’s blow dryer in the morning to finish a few odds and ends.

Eyeing the forecast suspiciously, I noticed that rain was likely to continue north of the border, but the storm was clearing to the south. Reluctantly, we abandoned plans to visit the Sleeping Giant on this trip. I fired up the Beemer and turned south, back to the US.

We crossed back into our homeland in Minnesota, welcomed by the most dour and downright rude government employee on the planet. Every question was an accusation, every look stern and disapproving. But you can’t let people like that ruin your day. We pressed on, stopping first at a gravel beach for Barley to play, then at Betty’s Pies for lunch, and finally at the Aerostich warehouse in Duluth.

Aerostich isn’t much to look at, but they make some of the best riding gear on the planet! They also have a great sense of humor, going so far as to put bogus products in their catalog, items with claims and prices so outrageous that no sane person can fail to see the gag. Yet people order them! One of the small items they offer are rigid plates sewn into stuffed caricatures of dead animals. The plates are used to keep a bike’s kickstand from sinking into soft asphalt or dirt, causing the bike to fall over. But Barley saw only that dead frogs and squirrels dotted the warehouse floor. Being a retriever, and a hunting dog to boot, he tracked down and retrieved every single animal in the building!

Barley “retrieving” a dead frog kickstand plate at Aerostich

The staff and customers found him delightful!


2011: Around the Great Lakes

Our first serious trip: a two-weeker up and over the Great Lakes hooking back into Minnesota, crossing into Wisconsin and then Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before dropping down to the BMW Riders Association Rally in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. These rallies are like gatherings of family you’ve never met, but with whom you share a common interest.

I pour over Delorme atlases before every trip. I prefer them in the planning phase because they are incredibly detailed, and help me find out of the way gems that don’t even show up on most foldable maps.

After the rally we would drop down into southern Wisconsin to visit online friends in Janesville, then continue south to US 24 before turning east well clear of the chaos that is Chicago. Hwy 224 would nudge us up a bit, leaving us positioned to ride Pennsylvania’s Route 6 from west to east, stopping in Tioga to meet more online friends for the first time.

Glenlivet: Refresher Training

The winter had been long and brutal. It ended – concurrently with my finishing the sidecar rebuild – just a few weeks before we were scheduled to ride to Tennessee for the 2019 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Rally. I was torn between the need to get Glenlivet up to speed quickly…and an awareness that pushing him too hard might sour him on the idea of adventure travel.

Every training ride featured play time. On weekends we found school grounds good places to romp. On weekdays churches filled the need.
Glenlivet likes the water so much I had to switch to a waterproof dog bed!
We completely disrupted the orientation for new students at Sterling College
Many treats were offered
And many ponds were explored

And finally, though I had skipped checking the lean and toe-in, I declared the trip a go and started working on proper weight distribution for the trip.

The last few training rides were taken with a full load of gear so I could evenly distribute the weight, a critical factor in sidecar operation.

My dog was ready. I was ready. But because our training rides were all conducted at low speeds on rural roads, the sidecar was not yet properly dialed in. I would not discover how bad it actually was till we reached Pennsylvania. Stubbornness would carry me to West Virginia before I reached out for help.

But that’s part of the 2019 Rally story.



Glenlivet: Training a Rookie

Trust is essential in a dog that I hope will travel thousands of miles with me. Today I put that trust to the test by encouraging him to try something he wasn’t entirely comfortable with: his first solo ride in the sidecar. We took it slow and kept that first trip very short, using the lessons Barley had taught me. I started by taking Tulliver for a ride, letting Glenlivet notice how special an occasion it was, how Tully had my complete focus as we set out together. When we returned I knelt down and praised Tully for his bravery, his companionship, while Glenlivet and Kazoo had to wait on the sidelines.

Then it was Gilly’s turn. He has grown so rapidly that Tulliver’s vest fit almost perfectly. I tapped the sidecar and gave the command to jump up, which he readily did. I tethered the vest to the rig, then closed and latched the clamshell lid, all the while keeping up a running commentary of praise and love, my right hand constantly caressing his head.

