Day 40, Wednesday, October 31, recapture lodge, Bluff, Utah

Today was the day that I was planning to be home, but we still have a decent portion of the trip to go yet. No big thing.

I woke up again at seven, which seems to be set in my brain as the time to get up regardless of the appearance of dawn.

Last night Donner slept very peacefully. Prior to his incident last week, his sleeping pattern was quite heavy, with belabored breathing. I had no idea that that was a symptom of his malady and that he was suffering pain. Now I know. He is recovering marvelously, although he still has a slight ways to go. I am following the regimen that Dr. Lisa prescribed for medications religiously, because I want to get this dog well again fast

I closed up the Grand Canyon camp this morning, took a well-deserved shower, and got on the road at about 11 o'clock. As I was passing the only two viewpoints that I could visit, I couldn't resist stopping for at least a few minutes, and we did. I think would be fair to say that the most common expression at the Grand Canyon that people use is something like, I just can't get enough of this. I'm sure some people come here and just stare at the majestic beauty unfolding before the eyes for hours.  How thrilled I am that I decided to come down here at the last moment. And how thrilled I am that I was incorrectly told that the north rim was closed for the season, when in fact it was closed only for that day because of snow. Otherwise, I would have explored the north room, and gotten on my way home. It actually closed for the season today.

My intention for today was to travel in the direction of Moab by way of Route 89, taking us through the north rim and Lake Jacob area. But in the interest of making time on a more speedy highway, when I came to the intersection of 89 and 160, I turned right and took the latter highway. I was amp,y rewarded for my impromptu decision. The scenery was just terrific. At one one long stretch, these rock monoliths would suddenly appear in the strangest configurations. Where I could not take a photograph, I save the coordinates on my GPS so that I can look at them later on Google Earth.

Some hundred miles down this beautiful highway we had to turn left, north, onto Route 191. This is the penultimate road that we will drive on this long, fantastic journey, which will total more than 9700 miles. The road was relatively empty of vehicles and it took us the whole way through an absolutely gorgeous western setting, with rock formations, mountains, and desert.  Again, I simply do not have the vocabulary to describe it.

Shortly before 5 PM, realizing that I would be arriving at Moab in the dark, and after getting a good feel for the road I would be driving on in the dark, I started searching my GPS for campgrounds down the road. There were none that were going to show up before sundown, which I estimated loomed in just minutes. The closest camp was 44 miles away. So, just as the sun set, I pulled off at a gas station, conveniently located at that very spot. I asked the clerk about nearby campgrounds, and the clerk confirmed that the closest was 44 miles away. I then asked  if there were any motels in the area that happened to take pets. She pointed to the motel adjacent to the gas station. I drove over to that motel, the Recapture Lodge, and  the amicable proprietor, Jim, outfitted in his Halloween finest, gladly admitted Donner and  me to his absolutely marvelous lodge. What stroke of luck that we happened to be here exactly when we were. Jim confirmed for me that it was a good thing that I did not plan to drive the remainder of Route 191 to Moab in the dark, because of the presence of horses and cows from the open range on the road. He told me that last year they had to euthanize 17 horses that had been hit by vehicles. The horses, by the way, are not wild horses, but feral horses, abandoned by their owners to survive on their own in this harsh territory. Nice people, huh.

Setting up camp in this lovely setting we are in tonight took only 30 minutes to go through the entire routine for the evening. Donner made himself right at home, of course.  I can only imagine that he was thinking to himself, now, this is more my style. I don't have the heart to tell him tonight that we have not seen the last of our tent on the trip.

The time saving tonight and the time-saving we will get in the morning when we break camp will allow me to make more time on the road and get home earlier, or take a side trip or two along the way that I would not have been able to do otherwise.  For instance, tomorrow, I think that I shall explore for a bit the Bears Ears National Monument, which we just entered.  Readers may recall that this is one of the national monuments that Trump wants to cut back in size, and I would like to visit it before that happens, to see beauty that our president intends to destroy.

After visiting Bears Ears, we will travel to Moab, then hop onto interstate 70 towards Denver, the road that will take us right to my doorstep in Washington, 2200 miles later.

Ed and Donner, who is sound asleep already, but sleeping peacefully at last.

PS...just as I was ready to call it a night and and work on my blog, I took Donner out for a short walk. As good luck would have it, they next-door traveler was walking her beautiful, gentlemanly golden retriever, Zeke, so now Donner has exceeded his quota for meeting dogs on this trip.

Day 40;photo

Tonight, at our "bivouac," Donner had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Zeke, who himself was just rescued by LeeAnn, his guardian, several months ago and is now on his first road trip. What a gentleman Zeke is.

Donner quickly moved on after he sensed so other creatures nearby in the dark, and he was right, horses.

Day 40 photo

The drive from the Grand Canyon to our destination for the night was absolutely splendid. Along the way, in otherwise flatlands, these rock monoliths would suddenly appear, and they took on some of the strangest shapes I have ever seen. When I could not take a photo, I quickly punched in Save Location on my GPS, so when I get home I can take a look at those formations on Google Earth. What a absolute joy this road was to drive. I will post three of the tomorrow, A,B,C.

Day 40 photo

When i backpacked on Kamchatka with my Russian guide, Sasha, one night I found him staring at the majestic Mutnovsky volcano and repeatedly whispering softly to himself, Ya ney mogu otloszet moi glaza ot tebye, which means, I am not able to remove my eyes from you. When I came to this spot today at the Grand Canyon, without intending to speak Russian, I whispered to same expression, but only after I also said to myself, Bosha moi, which means.  My God.

Day 40 photo

You guessed it. A dog just walked by.

Day 40 photo, courtesy of Michael

Day 40 photo

The Colorado River, continuing its task or sculpting nature's grandest work, better than Michelangelo.

