The Next Steps

So now that we’ve returned home, some of you may be asking what we are going to do now.

Well, Asa has made his way to Atlanta to play ultimate frisbee for the club season with his old team, Chain Lightning. Having been a part of this team for the last 4 years, and the two of us not having any grand plans arranged, it was a must for Asa to play another season. He is still in the same wonderful job that he can do from anywhere! He will be doing a lot of traveling for the frisbee season, making appearances in Santa Cruz, Washington D.C., Orlando, and hopefully Sarasota at the end of October.

I am currently in California with my parents and our pets.

The view from my parents’ balcony. It sure is a tough life!

One of my goals during our stay in Uruguay was to find a job for when we got back. Yeah, that didn’t happen, but not for lack of trying. Apparently the academic and science fields are super hard to find a job in right now. So, that’s one of my main activities now: job searching. I am also hard at work continuing to publish work from my PhD dissertation. While in Uruguay I got two papers published and have a book chapter and another paper in the works. For the first time in a long time (almost 10 years), my athletic ambitions do not involve frisbee. Instead I am going to have some fun running and get back into triathlons with my dad.

The next question you’re probably thinking about is what is going to happen with the blog. Well, at least for a while, we’ll continue to post thoughts and reflections from our trip to Uruguay. We learned a lot that we definitely want to share.

We will also start posting some of our adventures in the states. Our friends in Uruguay can get an idea of our life in the states and our friends closer to home may get some awesome ideas for places to go or things to see.

Pets Adjust To Their New Home

I know a lot of pet lovers out there that worry about their pets. Sometimes pets seem like children. We worry about them; we want them to be well taken care of. We don’t want them to be sad or to miss us while we’re gone regardless of the time-span. So traveling for long periods of time can be stressful for pet owners.

The first thing to think about is who you trust with your pets and who would want to keep your pets for the length of your traveling. For us there was only one option: parents! I mean really, what other suckers will take in a dog (Cattle Dog) and cat (Crazy Cat) for 6 months and love them as they would their own. Luckily, we have been able to stay with my parents for more than a month to help with the adjustment.

This brings me to the zoo. My parents already have a dog (Big White Dog) and a cat (Old Man Cat). Bringing our pets into the mix has resulted in quite a few changes around the house.

1. The house erupts in barking whenever anyone thinks about walking near the house, a dog hears a strange noise, or someone knocks on the door. Cattle Dog isn’t used to barking at people outside windows, but she very willingly joins in the ruckus.

2. The cat food can no longer be kept on the floor. The Big White Dog is terrified of clanking sounds that dishes make, so it was safe to keep the Old Man Cat food in a little bowl on the tile floor. Big White Dog wouldn’t go within 5 feet of it. Cattle Dog, the newcomer, doesn’t have any qualms about noise so the food had to be moved.

3. Exercise needs to be coordinated. People cannot be outnumbered by dogs, especially not these dogs. Cattle Dog is a born herding dog. She will herd other dogs, people, bicycles, horses, cats, and really anything else that moves in an effort to exhibit how good her genetics are. She needs to be watched with at least two eyes.

4. Food no longer flows from the table into the Big White Dog’s mouth (much to her disappointment). Cattle Dog doesn’t get much human food and the small scraps she does get come from the kitchen. This has been the hardest adjustment for the parents. We keep telling them that those big brown eyes are lying.

5. Big White Dog has become much more active (although part of this might be the 20+ glucosamine pills she found on the floor, care of Crazy Cat knocking them off the shelf). The two dogs have become playmates; they may even become besties while we’re gone.

6. Old Man Cat is angry. He is set in his ways and doesn’t appreciate Cattle Dog’s herding efforts. He has taken up residence under the parents’ bed and sneaks outside under the cover of darkness. Hopefully he’ll join the rest of the family soon.

Here are some pictures to sum up the dogs’ behavior. Big White Dog sits and watches while Cattle Dog wants to play (always!).

Our Journey Begins

Our journey really started early one Saturday morning. We had already moved out of our house, secured our furniture and belongings in my mother-in-law’s garage, and dealt with all the associated paperwork. We loaded our car while it drizzled. The dog came willingly; the cat was probably saying F you. Luckily they are both fairly good travelers. The dog usually observes… everything! When she gets tired she lays her head on one of the front seats and observes. The cat just stays quiet. Whether this behavior is the result of complete terror or apathy is unknown, and frankly, it doesn’t matter.

Asa drove. We managed to avoid the pothole on the freeway in town that claimed my hub cap last week, but after that I don’t remember much until I woke up in Alabama thinking I must be going crazy because the clock only said 9:15 AM. Oh time changes. Asa and I fortified ourselves with a stop for Hardee’s breakfast, switched drivers, and soldiered on. We had a good laugh when we passed Chunky, Mississippi and had a good time trying to guess the equipment being hauled by big rigs. We crossed the Mississippi River in the late afternoon with the sky as blue as the river. At the day’s close we found ourselves 100 miles into Texas at a La Quinta and walking to a nearby mexican restaurant for dinner.

Day two started by scraping a thin layer of ice off the windows of the car and trying to figure out the most efficient way to put things back in the trunk. Our only goal for the day was to make it out of Texas; a formidable task when one starts the day at mile marker 556 and there’s still 200 miles on another highway to make it out of the state. Luckily, the speed limit was 80 mph. It’s not surprising, considering that there’s nothing there. We passed through Dallas and Fort Worth which were pretty much the end of civilization as we know it and the beginning of small run down towns with cars on poles advertising long defunct garages. Just outside El Paso and Ciudad Juarez we began to see Border Patrol everywhere. Going the opposite direction they stopped and searched every vehicle. Our day ended with a half hour of meowing from the cat (we didn’t blame her; being stuck in a car carrier for 12 + hours can’t be a fun experience) and a sign saying “Welcome to New Mexico”.

By day three we had no desire to get in the car again, let alone drive the entire day. Also, the weather threw us a curveball, or should I say some snow flurries and 35 mph winds. As luck and planning would have it, we managed to avoid traveling on Highway 40 through Flagstaff and Albuquerque, which received enough snow to close down parts of the highway. Asa managed to keep the car going in a straight line at a good clip, although passing some of those 18 wheelers was a bit hairy. We made it to Tuscon in time for lunch and continued on. We saw more cops on the road this day than we had seen in the last two, most of them in Arizona. Asa drove for most of the day in an effort to conquer some demons from his past. Two of his friends died in a car accident on Highway 10 between Pheonix and Indio a couple years ago. They will always be missed.

Day three ended at the only place (or what felt like the only place) in the Indio/Palm Desert/Palm Springs area that allows pets without charging an arm and a leg. We walked to get Italian food and then crashed in our hotel room watching “The Blind Side”.

Day four started unexpectedly early (4 AM early) with the cat knocking change off the table, jumping on and off the bed, and being generally annoying. We tried various ways of silencing her until we decided that it might just be a good idea to get up and get on the road before we went crazy. Unfortunately, no matter how early in the morning one tries to get through Los Angeles and it’s associated suburbs, one always gets stuck in traffic. We played a little freeway hopscotch with the help of Asa’s IPhone and the carpool lane and made it out of the chaos before 8 AM. We made it to our destination a bit earlier than expected; safe and sound, and very tired.