It took us a couple of days, and we went through about two thousand alternatives, finally coming up with ‘Scout’ as the name for Mr. Friendly Dog. There is a state park in Taos, New Mexico, near the shelter where we got him, named after famous western scout, Kit Carson. The name also seemed to fit his personality as he is a very quite dog, barely barking at all.
The problem was that he was growing every day. Here he is below, on the first day that we met him, about to sniff C’s hand. Not too big, maybe we could get him on the plane in one of those pet carriers ?
Here he is two weeks later, looking more and more like a ‘dog’ rather than a ‘puppy’. There was no way he was fitting in a tiny pet carrier and getting stuffed under an airplane seat. How big is this dog going to be as an adult ? So, we had to cancel our airline tickets, rent a car and drive the 2,300 miles home. Luckily we figured this out before we showed up at the airport where we would have been turned away at at the gate. Though now we had just three days to do get home.
2,300 miles in a car with a puppy that is not yet house trained, a seven year old, two adults, a pile of luggage that includes skis, ski poles and boots, and Christmas gifts. Would we get lost ? Would the dog ‘go’ in the back seat ? Would the seven year old loose his mind from boredom ? Would there be arguments over what direction we should take ? Would we get stuck in a snow storm on the way? Can you tell that I’ve never driven this far before ?
Our journey would take us through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and finally onto New Hampshire and home.
We picked up our rental car, and spent about an hour stuffing in our bags like an enormous version of Tetris. Fitting in the skis in the back seat through the gap between the two parts of the fold down back seat, so that the back seat was divided in half by about two feet of skis, dog on one side, seven year old on the other. Most of the luggage fit in the trunk, but two bags had to be stuffed onto the floor of the back seat, though that did make for a larger area for Scout to sit on.
We left sunny New Mexico, sunny, but there were storm clouds on the horizon.
We had to go at least 800 miles each day, but for the first day we thought we might be able to get about 1,000 miles done since there’s little if any traffic in this part of the country. It would also be helpful to get a good chunk of miles over with since the traffic situation would most likely get much worse once we hit the east coast, and the weather would probably be much worse on the east coast too.
Once we left the mountainous areas of New Mexico, around Santa Fe and Taos, we entered the flat areas of the north-east corner of the state,and the pan-handle area of northern Texas.
Driving through the western states, you really get to see how big the U.S. is. Most of my photos from this part of the trip look like the one above, just more of the same. Half of the time I was driving so there’s not a lot of photos from a large portion of the trip. A lot of the towns on the way seem to rely on tourists who are nostalgic for the old Route 66 days. Though a lot of the old motels with the cool old neon signs from the Route 66 era are long closed as the small towns were bypassed once the faster Interstate Route 40 was finished.
After several bathroom stops, some for the dog, some for Mr. C, some for me or Ms. J, in six hours we had only travelled about 280 miles, just making it to Amarillo Texas.
We were all tired and hungry and since it was New Year’s Day, there were few if any restaurants open. Through the magic of smart phone internet roaming, I did find that ‘The Big Texan’ was open though. It’s a huge tourist spot, normally I would avoid a lace like this but we had little choice.
I have to remember that Mr. C is just seven years old and just loves these types of new experiences. I later asked him what his favorite part of the drive home was and he said ‘The Big Texan, since I got to eat my meal out of a hat!’ Yes, kids are served their meal in a little tray that fits inside a straw hat which they can take with them. Exactly the type of touristy thing that makes me groan, but the food was actually very good. We saw that the meals were enormous, so J and I split a buffalo burger, while Mr. C had a small piece of steak. Something this place does is offer a 72 ounce steak, which is free if you can finish the whole thing, so ‘small steak’ is in comparison to the adult sized portions. C was also impressed that it had a ‘Horse Hotel’ where you could stable your horse while you ate. This was not just for the tourists, as there actually were horses inside. It is Texas ranch country after all.
In the Amarillo area is a huge wind farm, with windmills stretching off into the horizon. As it got dark, you can see the red airplane warning light at the top of each windmill light up from one side of the horizon to the other. It’s a bit blurry, but here’s a shot of the windmills, below. A lot of my photos were taken while I was off driving duty, in the passenger seat, so they’re going to be a bit blurry as we sped by the sights.
We made yet another bathroom stop later that night, while still in Texas. In the parking lot of the rest area was a huge flat bed truck that was transporting a single windmill blade.
When we left the restaurant it was already about 6:00pm, and we had about 500 miles to go to get to our goal of 800 miles. Since it’s January, it was already dark out. We drove and drove for hours, going through the entire length of Oklahoma in the dark. So I don’t have much of an impression of that state, besides the various lights of Oklahoma City and Tulsa late at night. There were so many things to see on the way that we had to put off for another trip, the second largest canyon in the US is near Amarillo, Santa Rosa, New Mexico is the ‘Scuba Diving Capital of the Southwest’ (wait, scuba diving in New Mexico ?) there’s a re-creation of Stonehenge made out of old cars near Amarillo, Tucumcari looks like it has some neat old buildings on Main Street, and then there’s the entire state of Oklahoma which we missed. We drove about 500 miles from Amarillo, through Oklahoma, arriving just over the border in Joplin, Missouri at about 1:30 am. That was day 1. Mr. C sleep walked into the hotel and fell face first on the bed. Total miles for the day: 781. Close to our goal of 800, but there’s a long way to go.
It’s getting colder as we head north, and it’s starting to rain. After the first day’s drive, we already miss sunny New Mexico.