Apartment Life

There should be a handbook on apartment living handed out to every renter as soon as they are given the keys to the apartment. Because it seems that in this day and age, people need to be told what the proper etiquette is for living in close quarters to other people. They have no concept of what is going on around them that there are other people in very close proximity to them. I have been living in an apartment here for almost a month now coming from living in single family dwellings, (houses) for almost all of my life. I had no one above or below me, no one on either side of me and no one in a building within ten feet of me. Granted I didn’t run around stark naked with the blinds open for the world to see, I had a neighbor that liked to run around outside in the wee hours of the morning naked, watering his plants. I had some sense of privacy, but not here.

I don’t know any of my close apartment neighbors personally, but I know a lot about a few of them. We should feel either very safe or very scared because I think the Abominable Snowman lives above us. I don’t have a clue what he or she looks like but whoever it is they have the heaviest footsteps. I always know what room he is in by the sound of the footsteps. That he hasn’t come through the ceiling is a testament to the construction of the floors. I just hope the snowman likes dogs, as friends, not food.

Then there is the couple in the next building one floor higher that our apartment. They either are hard of hearing or don’t like each other much. On more than one occasion we have had the “pleasure” of listening to their conversations. One night their very animated heated conversation woke me up. Their voices echoed down and in the windows of the bedroom and from the tone I waited for bullets to fly or the sound of plates smashing. I couldn’t tell what they were saying because it was in a different language, which sucks because here I was wide awake in the middle of the night listening in on a huge fight and had no idea what they were saying.

Lastly the woman who lives in the next building on the same floor as us likes to sit out on her patio and have conversations on her cell phone in speaker mode. The two patios are about fifteen feet apart with some bushes to give each some modicum of privacy. I can’t see her, but I know all about her mother and her mother’s relationship with a man. It seems the daughter doesn’t approve.

I just shake my head and wonder what goes through people’s heads at times. Do they not have a clue that they are not alone in the world? Or is it me? Am I the weird one because I am not a long time apartment dweller that these things bother me? Do people get de-sensitized to the close proximity of other people just like everyone seems to be de-sensitized to violence on television? I hope I’m not here long enough to find out.

A New Trail – Tiger Mountain Trail

We finally got to do a little hiking. We drove out to Tiger Mountain Trail in Issaquah. It was beautiful. I took my cameras to take some shots of the area. The trail system where we were had three trails, the Iverson RR Trail, Preston RR Trail and the NW Timber Trail. Because of the amount of people and bicyclists going toward the Preston RR Trail and the NW Timber Trail we decided to take the Iverson RR Trail. There was no one on that trail just us and the dogs so it was quite nice. The trail is a primitive dirt path with tree roots and stones sticking out of the dirt along the uphill climb. We didn’t make it to the top this time because we had to get back in time for Mitch to get ready for work, but what we did see was so beautiful. Below are a few of the pictures I took. There is one I took looking up at the tree tops that I plan on blowing up and framing. But even with the tree top canopy and ferns everywhere, you could still see how dry everything is even on this side of the Cascades.

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Photos taken on my Canon

One Week In

Well it’s been one full week here and adjusting to life in the Pacific Northwest. There have been a lot of adjusting for all of us. The dogs are trying to figure out what is going on, from one home totally chaotic at the end to no home staying a pet spa during the day and sleeping in hotels before getting on the road, to a three day road trip, sleeping in better hotels. Walks consisted of rest stop strolls along a busy highway. Now they have been thrown into apartment living, with people and dogs always close by and walks are done always on the leash, sidewalks and groomed landscaping. So far no place to get off leash and run until totally spent.

I’m going from a home I didn’t like but knew every corner to homeless spending time driving around trying to get everything wrapped up before a long tiresome three day road trip to coming to rest more than eighteen hundred miles away from the city and state where I lived my whole life. Apartment living here means no real privacy because of the climate, there is no air conditioning so everyone has their windows and doors open. I got to listen to a fierce argument between the couple in the next building at eleven o’clock the other night. The downside to hearing the fight was that the couple fought in their native tongue and I didn’t understand a word. How am I supposed to eavesdrop when I don’t understand a thing said?

