Posted by: jility | June 8, 2012

Look What Followed Us Home

It was almost 3 in the afternoon by the time we got on the road for our annual trip back to the Pacific Northwest. Normally, we leave sooner, but we stayed to film two agility training videos for Stacy Winkler that will be released sometime in the fall. We also stayed a bit longer to time our trip to coordinate me testing a litter of Border Collies puppies for The Johnson Family of Double J Border Collies.

Sir Cussalot the filmmaker

The plan was to get on the road by 1 in the afternoon on Monday, but setback after setback delayed our start. I walked next door to say good-bye to my elderly neighbor. She is very lonely and really loves the company. She is a former dog breeder and AKC judge, so we have a lot to talk about. It is always hard to leave once I get through her door. Sir Cussalot finally got tired of waiting for me so he started up the engine in the Global Warmer. I knew that was my cue to hurry up and get back.

I slowly dragged myself out her door, one step at a time. She had me mentally tied up and she had the saddest face. She kept saying over and over that she didn’t want us to leave and that she loved watching us work our dogs so much and just knowing we were there gave her comfort… I felt so sad leaving her but I finally said I just had to go. We hugged and I hot footed it up her driveway and back to ours.

We gathered up the dogs, loaded those who were going with Sir C into the GW, and I took MeMe (who insists she MUST ride with me under penalty of law), Pankies & Charisse Poodle. Walkie-talkie in hand, I climbed into the Stinkmobile and off we went. I drive the car and pull our utility trailer that contains two large freezers full of dog food, agility equipment (that is in the trailer not the freezer) and other miscellaneous crap we have accumulated over the 6 years we have lived in the GW.

We pulled out of the driveway, Sir Cussalot and his mighty black and gold steed leading the way, and headed north for the leisurely four day trip to John Day, Oregon. The plan was to drive about 4 hours to the Boulder Creek RV Resort in Lone Pine, CA. We didn’t even get a half mile down the dirt road leading away from our Temecula paradise, when Sir C pulled his mount over to the side of the road. OH OH. I knew something was wrong already. Then I heard his troubled voice on the walkie-talkie, “G@*DA%N MUT%*@F#@&$R (and more that even I won’t type) cabinet came open and all the Corelle bowls fell onto the tile and a bunch of them shattered all over the F#@K!^G place!!!!” If you have ever seen Corelle break, “it ain’t pritty.”

I climbed out of the Stinkmobile as the three dogs with me barked their heads off at the curious horses next to us. Pankies gave them what for and demanded they move to a safe distance from her. They seemed to enjoy the challenge and thumbed their noses at her while sticking close to the fence and making threatening gestures in horse language.

There was broken glass everywhere! Sir C opened one of the slides and we tried to get as much as we could while keeping the mutts clear of the sharp shards. The bowls hadn’t just broken, they had EXPLODED all over the GW. We found pieces of glass clear up in the front of the GW (about 10 or 15 feet away!). It had sprayed up onto the furniture, the counters and everyplace else. It took forever to make the place safe again for the dogs.

Glass cleaned and slide back in, we once again started out on our 4 day trek to John Day Oregon.

There were reports of gusty winds in the high desert. The only thing I hate worse than driving in the wind, is driving in the wind AND rain. The only thing worse than wind and rain is wind and snow!

So the wind reports were saying 40 to 65 mile an hour gusts and that high profile vehicles should not be on the road! GREAT! We had no choice but to go because we had a puppy test to do. As we left the dense population of Riverside County and headed up route 215, the wind began to pick up. Tract after tract of cloned homes gave way to the sparsely populated high desert.

In Hesperia, we split off from the 215 onto the 395. The towns got smaller and smaller as we drove farther and farther away from Victorville, until there was nothing but desert on the right side and craggy hills on the left. The wind grew worse and worse until I thought my hands, jaws and my butt cheeks would go numb from clenching.

