Jason: I kind of want to let Henry off the leash in front of all these geese and see what happens.
Me: I kind of do too, except they’re like 5 times the size of him. They’ll break his neck.
Jason lets Henry off the leash. Henry gets close and geese start hissing and flapping their wings. Henry backs off terrified.
Me: Huh. Well now we know. Look at that one over there sitting by himself in the bushes. He’s got feathers all over his beak and isn’t moving. Do you think he’s sick?
Jason: He’s probably just cooling off. Look, he’s panting. Geese pant to cool off.
Me: But what if something’s wrong with him? The feathers make him look like he’s rabid. Is there such thing as rabid goose syndrome? Is this something we have to worry about? Or maybe he’s biding his time until we get closer to the lake and he can box us in and shoo us to our untimely demise. We’re much weaker in the water.
Jason: No, I don’t think geese can have rabies.
Me: Ok, because having a flock of rabid geese chasing us through the park to the car is the last thing I want right now. Those squirrels over there are huge and menacing. They probably team up with the geese to take down passers-by and mug them. I can see that big fat brown one giving me the side eye. Thug. And there’s goose shit everywhere and Henry lunges for it every chance he gets. We would have to abandon Wookie to save ourselves. And Henry too. We’d never make it out otherwise.
Henry grabs a huge mouthful of goose poop and gleefully throws it into the air
Me: See? Lets go back to the car before the goose apocalypse starts.
Jason: Huh. Well, for Henry goose poop is probably a delicacy. You know how much he likes horse shit. “Feces a la vert.” It’s more French than French.
Me: I’m going back to the car. Henry can ride in your lap.
This morning I begrudgingly took the dogs outside in the rain because Jason said he didn’t have time before work. I’m pretty sure he sleeps in deliberately and takes extra time in the shower to ensure that he can never take them out. Like, he’s trimming every hair on his beard one follicle at a time in hopes of being able to escape this, or maybe he’s just trying to vex me. Rather than be the put together and pressed professional he could be to represent us to our condo community, he leaves it to me to make the two-story trek in my plaid pajama bottoms, knock off Ugg boots, and rats nest of morning hair. I don’t even get a cup of coffee first as I’m usually panic stricken at any moment Henry won’t be able to hold it anymore and will piss all over the carpet. At this point the upstairs hall and guest room looks vaguely like a map of Uganda, lower Asia, and possibly Patagonia. Henry also has an issue with, or a fondness of, electrical cords, things that are easy to shred, and sticks, and usually finds many inappropriate items to get his little jaws around. He’s a special little dog. We live on the second floor of an eight-unit condo complex, that is half residential and half commercial. Soooodasooopaaaaa. (Kudos if you get that reference.) Before I even take the dogs out, I have to strain to hear if any doors are being opened, and sometimes I’ll run upstairs to the second floor window to make sure the coast is clear in the atrium. GOD FORBID I run into one of my neighbors. Ever. Condo wasn’t the right choice in retrospect.
To get to the proper pissing area outside, I herd my geriatric terrier and hyperactive “Chipin” through a door to the commercial side, where Henry periodically breaks loose and terrorizes women and small children, and Wookie moves at a snail’s pace into the elevator. (I just discovered yesterday Chipin was a real thing, and unfortunately, I managed to adopt one. Henry was my biggest mistake of July 2017. But the little fur ball has grown on me since then.) We ride down to the parking garage and Henry bites and barks at Wookie all the way to the bottom, until, the doors open and we play Frogger around the parked and moving cars. Finally, the boys sprint to the courtyard opening, and burst into the freedom of sunlight, fresh American mountain living, and limitless possibilities of things to pee on. If I’m unlucky, I run into people I know. This happens frequently. It’s kind of like a community at a playground where people mingle just from the standpoint they have children, and that gives them a common ground, even though they would never, ever, ever think to attempt socialization with these people under any other circumstance, apocalypse notwithstanding. Most people here seem to have dogs, so as my dogs stand there awkwardly and antisocially amongst the other normal dogs, it gives me a common ground that I can make strained small talk over before I run for cover inside. Nothing is quite the conversation starter like watching your dog pass the neon green earplug that went missing in the middle of the night, or having to pull threads out of your dog’s ass so he stops dragging butt and looking at you pathetically. Yay for being THAT dog mom.
This morning it had been pouring rain and at first glance I thought it had knocked a ton of sticks around, but when I looked closely there were actually tons of earth worms everywhere. Naturally, OPERATION SAVE THE EARTHWORMS kicked into high gear as my dogs scattered looking for places to shit. While still in my pajama bottoms (I mention still in my pajama bottoms, because my neighbors haven’t annoyed me to the point I would aggressivley strip naked and sprint through the commons area. But every day is a new day,) I found a stick, proceed to crouch down along the sidewalk, and systematically began to pick up and fling each earthworm for safety moving down the entire path. Priorities, and I’m doing nature a favor here. 9am and I already have points for saving the environment. I realize now in retrospect that I must have looked insane from anyone who happened to look out the windows onto the courtyard, but I swear my heart was in the right place. Even Wookie was looking at me like I was batshit crazy waiting for me to take him back inside. This is why I should have coffee before I leave the front door. So I can be caffeinated and fling worms even faster while my dogs silently judge me as I save the planet. How fast does an earthworm get safely back underground? Water table dependent? What is a “safe” water level for an earthworm? I guess the level where they aren’t drowning? How fast do they chew? How DO worms chew? Where is the worm’s mouth? Did the birds get them anyway before they made it back in after I saved them? Is the early bird pre or post 9am? Nature is vicious.
