Olympia, my Queen Lagotto, driving us all in the LT

I’ve been neglecting my Blog here, yet I see I have some new subscribers!  Welcome. I still have my 1996 Dodge Freedom Wide Leisure Travel Van that I sometimes call LT and at other times call Daisy. We have a good relationship now, Daisy and I, it wasn’t always that way! I just returned from a quick jaunt up Hwy 101 from Santa Barbara to Vallejo CA. My Van ran great! There is one little problem that has been going on for a bit. As we climb hills and the fan turns on and we are chugging away …  and it’s already getting noisy, though the front end insulation I had installed last year is amazing …  the belt begins to whine. I assume it’s the large Serpentine belt. I’ve pointed this out to my mechanic several times but he generally feel it’s not something to be concerned about.   However, on this trip the whining was REALLY loud and when I down shifted to make it over the grade, I felt like I would need earplugs and some strong drug to steady my nerves.  The dogs don’t like the racket either as I’m driving stiff and worried, I let off on the accelerator, the van slows just when it needs power to keep up at least a bit of speed and the terrible whining stops. I can play a touch the accelerator gently game to make it over the pass without the noise, and this time I found I had to NOT downshift. This needs to be fixed even if nothing is really wrong. Something is rubbing the wrong way!

Driving California 101

Sweet Daisy handled herself like a champ in the wind, the fog, the rain and even in gridlock. Remind me why I never enjoy the Bay Area any longer! Three hours of gridlock on the 680… yuck! I had to pee, the dogs needed a break, almost there…. almost there…almost there…  nope. It’s not possible to just get off and back on in thick gridlock. No one moves faster than a whopping 5 or 7 mph. If you do get off, good luck ever getting back on. Why has it come to this! For anyone still living in the Bay Area and elsewhere where this is the norm, REALLY! So, yep, I prefer a relaxed gentle flowing road. I don’t blame the crazed motorist all their weird antics just as long as they don’t hit anyone; unfortunately they often do which makes the gridlock even more tight.

Driving CA HWY 101

One other gripe while I’m at it. Please Cal Trans let’s surface the highways and freeways in California. If you see me and other trucks and big campers, RVs in the fast lane it’s because we are trying to not have our brains and bodies and the insides of our homes on wheels shook to death as for some reason if there is a smoother lane of travel it’s invariably the fast lane.  Hey, why not both lanes?

Driving CA Hwy 101

I’ve been traveling around here and there since I last posted with my dogs. I even tried traveling with all four dogs; although three is easier, it’s quite doable, everyone has their place. Sometime later I’ll take a video so you can see the setup.


I want to close for now, but first am going to say don’t ever expect me to return to Vallejo!  I wound up staying at a Courtyard Marriott right next to the Fairgrounds where the dog show was being held.  It’s really a dog show hotel at least on Show weeks. It’s not cheap and not particularly friendly, esp not the “surprise welcome” of…no, not a warm chocolate chip cookie, a cup of lemonade, some coffee, no nothing like that you get slammed by a neat $75 extra fee for room CLEANING because you will have a dog in it.  My guess they do not clean the rooms for mere human visits and we all know how messy they can be. The rooms are small, so $75 what do they do for that? It’s entirely unknown as my dogs with their noses discovered the room was not particularly clean when we got there …. hmmmm….  must not have been a dog staying in there for sometime so it didn’t get cleaned???  I plan to boycott Marriott Courtyards in the future, if they insist on these charges along with a lack of hospitality.  For example I asked for a map to my room and the nearest stairs so I could bring up my dogs and was blankly told, we don’t have maps, the desk clerk could not even tell me for sure where to park or which way to go. I get it she never goes up to the rooms, why would she.  Then she asked if I’d eaten yet, this after my almost 10 hrs on the road, so I said no, expecting a nice little treat…  oh no…  it was just a come on for the overpriced hotel restaurant but I could help myself to a piece of empty junk food for a high price. No free breakfast here, but you could buy one, so that was something. This place was kinda spooky, the parking lot security guard was mostly collapsed in an outside corner smoking – really I felt sorry for him out in the cold and then the rain. He did warn me  of a large Great Dane rambling about by itself in the parking lot. Poor pup seemed his Show Handler forgot him?  I do love Dog Show hotels, where everybody knows your name by your breed, just not this one, not this town. Turned out I had distressing memories of this hotel, I stayed there once before right before my father died, had a room facing the big carousel and roller coaster, Dad was interred by his wife in a miserable care center, his path of dying was wrenching, heartbreaking, lots of difficulties with, well everything. Just take my word for it. This was the beginning of the next 8 years of losses and falling aparts for me.  The day I just stayed there was dad’s birthday as well.  I’m on the upswing now. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of that Marriott and away from Vallejo.  I achieved my priority of visiting the traveling show veterinarian…  BVS, then I was out of there!

Driving CA Hwy 101

For our Lagotto Romagnolo National Specialty a month ago we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Del Mar. Wow, was that a difference! Free food, super clean and comfortable, light and bright, no extra charges, tons of dog walking, even a trail to the beach!

I’ll leave you with a few shots taken out the windshield of coastal CA on the 101. I wish California was in better shape. I don’t want to become one of those always lamenting my youth type, but I did sincerely miss the open beauty of this state, the variety of its towns and friendliness of its people. Now the open road is still good but the traffic, lack of care, overcrowding, price gouging, infighting, decaying infrastructure, rules and more rules, fines and harassment spoils my California.

This is an addition to my post so some of you may not see it. As the rain came and I drove and drove and drove, tears just like rain fell out of my eyes. This happens to me. I do not weep. I do not cry. I do not face my sadness as that is behind me like the road traveled. It is only like the rain. It rains inside of me and feeds some thirsty ground. I have no awareness of why these tears fall, are there clouds inside my head that become full and rich? Are there wild things waiting for sustenance? It is okay with me that we all are the same and we all are unique. It is okay with me that change is normal. It is beginning to be okay with me that I am alive and my loves are dead, that people are forever violent and destructive that love is rare and yet everywhere, that no one knows what we are all here for nor how the universe exists. That we do not know simple things, like why or how. I think that everything we see or know is alive, even the road is alive and sometimes parts of whatever is me drifts off and becomes whatever is part of you and so on.   Really there is a lot of time for one to drift as you drive. You can swallow up clouds, sky, landscapes, cars, towns, weather, whatever comes.