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The Death of my Heart Dog

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Mason at home, not so long ago

 

 

 

Here’s a story I wrote for my little Mason dog, he’s gone, he wasn’t supposed to be gone, he was getting cured, but it wasn’t enough and he could not come home. It has been a hard road to understand why. I am feeling the shock but also the love.

For all who have been loved by a special Heart Dog, feel free to post a picture, a story, I want to hear about your pet and how he/she moved you. These animals that live with us make life so wonderful.

There is no joyous commotion of my Mason now when I walk in the front door, no ritual greeting when I wake to root me to the morning, his voice talking to me, his body jump and twirl, his wide eyed happy engaging me, his straggle of a beard lifting with his smile. No more being pointed to the treats in the kitchen, hurry to get his breakfast and make it something good, being told he’s ready for his outing, for his brushing, for love and cuddle time, Mason in my lap, time to do some games, watch the world.  No more click-pattering racing to crinkling wrapper paper that might mean a tidbit of cheese that Frans gave the dogs as they lined up, tails a wagging, a dropped crumb of something delicious, a squirrel outside. His excitement of a box delivered to the front door for him to open, a toy, a treat, a yummy chew stick. Mason ahead of the pack, sniffing the bags of groceries, all the great games my Mason invented for us to play.  How’d he talk intently, blinking and turning his head back and forth, teasing, playing, sparkling eyes watching me, paws down, tail high, his love spilling all over the place. We understood one another, communicated just as you might do with another human only better, no misunderstandings.   

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I met Mason over 10 years ago.  I’ve told this story a lot, Mason listens patiently when I tell it, or he did, not sure he liked the reminder but I will tell it again now, maybe for the last time ever.  I had lost my beautiful brown wavy Portuguese Water Dog, Lakebreeze Sundowner Hero and was crushed. He had pancreatic cancer at about age 15 that no amount of love could cure. The Old General, they’d call him at the canine group we went to every day. He knew it was his time but I kept trying to get him to hang on. When he finally left I was deepening into catastrophe, the beginning of the avalanche that took my cat Rocket, then my human loves and closest friends dying unexpectedly, my career died, my income, my professional standing, then my final plan for a business to support myself, for purpose in my life dissolving in unexplained betrayals … in the midst of this, towards the beginning of this relentless flood, I met Mason.  

So the story is that Mason was the saddest dog in the shelter and I the saddest human in the shelter. I started volunteering at all my town’s shelters to staunch my loss of Hero. The day Mason came in to this one that only took dogs doomed to die if not helped, and for the next three days after he lay without lifting his head, not eating, barely aware in the intake crate where everyone passed him by and tried to engage him. After 3 days I couldn’t stand it, went and got a harness and leash, he didn’t fight me, I put them on him and we went for a walk.  His head touched the ground, but his legs moved. I could not see his eyes but I could feel his pain, I had the same pain inside me.  We walked a long time. I took him to the open field where he saw a bird. A bird! He took notice, he lifted his head for the first time and looked.

 

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Mason at the shelter before I told him he was going to be mine.
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Carrying Mason at the shelter

For the next 5 months I’d run into the shelter, supposedly looking out for all the canines but It was Mason from the start, I just didn’t know it. If he was out walking with another volunteer I paced back and forth, silently worrying.  He mostly would not walk on a leash, not more than a few steps, he would barley eat regular food, surviving on biscuits and scraps dropped on the ground. He tried to make friends with the other little dogs but had to be separated because they picked on him. One time I came in to walk the dogs and Mason was not there, he’d been sent overnight to the emergency hospital for a stomach upset.  I could not sleep for two days wondering if he’d be all right. Several times he was adopted each time he was returned a few days later, he was biting people, would not walk on a leash, was growling, hiding and snarling. His fear of life was so strong he had to be put into the interior cement holding room during storms, it was quieter in there but not ideal. He had been found left for dead at a Lompoc mobile home park, I can only bless the stranger who brought him to Santa Barbara where the shelters are no kill. I think the staff had a betting game as I fretted about him, when will she take him home! I did not want a little dog, I did not want a dog that shed, I did not want a terrier (they thought he was a terrier mix) I did not want a dog that was biting.  I was by this time waiting to purchase my first Lagotto Romagnolo, I just had to wait.

I cannot remember the exact moment, the event that made me change my mind about Mason. Maybe it was his look of sad dismay when families came to try him out. Maybe the look in his eye he’d give me, the half wag, what he was saying to me that I did not yet hear. Maybe it was that if I didn’t see him every time I arrived at the shelter my heart would ache.

So, I made the decision he would come home with me. Jolyon was still alive at the time and kinda thought I was nuts taking this sad underweight waif in my arms. I endured the home inspection and grilling the shelter puts prospective pet people through.  It was lucky I did not yet have my first Lagotto Romagnolo as they would not have placed a ‘rescue” in a home with intact dogs, and likely not with a new puppy. Why I have no idea, just picky, I remember lots of people complaining who wanted to give a home to a lost dog that were denied.

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Mason moves in with me

That day the magic started. Mason who was known by all as the saddest dog in the shelter, the one needing to go into a cage alone by himself with no other dogs around, the one who often had to be dragged around because his legs would refuse to budge by walking, became a bundle of excitement.  I told him the day I filled out the paperwork he would be coming home with me.  I looked right at him, pointed my finger at him and told him, then I went home.  The next morning people were talking about that crazy little happy dog over in cage #3. He was eating, he was walking, he was perky, his tail was high, the shelter staff started telling me that Mason was a miraculously changed dog, his kennel now said taken, not available. It took close to 2 weeks before I could bring him home, I was unable to even see him over the weekend, Mason remained upbeat the entire time.

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My New Life –
At the park . we go walking somewhere fun every single day.
I love to roll in the grass and hunt for gophers!

The first thing he did on coming home was to do endless zommies, like he owned the place. I’d never seen this racing around from Mason, I didn’t know he had it in him. He had a huge smile on his face. Had he done this for other homes from which he’d been returned, no, I’m sure he did not. When he went to the other homes he’d remained sad and returned sad. I put him in his halter and walked him around his neighborhood.  I knew he must be tired after the zoomies and the walk but he did something unexpected, as I was bringing him in the door he suddenly burst out and started running at full speed for the collector street ahead. In that moment I questioned everything, why was he running away! Was I wrong to take him home? Did he see me as only a means to an end?  Was what he really wanted to get back to where he’d been found, to return to his previous life before the shelter?   Whatever he was thinking I wasn’t going to let him get hit by a car.

