I wake up early (for me) so that I could walk and feed the dogs, go to Starbucks (yes, there is one!) and find the field in time to watch Tricia and Cap lead off the day. The feed and walking thing went well, as did the Starbucks thing. Where it goes a bit off the rails is driving to the field. It appears that the sun is rising ON THE ROAD, and my windshield is smeared with the ten thousand bugs that hit me when we drove through Klamath Sunday night. The result is that I literally can not see a thing.
I pull over and pondered my predicament. Was there a way to go east without actually going directly east? Could I just make a series of right turns? How long does it take a sun to rise? Who would build a road that is on the sun's path? After hemming and hawing for a minute, I decide to unroll my window and stick my head out. Safe? Probably not. But it gets me to the part of the road that curved and without the sun directly in my eyes, I could sort of see through the bug smear. "Hey Siri, make a reminder to clean windshield," I bark out. Siri responds with her trademark "I'm sorry, I don't know what that means." Fantastic.
Arrive at the trial field in plenty of time. What a gorgeous field! Such lush grass, gentle hills, green as far as the eye could ... what the blankety blank am I driving over as I'm pulling into the handler's parking? The smeary windshield is now covered in dust, making it hard to see, so I pull over and step out. Ah. Lava rock. Of course. Well, that's why I have a Suburban. This, incidentally, is what I say before I embark on something unwise with my truck.
The key to driving through a field of lava rocks is to drive just a touch faster, so that you're not lingering on the rocks. My truck approves of this plan. Man, it's dusty. Let's find the Raptor. We drive throughout the trailer park, but no sign of the Raptor, mobile home of Tricia and Alasdair. Drats. Pull into what I would consider day parking if I were doing the signage. Step out of car and immediately step in mud. What the what?
Pull on the Dubarrys, hop out Lou D Dog, and we wander over to the field. There are people standing on the field. Peeps for sneeps! We make it two strides onto the field before I am stopped and told that no dogs, not even retired ones, are allowed on the field. Tie Lou to the fence. He looks angry. This may cost me a leash.
Find Tricia, have brief chat around strategy, give Cappy a good luck pat, and settle under handler's tent to watch the run. Cap gives it a valiant effort, and just as he comes through on the shed, time is called. Damn. There won't be another national championship for Cappy, but he ran his heart out, and he has nothing to prove. We head back to the trailer (which was not there earlier ISWEARTOGOD) and give Cap all the snuggles in the world, and 1/4 of a sweet potato. He's earned it.
|Tricia and Cap at the post|
Go back to the field and watch some more runs. The sheep are leaning on the dogs a bit, but aren't on the fight. Looks like the 13 minutes is about the right amount of time. Penning will take time - the sneeps seem very comfortable with people, so hands will have to use their dogs to pen. This will probably work to Bar's advantage, as my jumping, flailing, and stomping at the pen has proven less than effective. Use the dog: what a novel concept.
|What a pretty field!|
Would love to see more dogs but T and I have an appointment at the Surprise Valley Hotsprings Spa. It's a charming place literally in the middle of nowhere, as evidenced by Google Map's complete inability to find it. The GPS in the truck is equally confused. There is yelling. Things are said that can't really be taken back. We keep driving, and arrive back at the trial field. Rage. Recalculating. Finally find a road out and we're on our way.
While T gets a massage, I enjoy the healing waters of the hot springs. While it is hard to swim in a hot tub, I do a reasonable synchro swim routine. Then I float. Then more synchro. This is kind of boring. I should have brought my knitting. Power through a Vanity Fair from 2013. OK, time to go back to the field.
|Surprise Canyon Hot Springs|
Under the handler's tent again. The hamburger person has left for the day. Disappointing. Absent food, there is nothing left for me to do but chat loudly with peeps, some of whom I haven't seen in years. I have a hat. It is blocking people's views. The hat is sent to a chair to think about its selfish ways. Free mango juice. Not as good as a hamburger, but it's free.
And just like that, the last run pens, and we clear out. Rex makes sure that he has three more good rolls in the dust before we return to Alturas and our hotel. Stop to fill up with gas (it's a dollar more a gallon here than in Washington) and clean the bug smear on the windshield. Go to Subway, get some kind of meat-on-bread. Wick is bored out of her skull and tells me in no uncertain terms. I throw a ball into the room and that placates her for a minute. Her dinner is my peace offering.
|Rex has always wanted to be a slate blue collie. There will be no bed time for the poodle tonight!|
This time tomorrow, I hope to be celebrating a good run with Dog a l'Orange. It is very like me to run well at big events. It is very like Bar to move sheep in a thoughtful yet deliberate manner. It is very like the hamburger guy to come back for Day 2. Signing off from Main Street, Alturas, CA.