Unplanned Road Trip Planning To Colorado and Utah Part 1

Unplanned Road Trip Planning As A Freelancer With Dogs 2Does the title of this post make any sense?

Well, let me explain this to you.

We haven’t gone on our honeymoon yet (that happens in July). On Wednesday, I woke up and Wes said that we should just pack up our bags, take the dogs, and leave immediately to go on a road trip to wherever.

However, I’m not really the spontaneous type who just drives to places in hopes of finding a place to sleep.

I am the type of person who needs to plan every last minute.

I love reading travel guides online and I can read these just like how others read books – I just can’t stop! I like to know everything and anything about where I am going to travel to.

It’s both a positive and a negative – I can spit out random facts about a place that I’ve never seen or been to, but it can also take the fun out of things when I know EVERYTHING about where I am going to.

Sometimes, a little spontaneity is needed.

I also know that this is something that Wes has been really wanting to do. And guess what? I’m having a ton of fun! It’s nice just planning things as we go, and taking our time in areas that we want to.


Unplanned and Last Minute Road Trip Planning


Where do we plan on going on this unplanned trip?

Ha, I know that this trip is supposed to be unplanned, but I have tried looking into different spots along the way.

When we were on the road from St. Louis to Denver (it’s a 12 hour drive!), I did create a few different itineraries for us.

At one point, we were thinking about adding Yellowstone, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, San Diego, and Las Vegas into our road trip, but we decided not to last night so that we could focus more of our trip on Colorado. I think we are going to save the west coast for another trip.

We LOVE Colorado so far, and we still have plenty of days left to go. We aren’t sure when we are going to start heading back home. It will probably be around 10 days from now. Might be sooner, might be later. That’s what’s great about this trip, nothing is set in stone so we can feel everything out and see what we really want to do.


On our updated itinerary:

  • Leave our home that is located in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Travel to Wes’s family’s property in Warrenton, Missouri (about one hour away from our home). We stayed here for two nights.
  • Go to Denver and stay for 2 days. We explored the area and I was probably most excited about their awesome REI!
  • Leave Denver and go to Arapaho National Forest. Our hotel was located in Silverthorne, Colorado though. We went to Arapaho National Forest yesterday and just drove around on their dirt trails around the mountains. We plan on going back today and tomorrow.
  • Today, we are going to Lake Granby and we are going to try to find a place for our tent. We are hoping to stay here for one to two days.
  • After leaving Lake Granby, we will be traveling to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We will probably camp here for one day.
  • Next will be the Colorado National Monument. We might camp, but I have a feeling that we will want a hotel so that we can wash our clothes and enjoy a hotel room (instead of living out of a tent).
  • We will then leave Colorado for a few days and travel to Canyonlands National Park in Utah. We plan on enjoying this area and hopefully trying to make it out to BlueJohn Canyon.
  • After leaving Utah, we will travel back to Colorado and visit Mesa Verde National Park. We will probably camp out here for one day.
  • Next will be visiting the Great Sand Dunes. I’m super excited about this. We may have to get “dog shoes” for our pups so that they don’t burn their feet on the sand though.
  • After all of that, we want to go back to Denver for a day and try to recoup for the 12 hour journey back home…


Now, this is where I need your help. Is there anything that I should be adding to our list? Is there anything on the list above that you think we should skip? What are your favorite things to do in Colorado? I want to hear all opinions!


When was the last time you took an unplanned trip?

Do you have any tips for road tripping and/or saving money while traveling/working on the road? 


P.S. Check back tomorrow for more updates on this trip.


What Is Your Pet Worth? How much would you spend on a sick pet?

What Is Your Pet Worth? - How much would you spend on a sick pet?

One of Michelle’s dogs…

Today’s post is by my awesome staff writer Jordann. Enjoy!

This is, a bit of a sticky conversation, but one that I think is worth having.

A few weeks ago, my cat, Mia, got sick. She’s four years old and has been remarkably healthy so far in her life, requiring almost no vet care other than spaying her at six months of age. So when she started puking, me being the responsible pet owner I am, I dutifully took her to the vet. You can read about the whole saga here.

Mia is back home, safe and healthy now, but the whole experience set me back around $600. No big deal, that’s what the emergency fund is for.

Now that the whole thing is over with, I’ve started thinking about the what ifs.

What if the worst had happened?

What if she’d really been sick?

What if it had been a lot more expensive?

How much would I be willing to spend on my pets in order to bring them back to health?

After all, they’re family members. Their health and well being is important to me. If one of my pets got really sick, and needed life saving but expensive treatment, how much would I be willing to spend on them? I’ve heard stories of pet owners spending upwards of $10,000 on treatments, but I also know pet owners who wouldn’t spend more than $500 to save a pet. Where do I fall on this scale? What’s my threshold?

I think, to really answer this question fully, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Odds of Survival

Just typing this out is making my insides squirm, I hate thinking about my pets being sick.

