Category Archives: Road Trip

Dogtripping – An American Road Trip with 25 Rescue Dogs

Pet Travel Tuesday

Destination: California, Maine, cross-county continental United States

Book: Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure (NEW) – David Rosenfelt

By Pamela Douglas Webster

What’s crazier? Living with 25 dogs at a time? Or deciding to drive them across the United States?

Let’s hear from the man who actually did it and wrote about it in Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure—David Rosenfelt.

He wrote, anticipating the trip:

Someone once said that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude. That’s how I knew I was in for an ordeal.”

But Dogtripping is only partly about the trip across the country. It begins with Rosenfelt explaining how he started rescuing dogs.

A beautiful pound pup in need of rescue.

Rosenfelt is not the type of man most people would imagine running a dog rescue. When he and his wife, Debbie Myers, first began rescuing dogs from their local shelter, he was a film marketing executive turned mystery writer, and she was a former film executive who had moved to a high-level job with a national fast food chain.

Nevertheless, despite busy schedules that caused both of them to travel, the couple felt a burning mission to save golden retrievers, golden mixes, and many special needs dogs on death row in the Los Angeles shelter system.

Why? Because of Tara, the beautiful golden retriever living with Debbie when the pair met. Rosenfelt called Tara the best dog ever. She even inspired a recurring character in his Andy Carpenter mystery series. But a soft heart for all dogs, not only goldens, meant that their home was also filled with a variety of dogs who just needed a good home.

The couple matched adoptable dogs with forever homes, meeting and screening every potential adopter. Dogs that had recently been slated for death in a shelter found good homes. Dogs whose age or infirmities made them unlikely to find a home became permanent members of the Rosenfelt/Myers family.

After struggling with the challenges of keeping a large pack of dogs from disturbing their near neighbors, the pair bought acreage in rural Maine and supervised, long-distance, the renovation of a house to meet their animals’ unique needs. When Debbie retired, they would move to their new home.

But how would they transport all the dogs?

Rosenfelt reached out to his readers for help. Some suggested he ask John Travolta or Oprah Winfrey to lend their planes. When the celebrities did not make the offer, Rosenfelt considered commercial airlines. The cost of flying 25 dogs was prohibitive.

Finally, they rented three large RVs to make the trip. Eleven volunteers—some of whom were fans of his mysteries that he had never personally met—stepped up to assist him and Debbie in transporting the dogs.

Team Woofabago, the name one volunteer gave their vehicles on social media, planned the route, drove the 3 RVs, and cared for the dogs along the way. At every stop, the volunteers set up an instant dog park with 200 feet of light fencing. Even a short rest break took close to an hour. Staying on schedule so that the volunteers could make their flights home from Maine at the end was a major challenge.

A dog waits in an RV.

Rosenfelt attempts to bring his reader into his world. The book is arranged in alternating chapters with one describing the individual dogs and what it’s like to live with them and the next describing the planning, logistics, and the drive. The daily life chapters used roman type while the trip chapters were set in italic.

At first, I found his choice confusing and irritating. Especially since, in the planning stages, there wasn’t much to distinguish the italicized “trip” chapters from the daily life chapters. As the story went on, however, I adjusted to the device and it stopped bothering me.

As for the stresses Rosenfelt experienced on the road, I can personally relate. As much as I love dogs, I’d rather be buried in an ant hill and smeared with honey than to spend endless miles on a highway in an RV with a barking band.

A Traveler’s Library exists to share books that inspire travel. While Dogtripping is a light, somewhat comical read, it won’t inspire me to road trip with 25 dogs any time soon. But I left the book feeling inspired by Rosenfelt’s and Myers’ compassion and dedication. And it’s hard not to enjoy a story about former death row dogs and their people ending their travels in a place they could all call home.

Photo Credits: Pound pup and RV Dog are images found on Flickr and used under Creative Commons licenses. Learn more about the photographers by clicking the pictures. To see photos taken on the trip, visit David Rosenfelt’s website and on the Woofabago Facebook page.

Disclosures: The link to Amazon from the book covers gives you an easy way to buy Rosenfelt’s books. When you shop through my links at Amazon, I earn a few cents. Thanks for your support!

Autumn Road Trip with Edwin Way Teale

Destination: United States

Book: Autumn Across America: A Naturalist’s Record of a 20,000 Mile Journey through the North American Autumn (1956) by Edwin Way Teale

Way back in 2010, Kerry Dexter and I launched a road trip across America, writing each week about a different state–starting in New England, and ending in Hawaii.  As I was asking people for recommendations for different books representing the states, one reader suggested that I should read the four books by Edwin Way Teale about that naturalists’ journeys across the United States in four different seasons. So far I have only read his autumn road trip book, but it is an enticement to seek out the rest. He is a skillful writer and a delightful guide to nature.

