this is t.j.’s blog
we’re talking fetch in 50 here.
you are reading all of this
are you glad that you stopped by
thanks for coming
i do appreciate it
what’s up with you?
Written by Gus
Before I riff on our latest road adventure, I’d like to distribute the following context:
Phew! That felt good. No dig to dad, but it feels wrong (and a little less climatic) to exclude such muscular detail.
And no, I did not count our highway meanderings, never (dad’s warned me of getting lost in numbers), Betty’s dashboard informed me. A woman of her purity is incapable of deceit, I tell ya. After all, her last name is White.
Now, without further ado (but with a quantitative understanding in tow), I bring to you our latest American escapades.
It’s a rare occurrence, a phenomenon really, that we know where we’ll sleep for the night – geographically speaking that is. Unless dad is slicker than I imagined (and he isn’t, trust me), schedules and destinations aren’t exactly our MO.
Dad prefers, as he calls it, the “fluid” route. “Free of time, full of freedom,” he’s always telling me. His in-car wit is never short on flair. It’s all very Kerouac of him, which is quite the laugher, because, well, dad hates On the Road. Nevertheless, who am I to stomp a man’s Expression?
This particular bout of Fetch in 50, however, I’d been drooling over for quite some time. Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa – the meat being the middle, of course. “Heading to the North Country, pup.” The sound of it vibrated my bones.
For fetch purposes, my interest lied strictly in the water. I’d seen dad’s magazine cut-outs. Rivers, beaches, Great Lakes, regular lakes – the vision alone set my sea legs in motion.
But as things would have it, and this is a real shocker for such a plan-allergic duo, our northbound ride was a far cry from a case study in freedom. (This is the part where you, the reader, refresh oneself on the numeric context I so appropriately laid out).
Frankly, it felt more like the “Little Water, Lots of Corn” tour with the North Country spiel being nothing but catchy propaganda for dad to drop the windows and blare Dylan for a week.
I know, poor old Gus, such an oppressed canine. At this rate I might be the poster dog for the next Sarah McLachlan commercial, right? (Singing) I will remember youu. Will you remember meee?
But I digress because… 1). I once heard a human say that. 2). Thanks to Oprah I have an attitude of gratitude (you miss her too, admit it), and 3). This trip wasn’t wrong, just a wee bit different. It beat to its own drum. Even dad would agree. Allow me to elaborate.
Having built quite the road résumé over the course of my day, I’ve learned a number of things about not only myself as a Dog Being, but the ingredients for which a memorable adventure entails. Want to know the secret?
Here, lean in.
No, like really lean in.
Take a hit of this dog breath. It’s not going to melt you.
There you go. Right there.
Fresh and potent with a fishy finish.
Not so bad, huh?
The secret is there is no secret. (How you like that build-up?) There is a tried-and-true method to a forgettable experience though.
It’s called never leaving the driveway. To start the car, you gotta turn the key, sure. But to move the car, you gotta hit the gas. So GO people! — wherever It may be. Those who settle are those who skip the pedal.
Which brings me back to the road. This is how our North Country script read; directed by the Youniverse, starring Betty, dad and yours truly.
Chicago was Chicago. Tall. Crowded. Shitty parking. The city life basics. Dad drank espresso. Me from a filthy sidewalk bowl. I did manage a leash-free game on the greenery at Northwestern. Great pitch come to think of it. For the most part though, we were there by day, gone by morning.
Day two, rain in Wisconsin. Dad drove. I waited. Rain continued. Dad drove further. I waited longer. Three days here in total. The sun shone the latter of the two. Didn’t help. The sites and shore failed to impress.
Rarely do states flop in their entirety (and by rarely I mean never), but there’s a first for everything, right? Sorry cheeseheads, but let’s be honest, you’re nothing but a Michigan imposter.
Just a guy sleeping on a dashboard wondering when it will stop.
It wasn’t until day six after another rainout and a thousand new miles on Betty’s belt that we found a favorable swimming hole.
Grand Marais, Minnesota, right on scenic Lake Superior — a mere 40 miles from the Canadian border. My dip was divine but it failed to last an hour. Dad said we had to maneuver our way back to humanity for the evening. We found it. And I slept like a puppy that night.
It didn’t take long before logging truck driver distances again. Dad’s back hurt, my heart did. Minus the Minnesota respite, the trip had been anything but ideal. Some places fall flat on their face (ahem… Key West. We get it, you like Jimmy Buffet. Give it a rest, will ya?), that’s the nature of the business — and life in general for that matter. I understood it, but was stubborn to accept it.
All of a sudden home smelled closer than ever. My nosedometer is tuned to the hundredth of a mile. Dad drove from a slouched position; the sun eager to clock out. I knew Operation North Country was running on fumes, but was there really no allure? Who was I kidding? I waved the white flag and closed my eyes.
The next thing I heard was the stillness of the summer night. It seemed to breathe through me. Betty napped, crickets chirped. It took me a moment to realize this wasn’t a dream. I was in fact awake.
With that, dad opened the door, and with a twinkle in his eyes, he whispered…