For the past month, I seem to have spent a good deal of my life on I-5, with and without dog. For those of you who are not familiar with the West Coast, it’s the highway that runs all the way from Canada to Mexico, crossing mountains and valleys, rivers, forests, and near-deserts. I live just a few miles from it, and so do my son and my agent, at the southern and northern ends respectively. Several mystery bookstores are also scattered along its length if you zig and zag here and there.
Trillian and I drove south on April Fool’s Day. No joke. Usually by April one can count on 5 being clear of snow over the Siskiyou and Black Butte passes, but the forecast was dismal. Snow level down to 3500 feet, and the Siskiyou Summit is 4300. This is what crossed my mind:
OK, it did rather more than cross my mind. Here in Eugene, we rarely get more than a couple of inches of snow. I’m not used to driving in the stuff. At least, I thought, I’d have Trillian to keep me warm if we got stuck in a drift.
However, the road was clear, though there was snow piled along the side at Black Butte. The drive through the mountains is beautiful if you don’t have to worry about the weather.
[photo credit: Trip Advisor]
All was sunny and bright. Of course, that brings up a problem related to travelling with a dog: What do you do if there’s no shade to park in at a rest area? (After many years of buzzing up and down I-5, I know the best rest stops, but sometimes other people selfishly take all the shady spots.) The only answer is, leash her to the head-rest, open the windows wide, and hurry. Then try to persuade her that the stinky water you’re offering, that’s been sitting in a plastic bottle in the hot trunk, isn’t pure poison.
When we stopped at a friend’s house in Redding, prior to a signing at Barnes and Noble, the bowl of water she was given was straight from the faucet. She didn’t believe it. The water in the garden pond—fortunately devoid of fish and lilies—looked far more appetizing, so she jumped in to get a drink.
Next day, off 5 at last, to San Mateo and M is for Mystery. Drove round and round the parking garage, only just avoiding going down the up ramp, and found a free inside space. After the signing, back to I-5, via the windmills of the Altamont Pass, a surreal sight. California had a wet winter, so the rolling hills were green for once instead of the usual golden-yellow.
Another new day, and still on I-5. Two signings in the Los Angeles area—Book ‘Em Mysteries and Mystery Ink—both welcomed Trillian. At the latter, in the middle of my talk, she suddenly developed a sore ear and started shaking her head, with accompanying jingle of tags. Luckily I had an audience of dog-lovers, all very concerned. The owner, Debbie, sat on the floor with Trill, trying to soothe her.
All the same, I was glad to get back on the road, and soon I-5 delivered us safely to my son’s house. Paradise for a dog after days on the road. Just look at the inviting jungle beyond the trampoline:
And the “garden art” waiting to be studied:
My deceased mama-in-law’s deceased Chevrolet. Don’t ask me why it’s sitting in my son’s yard, but as you can see, the jungle is taking over and I should think it’s probably inextricable by now.
Trillian was less certain that she enjoyed the company. She had never been around kids much, just occasional encounters in the street and watching kids on the school field playing soccer. I wasn’t at all sure how she’d react to my grandkids, aged 6 and 8. But in no time she was on her back waiting for a tummy-rub.
She loved my daughter-in-law, too, but my son was a different matter. For a start, he was large and male. (She’s a rescued dog from the county shelter, and I’m pretty sure at some point in her earlier life she must have been mistreated by a man.) Also, he kept messing about with power tools. She didn’t approve of the noise. She never did take to him.
Another question was how she would behave with their three cats. Again all was well. In fact, one of them gave her such fierce glares that she’d make a big circle around him if she wanted to get past.
A few days later, we were back on I-5 and heading for Mysterious Galaxy. This time my daughter-in-law drove, and my granddaughter came too, the third time she’s come to one of my signings there. It was Trillian’s third signing, as well.
Time to hit the 5 again… 600 miles the first day and 350 the second. Home at last! For 24 hours or so. But the next I-5 journey was a short one, just 19 miles to Creswell library. Without dog. Trillian didn’t come two days later, either, when I set out once again south on 5, to Ashland, Oregon, and its famous Shakespeare Festival. Thanks to Ashland Mystery, I had a night at the theatre, not to mention talks at three libraries, and a local public-access TV recording.
Portland was next, 110 miles north—on 5, of course—to sign at Murder by the Book. I managed to combine it with afternoon tea with my cousins.
As I write this, I’m preparing for the next trip, 300 miles north, with Trillian again. We’re going to Seattle Mystery. Surprise, surprise, it’s just off I-5…
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You may possibly be wondering by now what all this dashing about was in aid of. The answer is, my 19th Daisy Dalrymple mystery, ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH. Yellow US edition cover reflects Kirkus‘ review: “amusing and sprightly.”
UK’s cover is more appropriate for Mysterious Women‘s
Publishers Weekly: “The aristocratic but very modern Daisy makes a formidable amateur sleuth…”
Booklist: “Dunn’s striking portrait of Daisy continues to remind readers that there were strong women with careers in England during the 1920s—and women who successfully balanced work and parenthood. As always, Dunn combines an entertaining story with fascinating historical material.”