Traveling with a blind dog is not easy, especially one who’s 14 years old and has lived in one place for 11 years, but she seems to like the journey as long as she knows where I am. I’m in South Fork, Colorado where I expect to be for three weeks — EXPENSIVE but so far it’s what I have. I can change my reservation, but at least I have a place to live for the time being and my dogs — who’ve been free to roam in and out of my house and yard whenever they want — are now getting serious leash training. One of them doesn’t need it; another might not need it long but I’m afraid that for Lily I am a Seeing Eye Human. It’s pitiful and inspiring at the same time to watch her. One thing is I will not be able NOT to sleep with them for a while or to leave them behind until they get their bearings.
I drove through the high desert north of Flagstaff, stopping at Tuba City to walk the dogs and get a milkshake at Denny’s. I must have looked pretty fagged out because the girl behind the counter said, “Are you OK?” I told her I was just tired. She was — I don’t know. I have always liked Indians. As long as I can remember I’ve felt happy to be with Indians — my mom was a teacher on the Crow Reservation in Montana so stories and photos of people she’d taught and known and worked with were part of my growing up, as were members of the tribe. Every time in my life I’ve been in a situation where I got to work with Indians, I’ve loved it. I have no idea why and don’t think I’ll look for some explanation since it would probably be fiction and who cares? But yesterday and today were sweetened by the fact that I spent most of the day on the Navajo and Ute reservations and my superficial contact with people was all with them. The girl at Denny’s brought me out my milk shake and handed it to me, putting her hand on my shoulder saying, “Don’t go to sleep, OK?” It was a blessing, or so it felt.
I drove on US HWY 160 (where my town is located) all the way from there, across the south end of Monument Valley (amazing…) through the town of Kayenta where I stayed with some students of mine back in 1994 — 20 years ago! The beautiful hotel where we stayed is now run down and tired, and maybe I am too. Seems like it when you look at pictures of then and pictures of now!
After MANY hours and amazing scenery, I entered Colorado. At this point in the journey, it didn’t look like “Colorful” Colorado, not in this photo, but all around the horizon are amazing rock formations. Since it was unbearably hot, and I needed to walk the dogs, I didn’t take time for photos, just for this one to mark the moment of returning to the state where I was born.
After another hour or more, a trip through Pagosa Springs (which is lovely and I want to go back) I was heading up to Wolf Creek Pass, which goes over these mountains, sort of to the right behind the trees in the distance.
I had not been over it before but had heard scary stories. At the bottom is a waterfall I couldn’t stop to see today — though I caught a glimpse. Wow… The pass going east was empty — and it’s beautiful, wide and well designed. Other passes — Berthoud and Arapahoe — are much worse. Lily didn’t like it, but… It rained, of course, but that only made it more fun. I grew up driving over these things and it was just fun to do a thing I’m kind of good at.
The mountain sides had two things happening — in the higher elevations, the terrible toll of the beetle kill was everywhere. MOST of the lodgepole and other tall pines are dead. The same miserable creature is killing the oaks in the mountains of California because of the drought. This year, Colorado has had a lot of rain which has washed the dead needles off the pines and will help the new pines get a good start. In other plant news, the aspen are turning. This is an event in my native state and people get in their cars (or used to, maybe now they just go on Facebook) to see the aspen. I was melancholy (summer’s over) and thrilled at the same time, but I got no photos. Maybe one of these days after the business of this coming week is done.
After the pass, which was fun, it was down hill to the little town where I’m staying tonight, South Fork. I’m in a 2 bedroom cabin where I will probably stay until my house deal closes.
The dogs are calmer than last night. I am hoping they have no digestive problems (as one of them had last night) resulting in my starting my day with a horrible cleaning job… Poor things. Two nights in a kennel (strange new food) then a long day in a strange car on the road for the first time EVER, then sharing a room in a Motel 6 — next time I would not do that to them. I would get them a room in the fanciest hotel in Sedona which is actually so DOG friendly it’s DOG encouraging. Then my dogs would have had a yard last night instead of the hell they went through.