By luck a neighbor was in the street on his bicycle and he saw Mason bolt, what he did next was brilliant. Instead of chasing Mason he got front of him, hoped off his bicycle, picked it up and waved it high in the air over his head, shouting and yelling at Mason at the same time. Mason was terrified, I squatted in the middle of the street, opened my arms and Mason came barreling into them as fast as he could move. Turned out that was the only time he ever tried to run off.

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Here I am!

I started working with him right away, as he relaxed I started to learn more of his many troubles. I enrolled him in the recommended dog training class for rescues. We made slow but steady progress mostly at home until something happened at the dog class, a much bigger dog terrified him and Mason decided to hide and would not budge, the trainer took over telling me I could not ignore this behavior but had to help him through it.  The treatment he received was horrifying, being dragged, I could see and hear how frightened my pup was, the trust I’d started to build with him vaporizing so I put an immediate stop to it and walked out of the class with my Mason tucked under my arm, never to return. That’s when I purchased a professional dog training course and revived and revisited all I had once known about working with difficult dogs. One thing I had learned back in the 1970s was that love won out every time with a dog.

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First trip to the forest . inspecting pine needles.

 

This began my love affair with my little Mason. It turned out he didn’t have a wisp of terrier in him as the shelter had believed, nor Corgi but he did have Pomeranian in him. When I did his DNA it came out like this:  Dear Head (Mexican) Chihuahua, Wirehaired Dachshund, Pomeranian and Mini Poodle. I was so surprised I solicited and received a detailed report and long phone call from the Wisdom Panel, another very interesting learning experience about how breed characteristics are passed down.  

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Mason and puppy Olympia

Once I brought my first Lagotto Romagnolo, Olympia home all ground was lost with Mason. He became so upset he took to hiding deep under the bed once again, growling and snarling with those little teeth of his. It took a while to convince him Olympia was only there for him to love. In time they became absolute best friends. For several years I took them both 2 hrs up the road to K9 Nose Work classes. In the beginning Mason was so shy, he’d barely put his head in the box to get a treat, over time he blossomed. I was so amazed at his emerging personality I became a K9 Nose Work instructor and have seen the same thing happen to other scared, abused or PTS dogs and their handlers.

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Found it! Nose Work container hide… there’s a scent in there and Mason is letting me know he found it… lots of boxes and other objects to search through to find what’s he looking for.

 

The other story I’ve told a lot is how long it took to get him to do a “down.” He’d mastered, sit, come, stand but down he just would not do.  It took over 4 months, closer to 5. I’d clicker and marker trained him but the thing that finally worked was to lure him under my legs with me sitting on the floor, my legs outstretched and bent to form a tunnel. To get the treat he’d have to do a crawl and to do that he’d have to do a down.  Forever after he’d craw under my legs as a game whenever he thought I needed cheering up. He’d go so far as to get me down on his level then put a paw on my leg until I’d lift them just right so he’d could climb under, wagging his tail and giving me little nudges and vocal sounds to emphasis his point. He could be very insistive.

Mason was accepted by my local AKC club, he was the first non-purebred (to my awareness) that was. He obtained his Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) and his therapy dog certification, participating in Paws to Read where children with reading difficulties read to a dog. He was a member of Canine Ambassadors, he did obedience, agility and tracking and he excelled at Nose Work.

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Mason does Canine Ambassadors

He overcame some other interesting if not disturbing quirks where a stay command, to him meant run away fast and hide, where a hand outstretched to pet him meant someone was going to hit him, when a big dog passing near him meant he’d have to fight for his life. Over the years he so completely overcame his fear of men that he took it as his job to hunker up to a lonely man (or woman) that we might meet and offer comfort as only he could, giving delight to others became his trademark. He overcame his fear of loud noises developing into a fearless protector willing to take on any and every loud sound from raging thunder to gunshots. He protected his home and he protected me and the Lagotti Romagnoli especially when we were away from home and traveling. He changed from yapping hysterically in fear, to “proper” alarm barking as he felt warranted, that did include the postal carrier, UPS, FedEX and trash trucks, as well as suspicious strangers. It was a busy job.

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Wow! Snow! Mason who never much liked water, loved snow.

 

Never a day went by that I didn’t purposely make certain to put a smile on his face; his smile is what I lived for. As my personal losses escalated, Mason was close by my side, he slept with a paw on my shoulder or his paw on my chest, he’d cuddle so he was touching me until I’d felt better. If I was hurt or injured, he’d give his comfort, there were times with him close beside me that come morning my pain would be gone and when I was about to give up, he’d come to cheer me.

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Mason in my camper van. . . bought it for the dogs.

My little Mason grew so much emotionally, he became wise as well as bold, truly fearless and strong, playful and boundless with joy. If we were out hiking and became lost, he’d find our way back to the camper no matter how far from home as we traveled across the county and he’d never choose the wrong vehicle or the wrong path as my Lagotti will often do.  He could choose a perfect camp spot for us, jumping at the window, barking in a certain tone he had, wagging his tail for emphasis to tell me this was it, turning his head to give me the look to pay attention, when he didn’t like a place he’d retreat, sometimes I had to pick places like that and he sure let me know I’d made a mistake, he was always right.  He loved going to friends’ houses, making friends with the humans and all their animals and of course getting treats. He had long conversations with others touching the souls and hearts of so many, I didn’t always know but would later hear how he’d made a deep friend.  He learned about puppies and helped bring up three generations of Lagotti.  I used to tell people I lived because of Mason and it was true. I got up every morning to take care of him, to share the day with him, bringing a smile to his face made my heart sing.  I promised him I’d take care of him no matter what and not let him down, it was my job and I took it very seriously.  He didn’t like to be without me, a few days or so was okay but not too long. I tried once and he took to going back under the bed and growing so he went with me almost everywhere.

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Mason and Olympia… Olympia is starting to get bigger!