Day 40, As It Is Happening, 5pm

We just turned on to route 191, the penultimate of perhaps 100 highways and byways we have traveled on this fantastic journey. Tomorrow, we will hop onto Interstate 70, which will take us to our front door 2200 miles away in six days. But i said that two years ago, and look what happened.

Day 40, As It Is Happening, rest stop on 160 on way to Moab, 3 pm

Time for Donner's pills, so a rest stop was called for. Trying to make it Moab tonight to bivouac on the edge of the Colorado River where I camped with Leben and Erde back in 2001, but we might not make it.

Railroad track nearby. Remind me to write up the story of the closest call in my life on a railroad track. The stupidest move of my life.

The road beckons. Gotta go.

Day 40,As It Is Happening, Noon, last view of Grand Canyon

On our way out this morning, I could not resist one more glance of the Grand Canyon. Every view point is unique and just as grand. Wow, wow, wow. Now it's time to toss Donner in his front seat, fire up the Defender, punch up Take Me Home Country Road, get on the road and head for home, but i said that at least six other times already.

Day 39 photos

Donner's new girlfriends at the Grand Canyon. Chloe(top) and Sadie (bottom).

I think Donner has just reached his goal of meeting 100 new dogs on this trip, thanks to the many wonderful dog owners who let their equally wonderful dogs play with him. Only four did not. Poor dogs.


"Donner will never play with another dog in his life." DC Dog Shrink.

"Donner will get used to a life without playing with other dogs."  DC Dog trainer.

"The only way to understand what is going on in a dog's mind is to be a dog yourself, or to be Caesar Milan." Ed Mulrenin.

Day 39 photos

Day 39 photo

Our camp at the Grand Canyon. Nice spacious sites, but not far enough away from the occasional RV that destroys the beautiful silence for everyone.

Day 39 photo, courtesy of Adam from Hungary

Day 39 photo

The magnificent view was not what interested Donner.

Day 39, As It Is Happening, October 30, Grand Canyon , 730 pm

Since the planned adventure before the long ride home on I-70 (400 miles away) ends tonight, i made a fire. Now it is time for me to play some of my memorable music and sit back to think about what fantastic journeys i had with six fantastic dogs, Montag, Sonntag and Kessie, Leben and Erde, and now Donner. How fortunate i was, and still am.

Also, i want to reflect on the fantastic people i met on all these journeys. They would not have been a success without them.

Ed, with Donner sound asleep in the tent, on my side. Heck, it's his rescue-day, so i may just sleep on his bed tonight.

Vincero, Vincero, VINCERO 

Day 39, Tuesday, October 30, Grand Canyon, 7481 miles so far, 2200 to home

I am drafting this posting with the sweeping view of the Grand Canyon to my right, and, more importantly, Donner to my right also.

Last night's sleep got off to a bad start with some neighbors from Germany in the next campsite partying until almost 11 o'clock. Instead of turning them in for a citation, I discussed it with them this morning and they understood. Hopefully, they will cooperate tonight because I have a long drive tomorrow and I need to get decent sleep.

But they were not as disturbing as another neighbor who was troubled by my headlamp on low beam occasionally flashing in the direction on his tent at 8:30 in the dark as i ate my dinner. He emerged from his tent and shined his own headlamp on high beam directly at me as I ate my dinner at my campsite. I cooperating and move to the other side of the table. This morning when he pulled out I noticed that he was also driving a Defender. So much for cooperative among Defender owners.

Those were triflings compared to the majesty of the Grand Canyon we experienced today. Well, let's say that I experienced while Donner experienced all the new strange smells that border the rim of the canyon. We probably visited 10 different viewpoints and each one presented a unique majestic view of that fantastic natural wonder. I simply do not have the vocabulary to be able to describe what this is all about, so I will leave that to the experts, including some of yourselves.

Our experience here was limited by the fact that dogs are not allowed on anything but the drivable view points and the Rim Trail. So, since I never leave Donner, I limited myself to those places were dogs were permitted. Frankly, it was enough for me. You can probably overdose on scenic views by doing more than what we experienced here ourshelves. The only thing more that there was to do for me was to hike down the trail to the bottom of the canyon, but I had no interest in doing that. But at least it is satisfying for me to know that trails are there for those people want to take it down to the Colorado River, then take it back up.

We are heading back to the campsite now at 4 o'clock and I hope to make a fire tonight, the first one since Yellowstone.I will use the Acacian to reflect on all the journeys I had taken with my dogs, including the nine journeys that make up the series.

Donner is recovering nicely. His spirit is improving by the minute. However I'm not going to take any chances and will limit my camping on the way home to those campsites that are convenient, and offer good weather.

The trip home, which officially begins tomorrow, will probably take seven days, 2200 miles at 350 miles a day on average.

While this trip is far from over, officially, everything I wanted to accomplish I have accomplished. The number one goal, to get myself and Donner and the Defender back home safely, so far looks like as been accomplished. It was a good journey.

I hope to stay at a lodge in West Virginia the last two days of the journey to write a summary of the trip, which I will publish on the blog. If I wait till I get home it will never get done. And, of course, I will post Donner's portrait on the blog, as I indicated earlier.

Today was an especially good day because it was the third anniversary of my rescuing Donner, as I wrote earlier. What a joy he has been on this trip. What a joy he has been with me for the last three years.

Ed and Donner, from the majestic Grand Canyon.

Day 32 photos

Donner sat right up when he sensed the wild horses.

Day 32 photos

Donner sat right up when he sensed the wild horses.

Day 38, October 29, Grand Canyon

Today was a good day, Although last night was not a particularly good one with my travel partner absent.

I got a great night's sleep last night, almost 10 hours, thanks to no rowdy neighbors, although one RV the made a racket continuously for over an hour until quiet hours started at 10 PM.  Saint Ambien help a lot.