Poor Mitch, he probably has the hardest adjustment of all of us. He’s been out here displaced since mid-May and has had to find a place to live that would eventually house all of us. He had to find where to shop, where to get gas and how to get back and forth to work and home all by himself. We have one couple living here that have been good friends for a long time, Mitch works with the wife and I worked with the husband, that live here and have been so helpful for him, but it is still a huge adjustment.

Now I come crashing back into his life bringing all of my chaos and lack of organization. He has had almost three months of orderly boring routines and all of a sudden there are messes in every room in our two bedroom apartment. Even though we still have no furniture or most of our personal possessions, which it seems takes longer to travel from Missouri to Washington than a 1995 station wagon with two dogs, I have managed to upend every room. I can make more and bigger messes than the best, I am quite the pro, so you can imagine adjusting to me again is taking its’ toll on Mitch.

The biggest adjustment overall is that now we are retraining the dogs to be better leash walkers. With all of the people and dogs squished into such close quarters we constantly run into other renters and their dogs. Charlie and Orso have not done well in the past with other dogs walking in their path. We always found an escape there and here there isn’t an escape. We have not been consistent with leash training and other dogs in the past and now we’re paying for it. Oh I forgot to mention the bicycles, there are bicycle riders everywhere. It’s very popular here and that’s another problem for the dogs. They lunge and try to charge the riders. Bad, bad, bad. I am trying to redirect their attention to me when we walk by carrying dog treats and feeding them to the dogs as bikes, walkers, runners or dogs are around. Of course after one week I can’t tell if it is working or not. I think that Orso has gained five pounds though.

I have decided that I want to move to a house that is secluded without so many people around. Now I’m looking online for houses that are a ways out, maybe in the booger woods and who knows maybe I will find one before our furniture gets here.

On the Road – Day Two

It felt so wonderful waking up in a soft king size bed with clean sheets. Clean sheets and a super soft pillow, in a nice cool air conditioned room, life doesn’t get much better than this. That was my first thought, my second thought was it’s time to feed the dogs and take them for a walk after I got a big wet nose in my face. Even on the road, nothing changes.

We made it to Gillette, Wyoming without any more incidents. I took the first exit that had hotels listed on the lodging sign options. I found a Holiday Inn and pulled into the parking lot. Wonders of wonders they had a room available and they allowed dogs, double bonus! I didn’t care that the only room available was a king suite, I didn’t care that there was a pet fee and I didn’t care that it was a lot more than I usually paid for a room. I was tired and I wanted to sleep in a clean soft bed. Even better there must have been a state police convention in town, because we counted nine state police cars in the parking lot. The state police cars outnumbered the motorcycles in the parking lot. We never felt safer than we did that night.

After breakfast, we loaded up and hit the road, there were still more than a thousand miles to go. Monday, well west of Sturgis, traffic on the highway was minimal, the occasional semi and pickup truck, but for the most part we were alone on the highway. Thankfully most of day went without incident and we made good time. By midafternoon we were almost through Montana and decided on Coeur d’Alene, Idaho as a stopping point. As we got closer to Idaho, road construction slowed us down to about thirty five miles an hour. We came up to a point where the road narrowed to one lane and as I headed in a pair of motorcycles came shooting up from behind us trying to cut us off and get ahead of us. One motorcycle cut off my friend but couldn’t get past me so he ended up sandwiched in between us with his friend behind the truck.

All the way through South Dakota and all of the motorcycles neither one of the dogs made a peep, but after this jerk came barreling up and almost landed in my back seat, Charlie went crazy growling and barking hitting the back window in an effort to eat him. I thought if I could go the rest of my life and never see another motorcycle I would be just thrilled. Then I looked in my rearview mirror and saw that he was even dumber than I originally thought. This jerk stood up and started to perform acrobatics on the bike. He stood on one peg then changed to the other peg, all this on an uneven surface sandwiched between a pickup truck and a station wagon both from Missouri and both driven by two women who were willing to run over him and keep going. What a dumb ass.

We finally lost him and his friend after we got into Idaho, and found a Best Western in Coeur d’Alene that allowed dogs, clean sheets and a soft pillow ahead. Oh, and a bottle of wine too.


