Thursday, February 19, 2015

Travis Drives 44 Hours With a Pregnant Wife and 2 Crazy Dogs and Lives to Tell the Tale

Driving across Canada in the middle of winter sounds a lot more crazy once you are a few days into the journey and your car decides to overheat when it is 35 below zero and you are an hour and a half drive from any sort of town. But aside from that hiccup of a story, the journey was more uneventful than it could have been.

We started out our venture on a hopeful note.  Travis meticulously packed the jeep full with two months of supplies for us to live in a hotel, emergency travel supplies, things mover's could not move (mostly a couple boxes of homemade wine, some ammo, etc.) and enough space for human-sized-Schrodinger and also large-cat-sized-Roxi to comfortably ride. 

Travis loading up the jeep
My morning sickness even appeared to be easing up for the second trimester. Spoiler alert, we were very wrong. I'm apparently not that lucky. For example, on Valentine's morning when everyone was inundating Facebook with, "#bestguyever pretty flowers/candy/jewelry #loveday" posts I was all, "#I-will-not-make-it-the-10-footsteps-to-the-bathroom, Travis, please bring me a trashcan with much haste." I recovered enough for a reindeer dinner and presents but I did miss out on tacos and cupcakes for lunch. It was pretty pathetic. But back to the whole travel thing. I'll break it down by days.

Day 1: The first day the drive was pretty nice. The weather was still mild, there wasn’t much snow on the roads. and we saw some decent scenery.  The border crossing was very simple, probably because they didn’t want to deal with a car search after seeing a loud, overeager mastiff try and wedge himself out the driver’s side window after launching all the way up from the trunk across the luggage in the back seats.  

Dinger liked to wedge himself in those few
inches between suitcases and car ceiling.
Roxi hated it back there.

I freaked out for a moment while driving when the jeep began slowing to a stop for no apparent reason even after I put the gas pedal to the floor. Travis figures one of us must have bumped the shifter since it never happened again and no alarms went off .  He made fun of me a bit but I swear...something did happen, I didn't imagine it. This day was one of our 2 long days at 11 hours or so of driving.  We also discovered that it was an…experience…to spend the night in a hotel with both dogs.

Some of the prettier part of our drive in BC. 

A gigantic lake in BC.

Day 2:  Another 11 hour day, but luckily this was the last of our long days. It began to snow. All day it was kind of nasty and gross and I began to become concerned.  But it never worsened unbearably and we made it well onto the Cassier highway, the portion Travis was most concerned about. There was also a rather alarming road sign warning women not to hitchhike because of the highway 16 killer….okaaaay…pleasant.

This was the clearest it ever was on day 2

All the bridges were one lane metal grate bridges, neat but kinda scary.

The beginning of the Cassier Highway.

When we got to the inn we’d made a reservation at, the place looked kind of deserted. Travis went to check us in after a search for the front door. When Travis came back out, he said, “Let’s unload the car and leave the dogs in the car until that guy goes back to sleep in a minute." Then he told me about the conversation as we unloaded the car. Apparently, the inn manager man was asleep and came out in his pajamas once Travis found the office.  The guy also had no memory of our reservation or that we’d be bringing dogs, even though Travis had talked to him the week before. Since, no one else was staying there so it wasn’t a problem. Travis said a little toy sized dog was in the office and after Travis mentioned our two dogs, the inn manager said, “Oh, about that size?” pointing to his dog. Travis glossed that over with, “One is about that size and the other is a little bigger.”  A slight understatement but at that point, we had nowhere else to go and Travis knew we’d be staying in our own cabin and the inn manager would be in his separate house. Odd, but we shrugged it off and moved on.

We had a beautiful view from the cabin in the morning.

Day 3:  This was our short day, only a 6 hour drive so we got to sleep in until 8, which was awesome. This day was not very eventful until the evening. I think this was the first day we saw some moose and also some caribou.

Saw these caribou right after a
 "Watch for caribou sign."
Caribou butt close up.

I think we got to the Alcan sometime this day. But it is all one big blur of a car ride.

