At four years of age, Roo remains cautious when confronted by a huge bear, even if he is a popular government official.
I'm always up at dawn. Last night was rough, though, with continual heavy thunderstorms, and with Rooki tortured, moving, or trying to dig a hole in the floor or flinging her noise muffs off, I spent most of the night up. Finally around eight, I dozed off for a few minutes when there was the kind of loud banging at the door that only the authorities use. Standing in my skivvies, I opened the door.
Now, I had decided to stay in this expensive park only to wait out an enormous weather system that was approaching. Mostly locals come here, and they all left in the face of the guaranteed heavy rains. A flash flood warning was in place. All the roads in and out of here have dips that are impassable in heavy rain. The weather system was too large to outrun. There was nowhere to go. We were stuck.
The park ranger told me to be prepared to evacuate. The overnight rains had formed a thin sheet of water in the dry creek where I had been taking Roo for her walks. As I type now, it is about a foot deep and moving fast. The ranger told me that when the water reaches the base of the trees to clear out to higher land. We'd have plenty of time to keep from getting swamped.
The immediate challenge this morning was getting Roo out for a walk. Not having agreed to go out since yesterday afternoon, she was ready to burst. After some coaxing during a break in the thunder, she decided to chance it. She did what she had to do, and that took the pressure off. Since then, she's been hiding on the floor in the car.
Only yesterday, I was marveling at the puddle in the dry creek bed in which Roo was standing. It hadn't been full since the summer, and yet, that little puddle—cut off from all other water—was filled with fish. Hundreds of them. In the picture, you can see dozens of them checking Roo out (If you could zoom in on Roo with your nose, you would know what a dog smells like after a dip in a thickly populated fish pond). I wondered if they were just out of luck, or how they could survive. It didn't take long to find out what Mother Nature had planned for them. A little rain and, whoosh, off they all go to join their big brothers and sisters downstream. It must be a fun day for them. Their universe just got a lot bigger.
I don't know if we're going to have to get to higher ground. If we do, it won't be more than an inconvenience. Much better than what happened here last July, the last time it flooded here. The ranger told me that the water came up to where it would have floated the trailer away and filled it with water.
We could both use some sleep.
Around noon today, Roo started reminding me that it was time for her walk. She batted me fifty or sixty times with her paw, flattened her ears way back and gave me a look she must have picked up from some lonesome little albino doe, a newborn alone and lost in the forest. Normally, I just wait until we spot a brown and white sign and, no matter what it says or where it points, follow it until we wind up at some public land. That's a good strategy and will be until the republicans make good on their word to privatize the parks, but hopefully I'll be dead by then.
There were no such signs today, and so I resorted to the second line of defense, which is to zoom in on Google Maps until green splotches appear, then zoom in on those until a name appears. When a name appears, I select it and the GPS takes us there. That's how we wound up at Roaring River State Park today.
First of all, we did not hear one single gunshot. Yesterday, by the way, I was hoping to get a tiny repair done on a mandolin. As we were passing through a medium-sized city (and I hope not to have to pass through another for years), I had sent out a few random emails to local repair shops, and one of them sent a number to call. I called, and the guy told me to come over. When I walked in, it turned out he had left the luthier racket to go into a much more lucrative field: silenced machine guns. So we stood there surrounded by half a dozen fully-automatic guns that a prop designer for a Terminator movie would have to tone down and which could easily, in the hands of the right citizen, kill 400 people before the mythical good guy with a gun put an end to it. That reminded me that we remain firmly in gun country. So, when not a single shot was fired today, I was delighted.
And Roo loved that park. I'm not really sure why, as there didn't seem to be one mouse anywhere. She just loved it. She was bouncing all over the place, rolling in the dirt, swimming in the river, ambushing me and laughing as she ran.
When we got back to the car, I was drying her when, all of a sudden, the loudest air raid siren you ever heard went off. It was as if the thing was right next to you—which was exactly where it turned out to be. We were no more than 50 feet from it.
A high-quality, modern air siren, when experienced at first hand, does not take a long time to get to speed. It started shrieking and within a second reached deafening levels.
I expected Roo to lose it. It shocked her, and her tail went between her legs, but I had the towel over her and tightened it a little. But then, all on her own, she relaxed. The thing blared away until whoever tripped it received word that the joint Sino-Russian attack had been called off, and that was that. Roo looked around, a little on the dazed side, but that was all. She shrugged it off.
But, Roo wouldn't be Roo without something to freak out about, and she had her opportunity tonight, wen we went to the market and returned after dark. The sky here, on these eastern plains, is clear. You see the stars clearly. Constellations make sense. Roo, however, spotted a jetliner's blinking red rotating beacon 35,000 feet above and about 15 miles to the north and thought that was enough of a danger to stay in the car for an hour.
That's Roo. She always keeps you guessing.
On her fourth birthday, Roo finds herself on the eastern edge of the Great Plains. There's a windstorm on tonight, and every gust shakes our camper. She doesn't like it, but she isn't upset by it. Wind used to panic her. Now, it just has her a little on edge. Not too on edge to eat her evening cookies, jerky and chicken.
When Roo was in the shelter, they thought she was three. Probably that was based more on her teeth having been black than anything else. Since then, she's been getting younger all the time. The last thing that made her look more than her age were black rings under her eyes, which took a couple of years to fade. Now, I don't see them any more. I chose 11/11/11 because it wasn't just a cool date, but it would have been just about right.
I know the accompanying photo is blurry, but it shows how much she still looks like a puppy when she bats me with her paw in the car to get my attention.
There we are.
Happy Birthday, Rooki Kahoo. In the dedication of the Roo story, I called her the bravest puppy I ever knew. She still is.
Here's the first video of Roo I ever posted, taken a couple of days after she came home with me. It still kills me to see how even her tongue was weak.
In a comment on the vide of Roo trapped under a mountain. Tonight, though, Roo is sulking because she wants chicken and isn't getting it because I would like her to chew a bone, which she refuses to do. C'est la vie, Chiggi.