We Can't Leave The Dog Behind
It seemed crazy at first.
"Let's move to Panama," Andrew said, leaning back in a lawn chair and eyeing Kayla above a dense advertising tome. "You used to live there. It sounds nice."
He looked preposterous - we were at a music festival, getting ready to make our way to the stage area.
Kayla shrugged him off. "That's ridiculous," she said. "I can't train dogs from Panama. And what about Barley?"
"Find a new job. And we can just bring Barley." He responded in a cavalier, offhand way.
A few weeks later, we circled back to the idea. Kayla said, "I don't want to fly with Barley. Let's drive."
Andrew asked, "To Panama, or to Patagonia?"
And so it began.
A crazy idea, which Kayla first dismissed and then one-upped. The beginning of El Perro Tambien.
We bought a car, a 2006 Saturn Vue.
Kayla's grandmother sold it to us for $2,500 on the condition that we fly to Florida to pick it up if we wanted it.
Though it's not what most people think of for an adventure vehicle (literally, a grandma car) it was big enough.
We named it Turtle, because it would carry our lives on its back.
Our Type of Date
It was fall of 2015, and we had just embarked on a 5,000 mile road trip across the western States to visit a dozen national parks.
We went all over. The Grand Canyon. Joshua Tree. Yosemite. Redwoods. Glacier. Yellowstone. Voyageurs.
Funded by Colorado College's Keller Family Venture Grant, we spent a month living in Kayla's 2003 Honda Civic on a $2,000 budget.
We read classic literature on the wild places we visited, and wrote our own as we explored them, discovering for ourselves the purpose of America's National Parks.
At the time it felt like The Trip of a Lifetime.
Now, we refer to it as our first date.
El Perro Tambien is our newest venture. Like our Venture Grant, this trip is simultaneously a trip to die for and a test of our relationship.
As I planned, I got more excited. My soul lives in Latin America, drawing me there so strongly that I transferred middle schools to pursue further Spanish language classes. I studied abroad in Panama at age 17 and went to Ecuador for 6 months in college to study tropical ecology.
But the dog and the job. They don't travel well - at least, not without planning.
I read The Four Hour Workweek and other classic tomes preparing me for becoming a digital nomad. I formulated a plan for my income - Andrew's will remain stable. I contacted my vet and started planning for Barley's international debut.
I started gathering lists of lists. What to buy, where to go, how to pack, how to travel safely with a dog.
We sold and gave away most of our belongings. We each have 1 120L duffel bag, laptop bags, and an extra bag for outdoor gear. Barley has a small duffel bag for his gear. Andrew will continue working in his digital marketing capacities.
I now work as freelance writer, SEO consultant, & web designer while simultaneously building my own business in dog training. My fluent Spanish will carry us at first, but Andrew plans to learn as well.We'll swing from city to city, staying in AirBnbs and exploring the world. We'll work full time and find a new city on the weekends. Barley will play fetch on the beach and eat rice and chicken for dinner. That's about all we know.
As hard as it is for me, I'm trying not to plan too far in the future. We want to have flexibility in our plans. New friends along the way will draw us in, toss us off course. There will be mishaps with the car and hangups at borders. This is not the time for rigid timelines and strict itineraries!
Meet The Crew
Barley: Fetch Maniac, Mlem Machine, and Supermodel
Barley is our three year old border collie. Kayla adopted from Denver Dumb Friends League in March 2017. He loves fetch more than steak.
Barley spends his days chewing on bones, charging through forests at top speed, and testing his mettle at herding, agility, nosework, and skijouring.
Kayla: Writer, Web Designer, and Endurance Freak
Kayla is an avid writer and scientist from the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Her love of cross-country skiing and kayaking drew her to Colorado for college. While there, she fell in love with field biology, ethology, and huge outdoor adventures.
Kayla spends her days working as a freelance writer, web designer, and conducting virtual behavior consultations for problematic pets.