My Travels with Radar

On Christmas Day I loaded up the car with my luggage, writing projects, computer, and coaxed Radar into the backseat of the Passat. We had a 6 hour trip ahead of us and I wanted to get to our rental property in Trinidad, California before dark. I packed for various contingencies because I was not sure if anyplace would be open. The weather was cold but dry. I tuned the radio to public radio and hit the road.

Radar in the backseat of Passat
Radar in the backseat of Passat

I have not traveled much with my old dog Radar. He’s a 13 year old German shepherd mix that we adopted when he was 11 months old. He was untrained and full of neuroses. He can handle new experiences more gracefully now; however, he struggles to jump into the car and won’t use the ramp we tried. Still I did not want to be away from him for 10 days and who knows how many road trips I might be able to take with him.

Putting his bed and a blanket on the back seat increased his comfort and when I looked back as we approached Williams on I-5 he seemed to be snoozing. Whenever I slowed down he sat up and looked around to see if he could tell where we were. McDonalds IS open on Christmas, and most gas stations. I stopped to get a diet Coke and a cup of water for Radar. I only wanted to let him out once in Willits so I could keep his struggles to jump into the car to a minimum. Heading towards Clear Lake on Highway 20 the road is windy and when I looked in the rearview mirror I thought Radar might be getting a little carsick. I cracked the window and he immediately moved to that side and began sucking in the air.  Fortunately that was enough to revive him.

Eventually Highway 20 straightens out and joins Highway 101. Lots of CalTrans projects over the years has made this road safer and faster. We stopped in Willits at the Safeway and then the park near the Skunk Train depot.  Radar hopped out and sniffed many blades of grass before drinking a little water.  I was able to park right next to the curb and this made it easier for him to reenter the Passat.

The last bit of our trip was beautiful as we wound through redwood groves. The main challenge was the setting sun right above the tree line. I shoved my sunglasses onto the top of my head when we went into the shade and then suddenly the sun was blinding and I would grab my glasses and return them to the bridge of my nose.  As we reached Eureka I began to get nervous that we would not make it to Trinidad and the lock box before the sun went down. We pushed on and pulled into the driveway just as darkness fell.

I used my cell phone to read the lock box code and then could not find the lock box. I did not want to disturb the property managers but I did not know what else to do. Just as the manager answered the phone I spotted the lock box on a one of the porch pillars. Relief. I apologized for disturbing them unnecessarily and opened up the house.

I unloaded Radar and he explored the yard while I unloaded the car.  We settled in and I started a fire in the wood burning stove and found HGTV cable station on the television.  I ate a bowl of soup and relaxed for a bit, then Radar indicated he wanted to go out. I grabbed my coat and his leash and we went out the front door. He took care of business and we returned to the porch. I tried the door. Unfortunately It was locked. I thought I was only using the deadbolt and did not grab the keys. No keys, no phone. I felt so foolish. We checked all of the doors and windows and learned that this rental is locked up tight.

Unfortunately I did not have the property manager’s phone numbers–I could see the paperwork and the keys through the glass slider. I needed to get back to the village and hope that the gas station was still open so I could use their phone. It is less than a 10 minute walk but seemed longer in my anxiety and in the pitch black. I kept hoping that Radar’s eyesight was better than mine in the dark. I was never so thankful to see an open Chevron station in my life.

Unfortunately The mini-mart clerk was not excited to see me and Radar. He let me use the phone (had to remember how to use a landline) and phonebook (maybe they are not relics afterall), but he made it clear that he wanted Radar out as fast as possible. There was nowhere to tie Radar up near the door, so I hurried.  Unfortunately Trinidad Retreats had their phone switched to fax. The loud beep raised my anxiety. What next? Fortunately I have friends in nearby McKinleyville and Arcata.  I called Brian and Harriet; unfortunately I got their answering machine. Next I tried the Bickfords where either Brian and Harriet were celebrating Christmas or Michael and Deb could help. Fortunately Kate Bickford answered and was able to catch Harriet and Brian as they were leaving. Brian jumped on the Bickford’s computer and found a better number and fortunately reached Reed the property manager.

Radar and I hot footed it back to the rental to meet Reed. I was feeling sheepish and apologized profusely for making Reed come out to rescue us on Christmas night. Fortunately he was very gracious about it and told me a funny story about a couple that locked themselves out whilst stark naked!  I gave silent thanks to God that I was clothed with a jacket and shoes.

After all that excitement, Radar slept soundly. In the daylight I discovered the rental has a fully enclosed dog friendly yard when you close the driveway gate, which is terrific for Radar’s calls of nature. He has settled in and likes going to the beach a short walk from the house and playing with Harriet’s dog Ted. It is totally worth the effort to bring Radar along.

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