I AM smiling
Before bed, I took the dogs out again because it seemed like the responsible thing to do, and we don’t need to add Madagascar or Sicily to our bedroom. This time, it was fucking pouring rain and dark. Luckily, Wookie is prissy, and neither dog likes to be wet so it was the quickest shit I’d seen from both of them in a while, until Henry started going after all the sticks. Nope. Not sticks. Massive fucking earth worms that Henry just decided he NEEDED in his mouth. Ugh. Jason might be picking up extra 24 hours shifts to get away from me or the dogs, but he’s not owning up to it.
After getting lost near Cochise National Forest, having to get back through a secondary immigration checkpoint (40 miles from the border,) and stumbling on the winery oasis of Wilcox, Arizona (where we met a lovely older couple, Dutch Lady, and Aussie who we talked politics with for two hours,) we managed to make it to our campsite in New Mexico. Being able to pee freely while camping is an amazing experience. My mom adores shopping in a place called Cherry Creek North, which is a rich, ritzy part of Denver some chose to call home. The last time I got back from camping and went down to visit her, none of the stores allowed customers to use restrooms. I threatened to pee behind someones fancy bushes in their front yard but my mom convinced the store to let me use the bathroom. I was a little disappointed but my mom hissed something about convention and propriety and a barn. It all worked out in the end. Which brings me to Santa Fe, which is another little, old, short, white haired, rich lady mecca. We found a nice, off season hotel that allowed dogs and supplied us with free shampoo, which I promptly took advantage of to wash the dogs. We worked our way through the Indian Market, and I found a beautiful set of beaded earrings and a necklace from a woman that came from the Navajo tribe. We had a great time talking with her and bullshitting. She gave us her card, and when we got home I thought I would check to see if she had an online store or Etsy site because her work was so beautiful. Turns out that the first thing that comes up for her in Google is her New Mexico aggravated assault and battery charges. Jason said she needs to work on her online presence.
At long last, we made it home, all dogs alive, all people with all limbs and digits. And so we begin our next adventure.
After recovering the dogs, we were faced with some decisions. The storm that had rolled through was a smaller part of a massive cold front that had descended across the west, and two feet of snow had just been dumped at home. We now had to choose where we could camp based on temperature. We stayed at a motel that night and took a survey of tourist cards in the lobby display rack. “Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Tombstone” . . .was how the conversation began.
And to Tombstone we went next, but not before staying the night camping in the Verde Valley. Which I only make note of, because as we drove into the middle of nowhere to get to this campsite, we randomly turned down a road that looked promising with some fire rings. We got out and walked to a picturesque clearing, as the dogs impaled themselves on prickly pear cactus, and decided to set up camp while watching a beautiful Arizona sunset. Working our way back to the car to get our tent became more interesting when we came across a full ritual circle complete with burnt out candles and some type of animal skull. Next to it was a perfectly laid out yin and yang symbol make of rocks. At least they were peace loving, new-agey seancers? To make matters worse, at roughly 1am a car pulled up out of nowhere, left the engine running, I heard someone get out, walk over to our tent, and started shining a light all around our campground. I woke up Jason and we listened until finally, whoever it was, walked away, got back in their car, and drove off. I’ll pass camping there again.
South of Phoenix looks like the apocalypse. We went straight down towards Tucson, which I honestly couldn’t find much merit in. At any moment I was sure Mad Max would be pulling up along side us and harpooning poor Hilde. We toured the defunct Lisa Frank factory, terrifying in it’s emptiness and ruiner of my childhood dreams, the weird airplane grave yard that goes on for miles, and imbibed on my total disappointment of Whattaburger, which Jason had talked up concerning his drunken post-army nights. We continued on.
