Monday, April 26, 2010

Travels with Dempsey

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. ...Nothing has worked. I fear the disease is incurable.
-- John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley

Travels with Charley is John Steinbeck's memoir of his cross-country trip with his poodle Charley. It's been years since I've read it, but I thought of it this afternoon, as I was driving down U.S. 10 (the same road Steinbeck took 50 years before), with Dempsey snoozing in the back seat.

I was bored this morning, feeling the same restlessness Steinbeck described. So I whipped out my trusty road atlas, looked for a little pink square indicating a "point of interest," and drove there. Today's pick:  the "Paul Bunyan & Blue Ox Statue" in Bemidji, Minnesota.

It's not clear to me why Bemidji's Bunyan gets a pink square, but not the Brainerd Bunyan just down the road. Bemidji's Bunyan and Babe are rather crudely made, but since I'd driven four hours to experience a big Bunyan, I thought I should at least get a picture of it:

Across the street from Bemidji Bunyan is a Chippewa fellow, who appears to be waving at Bunyan and Babe (look near the car on the left). Though he's about the same size as the big Bunyan, the road atlas does not grant him a a pink square.

The most interesting thing we saw today was not in the road atlas. It was a Mahindra Pik-Up,  a small truck from India which apparently is going to be sold here in America. This one had Michigan plates, a big yellow bumper sticker saying "TEST VEHICLE," a broken badge reading "ahindra," and a dent in the front fender. In the automotive press, all I hear about is Nano, Nano, Nano, so it was a fun little surprise to see a Mahindra here.

I also tried a little experiment today on our trip: teaching Dempsey to clean up after himself. He already knows how to "put" his toys in his toybox, and he can "put" dropped silverware back on the table. Alas, his "put" is still more like a "drop it now," and his aim is pretty bad:

I wish I could write something about our trip that's as insightful as what Steinbeck wrote about his, but with my teeny little brain, I'll settle for common sense. Here are today's lessons learned:

1. Don't necessarily trust pink squares.
2. Poop bags will break open and spill their contents if you drop them more than 5 times in a row.
3. It is best to practice Dempsey's "puts" with something other than a poop bag.

I would say those are valuable lessons, don't you think?

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