Last week, Suzanne and I took a quick trip up to Eugene, Oregon to pick up the teardrop trailer she’d ordered last year after discovering the delights of camping with a real bed and a real roof on our road trip to Idaho. The planning for the trip kept us busier than expected in the first week of July — her car needed a hitch and then the electrical system developed problems, so I spent part of a couple days hanging out at car places. It felt like there were a host of uncertainties as we headed out: Would the hitch be the right height? Had the electrical system repair solved the problem? Would places be open along the way or closed because of the virus? How hard would it be to figure out towing? Etc., etc.

And our trip did not get off to the best possible start. We left early, just after 6AM, and had been in the car for no more than ten minutes when I realized that Zelda had poop stuck to her butt and that she’d managed to smear it on my jeans, my shirt, my jacket, and the seat belt. Our entire canister of wet wipes later (minus one, saved for a future emergency), I still vaguely smelled like dog crap. And at our first stop — in Crescent City for coffee and a quick beach visit for the dogs — we discovered that the coffee shop & bakery Suzanne loved was gone, permanently, and that Riley had thrown up. Profusely.

It was a most excellent trip.

Beach with foggy sky in distance
The beach in Crescent City

And actually I’m not kidding at all. We had a great time. The weather was mostly beautiful, the company was excellent, and serendipity was on our side. My favorite example: because of the various uncertainties, Suzanne kept it simple and made a reservation at a La Quinta in Eugene. When we got there in the late afternoon, between the challenges of parking a trailer in a crowded parking lot and Riley being sick, it was clear that we were not going out again. That was okay; we’d brought food with us just in case. But while Suzanne was busy with the trailer, I was browsing Trip Advisor, and it turned out that their #1 restaurant in Eugene, Sabai Cafe, was moderately priced, cautious about the virus, offered gluten-free options, and was half a mile away from the hotel. And it totally deserved its #1 ranking: Suzanne picked up takeout for us while I stayed with the dogs and the food was fantastic.

A teardrop trailer image.
It’s a bed on wheels!

The next day, we took the coastal route home, 101. It was a perfect day for it. Foggy in the morning, burning off to blue skies & sunshine in the afternoon. We stopped at Fred Meyers for snacks, The Exploding Whale Memorial Park in Florence for a dog break, Clausen Oysters in Glasgow for an outside lunch, Gold Beach for a glorious beach walk, and the Trees of Mystery for a bathroom break.

Lunch shot of fried oyster tacos and a platter of oysters on the half shell.
I was jealous of Suzanne’s fried oyster tacos, which looked and smelled amazing, but the oysters on the half-shell were fresh and delicious, so I survived.

We wore our masks, stayed generally away from people, and practiced good distancing, but it was lovely to get out and go somewhere. Lots of driving, obviously, but beautiful territory. We’re planning now for a longer trip, to include camping, at the end of August, pandemic-willing.

Unfortunately, the next few days were not so much fun. On Friday, Riley had a 4PM vet appointment but I called Suzanne at work sometime after 11 and said, “I need you to come home now, he can’t wait.” He was panting hard, lips drawn back, not willing to stand. I would have taken him without waiting, but I’m not strong enough to pick up fifty pounds of limp dog and he wasn’t moving. We spent a good chunk of the afternoon waiting in the parking lot at the vet’s office (pandemic rules), finally heading home while he was getting x-rays.

On the way home, we splurged on one last road trip luxury and bought some cooked crab for dinner. Yum. Except on my first bite, I thought, “Hmm, that’s a strong taste, is this okay?” Each successive bite was fine, so I relaxed. Until about midnight, when I got extremely, mercilessly ill. I will spare you the details, but as those who know me well know, my immune system is rather over-protective, so I’ve had a lot of practice with food poisoning. I mostly shrug off a bad night. This one… not so much. Suffice to say, I will not be forgetting it anytime soon.

Fortunately, Riley and I are both doing better now. He’s going to have an ultrasound in a couple days, to see if the vet can find a cause for his misery, but some painkillers and a couple days of relaxation have him almost back to normal. (He might have thrown out his back, which apparently dogs can do.) And I’m not back to eating normally yet, but I will be soon, I’m sure.

In other rather nice fortunate news, Zelda’s on a serious upswing. A mystifying serious upswing. She’s eating — she’s even eaten dog food!; she’s active; she’s communicating, ie this morning she stared at me until I gave in and took her for a walk; she’s engaged and curious… I have no idea why or how, but I love it so, so, so much. I realize it’s just a moment in time, that her long, slow decline will continue, and I absolutely do love my foggy, sweet, confused, slow dog just as much as my alert, aware, curious dog, but it is so absurdly nice to have her back for a few days. We went to the beach early Sunday morning and she actually considered trying to play frisbee with the big dogs. She decided to explore the beach some more instead, but even the interest was unusual. I’m grateful to be given this gift of extra time with her!

beach with dog and big rocks
Zelda, sniffing the rocks at Moonstone Beach