Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Travels with Charlize’

At three-thirty in the afternoon we started looking for an RV park. We passed several that were not worth turning around to go back to before stopping at a grocery store in Gualala, CA. I purchased some fresh vegetables for dinner and the checkout lady told me how to find the California State Salt Point campground. At the gate was a friendly park ranger who was talking to a young couple. I stopped and he told me to just pick a spot and then return and fill out an envelope from one of those in a box at the gate. Put five bucks in the envelope and I would be registered. I drove through the entire campground where all the spaces were empty. Too many choices.

I returned to the gate and stopped without getting out of Old Blue. The ranger turned from the young couple he was still talking to.

“You decided not to stay?”

“Nope,” I answered “couldn’t find an empty spot.”

He looked at me incredulously until I smiled, and then he laughed politely at my lame joke. I climbed out of Old Blue, retrieved an envelope and made the loop again. I consulted with Charlize and we picked a spot, filled out the envelope, put my five bucks in and walked back to the gate to deposit the envelope. The ranger and the young couple were gone.

Charlize found something to interest her.

DSCN0381

 

Read Full Post »

It was after dark when we finally arrived in Las Vegas. We enter town on a freeway I know nothing about, five or six lanes of rush hour traffic at 65 miles per hour. I have the mistaken idea that I can spot a hotel or there will be a sign for one. I will be able to pull off and check in.  I am quickly relieved of that ridiculous idea as the traffic worsens. I gradually inch our way to the right lane and take the first exit I come to. I obstruct traffic for seven or eight blocks looking for a place to pull off the street. I spot a parking lot and pull into it. Whitey, Charlize and I are all still whole, amazing! The hometown drivers continue to curse my out-of-state license plates and are, no doubt, glad to see me get the hell out of their way.

This time my new GPS comes through. I am less than a mile and a half way from a pet friendly La Quinta Inn. I follow the spoken directions and the map to the front door. I thank the device. I don’t know how I would have coped without it as tired and frazzled as I am.

I know for certain I am getting “long in the tooth” (that’s how one gestimates the age of older horses). A long drive and two nights in 50’s motels with less than comfortable beds and my shoulders and back are aching. The spacious La Quinta room includes modern plumbing that functions as intended and a comfortable king-sized bed. I’m living large. The folks at the front desk recommend a close by restaurant. After a nice steak and a long hot shower I catch up with the Winter Olympics. Charlize wolfs down the steak scraps that I mix in with her kibble. The Las Vegas room cost less than either of the previous night’s motels.

We are up early and on the road again by 7:30. I am anxious to visit old, familiar places in Arizona. We arrive in Boulder City Nevada and follow the signs to Hoover Dam. It will always be Boulder Dam to me. We stop to gawk, along with a surprising number of tourists. Lake Mead reflects the drought conditions of the southwest the water level significantly lower than I can remember. Charlize does her thing making friends with two young couples.

DSCN0575

I say hello and they answer, very friendly but speaking what I surmised to be a Balkan language. They have a few words of English but my zero words in their language make it impossible for me to find out what I am certain is an interesting story. I do understand when they ask for the dog’s name but I just leave it at “Charlie” too difficult to explain more.

Since Charlize doesn’t read she was unable to follow the directions stenciled onto the wall she jumped onto.

DSCN0581

Just above Charlize’s rump two lines are visible on the dam. The top line is the high water mark for Lake Mead. I can’t come close to guessing how much water is gone from this reservoir.

Next on the agenda is Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. The sun is out and the outside temperature gauge in Whitey reads seventy degrees, this is my Arizona in February. In the late 1940’s my family used to go camping in the Oak Creek Canyon. Sedona consisted of a gas station and a general store. There might have been a dozen or so rustic cabins sprinkled along the canyon. Progress and population evoke change. The canyon now seems full of Inns and restaurants and summer homes all crowding in on the remaining campgrounds. Sedona is a huge tourist mall, crowded with cars, RV’s and people. I take Charlize for a walk. One of the places we pass advertises: “The history of Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona”. We did not go in so I have no idea what they were selling, maybe just providing free information, but my impression of Sedona is that not much is given away free. There I go again, complaining about “progress”. But I urge you to imagine what Sedona looked like before this photo. Note the landscape, the red rock formations poking over the clutter.

