But Roo doesn't mind, as long as I get the job done.
This picture was taken in Utah as we continue our trek across America. Utah, for those of you who have never been obliged to clean up after a Golden Retriever who has visited it, is truly magical, because it is made of a variety of dirt that can never be cleaned off a dog. You can hose them down, bake them in the sun, dry them, brush them, run them through a car wash, swim them back and forth across a lake, bombard them with beams from a particle accelerator, subject them to a sheep dip, blast a riot control water cannon at them, immerse them in a 4000-fathom submarine crush depth test vessel—only to find that as soon as they jump up on the bed, it will be covered with a deep red dust several millimeters thick. It is a dust that can never be picked out of your teeth for the rest of your life.
The other way in which Utah is magical is that it has to be the most astonishingly beautiful state in the Union. Half the curves you come around reveal a mountain or mesa or butte that in any other state would star on license plates and driver licenses. Here, they're everywhere. Plus, there's free camping all over the place, out-of-the way pockets of government land where you can simply park and everybody leaves you the hell alone. These have the added benefit of being avoided by the bumper-to-bumper locomotive-sized motorhome traffic, which is all lumbering around Utah, but who, fortunately, will not risk a night away from a cable TV hookup or a way to offload the America-sized portions of fried chicken and Hot Pockets and a 24-pack per person of Bud Light clogging up their septic systems. As a man whose only vice is his dog (granted: it's the deadliest vice of them all), I am not faced with the same requirements. Tonight, we're on land owned by the town of Hatch, population 127, situated by the side of Mammoth Creek. There hasn't been one other person around all day. Which is lucky, considering that Roo dug a hole that looks like an unauthorized paleontology excavation.
Fortunately, with below freezing temps most nights, the rattlesnakes aren't out yet. That doesn't mean I can let my guard down, as there are treacherous predators plotting to kill Roo at any moment. In the photograph below, you see her almost lured off the edge of a cliff by the deadliest of them all, the Uinta Hidden Forest Chipmunk, who thinks nothing of running over the edge of a cliff in the hopes of getting a dog to fly off after them. Old timers tell me that all the other little chipmunks watch and giggle gleefully whenever the ploy succeeds, as it most often does. Luckily, Roo's days as a city dog are far enough behind her and her vast experience as an international cliff diver has saved her.
And so, on we trudge. The mission is to avoid warm temperatures, complete as much of a tour of the country as possible, try to fend off the credit card companies and keep trying to make something of it all. The notes, as of today's type-up, have exceeded 100,000 words. In other words, don't send any guns. If I had one I might use it to stop myself from generating more notes.
Wish us luck. But please, don't wish any to those sneaky little chipmouses. It'll be a miracle if Roo doesn't sail off the top of a butte like Wile E. Coyote because of one of those guys.