At some point we entered the Yukon. Then dipped back into BC. Then came back to the Yukon.
It began to get colder and colder all day. Once we got to our next hotel, it was about 20 below zero. Dinger had never been in weather this cold before but didn’t seem all that bothered, though he wasn’t exactly eager to stay outside. Now Roxi has been this cold before and she hates it but she knows the routine for outside.  Usually we have booties for her but we didn’t have good new ones yet. So she reverted to her normal coping mechanism. It essentially is to get her business done as fast as possible while on as few paws as possible. This usually means multiple trips outside, one for number 1, one for number 2. Both trips gave us a good laugh.  When Roxi pees in the cold, she usually balances on one hind leg and one front leg then won’t move except to switch out legs after she is done. This time she went to a new hilarious extreme and as soon as she finished, she shot both front paws up in the air, it looked like she was being arrested or was really surprised or something. When she pooped, it was actually pretty impressive.  She managed that feat balancing on only front legs. Obviously, it isn’t actually just dramatic behavior in that kind of cold, so she gets always gets a pity carry back inside at the end.   

Roxi in new booties in Fairbanks.
This is an incredible feat to accomplish. Trying to wrestle
booties on a Mastiff should be an Olympic event.

The night at this third hotel was a miserable fiasco. Dinger barked and growled and wouldn't settle for hours. Roxi, on the other hand, was easy enough to shut up. We just shoved her under the blankets at the foot of the bed and she was content and well behaved. I think all she ever wants is to be warm and spoiled. Generally if allowed on the bed, she is on good behavior, I think she thinks we will forget she is there and she’ll be allowed there indefinitely. This is actually pretty true.  

We tried everything to get Dinger to sleep. We tried locking him in the bathroom, we tried turning on the bathroom fan, we try getting him to sleep right next to the bed, we tried being soothing and nice, we tried being mean and scolding, we tried ignoring and waiting it out. All for nothing; he kept growling and barking. Finally, after one in the morning when we’d had no sleep yet, we had an early day ahead of us, and I was quickly spiraling into a crying. hormonal, exhausted, and now hungry mess, Travis remembered that we had Benadryl with us.  He admits he was fully prepared to drug Dinger and I both to get some sleep at this point. Thankfully, we had wi-fi to search for the correct dog dosage.  Travis fed Dinger a hot dog bun filled with pills while I tried to calm down with a snack and a book. Truly, I’m like a toddler again. Luckily, this settled everyone down, Travis only had to drug one of his companions, and we got all got a few hours of sleep.

Day 4: When we woke up for the 8 hour day, it was cold….35 below.  The jeep was not pleased about this and wouldn't start for a bit, even after being plugged in all night. Then it threw some alarming errors for while it warmed up.  All seemed fine after the car warmed up for a while. I do think Travis jinxed us though.  A U-Haul had been limped in from a good distance away with a completely destroyed tire. Everyone in the gas station/hotel office was trying to figure out how to get help and parts out for the guy.  As we pull away discussing our rough car start and night, Travis says, “It could be worse, at least we aren't that guy.”

About an hour and a half later as we are driving along (still -35 outside), I hear an alarm go off and Travis makes a pained face that doesn't bode well. We are overheating.  Not a problem I expected to run into, honestly. We were about an hour and a half drive away from a town in either direction.  So we continued onward at a slower pace while blasting the heat in the car. This becomes a little ridiculous as we trundle along, and I have to leave my window cracked open several inches for the car to be a bearable temperature.  The whole time I contemplate the fact that one of my first acts as a parent is to trek across the treacherous remote wilderness in the dead of winter. I spend some time reflecting on what this says about my mothering instincts. 

When we did finally reach the next stop, we found some locals to chat about our problem. Travis had checked for leaks since he assumed the cold had cracked a hose and we just didn't have antifreeze.  Turns out, our antifreeze was turning to slush and not circulating fully. So the friendly locals found us a trash bag to put over the front grill and block some airflow. This got us the rest of the way to Fairbanks.

We stayed at Destruction Bay on our last night on the road. It was uneventful as Dinger was again given Benadryl for the sake of everyone’s sanity. I should mention the other big problem with Dinger in cars; getting him in and out but especially out. Travis and I generally open the trunk door slowly while both awkwardly squatting and attempting to block the dogs from leaping out of the car. Dinger can’t just out of the car, he’s so big that it is likely he will hurt himself or eventually cause joint problems. The most memorable leap out of the car happened at Destruction Bay.  He got away from us one day and got a terrifying limp for a while. This does not deter him from trying to leap out of the car though. This particular time we’d hardly started opening the trunk when 130 pounds of mastiff comes flying from the car. I don’t know how Travis managed it, but he gracefully caught Dinger in mid-air and did this half twirl thing to land him gently on the ground. It was like they’d planned it.

