It started with a couple of miles running in Billings with the Bitches.  The plan was to run them a bit to wear them out so they would be good travelers for the day. 

By the way, they are good travelers.  They make friends at rest stops, sleep nicely in their captain’s chairs, and do well in hotels.  I was slightly worried about the possibility for mayhem, but they’re doing great. 

So back to this morning, as we returned from our run, I noticed several light green trucks with “Hot Shots” painted on them.  I didn’t think much of it, ran up to the room, and dropped the Bitches with Auntie so I could run back downstairs and grab some breakfast.

Auntie’s turn to grab breakfast was apparently more eye candy than bagels and yogurt.  Turns out the Hot Shot group was a group of elite firefighters and well, we all know that firefighters are in good shape.  Also turns out that this group was from Oregon, so I took it as a sign of good-looking protectors in my future.

The next stop was Bozeman because we needed coffee, which didn’t seem to exist in Billings.  You know how every place in the world as a coffeehouse every couple of blocks.  Not Billings.  They do have things for horses and trucks, and if anyone lost a 1980’s phone cord, it’s in front of the Hanson’s Motorplex. 

But yes, Bozeman, a cute little place with good coffee (CITY BREW) and a fabulous little rest stop, where the girls were quite popular.

We hauled all the way to Missoula after that.  I finally get the Big Sky Country stuff.  Many times, I uttered, “Wow.”  The clouds always seemed so high and completely untouchable back in the Plains, but here those clouds float in the mountains.  It’s a trip.

Missoula was rad, probably because there is a marathon there tomorrow, so there were cool runners all over.  We got sandwiches at this place called “The Notorious P.I.G.”  Auntie wanted to go because of the YELP reviews.  I just liked the name.  At any rate, the pulled pork was delicious with cole slaw smashed into it.  The Bitches even got the last bite for being such good girls as we ate near a trail by the river.  Missoula had a gorgeous little downtown area that was hopping with people.  It was the highlight of Montana for me.

Now, the drive from Missoula to Coeur d’Alene was where we sort of started to lose our shit from being in the car so long.  We meaning the humans.  The Bitches slept like little babies.

Idaho was instant road construction and huge valleys.  It was super breathtaking, so I was actually thankful for the very slow construction zone.  It also let me notice the family taking photos at the “Welcome to Idaho” sign.  The dad had a selfie stick and he was really amused by it.  I was also amused that when Auntie Instagramed that moment, the auto-correct said the family had a “selfish stick.” 

Maybe they did.

So we rolled and rolled. 

And the Bitches slept.  They chilled all the way to Coeur d’Alene, when Alli woke up and started with the Howling of the Pee.

She’s like a baby, really.  She has different howls that tell me what she needs, whether it’s food, water, or a bathroom break.

Siri assured us we were close to our hotel and I assured Alli she would be able to pee soon.

Sometimes, Siri is a whore.

Sometimes, Siri makes no sense and leads us around where we need to be.

But at least I now know where old gas pumps go to die in Coeur d’Alene and I know where Starbucks is in the morning. 

And if anyone ever wants to stay at the La Quinta (pet-friendly) in Coeur d’Alene, just go through the Shopko parking lot.  That is your only option. 

You’re welcome.

And no one peed in the van.

We checked in, re-grouped, and headed out to Tubb’s Nature Trail for a hike.  The city park there is stunning and the lake is magnificent.  The trail is such that you really forget you’re in a city and just feel like you’re out for a hike.  The Bitches were in heaven—Joey’s tail never stopped moving, which made my heart really happy.

Bitch heaven.

Bitch heaven.

Since hiking obviously means earning a burger and a shake, we headed over to Roger’s for some grub.  Auntie stayed in the van with the Bitches and I ran up to get the food.  The ice cream and burgers were fabulous.  I went for the turkey burger and the root beer shake.  Perfect.  The kid asked if I wanted ketchup or fry sauce and before I could think, I blurted out, “What the f*ck is fry sauce?”  He laughed and whispered, “Mayo and ketchup.”  But what was even better? 

The people watching.

From the young dad getting his boys riled up about ice cream whose wife started using teacher voice on him to mid-life crisis men with nice cars, it was a glorious group to watch.  

The highlight was a sort of Jersey-transplantish dude pulling up in a Lamborghini with his lady friend.  They order and as I’m waited, I saw Jersey dude’s lady talking to one of the mid-life crisis men and I swear it looked like she was petting mid-life crisis dude’s lap. 

I should say that I was facing west and with the angle of the sun, the glare made things hard to see.

After a moment of staring and a head tilt, I realized there was a small black dog sitting on mid-life crisis dude’s lap, but with his black shirt and black shorts, it was hard to see.

Suddenly her petting his lap didn’t seem as weird.

We headed back to the hotel and Alli broke into another round of needing howls the moment we closed the door.

I thought maybe she wanted a little more kibble until I heard her slurping from the toilet. 

As I looked into the bathroom to scold her for drinking from the toilet, I doubled over with laughter.  The toilet seat was down, she’d just stuck her head in enough to start drinking and the seat closed back on her neck. 

She’s the MacGuyver of canines, apparently.