Tag: Jeep

More serendipity

The continuing story of Alfie.

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Alfie has had his operation and all is well! I don’t know more than that at the moment but I do want to share the journey from New York to Minneapolis with you. Because it is such a story of love and devotion.

(And I have just heard that Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, has died – oh, dear.)


New York to Minneapolis road trip

April 5, 2021 By Mr Coyne

The week we travelled to the US, the East Coast was experiencing one of its winter storms. Snow threatening our progress overland to our destination. With this in mind, we worked with James Gallagher at Enterprise close to Westhampton Private Airport near Maine just outside NY, we arranged for a Jeep Gladiator to be waiting on the tarmac for us. The plan was to land, walk down the steps and into the Jeep, then drive around 20 hours across 9 States (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) taking it in turns, and stopping only when tiredness took hold to sleep. When I say drive around 20 hours, that’s just driving, not stopping to fuel, use a bathroom, eat, rest. Over 1,300 miles. A mammoth task.

At this point I’d already not slept in almost 24 hours

The plan hit the rocks as the jet approached Westhampton and were told the runway closed due to snow. We were diverted to JFK, and then Ubëred two hours back to our original airport. We could have tried to get a four wheel drive from JFK but we already knew getting something in the middle of a bad storm would be near impossible. Trying to fly internally from JFK to Minneapolis was off the table too as we had bought a lot of luggage with us, which we intended to leave in the US. Trying to get this through JFK, with all of this and a dog, a dog that potentially could have been turned away at the gate for being too big, was not worth trying to modify our plan.

Somehow our route through the Bronx is the Mayor of London’s fault

Snow on the ground we got our Jeep, and just had James had said when he sourced it for us – it looked unstoppable. He’d kindly shovelled out most of the snow from the pick-up bed. We headed out through rush hour NYC traffic towards Minnesota following the quickest route on Google Maps. Surprisingly through the Bronx. We made it through the other side and eventually stopped somewhere on the outskirts in search of a toilet and food. A Gladiator sits high off the ground, and we were already tired. As we pulled up outside a potential watering hole Renée opened the door and fell out, hitting the ground audibly so. Alfie was in her arms but had the foresight to recognise trouble and jump to safety. We went inside, one of us limping, to check ourselves over and eat. Luckily just bruising; limbs and pride. We were there a couple of hours, much longer than we intended, but the food and rest needed. It was a big, clean hotel and would have been a good place to stop, at the expense of making the next day even harder. We pushed on. Before doing so I looked at Google maps and realised I’d made a schoolboy error. Living in London and owning old cars is a constant maze avoiding paying the Congestion Charge and ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone). My phone was still set to avoid these tolls, hence our route through the the centre on New York. Worse, the fastest route would now see us backtrack some of the way we’d just driven.

Enjoying a meal after avoiding disaster falling from the truck

The Gladiator proved its worth as the elevation climbed and snowfall increased. We kept going until tiredness eventually became too dangerous to ignore and we stopped somewhere, somewhere being my best guess at where as I was so tired. A room at a Holiday Inn. Alfie making friends with the front desk saw the $80 dog fee waved. We didn’t sleep long, maybe three hours and returned to the Jeep early around sunrise. Throughout the entire trip Alfie had sat up front on Renée’s lap as the rear seats of our crew cab style truck full of luggage (the pick up bed empty so our stuff remained dry and safe). I’d read that these Jeeps were not great over long distances, and my previous longest time in one, a Rubicon, was between Fargo and Minneapolis on roads closed due to snow. It was cold and as a passenger I got leg ache. From the driver’s seat it wasn’t too bad. I’m sure most people buy slab sided trucks like this, original Land Rover Defenders and G Wagons simply because they look good, but there is no denying when the conditions get tough they are incredibly capable. Well, maybe not the G Wagon as that’s simply a fashion accessory.

Moments before a face plant. Ouch

“Watching a sleeping poorly dog, all of us crammed up front with the heater blowing full pelt to keep warm, hour after hour, made me question my original judgement of travelling this way

Watching Alfred, a poorly dog, asleep on Renée’s lap, all of us crammed up front with the heater blowing full pelt to keep warm, hour after hour, made me question my original judgement of travelling this way. My thinking was to have Alfred in the air for the minimum time and then get him the rest of the way by road where he would not be squashed in a bag, could go pee whenever he needed, and I could deal easily with any seizures. The whole private jet decision happened very fast and I hadn’t really adjusted to the revised plan. Also the plan had been to land at Westhampton, not JFK where we could have easily boarded a domestic flight to Minneapolis. Hindsight always great, and beating yourself up over something already done when tired completely pointless. The important think was we were in the USA, and on our way to get Alfred the help he needed. Given the obstacles in our way just two days ago we really should be patting ourselves n the back.

Give us all ya got. Nothing could stop the Gladiator

Eventually, around three hours out from our destination, I could drive no more and we stopped in one of the fantastic US rest areas. These places are free from gas stations, usually have vending machines, and clean toilet facilities. They feel safe and good places to stop for a snooze. It was cold though, with a lot of snow and ice on the ground. We slept a while with the engine running and heater keeping us warm. When it is this cold, global warming is the last thing on your agenda.

