Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Driving Mr. Barkley

For about 3 years I had a commute of about 4 hours each way every Monday morning and Thursday night between Indianapolis and Chicago. I worked four 10 hour shifts a week so it made for some LONG days.  I wanted to move to Chicago permanently to join my new husband but  I had a career and a townhome in Indiana.  My large home had sold and I was just renting the townhome, but transferring up to Chicago job-wise wasn't an option as there were no openings at my pay grade (I'm sort of like "Director" if we were NCIS) and I was too close to retirement to take a pay cut to be closer to home.  With people retiring, I knew there'd be an opening if I was just patient.

Fortunately, I had a big, sturdy American made barge of a vehicle to haul Barkley, and later Abby when we rescued her, back and forth.

Sometimes there's miscellaneous cargo of the squirrel, and not so squirrely, in the back..
Often it was dark when I left Monday morning, which was actually my favorite time to head out. It gave me another night "home"  and I missed the worst of the traffic.  At 3 a.m. the roads were mostly vacant, the sky nothing more than the thin deceptive perception of safety.
So I always made sure the truck was full of gas and the road ahead clear and then I'd get Barkley in his harness and ready to go.
Madam - I'll just wait here on my dog bed until you bring the car around

Uh, Barkley, the LITTLE grey bed is your dog bed.

Soon, the night succumbed to day, and everything quickened.  The traffic and my pulse would quicken, as the light spread over the road like water. Soon it's day and from the vantage point of a vehicle that sits up high, I could see all sorts of things.

It's fun to look back on some of the trips, "bed hair" and all. If we were moving I'd just hold up the little point and shoot camera while I kept a hand and eyes on the road and snap back at Barkley.  Some of those were hilarious.  And if we were slowed or stopped in traffic sometimes we could get a shot of an interesting vehicle.

Diary of a Drive with Mom
I'm in the truck with Mom!  I'm in the truck with Mom! I'm in the truck with Mom!
Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats on the Wall, Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats. . .
Can't you change the channel?  It's the "Corn and Cow Show" again and I've seen this episode.
Does she even notice I'm back here, It's been like a YEAR since I got a treat.
Where did he go?
I am SOOOO bored. 
Mom - I think I'm getting car sick.  Can we stop again.  Perhaps at a burger place? 

Wake up Barkley -there's an interesting vehicle!~

The doggie gaze equivalent of "Mom - What the. . . .?"

This truck probably cost more than some of the houses just west of here.  You could have performed surgery off most of its surfaces.  The driver apparently very proud of it, wants you to know who is driving it by the giant dayglo orange name across the back window.   At first, I thought his name was "Tarzan".  Either I'm getting nearsighted or I REALLY need to clean these windows..
Driving through the freeway stretch of Gary (which is normally done at twice the speed of sound, the cops not even wanting to pull anyone over on that particular stretch), I saw what appeared to be the Batmobile.  At least the Batmobile Gary style.
The young man driving it was probably the best driver on the road, in and out of lanes discretely and expertly, yet not being stupid (unlike Vlad the Impala that tried to kill me several times).  I'm not sure what that hood ornament is.

On this same stretch of road, another trip, there was a vehicle for which I didn't get a picture as the traffic was too heavy to be distracted by a camera. There were a couple extra antennas on it. One looked like it was Elmer-Glued on. It looked too new to be a Grand Marquis de Sade, more likely a later model Crown Vic, but the shape and color were such that hundreds of drivers in the past had likely slowed down in its presence thinking it was an unmarked cop car.

The driver, as well, was all in black, with a black baseball type hat, earpiece in his ear, muscled arms clenched on the wheel. In the back window, another black ball cap, this one with 3 letters indicating a squirrel type employer. At this point I started to grin, knowing a bit about such headwear. I can tell you one does NOT put them in the back window of their car, although you can buy fakey looking souvenir ones on the internet. They're worn for a specific purpose and it usually involves a search warrant.
But what our Mall Ninja failed to realize, that despite the old police shaped spiffy car with the extra antenna or two, the clothing, the hat he bought on the net, and "the look", one thing just screamed "mall ninja!"

The yellow triangle in the window that said "Baby on Board".

I did get a picture of this. . .
Camouflage submarine?

Even with a state that's about as hilly as Saskatchewan, I still don't get more than 18 miles to the gallon.  But I bet I get more than this guy, driving a truck that appears to be made out of four separate vehicles with a camper that appears to be attached with Velcro. I kept my distance in case the wind picked up.
And, in an off the freeway foray to get gas in a safe area,  I saw this. Fifteen miles per gallon in hot pink.   I'd tint my windows too if my SUV was that color.
Then - this classic, another pink vehicle, a distinct shade of light pink  I recognized. It's a Mary Kay car I thought. You know, one of those new and shiny fancy cars with the sticker on the back "I Won It, Ask Me How - Mary Kay."

But as we got closer I could see it was a very beat up Volvo, with the rust marks to show its age. But it was pink. Pink, painted with a brush.

With a fresh and flawless Mary Kay "I Won It Ask me How" sticker in the back window.