My only chore for today, visit Donner  at the hospital. So I made haste through my morning chores to get on the road to Flagstaff.

The morning started off on a good note when I found that missing surefire flashlight. Apparently, when I was searching in the dark for the cleaning supplies the other night at 2 AM, I laid it on my driver's seat and somehow it slipped under the beaded seat cover that I use to keep the circulation moving in my abductor muscles while I am driving. I knew eventually it would show up, and it did. I think that's the only place in the entire Defender, tent, and gear bags I did not search and I found it accidentally. But I do not expect to find those expensive Costa sunglasses mysteriously went missing on the drive down the California coast, as I explained earlier on the blog.

I had several uninvited visitors this morning at breakfast. First, a few elk meandered not too far from the campsite, but they were more interested in what nature provides and the not-so-appetizing selection they would have found on my picnic table. But the ravens thought otherwise. I walked away from the picnic table to get something in the Defender for a moment  and when I returned just two minutes later I noticed that one of the four packages i just bought yesterday was missing.  later, I noticed a group of six or so ravens feasting on something about 20 feet away from my campsite. I wandered over and saw what was left of the oatmeal package. I personally do not like to be party to feeding the wildlife, and I feel guilty that I let them get something.

Before I left for Flagstaff, I took a well-deserved shower in camper services. It is pretty well outfitted with showers, bathrooms, and a laundromat. However, I think the shower stalls are best used by people four feet or under as there is very little space to sit down and put on your socks and shoes after a shower.

I got on the road at 11 o'clock.  My spirits lifted significantly when I received a call from Dr. Lisa saying that Donner might be able to go home today as he has recovered significantly although he still has a ways to go, but this could be trested on the road.

Before I picked up Donner, I stocked up on things for the return trip home at the local Walmart. I look for a new bed for him but the trip home there were none suitable for him. As a rescue – day gift, maybe I'll let him sleep on my mattress and see that he really has the better deal with his bed.

I had two close calls today, the first was, as I was pulling into the parking lot for the hospital, i smell something burning. It was not the usual burning smell from the engine, but something like an electrical fire. I pulled into the parking lot intending to inspect under the hood, but then I saw smoke pouring out of the dashboard. The recharging cable connected to the useless MOPHIE battery charger was smoking. I quickly turned off the engine and disengaged the cable and everything was OK. if I had waited a few more minutes before investigating, or if I had been on the highway when this started, it would've turned into something more serious. I know that from experience. In 2002, my auxiliary heater short-circuited on a remote peninsula in Newfoundland and brought down the entire electrical system in the Defender, and I had to bivouac in the Defender that cold, stormy night until I could get AAA to send truck to tow me  the next day 110 miles to the nearest Land Rover facility. Also, while this was happening, the defective satellite phone that a company called Rentcell rented me did not work and i had to wait until morning to catch someone driving by with a cell phone to call AAA. 

The good news about these unwelcome experiences on the road is that they give you the confidence the next time they happen that they will be solved.

The visit at the hospital was brief. After Donner  was brought to me, his very competent nurse, Tiffany (two), explained to me what was going on and his medications for the next 10 days. Then Dr. Lisa joined us and that visit was not only professional but rather pleasant. She assured me that if I followed the medication regimen over the next 10 days, Donner steadily recover. I left that visit with the same confidence that I had when I left down her there on Saturday.

I got on the road from the hospital only after getting the obligatory photograph of Dr. Lisa and Donner. I explained in an earlier posting the mistake  i made  by not including Tiffany Two in that photograph, so I will not repeat my apology here.

I drove back to the camp by way of Route 180, the empty, beautiful highway running through a National Forest  that is a joy to ride. We stopped off at call Daisy's rest stop so  Donner could demonstrate that he is   getting back to normal, and he did. 

The second close call came as I was pulling out of the road leading onto180. One of the reasons that the Defender is such a marvelous vehicle is that it is well endowed with safety features for off-road driving, including an external roll bar. Unfortunately to get that capability, it has weak spots, One of which is that it provides blind spots and all four corners of the defender. Although when I pull onto a highway I always look both ways and then drive on the opposing lane for a while before pulling into my lane just in case I did not see a speeding vehicle that was in my blind spot. Unfortunately, there was one today. The good news is that nothing happened because he recognized what I was doing and speeded by me straddling the shoulder, so my guess is that since he did not blow the horn, he did that on purpose thinking that he could control the situation. Nevertheless,It was a close call.

The remainder of the drive home was absolutely splendid. Beautiful scenery in all directions, an absolutely gorgeous setting sun in the west, an empty highway, Red Rver Rock blasting on my Beat headphones, and my beloved dog lying next to me in his passenger seat bed. If you want to get the feeling of what I experienced, take yourself on a drive someday on the most beautiful empty highway near you, play Red River Rock  on your device and stay right at the speed limit. If your spirits were high before that drive started, they will go through the roof. If you your spirits were low, they no longer will be. You don't have to leave your worries behind, because that drive will erase them from your mind.

We arrived back at the camp ground at 6:15 and I drove right to the laundromat where I washed all of the victims of Donner's infirmity the other night so that he has fresh start now that he is home.

Tomorrow, Donner and I will explore the Grand Canyon, letting him do all the sniffing he wants to do. And I will get the obligatory photograph of the two of us standing before that magnificent scene. I am also anxious to see from my photographs if I can find the spot where my mother and her sister stood getting photographed at the Grand Canyon in 1936, when the two of them, 23 and 21 years old respectively, drove from New York to Los Angeles in what today we would called an old buggy. If I have one inspiration for my own trips, it would be that brave trip that my mother took back then.

That's it for today.

Oh, by the way, tomorrow, October 30, is the third anniversary of Donner's rescue – day. For him it will be business as usual, but for me it will be a very special day. The joy that I get from the dog is in measurable.

Ed and Donner from the Grand Canyon.

