Travels with Charlize, continued
We’re on the road again, Charlize and I, this time with company. Alexis and her two Yorkshire terriers, Mimi and Zsa Zsa, are making travel even more fun. We left early Wednesday morning, the 4th of February. We crossed over Snoqualmie Pass in spitting snow but the road was clear. On the eastern slope the snow was heavier with spotty dense fog all the way to Yakima. Near Cle Elum in a patch of light fog the traffic was heavy and moving too fast for the conditions. I moved into the passing lane to get around a slow-moving semi. A car came up fast and tailgated me. I watched in horror as a black SUV traveling west veered onto the median and went airborne flipping sideways at least three times, with parts of the vehicle separated and airborne. It landed on its wheels, shuddering. There was only the soft median to pull onto and the car still on my tail. There was a long line of cars on my right. I slowed and the traffic following swung around me. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw that three cars had pulled off onto the right shoulder and all the drivers were on their cell phones. I was already too far away to get off the highway safely then get across to the median to offer any aid. I have Googled several times but can’t find any reports of a fatal accident at that location on that date. It was not an auspicious way to start our trip.
We pulled into Boise, Idaho that evening and checked into our first of many La Quinta Inns booked because of their dog-welcoming policy. The receptionist offered dog treats, which we call “cookies” — and at the mention of that word all three dogs commenced spinning. We enjoyed a nice dinner at the Alavita, an Italian restaurant in downtown Boise only a few blocks from the State Capitol Building. We decided that all the customers in suits and ties were lobbyists. If you are in Boise, this restaurant is worth the effort and then some. Alexis and I always order different dishes and then share; it doubles the experience.
The next night we were in Ely, Nevada after a day of empty highways and empty spaces. We gained an hour back after losing it in Idaho. We got settled in the room, then caught up with the local Ely Times and the Sherriff’s blotter; interesting stuff going on in tiny Ely. We tried to identify a place to eat but the choices were so limited we elected to eat some fruit we brought from home; the huge salads we consumed at lunch would tide us over.
All three dogs are now experienced car travelers. Whenever we stop, they stay in the back of Whitey until their leashes are in place, then take advantage of the first non-paved location we can find to do their business. Charlize taught the other two to take advantage of every opportunity.
Las Vegas, after a short drive, was Las Vegas. We walked the old part of downtown, experiencing the low-rent Las Vegas. Then checked into our La Quinta before cleaning up and going to the “Strip” for some serious people watching and dinner. We discovered Vegas people-watching to be a unique experience, on many levels. The casino staff people are interesting to observe since it appears their every action is calculated to obtain a gratuity. The slot machines draw an intense set of focused characters mesmerized by computerized spinning, flashing images. Blackjack players seem more social, more relaxed but still focused. All excitement focuses on the craps tables.
We wandered through the Cosmopolitan, where we took advantage of their free public parking, then the Bellagio. Mega casinos,but we were there just observing. The problem was to try to escape the cigarette and cigar smoke. Apparently the people of Nevada are in denial about the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke. Maybe the casino workers have to sign some sort of legal document recognizing they are working in a hazardous environment and give up their right to sue. Our hotel was non-smoking, though, so perhaps the casinos have special dispensation.
Retired veterinarian Dr. David Gross writes about his adventures on the road with his dog Charlize.