In November, 2003, Nolemana and I made an eight-hour drive to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It was a trip which had been in the works for a couple of months, with ukubillion emails flying back and forth between me and the person we were going to see. In a way, it was a bittersweet trip, yet not without hope and anticipation. Several months earlier, I had suddenly lost my beloved Holly Berry, who was a rescue Australian Shepherd. I adored her, and she adored me. She was my protector, my Velcro girl, and if anyone came to the front door, she was right there to make sure it was okay for me to open the door.
I only had her for a year, and one horrible day, she just dropped dead in front of me, with no warning at all. It was one of the most awful days of my life. The autopsy showed that she’d had a tumor in a blood vein, and it had burst, ending her life ‘way too soon. I was devastated. The pain was so great, and her loss so unexpected, that for weeks and weeks I could hardly get through my days. But one day, I decided that I would like to rescue another Aussie, and so I began an online search at the Aussie Rescue website. At first I felt really disloyal, but then realized that it was because Holly Berry was so wonderful that I was even considering another dog. We tried a couple of local dogs, but they both chased our kitties, so that simply wouldn’t work. Then one day, I saw a photo of an Aussie with lovely coloring; she was being fostered in Idaho, but that wasn’t an impossible situation.
I began emailing Mary Ann, the dog’s foster mom, asking ukutrillion questions about her. How was she with cats? Was she housebroken? Did she have any obedience training? Was she crate trained? How was she with strangers, etc.? Mary Ann was wonderful, even taking the dog up to a friend’s barn where there were cats to see how the dog would do with them. Everything went great. So, to make a long story short, Nolemana and I decided that since we needed a road trip advencha anyway, we’d leave early on a Saturday morning and drive through the Palouse country, where we’d never been, and go meet the dog. It was November, but so far the snow wasn’t a problem in Idaho. But we made an agreement; we wouldn’t decide on the spot whether or not to take the dog. We would go back to our motel and talk about it, think about it, and then go back to see her the next day. So with those plans in mind, off we started. (I’m not including all the photos of our trip in this post.) We stopped for a stretching our legs break at the Whitman Mission National Historic Mission in eastern Washington. Waiilatpu is the Cayuse Indian name for the place.
We walked all around the area even though it was getting late, almost sundown… and we read all of the signs and information telling of the awful events that took place there. You can read more about it here if you want to. We left feeling pretty sober about the whole experience.
We had to get to our motel in Walla Walla, so we got back into the car. This was before the days of yelp.com and cell phones, and though I’d made a reservation at the Best Western there, we didn’t know where we were going to eat dinner. But imagine our surprise when we saw this! Well, that settled it. Mokihana+train=this is where we’ll eat! We got to eat in the old dining car of a train!!! And it was made even more fun by who else was there: A whole carload of Red Hat Ladies, who were absolutely delightful and loved that I wanted to take photos of them in their finery.
The meal was great, the ladies were funny and awesome, and we were so glad that we’d decided to eat at the Depot Grill. I hope it’s still there. The next morning, up we went through the Palouse country; there were lots of old barns along the way.
And in Colfax, Washington, we saw this really cool old car with some elderly people in it.
We passed through Spokane, Washington, (the motel was cheaper there) and got registered at our motel, then passed through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, just up the road.
We headed north up to Hayden, where the doggie was. It had been a fabulous drive so far, but now we were getting anxious to meet her. We got to Mary Ann’s place about 4 p.m.; it was pretty cold by now and there was a little bit of snow on the ground, but inside it was warm and cozy. We introduced ourselves and Mary Ann, or “Grandma” as she referred to herself (tūtū to da doggies), went to let the doggie out of her kennel. Cuddles, as she was known then, came out into the living room and straight to me! She was so sweet, friendly, calm, and very responsive to us. We talked with Grandma for quite awhile about Cuddles, and then said we’d talk it over and come back the next morning. We headed back to our motel, and did a lot of talking on the way, yet just letting all the information we’d been given just percolate in our heads for awhile. Part Two next time.