The books, North With the Spring, Journey Into Summer, Autumn Across America, and Wandering Through Winter were originally published between 1951 and 1965 and were republished in 1990, but  are now out of print. You can still find used copies on the Internet, or in used book stores.  The bonus of used books is that they sometimes bear some marks of their former owners. I love the inscription in the early paperback edition I bought:

For Dad, I hope that you and Mom will enjoy this book together–you’ve shared many autumns together, in many places just as these two do in this book. With all my love,________

Autumn Road Trip
Aspens glory

I found Autumn Across America in a used book store, and plopped it on my shelf with dozens of other “read when I get around to it” books. Because it is not about one individual state, it did not fit into the format of our Great American Road Trip, but I knew I’d want to talk about it some time. It seems following Kerry’s Monday post about music for Autumn is a perfect time to think about an Autumn road trip. And since you have Kerry’s post about autumn music, we are, in a sense, bringing back our 2010-2011 road trip partnership!

On their leisurely, 20,000-mile journey that took them to twenty-six states, they observed nature changing gears from summer to winter.  The colored and falling leaves of the northeast and the migrating birds, butterflies and even beetles, the mysteries of hibernation, the geology, the human history–nothing escaped their keen curiosity and careful observation.  Back home in New England, when the trip was complete, Teale expanded on his observations with research into the why of things.

I found myself mesmerized by such intellectual explorations as the one in Oregon about why salmon return to the same stream in which they hatch. Teale reports on scientific experiments that involved transporting salmon eggs from one place to another before they hatched, transporting fingerlings from one stream to another, and testing salmon’s ability to smell.  They inevitably came back to the water that smelled the same as that where they hatched. And every stream has a different chemical makeup because of the different plants that grow in greater or lesser profusion.


Autumn Road Trip
The ducks of evening

Bird watchers will find many pages filled with poetic descriptions and scientific facts about all kinds of birds. Those that are migrating, and those that are settling in. Common or rare, they all are fascinating.

Autumn road trip
Still life with weeds and grass

In Indiana he talks about why ragweed is such a bother for the hay-fever prone. and even common dust gets its due.  He asks people what scent brings to mind Autumn, and among many choices, he is surprised to find the dust of drying weeds in a vacant lot meant autumn to many people.

“If it were possible to banish dust from the earth, the vote probably would be overwhelmingly in favor of it.  Yet subtract dust from the 5,633,000,000,000,000-ton atmosphere that surrounds the globe and you would subtract infinitely more.  You would drain blue from the sky and the lake. For fine dust, as well as the molecules of vapor and the air itself, scatters the blue rays and contributes color to the heavens above and reflected color to the waters below….every minute droplet of moisture in fog and cloud forms about a nucleus of dust…You would remove the glory of the sunrise from the world and wipe all the flaming beauty of the sunset form the sky.”

Over and over again, this book reminded me to travel slowing and observantly. Whether he was traversing land I was familiar with (the coasts of Oregon) or land I’d like to get to know (the forests where ferns are harvested), I learned new things.

At one point, he dislodges a pebble that rolls down an incline.  He ponders the long history of that pebble and how much life has passed by–glaciers, birds, insects and humans have all been here.

“Yet surely, better a single moment of awareness to enjoy the glory of the senses, a moment of knowing, of feeling, of living intensely, a moment to appreciate the sunshine and the dry smell of autumn and the dust-born clouds above–better a thousand times even a swiftly fading, ephemeral moment of life than the epoch-long unconsciousness of the stone.”

I don’t know a better way to warn a traveler not to become simply a rolling stone.

What does autumn look like, sound like and smell like to you?

Note: I took these photographs around the White Mountains of Arizona in the fall.  Please do not reuse without permission. Thanks.  The link to Amazon from the cover of the book provides you with one way to purchase the book. When you shop through my links at Amazon, I earn a few cents to pay the rent for A Traveler’s Library. Thanks!


Interview with Allan Karl–3 Years, 5 Continents, 1 Motorcycle

Book Cover: Forks
Book Cover: Forks by Allan Karl

Once writers, musicians, artists were dependent on wealthy sponsors. Then the commercial world took over publishing and distribution of the arts. But a new wave of creative people are taking advantage of the world-wide reach of the Internet to find like-minded people who are willing to help fund their projects.

When I was approached by Allan Karl about his Kickstarter project to publish a book called Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection, based on a motorcycle trip to 35 countries, I was intrigued.  This is not your ordinary travel memoir, as you will learn in this interview. Allan has shared some of the photographs from the book with us here, and the book also  provides you with recipes from many of the countries he visited. Gotta love it–travel, adventure, photography and FOOD.


A Travelers Library:  You have combined a book about a motorcycle trip, a photo book and a cookbook in one.  Since any one of these would keep an author busy, why did you decide to combine the three?

Author Allan Karl
Author Allan Karl

Allan Karl: I planned to write a traditional travelogue/memoir, but when I returned home after three years of travel, I realized that the best way to truly share this incredible journey and the experiences that so moved me was to provide readers with a similar experience.

That is to allow them to see the world through photographs, to feel the world by reading stories of connections and cultures and to taste it the flavors of the world through photos and recipes of real local food.

