Freia got bit yet again. I can’t even believe I’m writing this. This time it was her trainer’s dog. I think she must have “bite me” tattooed on her forehead or something. She had two tooth scratches and a small puncture on her nose. Fortunately she has healed quickly, the trainer was mortified and has offered to comp her next Rally class. I’m going to take her up on her offer, but keep Freia well away from Slick.
On Thursday I began my drive to Portland. When Heather first moved there, I had always thought that Portland was really just the other side of the CA/OR state line, or in the center of the state at the furthest. So, when Heath invited me to come for a visit, it didn’t seem like such a drive. That is, until I looked at a map two weeks ago.. wow.. it borders WA state. That’s a drive. Lately for work I’ve had to drive to LA and San Diego multiple times a year, and years ago I bought a Volkswagen in Germany and drove it all around Europe for months on end, so long drives are not a big deal, but this was just a little unexpected.
Since I now have the hound, and would be bringing her with me, I decided to split the drive, stopping in Grant’s Pass on the way up. For the drive I bought David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty Someday”, “My Life” by Bill Clinton and “Tourist Season” by Carl Hiiasen. Over 24 hours of books on tape. Since I’ve got to drive to San Diego in another two weeks, it seemed reasonable. Stayed the night at the La Quinta hotel in Grant’s Pass, and it was great. I’m not one to normally have anything to say about any hotel, but it was reasonably priced, clean, quiet, free wireless internet, and they allow pets, oh, and killer make-your-own waffles in the morning with drinkable coffee. I liked this hotel.
Heather had told me that certain spots on the drive were stunning, but sadly neither the weather nor the timing permitted me much of a view. It was either raining, foggy or night time for most of my drive. I didn’t even see Mt. Shasta, which I know now to be right next to the freeway, all 10,000 plus feet of it.. I would have never known. They did have some very impressive trees in one of the rest stops. Freia was loving the soft pine needles that covered the forest floor.
Stopped in Eugene to give Freia a break on the 2nd part of the drive the following day. This way she could have a good run around off-leash and be nice and tired before we got to Portland. Heather has wonderful dogs that are not so good with other dogs, so dog parks did not look to be in the cards while I was to be there. We stopped at Alton Baker Park which seemed to be a fairly decent size and easy to get to from the freeway. The people and dogs there all seemed friendly enough and we stayed there for just under an hour. Nothing super special, but I guess good enough for a city dog.
Found Heather’s house easily enough. We re-introduced the dogs to each other and took them all out for a walk. Freia is super-submissive to Darla, Heather’s dominant dog, which is good, but sometimes she drives Darla (and hence the rest of us) a little crazy with her puppy crazy smoochiness over her – this not only lasted the first introductory fifteen minutes, but the full 3 1/2 days I was there…Heather’s house sits just off Alberta Street, which is a has lots of cute, creative and interesting stores on it. Very funky, artsy and cool. I stopped in at CloseKnit, a nearby store that recently started carrying my kits. Cute store!
Heather did, as always, a fantastic job of showing me around town, with drives, dog walks, restaurant eating and window shopping. We took the dogs out for a long walk one day checking out the cool looking houses for sale, and comparing prices with the Bay Area. There were some that were interesting, but not really my style, a lot of small-ish craftsman homes, and I imagine they were probably stunning on the inside. Portland is a nice town, but there was nothing that gave me a burning desire to move there.
To add to it, in the early morning hours of my first night there, some cops, guns drawn, arrested what looked to be some real hoodlums right outside her house. It was a full on scene from the Cops tv show, yet somehow, weirdly enough, it all ended very amiably, with the cops and two of the kids talking and smoking cigarettes together while another cop made the 3rd kid crush his crack on the sidewalk with his foot (and it was no small amount judging by the marks on the road we looked at later that morning). Then the cops took off to another call, and the kids got a ride home.. Just weird.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we ate, chatted, relaxed and played Scrabble. She’s a smart girl and it was fun to play with her, though Christmas Day I had snacked too much, gave myself a tummy ache. Alka Seltzer, beer and champagne did the trick and then Heather made a lovely Christmas dinner of Salmon with Mushroom and Leeks, Brussels Sprouts and Mash. This was no ordinary meal. Heather is also a most amazing cook. I hate speaking on the phone with her as she will inevitably describe some incredible meal she has made herself which is always perfect in balance, simplicity and elegance.
All in all it was a nice trip, nice to get away and see a good friend, have a few good laughs and good chats, be able to hang out without saying anything, and no crazy family style pressures or expectations. It was a very doggy Christmas, debating prong collars, stuffing Kongs and watching the dogs figure each other out (or not at times). It was a lot of dog management, but I think though a little nuts, we all had a good enough time. I was happy to spend my Christmas with Heather and happy that she had the time to let me in her new home and world she’s building for herself there.