The man driving it looked like the guy from the Red Green show and the car was full of junk, likely a run from the farm to the junkyard or dump.
There were quite a few drives though, where the cars were mundane, the landscape clouded with shadow and the camera stayed still.  Such were the mornings I looked at the light coming up in the sky, shooting upward in the darkness like the upward floating tresses of a drowned maiden sleeping in a motionless sea, I wish I could capture that.  I also knew that the cheap little camera in the vehicle, in motion, never captured it, that moment or the words in my head and I go back to my coffee and the thump of the miles.

I kept an eye on the weather as well, high winds not being a big concern in my vehicle, but definitely affecting other drivers I'd just as soon stay out of the way off.  I kept the radio tuned to the local alerts, and there is always the weather cow, one of the first pit stops on the journey. It's not the cheapest gas around, but the place was frequented by most of the local LEO's.  It was more country than city and the bathrooms were spotless (unlike the ones up by Crown Point where I think they lock the gas station bathrooms to keep people from sneaking in and cleaning them). 
 Weather cow says it's windy with a chance of flurries
 Weather cow says it's sunny.
Weather cow says it's raining.
Look, Mom !  A trailer full of tractors!

Barkley could sometimes be a pest, with stops for walks, and begging for treats and Barking at the Dart Trucks (I think he thought the Dart guy on the back of the truck looked like the UPS man) But I so I missed him after he went to the Bridge, driving that big Chevy Subdivision of a vehicle, logging miles between light and dark, the clock on the dash only changing the minutes, it seems, when I look away, the slight of hand of time that shapes us all.

So glad we've arrived at the townhouse so I can do something more exciting while you go to work!

Thank you, Barkley - for all the good trips and the good memories and for watching over Abby Lab and me while we made that last year of drives without you. We miss you every day.


  1. He sure made a great co-pilot! The things you see when you are driving!

    1. We saw a Real Batmobile one time, but I couldn't safely get the camera out on time. I was meeting two of my closest friends for lunch and I told them.

      Me:. "I waved, he waved. But he didn't signal when he was changing lanes."(Seriously, I about ZAP!POW! BAM!'d his back bumper when he suddenly cut in front of me.)

      Friend #1."The Bat Signal is only for use in emergencies."

      Friend #2: "People signal Batman; Batman doesn't signal people."

  2. Dogs definitely make every drive better! Momma says it's much less fun when she drives without us, although easier to figure out human potty breaks.

    1. Abby loves a road trip. The owner of our dog walking service will keep Abby in her home if we are both gone and she LOVES the drive over there as she knows where she's going. New Couch to sleep on! Dog to play with ! Treats!

  3. Seeing such a diverse amount of vehicles makes you wonder about the drivers' individual stories, doesn't it? That one shade of pink should be outlawed!

  4. Interesting sights from the road! Our mom's father used to always tell her to never stop in Gary cuz they'd never find the body (despite the fact grandma lived in Gary).

    Keep Calm & Bark On!

    Murphy & Stanley

    1. I knew not to get off the road there as well, if broke down in Gary I was getting towed to Valpo!

  5. You captured some amazing sights on your travels, but we are most impressed with the fact that every time you photographed Barkley, he was watching you with very intent eyes. That's love.

    Woos - Lightning, Misty, and Timber

    1. In the time we were dating and Barkley and would come up and commandeer the futon and after we got married and I was commuting we must have made that drive over 450 times, with no breakdowns, no flats, or no accidents. It's a treacherous stretch of road and we saw the end product of more than one fatal. I had a guardian angel on that drive I think. The pictures were fun in that I had no idea what I'd see until I'd upload them, I was just holding the camera up over my head with one hand and taking the photo.

  6. Even my short 30 minute drive to work then back home was torture after Lexi was gone. Xena has made it so much better, as I am sure Abby Lab has for you.

    1. I'm sure it has. I am so happy you have her to heal your heart. Lexi was one of a kind.

  7. A most-excellent co-pilot on an awful road. If I never have to drive the stretch of I-65 between Chicago and Indy again, I would be a very happy camper.

  8. Excellent adventure. Your own Travels With Charlie. You did have on happy looking co-pilot. Thanks for the smile

  9. what a wonderful memory... I enjoyed it to read and I hope Phenny becomes such a co-pilot once too... without an emergency stop at the burger place of course ;O)))

  10. We were smiling all the way through this post. Mom said handsome Mr. Barkley reminder her of a perpetual 5 year old 2 legger. Once many moons ago the peeps drove to Disney World with my human sissy she was 5. She kept asking where the door to Florida was and mom said they read Hop on Pop and Green Eggs and ham so much mom had it memorized. Wonderful memories for mom as with you and Mr. Barkley. Hugs madi and mom

  11. I wish I liked riding in the car. Then I could go visit Oma and have crazy fun car adventures like that! Alas, I cower in the back and shiver whenever I'm in the car. (Don't tell Princess Leah I'm such a wimp about it.) Today I could have seen the rainbow that ghostwriter saw while driving on the I90 to visit Oma.


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