Friday, November 6, 2009

Unconditional Love and Beyond...

The last week or so of work before you go on vacation is always hard.

I knew I was in for it one snowy day when a nice man on the telephone said to me, "I'm watching the webcam. Is there supposed to be someone out walking around on Old Faithful?"

The obvious answer was, of course, "No".

Out I went.

Now, many happy law-abiding citizens come to the park and, when told they need to get back on the boardwalks to avoid being scalded to death by the boiling water waiting mere centimeters below a very thin crust of earth, say, "It's ok, I'm just taking a picture."

In this case, the rule breaker, upon being told that he could not, in fact, just walk up onto Old Faithful, replied by saying, "It's ok, I'm filming a documentary on unconditional love."

That was a new one to me.

So, at least, if he was going to break laws and get a ticket, he was doing it for a good cause.

The following last few days of work, punctuated with cold temperatures, snow and ice, and road closures, continued to challenge my perceptions of what was normal.

It made hitting the road even more rewarding.

So bright and early Monday morning, Bridger and I hit the road. (Harley, being more fond of the top of the dryer than she is of the car, opted to stay home.)

Seven hours of driving brought us to our first Motel 6 of the trip in Salt Lake City. The front desk clerk, after looking at her available rooms, apologized that she only had a room with two beds.

"It's ok," I said. "The dog doesn't like to share."

The clerk gave me that look that said she did not get paid enough as a Motel 6 clerk to put up with my humor.

I was not kidding. Bridger takes up a whole double bed. He has, without my noticing, grown into a very large dog. Bigger, in fact, than his big buddy Uly who, if you don't know Uly, is a ginormous dog. Parents, apparently, never notice their children growing up. I now understand this.

Anyway, Bridger was happy with his bed. I was happy to watch Dancing with the Stars. And we went to bed happy....until several hours later when I leaped out of bed after finding a bug crawling on my neck. Crisis averted...not a cockroach....just a box elder bug. Apparently there had just been a huge hatch. Super.

The following day, after 5 hours of driving, I found myself pulling through the gate to Zion National Park.

I have been to Zion many times. I have shared it with many people. I have, however, never seen it as beautiful as it was this time - the sky was a brilliant lapis blue, the leaves were sunflower yellow, the walls gleamed with their redrock splendour, and the dog panted in the 85 degree heat. My flip flops came back out to liberate my toes, and Bridger and I went for a walk on the Pa'Rus trail.

The Pa'Rus trail follows the Virgin River from the Zion National Park visitor center up to the turn off for Zion Canyon. It's a lovely walk. The views were amazing. The river looked inviting.

The dog, with his newly grown winter coat suitable for surviving the below zero temperatures of Yellowstone that we had weathered just three days earlier, was pitifully hot.

I tried to hold the leash while he waded into the water, but it soon became evident that this was not going to work unless I, too, really wanted to go into the river.

I would do just about anything for my dog. He, after all, adds so much to my life without me even asking. He loves me. He makes me laugh. He doesn't think I'm crazy when I wake up in the middle of the night flailing around because there is a bug on my neck.

So I broke the rules.

Off came the leash. Into the water went the dog.

Happy dog, happy me.

I was all ready with my excuse if a law enforcement ranger had come by and caught us though.

"It's ok, it's all in the name of unconditional love."


Lawrence said...

I love stories that, as yours often do, come around to using some significant idea or phrase from the beginning of the story at the end. And of course here, such a lovely sentiment. Thanks for sharing.

MAC said...

That's fantastic. Bear has been off leash many times in our National Parks due to unconditional love. You are not alone.

Starting out again said...

What a fitting topic. :)

One year ago today, you drove me back to my car after picking me up on the side of the road, feeding me, letting me destroy your shower, giving me a bed to sleep in, and lifting my spirits after my beat-down on the northern coast.

I found today, and the first thing I thought of was you. When no one else would stop, you showered me with kindness.

I love your writing and am so happy that people like you exist. Thank you for doing what you do - for me and for all those you encounter everyday. It does make a difference. You show an unconditional love for your fellow travelers. You give me hope.



Jeremy and Kate said...

I love that last picture of Bridger! What a cutie!