by Caylin Sanders
As appeared in the Brooklyn Journal 2002
When’s the last time you took your pet on vacation? Maybe you’ve never considered it before, but more and more lodgings are posting their pet-friendly signs in order to attract your business. Most charge little or no fee and require a deposit – just in case Fido chews up all the furniture in the room. This past weekend my friend Laurie and I embarked on a trip with my newly adopted and rescued 5 year-old pug in tow, Mr. Furley.
In general Mr. Furley is well behaved, however he has major separation anxiety and I feared even leaving him alone for 1 day may have pushed him over the edge. After investigating our local getaway options, Laurie and I decided to go inner tubing down the Delaware River. We found an affordable hotel in Port Jervis, New York, a 2 1/2 drive away from NYC, where New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania intersect. The Comfort Suites of Port Jervis ($89.00/night) accepted pets for a $20.00 fee.
I’m a big proponent of car-less travel and although New Jersey Transit accepts small pets on board, we decided since this was our first time traveling with a dog we’d rent a car. Next time we’ll take the NJ Transit train from Hoboken, NJ to Port Jervis, NY where we can catch a cab for a few bucks to the hotel. Kittatinny Canoes, our outfitter offers a daytrip package with NJ Transit (sponsored by Metro-North) and would have picked us up at the station if we had arranged beforehand.
Before we left, I packed a few things for Mr. Furley – his doggy bed, a two-day supply of food in a Tupperware bowl, a bowl for water, Nature’s Miracle pet-odor removal spray, a brush and a chew toy. We put his bed on the back seat on top of a piece of cardboard and tied his leash to the seatbelt pulley. After some initial fuss, he ended up sleeping the whole 2-hour trip, except for when we stopped at a rest area.
We checked in around 12pm, changed into our bathing suits and set up Mr. Furley’s area at the foot of my bed – to resemble his set-up at home. We also tied his leash around a table leg so that he had just enough room to move around, get to his food, water and bed. Ten minutes later, we parked our car near the river, checked in and Kittatinny drove us north up to our launching base.
The 2 1/2 hour inner tube ride was glorious and the fresh water, just the relief we needed from the 90 degree day. The riverbed was never more than 4 feet deep so you could always stand up at any point. We decided to link tubes with our feet and floated lazily down the beautiful 10-mile stretch, past wild purple hyacinth blossoms and tons of wildlife. Occasionally tiny blue dragonflies used our knees and elbows as landing pads. When we reached Kittatinny’s home base we returned our tubes and lingered in the riverbed a while to soak up some sun.
When we returned to the hotel we found that Mr. Furley had flicked his kibble around the room, dumped his water bowl and pooped in the corner in revolt — not bad considering. After cleaning up and calming him down, we left him once again to go to dinner at the Ponderosa Steak House on site and then we decided to go see a movie. When you have the option of an indoor movie theater with air-conditioning and stadium seating or an old-fashioned American drive-in, always opt for the drive-in – they are a dying breed! We opted for the drive-in in nearby Matamoras, PA. We paid $12.00 for a double feature of “Blue Crush” and “Signs” and tuned our radio to 88.3 FM for our sound feed – this drive-in had done away with the clunky metal window speakers. We put Mr. Furley in the back, sprayed some OFF Mosquito Spray around the car (West Nile Virus, you know) reclined our seats and cranked open the windows. Thankfully the night had cooled off by then. The fireworks stand across the street put on a show for the first 10 minutes of the movie, but after that things were eerily quiet. There’s nothing creepier than watching “Signs,” which coincidentally takes place in a cornfield in nearby Bucks County, PA in the middle of what feels like a cornfield. Occasionally Mr. Furley added to the tension by barking at “Peanut” — the family next to us brought their dog too. One problem with rental cars though, every thirteen minutes the radio shuts off to prevent battery depletion. Every thirteen minutes we had to switch back the ignition key or else we’d miss a few of Mel Gibson’s lines. It was annoying, but in a hilarious way. Mr. Furley slept through the night, occasionally snoring as pugs do.
The next morning we left him in the room while we relaxed by the hotel pool and went swimming (the pool did not allow dogs). For breakfast and lunch we took advantage of drive-thrus and parked in scenic spots along the river to eat and let Furley enjoy simple dog pleasures like rolling in the dirt! His first car trip, his first hotel, his first movie – all in all I think Mr. Furley had a good time – we certainly did and would do it again!
Caylin Sanders is the founder and owner of EscapeMaker.com: a guide to local weekend getaways from NYC – with or without a car. Enter to win a FREE local getaway every month. For discount coupons and more information on last minute specials, local special events and pet-friendly destinations visit EscapeMaker.com.