DSCN0585

Read Full Post »

Charlize and I are driving through southeastern Oregon and into California. The winter landscape is much like eastern Washington; rolling hills, windmill farms generating electricity, creeks and washes home to cottonwood trees bare and stark silhouettes in the winter sky. We drive past cultivated fallow fields but the rows cut with the slope, up and down rather than terraced, perpendicular to the slope to conserve the soil.

“Why do they cultivate like this?” I ask Charlize.

She doesn’t respond but I see her perk up her ears in the rearview mirror. We slow to twenty-five miles per hour through Moro, Oregon. Proudly emblazoned on the tall outside of the high school gym is an announcement that both boy’s and girl’s teams have won state championships. Even at twenty-five miles per hour we pass too quickly to note which sports or when the students accomplished those historic achievements.

Moro is obviously an agricultural community, the supply center for a region. Outside of town are sprinkler irrigated fields, the rolling wheels and attached sections idle, resting for the spring and summer workload of providing essential water to the dark soil. I see no indication of what is grown.

At mile marker 231, still following highway 97 south, the evergreen trees on either side of the highway show the scars of a forest fire. The charred, blackened trunks of the surviving trees bear witness to the conflagration but I spot only an occasional skeleton tree, stark against the sky. Judging by the size of the new growth trees the fire must have happened eight or ten years ago. Piles of logs not far from the road indicate logging activity but it is not clear to me if the scarred logs are being harvested for lumber or firewood and there is nobody around to ask. We are still about forty miles north of Klamath Falls.

We stop in Klamath Falls. Charlize has her walkabout and I opt for a slice of apple pie and two cups of coffee. The waitress is unable to shed any light on the mystery of the piles of logs we passed. I was getting tired. I presume, correctly, that the coffee and sugar fix will keep me going for another two or three hours.

It is almost six in the evening when we stop at the “Last Resort Inn” in Adin, California. It is another motel directly out of the 1950’s. The young, female clerk who shows us to our room welcomes Charlize. She seems anxious to engage me in conversation but my answers to her questions are dismissive and she gives up. I’m too tired to relate my story or listen to hers.

There is only one place to eat in Adin. The limited menu is displayed on the wall above the counter where I place my order for an “Ortega” burger, onion rings and a diet Pepsi. As I supposed the “Ortega” burger features a slice of canned poblano chili pepper wedged between the hamburger meat and the other accouterments, enough said.

Before we leave, early the following morning, I take this photo while Charlize takes care of her post-prandial business.

DSCN0565

 

On the road early again anticipating a long drive to Las Vegas. We motor through the Modoc forest with intermittent showers, gray, dark skies, mist and low hanging clouds hugging the trees before us. The empty highway twists and turns but before too long we are in Nevada, long, empty high desert valleys separating mountain ranges as we gradually progress south and east. As we climb up from the desert valley, devoid of interesting vegetation, we reach elevations above six thousand feet and observe Joshua trees scattered occasionally amongst non-descript, ground-hugging brush.

DSCN0573

 

The photo was taken through the driver’s side window while whizzing past at 65 miles per hour, amazing and this from Rosalie’s five or six year old, small digital camera.

Read Full Post »

On Sunday, Feb. 9 the family and I ended the official mourning period, according to our traditional upbringing, with the service for the unveiling of Rosalie’s headstone. During the process I learned something new. The Rabbi told us that Abraham started this tradition when he put up a monument to mark the grave of his beloved Sarah.

Charlize sensed my mood, as always and, along with my two sons and their families we survived the day and celebrated Rosalie’s life at her favorite Chinese restaurant. If you are interested let me know and I’ll give you the name of the place. She was, after all, a gourmet cook and foodie with high standards.

