WWLD – A Tribute

We’ve crossed paths with a lot of great peeps in our travels, and our California friend Leon is right up there at the top of the list. Partly because he brought Sue and her endless supply of treats, but also because he was just one of those kind and gentle human beings that we dogs are drawn to.

Hangin’ at “The Pond”

We first met Leon back in 2012 on our first big RV adventure in the desert. We were boondocking at a little lake called Fortuna Pond near Yuma, Arizona. “The Pond” is a popular spot for snowbirds because you can park right beside the water … and it’s free!

That cowboy hat in the background would become very familiar.

Fortuna was pretty crowded when we arrived but, after consulting a Washington couple on how comfortable they were with us parked off the nose of their rig, we pulled in close to them, leaving enough room for maybe one small trailer between us and the next camp.

A couple of days later, we were off exploring the area and, when we returned, there was not one, but two good-sized motorhomes squeezed into the space we thought barely big enough for one. As it turned out, it was lucky for us these particular Californians were handy at fitting into small spaces because one of those motorhomes belonged to Sue & Leon and the other to their friend Rick.

There goes the neighbourhood!

That week at Fortuna was filled with many games of ladder ball, a few alcoholic beverages (the peeps not us), and many a campfire tale with our new friends (along with a few unsanctioned visits to Sue’s place for snacks). It was tough to say goodbye when it came time for the next leg of our journey, but we drove off confident we’d see our friends again.

Saying goodbye … or rather, “See you again soon!”

And we did, a few years later in Quartzsite when we visited their camp at Scaddan Wash. And then again the following year, when they invited us to camp with them at Ogilby Road near Yuma. We had such a good time those ten days and the fun continued when they joined our camp a few weeks later at Wickenburg.

The camp on Ogilby Road.
No doubt imparting some wisdom as Nollind hitches up Sid.

You may be wondering about the title of this blog, WWLD. You see, Leon was like an RV sage, all knowing, ever wise. He’d been RVing for years, had spent a lot of time off the grid, and there wasn’t a trick he hadn’t picked up, a shortcut he didn’t know about. So, when T and Nollind are stuck, they always ask, “What would Leon do?” At Ogilby, my peeps were ready to start adding to the propane tank system on Sid until Leon wandered over to have a look and ask a few important questions. Turned out the system already had the thing they were going to install!

Leon taking his girl for a spin in Fang.
A fond farewell at Ogilby … but not for long as it turned out.

From my perspective, the answer to WWLD is put a beer in your hand, a smile on your face, and wander from camp to camp getting to know the neighbours. Leon would know a little about everybody within an easy sauntering radius, always having time to listen to a story or tell one. He loved campfire time like no one I’ve ever met, and even built a cozy surround for the sometimes windy desert evenings.

Campfire time at Vulture Peak near Wickenburg, AZ.
The campfire surround set up at Ogilby Road.

We saw Leon the winter before last when we joined their camp at Scaddan Wash in early February. He seemed to be slowing down a little but still had that same sparkle in his eye, that same love of a good story.

Another winter, another gathering at Quartzsite.
A couple of old boys sharing a drink at Scaddan Wash in 2018.

Leon lost his battle with cancer a week ago and the celebration of his life is tomorrow. If Sacramento weren’t so far away, we’d be there to tell our Leon stories. I have no idea how his friends and family will possibly fit all those tall tales into one short afternoon.

Always time for one more story…
And one last goodbye.

As for us, I’m pretty sure the next time we travel south the desert will feel a little emptier. But, we’ll enjoy a campfire, take a walk, get to know a neighbour … because that’s what Leon would do.

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Arizona Dreamin’

I was totally on board with T and Nollind’s staying-home-for-the-winter adventure.  Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, winter camping, making snow angels, and a healthy dose of cozy, indoor cuddle time all sounded like a good winter to me, but then the weather turned frigid. I enjoy snoozing in my dog bed as much as the next 10-year-old pooch but, two weeks later, cabin fever is setting in.

The good old days of December … snow + mild = fun.

When I enjoy this weather least is during my first-thing-in-the-morning constitutional, when I’m all warm and sleepy from bed and hit that minus-a-billion air that freezes my nostrils shut and makes me wonder how long I can hold it if I turn around and run back inside. The cats used to have an indoor bathroom but the peeps have never installed one for me. Pretty sure I’d figure out how to use it when the weather is cold like this.

