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Lady and the Scamp - Part 5

Travels with Sarah
From Grand Marais to Ontario, Canada

 
 
Sarah-the-dog and I drove all day with the 13-foot fiberglass trailer on tow, and only managed to travel half-an-inch of the Trans-Canada Highway on the big map. We made it from Nipigon to Marathon. Progress was slow partly due to the 90 kph speed limit  -- 56 mph -- which I decided to follow since it’s easier on the gas when towing the Scamp, and gas costs more here. 
 
Marathon is the sort of “I could live here” picturesque town,  but after I shopped in the grocery store I changed my mind about that. I couldn’t see myself making friends with the low-key couples staring at the drab rows of food. I left feeling depressed. Another potential home off the list. Where was my home? Which continent? Where did I belong? Sarah was home to me but aged fifteen, she didn’t have a lot of time left. I watched her constantly, trying to second guess how happy she was about still being alive. Deciding when to euthanize a beloved dog is agonizing. Sarah’s vet had spoken of “the rule of thumb” and “quality of life” guidelines before we left on this trip. Sarah no longer enjoyed walks, she was deaf and carried a large benign cyst on her chest. On the other hand, she enjoyed her food, and sniffing smells as she pottered around. Anti-arthritis pills seemed to help with her agility, and she seemed to like traveling on her bed on the front seat.  And her bladder and bowels were functioning well. Dogs are such stoic beings, sometimes it’s hard to tell if they are suffering. Always a quiet girl when she wasn’t on a walk, skipping ahead, her tail a-wagging, she slept much of the time now she was old. I stroked her silky curls as we drove to the next campground. We would share charcoal grilled steak for supper.
 
In the morning we set off from our campsite in Pukaskwa National Park (fantastic place; five stars for nature and beauty, where I climbed flat slabs of rocks and ate wild blueberries high above the lake hoping I wouldn’t fall and die out there as Sarah was shut in the car). Later back on the highway, I picked up a couple of Goth hitchhikers. We drove for an hour or two listening to  Fleet Foxes and Trampled by Turtles, and the girl, Mary, said I was “totally rad”. I was prepared to take them all the way to Toronto, but suddenly at a gas station outside Wawa, we joined a line of stopped cars. 
 
Turned out there was a paint truck on fire on the highway and traffic was stopped on both sides, so there was nothing to do but sit on the dusty ground in the sun while Dave and Mary took it in turns to play their banjolino and sing. They’d been busking their way from Vancouver. I wandered around chatting to fellow strandees, which was the only way to find out what was going on as there was no Internet service. The owner of the gas station said I could camp there if I wanted as the last road blockage had been for ten hours. So five hours later, although the road had newly reopened, I pulled the Scamp into what I thought would be a quiet corner of the lot about a football field away from the gas station. Mary came to tell me they were heading off and confided that she wanted to break up with Dave. “Are you OK?” I asked. “You can leave him now and travel on with me” but she assured me she was safe and would leave him when they arrived back home in Toronto. And so my Goths set off.
 
Sarah was tired and I was tired and I had no desire to join the nose-to-tail traffic. We went to bed. Then the rain began. First, a gentle pattering of random drops on the Scamp’s roof, followed by an insistent drumming which made patterns over our heads. This was home, I thought, lying safe and warm in bed with rain pounding on the roof. It reminded me of the sound of monsoon rain crashing onto the corrugated tin roof of my childhood home in Africa. I curled up with Sarah and fell asleep to the rain’s music. 
 
The rain fell all night and container trucks arrived all night and hummed and snorted around us and the dawn light revealed that we were surrounded by a sea of semis who had kindly left us just enough space to sneak out.
 
So it rained from then on.  I drove by the burned-out hulk of the paint truck that had caused all the trouble but missed the photo-op as the traffic cop impatiently waved me on.
 
A few hours later my phone rang: “This is a courtesy call from CVS pharmacy” and I thought, wow! I have phone service! Maybe I am close to the American border. So I called my best girlfriend in Minneapolis and we managed to chat for a few minutes before my phone went dead again. Home can be a good friend on the other end of a phone. 
 
Heigh ho, the wind and the rain/A foolish thing is but a toy/And the rain it raineth every day.
 
Feste’s song from William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: sung by countertenor Alfred Deller
 
Feste's Song[]
When that I was but a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain, it raineth every day.
 

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