Mason wanted to know everything, he surprised me so much. I first saw this this time Olympia and Mason were allowed inside an aquarium with me where we were traveling, the dogs were so cute, we got lots of attention. Actually I have lived for a long time now with strangers oohing and awing… oh so cute, it’s never me they’re taking to. I tried to show both dogs the creatures behind the glass, Olympia was totally bored, but Mason was fascinated, I had to lift him up at every porthole so he could watch, he didn’t want to miss anything!  There was another mother in the aquarium holding her human son up the portholes somehow I felt my “kid” was getting the better enjoyment of the experience. The same turned out to be true when we were driving, I bought him a booster seat so for the first time he could see out the window and it became a forever thing for him. He’d watch and often comment on everything, far in the distance and especially up close. He’d watch how people interacted, he’d examine the strange offerings in a museum when allowed in, he looked at everything with such interest and managed to communicate his opinions. He met lots of different kind of animals in awe. I used to ask him how someone so small like him could be so smart and observant. The size of one’s brain evidently does not limit one’s intelligence.

Like my Lagotti, he was 100% reliable on or off leash, a real pleasure to walk and take anywhere, although he did retain an unwillingness to walk on leash with others he did not know or trust. As for me, I trusted this little guy with my sanity and with my heart.

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Mason always came along to dogs shows, he was very patient. I think he deserves some of those awards!

Does it seem like I’m boasting, well I am. He made me proud, he taught me how to deeply communicate across species even from a distance. It’s not like you talk to people, dogs like Mason are very especially intuitive. They have a way of communicating I cannot explain unless you’ve experienced it for yourself.  It worked across distance and if he were still alive I could easily prove it to you, but for now you’ll just have to believe me.

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Mason’s way of saying I love you everyone!

Before Mason came to live with me, he had a limited life, he’d never seen the ocean, never been to the forest, never imagined some of the creatures we met, never gone camping or to dog shows, and the great food he discovered he loved, he’d not even had a bite of banana, an apple, broccoli or green beans, water melon, poached egg… from a dog that would not eat he discovered even crispy lettuce was yummy but I think his favorite was simple homemade chicken and rice maybe with some broccoli or carrots. He’d do a dance, tossing his head from side to side, come-on, come-on hurry-up hurry up, let’s eat! I taught him to speak on cue, he loved that, one of his favorite tricks. He was perfect, I told him so all the time, my sweet, loving, fun, brave, tolerant and wise Mason dog.

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Mason trying to bump me on the nose like I do him!

The years were like one of those carnival games where you if you knock over a pin you get a prize except they only expect you to get maybe one of them down but instead I bowled over pin after pin and instead of a prize I received bigger and bigger heartaches. People I loved dropped dead at increasing frequency, my dreams evaporated, hopes crushed to be replaced by duplicity, even betrayal, loss and heartache but Mason, my love-bug Mason was by my side. Mason was with me when Jolyon died unexpectedly two days before he was to be released from nursing care, he was with me at Forrest’s memorial at Three Springs in North Fork (my closest friend who woke up from a nap and died), Mason wandered loose in the big crowd and didn’t get lost, Mason was there with me as I searched for a place to live, as I worked hard to start a sustainable business and failed, Mason was by my side as other friends and relatives succumbed to sudden disaster and death … my little Mason. He’d put his paw on my chest, he’d lay close to me during panic attacks, he’d calm me during migraines and press his comforting warmth against me when my joints would partially dislocate and I could not move. He was my tear catcher when there was no one, he’d listen long after all others had gone, he didn’t tire of being my companion, rewarding me with his contentment, how did he know so much?  

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Traveling… Mason loved hotels… he looks much bigger than he is. He probably wants room service too.

 

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We did a lot of visiting at the homes of friends across the country.

 

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And lots of posing for travel photos

 

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Mason with his girls

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Hey, what’s in here! If you look though my blog you will see all the traveling we did together

 

I’m not scared of my own death nor that of my dogs but the way one gets there can be the wrong way. Mason’s death was tragic, too reminiscent of how several of my human loves arrived to their deaths.  Mabye one can’t die in peace no matter how we wish it so.

I have asked myself what part of Mason’s situation was my omission , and yes I am taking fault. Why? Because it is my responsibility alone to care for my pets as it is for all of us with such companions, although as it was pointed out to me they will get themselves into trouble no matter what we do. Veterinary care where I live is expensive, my attempts to reclaim income have failed. High cost of veterinarian care was not my only issue, I had a 3-week old puppy not make it, though I rushed her to emergency care she could not be saved. That puppy was the one I’d planned to keep, she’d lay in my hands purring, such a beautiful girl, a show stopper, my dream for the future. Then there was trouble with my foundation Lagotto, Olympia, problems with my puppy client . . . all like quicksand . . . the transmission on my van, major dental, sinus infections, raising Jeana’s litter. . . challenges mixing together like a centrifuge rebirthing unprocessed agonies of … of what, being overwhelmed, of past loss. Then the pandemic and the way our climate is changing, the physical and social insanity of it all. . . not as an excuse but from weariness I pushed off indicators that Mason might need more than I could provide on my own, more than just aging, like I am aging too, still he was happy and playful, so I hid away such inner speculations. Maybe we all do that at times, we can only handle so much, the ongoing fabric of life that never seems to let up, yet I question how I could let it slide with Mason; sure it might not have made a difference or I might not have been expected to know, all depends but I am not a believer that we are doing the best we can. People like to say that, well, you did your very best, I don’t agree. If I did my very best then I’d be super-human and I’m not. We let ourselves down, we let other’s down, we don’t have the support we need, we get drained, we fall apart, in many ways we as a species can be uncaring, isolated, drifting, burred within our personal pressures. Certainly the political situation emits an aura of lack of compassion and static worry. I’d started to feel my heart fading, that dying with less years to my name would be okay. For the first time I’d started to consider that maybe I wouldn’t be here for Mason but that idea made me very sad. I promised him I’d always be here for him as long as he needed me and to put a smile on his face everyday.

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Me and My Mason

Maybe Mason being sick on my trip home from WA where I’d gone to breed Jeana, he soiled a friend’s house and he was hiding it, really pissed off the person I was visiting, he’d never done that before, he always asks to go out, maybe that made me lose my balance, maybe that’s when he ingested the horrible mess, the huge trichobezoar, that would come to take his life. He was starting to pee inside at my mother’s house too so I left him at home not thinking oh this means he needs the vet. I know we’ve not supposed to outguess ourselves, it’s bad practice, running our heads in circles, things we don’t known, things we did or did not do. In any case I have to learn everything the hard way. Then the Pandemic, feeling trapped, outside contacts and reality checks aborted, for awhile no one went out at all.

Good or bad, helpful or destructive, it’s up to us to make the decisions; our pets are not going to call up the vet and say, you know, my human has not mentioned this to you but I can feel there’s something wrong going on, could you come and take a look.  A dog is a dog, they accept things as they come, they have a strong will to survive. They are closer to reality than we are.  

