Monday, June 23, 2008
Driving across country Day 1: SoCal to Flagstaff
Three dogs, two turtles, a trailer and I hit the road Sunday morning, starting the first of a 4-day trek across country to Illinois, where we will stop for a family vacation before heading on to Pensacola, Florida. The first six or so hours of the trip were uneventful, I enjoyed watching the gas prices drop as I headed East, out of California. The most expensive: Needles, CA with $5.19 per gallon for regular unleaded. Ouch! The cheapest: A small town between Kingman and Flagstaff at $3.85. Whoo-hoo!
I was so excited about the lower gas prices that I wanted to just get enough gas in Needles to get me to what I was sure would be much lower prices towards Kingman, AZ. I kept an eye on my car's mile estimator and I had plenty of miles to get me well in to Arizona... or so I thought. Apparently we headed uphill for most of that leg of the trip because the fuel went twice as fast as the estimator had estimated. I has 10 miles left in my tank and there was no gas station in sight. Not only that, but I had a big hill in front of me, with no guarantees as to what was on the other side. When my gas tank said I only had three miles left, I did a very un-Jessica thing. I panicked. I have never been "dumb enough" to run out of gas before and figured that this was just the "perfect" time to do it - when I was dragging a heavy trailer and carried three boxer dogs over the age of 7 in 95-degree heat. I was so mad at myself for not having paid better attention ... I had tears streaming down my face and found myself chanting, "Please, please, please." The dogs were restless in the back of the car, they could tell something was not right with me. Please, dear God, let there be a gas station on the other side of this hill!
Prayer answered! There was Love's truck stop, and I coasted into it (ignoring one stop sign, but no one was around, I promise!), with one mile left in my tank. In fact, the BIG warning beep went off the moment I but the car in park. Deep sigh ... thank you! The crisis over, the scrapbooker in me took over. I dug for my camera so I could take a picture to document my stupdity and remind myself never to do THAT agin, no matter how much cheaper gas is!
About an hour outside of Flagstaff, AZ, my old man, Slade, who will be 11 in August, started getting sick in the car. All three of my dogs have traveled across country with me on more than one occassion and have always done very well. I thought perhaps his age had made him more sensitive, but the coughing and hacking continued until after I had cleaned up the car and settled into the hotel room, about three hours later. Long story short, after leaving the other two dogs fed and pottied in the hotel room (where, BTW, my debit card was denied when I registered, just to give me more stress... it turns out there was NO reason that should have happened, so I think that my kharma was all out of whack or something, today!), I rushed Slade to the vet (BTW, if you are ever in need of a vet in Flagstaff, call Canyon Vet Clinic and hope Dr. Sarah is on call. She was fabulous, as was her vet tech ... so sorry I cannot remember his name, Sean?) to find that he has a congentital heart condition found in boxers and that the high altitude had sent him into heart failure. The coughing and hacking was because there was blood in his lungs because the blood in his heart was not being pumped out effectively and was backing up. He was getting sick because his organs were shutting down. I really thought this was "it" for poor Slade and I was in quite a state, with my DH and family on the other end of the cell phone in California, unable to help. But there was hope. Dr. Sarah explained the condition in detail and said that a lower altitude and a couple of drugs might help him make it through the night until we could get to that lower altitude of Amarillo, Texas the next day. I agreed to the treatment she offered and after two shots of Plavix, Slade was still lethargic compared with his usual self, but was clearly able to breathe more easily. I took him back to the hotel and let him rest.
Dr. Sarah started him on oral Plavix (blood thinner and diuretic to get the fluid out of his lungs and stop the coughing) and a heart med, both human drugs, and by the next morning, he was weak, but determined NOT to be left behind, apparently. As soon as he saw me starting to pack up the suitcase and bags of dog stuff, he got himself up and to the door, looking at me expectantly. Maybe he is not a goner quite yet...