When the bloodsucker finished leeching me today at the doc’s office, Murphy and I decided to go for a drive out the road. I don’t take as many opportunities to do this as I should. She’s a two-year old Shiba who is more than unusually headstrong. I’ve done consistent in-house training with her. She can sit, lie down, shake, dance and is close to playing dead on command. But I haven’t taken her many places because I don’t want to lose her.

If she gets off-leash she is gone. 0 to 60 in a blink of an eye. She’s also a pretty good escape octopus – being quite a bit smarter than any other dog I’ve ever owned previously – so I have to pay attention to make sure she doesn’t back her head from her collar or yank her leash from my hand. These are also tricks she has discovered – being much too smart for her own good.

Murphy does love Rides In The Truck though. And it was a beautiful day. Thus, a plan being made, we left the doctor’s office with a band-aid on my arm, Murphy’s window rolled down just enough and headed for the winding road.

When I was a teenager, driving out the road was much more exciting. The road used to be gravel, so it gave opportunity to take the curves and goose it, making the back-end slide around. One day, I recall being particularly angry with my father for something, I drove my little Toyota truck out there at record speeds. I know the gauge went above 80 a couple of times, and hovered over 60 more than once. This was my most suicidal drive ever. Our family dog, Amos, rode in the back, head poked around the cab, big doggy grin on his face and tongue lolling out.

Amos was a cool dog. My dad picked him up on the edge of the highway when I was around six. He was a little tiny ball of mange and fleas that barely fit in a shoebox. The vet gave my mom what was needed to clean him up, filled him with the requisite shots and we owned a puppy. He had some Chow-chow in him – no telling how much – the purple spots on the tongue and his fluffy neck ruff gave it away. He adored my father.

When Dad wasn’t around, too frequently, Amos would let me practice my budding psychology skills on him. I would check out books from the library and do what they said to train the dog. He responded to a whistle and the word Come. He would roll over, stay and heel. He also let me dress him up in hats, sweatshirts and other crazy things and take pictures of them. Some are still in albums somewhere. Others drowned when my boxes were flooded in the great basement pipe explosion. Alas. He let us lay on him, hug him, and I cried out childhood trauma on him more than once. He was a good dog. Taking him along for a good mad was what kept it from being a truly suicidal run out the road. Even at those speeds I was very careful not to knock him around too much.

Today’s drive was much more sedate. For one thing, the road is now paved. That makes it a little less fun to drive on in some ways, but there aren’t as many flat tires for the folks who live out the road. And I wasn’t boiling mad. I was in a very reflective mood though. It was nice to just toodle along at a sedate 45 and check out the many, many shades of green. My husband likes to comment on just how many colors of green there are on this island. And it is really remarkable to just wander for a while and look at all of them. Kodiak is nicknamed the Emerald Isle for a reason.

When you go for a drive in Kodiak, you have four choices. Today, I was aiming for Pasagshak.

Out at Pasagshak we got out and walked upstream for a bit. There were cow patties for Murphy to smell – a new experience. There used to be bison out there as well, but someone threw a fuss in court about them. It’s too bad, they stood up to the bears better than the cows do. The ranchers had to sell the bison off. I’m not sure why the tourists would be upset about bison roaming the land while cows are okay, but some people raise their ire over the oddest things.

Murphy spooked some pretty white birds and then wanted to chase them. I finally managed to turn her around and head her back downriver but she kept looking back like those birds were the coolest thing she’d ever seen. Odd, since she never pays attention to the birds at the beaches normally.  After a bit, she went back to sniffing beach grass and hoof prints, mouthing rocks and shells.

I’ve never seen another dog do this. Although I’ve read about it in hiking manuals. Tucking a small rock in your gum line, (like chew), is supposed to help keep your mouth moist. She’s done it on walks since she was a little puppy. She lips one up and holds it for a bit, then drops it and finds another.  I have no idea why.

Eventually time checks said it was time to start heading home. As we cleared the mountain, and reached the turn, I noticed a sign, (see above), for what we locally call the rocket launch. And I almost laughed myself silly. I had to stop the car and get a picture.

The rocket launch is the reason the road got paved. They needed a way to get all the materials out to build the site. Then, they had to bring out whatever they were launching. There was, of course, all sorts of controversy. The eco-people were upset. The hunters and fishers were upset. The ranchers were upset. In spite of all that… It got built and every once in a very great while the road gets closed and a rocket goes up.

Some people are still throwing fits. I think it’s kind of nice that they provided us with a road and a bunch of jobs. For the few times a year that anything happens out there, it’s a little pompous that a place that sends a rocket up ever so rarely is now styling itself a spaceport. That was good for a belly laugh. Made my day. Murphy didn’t get it, but smart as she is, she’s a dog. I got kisses when I got back in the car though. It’s nice to be loved.

The ride back to town was relaxing. There were more rain sprinkles in Middle Bay than Kalsin Bay. By Women’s Bay it petered out. It’s an island. Wait five minutes the weather will change. Or drive over a mountain. Whatever. Murphy didn’t feel like hanging her head out into the rain so she rested her head on my shoulder and kept a sharp lookout on the road ahead. She’s a good driving partner. She did lick the tiny crabshell I’d beachcombed, but was careful and didn’t break it. It was a good afternoon for us both. Just another day on The Rock.