Many say, there is nothing more you could have done, they tell me what a great life I gave my pet, don’t linger, let it go, our companions are in a better place now; or maybe they don’t say anything, don’t talk about it. We are not necessary a people of deep compassion. What is the love of a canine to someone who has not had the experience of a ‘heart” dog? What can such loss mean to someone who has not suffered and fallen into disillusion?  What is this unbearable pain of the heart some of us feel to those who have not had the reason to question the validly of life?

Young Gracie Caramella and her true love Mason

I want to remember my Mason as himself, his joy and energy, not the pain and anguish of seeing him at the hospital in distress, nor the crushing weight of having to put him “to sleep.” Sleep because they use a barbiturate He wanted to live, he survived so much to live. How I wish I could see him, hear him, feel him, what great relief to have him home, as they kept promising he’d soon be. Oh my sweet dog. I never want to forget, yet I will to an extent, my human mind cannot bear the weight of this continued anguish. Is love so selfish, we cannot part?

Mason rolling to his side when I kiss him good night each and every night to get his belly rub, his sighs of pleasure. He’d give kisses, making a kissy sound with his lips because he understood I really didn’t like the messy way dogs lick you so he choose to be a human.  How he’s put his paw on my arm. on my chest, nuzzling and talking to me. Standing so tall at attention, tail and head high meeting little dogs his size, greeting the big giants calmly and confidently. Mason with his eyes of love, blinking to let me know all is good. Shake off when I’d overdone my share of affection.  He came to enjoy his baths, trusting me not to get water in his eyes or in his nose. How he’d wait for me to pick him up, in and out of the car or the van, even when we both knew he could jump, he’d wait for me. His patience and strength, amazing enthusiasm for living. One time he managed to get himself all the way up to the roof of the garage, busy exploring up there!

I miss you so much Mason, I miss your presence here with me. The soft grandeur of your coat, the way you shed like crazy until one day your double coat was gone.  You never got a sticker or a foxtail, you barely got dirty or muddy, used to amaze me, the Lagotti would be filthy and you so clean. You never complained, never whined or howled. My Mason, a joy contagion. When your tail was caught in the door and you lost your tail fur you wagged it anyway and so very well. You used to play the game, ‘get your tail,’ back when it was full, to amuse me with all your cute snuffle noises, chasing round in a a circle. The way you wanted to be on my bed and snuggle. They way you’d want different beds all over the house cause you liked the variety and how you loved to go new places, just to see and smell what was there and familiar places because they were your favorite. How you’d contentedly wait in the van in your later years when you were too tired to walk so much, the crazy time you had getting used to your jacket…  how funny you claimed you couldn’t walk with the jacket on, silly pup. All the attention everyone gave you, and you loved it. So cute and affectionate.

This strange thing on my back means my legs can’t move!!! Oh, but it is nice and warm.

I miss you so much. I wish you could have come home and felt good for a while made us all so happy. I miss you my Mason. I meant it absolutely that I didn’t need any other dog but you. You are my perfect dog. King of the Mason dogs. King of my heart. All the songs I made up and sang to you. How many squirrels, rabbits and gophers you wanted to get. How independent you could be. You never pulled on the leash. You never wanted to drink before our walks, then you’d get thirsty, that was kinda silly. How fast those legs of yours doing super time would move, you could jump so incredibly high yet I’d have to carry you over even shallow pools of water. How you loved the umbrella, I’d hold it over just you so you wouldn’t get wet while I got drenched. I loved the sounds you made when you walked, the way your feet would run in your sleep and how’d you’d bark and your mouth would be saying something I couldn’t understand in your dreams. How good it was to hold you, how soft and cuddly, yet fierce and brave. Your pink nose like the Lagottos, your long white coat with orange, just like them but not like them at all. You were so close to the ground it always surprised me somehow. You’d scent search so methodically, never missed anything. Little bugs on the ground captured your attention and what a fantastic fly catcher you were and sometimes wasps. Before you got so sick these last months, you almost never got sick. I’d have to remind you to lift your head, I know whatever abuse you suffered never completely went away. I know you thought about your first home and tried to tell me things you used to do. You really did not like the rain.

Mason, King of my Heart with Olympia, Jeana and Jackson

Is there a time when each living thing has to die? Is that why there are tragedies and seemingly miracles.  Is there some secret clock ticking, an illusion that time is real and has run its course?  I was not there watching over him day and night during and after his surgery and that hurts unbelievably. I could not protect him. Was he scared or lonely, feeling lost? I wanted to be with him the entire time he was in aftercare, I am his advocate, the one who loves him but I could not be admitted and he needed 24 hr care, yet it was just not enough, the circumstances, the outcome, the help he had could not give him what he needed.

That morning, on Mason’s last day, I was in a desperate mood, scared, my pulse was racing. I was yelling at my Lagotti on our walk, they all seemed to be misbehaving and didn’t understand why I was so annoyed with them. I only wanted to see Mason. The vet clinic kept delaying when I could visit, it got later and later, being an intense day for them with many emergencies. Then my distress of the condition I found him in, it will make my heart stop if I keep remembering that. My faithful companion, not that I expected him to live forever, but I needed to keep him safe, comfortable, feeling that I am there, that he is not alone, not left to die like when I first found him.  I love him and always will. I miss his joy, I’m not okay with how things turned out, this being sick and never seeing him home again, for some long time many unanswered questions and overwhelming confusion, but it is true I was with him I held him safe in my lap, I’d brought his own bed to make him feel at peace. I comforted him until he almost slept and then he did sleep, I think he had a bit of a smile, I told him what a wonderful perfect companion he is to me and how much I love and adore him, how special he is, that he should not fear anything but be at peace, be free. I am grateful and fortunate my personal veterinarian has helped me piece together the details of his condition and treatment, without that I would be hurting still, I am not a person who can accept unanswered questions.

My promise to Mason has ended and if I feel his presence in only love, not in the pain I feel for him, I could almost swear he comes here giant size, a little bigger than the Lagotti to hover over my bed, all happy tailed, fluffy, sure of himself, with that look he gives me to pay attention, come on, lets go for an adventure, it will be be all right, he tells me. He well would think of himself as the biggest dog in the house, that would be my little Mason.

Mason I will always be with you, wherever you are. I will always have your dinner ready, a comfy place to sleep and my love to guide you. You and me Mason, you are always welcome by my side.