One of the things I would definitely have to take into consideration when deciding how much I’d be willing to spend in a veterinary emergency, would be the odds of survival. If the life saving procedure costs $6000 and only results in a 30% change of success, I’m not sure I would go for it. If the procedure would 100% cure my pet, on the other hand, I’d be much more willing to spend the money.

Access to Funds

Right now I have a $2k emergency fund while paying off debt. If my pet got sick, anything beyond that, would have to come out of my various sources of untapped credit. That’s not an awesome prospect and would probably make me think harder about spending the money.

In contrast, if I was saving to buy a house, and had $40k in cash sitting in a savings account, I would probably be inclined to swipe a bit of that to pay for any emergency procedures.

Age of the Pet

Again this sounds terrible, but I would be more inclined to spend a lot of money bringing a young dog or cat back to health than one that is more than 10 years of age. At that point, I think poor health just becomes part of the equation. I’ve met pet owners that have spent thousands on chemo for older dogs with cancer, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Pet Insurance

There’s also pet insurance to take into consideration. While having pet insurance can definitely take the sting out of high vet bills, most plans only have a maximum threshold of coverage (say $1,500 per illness), so odds are you’ll probably still end up forking over some of your own cash if your pet is seriously ill. If you DO have a pet that you think will be prone to illness, I would definitely recommend pet insurance as an option.

So, what’s your threshold? Would you spend a fortune to help your dog or cat live a happy and healthy life?

Do you have a dollar value in mind as the maximum you’d be willing to spend?


Easy Ways to Keep Your Pet Secure

Easy Ways to Keep Your Pet Secure

Michelle’s dogs

Lauren from L Bee and the Money Tree wrote recently about how her dog, Murray, decided to take a little jaunt around the neighbourhood at 11pm in the middle of the rain storm, leaving her a nervous wreck until she found him.

While this story ends well, it’s one we’ll all familiar with. I’ve been a victim of it myself. My dog Molly pulled the same trick on me last summer, except she was a full half mile away when she was found.

Dogs and cats disappear every day. Some estimate that 10 million are reported missing every year. If you own a pet, odds are, it’s going to give you the slip at some point in its life, and go missing. Hopefully your story will have the same happy ending mine and Lauren’s did, but to improve those odds, here are some ways you can keep your pet keep your pet from escaping, and help ensure it’s found quickly.

Secure Your Parameter

Many, many dogs will take any opportunity to go exploring their neighbourhood, and an open backyard gate the perfect temptation. To help protect against this possibility, install an automatic closing device on your gates to ensure that if they are left open for any reason, they’ll close on their own.

In addition to this, consider installing an underground electric fence, which will deter against fence digging and wandering out of an open gate. I have one installed around the parameter of my property, and my dog Molly has rarely wandered off. The cost of one of these fences can be as low as a few hundred dollars, and is money well spent. There are even options available for cats!

Register Your Pet

In most cities, dogs are required to be registered, and will receive an ID tag to attach to their collar. This ID tag will contain a ID number and toll free number to call. Anyone who finds a dog with an ID tag, will have a way of getting in contact with the owner.

One caveat to this method: Don’t forget to update your pet’s info when you move! Otherwise, your contact information will be out of date and the people who found your pet will have no way of getting in contact with you. Registrations are typically inexpensive, renewable yearly and often required by law.

Microchip Your Pet

This is a great option for both cats and dogs, and is widely available at your local vet’s office. Instead of an ID tag, the vet will insert a small microchip underneath your pet’s skin. The chip will be readable by a scanner that most vet’s offices and animal shelters are equipped with. This is particularly beneficial if a pet is found by animal control.

It also has the benefit of always being with your pet, even if they slip out of their collar and have no tags on them. As I mentioned above, don’t forget to update this information when you move! This isn’t typically expensive, it cost me $10 to have my dog Molly microchipped at the SPCA.

Have a “Go” Plan

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, your pet ends up missing. In these situations, having a plan in place to recover your pet could mean the difference between a few hours of searching and a few weeks. Have a “Lost Pet” poster prepared and saved on your computer, so that you can easily and quickly print out several posters to put up around the neighbourhood. Become acquainted with the local lost pets Facebook groups and message boards so you can quickly and easily get the word out to the local community. Finally, don’t forget to call your local shelter and vet’s offices with a description of your pet, in case animal control or a concerned citizen turns him or her in. By quickly publicizing the fact that you are looking for your pet, you increase the number of people keeping an eye out, thus increasing the chances your pet will be found.

No one likes to think about the fact that some day, you might be trudging the streets of your neighbourhood, calling your pet’s name. By taking these simple and inexpensive precautions  you can minimize the chance of harm coming to your pet, and increase the odds of a happy ending to your pet’s adventure.

Have you ever lost a pet? I want to know!