I have been offline for a couple of weeks as we undertook our temporary relocation from Chandler Arizona to Northern Alberta. This was a trip we had anticipated for months. We had relocated to Arizona, in April 2014, eager to live life in the sun. It now was time to reverse that journey and head to our home in Alberta for the summer. We anticipated leaving the relentless Arizona sun and soaring temperatures for a more temperate climate and time spent in our retreat in the woods. Our enthusiasm was tainted only by the loss of Tasha and Taz and the realization that only two dogs were returning with us.
The first day took us through Las Vegas and into Utah. With every passing hour land flew by the windows. Desert vistas were marked by towering Saguaro Cactus and the twisted shapes of Joshua Trees. We wove around Lake Mead and resisted the lure of the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. Even the flashing lights and temptations in Las Vegas did not draw us from our destination. The road into southern Utah flowed through deep caverns where we were dwarfed by rising walls of rock. We could have left the planet as well as leaving Nevada. Through it all Moe and Willa slept, relieved by the realization that they had not been left behind. Short bathroom breaks were difficult as the temperature hovered around 115 degrees leaving the desert sand too hot to navigate.
I think Moe was the most relieved of all us when we reached our hotel. For him there was no time for idle walks or bathroom breaks, the priority was scoping out the hotel room. He thinks he’s Goldilocks.
Willa did not waste any time or energy on anything other than keeping a close eye on us.
We continued on our northern course driving into the Rocky Mountains. Salt Lake City was as a gem nestled high in the mountains. As the miles and hours ticked by we left Utah for Idaho. The landscape eased away from desert. With Yellowstone National park off to the east of I-15 we crossed the state of Idaho. Immune to temperature and landscape changes the dogs, once more, slept away the hours. The third day brought us into Montana. At first there wasn’t a striking change in the views. Then we began our ascent into Butte, an ascent that continued for a great part of the day. Snaking our way through the Rocky Mountains and around various peaks, we crossed the Continental Divide. Now the air held a crispness, the sun offered warmth not heat. The mountain peaks and the abundance of endless pastures brought to mind memories of the Broke Back Mountain movie. The gentle summer scenes I saw baring no resemblance to what life in the mountains would be like in the winter. Still the dogs slept; rousing themselves only when we slowed down or stopped to offer them bathroom breaks. One hotel room offered them no more or less than the one before.
As we crossed into Canada the landscapes felt more familiar. Although the endless fields dotted with oil or gas pumps were the same in Montana and Alberta, the act of crossing the border heralded a coming home. The town names appeared more familiar as we headed north of Calgary. Flat lands now bent gently over rolling hills. Finally we headed west, looking for changes in once familiar sights. Little marked the fourteen months we had been gone. A turn up a hill into the woods and our little house stood on the crest. Despite reports from our neighbors, I think both my husband and myself breathed a little easier to see it still standing. Moe and Willa ventured out of our van to explore the yard and the house. Nothing in their demeanor signaled that they had arrived home rather than another stop on the way.
It has been a week now. A week of sweeping away dust and dead bugs and cleaning. The dogs now rested from the long journey appear to be thriving in the cooler temperatures. They are eager to spend time exploring the yard and wrestling with each other.
Moe has found a new den. Willa still keeps a close eye on us but is now confident enough to sleep during the day in a room away from us. I don’t have the heart to tell them we will be making the reverse journey once again in a couple of months.