The flood on the Arkansas River pushed me to North Little Rock. I took a chance as all the RV Parks were overfilled. I’d called, driven by and looked, moved on and simply decided to try the County Park and maybe get lucky.

There were dire warnings that the road into the County Park was flooded but the signs all indicated the roads were open. Many times, last minute, even if a camp is full I’ve found a spot, esp for a small Class B camper for one night. And I was lucky! Last space in the park was mine and a day or two before the roads would be closed. Was so happy not to be driving into the night fearful of floodwaters or who knows what. I’d met a couple earlier in the day who had told me, yep, they made it barely, driving their Class A from traveling East and it might be possible that I could make it heading West although they’d passed rigs that had not been so fortunate.

I have limits on the risks I’ll take, heading straight into whip you off the road gusts, massive flood waters, severe thundery storms in unstable weather, nope; if this place had been full I would have driven back to Little Rock and taken my chances in a parking lot. It wasn’t actually that late when I arrived so I took a long walk with the dogs, let them run about our camping spot and play ball, it was a nice to relax in spite of imminent flood warnings. The Park was already half shut down, the lake was closed, the dog park was closed, it wasn’t advised to drive back the way I’d arrived which was fine with me I was happy to relax. Took the other road out in the morning back to Little Rock thinking I’d wait for the flood water to arrive, but after touring for awhile I realized how crazy this idea was so headed onward. I took more than a few detours thinking I could swing up north a bit as I’d loved the Ozarks. Turns out North was not a good direction to go although I passed through some interesting and somewhat deserted lands, I finally got it, saw the light, actually I got thoroughly scared by the ominous weather, the news and warnings from friends and found a Walmart to settle into. I worried all night as I often did on this trip.

The flood waters beginning to come in near the downtown Little Rock. Although I was curious I didn’t stick around to see how high over the banks the flood would reach.

Walking with the dogs in Little Rock. We get a lot of attention.
Found a public river access off the highway for a quick swim, flooded of course. I decided to let the dogs cool off but kept them on leash close to me. The river was moving fast and hard.
Yep, another Walmart.
When I Walmart, I drive over, check it out, esp approximately the location I will return to , what side of the Parking Lot, who else might be there, then I head to a nearby park, I feed the dogs, we all go for a walk, I stay until after dark enjoying the peace, the birds, the wind in the trees then I head for my sleeping spot. This Park I came back to in the morning.
Dallas, I think. Too much traffic to stop given that I was running from Bad Weather. I’ve been to Dallas but didn’t stay long that time either.
Crossing the Bridge
Fort Worth Water Gardens.
. My dogs are kinda disgusted at me right here. It’s very hot out, I lead them to water and then what do I do!!!! Do I let them jump in and cool off, play and show those humans how it’s done? Nope, I obey those no swimming and do not enter the water, signs I see all over. You might not see it this photo, but they were majorly telling me off. Mason did not jump up on this ledge and frankly hot as it was, he did not want to go swimming!
Meal from The Black Rooster Cafe, Fort Worth’s Premiere Cafe & Bakery. Yummy for me and the dogs.
Forth Worth Museums
“Masterpieces abound in the museums of the Fort Worth Cultural District, located a few miles west of downtown. This is, without question, one of the finest collections of museums in America. In a single, park-like setting, you can span virtually the entire history of art, from priceless antiquities to Impressionist milestones to modern artworks. It’s a wonderful place to find inspiration, broaden your horizons and spend some quality time with your family.
The Cultural District is also home to the Will Rogers Memorial Center one of the top equestrian show facilities, Dickies Arena the new home of the Annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and the acclaimed theater, Casa Mañana.
Near the Cultural District, explore nature’s masterpieces at the Fort Worth Botanic GardensThe Fort Worth Zoo and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, or go jogging or biking along the river in Trinity Park. Explore the Fort Worth Cultural District by foot as all five museums are within walking distance or pick up a bike at one of the many Fort Worth Bike Sharing stations along the way. “
Next visit I will plan more time to see all these museums. The museums don’t open until after noon by which time it’s too hot to leave a pet in an RV and esp not in a car; maybe a good time for a pet sitter.
OK, anyone want to tell me why this is needed! If those that fish here are this silly they can’t tell it’s flooded are they are they really going to read and pay any attention to these signs? Yep it was flooded with more flood water on the way. Just gazing down the short path to the raging river was scary enough for me.
Mark Twain reads to my dogs on Trinity Park Drive overlooking the Trinity River, he’s reading to us from Huckleberry Finn.
Forth Worth is home to 70 miles of dog-friendly trails, more than 60 rover-friendly restaurants, 45+ pet-friendly hotels, 10 bark-friendly breweries and 4 designated dog parks and attractions.
Guess What? Flooded! Was actually hysterical, as I asked if I could camp here overnight; all the facilities along with all the nearby campgrounds I’d had in mind to stay at were underwater. Sure, the host at this little dirt parking area told me, I could stay just give her $25 cash. I moved on, went up the road to the free Walmart with a dry and lighted bathroom.
You see those trees and the buildings behind it, that’s the campground which includes a marina on the other side.
A few local folks were trying to fish here. It was so flooded I swear I thought I saw a gater out there. I did not let my dogs out of the van.
Water being let out on the backside of the flooded dam.
The river on the backside of the dam, moving fast and furious.
This is at the top of the dam down a short trail, it’s a boat ramp. There were a few boaters here and a handful of folks fishing in the water so I let the dogs go for a dip.
Another Walmart.
Nice view from my Walmart overnight.
I backed up to this nice view from my Walmart overnight.

Loretta Lynn’s Ranch Hurricane Mills, TN
As I understand Loretta bought the entire town and turned it into her guest ranch.
The property includes museums, homestead, mansion, western town, camping, music… I wanted to attend the upcoming concert I learned about but the campgrounds had been completely booked so I moved on after a short stay. The area I camped in was mostly unoccupied and the dogs were able to run unfettered; up on the hill under the cool pines it was full. Fun walking with the dogs listening to people playing and singing and exploring the extensive grounds.

I found this place by chance as it was nearly that time of day to rest, a nice change from Walmart parking lots, hot shower all to myself, very peaceful.
You can see my van where I’m parked for the night.
The dogs love to chase their balls and to explore.
Found in the bunk-house style bathroom.
More yummy Southern food. I don’t know what they do to make it taste sooooo good. Food is very fresh. You get a choice on each item you’d like from a list of options.