So, I’ve been dreaming … about the desert, about long walks on bare earth, about lying in the Arizona sun, about Sid time. I didn’t think I’d miss it so much but I’ve realized that being outdoors is crucial to my feeling-goodness and there’s not nearly the outdoor time here in winter that we have when we’re snowbirding.

The picture of outdoor feeling-goodness.

That old expression, “There’s no bad weather just inappropriate clothing” has some truth to it, but the theory doesn’t really work for a dog who dislikes wearing clothing. My replacement would be something like, “There’s no bad weather just inappropriate planning.” In other words, there’s no winter weather two or three days of driving can’t fix.

Warmer … but I still hate clothes.

In case you’ve never been to Arizona in winter, and are wondering what I’m talking about, here is a little side-by-side photo comparison…

Below left: Feb 2018 = Sleeping just outside the door, luxuriating in the sun.
Below right: Feb 2019 = Sleeping just inside the door, sulking because it’s cold.

Below left: Feb 2018 = Where are we going today?!
Below right: Feb 2019 = Can I just stay in bed?

Below left: Feb 2018 = A hug because she loves me.
Below right: Feb 2019 = A hug because I was shivering and lifting my paws.

Below left: Feb 2018 = Appropriate clothing and looking happy.
Below right: Feb 2019 = Appropriate clothing and … well … apparently, clothing isn’t everything.

I’m going to hang onto this last pair of pics and start posting them around the house in the fall, just in case they get any crazy ideas about not going to the desert next winter!

Home for the Holidays

It will be a different kind of Christmas this year … no desert … no Logan. The four of us spent the past two Christmases in and around Quartzsite, Arizona—exploring the desert, lying in the sun, lounging by the Little Red Fireplace. This year we’ll be here in Alberta, and just three of us, unless you count the horses and cats who bring our number up to ten.

Christmas Day last year at Dome Rock BLM (Logan in his favourite spot).

Logan was always the ringleader when it came to opening gifts, being a greater lover of toys than I am. Last year it was a little candy cane squeaky thing. Silly, but he loved it. No matter his age, he never lost the enjoyment of something that squeaked or grunted or otherwise made a sound between his teeth. I inherited a whole basket of the goofy things. I hope T and Nollind give me a bone for Christmas this year. I prefer quiet deliciousness to noisy tastelessness.

Logan with his Christmas toy.

We’ve been out walking in our winter wonderland every day since the snow came. T started out in boots when the snow cover was light, moved up to snowshoes after a dump, and now she’s back to just boots with all the Chinook melting that’s happened this past week or so. For me, it’s four paws all the time, although I wished I had some doggie snowshoes on those deep-snow days. On the plus side, I’m looking svelte, fitting up my near-ten-year-old body for the winter adventures to come.

I keep up just fine on the hard pack.

And by winter adventures I mean Canadian winter adventures, the kind with snow and sunshine and, yes, sometimes cold. T and Nollind had been planning to take us south in early December, then mid-December, then just after Christmas, and then early January, but they’ve decided we’re staying home entirely this year. Sounds like there are a few reasons why, not the least of which is the old horse, Nevada. He’s had some health issues since the end of summer and T wants to be here to care for him on a daily basis. She thinks he needs her right now, and she might be right. I see the way he looks at her every afternoon when she goes out to give him his extra feed and supplements, like she’s just saved his life yet again.

Home on the range

Logan almost kept us home last year but Nollind built him a ten-foot ramp and we were off to the south. Maybe he could do the same for Nevada? Instead of the Fang trailer behind Sid we could haul a horse trailer.

The ramp that made it all possible last winter.

But, since I don’t think that will happen, I’m settling in for a Canadian winter—putting energy into growing an extra layer of fur. I’ll be fine. I actually like snow, as you might remember from my I Love Snow post this spring. And, as much as I miss Logan, there are more frequent adventures and long walks in my days as a solo, easy-travelling dog. Life is good.

Making my version of a snow angel.

I’ve heard talk around the house that we might even head out for some winter camping to places like the Cypress Hills and Kananaskis. In our first trip south in 2011, we spent some time camping in the snow in Utah and northern Arizona. Playing in the snow during the day and tucking into a warm trailer at night? Sign me up!

Snow at Bryce Canyon in 2011

From my home to yours, or wherever you may be this holiday season, wishing you and your furry (and non-furry) family a very Merry Christmas!