Smokey Goes for a Ride

Smokey on a Flying Carpet


The Further Adventures of Smokey

If my battery holds out, I hope to share two more camping anecdotes. Probably won’t be near civilization to post them for at least a couple of days.
I am back in the Kern River Canyon after a 10 day hiatus during which I took some friends who were visiting from Michigan to Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and a short trip down the coast. But that is another story…
We got back here the other night and found a campsite to the east of our previous one and much closer to the Kern River. These two anecdotes both concern my 7 year old Blue Heeler, Smokey. I am not neglecting my senior Aussie, Shadow, but she is wise enough not to start fights with rattlesnakes or the other brash (foolhardy?) things which follow. If I were to write camping anecdotes about Shadow they would all be a variation of “we went for a hike, Shadow stayed close and didn’t cause any problems.”
Smokey is a cow dog, when in the car she barks at every cow she sees. Until last month she had never met a cow in person. Since she had adapted so well to our life of travel I decided to let her meet some cows as a reward. So last month I tracked down some cows in the national forest and turned her loose on them. She instantly knew what to do with them, she circled to their far side and gently pushed them to me. I circled away and she nipped at them and they turned to follow. I eventually ran away and called her along (did I mention that I am afraid of cows?)  That is the background for the first anecdote.
This morning the dogs woke me up at about daybreak to let them out of the tent. Which I did and then I lay back down contented, just loving life. It wasn’t long before Shadow started growling…a rumble low down in her chest that tells me she is serious. She is 11 and this was only the forth or fifth time that I’ve heard her do it.
I grab for my glasses and the tent zipper at the same time and i hear a crashing sound from outside. I get the tent open just in time to see a half dozen cows come careening down a 30 foot sand embankment and into camp, with Smokey at their heels. Three cows, two calves and a bull. One cow lets out a bass “mew-oo” that I could feel in my bones. Evidently she had become separated from her calf. I scrambled out of the tent shouting and trying to get them out of camp while scrambling up the embankment away from them. They left out the drive and down the road, the calf-less cow continuing to call out and thankfully Smokey let them go. I am dismayed that Smokey thought it was a good idea to round up a small herd of cattle and run them through camp first thing in the morning. Incidentally, I saw the wayward calf slink around camp to join its mother about 15 minutes later.
I am blown away by how innate this behavior is in Smokey. Shadow, a sheep dog, would herd people when she was young, but without reinforcement, the behavior was extinguished by the time she was 2. The behavior has to be stored in their DNA, what other explanation could there be? It is totally amazing that Smokey would just naturally know what to do with cows. And, while I know that I am anthropomorphizing, I am certain that she had a self satisfied look on her face.
That was a frightening start to the day, but nothing compared to the fear I had for that dog late this afternoon. Like I said earlier, we are much nearer the river in our current camp. So this afternoon we bushwacked our way down to the river. It was difficult to get down to the river because much of it is cut through rock and has a 20 to 30 foot sheer rock embankment. We eventually found a spot that we could get to with about 20 feet of dirt only 2 or 3 feet above the river. Shadow generally likes the water while Smokey avoids it at all costs. I stripped and put my feet in but the river was too cold and fast to get in. Evidently too fast for Shadow too, as both dogs were hanging over the bank getting a drink. Smokey lost her footing and into the river she went. At first I laughed as that dog hates the water. But my schadenfreude was quickly replaced with fear as she was quickly carried down stream. 20 feet and there would be rock faces and she would not be able to get out. While I wasn’t afraid of her drowning, I don’t think dogs drown very easily, I was fearful that it would be difficult to find her or that she might end up on an inaccessible rock or who knows what. I was terrified for that dog. Somehow she ended up on a rock 20 feet from shore. She didn’t stay there long but made a jump for shore and swam strongly to the embankment where she couldn’t get out of the water. I scrambled over the rocks and got a hold of her collar and pulled her out of the river. She was not a happy dog and there was nothing remotely self satisfied on her face. She spent 15 minutes shaking and rolling in the sand before she wanted anything to do with me or Shadow.
I would imagine that she likes the water even less than she did before. Keep in mind that this is the same dog who canoed with me 350 miles down the Missouri River and never once got wet. Coming up from the river we had to traverse a field of poison oak, I can only hope I don’t get a full body dose of itchy rash, both dogs are covered in it and we will sleep in a pile tonight.
I both love and hate Smokey for her bravery. While I admire her heart, I fear that it will be the death of her.