Friday I was officially homeless. Everything that had not been packed and shipped off to Seattle in the U-Boxes from U-Haul were loaded up in the pickup truck and only the stuff I needed every day was loaded into station wagon. I took the dogs to Pete n Macs for doggie daycare and headed out to run all of the last minute errands before heading out on the two and a half day road trip. I took the cable boxes back to the cable store, bought a new phone and stopped by Victoria Secrets. Hey, I had some time to kill before picking up the dogs, besides after two and a half months of back breaking work purging and packing I deserved a treat.

The original plan was to stay with friends, but it didn’t work out. Charlie was too stressed out as was I, which contributed to a bad greeting with the friends’ dogs. I decided it would be better if I just took them to a hotel for the couple of days before we headed out. Most of the hotels in the area that allowed dogs limited the weight to fifty or seventy pounds and there was no way that Orso could pass for seventy pounds, so I ended up taking them to a long term hotel change.

The room smelled like someone chained smoked two or three cartons of cigarettes at one sitting. Of course they put us on the third floor. So much fun hauling two dogs and my suitcases up and down three flights of stairs. Charlie took up residence on the bed while Orso climbed up into the chair and laid down across the chair and ottoman. I got ready for bed and looked down at the bed and saw a bug. I grabbed a Kleenex and squished it. It was full of blood and gross looking. I had a sneaking suspicion so I googled it. Yep it was a bed bug. Only me, I have that kind of luck. I got a different on the first floor that didn’t smell like smoke and nothing in the bed after I stripped it and checked the bed thoroughly. I was so happy to check out the next morning and get on the road.

I had a friend driving the pickup truck following me in the station wagon with the dogs. We decided to drive out going north on I-29 to I-90 ending west straight through from South Dakota right into Washington breaking off before hitting Seattle. The route would take us north through Iowa, west through South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington. The only drawback to the route is that the Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts August 3rd. This is the seventy-five anniversary of the run so you can imagine the throngs of motorcycles, trucks and RV’s trailering up motorcycles to drive around in wild abandon in a small town with a population of less than seven thousand. One estimate from the highway department was that there would be 1.2 million people were going to be there. Way too many people for me.

We finally cleared the traffic jam after we passed Sturgis and had a pretty open road all the way to Wyoming. I was beat and ready to stop when I saw a Best Western Plus hotel sign at the Sundance, Wyoming exit and thought maybe just maybe we were far enough past Sturgis that there might be a room available. As I turned into the parking lot I saw about twenty motorcycles parked and thought why bother, I should have known better. Against better judgement I parked the car and walked into the lobby. I was in there all of about a minute and a half, long enough to ask if there were any rooms available and long enough for the front desk clerk to tell me no. I turned and walked out the door to be met by a large ugly biker woman that came right up to my face and asked if I was the owner of the car with the barking dogs.

I responded, “Yes they get a bit upset when I get out of the car,” thinking the dogs were being too noisy.

She snapped back at me, “Did you know that it is a law in Canada that if a dog is barking in a car with the windows closed that I can break the window? It is inhumane to leave the dogs in the heat.”

Mind you at the time she was railing at me, it was after eight pm, the sun was low in the sky, I had parked in the shade, the car had been air conditioned cool and I was gone for a total of less than three minutes. A lot of different responses went through my head:

1. We are in Wyoming – not Canada, so shut up.
2. You have no idea what hot is, we have just come from Missouri with the heat index in the low hundreds.
3. You have no idea who you are talking to, a woman that has been driving for over twelve hours tired and with a very short fuse.
4. Go ahead and save the little brown dog, stick your arm in there, I dare you.

I thought better of saying any of my first thoughts, partly because I was so tired and partly because any response on my part would have escalated the situation to the point where someone (probably me) would end up in jail. I did tell her that the doors were unlocked and there was no need to break the windows. Having told me what a terrible pet owner I was, she turned and walked back to her gang of bozos. I told my friend there were no rooms and headed back to the cars. Now I wasn’t tired, I just pissed. I had enough righteous indignation in me to keep me going all the way to Gillette, Wyoming.