Random yin-yang symbol
They let us dress the dogs up as bartenders
Non ominous sunset
Tombstone held a number of surprises for us, one, including it’s higher elevation and surrounding grasslands. We had no idea how beautiful that area was, considering the wastelands just north. Next, was the fact that everyone in the city preferred to dress up in historical costume and play their parts, even at the bar post-work. Also, the regular “gun-fight” performances. Also, this seemed to be the place were biker gang members came to retire. The locals looked rough. We walked towards a western display town with a raised wooden walkway where some guy (dressed in western attire) was drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. We had the dogs with us because Jason didn’t let me smother them, and the guy pointed out how cute he thought Henry was and how he reminded him of his dog that just passed away. I made my typical snide comment about trying to off Henry, which probably wasn’t sensitive or appropriate, when the guy suddenly got very intense and serious. “WELL. MY DOG DIED IN A VERY AWFUL AND PAINFUL WAY.” Uh-oh. That sounds just terrible! Tell me more? “YEAH. THIS LITTLE CHIHUAHUA KEPT TRYING TO BE ALPHA, AND THE OTHER DOGS DIDN’T LIKE IT. I THINK IT MUST HAVE BEEN PACK MENTALITY, BECAUSE THE DOBERMAN IS USUALLY FINE, BUT THAT ROTTWEILER RIPPED INTO HIM AND ALL THAT I FOUND OF HIM WHEN I GOT HOME ONE DAY WAS HIS HEAD IN THE FRONT YARD. Did the Doberman have blood around his mouth or just the Rotty? Why do I think of these questions? Why did I just ask him that out loud? It’s like the time when we had just started dating and I asked Jason if human meat cooked red because we have so much iron in our blood. Or did we cook like pork? Why does pork cook white? I wish I had signal. I swear I’m paying attention. WIFE WAS REAL TORN UP ABOUT IT. BOUGHT HER A TEACUP CHIHUAHUA A FEW MONTHS AGO AND SHE TAKES THAT THING TO WORK WITH HER, EVERYWHERE REALLY. LOVES IT. ANYWAY, LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT TICKETS TO TONIGHT’S GUNFIGHT. IT’LL BE GREAT.” That’s exactly the kind of shit you hand a cocktail and parade around the front porch. We thanked him for the offer, found a bar with some delightfully saloon attired waitresses and some dude that looked like he just came from Burning Man, and made way to our campsite.
Recently we embarked on a two week road trip, that inadvertently had us discovering much of the American Southwest. We packed up our camping gear, backpacker packs, and two small dogs into the Jeep (Jason thinks her name is Bertha, but I personally think she’s more a Brunhilda. I call the Jeep Hilde for short.) Our true aim was Havasu falls, which we had managed to secure permits for.
Our journey began from our small mountain town in Colorado, and took us west to our first night in Moab. The balmy 75 degrees was a relief from the sleet/snow we’d been experiencing, which was wonderful right up to the lighting strike directly in front of our car followed by a torrential downpour. The fur beasts fought, positioned, and dominated for best seat in the back, with Henry largely serving as co-captain. A beautiful sunset and blustery night later, we continued south down through Monument Valley. As we neared the beautiful towering rock, we slowed down noticing something strange in the middle of the road. Hoards and hoards of Japanese tourists had descended into the middle of the highway and were laying down in the center of the road for group photos. When they sensed our approach, or their imminent doom, they scurried from the road just in time for us to see a film crew roll past us on one side, while a large group of runners passed us on the other recreating the iconic desert scene from Forrest Gump. Because why not. Meanwhile, the dogs went ape-shit in the back, because naturally they need to warn us there are people near by, or when people dressed up as movie characters happen to be collected en masse in the middle of nowhere. Rather than stop, we made a quick exit from the area and continued south towards Tuba City, straight to our lord of saving grace, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
NO. STAY IN THE BACK.
This spot is perfect
Are we there yet?
We made a quick stop at the Flagstaff REI. Where there is a Wholefoods and REI, there will be white people. Us being a set of them. Show me a BD’s Mongolian BBQ, and they will come. $500 later, and almost purchasing an additional $100 worth of PFD’s for our dogs, we were on our way. I’m a little fuzzy on what happened next, but we stayed the night somewhere vaguely north of Sedona in the mountains. Maybe it was one of the vorticies that messed with my perception, I dunno. What was not messed with, was my sense of all the immaculately dressed little old ladies with their short white hair cuts that seemed to flood the town, taking in wine tastings, the austere beauty of the location, and the overpriced southwestern trinkets that were in abundance in every town within a 1,000 mile radius of us. We smashed a penny and I was happy. Onward! We stayed the night near Williams, AZ, and camped nearly on top of the old Route 66, which was weird. Williams was a trip. Jason had arranged for the dogs to be babysat for the one night we were in Havasu, so we tried to stay close for easier morning drop off. As we pulled into the area where we could find camping, we passed an old coach bus that had clearly been there for some time, complete with makeshift lawn furniture and decorations. I sincerely hoped nobody would come slash our tent in the middle of the night convinced we were after their meth. However, Jason managed to break the tent anyway so we saved them the trouble.
The next morning, as we pulled into the driveway of the dog sitters, we couldn’t help but notice all of the “Cavalry Baptist Bible School” signs that were stored next to the driveway. As soon as we entered the house, Wookie knew exactly what was up and starting barking and pawing at me fervently. A mountain of dog toys waited in the living room, and three large basset hounds erupted from the kitchen. Despite the scripture quotes decorating the walls, they seemed nice enough, and we escaped any biblical conversations. And at this point in the trip, I was happy to be rid of the boys. Hell, teach the dogs some scripture. Anything to make them fight less in the back seat. With that, minus a trip to a gas station bathroom later, we made our way to the Havasupai reservation.