Airstream + Dog = Happy Trails (and Tails)

Airstream + Dog = Happy Trails (and Tails)

by Guest Blogger Daniel J. Hale

RV travel with Man’s Best Friend is an irreplaceable bonding experience. It’s also the very best kind of travel, especially during a pandemic. Airstream + Dog = Happy.

Montage: Kirby outside the RV and in its doorway.
Here’s Kirby with Dan’s 2019 Airstream Sport 22FB: At left, parked at the Marfa Yacht Club. At right, on the doorstep of adventure. (Daniel J. Hale).

I’d been jonesing for an Airstream since I saw several of the streamlined aluminum travel trailers during a road trip to the Great American Southwest in 2001. By early 2019, after my second stint as Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America. (best known for the Edgar® Awards), I’d logged roughly a million miles on commercial airliners. I was tired of flying and leaving my dog in the care of others. My laid-back border collie dude Kirby had already transitioned to life as a senior dog, and I became increasingly aware how much each moment with him mattered. I made a firm decision to take Kirby with me whenever I traveled from that point on.

Travels with Kirby

In July 2019, I bought my first Airstream from a terrific dealership in Fort Worth, Texas. Kirby and I traveled with it a lot. We towed the shiny trailer to Marfa, Texas; Natchez, Mississippi; the Florida Panhandle; Lajitas, Texas; the pine thickets of Southwest Arkansas; the French Quarter in New Orleans (yes, there’s an RV resort there); and the Caddo Lake area. I grew more and more fond of the experience with each trip. Kirby seemed to love it as much as I did.

Kirby on a wet street in the French Quarter, and with Lajitas Mesa in the background.
Kirby sees the sights: at left, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA. At right, outside the Airstream with Lajitas Mesa in the background. (Daniel J. Hale).

Being able to work from a place like New Orleans was key. When I took a break, I could leash up my pup and walk to Cafe du Monde for coffee and beignets. There are few things in this world better than strolling through the French Quarter at dawn with your pup, his nose still sprinkled with the powdered sugar from the pastry he tried to pilfer from the table. I’m forever grateful for the quality travel time I was able to spend with my good boy Kirby.

Airstream + Dog = Happy Memories

In April 2020, the pandemic in full swing, I headed west with the Airstream. My new rescue, a sweet shorthaired border collie I’d named Fox Mulder rode shotgun. The original plan was for us to go to Southern California and back with stops at the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Monument Valley and Joshua Tree. I’m here to tell you that towing a mobile studio apartment is a great way to stay safe while traveling during a pandemic. I’ll also let you know that, at the time, the constantly changing menu of various state restrictions made travel unpredictable and precarious. We got as far as Marfa, Texas, and then we dropped anchor.

Two scenes of Fox Mulder the border collie traveling.
On the Road with Fox Mulder: at left, Fox finds the Airstream’s forward bed acceptable. At right, he and Dan get the heck out of Dallas. (Daniel J. Hale).

The terrific all-Airstream Marfa Yacht Club served as our home base for a month. Fox and I took side-trips to Lajitas, the Davis Mountains, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Alpine, Terlingua, Fort Davis and Presidio. (Big Bend National Park was closed at that time due to the pandemic.) After four weeks in Marfa, we towed the shiny aluminum trailer to South Padre Island. There, I showed Fox Mulder that wading into the ocean wasn’t scary but rather a lot of fun. Five weeks in close confines with the new rescue pup served as an irreplaceable bonding experience. By the time we returned to Dallas, Fox and I knew we belonged to each other.

Fox Mulder in a chair outside the Airstream, and in the surf at South Padre Island.
Fox Mulder, dog about Texas: at left, taking in the sights from beneath the canopy. At right, frolicking in the surf at South Padre Island. (Daniel J. Hale).

Airstream + Dog = Happy Family

The pull of the open road once again grew too strong to ignore after a few weeks in Dallas. While Fox Mulder remained well cared for at home, I once again set out for California. This time, I made it to San Diego and Joshua Tree National Park. I had no doubt that bringing Fox along would have carried additional risks – mostly risks to him – but Airstream travel just didn’t seem right without my fuzzy co-pilot. Lesson learned. When I made my last month-long excursion near the end of 2020, Fox Mulder was riding shotgun again. Balance had been restored to the world. To my world, anyway.

Many RV owners will tell you that they bought their expensive homes on wheels for and because of their pets. They may chuckle when they say it, but they’re dead-serious. So am I. Life on the road is good. Life on the road is much better with a canine (or two) in your entourage.

Three views of Fox Mulder in and around the RV.
On the Road Again: At left, Fox sits inside the Airstream. Center, Fox Mulder as Gladys Kravitz – on a stakeout. At right, Fox Mulder at the Marfa Yacht Club. (Daniel J. Hale).

Airstream + Dog = Happy Trails (and Tails)

Our Guest Blogger Daniel J. Hale is an Agatha Award-winning author and a two-time former Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America. He’s an FAA-licensed unmanned aerial vehicle pilot – his three aerial photography exhibits were sold-out shows. Hale speaks fluent French and is the recipient of the Diplôme Superieur de Français des Affaires de la Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Paris. He holds degrees from Cornell University, the Bowen School of Law and Southern Methodist University. When he and his trusty border collie are not in Dallas, you’ll find them traveling the country with their shiny silver Airstream in tow.

IMAGE CREDITS: All photos are courtesy of Daniel J. Hale Photography (Jan and G. recommend a deep dive into his gorgeous online galleries for some amazing and beautiful photos!). Many, many thanks! We deeply appreciate his willingness to share a glimpse of his adventures with his canine co-pilots on The Weird Blog and Artdog Adventures! Dan, you’re a rock star!

4 thoughts on “Airstream + Dog = Happy Trails (and Tails)

  1. Fantastic read! I studied writing with Dan at SMU. Great guy and great story. Makes me want to get an air stream and see the country and….get a dog.

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