In short; we do!
I kid you not, we were actually asked this question when we were looking for a last-minute hotel near Asheville, NC on the 2nd.
One of Kevin’s nephews was getting married in Raleigh, NC at the end of July and we decided to make our trip to the wedding a fun one. We double-checked that the only event on our agenda that was not dog friendly was the wedding proper and searched around for a doggy daycare for the duration of the wedding (Thank you K9 Kabana!), and double checked that our hotel accommodations were dog friendly. We stayed at the Red Roof Inn; did you know that they are pet-friendly without restrictions? I am aware that their website says one pet, but they were happy to accommodate our four pups without issue, so I would call to double-check individual locations just in case.
Once all that was done we needed a vehicle that would accommodate ALL of us, while my truck is great for the short trips, for something like this we needed some added space, comfort, and weather protection for our luggage. So off to look at car rentals. We ended up with a Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van with stow-n-go seats and power doors…
One word: LOVE! Yes, we are totally in the market for one now.
Then the packing for four dogs, two adults, and one baby came in. Since this was our first road trip with a baby, it took us MUCH longer than we thought to get packed. The van, while huge when empty, was an entirely different beast when packed!
The beauty of those stow-n-go seats is that even the second-row seats fold down completely! Of course, we kept one up for Leelynn and his carseat.
When we finally were ready to hit the road it was late, very late. We still made it a point to stop at Mt. Roosevelt though.
Babies and Altitude
Something that caught us unaware on our trip was how the altitude changes would affect Leelynn. Even if we had thought about it, there wasn’t much we could do, his binky (pacifier) was a lifesaver. Since babies are unable to pop their ears intentionally when they feel the pressure building, encouraging them to suck, yawn, or chew helps alleviate the pressure faster (read helps them pop their ears). It is also recommended to keep babies awake during descent and important to note that children are especially vulnerable to blockages because their Eustachian tubes are narrower than in adults.
WHY DO EARS POP?
Normally, swallowing causes a little click or popping sound in the ear. This occurs because a small bubble of air has entered the middle ear, up from the back of the nose. It passes through the Eustachian tube, a membrane-lined tube about the size of a pencil lead that connects the back of the nose with the middle ear. The air in the middle ear is constantly being absorbed by its membranous lining and re-supplied through the Eustachian tube. In this manner, air pressure on both sides of the eardrum stays about equal. If, and when, the air pressure is not equal the ear feels blocked.
We Have Arrived!
We finally arrived in Raleigh, NC in the early afternoon and checked into our hotel. We were both exhausted, particularly Kevin since he did all the driving.
We did make some stops for potty breaks for all of us, a good leg-stretching walk, some snacks and a water break for the dogs.
A piece of advice from someone who used to work in the Hospitality Industry; if you know you are going to be late arriving at your hotel, or a delay comes up please call and inform the hotel so they will hold your room. They may charge you to hold it, but it is better than arriving thinking everything is okay and then not having a room because they thought you weren’t showing up.
Thankfully the wedding wasn’t until the following afternoon, so we had some time to recuperate.
Tasty 8s Gourmet Hot Dogs
The day of the wedding we met up with some family for lunch at a dog-friendly place called Tasty 8s, they did have some amazing hot dogs and kept popping out to pet the dogs.
After lunch we decided we needed to find somewhere to actually walk the dogs (not just a leisurely stroll through town) to help them transition to a doggy daycare well. In our experience a tired dog is a happy well-mannered dog; and since it had been at least four years since our dogs have been to a doggy daycare, if at all (this was Chloe and Hank’s first time at one), we wanted to make sure that everything went smoothly.
That’s when we were grateful that there was a Greenway access right next to the hotel!
During the Wedding
After the walk, we gave the pups some Composure, and a drop of Lavender oil to help manage the stress from going to the doggy daycare. (Remember Hank and Chloe had never been to one, and Putt-Putt and Willow haven’t been in over four years.)
Kevin and I watched from behind a closed door (there was a small window in the door) as they were introduced to the other dogs, I was a bit nervous, having worked in a doggy daycare/boarding kennel before I knew how crazy it gets at the gates when dogs enter and exit. Putt-Putt surprised us and was the first one out of the gate, followed by Chloe and Hank, Willow was the last one out due to being distracted by smelling the other dogs. Hank and Chloe immediately went off to get away from the hoard of dogs smelling them, and Putt-Putt and Willow just stood and stared at the door we were hiding behind waiting to see if were following.
We felt bad leaving them since it’s so unusual for us to go anywhere without them, but we knew they would be having fun, and this allowed us to enjoy the wedding.
When it came time to pick them up, we found out they had a blast!
Kevin had gone to the pick them up after the reception dinner and the first dance while Leelynn and I stayed behind for the rest of the dancing and cake. He ended up needing to take them for a ‘cool down’ walk since they were all so ramped up! They had got a few of the other dogs that were also being picked up from the daycare so wound up that everyone was running around trying to catch their dogs; and poor Kevin was trying to keep ours from jumping in the small turtle pond that was in the lobby. (You may not recall but Willow has a bit of a fascination with turtles.)
Flying Saucer Drought Emporium
The next morning we got up and took the pups for a nice long walk on the Raleigh Greenway before we got ready to meet up the family for brunch.
Then we loaded up the van, and checked out of the hotel and headed over to the Flying Saucer!