Day 39 photo

Whoever said, "If you seen one photo of the Grand Canyon, you have seen the all," was mistaken. The number of photos you can take his infinitesimal.

Day 39 photo, noon

Speaks for itself.

Day 38 photo

Below...Donner, sound asleep in the tent tonight. He is still not his same shelf but he will get there. Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 30, is a special day, his rescue – day.Three years ago tomorrow I flew to Los Angeles on the spur the moment to rescue him just hours before he was eligible to be PTS. Best decision of my life.

I have experienced a lot of joy from all my dogs, but nothing compares to the extra joy I get every single day from having rescued him. I just wish that every animal in a shelter has the chance to have their lives changed as Donner did.

Day 38 photo, 6pm

The sunset at the Grand Canyon as we arrived back home. Exquisite.

Day 38, As It Is Happening, 4pm

Donner on his first rest stop on his way "home" (Home is where the tent is ) drinking lots of water and, hooray, hard stools. But lots of gas. It sure will be a fun time in the tent tonight. Fortunately, i have car air freshener and a gas mask with me.

Apology.  When i took the photo of Donner and Dr Lisa, below, i was so intent on getting that photo that i failed to ask Donner's nurse, Tiffany Two, to get into the picture, too. I apologize to her for that oversight.  She, too, played a key role in Donner's rapid recovery. In fact, the whole staff did. i sure made a good decision to take a diversion to the Grand Canyon and to come here.  Lucky me. Lucky Donner.

By the way, the perceptive among my readers will recognize this rest stop as the one from Saturday where we stopped on our way to the hospital and Donner met Daisy. He recognized it and looked for Daisy as soon as he jumped out of the Defender. Very perceptive dog. 

Now to go back to camp and do some well deserved laundry. Fortunately, i am heading back on the empty scenic alternate route  to avoid that horrific route 64 in the dark. What a delight this route is, listening to Take Me Home Country Road and Red River Rock the whole way, with my recovered dog, Donner.

Tomorrow, at last, i explore the Grand Canyon, with my dog.


Day 38, As It Is Happening

Donner, with the uber-competent Dr Lisa, being released from the hospital. Now it is time to go back to camp and enjoy the Grand Canyon, with my dog. If you ever need a vet, west of the Atlantic or east of the Pacific, you must come here and ask for Dr Lisa.

D 37, Sunday, October 28, grand canyon mather campground site 304 (Ed), canyon that hospital (Diner)

Boy, was it Lonely in the tent last night. It is a totally different situation without my Donner, in the tent and campsite, In the defender, and also when I go out for walks. I keep expecting him to be there, but he is not.

First thing I did this morning was move from site 301 to site 304. My neighbor, richard, help me pick up the tent and walking across the road, instead of my having to take it down and then reassemble it, attest that would've taken over the hour. Actually, I like the new site better. I got it for three days and I suspect I'm going to have to use it for three days.

Without giving it much thought, I changed my plans for today. There is no way that I could enjoy visiting the different Canyon viewpoints here without Donner. So, I decided to travel to Flagstaff to visit with him for an hour. The round trip takes about four hours in total, not counting stops along the way. The vet hospital called and told me that Donner was responding to treatment quite well, but it was unclear when he would be able to go home, Monday or Tuesday. When I say home, of course, I mean back with me.

Before leaving for the hospital, I loaded everything into the Defender excepted the tent. If in fact something happens and I need to stay somewhere else, at least I will have everything with me. For some reason if I never get back here, I only lose the tent, although I can probably get that back if they confiscate it if I overextend my stay. I have a spare tent, so I could set up camp somewhere else, although I suspect there are not many campgrounds in Flagstaff itself, so if I had to stay there I would probably stay in a motel 6 or something like that.

I drove to the hospital by way of scenic Route 89 instead of viathat terrible Highway 64. Not only does it run on the interstate for 30 miles, 64 is as boring for almost the entire drive as 89 is pleasant the entire run.

I arrived at the hospital at about 1 PM and stayed with Donner for over an hour. He was clearly looking better than when I dropped him off yesterday, and he was also happy to see me, I think. For all I know, his infirmity aside, he could be very well be enjoying his respite in the hospital from the rigors of camping on the road. After I left, I was thrilled that I made the decision to come visit him, as I will tomorrow, and as long as he is in the hospital.

After visiting Donner I visited the local Walmart supercenter and bought some supplies for heading home. I also picked up a new flashlight for about $13 which, as it turns out, is just as fine as the Surefire that I misplaced somewhere. Why spend $175 for a 750 lm light when you can get a 400 lm one $13. Tomorrow I will probably return there and buy another just to have it as a back up.

I returned back to camp at about 430 and after going through a few chores drove over to the visitor center to watch the sunset again. Actually, what I really wanted to do was to take a walk through there myself and take some photographs so that the next time I go I will have all the photographs I need and will let Donner have free run of all of the wonderful smells that he is wont to find,

Tomorrow, before visiting Donner I will make a final supply run for the return home, which still needs to be planned. I will also pick up a birthday gift, actually, rescue–day gift for Donner. I'm inclined to him a new dog bed to replace the one that is really getting used on this trip. However, what I think he would prefer is an ear mattress just like mine, so I think that's what I will probably get him.

As an incidental item, my strategy for planning pieces of this trip has worked out extremely well so far. That is, I pick up ideas from people along the way, and those ideas have turned this trip into an absolutely marvelous one, despite the few solvable setbacks on the way.

As another incidental board, I must say that the Defender and I are both taking on a rather, shall I say, shabby appearance. I am in need of a haircut, but I will wait for that until I get home. But the Defender is in need of a good cleaning inside, although that would be kind of futile considering that as soon as it is cleaned it will get dirty again. My guess is I will continue to dabble here in there with cleaning it up as best I can, but wait for the fall detailing on till I get home.

