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Days 1 - 4
Sunday, April 10 thru Wednesday, April 13
                      Heading Out                      

This trip combines hobby and pleasure -- I am taking my Keeshond dog Windy (Ch Windrift's Wind Song) to Memphis for a romantic assignation with Bentley (Ch Trumpet's Ticket to Ride.) While Windy gets it on with Bentley in Memphis, I will take a swing through some of the attractions of the Southeast. In a week I return to Memphis, pick Windy up, and roll wheels for home again.

WindyI had planned to leave around 8 AM on Sunday for a 9 1/2 hour driving leg to Needles. One of the things I needed to accomplish on Saturday was get a copy of Windy's brucellosis test from the vet, to take with me so I can prove to the owner of the stud that she does not have this STD. Vet called, said the test was ready, I jumped into the car and ran over there, looked at the copy -- and it is not a brucellosis test, it is a progesterone test. I need that brucellosis test! A call to the lab, fortunately they still had the vial of Windy's blood, and they would schedule a brucellosis test which would probably be ready the following morning. Since the vet does not open until 9 AM, there went my 8 AM departure.

Bentley Since I couldn't leave first thing in the morning, I left some stuff to be done in the morning instead of doing them Saturday night -- packing the bags and loading them into the car, washing the windshield, etc. Come morning, those chores seemed to expand to fill a lot more time than you would have thought -- and I was not ready to leave the house before 10:30 AM. Add a stop at the vet to get the needed copy of the brucellosis exam, and it was 11 AM before I was heading down 101 out of town. With a 9 1/2 hour drive still ahead of me, plus the usual stops necessary when travelling with dogs.

Windy acted very anxious for the first 2 hours of driving, panting and whining. After the 3rd stop (she might have been saying she needed to go...) I changed the configuration of her crate so she could either ride in the crate or in the back seat, as she chose. Riding in the back seat was much more precarious and uncomfortable than riding in her crate, so come the next stop she happily allowed herself to be shut in the crate again... and spent the rest of the day riding quietly and snoozing.

I tried a new route from the Grapevine to Barstow this trip, and missed my turn. Ended up at the gates of Edwards AFB and had to turn around and drive back to Rosamund -- a 25-mile detour. It featured a bit of a thrill however -- Rosamund Dry Lake is not dry right now after all our rains; so there is a huge lake where there is normally nothing but dust. Magical.

In spite of delays and stops, I arrived in Needles before 9 PM. Not too shabby.

Monday morning -- those who know Windy will be utterly amazed to hear that she was completely silent last night in the motel. Not so much as a bark out of her.

Monday April 11

I spent too much time this morning doing computer things, and too much time looking fruitlessly for a Jiffy Lube-type place -- one of the things I didn't manage to get done Saturday before I left was service the car. I didn't get out of Needles until 10 AM, it is an 8-hour haul to Albuquerque without stops, and I passed a time zone. Thus I didn't arrive in Albuquerque until 9 PM again.

San Francisco Peaks
The San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff

The weather was lovely today and the drive was uneventful. The bugs were all out enjoying the weather, and large quantities of them ended up on my windshield. Since I hate peering thru bugs, every time I stopped to potty Windy I had to get out the windshield cleaning equipment and give it the business. Then it would stay clear for maybe an hour before I was once again peering thru bugs. I wish they made windsheilds like those paper palettes -- you just tear off the top sheet and dispose of the painty mess. Gee I'd sure like to just peel off a layer of windshield at each stop....

Tomorrow night I swear I am going to get into Oklahoma City at a reasonable hour, an hour when I can relax for a bit and then go out and eat a real dinner instead of taking some fast food to my motel room. Given the time constraints, I put off the Indian jewelry shopping stop until the return trip and just DDRRROOOVVVEEE. So far, the fun quotient of this trip has been very low, just hurry down the road. Granted this is the "get to Memphis" phase but I could arrange this better to enjoy it more, I swear. Well at least I had a good audio book to listen to as I blasted down the road.