I still hope to write this trip up in depth when I get access to a keyboard, tapping it out on my tablet is a serious drag.

Just to add, I was only gone from here for 10 days but during that time Spring ended and full on Summer started. The flowers are gone and the grasses are dying. It is 15 degrees warmer and we will have to move further up into the mountains soon.
I am coming up on 6 weeks of off and on camping and each day I feel less like returning to the bay area. I am so over traffic and the hectic lifestyle and the opulence and poverty that exist side by side. The chorus for a song that I recently wrote begins: “This concrete ain’t no jungle, it’s a prison don’t you see.”

Saved That Dog’s Life

Generally I don’t swear when writing, but here I’m attempting to capture the moment.  If you have sensitive ears you may want to read elsewhere. You’ve been warned.

Background: I am currently camping down in the Mojave Nature Preserve,  tapping this post on my tablet. I won’t have Internet to post this for a few days.

I was hiking a wash at the edge of the Cinder Cone Lava Bed. I was hiking the wash because the lava bed is hard on the dog’s feet. Shadow (my senior Aussie) was earning her name faithfully at my heels. Smokey (my feisty Blue Heeler) , as is her wont, was 30 feet out on my flank looking for jack rabbits.
Most of my hiking is early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat. But today was different as we had been to town for supplies and Internet. So it was a hot sunny hike. I had just found a desert tortoise shell and stopped to photograph it, wishing I was on BLM land so that I could take it with me. Shortly after resuming our hike, Smokey started barking. I called for her to come, but her bark became more shrill, more insistent, more a yip then a bark. I scrambled up the wash’s bank to see what her problem was,  I could partially see her behind some scrub creosote. As I rounded the bush I saw that she had something cornered at the base of a mesquite tree. Just as it registered that it was a coiled snake, the snake struck. Smokey pulled back and still yipping went back after it.
“Holey Shit!  Did that snake just bite her? ”  Running now, I close the last few feet and grab her by the back haunches and jerk her away. My mind was racing, ” fuck, how long do I have?” 2 miles back to the car and a solid 80 miles to the nearest vet in Barstow. The snake is coiled and rattling as I back away with Smokey in my arms. The snake was green!  Who ever heard of a green rattlesnake?
As I ran from the snake with Smokey in my arms, Shadow noticed the snake and went to investigate. I frantically call her away and thankfully she listens. I run maybe 50 yards down the wash, somehow sure the snake was chasing me. Once safely away, I knelt and searched Smokey for signs of a bite. She has a double layer coat and even though I could find no sign of a bite, I couldn’t be sure. I decided to carry her back to camp, keep her heart rate low and watch for symptoms once back at the car. I used to carry a snake bite kit in my back pack but it had long since dry rotted and been discarded. Not that the suction cup would work on a hairy beast. I think cutting the bite to suck out the venom only works in the movies.
I set out jogging… and remembering. Before I had left on this trip I had mentioned to a friend that I have seen a bunch of rattlesnakes in my life, but had never run into one when the dogs were with me. Did I jinx myself? I don’t believe in magic, only coincidence. And what is up with a green rattlesnake? I’ve seen Western Diamondbacks in the Western deserts and Timber Rattlers in Appalachia, but never heard of a green rattlesnake.
My luck changed as I neared camp. I ran into a naturalist studying the desert flowers. She asked what was wrong with the dog, and I explained between huffs as I fought to get air into my lungs. She advised that it was a Mojave Rattlesnake and that they are indeed green. She had me put Smokey down and asked how long it had been. I told her 20 minutes or half an hour. She laughed and told me to quit worrying, had Smokey been bit she would be showing signs by now. She went on to explain that the Mojave Rattler is the most aggressive and deadly of the rattlesnakes (it wasn’t clear if she meant all rattlesnakes or just the three species that reside in the Mojave desert.)
I gave that dog a hug and she growled at me and I knew all was right. Freaked out by the experience, I was seeing snakes in every shadow. We packed up and moved camp 5 miles north.
Moral of the story is to keep a better eye on that dog.