I just learned today that the couple from Austria the Yellowstone are arriving at the north rim of the Grand Canyon today or tomorrow. That sure would be coincidental. I invited them over to share my campsite since there did not appear to be any rules or restrictions on the number of vehicles that can occupy a campsite, but I'll check on it tomorrow.

I have not made any fires here at this Grand Canyon camp because making one alone would surely serve no useful purpose. When Donner returns. however, I will make a fire.

Another lonely night tonight to the tent without my buddy. But hopefully he will be well soon and we will get back on the road again and camp along the route home as much as we can without overdoing it at this point.

Ed, from Grand Canyon after campground, site 304.

Day 37 photo

I had a visitor at breakfast, probably looking to play with Donner.

Day 37 photo

The crowd waiting for the sunset. In peak season, it is so crowded you have to wait for a turn at the railing.

Day 37 photo

Even the ravens like to admire the view.

Day 37 photos

The sun setting to the west of the Grand Canyon. We do not see sunsets like this in Washington DC, except in our laws.

Day 37 photo

As many know, i often brag about never being lonely, with the exception when my dogs die. Tonight, I have to admit, I feel somewhat lonely. The tent is like cold, empty chamber without Donner's antics, sounds, and, body heat and of course, smells. The photo shows his s empty bed in the tent with his toy duck, which he does not exactly like, and his bandanna, which is in need of good washing. This morning I accidentally left those two things on my front right fender as i drive off and they blew off while I drove to the registration kiosk to register for three more days. A couple happened to be walking by when that happened and they approached me at the registration kiosk and returned those two things to me. Lucky me.

I will visit Donner again tomorrow so that he knows he has not been abandoned once again. What a gresr dog the several people who owned him before lost out on.

Day 37, Dedication of this blog

Today, as I sat outside with Donner at the vet hospital in Flagstaff, a family passed by. Their beautiful four-year-old daughter, Anya, told me that her beloved 11-year old Husky dog, Maya, just died on September 21. I was so touched by Anya's obvious love of her dog, I'm also dedicating this journey to Maya, with the hope that she is now on a journey of her own, and that Anya herself is better prepared for her future journeys because of her life with and love for Maya.

I wish i had asked for a photo of Maya to post here.


Day 37, Sunday, October 28, As It Is Happening, 1:30 pm

Three years ago this coming Tuesday, I woke up on a Friday morning planning to go to New York for the weekend to see some Broadway shows and operas. Before I left for the train, I looked at my Facebook page and saw that a German shepherd dog named Thunder was eligible to be put to sleep that night in a high kill animal shelter. I ask myself, how can I go to New York and enjoy myself knowing that this dog might be dead by the end of the night? I could not. I put aside the tickets to New York, called a friend to take me to the airport, and got the next nonstop flight from Washington DC to Los Angeles, where I pulled Thunder at 2:30 and renamed him Donner, which means thunder in German. new life, snd new name, or so he thinks.

This morning, I woke up planning to tour the various view points on the Grand Canyon and let Donner recover 90 miles south in the hospital. But then I realized , like three years ago, there is no way that I could enjoy myself at the Canyon without him. So, I abandoned my plans for the. Canyon today, moved our tent to a new nearby campsite, loaded up the Defender with everything else, and headed south to Falstaff, where I am now visiting with Donner at the hospital.

There's no question that he has improved from his situation yesterday, but according to the vet he still has some ways to go to completely cure his infirmity. I will keep him here for as long as the doctor recommends and visit him every day. The Canyon can wait for a few days or a few years, or even go on without me.

The drive down today was a lot more pleasant in the daylight than the drive back last night in the dark, and since i will continue to camp at the Grand Canyon, I intend to make sure that when I head back over the next several days I do not drive that terrible road in the dark again, with throngs of people returning from viewing the sunset over the Grand Canyon.

Ed and Donner

Photo...Donner during my visit with him at Canyon Pet Hospital and Falstaff

Day 36 photo

On the way to the hospital, a snow- covered mountain in Arizona. Humphrey's Peak, I think. Notice how clean my windshield is, thanks to Curtis in Ely.

Day 36 photo

Our pleasant rest stop on the way to the hospital, and Daisy with Albert. Daisy tried to intimidate Donner, but she was all bark and no bite (like so many pelicans in DC),and as some dogs on this trip have learned, Donner is not intimidated at all and takes it all in stride. And just look at how impressed Daisy is with one of Donner's patches, which she was awarded for, well, being a dog.

Day 36 photo

Donner and Charlie at the Grand Canyon camp. It brought him some modicum of cheer on a bad day for him. He also met another dig named !Lucy, but, sorry, no photo.

Day 36, Saturday, October 27, Grand Canyon Mather camp (Ed) And Canyon Pet Hospital in Flagstaff (Donner)

I cannot exactly call today a good day, but it did have its redeeming parts.

At 2 o'clock this morning, I was awakened by Donner who was standing up and very nervous. I tried to get him to lie down in his bed but he refused to budge and kept looking over towards the side of the tent. Then I realized what the problem was. He had thrown up in three different places in the tent. I comforted him by telling him he was a good dog and let him come over to my mattress and lie down on it while I proceeded to clean up and it was not exactly easy, but it was not his fault. Of course I had no cleaning supplies in the tent so I had to go to the Defender to get what I needed to get the tent back in order. An hour later, everything was in order in the tent and I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn't. Since it was 3 o'clock by that time, and I knew that the Ambien that my doctor prescribed for these road trips last four hours, I decided to take one to guarantee a few more hours of sleep. Shortly after 6 o'clock I was awakened again by Donner who had thrown up two more times in the tent. Fortunately, I had the cleaning up materials in the tent and so I spent the next hour cleaning up after again.

The big problem though was not cleaning up, but it was clear that the Ambien still had not worn off and I was extremely groggy and unstable as I want about my chore.

