Maggie at the Sign Forest
Watson Lake's sign forest now has a sign from the children at Ball Camp Elementary School.
Tom and I discussed when to take the long trip to Canada and Alaska and when to take another long trip to Asia. Some of our considerations had to do with our 2004 truck and camper – if we left it too long, they’d be unreliable for a wilderness trip. So, knowing that we would want to go to Alaska again, we sold the truck and camper, deciding to wait a few years before buying another camper. We planned a journey to Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, but then started to look at Miss Maggie (her official name is Magnificent Magnolias, believe it or not). She’s 10 and – Tom’s concern – might not be able to jump up into a camper for many more years. Bingo – Alaska and a new camper.
For those of you who may not know Maggie well – she’s a yellow lab, bought/rescued at age five. It’s taken her five whole years to learn that she’s a dog, to go into lakes and streams, to approach other dogs, and to venture into new things. Her primary need is security. She won’t drink or even eat (a lab!) if she’s not certain she’s
Maggie's Road House
She sleeps here when we're driving, changing position depending on how bumpy the road is.
Maggie’s traveled a LOT with us: so far, she’s been to 27 US states and 10 Canadian Provinces. At the end of the trip, she’ll add four more states.
US: Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Alaska
Canada: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia,Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories
Planned: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada
This trip is new, though. She’s used to staying in hotels, but now she’s in the camper. We set up a “house” for her underneath the dinette table. It’s about the safest place in the motorhome for a dog. For the first week, she stayed under the table most of the time. Then gradually, she came out when were “home” – not driving. She’s a moray eel when we eat – if you’re a scuba diver, you know that they lurk in holes, popping out when food approaches. However, when we’re at the dinette, there’s really not enough room for four feet + one dog. She now comes out immediately when she
One foot on the waterbowl, sleeping under my feet.
sees food on the table, hoping for treats.
It took her a while to get used to the whole Cruiser, even with me offering treats in the bedroom area and the bathroom at the back. That scheme worked – in spades. During the first thunderstorm, she immediately went back to huddle in the bathroom. Then this past week, she decided that she should sleep on the bedroom floor between us, which is sweet but makes my nightly trips to the bathroom much more interesting.
And she still sheds – if you don’t like hair, don’t buy a lab. We sweep daily, and still her hair gets into all sorts of strange places she’s never been – like the motorcycle trailer. When it rains? MUD. She’s very good about letting us clean her feet – and legs and belly -- before she goes into the Cruiser. She’s had a couple of baths so far, which she likes, as we’re using warm water from the Cruiser’s outdoor shower instead of the garden hose.
But the best thing about traveling with Maggie is that wherever she goes, she makes friends. Large or small, young or old, she wants to say
hello. Probably 90% of the people she approaches are pleased; I watch for those who aren’t dog people. When we’re in camp, she’s a people-magnet. Everyone comes over to say hi, pat her and start conversations. She’s become a marshmallow hound, and prefers hers brown, not black. Children, of course, are her favorites.
This trip features something special. In Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, is a “Sign Post Forest”. Begun in 1942 by a homesick soldier working on the Alaska Highway who pointed the way to his home in Danville IL, the forest now has over 75,000 signs left by travelers from all over the world. This past school year, Maggie served as a Ruff Reader dog with three classes of first grade children at Ball Camp Elementary School in Knoxville TN. At the end of the year, the children each created a small picture of themselves reading to Maggie, and the teachers created a sign. We planted the sign last week.
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