Surely there must be a Jiffy Lube here in Albuquerque, but I got in so late it will have to wait for the morning. I hope they open at 8 AM.

Tuesday April 12

Sure enough, there was a instant lube place right around the corner from my motel, and I was on the road east, breakfasted and with the car serviced, by 9 AM.

East of Albuquerque
Heading East from Albuquerque

Nothing much east of Albuquerque

This morning I figured out one reason why I have trouble getting going early enough. Now mind you, I couldn't have been on the road this morning by 8 AM anyway since I had to get the car serviced and they only open at 8; but I didn't wake up until 7 AM when I intended to get up at 6. Why? Because I am accustomed to waking up when the room gets light, and the blackout draperies that motels have on their windows keep the room dark as night well into the morning. So now I know I need to use an alarm, which I ordinarily never do. No grand scenery here

As you see, this part of New Mexico is really rather boring, and still quite barren and wintery.

I forgot to mention a cute moment from yesterday. Remember I mentioned the Mojave was a virtual insect wonderland and the whole front of my car was plastered with bug splats. Well my windshield wipers were festooned with many entire insect bodies. While I was eating lunch by the side of the road in Kingman, a bold sparrow flew down, perched on my wipers right on the other side of the windshield from my face, and grabbed all the deceased insects. Beak full with insect parts dangling to either side, he then flew off to his nest. No wonder sparrows are so successful in human habitats; they are sooo inventive at finding new ways to get a bellyful!

Today was travel as I like it. No worries, no big hurries, everything taken care of and nothing to do but get to Oklahoma City before 9 PM. Warm sunny weather without being hot, and while the landscapes between Albuquerque and Oklahoma City are not exactly stimulating, at least in the springtime they aren't so pure butt-ugly as they were in winter, which was the last time I drove this route.

About to leave NM About to leave NM Now we are on the border of New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle.

Windy is upholding her image as the California Princess. I make my dog stops on side roads out in the country where I don't have to worry about cars blasting past at 70 mph, and the verges are typically rough land full of stones and twigs and weeds. Windy does not like setting her delicate little paws in such country and hurries to the pavement where she does her business and wanders around looking at the world. She is eager to get back in the car at the end, but acts like it is a terrible ordeal to walk over the rough verge again to get to the side door. She quickly scrambles back into her crate as soon as she gets to the door. Windy also seems to have decided that she does not like riding in a moving car. When we are stopped by the side of the road for one thing or another, she is perfectly peaceful in her crate; but as soon as I get rolling again she starts to whine and pant. Fortunately after fussing for a half hour or so she usually gives up and shuts up. Obviously though Windy will vote not to go along on any purely-for-pleasure road trips in the future.

west of Amarillo This is the Texas Panhandle west of Amarillo.

east of Amarillo east of Amarillo East of Amarillo things get a lot greener --
but everything is still very flat and pretty plain.

Wednesday April 13

Oklahoma Today I left the flat featureless plains behind, both barren and green, and drove through a wooded Springtime landscape. The trees are newly leafed and each is a different shade of green. Where the new leaves are against a background of dark evergreens, the contrast is striking and lovely. Oklahoma I had a pleasant drive to Memphis, sans fuss or worries.

Oklahoma Around 1 PM I got sleepy at the wheel and had to pull over for a nap -- which Windy made very difficult by barking at everything that moved. I had to remove to a more remote parking place to shut her up.


They've obviously had a wet Spring around here, too, because the rivers are all brown with silt and in many cases over their banks, with trees standing in the water.

Oklahoma has really nice roadside rest areas; spacious, beautiful, and with quiet peripheral places you can park your car and picnic or walk your dog, away from the hurleyburley near the toilets. Windy really appreciated the nice mown lawns underfoot instead of wild land. Oklahoma Oklahoma


I arrived in Memphis just in time to get caught in a horrible rush hour they're-working-on-the-Interstate traffic jam, an unpleasant end to an otherwise good travelling day.
Tomorrow morning Windy meets Bentley.