After my beloved dog, Iris, was diagnosed with cancer, we set out to see the country.  See previous installments of our story:

Part II of Iris’ Grand Adventure: My only plan when we left Massachusetts was to make it to New Mexico so that we could see the Rocky Mountains.  After three days of driving, we made it to New Mexico in the dark and settled down for the night.  I couldn’t wait for sun to come up again.

We woke up in New Mexico’s high plains, surrounded by a landscape that was so completely different from New England.  Waking up in a place that you couldn’t see in the darkness of the night before is always an adventure!  After a quick breakfast, we continued west and finally got our first look at the Rocky Mountains.  This is what we drove so many miles to see – the fields and the sky and the mountains.

Australian Shepherd standing on a in front of the Rocky Mountains

Our next stop was the Rio Grande del National Monument.  This is the location I’d put into my GPS when we left Massachusetts.  Getting there felt like our biggest accomplishment so far!  We stopped at the entrance of the park for our own private celebration.  There are no words for how much I adore this dog.  Life with her has always been an adventure.

Iris and me in front of the Rio Grande del Norte entrance sign

When it was time to get back in the car, Iris looked at me, looked at this dirt road, and then looked at back at me again before she started trotting down the path.  After three days in the car, she’d had quite enough!  It was time for a walk and if I wasn’t going to go with her, she was just going to take herself for a walk.  How could I refuse?

dog walking down a dirt path through the desert in New Mexico

After we finished her walk, we drove into the park to find a campsite.  Because it was early spring, we had the campground to ourselves.  On one side were snow capped mountains, and on the other side was the edge of the Rio Grande gorge.  There was no running water, no cell phone reception, and no other people for miles.  We were in our own perfect little corner of the world.

dog standing in front of snow capped montains in New Mexico

dog hiking at sunset in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

We spent a few days at the Rio Grande Gorge, hiking during the day at then sleeping under the stars at night.  After several days of travel, it was a welcome break to stay in one place.  We found one of the trails rated “easy” and my old girl enjoyed her hike down to see the Rio Grande.

a photo of a dog standing at the bottom of the Rio Grande gorge and a photo of the view from the top

Australian Shepherd watching the sunset

We spent two days relaxing and enjoying our solitude together.  It was the perfect break from travel, but two days in one place was enough to make us restless. There was still so much of the world to see. On the third day, we packed up the car again and headed north toward Colorado.

To keep reading, go to Part III of Iris’ Grand Adventure.

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