Two days later my new vehicle, “Whitey”, I’m finding it harder to be original with vehicle names, was packed and loaded. Charlize and I worked our way through early morning Seattle traffic on our way to Enumclaw. We had never been that way before and I am all about never travelled roads and new experiences. I intended to cross the Cascades via Crystal Pass. My new GPS directed us around a traffic jam on I-5 and before too long we were headed east across the plateau, filled with hobby farms, towards Enumclaw. We passed small acreages with horses and an occasional small herd of cattle. I spotted an obviously old, large, barn sticking out of the mist, probably part of the original large farm that occupied the location. I presume that original place supported a family prior to being subdivided into plots much too small to serve that function.

The GPS was programmed to take us across the mountains to Yakima. Charlize’s new habit is to keep me awake and focused on my driving by resting her head on my shoulder as I drive. The GPS warned us of traffic difficulties, directed us through Enumclaw but there was no mention of the Pass being either open or closed. There was traffic heading west and I concentrated on the dry pavement now winding and climbing west through a rain forest. Moss climbed tree trunks, engulfed downed logs, grasping at young trees forcing their way toward the light from nurse stumps. We passed a few clear-cut openings as we went up and out of the dense forest into more typical mixes of evergreens and deciduous. We continued to encounter the occasional vehicle coming from the east. We stopped in the Village of Greenwater for coffee but I didn’t think to ask if Crystal Pass was open. Surely the GPS would warn me if it was not and all those vehicles were heading west from someplace.

You guessed correctly. We found snow, then more snow, but Whitey is an all-wheel drive vehicle, no problem, until we arrived at the barricades across the highway and signs informing that the Pass was closed. I suffered minimal frustration since time was not an issue on this trip. So back we drove to Enumclaw, north to I-90 and the now not so interesting drive over Snoqualmie Pass. I ate a lunch of Mexican food in Cle Elem and filled the gas tank. The sun was out but lots of snow and slush on the ground.

After Yakima we headed south, finally back to the plan. Now we were seeing new views and vistas of country not previously travelled. The western slope of the Cascades was covered with snow from the most recent storms but the road was clear and dry. When evening caught us we stopped in Goldendale and found a motel that would allow Charlize to stay in the room with me. Two hundred and fifty dollars tacked to the credit card bill if she made a mess but my girl would never do such a thing, too much of a lady.

The owner of the motel was an Asian lady and very pleasant. I brought Charlize in with me to show how well behaved she is. I related how Charlize was helping me get through a day at a time as a new widower. The motel owner told me that her husband of forty years died three years ago, leaving her to operate the place, we were soon friends of shared experience. When I checked in there was one other guest and the next morning there were only myself and two other guests in the place. I hope she gets more business when the weather is not so ugly. The rain all night turned a foot of snow into slush in the parking lot.

Charlize’s cold nose on my cheek got me up and moving at six AM and at 6:59, Charlize fed and walked, my travelling cup filled with a two Splenda® latte, we were on the road traveling south by southeast through forested lands. Clouds hung on the road in the distance ahead of us, turning to mist as we embraced them, the heavy sky overhead. Then there was an opening, a donut hole in the dark cover and blue-gray light reflecting off puddles on the pavement rushing past.

There is something about driving back roads and empty highways early in the morning that makes me feel free and righteous, a lightness in the chest akin to watching your offspring win at something you know is important to him or her. Anyone who has experienced that feeling knows what I am talking about. If you don’t I have sympathy for you.

We arrived at the Columbia River and Charlize asked to get out to check out the view, she loves the snow.

DSCN0561

We stopped for lunch in Bend, Oregon, at the Big Belly Grill House. Who could possibly pass up a place with that name? I let Charlize out of Whitey for a quick walkabout then put her back in.

“That’s a beautiful dog, is she friendly”” asked the waitress.

“She’s very friendly,” I responded, “especially to good looking women.” Dating seems to have sharpened my repartee’.

“Can I pet her then? My name is Lise,” she held out her hand.

I took her hand.

“Lise, not Lisa or Alicia,” I asked.

“No, L E E C E, pronounced the way it is spelled. It used to be Lisa, but I changed it.”

“OK,” I said and let go of her hand but not before she gave mine a squeeze.

