three humans, two dogs, and a cat
Tuesday, November 20 2012
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
Today Gretchen and I would be driving down to Silver Spring with our two dogs and our elderly cat Marie (aka "the Baby"). This time we would also be traveling with our friend Sarah the Vegan, who (as she had last year) is spending the winter dog-sitting at a house in Bearsville. Unusual for drives to Silver Spring, we would be leaving in the late afternoon at around sundown. That meant there was time for me to do some web development and for Gretchen to take a load of crap to the dump (she's been on something of a crap-removal jihad of late).
Just before Sarah arrived from Bearsville, I filled the woodstove with firewood and choked back its oxygen supply so it would burn for a long time. I also set up a laptop with a webcam pointed at a digital thermometer and the living room so I could monitor its temperature and the various goings on from the road.
The dogs were so excited and nervous from all our travel preparations (and they know well what to look for and the potential for their being left behind) that they acted out a couple times. First they chased a car down the farm road. And later they ran out to the Dug Hill Road end of the farm road to catch a cyclist as he reached the top of the long climb up from the Esopus Valley, whereupon they gave chase. Normally Eleanor doesn't chase cyclists because of bad experiences she's had with a shock collar, but she remembers that it was always safe to go out to Dug Hill Road if she followed the farm road, and that fact is every cyclist's Achilles Heal. The bad thing about this is that it had the effect of training Ramona that chasing cyclists is the cool thing to do. Young dogs always look up to older dogs, and it doesn't matter how much shouting I do (and I shouted myself hoarse) if both dogs are doing something bad together.
I was our first driver, with Gretchen in the passenger seat having the Baby on her lap and with Sarah amongst the dogs in the backseat. As always during such tri-special trips, there was a litter box on the floor behind the driver's seat. Ramona is a longly-apportioned dog who is matter-of-fact in taking what she needs, while Eleanor is more shy and retiring. Consequently, Ramona occupied about two thirds of the backseat while Eleanor and Sarah had one third to share.
We'd thought leaving late on a Tuesday for our Thanksgiving destination would help us avoid traffic, but somehow we got stuck in congestion on the Garden State Parkway en route to the New Jersey Turnpike. I don't remember whether or not the Garden State Parkway ever gets congested, but according to Gretchen, it almost never happens. Oddly, though, the New Jersey Turnpike was clear sailing, as was the rest of our drive all the way to Silver Spring. We stopped for a supper of Burger King veggie burgers and french fries at the Richard Stockton Service Area. Burger King's more popular burgers are all pre-made and ready for the taking, but something as obscure as a veggie burger needs to be made on the spot. Still, a young gentleman in front of us in line was ordering one too, so perhaps one day they'll be popular enough to be available pre-made. But even then we'd need ours made special, since we do not eat conventional mayonnaise (though when we do, we sometimes experience attacks of explosive diarrhea).
I should mention that whatever gas rationing and hoarding that had been going on in New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was now no longer in evidence. Refueling at rest stops along the New Jersey turnpike seemed to be proceeding in the orderly manner that it always has, though of course it is still a bit odd that there is no self-service gas pumping anywhere in the state. Driving a fuel-efficient vehicle, of course, we didn't need to refuel even once during the entire six hour/312 mile drive. Entertainment for most of the ride came in the form of Podcasts, particularly episodes of The Memory Palace and The Moth.
Things hadn't changed much since Gretchen and last visited Gretchen's parents' house last January, though this time her parents were actually there and not off overseas living their retirement to the maximum. After walking the dogs in Sligo Creek Park, we all went off to bed relatively early. As always, Gretchen and I slept in her childhood bedroom, while Sarah slept in Gretchen's brother's (Brian's) bedroom. Initially both our dogs and the Baby tried to sleep on the bed with Gretchen and me, but of course the bed was just a "double or full" (as Wikipedia would term it), and there wasn't enough room for all of us to sleep there comfortably. So eventually Eleanor went off and found somewhere else to sleep, which wasn't difficult.
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