At least this year in our house. We’d planned a road trip to my sister Patty’s weekend place near Berkeley Springs, W.V. with our dog but life happened and we ended up going further up north as well. We started Thursday with an all-day drive to New Jersey to visit my BFF who was recently diagnosed with a fast growing skin condition/ cancer. Though I’d seen her not long ago, hearing the “C” word in relation to my BFF is a game changer. We also planned to very reluctantly relinquish our rights to Baxter, my son’s beautiful and soulful part Lab part who-knows-what-big brindle type dog with the most soulful eyes on four feet.
The drive up was on its way to being fun until some construction/traffic-from-hell in Pennsylvania added 2-1/2 hours to our already 14 hour drive. The dogs were wonderful though and it broke our hear to say goodbye — for now at least — to Baxter. Instead of the usual trip to NY, we stayed close to Bindy’s for some great quality time on her deck. The seashore picture above was painted there on a crisp late-Summer morning on the deck, based on a photo of her lovely daughter Jordy. A surprise birthday reunion dinner party with some very old friends (fellow members of the Cold Ass Ski Club — a story for another day) topped off the brief visit before we headed to the wilderness of West Virginia Sunday morning. I did feel reassured leaving Bindy, though, confident she is in capable hands and will come out of this relatively unscathed.
The 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid wasn’t eager to cooperate and what should have taken us 4-1/2 hours took more than 8 and meant riding backroads for safety reasons. A safety switch on the car would shut the engine down once it heated up to a certain temp. We discovered the backroads were both safer and made the car less prone to shutting down, and by the last 2 hours of the trip, the car didn’t stall once, even when we went back on the highway. Still, it was an incredibly stressful ride and we were ready for the cool beers handed us when we got there. And the beautiful nieces my brother Kev and his wife Les brought along to join us for the day. Great food, glorious vistas from their deck looking outward at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the purest river in West Virginia meant a wonderful, soul-healing visit. We forgot all about the car and David fished, I kayaked and swam, Smokey sniffed and paraded around like she owned the mountains, and I broke out my watercolors for an early morning painting session as the fog eased its veil from over the mountains.