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
By Dr. David Gross
Part 5: Lewis and Clark
True to my obsessive, head-down and push-until-the-task-is-complete nature I sat at my computer and printed out Google maps for nine days of travel. So far I have managed to ignore everything I worked out by stopping to take in anything that catches my interest. Charlize is just happy to be participating. I find I special joy chatting with the helpful folks handing out pamphlets, maps and advice at small town Chamber of Commerce information offices.
Sunday morning, Charlize and I walked portions of the Discovery Trail then tacked on a rather difficult mile or so with me struggling up and down the steep trail to the North Head Lighthouse. Just a few years ago, those trails would have been a piece of cake, not now with my arthritic ankle. We were just killing time until the Interpretive Center opened at 10, but we had been up since 5:30 so we had a lot of time to kill.
The Interpretive Center was interesting but only provided a cursory review of what I learned from more than a dozen books I have devoured about the great adventure of the Corps of Discovery. They have some nice artifacts, though. Charlize had to stay outside, tied up, but the volunteer lady at the front desk told me Charlize greeted each new visitor by barking while wagging her tail and was happy to be petted by those brave enough. She has a classical German shepherd’s look, but is small, only 60 pounds, most females will weigh in over 75.
Inside Frog, the back end of the camper consists of a U-shaped bench around a small table. The table can be lowered and the back cushions are used to make another double bed. The first night out I woke up about 3 am. but couldn’t find Charlize. Then I saw her peeking out from the starboard side bench, apprehensive about being on the furniture. I told her she was a good girl and could use the bench for a bed. It keeps me from tripping over her when I get up during the night. During the day she is not allowed on it, and has adjusted to my weird rules.
We visited the reconstructed Fort Clatsop, south of the Columbia, where the Corps of Discovery spent a miserable winter. Even in nice weather it was easy to imagine how uncomfortable they must have been. We were on the 101, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, about 1 in the afternoon.