April is approaching rapidly. Soon we'll be in our old but reliable Honda Fit, its fender held together with a few patches of duct tape, and headed south, then west, then north, and finally east. I figure it will take us two months and up to twenty-thousand miles.
I also have come to figure that it may very well be our last adventure.
Atticus is aging quickly. He's better than Will ever was when he was with us, but things are changing. He's now completely deaf, his eyes can't always see me unless I move and he is helpless with shiny floors and the depth perception in going down the stairs. Yesterday, his hips gave out on him three different times. That was a first. But as always, we'll make do and figure things out. Or as Paige, Atti's breeder, used to say way back then with her southern twang, "Y'all will work it out." And she was right, we always have.
Instead of concentrating on what he's lost though, I'm throwing myself into what we still have. That's this friendship and this upcoming adventure.
If I miss the mountaintops, I would imagine he does too. But from April 21 through June 21 we'll drive to all the natural wonders possible, concentrating on ones where there aren't crowds. And for places like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, we'll try to get to the popular places in off hours, typically first thing in the morning for a few pictures.
As some of you know, we'll be targeting National Forests instead of National Parks because N.F. are more dog-friendly. And while some allow dogs off leash, Atticus will need his in most places we go just so we don't get separated. Being off-leash for all these years was so successful while we climbed mountains because he could hear my every whisper and respond. Now he cannot hear my loudest bellow.
So like Tennyson's Ulysses, when the spring flowers start to appear in the mountains, we'll be on our way facing Atti's old age and whatever the world and time has waiting for us.
While looking forward, I cannot help but pay tribute to the past and all those mountains and all those miles and the things most with two or four legs wouldn't even dream about. From the first day, I've taken out as much as I can of what divides us, especially the words people use as labels, and put my energy into what we would make together in a unique manner. And that's what this trip is about. It's one more time into the breach of a limitless life while we have it to share. Only mystery awaits us going forward, even this grand adventure is a mystery, and I have no idea what time will bring to us, but for now we have Tennyson's Ulysses to look toward, and his words at the end of the famous poem.
"Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
To strive, to seek to find, and not to yield...yes, two friends who have been through much will do it at least one more time, while he can still enjoy it. Best of all, we'll do it our way.
Onward, by all means.