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Archive for June 28th, 2010

Trying to score some grass in Flagstaff

Ace, while enjoying the wide-open West, seems less than pleased with one of its characteristics. He — and I could be wrongly reading his mind now — is tired of the blistering hot pavement and the pebbles, large and small, that most folks around here opt for when landscaping.

He was longing last night — again I’m mind reading — for a soft green carpet to do his business, which is what led me to approach my Motel 6 neighbors two doors down after seeing they had a dog. They appeared to have been there for a while, based on the clutter in their room, so I figured they knew the ropes.

Ace and I were headed out for a walk, when I spotted them. Not wanting to alarm them or trigger a bad reaction in their dog, I shouted my question from a distance.

“Do you know where I could find some grass around here?”

“What?” the neighbor responded, not able to hear me over the traffic. I shouted louder:

“Do you know where I could find some grass around here?”

The second time I said it,  the double meaning dawned on me. Fortunately, no police cars were passing by, though, who knows, the moment could have been captured for posterity by a security camera. Big Brother is pretty much everywhere these days — from Motel 6 to your more classy joints, like Howard Johnson’s.

Fortunately, too, my motel neighbor took my question with the intended meaning and pointed us down the road, past four more motels, to the Cracker Barrel.

“Cracker Barrel’s got some good grass,” she said.

She was right. Ace sniffed it for 30 minutes, watered it three times, and gently dropped a load (subsequently scooped) upon it. By then, I was ready to get back to the room, but he lay down in it, knowing it would be more hot pavement and pebbles on the way back.

I gave him a couple more minutes, for he was right, as dogs usually are when they make us slow down. There was no hurry. We lingered a bit, inhaled a few more times.

It was good stuff.

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

An unrushed Sunday in Sedona

Giving ourselves plenty of time to get to Utah, Ace and I spent an unrushed afternoon in Sedona yesterday, figuring it would be the sort of place that I could unleash not just my dog, but possibly my chakra.

Possibly, I reasoned, simply driving through its red-rocked beauty might magically re-align my life energy, and perhaps my car’s as well.

I don’t think any of those things happened, but we had an excellent lunch, which, of course, is far more important.

We started off with a short walk among the red rocks at one of the pullovers, where a group of tourists flocked to Ace’s side, and asked if they could take their picture with him.

For the next ten minutes, that’s what they did.

Later, I pulled into Tlaquepaque, an artsy-craftsy community in town. There we found the Secret Garden, which really isn’t secret at all. I learned about it, and its dog-friendliness online.

We were seated on the patio, where five other dogs — three poodles at one table, two mutts at another — barely raised an eyebrow. The humans in the restaurant were another story, many of them pointing at Ace, and commenting on his size and, of course, handsomeness, and three stopping at my table to inquire as to his breed.

The waitress brought Ace a huge bowl of water, which he was happy for, and me a portabello mushroom sandwich, with roasted red peppers and a few other vegetables on sourdough bread. I made a point of asking them to hold the chakra.

(Note: Chakra is not a vegetable — in case any of you, like me, may have once thought it was a hybrid of chard and okra. No, it’s quite different. According to Wikipedia, “Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the etheric double of man.” Clear enough?)

The sandwich was pretty good, even without any meat, and the restaurant had a nice relaxing vibe, which, in Sedona — the rusty-terrained land of psychics and spiritualists, hallowed rocks and the hopelessly holistic — is pretty much required.

Strolling past the art galleries afterwards, we followed the new age music and came upon a keyboard player named Robin Miller, who interrupted the song he was playing to greet Ace, then entertained him by making barking noises on his keyboard.

Ace was doted on — and deservedly so — by a few more people before we left. It’s amazing how he brings smiles to so many faces — my own included. Moreso than my chakra, I think, it is he that keeps me aligned.

From Sedona, we headed to Flagstaff (the closest affordable motels) on 89A, a winding mountain road along Oak Creek. My car seemed to putter some on the climb, leading to me to wonder if maybe there’s something to that  “Malfunction Indicator Light” after all. Possibly my car’s chakra needs work.

But we made it to Flagstaff. And yes, it’s still here. Other than a little smoke in the mountains, the fire you’ve probably heard about is burning out and not threatening the town.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue on to Kanab, Utah, where on Tuesday, we’re scheduled to do a little volunteer work at Best Friends, the animal sanctuary.

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

Roadside Encounters: Cutie

Name: Cutie

Breed: Shih-tzu / Pekingese

Age: 6

Encountered: Resting in the shade at Tlaquepaque, an arts and crafts village in Sedona, Arizona.

Headed: On a Sunday outing with her owner.

Travel Habits: Cutie, whose owner has lived in Sedona since 1964, seems used to going along on outings. She was settled in the shade underneath a bench, but poked her head out when Ace walked by. She has one blue eye, one brown, the only one in the litter like that, her owner said.