Errrr, drive through donuts? I LOVE America guys
Why is there a sportsman on this packaging? Is it a race to get diabetes?

“We slept a while with the engine running and heater keeping us warm. When it is this cold, global warming is the last thing on your agenda.

I’ve been in this situation before. Driving while tired is super dangerous. I suspect more so than alcohol (within reason) and up there with texting. As a pilot once said over the tannoy of a flight to Bahrain years ago: better to get there late than not at all. But before long, Renée woke me and wanted to carry on. I managed the next hour before handing over the driving to her to get us the rest of the way. The two of us had dug really deep to make it.

Not the most economical, but fuel is cheap so we don’t care

Arriving at the Canopy in Minneapolis was a welcome sight. Alfred’s surgery was scheduled 10 days from now but we had an option to bring it forward should he deteriorate rapidly. We were where we needed to be. A huge victory and I could literally feel the stress lifting from me. 

Of course, we were only actually part way there, the real challenge was to come.


And of course, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, little Alfie has arrived in Minneapolis and has had his operation. In due coarse I will bring you the latest.

Picture parade twenty.

December is here!

Last Sunday I published a set of pictures from Dan Gomez showing a wonderful collection of clever things you can do with snow.  The post closed with a weather warning that Oregon was set to experience some wintery weather before the week was out.

Thus a small collection of photographs taken on our property last Friday afternoon offering proof that the snows did arrive.

Last Friday around 7am
Snow just starting. Last Friday around 7am


Again, taken at 7am.


Looking down the driveway at 3pm last Friday.
Looking down the driveway at 3pm last Friday.



Looking across to the South-East.
Looking across to the South-East.



Nature's colours.
Nature’s colours.



Bummer Creek, looking downstream.
Bummer Creek, looking downstream.


Bummer Creek, looking upstream from just above the flood irrigation dam.
Bummer Creek, looking upstream from just above the flood irrigation dam.


Water flowing over the edge of the dam.
Water flowing over the edge of the dam.


Merry Christmas from the BLM.
Merry Christmas from the BLM.

Finally, the picture above represents a delightful way to find your Christmas Tree, or Noble Fir in tree speak!  We discovered that if one goes to the local office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) you can purchase a $5 permit allowing one to go into the forests and cut your own Christmas Tree.  The red permit can be seen in the above photograph attached near the top of the tree.  So last Thursday we took our Jeep filled to the brim with blankets, spades and tow chains and other paraphernalia to allow us to safely drive some miles into the forest and 2 hours later had our tree.


Wherever you are in the world, you stay warm and dry this Winter.

Taking breath, and a recap!

Your journey will be much lighter and easier if you don’t carry your past with you!

So said some unknown scribe.  Well I have to say the move from Arizona to Oregon seemed to have quite a bit of ‘past’ travelling with us!  But we made it!

Before I mention a few highlights of the last twelve days, first let me say a very big ‘thank you’ to Martin Lack for his fabulous role in looking after things while we were engaged in the moving process.  Indeed, Martin’s involvement was so valuable that it made sense to retain his status as author on Learning from Dogs.  I hope Martin shares posts with you all on a regular basis.

So to the recap.

As many of you saw, Neil Kelly sent us on our way to Oregon with that wonderful cartoon on the 23rd. October. The previous day had seen a transformation of belongings everywhere …

Ready for loading, except the dog!

…. to an eerily empty home.

Ready for the off in the morning.

The journey up to Merlin, Oregon of 1,176 miles over three days was a blur of hours and hours of driving, walking dogs around strange Motels evenings and mornings and keeping fingers and toes crossed that something didn’t go wrong!

Luckily fate was on our side and a little before 11am on Thursday, 25th October, our mini-convoy of a U-Haul truck towing Jean’s Dodge laden with one group of dogs and our Jeep with other dogs on board, towing a trailer with our five cats inside, pulled up outside the local store in Merlin, some three miles from our new home, so we could purchase basic necessities for the next 24 hours.

Nearly there!

Then at precisely eleven minutes past eleven a.m. we turned into our drive,

closely followed by the truck.

And here we are!

Nature was on hand to greet us as we nosed up to the edge of the paddock; a mother deer and her two babes. A treasured moment.

Welcome, you humans!

The rest of the day was absorbed with the unloading of all our belongings and making arrangements for bedding both humans and animals down, for the first night in Oregon.

Then the morning of Friday, 26th gave us a taste of what Autumn mornings here were like – stunning.

The reason we came here!

So there we are!  It’s going to be weeks before we are properly settled in but there’s no question that we have ended up in a beautiful part of the world.

Happy dogs and happy people.


Now some thoughts regarding this Blog.  The list of jobs and tasks that are ahead of us as we turn a house that has been empty for some years into a fully functioning home is ‘interesting’!  Inevitably I will have to cut back a little on the 2 to 3 hours a day I used to spend writing for Learning from Dogs when back in Arizona.  I am fully committed to publishing something every day but for a while I will lean more heavily than usual on finding material previously published elsewhere.  Please let me have your feedback, good or bad!

Finally, the move made it impossible for me to reply individually to a number of readers who decided to subscribe, as I like to do.

So a blanket thank you to all who in the last 10 days decided to follow Learning from Dogs.