When we finally got back to Seattle, I was so happy I could hardly contain myself. I started squealing as soon as the car crossed Lake Washington. By the time we hit the Magnolia Bridge, I was out of my bed and scratching at the windows to get outside.
I could smell it. Home, home at last.
It’s not that the three of us didn’t have a great time on the way back from Syracuse. Mike and Heather seemed to enjoy themselves, and I had some fun myself (more on that next time). But for me personally, it was just one bummer after another. Nothing quite as catastrophic as gashing my snout in Utah on the trip east, but traumatic nonetheless. Let me elaborate.
It started in Canada, where we went to visit Heather’s family and help her brother Robert pack up the house he sold and move to an apartment. The first night we were there, Mike dropped my cherished blue ceramic food bowl, the one my aunt Robin made, the one we left in a bathtub in Illinois Super 8 and rescued. This time the ill-fated bowl shattered into a million pieces. It will be missed; the Walmart purchase that replaced it is just not cutting it, although it has orange and blue on it. It will do until something better comes along.
More bad luck was on the way. One afternoon we went on a long, long walk along a railroad bed trail near Robert’s house. It was really, hot, and, personally, I think we walked too far. Anyway, I must have aggravated an already pulled muscle, and when we got back to the car, I was limping. So Heather ordered me shut me down for a couple of days (which meant no walks except to take care of business). This was actually OK with me, because it was hot and humid, and I got to spend the days in the shade in front of Robert’s house, hanging out with the guys while they conducted Robert’s garage sale. Quite a cast of characters came up the driveway, believe me. So maybe my pulled muscle wasn’t such a bad thing after all, at least compared to what happened next.
Before heading west, we spent a couple of days with my aunt Robin and her significant other Barry in their downtown Toronto apartment. It’s always scary for me in the Big City, but Toronto’s mean streets were nothing compared to my trip across Lake Michigan. I wasn’t at all concerned when Heather drove me and the car onto a big boat, since I’ve been on Washington State Ferries on many occasions. But on this high-speed ferry across Lake Michigan, dogs weren’t allowed to stay in cars; something about Homeland Security, they said). So when Heather stopped on the car deck, she told me to get out of the car with her. At first I thought this meant I was going to be sitting with her and Mike on the passenger deck, but that didn’t happen. Suddenly other dogs appeared in the area, and then Heather lifted me into a wire crate stacked on top of two others, all occupied by dogs who were none too happy about it. Least of all, me. I looked to Heather for relief, but she just shoved a pillow and a PBB in the crate, closed the door and said, “It’s OK, Chloë, I’ll be back.” What? Are you kidding me? I managed to devour the PBB, but I was still screeching when Heather returned to spring me some three hours later. At that moment, I didn’t know if I could ever trust her again.
I managed to get over it in a few days, and Heather started being nicer to me and came to my aid several times after that. In Nebraska National Forest, the sandy soil was rife with sharp, prickly burrs that were murder on my feet, sticking to the pads and between the toes. Several times, Heather and I had to sit down on the side of the trail and pick them out, one by one, until I could walk without pain. She bailed me out again when I balked at walking across a wooden suspension bridge over the Popo Agie River, carrying me across in both directions. The next day, along the Teton River, she chased off a bigger dog we met on a walk who just wouldn’t stop sniffing my butt. He wasn’t mean, but he just refused to go home. Heather finally made me run off with Mike while she had my back and chased away the other dog. I was thankful for that.
Our trips last few days in Idaho and Eastern Washington were beautiful but smoky, and I was glad to get home a couple of days later. I couldn’t wait to see my pal Charlie, my favorite UPS driver Donna, my smorgasbord of scraps on the grass outside Discovery Park, my dog pals down the block and pretty much everything else in Seattle except the Bartons’ cats. I know they have been lurking around my house in my absence, and I cannot stand for it. I will track them down.