A very warm Tango (it was 96 degrees) with Mt. Shasta peaking over his head.
Today Tango and I set off from Berkeley after spending four days at the Doubletree Hotel at the Berkeley Marina. It was a wonderful place to stay, with a gorgeous park just across the street where Tango could run free in some tall grass and sniff every varmint hole on the acreage. He was a happy boy.
We were in Berkeley for the Patients Out of Time Conference which was excellent, but very tiring. It was my third conference in four weeks and by the end of the day on Saturday I was nearly ecstatic to know there are no more conferences in the near future. Tango and I spent Sunday engaged in R&R&R-rest, relaxation and re-organization. The van was a minor disaster area so things came out and went back in more neatly. The business clothes have all been moved to the bottom suitcase and the next two weeks should be just fun.
Tonight we are in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on our way to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We were on the road for close to eight hours, often inching our way up the middle of California on Interstate 5. There were many delays and the horrible California traffic that I thought was an urban problem seems to pervade the State.
And such a State it is. There has been talk for decades about splitting California in two, always along some median that would run east to west. Some have even gone so far as to declare the north part of California should secede and join with part of southern Oregon into a new state called Jefferson. There are many reasons but invariably it comes down to people in the north are different from those in the south. But as I drove today I was struck (once again) with California’s enormous central valley and its vast agriculture bounty. It occurred to me that it might make more sense to split the state length-wise, separating the agricultural eastern section from the coastal west. The people I saw working the fields, driving the tractors and collecting in neighborly groups in small towns were incredibly different than those I left behind in Berkeley. Once again I wondered how this country holds together. We are wonderfully and remarkably tolerant although one wonders how that can last in the current political climate.
But those are problems for another day. Today we started the homeward leg with stops in Idaho and North Dakota. We drove through northern California and for many, many miles we could see Mount Shasta with a bright, white topping of snow. It was in stark contrast to the upper 90-degree weather outside our van which was markedly different from the air-conditioned city called Berkeley. Such an incredible place, the State of California. ❧
Tango, I have decided, does not really like the constant wind of the Western plains. My theory is that it simply overwhelms his senses, which, as we know, are so much more acute than our own. Who knows what multitude of odors are carried by a constant 15-30 mph wind. Too much to process. His hearing is excellent but the wind just deafens hims, kind of like a constantly blowing hair dryer. So, he jumps out of the van, does his job and looks at me woefully when I try to encourage him to walk with me. But he is enjoying the trip and jumps around like a puppy sometimes, mainly in the hotel rooms. There is a major weather front moving through tomorrow and tomorrow night. Snow is forecast! Perhaps when that is event is over things will quiet down for Tango.
Tango by one of the many Union and Confederate cannons.
Today Tango and I crossed the states of Alabama and Mississippi, stopping in Vicksburg on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Vicksburg is notable for being the spot where the first Coca Cola was bottled in 1894. It was also the site of one of the critical battles of the American Civil War. In 1863, from May 18th until July 4th, the Union forces laid siege on Vicksburg. The armies totaled 110,000 men–more than twice the current population of Vicksburg. Causalities were more than 37,000–a number that does not include the civilians of Vicksburg who were trapped along with the Confederate soldiers.
Vicksburg’s strategic place along the Mississippi made it a “must win” for the Union. Abraham Lincoln declared Vicksburg “the Key” to winning the Civil War.
Today the land on which the Yanks and the Rebels squared off against one another is preserved as a National Park. With close to 150 years of recovery, the landscape no longer resembles the war-ravaged land of 1863. Monuments grace the 1,800 acres and the Park Service clearly has its hands full keeping the grass trimmed back. You can hardly believe there was ever the carnage and suffering that is depicted in the exhibits.
Why visit such a place, you might ask? Why care about a war that is long gone and that many college students can’t even tell you who won (it was the Union)? It has to do with perspective, I think. There are many who feel these are the worst of times in the U.S. But there was a time in this country when we set about to slaughter one another and did a darn good job of it. Estimates are that 620,000 people died in the Civil War, which was only four years long. Do the math…155,000 a year, 12,917 a month! Add to that the mammoth destruction of property in the South. It was a horrific time….
Yet today soft green grasses of spring wave peacefully on the hillsides. The trees have that rich color of new growth and birds are everywhere collecting the makings of their springtime nests. Butterflies flitter about and dozens of people, like me, stopped by to pay their respects to this hallowed ground. Things may be a little tough right now but let us hope we never return to the horror that was the American Civil War. ❖
It is really, really fall up here in Western North Carolina. Tango is enjoying the cooler days and all the different smells. Life is good. ❧
Tango makes friends everywhere!
Well, we haven’t heard the toad’s story ….
Today, dear readers, I present another collage because sometimes just one picture isn’t enough. We are also re-visiting the redwoods in northern California. I’ve been sorting pictures from my recent trip and today I found myself lingering on these images from the redwood forests. They are so majestic and they are also great teachers. No matter how mighty or grand, everything on this earth, in the immortal words of George Malley, “is on its way to something else.” Redwoods fall, as these pictures clearly show. In the upper left-hand corner you can see the roots of a redwood, as big as a man’s thigh and ripped from the earth by the sheer mass of the tree. Yes, when this tree fell I believe there was a sound, even if no one was present to hear it. In the lower left picture you can see how the fallen redwood has become a new home for ferns and other plants. It is a new world, a new ecosystem. It is all part of the circle of life. ❧
So, some of Tango’s fans wanted to know where he was on the recent trip to Ferndale. We offered him a spa day but he insisted on coming along. He enjoyed the blacksmith shop a lot.
Here he is sitting next to some cool tables made from old water meter covers.
And then he had a little sit down in a nice shady seat. Tango is never too far away from me. He’s having a grand time. ❧