I miss Southern Food now that I’ve tasted it. Fried okra, Pineapple compote, Hush puppies and popovers, red beans and rice, black-eyed peas and lima beans, fresh greens, boiled peanuts, mac and cheese, slowed cooked BBQ chicken, chicken pot pies, seafood gumbo, everybody has their own special recipe for biscuits.
I arrived in Memphis before a big event so the downtown area was blocked and/or under construction which led me to explore different areas than I’d been to before. I did a lot more driving than I’d expected and lots of walking with the dogs.

It was very hot even at night, too hot to leave the dogs in the van so I forgo the nightlife other than to drive around a bit. Camped for free in the parking lot of the Bass Pro Shop, great location esp for catching public trans or walking downtown, very friendly, noisy and hot. I was directed to the location by the Visitors Information Office. I’d wanted to stay at the Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park on the Arkansas side as I had before. I drove across the bridge in hopes of doing so to find it was so entirely flooded even the road in was deep under water. I felt so sad, I wonder how the Park is now, still flooded?
The King is everywhere, esp around Beale Street with bars, restaurants, shops and live music venues.
Stopped at this bakery heading west. They had amazing pies, I bought a lunch, was my last really delicious southern meal and a desert bar to go.
Another day, another stop, coffee shop for breakfast. I often choose a coffee shop for a mid morning breakfast, it serves as breakfast, lunch and a pick-me up coffee, tea or cappuccino. Sometimes I find something to save for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking. My preference is a local independent establishment that serves food.
A “modern” breakfast toast… was yummy.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Not far from this painted wall / mural is another favorite RV Park with a fantastic view of the Arkansas river and easy walking across the bridge, Downtown Riverside RV Park. I’d been here before and enjoyed the view, it’s nothing fancy but I love being near water. I like the sights and sounds of a waterway as well as the vista. All the sties are 50 amps as the Park serves the bigger guys but I still had my 50 to 30 amp adapter I’d bought here years ago. The problem was FLOODING. Heavy food waters were headed directly to Little Rock. Folks already flooded out were crammed into this campground as long as it would stay safe. The flooding was terrible and was going to get worse… I finally found a place at the County Park… I got the last spot.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville: music, dining, history, culture, street art, plantation houses, vintage cars, nature parks and bight lights.
These electric scooters are all over, just jump on one and go. I was going to try one but I didn’t, I decided to walk. I know they’ve had troubles but overall I liked them.
Words in the Wild – a beautiful script mural in Nashville, TN with the quote “as long as the moon shall rise, as long as the rivers flow, as long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow” from the Johnny Cash song, “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow.
Angels & Monsters mural located in the parking lot at 236 5th Ave N
Beau Stanton mural 
The Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe (1911-1996)
Shelby Bottoms… went for a long walk with the dogs and visited the nature center. “The park is primarily rich river bottom land as the name implies with boardwalks over streams and wetlands and great overlooks of the river. The open fields and wet areas give much diversity to the land with an abundance of wildflowers, birds, and amphibians.”
Lane Motor Museum
Lane Motor Museum is one of the few museums in the U.S. to specialize in European cars. Some cars are in showroom condition, while others represent typical aging. Efforts are made to restore each vehicle to near-original specifications.

Loved visiting here, took a lot more photos of some very unusual and hand restored vehicles.
https://www.opry.com/

It’s been called the “home of American music” and “country’s most famous stage.”
It began on the night of Nov. 28, 1925, when an announcer on Nashville radio station WSM introduced fiddle player Uncle Jimmy Thompson as the first performer on a new show called “The WSM Barn Dance.” 
The love story. May I have this dance.
Love you as long as the moon shall rise, as long as the river flows, as long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow.
What, can’t take my dogs on a 2000 mile walk, darn or does this mean off leash only (ha-ha)
100 species of native trees found in the Smokies!
Tons of Traffic in the Great Smoky Mountains but totally worth it. Jammed with butterflies in migration, wild horses, wildflowers in bloom, black bears, amazing trees, birds, elk, coyote, white tailed deer, waterfalls.
The Great Smoky Mountains
Southern Cooking… cheap, easy & delicious
Heading towards Hayesville North Carolina… wound up on an motorcycle road. I had to laugh, it was easy driving compared to others I’ve been on. They had those photo stations set up for the bikers, I saw them take my picture as I wondered what they thought of a middle aged solo woman cheerfully driving her old camper van on the skyway.
This campground looks so nice and calm. Very early in the morning 5 strikes of intense lightening hit directly above, all I could do was huddle the dogs under the blankets as I kept counting the hits. the dogs were shaking hard. At least (this time) my van was (amazingly) not stuck. After the scare everyone in the campground came out of their vehicles and started their day playing in the water.
Visiting a Friend
More yummy Southern food. Visiting, delicious eating and socialization is good in North Carolina. People kept asking me why in the world I lived in California.

Traveler

I’ve been long remiss from this blog in the non-wandering life. Death, changes, issues, socializing, persistent sinus trouble, dental surgery and the joy of Jeana’s puppies.

Here will be more of the photos I took on my Southern cross country drive and if I can find them, my trip to Sequim Washington where I went to bred Jeana. Jeana is a Lagotto Romagnolo and she has three sweet newborn puppies. Come January (although my dental work will take at least until next summer) we will all pile in the van to continue exploring. Am planning to attend the RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) The location for 2020 is still being decided. I will seek travel companions, maybe it would be a good place to find them; van travelers and overseas travelers although I’ve decided I am willing to continue to travel alone and to go further, I’ve joined a group for international solo women travelers over 60. Can I afford it, who knows, probably not, but this is life, it’s here and I want to, need to live it, to fill life with more love, more adventure, a lot less fear and anxiety.

So I will post photos, not much text. Enjoy them or not at least they will be here to remind me of why I need to be on the road.

For the van travelers out there my transmission failed at about 172,500 miles on the engine. My camper got me home, I consider it a bit of a miracle since the transmission gave no warning of imminent demise. The dogs and I might have been stranded at some dive hotel in the baking California heat, if I could have even obtained a tow that would allow all my dogs in the cab and if I could have found a capable mechanic. The morning after I returned (and once reverse failed) I drove without stopping on hope that my van would keep going forward, I started for my mechanics, Frans was following me, good thing, as I had just entered the freeway when my camper failed. Would not start, would not run so I still needed a tow, thank you AAA, but was not too far. My mechanic sent out the transmission and it was completely rebuilt, all that remains is for me do a test drive which will happen in January. Perhaps it’s up for another long trip? Can I trust my van to make the Northern / Canadian – US route to the northeastern shore?

