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Travels with Harry: On the Road Again

Harry Au

Katherine, my pet, told me one day that we were moving back to the East Coast from Aptos, California. I was a bit surprised when she told me we were moving to South Carolina to live on an island. 

She began the process of sorting and packing.  I watched as all of our furniture and boxes went to a storage unit until she arranged for everything to be brought back East.  Then on June 28th her parents picked me up from our home and we all went to pick Katherine up from work to begin our journey.    

We left from Watsonville, CA at the end of Katherine’s work day.  Katherine and I were in the back seat of the truck, her parents were in the front, and the truck was hauling an Airstream trailer that was going to be our home for a month.  At least this time I wasn’t perched on boxes and surrounded by bags, but the seats were too high for me to jump up and down from, so I was constantly lifted into and out of the truck for the entire journey and I found it a little humiliating.  I was very happy that I was able to stand on the back seat with my front paws on the center console which ensured that I was the first to sight squirrels or anything else that might require my attention. 

The second day of the drive we went 503 miles and made it into Utah.  I had never been to the salt flats and it all looked and felt just a little bit odd to me, but I was happy to be out of the truck and peed on everything I could.  The next day we went over Donner Pass and Katherine’s father told us its story.  I didn’t like the story very much and I was glad we were going over it around July instead of January as I thought I’d be the first to go if something like that should ever happen.  I think Katherine sensed I was uncomfortable because she started to rub my belly and told me not to worry since we weren’t in the 1800’s anymore, the pass was a paved well-traveled road, and we had cell phones.  That was also the day that I saw for the first time three trailers attached to a tractor trailer truck.  

The next night we made it to Idaho and stayed beside Rainbow Lake.  I remember there was a lot of wind, but it was one of the most beautiful places I had seen, so I didn’t mind that I couldn’t really catch a good scent of anything.  We all to a walk around the lake and I was very happy to be able to sniff and pee whenever and wherever possible and I finished my day with a long nap on the grass.     

We then went to Yellowstone National Park.  During that day I saw my first sighting of a moose, a buffalo, and an elk as we drove to our campground.  I was amazed at how large the animals were.  They seemed almost as big as the truck but I still had to bark and growl at them.  I took my job of protection seriously.   

As we left Yellowstone we drove through a herd of buffalo.   There must have been at least 30 just walking down the road towards us as we were driving out.  We stopped and let them pass as they didn’t seem inclined to get off the road.  This time I didn’t bark or growl as I saw how big they were walking right next to the truck.  Some even looked into the windows right at me.  I know I’m supposed to be a good guard dog, but even I don’t have a death wish and felt it was probably better not to provoke them.

We then went to Polson, Montana before heading into Glacier National Park.  I remember that the scenery was some of the most beautiful I had ever seen.  I began to understand why humans call it the ‘big sky’ state.  It was as if the sky melted into the landscapes and it was amazing.   

The next day we entered Glacier National Park and when we got to our campground we were told by a ranger that there was a black bear around.  That evening my pet and her parents were busy cooking dinner when I started barking.  I needed to warn them that the bear was coming to our campsite.  I also was tied up outside and I wanted to be inside.  Katherine came out of the trailer and told me to stop barking – she even called me Harold, my name that she uses when I’m in trouble.  Then, our neighbors told her that I must be barking at the bear.  I heard her say to them, ‘yes, okay, the bear, sure,” but then I saw her eyes go to the area they pointed to and sure enough, she saw the bear.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen my pet move faster.  She had me off the leash and into the trailer in a matter of seconds. 

While we were in Glacier we drove the ‘Sun Road’.  My pet, I have to say, was petrified.  I never thought she was afraid of heights and she kept swearing that she wasn’t.  Her argument was that we were too close to the edge of the road and to be close to the edge was to be next to a cliff.  I have to admit that I agreed with her – we were very close to a death-defying drop.  There was still snow and ice on the road in sections, so the drive was a bit interesting at moments.  The original plan was to come back down the way we went up, but that was soon nixed.  Instead, we came back into the park the long way through land of the Plains Indians.  

The next day we left Glacier and while driving we passed a motel that advertised a sign saying, “Goldilocks slept here and she liked it just fine.”  I thought it was an odd advertisement, but I’ve learned over the years that humans are odd.  Like, when that night my pet read The Night of the Grizzly and she couldn’t sleep.  She kept me awake all night tossing and turning and I was very annoyed. 

Luckily, the next day I wasn’t allowed into the park at Mount Rushmore so I was able to catch up on my sleep in the air-conditioned trailer while my pet and her parents were out and about.  I know I was supposed to be guarding the trailer, but I was just too tired to be a good guard dog that day.   

The next day was a long travel day as we drove through Mississippi, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and then we entered Kentucky.  In Kentucky we stayed at the Kentucky Horse Park.  I didn’t think it was fair the park wouldn’t let me run around as I had already done so when we were there a few years back when my pet was grooming for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.  But, there were lots of walks around the campground and lots of naps in the air-conditioning.  It was nice the trip was more relaxing than when we were there competing.   

After a couple of days in Kentucky we went to Tennessee and Georgia where we saw most of my pet’s family.  By this time the trip had taken a full month and I think we all were ready to get to our destination and have a bigger home than at 28 foot trailer.  But, the trip still had a couple of scheduled stops in Virginia and Maryland before we headed to South Carolina. 

When we arrived in South Carolina I remember wondering how I was ever going to survive the humidity.  It was so sticky and hot and all I wanted to do was lie on the cool kitchen floor near the AC vent.  I didn’t even want to go outside for a walk, but my pet told me I’d like it and that I didn’t have a choice, so I went.  She was right – I loved it!  We walked to the beach and I was let off the leash.  The waves weren’t big like on the Pacific and they cooled me off when I played in the ocean.  I was able to run after flocks of birds and sniff all the things that washed ashore as we walked and pee on whatever I wanted.  I even forgot about how hot I was while we were out.  The only thing I didn’t like was I had to have a bath after the walk to get the sand off me, but that wasn’t so bad since it cooled me off even more.  I was going to really like being a beach dog.

We stayed in South Carolina a year before moving again, but that trip is another story for later.   

Until then, I remain your Jack Russell/Bassett hound friend,


Read other articles by Katherine R. Au