“I’m Dave.”

“Please to meet you Dave.”

“Likewise.” Again note the sharp repartee’.

It was about one-thirty in the afternoon and the place was empty except for one customer. Leece asked him if he needed anything else and he responded in the negative. She told the cook she would be back in a moment. We went out to Whitey and I opened the hatch back, telling Charlize to wait. Leece petted Charlize after asking her name. Charlize leaned into her and absorbed the attention. When both had their fill of petting, leaning, touching, licking I told Charlize to get back in and closed the hatch.

DSCN0571

“I was afraid of dogs for a very long time,” Leece told me.

“That so, why was that? Did something bad happen to you?”

“When I was about seven years old I watched as a Rottweiler attacked my cousin and practically chewed his arm off above the elbow. His mother was a Christian Scientist and refused to take him to a doctor and he eventually lost the arm.”

“That’s a horrific story, I can understand why you were afraid of dogs. What happened to change that?”

“Well my second husband had two Golden Retrievers and they were very sweet dogs. They were much sweeter than the oaf turned out to be. Leaving those two dogs was much harder than leaving the oaf. Anyhow I’m now a dog person.”

Read Full Post »

Charlize and I stopped at yet another vista, this one full of cars, trucks, campers, RVs and a lot of folks. The signs for the place identified it as Elephant Seal Beach and the attraction was a lot of Elephant seals sunning themselves on the sand and a few frolicking in the water just off shore.

DSCN0550

 

They aren’t dead but are mostly motionless. Every now and then one of them digs up some sand with a flipper and flings the grains up into the breeze, covering its body with a thin crust. I have no idea what that accomplishes, maybe the action distracts some biting flies or other pests. I’m certain they wouldn’t do it unless it accomplished something, and all of them seem to participate from time to time.

The water was an unbelievable blue and, despite all the people, it was another amazing experience to add to my journal.  Many of the folks stopped to chat and pet Charlize. I never cease to be surprised about how easy it is to open a conversation with strangers using her as the “ice-breaker”.

These seals are the Northern Elephant Seal, sea mammals that spend from eight to ten months per year out in the open sea. While out and about, so to speak, they are able to dive from a thousand to as much as five thousand feet down searching for a meal. That is an amazing statistic, as any scuba diver will tell you. Each sixty-three feet below the surface of the water is equal to one atmosphere of pressure.  That means they can withstand almost 80 atmospheres of pressure, enough to crush almost anything made by man and they can stay down for as long as two hours.

Only about one out of six of the seals manage to survive to adulthood. The pups, especially, are vulnerable to a variety of predators, including man. They were hunted almost to extinction, their oil being second in quality to only that of the sperm whale. By the early 1970’s there were only about a hundred of these animals breeding on Guadalupe Island off Baja. Before the U.S. government did anything the small colony was protected by the Mexican government. Our then functional government finally managed to pass the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. By 1999 the total population of these amazing creatures was estimated to be about 150,000 with the Piedras Blancas rookery home to about 18,000. Every now and again we do manage to do something right.

Heading north again we went past Tomales Bay State Park and any number of small towns with somehow familiar names; Cypress Grove, Ocean Roar, Valley Ford, Bodega Bay (something out of a Steinbeck book?), Jenner, then an extremely winding road and passing the Salt Point State Park campground where we spent a night in Frog on our first trip. Eventually we made it to Gualala and checked into the Whale Watch Inn, a charming place with a charming hostess, a great view of the water from my room and Charlize was welcomed and allowed to stay in the room with me. We both prefer that!

 

Read Full Post »

Our second day out we made some serious tracks. After experiencing the Lewis and Clark Scenic Highway we turned south to follow the Bitterroot River flowing north. We continued south past Sula then turned east to cross over Chief Joseph Pass at 7200 feet elevation. We were at the northern edge of the Bitterroot Mountain range where the Corps of Discovery suffered. I let Charlize out at the sign that marked the continental divide and I believe she peed on both sides… good dog! We pressed on to the Big Hole National Battlefield site. This is where the Nez Perce tribe fought the 7th Infantry Regiment led by General Oliver O. Howard on August 9 and 10, 1877.  This was the largest battle fought during the five month-long so-called Nez Perce War.

