Most people think I'm crazy hopping in the car and driving home for Christmas. Firstly, because home is two days of driving away - across one territory and two states. And secondly, because my dog is my driving companion.
'Why don't you fly? You could be there in two hours. Put the dog in a kennel,' they chorus.
Well there's no way I'm putting my pack-buddy behind bars while I enjoy sunshine, sand and surf. Besides, I like to think we've got this road-tripping down to a fine art... despite the occasional 'disturbance'. So in honour of school-holidays, and from the same dog who brought you the Rules of Bed Etiquette, here's Woofa's Ruff Guide to Road-Trippin':
The Magic Food Window: How did I not know about these and why do they only open once a year? They are genius! I sit in the back of the car in air-conditioned comfort, and sausage and egg McMuffins and chicken nuggets just appear at the window. Forget putting man on the moon. This is the greatest discovery of human-kind. We must stop at the magic food window at least every morning, and preferably more often. I promise I will try very hard to not throw-up in your car if you share.
Driver Reviver: I love these. I mean I like stopping and 'singing' because I'm excited about getting out of the car and running around on strange new grass that needs my scent on it. But the ladies and gents that staff these stations voluntarily during other people's holidays are like angels. And yes, I am a cute wee man who needs his ears scratched and a corner off your biscuit or Christmas cake.
Regular Breaks: On the topic of stopping. I really do try to 'hold-on' for as long as I can, but I am a small dog, with a small bladder, doing a lot of sitting on bumpy roads. You should just be appreciative that I've trained you that paws on the centre console means pull over before there are puddles. And when you watch me, sometimes I can't go, so we actually do need to pull over again 20 minutes later.
Wildlife: It's a big country. We have a lot of diverse wildlife. I thought we agreed we'd never speak of the emu incident. In my defence, they are massive and I'd never seen any before. I didn't know they wouldn't run away like the birds I normally chase. I was just as bothered as you by them coming at us. I will try to not roll in kangaroo poo by the side of the road. But I can't promise to not pick some up and take it back to the car for a tasty driving snack because you won't share the road-trip lollies.
My Luggage: Travelling with dogs is like travelling with toddlers. We have a deceptive amount of stuff. And it's all just as important as your stuff. Don't forget anything. Bed, towel, collar, lead, bowls, Mr Purple Cat and the Cuddle Cow. Those guys are my bros. Can't sleep without them. Will pace relentlessly on your mother's wooden floor-boards looking for them. All night.
Dog food: Yeah sure, pack some of that because we all know you should try to keep my diet regular to avoid tummy troubles on the road. We both know I don't intent to eat it, except for the Schmackos bribes. We both know I'm holding out for that first night in Tamworth where you order Chinese to the Hotel on the outskirts of town and I eat bits of that while we sit in the motel owner's paddock doing the annual stock-take of her geese. And when we get to our destination I'm totally going to look mournfully at your mum until she takes me for fish and chips.
Bedding: Thanks for bringing my round soft bed I NEVER sleep on at home because I'm in with you. Why did you think it would work out in the car? I infinitely prefer your jacket which you've left on the back-seat. It smells like you - and because I can't sit on your lap while driving (stupid harness) I need to feel comforted. Love you. When we get to our destination I don't see the need to change things either. Unless it means sneaking in for an early morning wet-nose with one of your folks, or lying on furniture that's not ours. Winning!
That Smell: It's road-kill ok. Not me breaking wind in your back-seat. There's no way I smell like dead snake baked onto bitumen in the 40 degree heat. That joke stopped being funny after the first 200kms by the way.
Your Wardrobe: You'll obviously want to be comfortable in the searing heat and avoid leather seat and seat-belt buckle branding in the Australian summer. You probably want to look nice when you arrive home. May I also suggest you wear something I can be gross on. Sorry. I can't help it, but over the course of two days, at some point I'm going to drool, shed, spit out food, wipe my whiskers on you, jump in mud or red dirt and need to get wrestled back into the car. Payback for the smell jokes. #sorrynotsorry
So, can we go for a drive?