Found this adorable Destruction Bay onsie
First baby thing we bought!

Here's an "artistic" shot taken one of the later mornings. I honestly don't remember exactly which morning. 

Day 5:  This was our final 8 hour day to Fairbanks. We saw a lynx or bobcat by the side of the road. That was the most exciting thing of the day I think. 

The area to the right and left is actually a huge lake a few hours from
 Fairbanks, this was another of the most memorable views.

A random pretty scenery shot from who knows where, the mountains in Alaska
are fantastic, and this Colorado girl knows mountains.
Mountains completely blanketed in snow are also pretty darn stunning.
The border crossing was different. After we drove through the Canadian border to leave Canada, we had about 20 miles to drive until the border crossing into Alaska. The actual border line was in between the two stations and was marked by a 20 foot clearing (10 feet on either side of the border).  

That line in the middle is the border.
I had one foot in each country to take this picture.

Finally made it to Alaska!

The last few hours were the worst, we were all so ready to get out of the car. Then we rather unceremoniously settled in to the hotel in Fairbanks for a long stay.

It was chilly when we got here.
So we made it safely and without major disaster. We even hopefully have found a house already, as long as all goes well with closing.  That process will still take long enough to keep us living in the hotel room for, oh, another month and a half or so.  We're at an extended stay hotel, but it is pretty miserable around here. We are in a pretty standard size hotel room with a tiny kitchen area. With two adults, a human sized dog, and a small dog, space is limited to say the least, especially with dog kennels in here too. We have an armchair (but just one) and a desk with office chairs that stands in for the kitchen table. But we have to keep the coffee maker and toaster on said table since the outlet by the kitchen area doesn't work. And the kitchen area is a tiny counter with some cupboards a fridge, stove tops and microwave.  We've also concluded we have no control over the thermastat.  You'd think this would lead to a lot of freezing cold, but it has been HOT. I'm talking up to 80 degrees in the room hot. Probably contributing to this is running our humidifier constantly but it is so dry, we don't really have a choice. There is also a strip club across the street. I could go on, but I should probably stop ranting and move on to other topics.

I've just started to look more pregnant. Still an "I can still easily hide it" size, but if you know me and I'm wearing something tight, you can tell what’s up. My abdomen basically feels all swollen like I drank a whole six pack of beer by myself, yet I can still be hungry. It is weird.  I've already started the stereotypical hands on the belly/belly rubbing thing. However, it doesn't feel like I look adorably pregnant or anything yet while I do this. Mostly I feel like I must look more like I’m Gollum, contemplating eating Bilbo, “Well, it if loses, precious, then we eats it! If Baggins loses, we eats it whole!” And actually, Gollum is a surprisingly good representation of what it is probably like to live with me right now.  There’s a good quote that could adequately describe my feelings about every situation from when Travis eats one of my candy bars (no matter if we have 10 of them stocked up) to when Roxi scratches me while cuddling, or Dinger flicks a drool string at me: “Wicked. Tricksy. False. We ought to wring his filthy little neck. Kill him! Kill him! Kill them both!” It doesn't even feel like an overreaction.  Travis may have reason to be seriously concerned if I start rubbing by baby bump and hissing, “My precioussss.”

Best 15 week bump selfie I could take. I'm generally afflicted by resting bitch face syndrome and all the time crazy eyes syndrome, so selfies are a challenge. But luckily my hair is finally starting to grow out. And the pink is sticking around impressively.
Also, I’m definitely getting dumber. Pregnancy brain is very real. I tried to walk the dogs in slippers the other day. Travis will ask me to do something and I’ll cheerfully say, “Sure, no problem,” Then I’ll proceed to do exactly the opposite or entirely forget what he asked me to do not two seconds later. And the insomnia. Ugh. When I do sleep, I have crazy dreams, lots of them. The other day I dreamed Roxi morphed halfway into a pelican (picture a griffin or centaur like creature; Roxi body with a pelican head and wings) who liked to attack and attempt to eat my hands. But luckily she could be distracted by throwing rocks or socks.  Then I dreamed Dinger ate my hands off. Every single dream is random and vivid like this now. And apparently I also have a subconscious phobia of my dogs eating my hands.

That’s all the news here. Hopefully the next post is about a new house!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an adventurous trip! I've never done it in the winter. That picture of the outlet with frost all over it is crazy! Looks like an old man with snow in his beard and hair.