On day 38, we found where the sun had been hiding: Idaho. Fitting, that after five weeks of rain, the sun would finally come out when our trip was winding down and we were slowly making our way back to California. Also fitting: June is typically one of San Francisco’s coldest months, and while we were in parkas in Montana, the Bay Area was hit by a “heat wave” (for the area…hardly what I’d call hot still) of 85 degrees.
When we set out on our six-week, 12-state road trip, we had no real plans or expectations. We wanted to do a lot of hiking in national parks (didn’t happen…much); we wanted to pull over whenever the urge hit and take a dip in a watering hole (didn’t happen…until Idaho). For reasons I won’t go into, we wound up spending four unexpected days in Coeur d’Alene. It was lovely—Idaho’s answer to a Lake Tahoe. We started out our first day circumnavigating the lake, beginning at Beauty Bay with a short little hike to a lookout.
This little sprite was all smiles when the sun came out and she learned that we would—FINALLY—be spending all day, every day, in the Great Outdoors.
That is, until she found out what exactly that entailed.
Back story: Prior to this trip, Ella hadn’t spent a whole lot of time outside, mainly due to our hectic lives and the Bay Area weather. We live on the border of the Presidio, so on the odd, sunny day, we’d take her for walks in the park or on Ocean Beach, but she’s only been in water that wasn’t our bath tub exactly once. On the way to my in-laws’ house this spring, we pulled over near Vacaville at a rest stop, a rest stop where there happened to be a little pond. SVV was running Ella around in the grass when a bird startled her and she LEAPT into the pond, like a flying squirrel, in pursuit of the bird. The look on her face was sheer terror when she realized what she’d done (and how cold the water was), but that’s when we both decided we’d make a swimming dog out of our pint-sized sidekick.
So we bought her a lifejacket somewhere along the way and were finally able to tear off the tag in Idaho, the 11th of our 12 states. Let’s just say she liked the lifejacket about as much as she likes her harness (which is NOT. AT. ALL.). Still, it made for cute photos.
In our attempt to counteract the pallor creeping into our skin, SVV and I decided to pull over at the first public dock we spotted while driving around the lake and catch some rays. Ella did not want to go near the edge of the dock; she stayed hugging one of us the entire time we laid out.
Or sat on top of us. After all, the higher up, the less likely you are to get wet. Clearly. This dog ain’t dumb.
And even though the Ironman race was the day after we left, it was advised that you don’t swim in the lake without a wetsuit. Sure, it was the end of June and in the 80s, but the water was still so cold from all the flooding that took place throughout the spring and early summer (and the nearby glacier melt, I can only assume). Which meant, of course, that my
idiot of a husband just had to jump in.
Ella watched with intrigue and was either contemplating joining him or silently judging his stupidity.
So SVV decided it was the ideal time to take her into the shallow water and get her paws wet.
He started with her snout and mullet, and while she wasn’t a fan, she still kept that goofy smile plastered on her face.
So he moved on to deeper water.
Uh, Dad, I’m not so sure about this bright idea.
He held her in chest-deep while she frantically doggie-paddled about. The water was so cold, he didn’t want to traumatize her, so after a few seconds, they came back out. She didn’t seem too put off by the whole ordeal, as she continued to wade knee deep in the shallow lake.
And while she didn’t go in again, for the rest of the afternoon, Ella put on a brave face, positioned herself at the edge of the dock this time and peered into the lake with awe. We’ve made a camping dog of her, we’ve made a traveling dog out of her—we’ll make a swimmer out of her yet!
The following days were spent lazily wandering the waterfront, braving the crowds at Lake Hayden and hiking up Tubbs Hill. It was a great way to start the last week of our road trip on a relaxing note—especially with all the chaos we would be returning to (you don’t even know the half of it—yet—just you wait…). And I was just happy that, for once, Mother Nature did not even attempt to muddy up our plans.