They had some awesome club sandwiches and melts, and were super accommodating considering we had four dogs, a large group, and a stroller!
On the Road Again
All to soon it was time for everyone to say goodbye and for us to hit the road again! We had marked out our route, and a planned a few stops to check out some waterfalls along our way through the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.
It wasn’t long before we found a canoe put-in along the way that we just had to check out though!
Due to our late start after brunch, (we all ended up staying later than anticipated since it’s not often that we can get most of the Carter family together in one place) we weren’t able to reach our true sight-seeing destinations. We did end up catching a glimpse of a cow van…
Then had a picnic dinner and started to hunt down a hotel room for the night. We wanted to stay in Asheville since it was right next to the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests and the waterfalls that we were wanting to visit.
There was only one problem; every single hotel within twenty miles of Asheville was booked! When I asked why, it was due to the First Annual Leaf Festival. This came as such a surprise that we had to stop and literally call every multi-dog friendly hotel on bringfido.com for vacancies. We found ONE in Morgantown; which was about thirty miles north of where we had stopped to look for a room and sixty miles east from Asheville. We didn’t end up checking in until about 1-2 am and were beat.
So please learn from our mistake; even if you don’t think there shouldn’t be any seasonal events going on at your destination, double-check for local events! They can be a doozy when trying to find spur of the moment accommodations.
The last day of our trip, started in Morgantown, and this is where we got the title for our post. While on the phone booking our room Kevin listed off the occupants of the room, and the front desk clerk was in such disbelief that she blurted out, “Who the hell travels with four dogs and a baby?”
Kevin checked us in, and gave Leelynn and I a key so we could just go straight to bed. There is nothing worse in this world than a cranky baby due to being overtired, even our dogs look at us like; ‘What did you do to turn him into a screaming monster? Fix it!’
The front desk clerk at this point couldn’t hold her curiosity anymore and asked what kind of dogs we had, thinking they must be something super special to prompt traveling with them. Kevin responded with the truth, they are just mutts. (Well, everyone but Hank is a mutt) When she finally saw them come in, after Kevin parked, she was awestruck! She was in such disbelief over them being mutts that she again couldn’t help herself and blurted, “I thought you said they were mutts!”
Well, they are mutts, but who said mutts couldn’t be gorgeous!
The Big Day!
Once morning came around after a restful night sleep, we re-hashed our travel plans so we could hit as many of the waterfalls we wanted to see as possible.
We were all ready and rearing to go!
The pups said good morning to the morning front desk clerk as we checked out, and she gave them some treats before we left.
Before entering Pisgah National Forest we went through Hendersonville, NC and while driving through we saw the coolest thing… there were Bears lining the street!We saw some places that had patios and a few people walking their dogs, so it seemed pretty pup friendly but we didn’t stop to ask since we were on a mission.
Pisgah National Forest
FINALLY! We made it to the Pisgah National Forest!
We made a point to stop in at the Ranger Station and purchase a few maps since a regular state map is NOT detailed enough to help us much and there is very little cell service in National Forests so Google Maps was out of the question. (If you are planning on going to check these waterfalls out yourself, you may want to brush up on your map reading skills)
The first stop on our list was Looking Glass Falls.This was ‘The’ place to go swimming it seems, it was packed!
Cars were lining the road for at least a quarter-mile or so, yup we got stuck at the end, and once we got to the stairs that led down we were confronted with just how many people those cars actually added up to!
We did go down but ended up coming right back up. It was so crowded that there was no safe way for us to get across the rocks with four leashed dogs and me wearing Leelynn. I’m sure had we gone on a weekday instead of a weekend it would have been less crowded and more enjoyable.
Sliding Rock Recreation Area
We had intended to stop here and get a picture of the area, but unfortunately it was just as packed if not more so than Looking Glass Falls, plus I think I saw a sign that said something about a fee, so we decided to skip this one. It still warrants mentioning though.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Next we went north to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway (via US 64 which goes all over the place) since it looked like we’d have an easier time finding our next stop coming from the north versus coming from the south.
Not to long after getting on the Parkway we had to pull over and take a look at a few of the Overlooks
This was the only overlook that was not packed with other people or where the parking lots were full, we were on a tight schedule to get to see all our waterfalls on our list so we skipped the others. Maybe next visit!
Nantahala National Forest: Dill Falls
We had seen that Dill Falls was one of those hidden gems but could be a bit tricky to get to. We were grateful for clear directions, but were even more grateful for our National Geographic map of Nantahala National Forest since it had all the Forest Service Roads clearly marked. Finding those roads while driving was another story though, since the road signs were so small.
We were thrilled when we finally arrived!
There was a short hike to and from where we parked, about a quarter-mile each way, and Leelynn loved his first proper hike! We wanted to start him off with a short hike since he was being worn and mama is very out of shape!
Bridal Veil Falls
This was our biggest let down during our trip. We were told that this was supposed to be a must see since you could drive behind it, and it was just down the road from Dry Falls. So we went, and we nearly passed it, it was so over-hyped that we were expecting something much larger.
This one lived up to all the hype, it was gorgeous, I just wish we had arrived a bit sooner so some of the pictures would have come out better.
After visiting our last waterfall, we headed home. We got in about 2am and went straight to bed. We enjoyed our trip and have earmarked a few other spots that we would like to check out next time.