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.

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Homeless

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.