Sunlight through the windshield, rain on my dogs backs, wind blowing, thunder booming, surprises around the next corner. The lonely road is where I am least lonely, the long long vistas where I feel the most found.

Cherokee, North Carolina

All the way across the US

I want to continue to share this trip I took with my four dogs. I am trying to find the focus to continue to tell you about it. I brought home a hand full of sugar sand and 100 shells I collected on the Beaches in North and South Carolina. I saw alligators and turtles, sharks and bears, flying fish and flying squirrels, 1000’s of butterflies, foxes and bright colored birds. I saw wild Connemara Ponies, that weren’t very wild at all. Monuments, plantations, dude ranches, the home of the blues and civil rights movement. Pine trees and coal, swamps and wildflowers . . and so much more. I wish I could have stayed longer, much longer in spite of the bugs, the fierce wind, and extreme storms, that a little van camper must run from. Massive floods and thunderous madness. Soon, I think I will at least post a little of my memories.

I find an Alligator

Delay

I hope to return soon to my trip recall, perhaps today, perhaps later. A woman newly my friend and hoped for travel companion was victim of a brutal homicide. Has taken my concentration to post, to reason with the world. I can only call upon kindness and compassion as all of us live our lives.   My heart pours out for her family and friends.

Homicide and Grief

This is not the original post

 

Flying Curls Jeana

 

My dogs had been on the sick side from me letting them drink the local Texas water, I needed to get some chicken & rice and probiotics, was time for shopping. Turned out that was not easy in eastern Texas, sent me scrambling back and forth checking shops, nope, they never heard of probiotics, found a stockpile of all the bad stuff we don’t give our dogs in a feed store in nowhereville, so this is where they sell it, too bad. Went into H-E-B in Beaumont, hum, interesting. Maybe some are better than others. I do enjoying checking the local places, groceries, are there any natural food stores, does a salad exist, what’s the local style.  Is there regionalism?  Takes me back to studying geography, the development of the city and the importance of place. I’m not focusing that well right now but you get the idea.

State Park

I camped at Holbrook Park, Sulphur Louisiana    Holbrook Park was the next closet place to the State Park and a common way out-of-towners arrived at this location. I didn’t know what I’d find. I rejected the State Park for lack of appeal of the RV area, too cluttered, no easy walking for the dogs, no swimming with lots of alligator warning signs. there were so many nicer places in the Park for camping but  someone had decided to shove them into a view less corner.  I check my camping apps, I  use a few different ones and then just point and drive.  Holbrook Park was just what I needed, I recommend it.  It’s a small community campground with a fishing lake and small river. I paid $4.00 for a tent site and for the first time dragged out my sun tent. RV sites with power are $12.  You need a tent to use the tent site, I enjoyed copious space for my dogs to play.  Did not take a chance on dogs in the water, maybe alligators, maybe not.

My copious camping area for $4.00!!! Can’t find that in CA.

The lake

 

The manager invited me and my four over for wine and conversation on his deck; his dog gave us the stare from the top of the couch,  his nose pressed stoically against the window. If you’re friendly and stay longer you’re likely to get invited to a home cooked southern dinner. There’s a song written about this place and the camp manager Harry, would love to post it but is missing at the moment. Maybe you’ll have to go out to Louisiana yourself and ask him, he has a long long beard, a big smile, and a friendly demeanor, can’t miss him. Great story about the naked campers running through the camp. Loved the hospitality, just watch out for the blood-sucking mosquitoes.

Another shot of the lake

Drove a wayward path that only my GPS system could invent down to Lake Charles passing miles of petroleum research labs, gas and chemical plants, petrochemical refineries.  The reason for all the people around. Everyone was at work, I wondered how many people were employed in this area.

Didn’t expect the Lake Charles vibe, there were signs every few feet around the lake, no animals allowed. A beautiful walking path, nope! How I could partake without my pack, too ridiculous. Motorist were in a hurry, honking, slamming their doors, smoking, dropping still lite butts out the door, their faces looked irate. Nothing but the bible and Jesus on the radio, grim stuff, not uplifting. The town is known for gambling, rhythm and blues, cuisine and education. In 1994 there was the ethylene dichloride pipeline spill, the Bridge itself is shrouded in controversy. The sky was darkening, quickly clouding over. I called it quits and headed onward.

Visited the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center in Baton Rouge, LA  didn’t want to leave the dogs too long as it was getting too warm; I wanted to find me an alligator, didn’t see one so I didn’t stay as long as I might have.

Walking along the entrance trail at the Nature Center

Drove around the Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge didn’t interest me enough to stay longer and there was that mass of traffic so I backtracked and drove over the swamp to New Orleans, that was fun.  My mom texted me how the New Orleans wetlands are the fastest disappearing land mass on earth. That’s scary.

The sea level around Louisiana is up to 24 inches higher than it was in 1950. This increase is mostly due to sinking land, and it’s causing major issues. New Orleans is the largest population center at risk from sea level rise in the country and is now experiencing one of the highest rates of sea level rise in the world. Because the state is already losing approximately 25 square miles of land per decade due to sea level rise,2 Louisiana’s coastal marshes, which provide protection for inland communities and habitat for countless species, are threatened. The state is planning over $25 billion in sea level rise solutions, which include building levees, restoring shorelines, and relocating entire communities.  https://sealevelrise.org/states/louisiana/

 

Drove across the water to the Big Branch March National Wildlife Area on Lake Pontchartrain, 15,000 acres of pine flatwoods, oak rides and coastal marsh. Seems I like marshes, swamps, estuaries and other bodies of water.  Twisted my way around, thank you again to my GPS to a close up view of the Bay St. Louis Bridge. At the end of the road was a fishing place, it was closed, I considered siting there, with the air running and the doors closed to keep out the little flying snarky things and watching the traffic and the water, maybe parking overnight but eventually decided to move ahead dropping down onto the 90 / 607 over another bridge to Henderson Point along the Gulf of Mexico.

Spent that night at the Walmart Supercenter in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Two of the largest hurricanes hit here, Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina. Is a good place for fishing, fishing charters, golf, cemetery tours, art galleries, history, stately homes and the beautiful white beach. The Walmart was across a wide boulevard from the beach, could hear the sounds of water, but not quite see it. yep it was a Walmart night.  Walked up and down the boardwalk with the dogs, no dogs actually allowed on the sand, was warm and balmy, capris and sandals .