Floating With Smokey

(written without apologies to Steinbeck)

I don’t remember how I first heard it, but in the early Summer of 2009 I learned that the Missouri River was open water from Sioux City Iowa to its confluence with the Mississippi at St. Louis Missouri.  It had long been a fantasy to float a raft down the Mississippi, surely the Missouri could serve as well.  So I started making plans.  I had already scheduled a month off work for the Fall to go to Maine to see the Fall color change, so it was fairly easy to move things forward a couple of weeks and start planning to raft the Missouri instead.
As I started researching and hunting for a used raft, it slowly dawned on me that a raft would not do the trick, I needed a canoe or a small aluminum boat.  I started telling friends and family of my plans, some were incredulous, some were skeptical, and some were downright impressed.  A couple of months before the trip, I started getting a little scared, I thought maybe I should make other vacation plans, plans that were less extreme.  So I started getting maps of other areas and contemplating doing something other than throwing myself to the fates of a river.  But it was too late for that, too many people expected me to follow through, people were asking about my trip wondering if I was getting ready.  Not having the heart to tell them that I had chickened out, I hurriedly bought a canoe, thus locking myself into the trip.
While I did rush into buying a canoe, this does not mean that I did not research my purchase.  I ended up with a mid-range plastic canoe, a Mad River Adventure 14, a general purpose multi-use canoe.
I and a house mate took the canoe up to San Pablo Reservoir to test it out.  We enjoyed paddling around the reservoir, the canoe was stable and fairly easy to paddle and control.  After a few hours the wind came up and the water became choppy, we ended up tipping into the cold water.  With the wind and waves we were unable to right it or push it to shore.  We treaded water until the police came to rescue us.  Not a very noble beginning to an adventure.  But the police and rescue were very kind, while they warmed me up they also dragged my canoe to shore, loaded it on the van and tied it down.
With this mis-adventure in mind, I had to rethink things.  As I researched adding flotation to the canoe, I became aware of outriggers.  Basically an aluminum arm that sticks out each side of the canoe with a piece of styrofoam on it, this prevents the canoe from tipping.  Keeping the canoe upright was an even better idea than making it float better after being tipped.
I never really got a chance to acclimate Smokey to the canoe before it was time to head for the river.  We loaded the canoe on top of the van and drove like mad men (and dogs) to Missouri, spent a long holiday weekend with family, then it was the moment we had been building to.  Dad drove us up to Craig Missouri, where we entered the water at H.F. Thurneau access.  I unloaded the canoe, loaded it up, and tied the various ropes and gear to it.  Taking a deep breath, I grabbed Smokey up and threw her in the canoe and shoved off.  Like it or not, we were now committed to the river.

The first day on the river was a struggle, we only made 13 miles. I had heard horror stories of the barge traffic on the river. Knowing that the barges used the main channel on the outside of the curves, I cut the curves on the inside to avoid them. I was paddling the shortest distance from point A to point B, from inside curve to inside curve, ignoring the current. I paddled steadily for six hours and ended the day exhausted. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into, was the entire trip to be such a struggle? Smokey did not relax that first day, she stood stiff with her head between my knees. That first night we found a nice campsite along the river. There was quite a bit of mud, but I pitched camp and fell asleep early. During the night, it rained…and rained. Even though I was awake long before sunup, we stayed in the tent, and waited for the rain to quit. About 8 AM the rain slowed to a drizzle and we got up, made coffee and packed up camp. I loaded everything into the canoe, and when I tossed Smokey in, she scrambled around, spilling my coffee and leading to a caffeine free start to the day.
I took up where I had left off the previous day, paddling steadily, ignoring the flow of the river and working much harder than was necessary. Around 10 AM we were hailed by two fishermen in a bass boat. They pulled up wondering where we were going, impressed with our story, they gave me a coke and waved as they pushed away. The soda did much to brighten my spirits and I bit deep as I paddled, enjoying the trip for the first time. Around noon the sun came out briefly so I stopped along the bank and spread my gear out to dry. I made another cup of coffee before loading the canoe and pushing off for points downstream. It was while drinking this cup of coffee (and after having a few puffs), that I noticed that the current moved pretty quickly around the outside of the curves. So I let myself drift around the bends then I would paddle across the river and do it again. Smokey also ventured out from between my feet and climbed into the middle seat where she set stiffly and stared at me. We made 27 miles that day and ended the day refreshed and on a high note. We camped that night on the Missouri side of the river and a prettier campsite is rarely found.

