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Travels with Harry: My first cross country trip

Harry Au

My pet, Katherine, was talking to one of her friends on the phone when she decided to move us across country from Virginia to California. I was lying on the carpet after a long day of chasing mice, avoiding being stepped on by horses, and eating grass and manure when she said we would make the move. I wasn't sure what moving across county entailed, but I started to find out soon.

We first left the farm we were living on and went to her parent's house, so my pet could get us organized for the move. Katherine got her car serviced, checked the tires, and started loading all that would fit in her car and in the cloth car-top contraption. Her father announced he was coming along for the ride, and she grumbled a bit to her parents in front of me about losing a whole seat to pack things on, but then later when she was with me alone she admitted she was glad 'grandpa' was coming because she was a bit nervous about the trip. I thought it might be a good idea to be nervous like her; but, she scratched my head, rubbed my ears and cheeks the way she does to get me to relax, and I believed it all would be okay like she said.

My pet, her father, and I set off early one morning from New Castle, Virginia, in July. We were headed to Dinosaur Point, California. Her father and I both learned later that day that she hadn't even bothered to look and see exactly where Dinosaur Point is in California. Luckily, we had a few days before we were to reach it, and she knew it was somewhere around Santa Cruz. This admission on her part came after her father announced he couldn't find Dinosaur Point on the map, and as he was navigator, this made him a bit concerned. Katherine said not to worry, although I'm not sure her father believed her, but I did, so we continued on - she and I not worrying about where our destination actually was located.

We each had specific seat assignments for the trip. My pet sat in the driver's seat, her father in the seat next to her in the front. Both of them were surrounded wherever possible by objects. She had less around her as she needed to have the space around her feet free to operate the petals. Her father's legs were wedged in by a small cooler, maps, and other odds and ends. I was in the backseat, which wasn't unusual, but I had no room to move around, which was both unusual and undesirable. If I stood up I hit the rope above my head in the backseat. If I lay down or stood up to change positions I wobbled precariously on my perched spot on my bed set upon a box that was wedged in with other bags and smaller boxes. Both the front and back windows had to be cracked open so the rope tying the cloth car-top bag atop the roof could hold the car-top in place. I liked having the windows cracked for the rope as I got to smell the smells in the air everywhere we went, but I don't think my pet or her father enjoyed the rope constantly hitting their heads every day while my pet drove.

The first night we stayed outside of St. Louis. The next night we made it to Denver, and the day after we stopped at Vale. The air felt like it was fall in Virginia - crisp and cool with barely any humidity. I was hoping my pet would find one of my lighter blankets, but we went on a walk instead and that warmed me up so I could enjoy the sights of the biggest mountains I had ever seen. That was The Rockies. I enjoyed my walk and peed on everything I could. We then went to the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon. I wasn't allowed on the walking paths, but I did get to get out and smell all around when one of the tires went flat and my pet had to unload everything in the trunk to get to the spare. I took it upon myself to guard all the items by the car, and I have to say I did a good job because everything made it back in when it was time to put the stuff back. We then made our way around the perimeter of Las Vegas and to Hoover Dam. I wasn't allowed to go on the dam and my pet alternated with her father staying with me to keep the air conditioning running since it was over 100 degrees. We then finally made our way into California and went to see the Redwoods. I love marking any tree I can find, but even I was a bit daunted by the sheer size of most of the trees we encountered. After about six days traveling, we made it to our destination, Dinosaur Point, up on a mountain in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.

It was at Dinosaur Point that I learned about coyotes and how not to go and play with them. I also learned that wild boars are not to be trusted and may charge if encountered. I discovered that Mountain Lions look much bigger, even from a very great distance, than the cats I had met during my life. And, I learned that tarantulas may have no qualms about crawling into a bedroom and when that happens my pet will scream when she wakes up to one crawling on the wall near her pillow. Dinosaur Point was a very exciting place to live.

It would take way too long to tell you about all of my time in CA for the three years I lived there with Katherine. I moved with my pet six times in those years. One place burned down one morning while we were out, and we came home to firemen lingering around what was left of the house we shared with others. We were lucky as most of our stuff wasn't burned since we lived downstairs, but I didn't like it that everything of mine was wet and all my toys smelled like watered down ash. After that we moved onto a farm with horse poop for me to eat, fields for me to roll in, and trails for me to run on with her when she rode her friend's horses with them. We lived in two places on that farm for about a year. I got to see as far as my eyes could see the Pacific playing with the last rays of the sun as it set one time when I ran up the trails, and even though I'd played in the Pacific already, that time I was off a leash and could sniff and pee to my heart's content as I went back down the trail - I wasn't allowed to do that on the beach too often. It was soon after that when my pet told me we were heading back to the East so she could enroll in Graduate School. But, that trip is another story for later.

Until then, I remain your Jack Russell/Bassett Hound friend,


Read other articles by Katherine R. Au