The next hour or so I considered my options on what I had to do with respect to getting Donner well. These things do not cure themselves, I have learned. Since it was Saturday and since I had no idea at all where a vet was or if I could get an appointment, I considered packing up moving on and visiting vet somewhere on the path home, probably on Monday. I encountered this same problem four other times on my road trips. But Donner helped me make my decision by throwing up three more times outside and once in the Defender, and then coming down with a terrible case of diarrhea. I had to see a vet today, I concluded. The Grand Canyon was been here for a millions of years and surely will be here in one or two more.

I quickly closed up the tent, loaded Donner into the Defender, and headed out of the camp. Not knowing what the Donner's situation would be if and when I found out, I stopped off at the registration kiosk for the camp and made reservations for two more nights here. Unfortunately, the campsite I am in now is not available tomorrow, so whatever I do, I will have to empty out this campsite and then move into another one. Even if I were to get the campsite right next to me, which I know is being vacated tomorrow, I still have to take down my tent and vacate the site by 11 o'clock, and I can't move into that site until 12, even though the people there now have to leave by 11 o'clock. Rules are rules. But i lose two hours.

Despite Donner's infirmity, he was still anxious to meet the two dogs he knew were in the area, Charlie, the dog next-door, and another dog across from us. I could tell by his reaction to those dogs that he was really hurting. In fact, as I thought about his behavior in the last few days, I realize that he was showing signs of hurting for sometime. But I had no idea at all it was leading to this. I thought that he was just getting tired of the trip, but it was clearly because he was in pain.

Fortunately, when I made reservations for a campsite for two more nights, Eric, the staff member there, gave me the name of Canyon pet hospital in Falstaff, 90 miles distance, and recommended I take Donner there. The problem was that you had to have an appointment or wait until 5 o'clock until they saw their walk-in emergency patients. As soon as I had cell service just south of the park, I called the hospital and I was able to get a 2:40 PM appointment, which I had three hours to make, although I had to cover 90 miles on an uncertain road in those three hours.

On the way to the hospital, we stopped off at a very pleasant national forest area and took a break. It was clear that Donner was not even even able to hold down water as he threw that up to while we were there at that rest stop. The good news is that while we were there, a kindly gentleman named Albert Lopez drove by with his beautiful dog Daisy and we chatted, and that perked Donner up some but not for long. He was clearly hurting.

We arrived at the vet hospital about 1:30 and waited in the Defender for the hour before the appointment appointment. Inside, even when a beautiful dog named Snow teased him, he was not his same self.

If ever I met a vet who gave me the confidence that she knew what she was talking about and that she would cure my dog, I met that vet today in the person of Dr. Lisa at the hospital. After some blood tests and x-rays, Dr. Lisa came back with a pretty conclusive diagnosis, a ery serious bacterial infection that he probably picked up somewhere along the way, and gave me some options. Option One was to prescribe some medications and solutions that I could administer on the road and leave with the Donner today. But when she told me that if I wanted him well for the rest of the trip, he would have to be hospitalized for at least two maybe three days, and put on IVs since he was extremely dehydrated. Usually, Donner drinks about a gallon of water a day, but by 4 o'clock he probably only drank about two cups of water today.

I signed the papers to admit Donner to the hospital and made haste to get back on the road to the camp. It was 5 o'clock, and I knew that the sun goes down here at around 530, as it did last night at the Grand Canyon. Fortunately, I had saved on my GPS the location of my campsite and so I punched that into my GPS and got on the road, but not before sending an email message to some friends telling them where Donner was just in case something happened to me.

The first 30 minutes of the trip home, I mean, to the camp, were uneventful as it was on an interstate. But then, just as we were about to turn onto Route 64, a direct straight line path to the camp, the sun went down, disappearing over the mountains. What was about to take place has to be characterized as the worst drive of my life, and I've had some bad ones, as you already read on this blog several times. Route 64 for almost 60 miles is a straight shot. But it a narrow, unlighted, narrow–shouldered road running through animal-crossing territory. I purposely did not do the speed limit because I did not want to kill one animal in the process of trying to help my own. And It would not have been so bad as it became dark if the road was empty in the opposite direction. It was not. For the entire 60 miles, we encountered a steady stream of vehicles returning from the Grand Canyon, with very few interruptions along the way. The drive was horrific. Headlights of the oncoming cars, sometimes with their brights on, sometimes with only one headlight, and even in one case with no headlights produced what was probably the most risky drive I have taken in my life, and i have taken many The oncoming headlights were blinding, and at times I couldn't even see the white lines separating the two opposing lanes or where the shoulder was. For the entire trip, my eyes and attention were riveted on those white wines where they could be seen. Fortunately, there were not many cars going in my direction, and of the few cars that were behind me, only two dared to pass me. The others cooperated by staying behind me and when I finished the drive there were only two or three vehicles in line behind me. I did not dare take my eyes off the road once, not even to look at the speedometer, and those times that I did quickly look down i saw that every time I encountered one or a stream of vehicles coming in the opposite direction, to reduce the risks I reduced my speed from 50, which was less than the 60 mph limit there, to 35.

I made the 90 mile Drive in about 2 1/2 hour, Zbut it should've taken 90 minutes.

I arrived back at camp shortly before 8 PM and as soon as I pulled in to the site a friend i had emailed called me to tell me he had called the hospital and that they told him Donner was resting comfortably. It was comforting for me to know that.