Awoke the next morning to fog and a light drizzle. The river was calm and all was quiet. The good feelings of the previous evening carried over to the morning and I actually enjoyed the drizzle. Since all was wet, we simply tossed everything into the canoe wet, made coffee and set off. the morning was spent drifting through the fog and drizzle and may have been the high point of the trip. Around 11 we stopped to hang the tent and sleeping bag out to dry while we made coffee. A couple of boats stopped by while waiting for the tent to dry, it was here that I noticed that some people were curious about where we were coming from and some were interested in where we were going, but rarely was anyone interested in both. While we were taking our break I took the opportunity to redistribute the weight in the canoe. I moved weight forward, while it made the canoe more sluggish and harder to maneuver, it also brought the front down and made the wind less of a big deal to deal with.
Shortly after our mid morning stop we sighted our first barge. I noticed it far downstream and immediately moved to the off side of the river. I waited but the tug and barge appeared stopped. After a while I decided to cross the river and bypass the barge as much as possible. When I got about a third of the way across, I heard the tug power up and could see it churning water at the stern. I paddled back to shore and got out of the canoe allowing Smokey to nose around on shore. I noted that it was a small work barge and a Coast Guard tug as the pilot gave a blast on his horn and waved as they passed. After they had passed and I noted no waves of any note I told Smokey to jump in and we shoved off to paddle to the other side. The water was only slightly choppy until near the middle when the waves became two feet and were rolling in from two different directions. The canoe was leaning heavily as it rolled the waves, the outriggers were extended three feet on each side and while the canoe would not flip, we had it leaning and dropping at steep angles. I was digging deep with the paddles trying to keep the nose of the canoe where the waves were crashing together while moving downstream. As I went to dig with the paddle to bring the canoe around to meet the waves, the canoe rose and the paddle caught nothing but air. I nearly tumbled out of the canoe as the wave rolled through. After reassuming my seat the worst of the waves were over and another five or ten minutes found us continuing on our way. Smokey ventured out towards the front of the canoe, finally making herself comfortable.

Latter that day we passed through the city of St. Joseph. The river was narrow and fairly fast, there were also a couple of bridges to navigate. As we made our way through St. Joseph there were also a few work barges moving empty barges back and forth across the river. It was at this time that I realized I did not want to float through Kansas City, so I called Mike to see if he would pick me up in Atchison and drive me to the other side of KC. He agreed. We learned to avoid the mud when we stopped that night and found a rocky bank to tie up to and make camp.
With the rain and fog over, and with only 20 miles to get to Atchison, I decided to stay late in camp and let things dry. At 11, stuff was still wet so I tossed it into the canoe and headed downstream. We went slow, with only 15 miles to accomplish that day. We didn’t see many people along the river that day and made an early camp 6 miles above Atchison. We enjoyed a long evening and built a fire to help pass the time.
Before the trip, I had done research on where we would camp each night; this seemed important. Missouri has numerous conservation areas along the river to serve as flood mediators and I had carefully mapped each one using the Missouri DNR website. Once I was actually on the river I found that all of that work had been for naught, most of the river bank was empty of human occupation and the entire thing was open to camping. It was a very small percentage of the river banks that were actually occupied and we could pull up and camp anywhere that looked like it might be flat enough to set up the tent. I found that this was representative of my preparations, I had researched and prepared for things that in the end did not pan out to be real problems. Not knowing what the true problems would be on the river, I was prepared for all of the real problems and a goodly number of things that did not turn out to be problems at all.
Up early the following morning we floated halfway to Atchison and stopped to let things dry out and drink more coffee. We made it to Atchison shortly after 11 and tied up at a dock near downtown at Liberty park. The locals were very friendly and let me use their phone as Verizon did not have coverage. I also heard tales of Lewis and Clark’s time in the area, there was much local pride in that they had spent Independence day near this area and had stayed a few days to repair their gear and clean their guns. Mike arrived and we loaded the canoe back onto the van for the trip back to Columbia where we were going to spend the rest of the weekend. I found Atchison to be a friendly and inviting town.

When the weekend had passed, Dad drove me and the Smokester over to Sibley Missouri and dropped us back off at the river to continue our journey. The river had started to change below St. Joseph, below KC the changes were even more pronounced. Less curves meant more paddling, there were also dikes on the outside of the curves meaning I had to back paddle as I made each one to keep from being pushed over. In all the river was wider, straighter, and slower with the current broken around the edges by numerous dikes. We set off and made 20 miles that first half day, we saw no one on the river. It was the hottest day of the trip so far and I found if I set the tent up in the woods off the river that the dew was greatly reduced and our mid day dry out period could be lessened, but not eliminated.
One of the problems that I had foreseen was mosquitoes. I was expecting them to be out in droves, I was fearful that Smokey (who has no experience with mosquitoes) would be tormented by the blood suckers. To combat this I had bought a couple of bottles of military grade DEET. I expected the bugs to be a constant companion, but in the end they were not a problem. On the river itself, there were no mosquitoes. In retrospect I suppose that the combination of open water and wind kept them well outside the river banks. It was only when I set up camp above the banks in the woods that they were a problem, but even here they were not as bad as I had feared. So it became a trade off, camp on the river and wake to everything soaking wet from the dew, or camp amongst the trees and deal with the mosquitoes.
The next day was more of the same, hot and a current that demanded constant paddling. For a second day in a row we saw no one on the river. Daily a Corp of Engineers tug would push a barge either upstream or down. The tug captain was very kind and would cut his engine and idle past us not creating a huge wake and not disrupting our journey to a great degree. We made 23 miles that day and camped a bit early within view of Waverly.