Engine start, running at idle. A bit of worry mixed with curiosity

Tamara took the other two dogs inside, so Glenlivet could see he had my full attention. I fired up the engine, careful to keep it at low idle. He showed a bit of anxiety but was also curious about the sounds coming out of the big BMW boxer engine. I set the throttle lock just over idle speed, nicked it into first gear, and feathering the clutch started the rig moving down the driveway, my right hand constantly touching the pup and my words of encouragement filling his ears.

The look of trust

For the past eight months I’d been working on building a relationship of love and trust with my pup, and as we idled slowly past the garage the look he gave me assured me I had it, but it was not so solid just yet that I could push it too hard. As the rig accelerated a bit down the slope I noticed his anxiety level rise, and just a few seconds later the expected escape attempt happened. I had never stopped my reassuring words, but brought the rig to a gentle stop, leaned down and had a nose to nose discussion. I told him everything was okay, that he was being particularly brave that morning, and promised this first ride would be very short. The anxiety in his expression faded, replaced by trust, and we continued to the one paved road in our little town.

His escape attempt was anticipated and resolved with TLC. Had he not calmed down I would have ended the ride and praised him for making it that far.
Anxiety fades and trust returns.

The sleepy little town of Craftsbury is an ideal place for drivers ed. There is a level of courtesy here that you just don’t find in many places. I know, if one of my neighbors comes up behind us, there will be no blaring horn or other sign of impatience, that they will figure if I’m going half the speed limit there must be a good reason for it. But we encounter no other vehicles on our half mile ride up to the Common and back. Glenlivet does just fine observing the world beyond the boundaries of our own land, sometimes peering around the windshield but more often sitting backwards watching where we’ve been. He’ll eventually develop his own riding style, but for now it’s not important. It’s enough that he is at ease, that this first experience is a good one.

We stop at the Craftsbury Academy for a checkin and to tell him how well he is doing
Sunshine Golden’s Shot o’ Glenlivet letting his fur down and enjoying his first sidecar ride.

We turned around at the village Common and rode slowly back home. Barley used his sight and sense of smell, but Glenlivet appears to be sight only. That makes sense since on our walks he rarely uses his nose to hunt down critters. I’m hoping that translates into less of a prey drive than what Barley had.

But the ride home goes well. There is no traffic and few distractions. Gilly seems to be soaking up the sights and enjoying himself. I pull into our driveway and for the last 200 hundred yards his ears are filled with words of pride and encouragement. It looks like little Glenlivet is off to a very good start.

I’m grinning ear to ear as we pull into our driveway and head for the garage. 
Glenlivet checking out the sheep mowing our meadow
I did it, Dad! I was so brave!
Gilly telling Mom all about his exciting ride! He doesn’t vocalize like Barley, but is every bit as good at social interactions

 July 2017: One Year Old!

The dogs gather expectantly as I stage what I need for the day on the dining room table, then slump dejectedly as I reach for the black bag instead of the green daypack. The green pack contains dog treats, water bottles and toys for a day of play. The black bag means Dad is going to work.

Tulliver slinks under the table and lays down with a heavy sigh. Kazoo picks a spot in the middle of the floor where he can best obstruct traffic, then settles his ninety pounds down with a thud that rattles the windows. Glenlivet executes a perfect sit in front of me, tail wagging, big brown eyes pleading with me to stay and play. I kneel and he plants his big paws on my shoulders, his teeth gently tugging my earlobes as I run my fingers through his luxurious fur. “Sorry, Little One,” I tell him. “Daddy has to go earn the kibble.”

Glenlivet is the first pup I’ve been focused on from the beginning. In the past the puppy stage belonged to my bride, while I took over once puppyhood was left behind. And so with this one the bond has developed much earlier. Not stronger, as I can’t imagine a bond any stronger than what I shared with Barley, but the foundational work came sooner. I suspect some great event – like just the two of us taking a sidecar trip to a faraway place – will be needed to reach the “We Are One” stage, but we’re off to a great start!

Glenlivet launching himself into a pond
We have liftoff!
Reentry looks good!
Coming in for a landing
We have splashdown!