Warning signs flashed overhead that high profile vehicles should go back. We pressed on. Weighing in at 60,000 pounds, the Global Warmer advanced solidly and steadily as the relentless wind tried hard to blow her off the road. My little 12 foot utility trailer swayed to and fro as I cussed those strong gusts.

We drove on very slowly for many miles. Then I saw flashing lights ahead. Police cars, tow trucks and emergency response vehicles were on the side of the road. A very large, very beautiful and very new fifth wheel had blown over and taken its large brand new matching truck with it. What a mess! That scene made me even more afraid! But we continued.

What should have taken us less than 4 hours, took more than 5, but around 8 PM, and with great relief, we saw the welcoming sign for the Boulder RV Resort. I let out a huge sigh, and all my muscles relaxed as we pulled in for the night.

The weather reports said the wind would die down by morning. Sure enough, it was quite calm when we pulled out of the resort about 8 the next morning. We drove through the charming town of Bishop, California. Famous for its wild burros and rock climbing.

After leaving Bishop, the winds began to pick up where they had left off the day before. My knuckles grew whiter and my jaws and cheeks tighter. I got more of a workout than I have had in ten years trying to keep the Extortion on the straight and narrow. My gas gauge got lower and lower but we were in the middle of nowhere. I tried not to think about it but my mind kept drifting back to the winds and my lack of fuel. We finally entered a small town whose name escapes me, and found a station right on the main drag that sold diesel. With much relief, I pulled in and fed the Extortion, who was by now, running on fumes.

I asked the sour puss store clerk if it always blew that hard there. She said in a deep rough and unfriendly voice, “Good thing you weren’t here yesterday, the roads was all closed. Had a couple a big rigs that blowed over and a six car pileup.” Nice. She was correct; I was certainly glad we hadn’t been there yesterday.

We pressed on towards Fallon, Nevada, known as “The Oasis of Nevada” for obvious reasons.

The wind slowly died down some and I was able to loosen my death grip on the wheel. Road construction brought our trip to a halt right next to Walker Lake, a beautiful small natural lake that ranges in color from a deep blue to turquoise blue.

As we sat waiting for our turn to go, I noticed an incredible sight! WILD HORSES playing on the shores of the lake! They were at the water’s edge, running and bucking into and out of the water. What a grand time they were having and what a grand sight it was for me! Evidently, Walker Lake is a hot spot for wild horses and other wildlife in the area.

Below Photo by Bonnie Rannald,

I hated to leave Walker Lake. Perhaps someday we will return to spend more time there.

The trip to Fallon was uneventful and the Fallon RV park was a welcomed sight at the end of a long day.

From Fallon we headed north on Route 95 towards our next planned stop; the Steens Mountain Resort in Frenchglen, Oregon. About halfway into the trip, we turned off 95 to NV 140. The traffic went from normal to nothing. We drove about 40 or 50 miles without seeing one other vehicle. I felt like Moses had parted the seas and I was driving across the ocean floor. I could just picture enormous prehistoric sea life swimming all around me.

For the entire 140 mile stretch of deserted road from where were turned off of 95 until we reached the “booming metropolis” of Frenchglen (population 12), we only saw about a dozen other cars. For mile after mile after mile, there was no evidence of civilization other than the road under us and the poles that dotted the side of the highway (and I use the term highway very loosely).

We finally arrived in Frenchglen. Sir C turned off the paved two lane road onto a gravel road (which I think was even wider than the 140 miles of highway we had just driven). I hoped he knew where he was going, because it sure was an unlikely place for an RV park in the middle of NOWHERE!

We drove for what seemed like an eternity on the gravel road. We passed small ponds and marshland teeming with ducks, birds and, as we found out that evening, mosquitoes! Along the edge of the marshes were tons of my favorite birds on the planet, red winged black birds. I love their beautiful color and their even more beautiful song.