That night I was awakened about midnight with a piercing headache, I laid there holding my head till I finally was relieved again with sleep about 4 AM. It was 8 before I got out of bed and I still felt head achey and generally run down. I popped a couple of ibuprofen and jumped into the river. I drifted slowly for a few hours while the ibuprofen slowly did their magic. Sometime after our morning break the wind picked up and blew steadily into our face. I don’t know how it did it, but whether we were pushing North, East, or South, the wind was always a head wind. Feeling like crap I paddled desultorily and did my best to make progress downstream. Around 3 the water got choppy, this made for a rough ride and made Smokey nervous making her pace the canoe adding to the steady rise and fall. It took us all day to make 20 miles and it was a relief to find a sandbar to end the day on. After a hearty dinner, I took a couple more ibuprofen and went to bed early.
The next morning I awoke at 4 AM feeling great. I had the canoe ready to push off as soon as it was light enough to feel safe. With the rising sun the wind returned, blowing harder than the previous day. Feeling good, I set the canoe into it and paddled away. After noon the water got choppy, much choppier than the previous day. I had to tack back and forth across the river to make progress, more than once I quit paddling to rest and found myself being pushed back upstream. If I rested too long the canoe would get side ways to the waves and they would sometimes come over the gunnels. So I was interspersing my paddling with periodic bailing of the water accumulating in the canoe. We took a long lunch and got back to it in the afternoon. We paddled until our usual stop time and slowly cruised the bank looking for a flat spot for the tent. The first few that we stopped and checked out were overrun with poison ivy, so we continued on. Shortly before dark we found a spot that wasn’t as flat as I would have like but seemed to be relatively free of poison ivy. Somehow we had made 29 miles that day. It had also been our longest day, in the water before sunup until after sundown. And while it had been a struggle to get down river, I had enjoyed it, it was a good sort of exhaustion that led me to sleep as soon as camp was pitched and dinner was finished.

We awoke to a beautiful day. The wind had died down, the overcast had lifted, the sky was populated with white fluffy clouds which bounded overhead, seemingly as happy with the day as I was. We took a break and just let the river slowly take us downstream toward our destination. We only made 21 miles that day, but we wanted nothing more. We stopped often and played on the banks and just generally enjoyed the break from the winds. This was the most Tom Sawyer like day of our trip, no worries, no hassles, just a serene float. We started running into fishermen again, they were friendly and would hail us wondering where we were going or where we had come from. That night we made camp on the prettiest sandbar that one could hope for pulling ourselves out of the river a good two hours early to enjoy the evening. Smokey was wound up from being cooped up and spent her evening running up and down the bank and rolling in the sand, she was effusive and the joy she radiated was contagious leading to a wonderful time on shore. Some locals came along in their bass boat and we shared some of my herb and some of their Busch Lite and told tall tales as the sun slowly arched its way down the Western sky. They told me of the Asian catfish that would jump out of the water and knock people out of their boats. I must have looked dubious because they loaded me and Smokey up and we criss crossed the river corralling some fish behind a wing dike. As we slowly idled through, catfish started jumping. They were two to two and a half feet long and jumped completely out of the water right next to the boat. I had to admit that my incredulousness was misplaced. We were dropped back off at camp and made a feast to finish off a beautiful day.
That night there was a competing cacophony of owls, cicadas, crickets, whippoorwills, and unidentified birds and insects that, along with the roil of the river, led to a peaceful–if occasionally interrupted–night’s rest. We awoke to a foggy morning with a bright clear sky.
Our plan was then to float 20 miles downstream and meet Mike the morning after in Glasgow so he could paddle with us the last 40 miles. But, as they say: “The best laid plans of mice and men…” When I got to within 12 miles of Glasgow I received an email that an aunt had died and that my ride needed to leave town to go the funeral, they wanted to meet me in Glasgow that afternoon to pull me and Smokey out of the water. This news placed a different perspective on our day, this was it, the final hours of our trip. We drifted, Smokey relaxed, me sort of melancholy and seeking to adjust to the news. The river had really lived up to all expectations. I wanted an adventure and the river supplied one. I wished to get off by myself and let the day to day pressures be left behind and the river responded to my wishes. Overall the trip had been all that I had wished for and then some. Smokey, a normally rambunctious two years old, had been everything one could hope for in a companion, she had been attentive and obedient to a tee.