He loves the water, and has a leaping water entry that is a joy to watch. He hustles on his retrieves, and has an extremely gentle mouth. He is as pushy as Barley when it comes to food and toys, but without the aggressiveness that resulted in Barley being fed behind a closed door. Unless he is fed last Glenlivet will finish his food, then wander over to push first Tulliver, then Kazoo, away from their bowls. If each dog has a toy or ball, Gilly will collect all three and hoard them. If Tulliver or Kazoo are getting attention, Glenlivet wants that as well.

But he respects my admonition, “No, this is Tulliver time!”

One day after his first birthday I’ll be leaving him for three weeks as Tulliver and I sidecar to the BMW Rally in Salt Lake City UT, another a week later in Paonia CO, and a sidecar rally in Corning NY the week after that. I’ll miss the little guy!

December 2017

Glenlivet is now seventeen months old. An absolute delight, he has his own set of personality quirks that brighten my days. Chief among them is his habit of sitting on me. Almost every dog I’ve shared my life with has been a leaner. Many have draped a paw across my legs or used by feet as pillows while they slept. But never before have I had one who wandered over and sat on me. It’s not a dominance thing; he simply feels so comfortable around me that he wants to maintain contact in his own special way. He’s learned not to sit on my head – I am not a fan of furry testicles in my ear – but the rest of my body is fair game.

Supervising me doing outside chores
Glenlivet often helps pre-wash the dishes

He spends a lot of time with me upside down, another indicator of the love and trust building between us. If I lay on the living room carpet he squirms his way beneath me then inverts to nibble on my beard. On my way to work each morning I kneel so he can wrap his paws around my neck and give my ears a quick lick of affection. When I come home at the end of the day he must be let out immediately lest his enthusiastic tail wagging clear objects on nearby furniture. And when I gather him into my arms at night he sleeps with the utter abandon of a small child.

Glenlivet takes his naps seriously!
Settling in for a nap on the couch

We missed two months of training rides this autumn as the sidecar wheel bearing failed for the fourth time in five years. More than a bit miffed, I sent the entire swingarm and wheel hub assembly back to the manufacturer in Kentucky. To their credit Hannigan saw that it had a manufacturing defect which they fixed at no charge despite 85,000 miles of use on the rig. It’s rare these days to find a company that stands behind their product years and tens of thousands of miles later.

With the sidecar partially disassembled, I sandblasted and repainted a few small parts of the subframe, and sanded to bare metal the rust spots on the fixed parts before acid-etching and repainting them. I’m adding a couple of fixed metal rings to the swaybar to give me tie-down points for the tarp I use to cover it while camping. Last but certainly not least, I am replacing the shock absorber. It still functions, but with that many miles on it a new shock will give me peace of mind when far from home.

It should be all back together and ready to go by the end of the holidays, but of course this time of year Vermont is not particularly hospitable to motorcyclists. So I’ll polish the painted surfaces then apply multiple coats of carnauba wax, clean each spoke on all three wheels, inspect every fastener and wire harness, and toss treats inside so Glenlivet continues to think of it as a place where good things happen.

Glenlivet (L) and Tulliver

I’m planning on a shorter summer trip for 2018 and I really hope Glenlivet is up to it. If winter ends early enough that we can have a few months of short fun rides in spring, it might just work. I’ll use all those tricks Barley taught me to make the little guy comfortable. The 2018 BMW MOA rally is in Des Moines IA. The plan is to pass through the Adirondacks and spend the night with friends in Rochester NY, then on to a motel in northwestern OH, up into Michigan and across the lake on one of the ferries. Another night with friends in Janesville WI and a reunion with several of Glenlivet’s littermates just a few days after their second birthday! Then down to the rally where we hope to present a seminar on sidecars and the making of a long distance sidecar dog.

Three days later we’d leave Iowa crossing southern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, perhaps dipping south a bit into Kentucky, then on to Seneca Rocks in West Virginia for a couple of days. After that we’d travel north to Wellsboro PA for the BMW Riders Association (BMW RA) Rally, spend a couple more days among friends, then one more long day on the road to home.

If the pup isn’t ready I’ll take Tulliver and skip the Wisconsin reunion…but I’ll do my best to have the little blonde guy fully trained and ready to go!


GILLY GOES! Glenlivet’s Adventures