So this is how, in FORKS, I share the discoveries, cultures and connections I made on my global adventure—stories, color photos and flavors—FORKS brings the world to the readers tables and this adventure to life: the kindness of strangers, beauty of humanity, colors of culture and the powerful gift of human connection.

ATL: How did you choose the countries you visited? I noticed in particular that you visited Syria and it is not a country people are flocking to from the outside right now.  Were you there before the hostilities broke out? Were there other countries that might have been a bit risky to visit?

AK: I have traveled extensively throughout my life, and I truly believe travel is the best way to learn about our world, history, culture, geography and about ourselves, that is, how to be more patient, compassionate and tolerant.

Allan Karl camping in Africa
Camping in the Nubian Desert of Sudan.

I originally planned to travel from Cape Town north along the western Coast of Africa and then into Morocco and to Spain. Along the way, someone shared with me great stories of Ethiopia and the baffling rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and I changed my plan and traveled Cape Town north on the western side of Africa.

Traveling overland is rigorous and, in Africa especially, often rough.

When I set out on this journey I knew I couldn’t simply chose the safe route. For to realize possibilities and expand my worldview, I knew I would have to take chances and step outside my comfort zone. Tired of the constant drip of media and government warnings of dangerous places, I wanted to see for myself.

Pages of Allan Karl's book, FORKS, about Syria.
Pages of Forks about Syria.

I traveled through Egypt just six or so months before Arab Spring, so I wasn’t in Syria near the time of the conflict. Yet what I discovered in Syria, was a country full of friendly people eager to learn about me, my travels and my country as much as I wanted to learn about them. In my book I share the initial frustration I experienced during my nearly 24-hour ordeal to secure a visa for entering Syria.

ATL: I noticed on your Kickstarter page that you said if you felt alone, you just looked around, and there was always someone there. But communicating with someone in a different culture and language can be intimidateing.  Any tips?

Allan Karl meets 105-year-old man
105-year-old-man and family from Lesotho

AK: I’m amazed at how easy it is to connect with people – humanity. Two things that are fail free: First, smile and look into the strangers eyes with warmth and openness. Also important, learn at least one sentence in the local tongue.

The language can be tough. Cause if you spurt out a few words, be prepared for the stranger to unleash a barrage of fast talking and in such a dialect you’ll never understand. But the fact you try to communicate proves your eager to learn and embrace their culture and their language. Learn.

ATL: How many of these countries had you visited previously?

AK: Out of the 35 countries I traveled on this adventure, I’d only been to 3 or 4 of the countries previously—Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.

ATL:  Did you plan an itinerary in detail before you started, or just let chance lead you?

AK: I researched and planned for two years before embarking on this journey. I had an idea of the route I would take, and identified places I wanted to visit. One of my goals on this journey was to visit as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I could get to. In the end, I visited more than 40, including the more famous like Macchu Pichu as well as the obscure like León, Viejo in Nicaragua.

As I learned more about a region’s history, cultural heritage and taking tips from locals and travelers, I would change plans in a moment. I never had a hotel reservation. I would make sure to visit major cities on a regular basis so that I could service my motorcycle and have better chance of access to spare parts and other necessities.

ATL:  Just yesterday, after watching this video about a musician asking for community funding,  I was wondering why more authors had not taken the Kick Starter Route. Please talk a little about how you decided to do that.

AK: Often, I’m asked “Why Kickstarter?” The answer is simple—and part of my story.

As I mentioned, I had intended to write a traditional travelog or memoir about my journey. But as I traveled, I learned how important it is to connect with people on a deeper level. Most often this happens while sharing conversations and life stories over good food and drink—with locals.

I knew that recipes and photos of the food and the faces and places I visited would be essential and would enhance my stories. The publishing industry thought differently. They wanted that travelog/memoir. Traditional agents and publishers liked the idea for my book, but insisted I simplify it—asking me to remove the food and photos.

So rather than compromise my vision, I decided to go out on the publishing journey just as I did to travel the world–solo.

Kickstarter is perfect for creative projects that step outside that comfort zone, are risky and don’t fit within the self-induced constraints or limits of commercial enterprises. It’s a great way to validate the marketability of such ideas. My Kickstarter project for this book reached its funding goal in just nine days. As of today, and with 5 days to go, I’ve reach nearly 150% of that funding goal. I’m humbled and grateful for the support the crowd-funding community as given me and this project. I think it’s great proof that this idea — this book and message — resonates with people all over the world. I have backers from 11 countries who’ve pledged for copies of the book.

ATL: Final question–the one we ask everyone at A Traveler’s Library–are their any books you have read that inspired you to travel.

Allan Karl's favorite book
Book Cover: Ghost Rider

AK: Perhaps the book that inspired me to travel by motorcycle and opened my mind to the possibilities is a book called “Ghost Rider” by Neil Peart, a well-regarded dummer for the rock n’ roll band RUSH. Over a one year period he lost his only child in a car accident and his wife to cancer. Rather than dip into deep depression, he hopped on his motorcycle and rekindled his broken soul by traveling.

Meet Alan more personally in this video at You Tube or check out his Kickstarter Page.