Travels with Charlize, in search of living alone
Part 36: The road home
Charlize and I are on the road again. We spent two weeks visiting my son and his family in their beautiful new home in Carlsbad, Calif. Rosalie would have loved the house and the neighborhood, both idyllic.
The trip south from Edmonds was made in two and a half days traveling I-5, fast but boring, even though the drive was a new one for us. Freeway speeds and heavy traffic don’t equate to enjoyment of the experience, at least not for me.
Coming home, we left early Sunday morning and managed to clear the Los Angeles traffic before 8 a.m. At Santa Clarita we left the I-5 and worked our way west to US 101 and Santa Paula. Then we headed north along the coast. At about 10 in the morning we arrived in Gavita and joined CA 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.
In Lompoc we found a coffee shop and I got my two Splenda latte but only after Charlize found a suitable location for a long overdue pee. Since we were in no particular hurry, I occupied a table in the sun outside the coffee shop. Charlize was content to lay in the shade I created. Within minutes a lady stopped and asked if she could pet Charlize, who is always open to new friendships. It wasn’t long before I found out she had two German shepherd dogs who were also rescues.
She noticed the Washington plates on Old Blue and it wasn’t long until I found out that her father, in his mid-80s, lives in Edmonds where she was raised. Her Dad recently had a stroke and she had to move him from his home to a private elder care home. She said the family that owns the place is very nice, very experienced in caring for the elderly and that her Dad had his own little suite in the house. She told me he seems to be happy with his situation but I had the feeling that she was trying to convince herself. After she left us, I turned to Charlize:
“You see what we have to look forward to, girl? Hopefully you won’t be around when that happens to me. I need to keep my act together until you are 10 or 12, I suppose.”
Charlize looked at me with the quizzical expression she gets when trying to fathom what on earth I’m talking about, but only responded with a tail wag. I suppose that is about as much as I can expect in response to a morbid thought. She was happy to leap back into Old Blue.
Back on the road, we made our way, twisting and turning, rarely reaching speeds of 50 miles per hour, mostly slowing to 25 or 30 for the curves. On our left were spectacular ocean vistas, one after another. We found a place for lunch in San Simon and Charlize made friends with an adorable 4-year old sitting with her family at the table next to us on the patio.
Matilda’s mother told me it was impossible to keep her away from any dog, she just had to pet all of them. I offered some grandfatherly advice about being too trusting of strange dogs but it was clear that my warning had little effect on either mother or daughter. One more thing on the long list of things I have no control over.
It was a spectacular afternoon driving on the coast highway, stopping every half-hour or so at an overlook just to gaze at the waves coming in and the surf breaking. Eventually we arrived in Monterey. After settling in to the historic Munras Hotel, Charlize strolled while I limped to Cannery Row, where Charlize introduced me to some more friendly folks. Charlize is impatient and fickle though. If the conversation lasts more than three or four minutes and nobody is paying sufficient attention to her, she is anxious to be off to find another new friend.
That evening Charlize and I ate tapas on the dog-friendly patio at the hotel and she made friends with all the service staff. I was just along for the experience, and to pay the bill.
– By David Gross
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.