Maple Leaf Drive

Maple Leaf Drive

October 11, 2015


Narrated Audio Blog

Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.

We were feeling very positive about the future of The Pack Track. Weeti was recovering well from her seizures and was slowly getting back to her old self again. It was only a few months now until we were to depart the America's bound for Europe and we still had so much to see. Our voyage across the Atlantic would be in the Queen Mary 2, the only cruise ship in the world with kennels on board. We had so far booked a single kennel for both Weeti and Shadow, but having lost Cinnamon just after her birth and seeing how distraught Shadow became at this loss, we decided that she should keep her surviving baby. So we booked another small kennel, or more correctly we went on a waiting list but to our surprise we picked up a spot in only a matter of weeks. So our plan was now to have Weeti in a kennel by herself and Shadow and Maple sharing.

But for now we were still in Wisconsin and heading towards northern Minnesota. We were slowly making our way over to Yellowstone while seeing as much of the American landscape and absorbing as much culture as we could along the way. The weather was certainly cooling but we were all warm. Weeti and Shadow had good quality coats and Maple had a pink knitted jumper we bought in a pet shop, but in any case her and Shadow were safely  zipped up in their T-Bags Pet Carrier.

One night in an isolated area far back from the main roads, we set up camp. We were without facilities but nothing unusual for us having wild camped when necessary in the past. Early in the morning Shadow woke Janell, Maple was coughing and seemed to have vomited. Dealing with a sick dog was not new to us, but we'd never had a puppy before. At this point we probably should have tried to find a 24 hour vet, but we were in the middle of nowhere. We decided to wrap maple up in a warm jacket with her mum and we went back to sleep. The next morning we were devastated to find Maple's lifeless body. It was heartbreaking, Shadow stood over Maple and looked at us to do something and seemed to not understand why we didn't just bring her back. The feeling of guilt was overbearing, we felt completely responsible in our inaction and that we'd let Shadow down in the worst way possible. Both of her puppies had now passed away under our care. Could we ever forgive ourselves?

We wanted to find a pretty spot to bury Maple and decided to ride until something struck us. We saw a lake approaching on the GPS (Leech Lake) and thought it might serve as the perfect resting place for little Maple, when we realised the name of the road we'd park on was called Maple Leaf Drive we knew it was meant to be. This time we made sure to involve Shadow in every aspect of the burial, she walked with us to the burial site and watched as we dug the hole and placed the little body inside. We didn't rush Shadow, she took all the time she needed to say goodbye before covering her over and placing a mound of rocks over the grave.

We sat silently by the lake for a little while allowing ourselves to begin grieving. We're not sure how long we sat there or who decided we should continue but we returned to riding. We made it barely 20 minutes down the road before calling it quits for the day and pulled into a motel. It was incredible how deeply this little dog had touched us in only 4 weeks. The devastation we felt was so strong, we'd now buried 3 dogs on our travels and each time we relived the previous deaths while also grieving the latest loss. We needed time out to reflect and mourn this loss and thought this simple and insignificant motel served as a good place to hide from the world and so agreed that staying a few nights was in order.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Are you a Dog Person?
Do you Love to Ride?

Click below for more information on how you can take your best friend along on your next biking adventure

Also in Dog Blog

Bongo in the Congo
Bongo in the Congo

April 24, 2017

We arrived at the Gabon Immigation in Ndende nice and early to check out. Nobody was around so we opened the gate ourselves, this certainly drew attention and some military staff appeared and called us over. They were friendly enough, recorded our passport and motorbike details then we stamped out of Gabon. We left the sealed roads in Ndende, it was then 50km off-road riding to reach the Republic of the Congo Customs and Immigration. So far the road wasn't too bad, we only saw a couple of big puddles. Surely this would have to be the worst of the road. Countries often maintain their roads up to the border post pretty well but don't want to spend money beyond this point. How wrong we would be. Stamping in to the Republic of the Congo was fairly straightforward. We supplied a photocopy of our passports and visa for immigrations and then on to customs to import the bikes. The customs official checked all our papers against the bikes VIN's and produced the Temporary Import Permit. Befor...

Read More

Shadow enters the Southern Hemisphere
Shadow enters the Southern Hemisphere

April 13, 2017

We passed through Cameroon rather quickly. The wet season was imminent (April through June is the heavy rain) and we needed to get at least to southern Angola soon to avoid the heavy rains. We crossed into Cameroon at Ekok and spent one night at the Azi Motel on route to the capital Yaounde where we needed to purchase our visa for Gabon. The Azi Motel (4.629379,9.441828) was a great find. We paid 11,000cfa for an airconditioned room, no negotiation required the staff simply stated the price and were fine with the dogs in the room with us. The quality of air conditioning can seriously range from excellent to terrible, with terrible being hardly any cooling effects, loud noises and intermittent power issues. The a/c here was weak to start with but only due to the power supply, once businesses closed at around 9pm there was more power available and the a/c worked well. The staff explained to us that the internet was down in the region due to political problems. Next day we rode through...

Read More

Kidnapped in Nigeria
Kidnapped in Nigeria

March 29, 2017 2 Comments

A few days before leaving Benin we ran into a biker who told us about the motorcycle clubs in Nigeria and gave us the contact details of Queen, a prominent female biker. We contacted Queen to get some information about the border crossing into Nigeria and tried and organise a meetup. Queen was very responsive, but being located in the capital Abuja was well off the main route through Nigeria. However, she asked a friend and the president of the Lagos club, Paul, to reach out to us. Paul messaged us straight away and told us that he was unable to meet us at the border but would make sure we were taken care of by his friend Blessing. Once through the border we were to head to our accommodation and Paul would meet up with us after work. The exit from Benin was pretty straight forward, apart from the immigration officers asking for a €10 exit fee each. We normally know when a fee is simply made up because the legitimate fees are easy to find online and the fake fees are also commonly me...

Read More