From the Edmonds Vet: Travels with Charlize, in search of living alone

David GrossBy Dr. David Gross

Part 10: Frog is wounded

The friends I visited with in Salinas have three dogs. Charlize had a grand time running and playing with them. She is a sociable dog, gets on well with strangers, so far with strangers of all species we have encountered.

I had neglected to refuel Old Blue before our visit, so by the time Charlize and I reached Monterey the gas gauge was showing close to empty and I was getting nervous. The first gas station I found was crowded. There were three rows of pumps and the first two were full of vehicles refueling. The row closest to the inevitable convenience store selling overpriced indispensables was empty of vehicles but a large truck, delivering more of those indispensables, was parked diagonally, blocking my ability to swing wide enough to line up with the gas pump.

I was committed and stuck. I had made a sharp right turn into the station off a busy street. Old Blue was past the first two rows of pumps. The pump islands were protected, actually guarded by four-inch diameter steel posts planted firmly in the pavement and painted bright red. Frog was still half in the street, blocking traffic in the near lane.

I inched forward, still thinking I could maneuver far enough to my right then back left to ease into the pump row. I checked both side view mirrors. Yes, I thought, it is doable. An impatient California driver, blocked by Frog, honked his horn. I rarely hear anyone honk their vehicle’s horn in the environs of Seattle; it is just not considered good form.

Those red steel posts were closer and closer as I inched Old Blue forward and around them. Yes, I was going to clear them. Frog cleared the street and traffic resumed. I was now completely focused on the posts. There was a loud crunching noise. If I had still had a stomach, that’s a whole other story, it would have turned inside out.

Frog is exactly the same width as Old Blue, the living, cabin portion of her, that is. A major selling point for me is that she is built to travel over rough roads for camping, hunting, fishing, those kinds of activities. She has a significantly stronger frame than the average travel trailer, higher clearances, a heavy-duty axel and oversized knobby tires. The wheels are outside of the trailer cabin so she is actually the width of both tires wider than the truck. Aluminum fenders screwed onto the body of the cabin prevent mud, water and/or snow or ice from splattering the cabin or following vehicles. The fenders sport running lights fore and aft.

While I was worrying about those painted red steel posts I ignored the parked truck. The driver’s side corner of the truck’s rear bumper, also solid steel, made contact with the front running light of Frog’s right side fender and scattered amber plastic over the pavement. The front half of the fender, now crumpled, separated from the cabin, the screws pulled loose.

I managed to pull the fender off the tire and push the screws back into their ragged holes. Then, watching both sides carefully, I finally managed, with much backing, forwarding, maneuvering and wheel turning, to get around the corner and line up with the gas pump. Frog suffered her injury stoically, but there is no doubt she is struggling emotionally.

Duct tape is a wonder drug for all non-animate objects; a temporary fix but perhaps more versatile than baling wire. I used it to hold the fender in place and off the tire. After more days of travel, the fender is still attached, sort of, but it is loosening. If I can’t find someone to repair it properly and professionally while I’m in San Diego, I’ll try to fix it myself. My son has tools.

Publisher’s note: After his losing his wife of 52 years to cancer, Dr. David Gross has embarked on an extended road trip with his new dog, Charlize, and is writing about his experiences.

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