 

In the morning I visited the War Memorial Park, the marina and harbor, an upscale coffee shop for breakfast with Santa Barbara prices, more walks with the dogs along the gulf, drove around and looked at the homes, then continued to Gulfport and Biloxi.

I drove onto this spit, people were hanging out, fishing, taking in the view, having lunch.

 

Before I knew it I was in Mobile Alabama.  I kept getting driving in circles due to the odd signage seeing some bizarre parts of tow.  I visited the Mardi Gras Park, the Port of Colonia Mobile, GulfQuest National Maritime Museum, did a little shopping and stopped a park or two for the dogs where the sprinklers nicely cooled everyone for a great beach day.

 

Mobile Mardi Gras Park

Headed over the Mobile River thinking I’d stay at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Orange Beach, it didn’t seem such a good idea so I drove to the Orange Beach access lot itself wondering if I could stay there as the parking area said it was open 24 hours, but as always  no dogs allowed on the beach, could only walk them around the parking area and they were not feeling well so decided I needed more security and comfort. I took the windy road to the Gulf State Park but once there I learned it would be $54 to $70 for a crammed spot, if she could find me one, they were nearly full; the ranger took pity on me and told me to go to Walmart…  it was a different Walmart I was to park at…   a larger one on Fort Morgan Road in Gulf Shores, $0.00 was just the thing I needed especially as  I spent most of that night up with Jackson. Every 2 hrs he needed to go out. I think this was my first Walmart posted with no overnight parking signs. I was told to park there and sure enough no one bothered me or my dramatically sick dog. Felt safe and had no trouble but was not a restful night.  In the morning I took a walk at the Cotton Bayou Public Beach. I loved it, the dogs, yeah they only got to see the parking lot.   Soon, I’d find them a great swimming beach!!!  …  next post…

Why not visit the Southeast.

I was excited to see the Southeast. I met a senior gentleman the other day at a local coffee shop who told me he’d rather visit West Africa than the Southeastern US and as far as driving with dogs, he said, well, I want to have someone to talk to. He then started in on his list of the counties, I tuned out, I couldn’t imagine him being better company than my canines so I left him to his writing. He’s not alone in his dislike of the South. Me, I want to see it all, if I haven’t been there I’m ready to go which is most of the world. There are ecosystems to discover, natural forces, wildlife, history, the people, the built environment, local food; bring it on!

I headed to Austin with the warning that it might not be doable given I was driving an RV. I wound up on a paid expressway as I’d approached Georgetown and was determined to remain off of these. I still don’t know what driving on them costs. Billing is by mail, no signs are posted as to rates. Congestion wasn’t bad until I arrived in Austin. I took a driving tour of the city. It was filled with co-ed pedestrians, motorists, pickups and SUVs, heavy gridlock, cyclists, segways, scooters. It was Saturday everyone intent on getting somewhere other than where they were by whatever means they could.  I had an image of no one staying at home in preference of covering ground even if there was nowhere in particular to go.  Growing too fast? It was true, not an easy place for an RV, even a little one so I aborted an idea to hang out, expecting fun in San Antonio. Well, really I was, seemed I picked their Fiesta and if I thought Austin had a lot of gridlock, oh my!

Fiesta® San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. That historic commemoration still takes place, but for more than a century, Fiesta® has grown into a celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures. Fiesta® has evolved into one of this nation’s premier festivals with an economic impact of more than $340 million for the Alamo City. Funds raised by official Fiesta® events provide services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year.

I was jammed in roadblocks, not having a good idea where I was going I could not get away from the congestion.  I finally learned that most of the city was shut down for the Fiesta. Would up driving back and forth, trying to see stuff, trying to find my way while avoiding the entire central district.  The Alamo and River Walk would have to wait for another time.

Drove to Braunig Lake Park but did not stay, likely would have been a an okay place to drycamp with all the fishing people. Spent the night at a TA Travel Center near San Antonio. when I woke in the morning there were several cars with towels stuffed in their windows, snuggled next to my van, Made me feel like mamma van.

In the morning I manged to avoid the Fiesta, went to the Koffee Kup for breakfast, interesting chat about sustainable agriculture with the young woman serving me, she telling me and filling my heart with talk of how important it is to care for the land. Took a morning walk at Woodlawn Lake Park including a short distance on the the city trail across the street.

There was a nature trail here with native Texas plants. Dogs and I stopped and looked at each tree and flower.

I did not stop in Houston. It was a strange feeling, sad and moody as I thought about my friend and ex-dance partner, Steve Laib. He’d wanted to reconnect and hoped that when I passed near Cypress we could meet again. His wife did not agree and forced him to silence; she did not let me know of his passing. He and his bride stopped to visit a long time ago in Santa Barbara not long after their wedding I’d wished them happiness. I had feelings of anger, loss and confusion and a good bit of amazement at how long it took to cross Houston. By the time I was out of the city I felt I’d let go of my resentment. I would have loved to have seen Steve, I hope he was happy. This was an unexpected catharsis, driving alone one has time to think, to process feelings, to dream.

I was rewarded by a lovely night on the Gulf at Fort Anahuac County Park. Yeah for Texas! I had this recreation area almost completely to myself overnight, one other RVer on the other side.  Folks were fishing here, I asked the sheriff if I could spend the night and he said, sure no problem but you might want to park up on the hill, I was down on the spit by the water when I asked him. He explained about the mosquitoes. I asked him who to pay or to register with, his answer, it’s Sunday don’t worry about it. Beautiful spot, ran around with the dogs. I wound up here as the upper areas with power had burrs in the grass. I drycamped and it was perfect, a bit windy.  Didn’t let the dogs swim as there were potential of alligators or sharks. Some said, nah, their dogs swam all the time others said they’d seen them. Chatted with local folks down with their families fishing for the day, then they all went home. Later in the season I image this park gets crowded. I was in heaven being on my own with the birds and the gulf. Couldn’t help but laugh at the the RV Parks I’d passed all crammed in with no view. Let the dogs run, play ball and ramble about in the morning. Bathroom was a bit trashed but I didn’t care.

 

 

Sentimental view of the battlefield, 19th Century. Samuel Chamberlain. “on the battlefield the Night After the Battle” watercolor and gouache.

The rest stop facilitates in Texas double as storm shelters. They tend to have delightful mosaics. Yeah for Texas!