FishDreamer scribbles: Howard Dean for President!

Tuesday, 17 February 2004

Away, Far Away

So we went away for the weekend, to our property up north. It was good to get away, and mostly satisfying although we had a few problems with things like tire chains. But Mr D took me away to the mountains to go snowshoeing and just get away from it all.

We went and stayed at Eden Valley Ranch again. We headed out on time at 10 a.m. Saturday, after our stop at the grocery store for the rest of the lasagna fixings and some soda for the road. The whole point of the weekend was to leave everything behind and get some time together. I brought only two books (finished one, didn't start the other). Didn’t write anything all weekend. But it was fun.

In some ways, the whole trip was a comedy of errors. We were just fine over the pass, once we got past all the slowpokes. We stopped twice so I could pee and stretch out my back. And then we got to the town where the other route we had decided to try began. Turn right, up and over the big hill, and into the snow.

The roads were just a little slick. We were in the BMW, and Mr D knows how to drive on snow much better than I do. It was a little scary, even more so after we passed the guy who'd flipped his minivan on a curve. That was after we'd stopped to put the chains on. I'd never put chains on before, so I wasn't as helpful as I could have been. Got them on, and then one fell off. Got it back on, checked them both, and from there we made it fine to the ranch. It was noisy, because they weren't tight chains for the specific tire size, but it worked. We checked in and said hi, and then in pulling out of the iced-over parking lot we found out that one of the chains had broken. It fell off.

Cue a trip down into town at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The two auto parts stores were both closed, but the almost-helpful guy at the gas station pointed us towards the discount warehouse in town. Here we found a new set of cable chains. Went to the regular version of the same store and got some milk for my tea and a flashlight, and back up to the ranch we went.

Get unpacked, I put together dinner and open my wine. It was good. I made lasagna using leftover sauce I'd made, which I almost never do because I usually eat it all. I'd frozen some extra a couple of times, and that's what I used. The wine was a Whidbey Island Lemberger from 2000, and I highly recommend it. It was good.

We got some used snowshoes for a really decent price, which was kind of the centerpiece of our weekend. It wasn't until Sunday morning when we went to test them out that I found out we'd gotten three left snowshoes and one right. As the klutz in the family, I got the L-R combo and Mr D made do with two left shoes. It worked, mostly, although he could tell the difference. We wandered round the ranch a bit to get used to it, and then packed up and headed out to our property.

The chains worked pretty well all the way out there. And then we got to the base of the road that leads to our property. Land out there is sold in 20-acre minimum plots, so not a whole lot of people use this road and only one guy that we know of lives on it full time. So it was really snowy. And at the very base of that hill, one of the chains snapped. Fell right off. The brand new chains we'd gotten the night before.

We picked it up, checked the other one, and Mr D very carefully drove all the way back down to town and traded in the brand-new now broken cable chains for a set of chain-link chains instead. They were very sorry about it, and gave us no hassles. So back up we went, with our third set of chains and our three lefts with one right. And this time, we made it.

It was a whole lot of glorious to tramp up and down and around in the quite deep snow. We're not entirely sure which boundaries mark our property line, except for the first one and the road. We were looking it over in a different season, and trying to see where good spots were for our eventual house we want to build there.

We found a spot where some animal had caught some lunch, it looked really fresh. It had snowed the night before, so we knew the marks were from that day. And then we were standing on the highest spot, when over the hill we'd just left (where the kill was) came this canine. It looked something like a wolf, but not quite. It was a little tense there for a moment, but then the puppy came bounding over to say hi and we found out she was just that – a puppy. Probably some kind of German shepherd (Alsatian) – golden lab mix. She was an awfully sweet dog, full of bounce and happy to see us. No collar. Well-fed though. I scratched her behind the ears and we played a bit, but it was getting dark and we had to leave.

Oh, that was hard. People who've been here a while might remember my reaction to the death of the kitten in L.M. Montgomery's book. This was kind of like that. She didn't want us to go, she didn't want to be left. She chased the car most of the way back out, and we had to drive away and leave her sitting alone in the middle of the road. Poor puppy.

For all I know she has a happy home back there beyond our vacant property. She doesn't look stray; her reaction to humans was too good and she was not hungry. But since she didn't have a collar, and she so very clearly wanted to come with us, we thought she might be lost. Mr D told the people at the ranch about her, and they're going to ask their friend in the border patrol to look out for her. But I spent much of the evening back and forth with the tears, every time I thought about it.

I was reading The True Sources of the Nile by Sarah Stone (for Chicklit), which is not the happiest of stories. The combination of that beautiful lonely puppy and this sad story has had me sad and wistful ever since. I didn't need that. I need to start reading something else, because I'm feeling somewhat emotionally precarious right now and I don't want to go into misery. I've got too much I'm dealing with. (And yeah, I'm trying not to pay attention to the US elections at the moment.)

Oh, the puppy! It would be completely unfair to bring her home with us, to live in a house in the suburbs without all that land to roam in. Plus we have two cats who would be quite unhappy with it. We both work. Our yard isn't fenced. There simply wasn't anything else we could do. Plus she was healthy and happy, so if we had taken her we could have been stealing. But I can't bear to think about her cold and lonely and at the mercy of wolves and everything else out there. Hell, we know the neighbor guy has dogs who are quite aggressive and territorial. She might be his, I don't know. But she came from the other direction.

It's somewhat ridiculous of me to be so upset about one dog, when I know there are lots of other dogs who need homes and are in situations much more dire. But I didn't touch those dogs, I didn't play with them in the snow, and I didn't have any kind of thought or decision about them.

So, snowshoeing was good and I've got some pictures I'll post. I went to bed early both nights we were out there, although I didn’t sleep well. (Uncomfortable bed, plus it got a little warm from the fire the first night.) We went to a diner for lunch on Sunday, where I had a fantastic cheeseburger. (Fat Boys in downtown Oroville, in case anyone else ends up there.) Overall the weekend was kind of bittersweet. We definitely had down time, but there were a bunch of frustrations and it wasn't quite as together-relaxing as I wanted it to be. I want more down time with me sweetie. We just need to go out snowshoeing more often, now that we've exchanged the double lefts for a regular pair, to get uninterrupted time together. (I am also trying to wrangle some uninterrupted tandem Neverwinter Nights playing, but so far we just haven't had the time.)

The drive back was fine, although we took a different route over a mountain pass that's not quite as high and steep as the one we went over on Saturday, because it was snowing. It was coming down hard and heavy, and sometimes the flakes were as big as golf balls. I knew, after an entire weekend of snow driving, that he could handle it just fine. (Plus we had those fancy chains, should it get much worse.) I spent the drive over the mountains chomping on Cheetos ™ and exclaiming about how pretty the snow was.

I really wanted to stop and do some snowshoeing, it was so pretty, but there wasn't anywhere to stop and we really just needed to keep going. The passes are frequently closed if conditions are bad enough, and we didn't want to get stuck on the far side of the mountains. (I have pictures from the car of the snow, too, although I haven't looked so I don't know how they turned out.)

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