Marty’s photo of the day #4541: Deb and I have enjoyed two long camping trips into Canada with our dogs. The first was in 2002, when Deb and I took Kate and Annie on a 5,572-mile-long adventure to the very top of Canada, which became part of my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents. The second was last month’s 2,390-mile trip to the top of Vancouver Island. (Since I’ve switched from writing adventure-travel books to novels, the Vancouver trip won’t end up in a book.)

Even though both Canadian trips were very different, they also had many common elements, especially those that involved our dogs.

Here are two common memories from those trips that will stay with me forever:

The first was the contented feeling of snuggling up to a warm dog in a tent on a cold Canadian night. The 2002 trip was much colder, so it was wonderful for Deb and me to be able to sleep between Kate and Annie rather than just having Nellie sleeping between us on Vancouver Island.

The second was the Steller’s jays stealing dog food. On both trips, our dogs ate the bare minimum—because they always had to be ready for the next adventure. But when the Steller’s jays moved into camp, suddenly the dry dog food Kate, Annie, and Nellie had little interest in was something worth protecting! It was grand entertainment for dogs, jays, and people alike.