The first thing that I did when I shut the engine off was to look for my competent 750 lumens surfire flashlight which I swear by. It was not where it was supposed to be, in the tray I have on my dashboard so that it is in reach all the time when I am in dark places, like I was then. It was not there. Then I remembered when I closed up the tent this morning I could not find it, but I assumed that it was in one of several places and that I would find it later. I couldn't find it. It was nowhere to be found. Of course, I carry a back pup flashlight, but it is one that I found several weeks before the trip started, and is a rather quirky one. It's one that I have seen advertised on TV where if you call in within so many minutes they will send you not one but two of these flashlights. The Flashlight appeared to be very powerful but in fact they are pieces of junk.This is why you get two for the price of one. The flashlights are so bad that they do not even put the name of the flashlight on it. Fortunately, I had two headlamps and my powerful vehicle battery starter, and so I pulled them out and proceeded to unload the Defender and set up the camp for the night. By the way, this is not the only surefire flashlight that has gone missing on me. I usually take two all my trips, but over the last two years two of them have gone missing from my home. I usually lose nothing, and it is ironic that did I lose those two at home, and more ironic that I might have lost this one. Since I used it last night when I had to clean up, and since I was so tired and groggy I probably put it somewhere where it didn't belong, and so it may show up eventually, unless i threw it out with the trash.

Donner will clearly not be home tomorrow and so I probably will not drive down there to visit him, more for not wanting to interrupt his recovery than not wanting to make the 180-mile trip myself. I will probably spend the day doing all that I want to see here at the Grand Canyon and preparing for going to visit Donner on Monday and our trip home. When I do go there, if he is ready to be released, if it is late in the day, I will stay in a motel with him there. Same thing for Tuesday. But I do intend to return to the Grand Canyon because I want to get a picture of Donner in front of it, which I do not have now. I will probably have to drive this route to get home anyway, so I will not be going out of my way. After that, we will make haste to get home. Since the trip after Denver is really quite boring, and since many campgrounds are closing, and even if they are open they are not as interesting as the camps west of Denver and north of the US border, in order to get home quickly, I will probably stay in motels along the way so that I can save two hours a day and get home at least one day earlier than if I were to camp the whole way. Regardless, it is time to bring this trip to an end for Donner' sake.

I have taken nine road trips over the last 18 years and probably spent close to 365 days in my tent with my dogs. This is the first time that I have been in the tent without them. I know Donner is in good hands in the hospital, but I still miss him greatly.

In retrospect, I have no regrets about taking this excursion to the Grand Canyon. Assuming that the bug that Donner picked up occurred a few days back on the journey, perhaps at Donner Lake when he drank some of the water in the lake, this infirmity of his would have hit him somewhere else on the journey home and I might have decided just to drive on quickly and get him treated at home. Had I done that, his health would have been in serious jeopardy. Once, I lucked out on a decision, but did not luck out on Donner's coming down with this terrible bug.

I also lucked out by renewing automatically Donner's health insurance. Fortunately, I have a $1000 deductible so all expenses over $1000 will be covered by insurance. Of course, even if I had no insurance, it would have made no difference to me what it cost as that fantastic dog is priority for me. More than a priority, he is part of me. And i know one thing now for sure - it is going to be very lonely in this tent and in the Defender for the next three days without my beloved companion, even for a guy who likes solitude, but that solitude has to be accompanied by my dogs. But right now, i am not worried about myself, but Donner's health. Fortunstely, he is in the best possible hands i can imagine. Dr. Lisa's obvious competence blew me away as much as the sight of the Grand Canyon did last night, and that's saying a lot. How lucky I was to find her.

I may not blog much of the next several days, but I will post something regarding Donner's situation at least.

Ed, from a cold, lonely tent in the Grand Canyon.

PS...quiet hours begin here at 10 pm. But at 10:30 now, you would not know it from two campsites near me.

Day 36...Donner.. 5pm

Donner has a serious infection that is ravaging his gastro system. probaly got it when he drank from Donner Lake, the only time he did that. For him to be well for the trip home, he needs to be hospitalized for three days. I am heading back to the camp and will close it out and return here on Monday, and we will head directly for home the next day.

More later.

More later, i have to get on the road before dark.


Day 36 Message from Ed about Donner...4:20 pm

I am at the vet in Flagstaff with Donner now, 90 miles from our camp. He is in pretty bad shape. But he is in very capable hands with the vet here. Although everything was normal yesterday, he threw up four times in the tent last night, which I discovered at 2 o'clock. After cleaning it up, he threw up three more times at six block this morning, and then several more times outside, and once in the Defender. He also has a serious case of diarrhea. All those came on suddenly last night as everything was normal yesterday. It could be something that he ate without my seeing it, or it could be something he picked up by the numerous smells that he has been investigating around here, which I understand carry some infectious problems for dogs.He may have to be put on some IVs, which means I will probably have to stay here in a motel in Flagstaff tonight because I am too tired and it will be too dark to drive back the empty, narrow, animal crossing 90-mile highway back to the camp tonight.

Another challenge in search of a solution.

I will probably try to extend my stay at the Grand Canyon camp for two more days to make sure that Donner is well before we move on, and perhaps see more of the Grand Canyon than what I saw last night. But if what I saw last night is all i get to see, so be it, there's always another road trip. I know my priorities, and after my own health, Donner comes next.

Ed, from Canyon Pet Hospital in Flagstaff Arizona.

Day 36 photo

Donner's new friends at the Canyon Pet Hospital.

Top....Zoraster, a gentleman dog if i ever saw one.

Bottom... Sugar, and what a sweetheart she was. She teased Donner to no end, but he was too down to take advantage of it. And when she resisted, she put her from paws on my lap and kissed me. How could any dog, or man for that matter,

Day 35, Friday, October 26, Grand Canyon mather campground

Up at 7 o'clock, as usual, Broke camp quickly before the authorities moved in on my spectacular but illegal bivouac.

As I was loading the Defender, one of those very oddly painted vans that travelers rent for their road vacations pulled up. Readers of the 2016 blog will that the same thing happened on the Banff Jasper highway, and what happened after that. Out of the van popped two delightfully charming young ladies from Rhode Island, Bella and Diona, who were taking in the Grand Canyon for the weekend after a conference in Las Vegas. The two of them bonded with Donner not only rapidly but completely. The two of them were as much out of control as Donner was with them..

