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

Senegal and Mali
Senegal and Mali

February 09, 2017

Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.Mauritania to Senegal was another difficult border crossing. We chose the sleepy border crossing of Diama instead of the more popular Rosso border crossing. The road to Diama takes you through a national park. Its a dirt road, heavily corrugated, but fun to ride. There are plenty of warthogs to see and local birds. We lost a few screws, shaken loose from the corrugations, and Janell broke a fuel line about 15km from the Senegal border. She only realised because the fuel was pouring on to her foot and it got really cold and stopped to investigate. The broken fuel line had to be addressed asap. The rocks from the gravel road were flicking up and had cracked the plastic connection for the Touratech auxiliary tank. We've had this part damaged before so its no surprise and we were carrying one spare connector which we simply fitted on the spot. To protect the connector however we grabbed an empty 500mL ...

Read More

Snow in the Sahara
Snow in the Sahara

December 09, 2016

The Pack Track entered Africa with great excitement and trepidation. There is so much to see in Africa, such different cultures to explore. But it is a challenging continent (roads, climate, poverty) and a volatile continent (conflict). We had rested enough in Europe and felt ready for the next adventure, not to mention warmer climates! We took the Trasmediterranea ferry from Algeciras to Tangier Med. This is the slow, run-down looking ferry and coincidently the cheapest option at €77 for 2 people and 2 motorbikes.  We'd checked the prices online which indicated a cost for dogs but decided not to book online after our recent ferry debacle in England resulting in a missed ferry, additional 600km+, hotel expenses and more riding in the cold, wet, England rain. So, when we turned up to the ferry terminal in Algeciras we were happily surprised the dogs were allowed on for free and when we were on the ferry, motorbikes tied down in the parking area, the girls were allowed to sit insid...

Read More

United Kingdom 2016
United Kingdom 2016

August 28, 2016

Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.It was a big decision to take a break from travelling and to work in the UK. To this day we debate whether it was a good idea or not. Janell felt she needed some stability, to know where she was going to sleep every night, buy food for more than a few days and have some routine in our daily life. It could also be an opportunity to make some money for Africa and money to spend enjoying ourselves exploring the UK. Stu wasn't so sure about this plan, by his calculations we had enough money for Africa and wasn't keen to be sticking around in England through the cold months. It would give him time to work on the Pillion Pooch design and run a kickstarter campaign, an idea he'd been playing with in the US but just never had the time to really sit down and work on. It was agreed, we'd spend 6 months living and working in England. Janell was happy to get a job, she knew she'd enjoy the social aspect of wor...

Read More