We got down to Glasgow about 3 and called for our ride. While we waited, I emptied the canoe and carried the gear to the top of the bank. Dad arrived and we loaded up the canoe and carted it back to Columbia.
I got up the next morning and spent a few hours cleaning my gear and scrubbing the Missouri mud off the canoe. I sold the canoe before noon of that day, this brought the trip to an end.

More photos are here.

Note: This essay first appeared on my personal website, I moved it here while condensing and considating.

Texas Vacation, Getting Home

Dashing Through the Snow, originally uploaded by foggytown1.

After a rest and a shower in Van Horn, we headed West on I-10 up through El Paso, through New Mexico, and finally to Tucson AZ. We got a room for two days near downtown, with our plan being to spend a day at Saguaro NP and Ironwood Forest NM. But those plans were changed when we discovered that Tucson is a major shit hole.
The worst urban sprawl that I have seen, poor traffic management, and a stench hanging over it all. On top of that our room was a dump. I drove 8 miles to a park to let the dogs play and it took half an hour to get there. The town is like 40 miles across with stop and go traffic all the way. It seemed as if a 4 year old had laid the city out, but more probably nobody laid it out–and that is the problem. The city tries to present an environmentally caring attitude–but there is no city in the desert that can pull that off. Building a city in the desert is the anti-thesis to caring. And to allow it to sprawl to all ends of the earth only adds to the perception. There were bill boards displaying all the things that Tucson is doing to conserve water and they erected them right next to golf courses. The city had a physical stench and it left a mental stench in my mind. I decided I did not want to stay there. I asked for and received a refund on my second night in the hotel.
I spent that evening on Craigslist trying to drum up a rider or two, I was trolling both Phoenix and Tucson. I had a few responses, one wanting me to pick her up in Yuma and go to Southern California (I declined as I wanted to get away from the border area), another wanting me to wait a few days (I declined as I wanted out of the shit hole of Tucson), another wanting a ride to Reno (I declined as there was no direct way to get there).
The next morning I checked out of my room and headed North toward Phoenix. As I drove I decided I would offer a ride to the guy going to Reno as I was ahead of schedule, he seemed like he needed it, and I felt like doing a good deed. Going through Reno only added 120 miles to the trip but it added about 6 hours as the most direct way to get there was all secondary roads. So I phoned him up and told him if he could be ready in an hour I would take him to Reno.
The rider didn’t know how to give directions and it took about an hour and a half to go the 30 miles out of my way to pick him up, but he turned out to be a good rider–a good driver, ok conversationalist, and we had similar musical tastes. So we set off out of Phoenix for Reno. All secondary roads…the whole way. North on route 60 to route 93, up through Kingman AZ and across the Hoover dam into Nevada, get on route 95 in Las Vegas and up to Alt 95 to 395 and into Southern Reno. I dropped him off at two thirty in the morning and headed up to I-80 to go up over Donner summit for the 200 mile shot home. As I dropped him off it started to rain…and I knew that rain in Reno meant snow on the mountain. I got to Boomtown near the NV/CA border and decided to nap a couple of hours, I did not want to get tired on the mountain and have to sleep in the cold.
I awoke at six thirty to the sound of a steady rain. I jumped up and hit the traffic station only to hear that the chain requirement had went into effect for I-80. I drove the 60+ miles down to route 50 and got there just in time for the announcement that chains were required there too. I have never used chains, I have no intention of using them as my owner’s manual says not to. So I settled in to wait it out. Fortunately that was only 4 hours and we were on our way.
When we got up around 7000 feet I went up toward Wright’s Lake to find a place to let the dogs play (photo above). After an hour of playing and romping, we shot across 50 to Sacramento, got on I-80 and went home.
It is always good to arrive home…it’s a good feeling (almost as good as leaving home). Since I am a few days early I don’t have anything pressing to do and can do an easy decompression before getting back into the swing of things.

I have posted a few pictures to Flickr, in the coming days I will post more…so check back for more photos.