When the time comes, I have a little family who will be moving with me to Trail’s End. I have a bigger family as well, but they all have lives in different places, and I expect to have them visit once in a while, but that is about all any of us expect.
My little family consists of my partner, Sarita, and three dogs — Kallie, the 5 year old border collie/McNab mix who came to us as a pup, and a brother and sister Chihuahua we named Penny and Max, who are rescue dogs from New Mexico. We picked them up the last time we were there, and they are about 2 years old. Kallie is the well behaved one, but she is also a working dog, and loves to be in control and doing a job, even if that job is just chasing a ball. Penny and Max each have two personalities, one is the lively, excited, running around and getting in trouble one, and the other is the sit cuddled up to Mama on the couch and sleep all afternoon one. I love all of them more than I can believe, and, never having had lap dogs before, find that they are surprisingly comforting and warm and funny, just what I need when I’m hanging out at home and healing.
I also have a cat, about 14 years old, but she will probably stay in California, hopefully right in this house, with whomever moves in next. Her name is Tulip, and although she is not fond of all the dogs, she has learned how to tolerate and/or dominate them when need be. She’s not a cuddly type, but she does like to greet Sarita when she comes home from work, playing with her shoelaces as she takes off her shoes, and always tries for a little attention when either of us is on the toilet.
We travel with this family in our van, about twice a year at present. The dogs are wonderful travelers, and we all love the trip, finding that it gives us time to talk about things we normally don’t get to, as well as time to listen to our favorite eclectic selection of CD’s. (We’re often into Brad Paisley for the long trips, and have enough to get us through one whole day of driving!) I also read out loud from my passenger seat, which is tilted way back with a outdoor lounge chair cushion on it, to accommodate my fragile back. Kallie lies in the back seat, Penny is at my head, kind of a pseudo pillow for me, while allowing her to keep an eye on the outside landscape, and Max alternates between lying in my lap, and going back behind my seat to the dog bed. They are always willing to be patient until we hit the gas stations or rest stops, and then they are excited to get out and walk. Kallie pees on command, Penny must pee in exactly the same spot, and Max usually finds himself something to lift a leg on. At the motels we break our rule of not letting anyone sleep with us until breakfast call at 5:30 a.m., by getting a king sized bed and letting them all crawl in. (We figure it’s better to know where they are, then let them possibly wander the room, smelling other dogs and marking territories…) Kallie stays at the bottom of the bed, but the little ones nose their way in to a warm spot between us and up against our bodies as close as possible. Sometimes breakfast even comes as late as 7:00 if we’re lucky and the motel room is really dark. All in all, it’s a very satisfying arrangement.
The best part of going to New Mexico besides being together as a family, is watching the landscape change and become more sky than land, having fewer cars on the road, and seeing our familiar landmarks such as the petrified wood place, the meteor site, the mountains with snow on them around Flagstaff. But of course, driving right into our town is the very best, and nowadays it is starting to feel like we’re arriving home, rather than just visiting. We are looking forward to the day when we are arriving from a visit to California, rather than from our home in California.