Last Sunday I heard there was some sort of Significant Sports Event happening (the Mega Cup? Souper Spoon? Something like that.) Because of this I hatched a cunning plan.
Assuming there was a significant overlap between people who like sports, and people who like to play in the snow, I had the idea that there would be considerably fewer of the latter because they would be, or be getting ready to, watch the former. This would leave the dogs and I a considerable area to play in the Sno Parks (yes, that’s how they’re spelled) up in the mountains without any, or at least very few people around.
I maintain that I was justified in this thinking because Hershey and I had done this very thing before, back when she was the only dog, and it played out pretty much exactly as I described.
This time, however, everyone west of the Sierras had the same idea. The drive up to the mountains was blissfully free of traffic, lulling me into a sense of ease. All the traffic I saw before the snow line was going down the mountain, “Probably headed to some Significant Sports Event party,” I thought smugly. In retrospect the sheer volume of cars coming down the mountain should have given me a clue that my plan might be going awry.
Once in the snow, the roads were not only well plowed but bone dry. This made the first annoyance of the day just that much more so. I found myself at the back of a chain of five cars where the driver of the first car was driving SO cautiously it was like he expected the snow to jump off the hills and bury him and his family alive. He also cared so much about the other driver’s safety that he Would Not Pull Over to let the rest of us go by. After a genuine eternity (or a few miles, I kind of lost track) he pulled over into a gas station and I sped joyfully ahead, until the lake.
The lake had been our first stop the time Hershey and I went up years ago. It had been almost deserted, maybe a family or two playing there. She had wandered around sniffing and playing in snow.
This time the parking lot and the shoulder were crammed with cars, and the snowy shoreline was crowded with their occupants. This time we drove on.
“I’ll be they all stopped at the lake,” the tatters of my increasingly delusional plan whispered in my ear. “I’m sure the Sno Parks will be empty.” Since the lake had not been my final destination we drove on for an increasing number of miles. I thought of the first time Hershey and I had been to a Sno Park, and how wonderfully empty it had been.
But then we got there and the delusion of a vast, nearly empty place for my dogs to play came crashing down. You know that scene from the story of Noah? The one were all the animals are waiting patiently to go onto the Ark? Now imagine if Noah had been a used car dealer instead. The lot of my favorite park, where Hershey had a blast years ago (pictured above), was so packed there wasn’t even any room to park.
We drove on. We wound up driving on all the way to the local ski resort (which mercifully had public restrooms) before turning around and heading back the way we came. We’d come quite a distance and I was determined that the dogs would get their chance in the snow.
We stopped briefly by the side of the road where I let them sniff around on leash. Then we moved on. I almost didn’t see our last chance Sno Park but I caught a glimpse of a stop sign and pulled in. Prowling the parking lot (packed again) I found a spot at the back! Dogs were leashed, car was locked and off we hiked.
This park had a number of cross country skiing trails so we just kept following one until there were no more people around, or their snow men to pee on. At one point the path diverged, and as is demanded, we took the road less traveled by. Finally, there were no people around!
They had a blast! They ran up and down the trail a bunch of times. They romped in the snow. They were distracted by strange noises. They…they got cold, quickly. None of them are particularly thick furred, and the Littles being rather low mass lost heat the quickest.
So after about 20 minutes or so I leashed them back up and we trekked back to the parking lot. On the way, Hershey became fascinated by a pair of cross country skiers gliding by. She’d never seen people moving that way before. Shortly thereafter we were in the car and on our way home.
The dogs all did well during the car ride. This was Marsha’s first time on a long car ride and she was fine. On the way up she watched the scenery go by, perhaps not quite believing that the world could be so big. Hershey did her usual thing of standing every damned time we rounded a corner, so I had do my thing of constantly telling her to sit down. Graham spent about half the ride up looking over my shoulder and panting into my face. They weren’t completely relaxed but they weren’t panicking either.
On the way home, they were stones.
We got home about 3pm (I didn’t want to be caught on mountain roads during or after sunset), just in time to ignore the Significant Sports Event on TV. The dogs slept soundly the rest of the day and much of next, and we all know a tired dog is a happy dog.
Maybe it’ll won’t be crowded next year…