I got on the road at 9 o'clock, and on the way back to Jacob Lake discovered at least a half dozen cutoffs that would have been fine for bivouacs. Had I seen them in the dark on the way down to my bivouac, I clearly would have settled into one of them for the night. Thank goodness I did not see them because of the deaf work but I found.

I also discovered that when I was heading down by mistake to the north rim, thinking I was on the road that will take me to the south rim, I was only one mile from the north rim camp that was indeed open. Having been advised it was closed, I turned the defender around and drove the 50 miles to my eventual bivouac for the night. I am kind of surprised at the quality of information about major things here, like campgrounds being open.

The drive down to the Grand Canyon was absolutely spectacular. Almost 100 miles off of read Mesa bordering the highway on one side. If that is all I got to see of the Grand Canyon, I would've been satisfied.

As I got within 50 miles of the South-rim entrance to the Grand Canyon, the anxiety started setting in. Will I find a camp site in the one campground that was open, Mather campground. Fortunately Bella and Diona indicated that they would share a campsite with me if the camp was full, but I failed to get the name that their reservation was under. No big thing, as I learned that there were national forests on all sides of the Grand Canyon where one could pitch a tent for the night. That is, assuming one is not driving in the dark and can see the hidden cutoffs that lead to some of the choice national forest campsites.

Much to my delight, when I checked in at the registration kiosk at Mather camp, there was indeed a campsite for the night. Although my original plan was to stay for only one night, I decided to reserve a campsite for tonight, and then get on the road on Sunday back home.

I took my time settling into the campsite, number 301. At one point when I was unloading things from the roof rack, I looked down where I had secured Donner, and he was gone. Apparently, I had secured him on the leash that was not tied down to the picnic table. I quickly scanned the area and discovered him about 50 feet away just standing there - he was having a stare down contest with a herd of for young elk who had approached the campsite. Donner won, and the elk took off. Close call. But what a good dog he was not to charge them.

Although I was planning to postpone going to the various Canyon rim points - there are 17 of them - where you can view the Grand Canyon in it's splendor, at 5 o'clock, when thecsun was about to set, I decided to make a dash to the view point by the visitor center to catch the sun was already setting. When I finally drive to entrance to the view point, after parking the Defender, Donner had other plans. He wanted to stop and sniff every single smell along the path, and there were many of them, and wanted to go greet the several other dogs who were also there to enjoy the Grand Canyon, at least their owners were very. I had to compromise with him and let him have his way with some of his more interesting sites, but I dragged him on to the viewpoint so that I would not miss any of the fading sun reflecting on the canyons below.

I have seen many photographs and films and videos of the Grand Canyon, but I could not believe my eyes what I saw last night. It is far more spectacular by a long shot then anything i have seen in print or on film. It is perhaps the most beautiful natural spectacle that I have ever seen in my life. I was blown away. I could not take my eyes off it. I am not even going to begin to describe what I saw because I simply don't have the vocabulary to do so. Absolutely magnificent. In fact, it looked almost unreal.

After a half-hour wandering around the rim along a beautifully designed path, I headed back to the Defender in the dark, but could not find it. Eventually I found it, but by this time it was pitch black outside. Then the problem became how I was going to find my way back to the camp with the rather confusing traffic patterns and lack of signage on the road. Fortunately, I had saved the geographical coordinates and so I put my faith in my Garman and it led me right back to site 301 exactly where I parked the Defender when I saved those coordinates in my GPS.

If I see nothing more at the Grand Canyon than what I saw tonight, I will be satisfied. However I do plan to spend to spend all of tomorrow seeing as many of the 17 viewpoints as I possibly can, although for about seven of them you have to walk around trip of 12 miles or take a shuttle bus, but dogs are not allowed on the shuttle bus.

On Sunday, I plan to move on and make as much progress towards Interstate 70 as I can. Interstate 70 will take me home where i belong, 2200 miles away. Since I will be passing by Bears Ears, Arches and Moab, I will try to pay brief visits there and then end up camping at the first campsite, perhaps the national forest spot I stayed in on the Colorado River there back in 2001 with Leben and Erde on our way back from Alaska.

Ed and Donner from fabulous Grand Canyon.

Day 34 photo

The 240 miles drive to the North Rim was spectacular, through Nevada, Utah, and Arizona

Day 36....As It Is Happening

Donner has sudden taken sick. I am how drive to a vet 90 miles away to have him treated. More later. Priorities are priorities.


Day 35 photo

As we broke camp this morning at our exquisite bivouac last night, two absolutely charming young women from Rhode Island, Bella and Diona (spelling?), taking a break from a conference in Las Vegas to visit the Grand Canyon, pulled up into my night's bivouac. They were just as out of control with Donner as he was with them. Putting aside the fantastic setting of that bivouac, meeting them there was a reward for the 100-mile saga in the dark to find that "camp." Donner exhibited a new trick, using them as mobile scratching posts.

Day 35 photos

The trip from the North Rim was through 100 miles of this, the whole way listening to Take Me Home Country Road. What a delight. I can understand why everyone cannot drive 6700 miles to get here, tenting the whole way, but it does heighten the experience.

Day 35 photos

Matter Point at Sunset. My God this place is grand!

Day 35 message

I do not have internet here in the Grand Canyon to be able to dictate my posting, so i will send it tomorrow.


The trip so far, Day 35, Friday, October 26, Grand Canyon, 6900 miles, 2200 to go

What a brilliant decision to visit the Grand Canyon. Grand indeed it is.

Day 35

We will stay here for two nights, and then head for home. I want to make sure i do not give this place short shrift.

Campsite sight coordinates shown below. Almost as high as Yellowstone.