From the Edmonds Vet: Travels with Charlize, in search of living alone
On the road
The frustrations of the last four days before my obsessively determined departure date are over. Who would believe that a newly single adult male and his dog could experience so many problems trying to get out of town? But all came together and Charlize and I, comfortable in Old Blue and pulling the Frog, were the last to board the Edmonds-Kingston ferry.
Old Blue is the 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 in charge of making our journey possible. The Frog is my brand new, excellent and comfortable, albeit slightly crowded with both of us in attendance, R-POD camping trailer. Frog pulls like a dream sticking close to Old Blue’s tail.
The purpose of this road trip is to try to understand what I will do with my remaining years. I’m 76 years old and was married to the only girl I ever truly loved for 52 of those years. I’m not accustomed to making decisions on my own and Charlize, my just adopted 3-year old rescue German shepherd, is a good listener but doesn’t contribute much, except enthusiasm, to the decision-making process.
We traveled familiar roads, taken previously with Rosalie, to Port Townsend, Sequim, and Port Angeles. Once west of Port Angeles we were in new territory. We took a short detour to see what the destruction of the dam had wrought to the Elwha River, now flowing grey with silt and debris, but I hadn’t seen it prior to the return to a more natural state. Undoing our well-meant but destructive “improvements” to Mother Nature may take some time.
We decided, at the last moment, to forego the civilized amenities of an RV park in Forks and pressed on to the Kalaloch campgrounds, where my Senior Pass to all the National Parks and Recreational Lands bought a night for only $7. There are some advantages to being “senior”.
We are about 50 or 60 feet above the beach, where gentle breakers provide soothing, monotonous background to my day of calm healing, away from the reminders of our house, her things and a previous life. Charlize keeps close watch on me. She seems to need respite from her previous life as much as I do.
Half the campground is closed, the road barred by a red-and white-striped railroad crossing-type gate. I suppose only those seeking solitude find their way to this place, normally rain soaked but now dry. There are 30-odd camping spots in the open half but when I went to bed last night only seven were occupied. Charlize and I walked the place before and after dinner and not a single person greeted us, everyone holed up in their campers.
In the ’50s, my family used to do a lot of car camping, with a luggage trailer and big umbrella tent — the only type of vacation my folks could afford. My sons and I backpacked. Rosalie wasn’t much interested in camping, preferring modern plumbing. I remember campgrounds as friendly places.
Dr. David Gross of Edmonds graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinary school in 1960 and was in private practice for 10 years. He retired in 2006 as Professor and Head of Veterinary Biosciences, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. This story is excerpted from his book, “Animals Don’t Blush,” which describes the unique patients and even more unique clients of a veterinary practice in Sidney, Montana in the early 1960s.