The tribe had made treaties with the U.S. government in 1855 and again in 1863 that ensured they could stay on a small portion of their original lands located in parts of three states. The much smaller parcel of land they were promised was in the Wallowa Valley on the Grande Ronde River in northeastern Oregon. In 1877 General Oliver was instructed to attack the tribe if they did not relocate to an even smaller reservation in Idaho. Chief Joseph reluctantly agreed but three young braves, enraged by this action of the U.S. government, massacred a band of white settlers who were moving into what was the tribe’s original homeland.

Chief Joseph decided to move the tribe to Canada to avoid further problems but they were intercepted at Big Hole and fought a day and a half delaying action allowing as many women and children to escape as possible. By some accounts at least ninety of the tribe, mostly women and children, were killed. The U.S. forces lost twenty-eight dead and forty serious casualties. The action allowed many of the tribe’s members to escape and continue their trek but they were caught again in October, only forty miles from the Canadian border and safety. They were starving and exhausted and Chief Joseph surrendered to save those who had survived the terrible ordeal. About one hundred and fifty tribal members did make it to Canada prior to the surrender.

This history lesson was the depressing culmination of our full day. We found an RV park in Wisdom, Montana, not far from the battlefield. There was nobody in the office. There were two trailers parked, but no occupants and as long as Charlize and I were around we didn’t see another person in or around the place. A sign instructed prospective patrons to fill out the form on one of the envelopes provided, leave $30 and enjoy the facilities. There was an electric service box and we plugged in, but the water was turned off. No Wi-Fi, no cell phone service, no cable TV, and the door to the restroom/laundry was locked. The good news was that less than two hundred yards away was Letty’s bar/restaurant that did have a few patrons, a good sign considering the lack of human activity in the town otherwise. Two glasses of drinkable, not memorable, red Zinfandel washed my meal of salad, a chewy steak, baked potato and a roll down, but I left half of everything but the Zinfandel for Charlize. I cut up leftovers and mixed them with a cup of her kibble and she again abandoned her normally dainty eating habits.

Gave up and went to bed early so was up at 4:30 and we were on the road by 5:00. The sky was starting to lighten casting a red-tinged gray light on the mountains to the east. As we drove mostly east the increasing light reflected off the rock-induced waves and ripples of the fast running Big Hole River that we were following. Just as sun peeked over the mountaintops and I started to lower Old Blue’s visor a cow moose loped across the road in front of us. I touched the brakes but she was safely distant and unconcerned. She made an effortless hop over a four-strand barbed wire fence heading toward the river. Charlize, riding in her new home in the bed of Old Blue, protected by the canopy, was very excited when she saw the moose hop the fence and barked her appreciation of the effortless feat.

It was before noon when we arrived at a very nice, full service RV park in Ennis, Montana. I shelled out another $30 a night for two nights stay but everything was provided and the restrooms and showers were new and immaculate. After setting up Frog and detaching her from Old Blue I checked in with the Madison River Fishing Company where I met Matt, the fishing guide I had reserved for the next day’s adventure. I told Matt that since it was so early in the day I might want to do some bank or wade fishing. He told me where to go and sold me some flies he thought might be productive.

Charlize was a pill. She considered my attempts at casting as playing retrieve with her. She followed the line into the water, barking her excitement. After repeated stern warnings to cease and desist she completely ignored me increasing my irritation by snapping at the line or my fly rod. I gave up and put her in Old Blue. She obviously didn’t understand the reason for her imprisonment but considered it unfair.

I tried all the flies Matt sold me, plus some of my own tying but only managed to snag some twigs on trees and in the water, and a few rocks. The water was moving fast and the rocks were slippery, so after a half-hearted attempt with my bum ankle I gave up wading and walked, actually limped, the bank with equal non-success.

With the nonsensical optimism of a true amateur I decided I would do better the next day, with Matt’s tutoring and guidance. You’ll have to await my next post to find out what transpired.

Read Full Post »