After what seemed like an eternity on the gravel road, we saw the sign for the Steens Mountain Resort. It was a sight for sore eyes. Once settled in, I took Crushie for a walk to see some cattle grazing on the other side of the RV park. There was a cowboy on a horse keeping the herd close up to the fence so they would eat grass and reduce the fire hazard. We watched for quite a while as he whistled and waved his large cowboy hat at the grazing cattle. He moved them up and down the fence line. Crush was a bit intimidated by the large snorting beasts and romping calves. She jumped up on my leg and wrapped her paws around me. She squinted her little crossed eyes at me and pleaded to take her away from those fire breathing dragons. Clearly not a cow herding BC is she! Sheep are great but cows not so much.

The mosquitoes began to infiltrate the Global Warmer, so we closed her up snug and turned on the air. It was a beautiful evening and the night air smelled of juniper and cows. The only noises were the occasional bovine calls.

I was sad to leave that peaceful place, but we had other places to go. We left historic Frenchglen early in the morning and drove towards John Day, Oregon.

View from the Global Warmer in Frenchglen:

The drive from Frenchglen was a deserted as the drive to it. We only saw a couple of cars for most of the trip until we approached Burns, Oregon. On the way to Burns, we crossed over an interesting body of water called Malheur Lake. There were bird watchers stopped in the middle of the highway! They were just parked there watching birds with binoculars! I couldn’t believe it. They didn’t budge as the GW roared past them on their left. I so wanted to lay on my horn and scare the crap out of them, but thought better of it. If they weren’t shocked when Sir C powered by, I guess my little Stinkmobile wouldn’t faze them.

Malheur Lake

The scenery turned from high desert sagebrush and scrub junipers to pines and grass. The sky began to spit on us and I knew we were back in the Pacific Northwest. I was already yearning for the desert and parching sun of Temecula that has turned my once flawless, well nourished skin into a dried out roadmap of my life. There is something about all those trees that makes me feel claustrophobic and I have come to hate all the green because I know what causes it! Give me the wide open desert any day, just add water and palm trees and watch it grow.

Just too dang green!

Angie Johnson kindly saved us an RV spot at the Clyde Holiday campgrounds. It was large enough for the GW, the Extortion and the trailer. Sir C set up the GW for the stay and then we headed to town for the puppy evaluation testing. It was a great litter and a lot of fun hanging out with the Johnson family. They are all such a delight! Angie’s mom cooked a vegan dinner for us on Friday night that was delicious! We were so appreciative. After dinner, we were entertained by the Johnson family and a friend. They are all fine musicians! Young Clay is just an incredible fiddle player as well as a top notch Border Collie breeder and puppy raiser!

Saturday morning we’ll pack up and head out for the last two legs of our journey “home.” Next stop, somewhere near Madras, Oregon, then on to Silver Creek, Washington for a summer of fun with our wonderfully entertaining grandollars.

Oh!!! I almost forgot!


Helen  Grinnell King


  1. Oh my! First time I’ve read your blog (color me unobservant) … what fun!!! And that puppy is to die for!!! Absolutely adorable.

  2. Great Story Helen, loved reading it, and she is just beautiful!!!

  3. Haaaa – someone said to me the other day “isn’t that where Helen King’s puppy is from” – I said no she’s a BoTyne . . .

    Sorry about the high wind driving.

    • Well, now they are correct (as are you!).

  4. Sounds like quite the trip! Omg how adorable, you should have brought two so you could share, I keep eyeing those pups 🙂 and I’m getting some pretty intense puppy fever ESP seeing your cutie!

    • Mel wanted TWO! I SAID NO WAY JOSE!!!!

  5. I knew it had to be just about time for a new puppy! Tis the season! Congrats and enjoy every minute!

  6. Awwwww! Great story! BCs can be addictive.

  7. Hi Mel & Helen,

    Enjoyed reading about your trip, thus far ! Always an experience for sure !

    I hope the new gal is fitting in, there, in the trailer ? Update us after you reach Silvercreek. I bet your gals will all be so happy to get out and run around your property !

    Ron King

    • Thanks Ron! WIll keep you posted.

  8. Congrats on the new member of the family! Can’t wait to hear all the details!!

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