Edit 5/21/16: “Jessica” did not end up working out, but I decided to leave this post untouched other than to add this disclaimer at the top so new readers aren’t wondering why I never talk about her. I ended up fostering her for almost three weeks before driving her down to her new family near Los Angeles.
Saturday, April 23
As I was finishing up yesterday’s blog post in the evening, typing away on the computer, the sky grew dark prematurely. Hmm, I wonder if this is...
Yep, the reason why I decided to travel today instead of Friday. A mass of dark clouds looms behind the mountains to the west. A family with an A-frame type trailer is backing into the spot down on the beach and I whisper encouragement to the mother-father team as they try to get set up before the rain starts. They get lucky, the clouds look impressive but doesn’t end up raining much here, just a gusty wind.
Today dawns bright and clear as I pull out of Keyesville camp at 8 am. It’s just over 300 miles to my destination in the delta bay area north of here and the first 40 or so are going to be slow going.
I retrace my steps to Bakersfield, CA along the twisting thread of 178. There are more pullouts heading southwest than there were going northeast, so the traffic is happier with me. Fluffy cumulus clouds brush the peaks but there is no rain in them today.
Back in town, I make two stops. One at Walmart for bread which I forgot to pick up in Lake Isabella, the second to a pet store to look at a dog gate I found online that might work to block off the storage area underneath my bed. Finding a way to convert part of that storage area into a crate is going to be the hardest part of bringing a dog into the Casita, but I’m confident I’ll find a solution. I look at the space and can see exactly what I want to do with it, but I don’t have the carpentry skills to tackle the project myself.
To get to Isleton, CA it’s equidistant taking I5 or Highway 99. I opt for 99 arbitrarily.
The drive is uneventful. The scenery is nothing real special, but at least the fact that it’s spring means the valley is green more or less. A hay cart in one farmer’s field has a white sign with red block lettering mounted on the side: “Pray for rain”.
99 is pretty smooth going, with the exception of some bridges and underpasses that haven’t been surfaced as recently. I drive all the way to Isleton just west of Lodi without stopping, and by the time I arrive it’s going on 4 pm and I’m quite hungry.
The RV park I chose isn’t the closest to the rescue dog I’m interested in, but it’s convenient for other reasons. I’d helped the owner of the park back in February with some marketing advice, and was told if I ever found myself in the area, I could stay for free for a couple nights. I hadn’t thought anything of it at the time, but realized a couple weeks ago it was within a reasonable driving distance from this dog; serendipity at its finest!
Sunday, April 24
Off to the city I go!
A solitary peak dominates the view to the west, that must be Mt. Diablo, and that’s the general direction I’m heading. I cross the toll bridge into Antioch and stay on highway 4 until Concord, where I get off on 680 toward Walnut Creek. The land changes as I go, becoming hilly and then forested. The whole east bay area is quite built up and on weekdays commuting traffic can be a nightmare. On a Sunday morning, I have all five lanes more or less to myself – a big reason why I chose today for the visit.
At Walnut Creek, I get on 24 heading to Oakland, phew, what a drive. One hour and 15 minutes after leaving Isleton, I arrive.
I have a more cautious personality and the analytical part of my brain won’t let my emotional side take the reigns in any situation where there is a lot at stake. This little girl is cute and a good candidate, but I need to think it through. By reading her description on the rescue website months ago (she’s been waiting a while for a home) I knew she had good potential as a travel dog and further discussion on the phone with the foster parent a couple weeks ago once my application was approved confirmed it. She’s not perfect of course, most rescue or shelter animals have some issue or another due to their challenging past, but her problems are things I can handle.
The foster mom and I take a walk with dogs in tow to a nearby park in Montclair. The park is a thin ribbon of redwoods and other trees on the side of a hill bordered by residential neighborhoods. We pass walkers, joggers, bikers, and other dogs on the trail, and “Jessica” as she is called by the rescue does well with all of them. The trail out and back totals just under three miles and she ends as strongly as she started, confirming that she is not the “pillow princess” kind of little dog.
After the walk, we drop the dogs off and the foster mom and I head to Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe in Oakland, a favorite with the locals with a neat atmosphere. I get a breakfast burrito with spicy pepper in it, it’s fantastic. Having given the subject of Jessica a lot of thought during the walk and at lunch, my head and my heart are both finally in agreement. I decide to adopt her and tentatively decide on Piper as a name, although that may change after I get to know her better.
This will be my first dog, ever. My first pet larger than a gerbil. Adopting a dog is no small responsibility, and up until now I haven’t been responsible for anyone but myself, which made a lot of decisions surrounding my life simpler. I’ve given a lot of thought to adopting and know this is what I want to do, but that doesn’t make this moment any more comfortable. But I’ve always been of the opinion that the best choices are often ones that push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Starting a blog was not comfortable. Going full-timing was not comfortable. Writing a book was not comfortable. And yet all of them ended up being great decisions. And so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that pulling the proverbial trigger on another change as momentous as adoption has also turned out to be somewhat uncomfortable.
Examining these feelings and reaching this conclusion does not make the discomfort go away, but at least I can confirm they are related to the process and not the dog. She will be coming home with me on Saturday the 30th.
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