This Man Took His Dog On A Huge American Roadtrip
Mark and his white shephard Mya travelled over 80,000 kilometres through North America. Now, they're planning an Aussie road trip in memory of Mark's dad.
Two years ago, Mark was living for the future, saving up money and investing in his career and relationships.
The shock of his father's sudden passing gave him "a wake up call", making him realise he couldn't put off his travels any longer.
Mark's father had been planning a trip around Australia for 15 years when he died unexpectedly at 63 years of age -- just two years before he would have retired.
It was Mark's 30th birthday, and his last words to his father were in jest.
He called his dad a "lazy bastard" for asking if they'd catch the bus back to their accommodation just 400 metres down the road.
There was no sign his father was ill, or that anything was wrong. That was until Mark and his mother found his father in the bathroom, after he'd suffered a heart attack.
"He hardly took any holidays. For him, it was about when he retired, he was going to do this massive trip he’d been wanting to do for so long," Mark said.
"It was his final message: don’t put everything off for down the track because you might not get a chance."
As a former hockey player, Mark had dreamed about visiting Canada since he was a teenager -- but he couldn't fathom leaving his four-legged best friend behind.
So with his dog Mya, he took off in 2017 for a two-year trip around America, Canada and Mexico.
Together, they've travelled to 40 out the 50 US states, driven across Canada and seen iconic sites like Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, Roswell's UFO museum, New York City, the Grand Canyon and Hollywood.
It wasn't cheap to transport Mya to Canada -- around $9000 for the return flight ticket, plus vaccinations and vet costs -- but Mark said it was worth every cent.
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"When people say that’s a huge amount of money, I’ve broken it down and it’s about $20 a day. It's not much when you think about the money people spend on alcohol, cigarettes, on going out for breakfast and dinner," Mark told 10daily.
"Mya is my family, she’s my responsibility and it was a no-brainer for me to take her over," he said.
An adventure dog at heart, Mya has joined Mark on heart-starting pursuits like water rafting, mountain biking, sailing, skiing and snowboarding.
After some excellent dog training, Mya overcame her fear of water, and cruised down grade fast-moving rapids in Canada.
"When she was a puppy she fell into a river and she had a bad experience. After that she really didn’t like being in deep water," Mark told 10 daily.
"When we were in Lake Placid, we got her in that canoe and progressed eventually to a raft on a fast-moving river. I’m not going to lie, we hit some rapids and she had a worried look on her face [but] after that, the river calms down and she had a grin," Mark said.
The US and Canada have an abundance of dog-friendly national parks. During their time abroad the pair visited Yosemite, Yellowstone and Big White Ski Resort.
"We based ourselves in Revelstoke in British Columbia. There’s so many opportunities to go hiking, to visit frozen waterfalls, to go back-country skiing. There’s incredible mountain resorts," Mark said.
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"Big White [is] one of our favourite dog friendly resorts. Mya was able to take the gondola up from the car park and run down by my side as I skied back to the base of the gondola. There was some hiking there and I went ice climbing as well," he said.
Mark has returned from his overseas escapades and is currently planning the Australian road trip his father missed out on.
In October, Mya and Mark will travel from Melbourne to the west coast through central Australia, and make a later trip along Queensland and the east coast.
Mark plans to take Mya to pet-friendly spots like Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.
"Having Mya with me has forced me to look for other activities that I normally wouldn't have done like mountain biking in the snow, snowshoeing. I've definitely grown as a person from that," he said.
"Don't let people tell you that you can't do it. People were so negative saying no 'you can't do that' and last two years have definitely proved that we could," he said.
Contact Eden on Twitter @edengillespie