You cannot move forward by looking behind*
——–
One of the funniest things we continually encounter thus far is walking to a hotel and after sharing our story they still ask for the make, model, and license plate of our car.  Irony is often scarce out here and you take it when you can get it.  
——–
I’m holed up in a hotel in Longview WA feeling pretty lousy so it’s an opportunity for me to reflect on our one month anniversary on the road.  
——–
Urban Sprawl 
It may come as a bit of surprise but city miles are much harder on us than the country and the stretch between Everett to way south of Tacoma was tough.  Elevated ambient temperatures, street detritus, miles and miles of monotonous strip malls, car lots, box stores, and blaring street sounds require a higher degree of focus. Plus, it’s boring for the boys and part of my job is keeping them engaged.  
I must admit a prior unfamiliarty with the precise use of  the word ‘sprawl’ until now and I have a greater appreciation for it.  So from Roy to Longview WA we’ve enjoyed the rural setting, though at the expense of cell service which is why posting has been sporadic. One bar.  No bar.  Two bars Go.  
——–
Tom Sawyer
Centralia WA was a weird kinda stretch that I still haven’t really processed yet.  It was like my past life converged in this previously unknown and unchartered part of the world in two ways.  (1) A high school band mates lives up here that I had lunch with and (2) A host home we stayed at reintroduced me to the band, Rush.   
It’s been years since I’ve listened to them and Tom Sawyer was exactly what I needed to hear.  The River. 
——–
The Columbia
Speaking of…  If you’re in the area, come out and join us in crossing the Columbia River into Oregon, our second state.  Saturday the 10th.  High noon.  At the intersection of West 6th and Columbia near Esther Short Park.  Hope the instructions are correct but go to the Puppy Up Foundation page to be sure.  
——–
*YBD’s Notes:  Kinda depends on your behind though.  
A Gathering of Pyrs Is?
We call a group of geese a gaggle.  Of turkeys a rafter.  Quite appropriately enough, vultures are a committee.  And beavers are a lodge.  These things I thought of during Walk 1.  
So when Hudson Indy and I were met on border crossing day by a gathering of Pyrenees from the local club, I wondered what to call them.* 
Thanks to the Columbia Cascade club for coming out last Saturday and cheering us across into our second state.  
The ‘Interstate’ or I-5 bridge into Portland looked intimidating at first since it’s a vertical lift draw bridge and the two that were impassable on our first walk were of similar construct.  The steel grating of those in Baltimore and Philadelphia scared the hell outta the boys but this footbridge was all concrete so we crossed over the Columbia River into Oregon and it was a good day.  
——-
The Garden of 10,000 Roses
The following day one of our supporters in the area took us to one of the most stunning and spectacular places I’ve ever been.  Portland’s International Rose Test Garden.  
It’s a testing ground for new varieties and part of the much larger more expansive Washington Park that spans over 400 acres.  What’s noteworthy here, aside from the sheer beauty of this place and that it should be a destination point for all, is that my father has had a lifelong passion for roses and on Father’s Day I would find myself here.  
——–
Washington in The Rearview
Our first full day of walking in Oregon, from the Delta East Park to south of the Ross Island Bridge, we had two complete strangers came up to us and asked what we were walking for and if the dogs needed any food or water.  And that was two more than the entire state of Washington.  
I must admit I’m bumfuzzled at that reality especially since, well, that’s never happened to the fuzzybutts in any state ever.  Granted, the Evergreen State has countless homeless and our best guess is that, unfortunately, we were just being bunched up in the fungible forsaken even though I carried a banner that said, ‘#PuppyUp’.  
In an area that’s home to such tech giants as Microsoft and Amazon, the sign would be clear that it’s a cause. So in Tacoma we decided to amend the sign nearby.  But the folks got the dimensions wrong and I had to use my sports tape to make it fit in my backpack.**
Surprisingly, still bupkis.
——–
We Walk On 
Washington is a state of inestimable beauty and memorable but in our short time in Oregon we’ve made so many new friends and thus far it’s been a great experience.  
At present, we’ve made it to Salem and about 37 miles from Corvallis at which point, we’ll pickup Highway 20 and head over the Coast Mountains to the PCH for the remaining 4.5 months of the walk.  
——–
*YBD’s Notes:  A Gathering of Pyrenees should be called a Preponderance I think.  

**YBD’s Notes:  This was no small feat but we’ve since had the sign cut down and re-grommetted (is that even a word?).  Going forward, this is OUR sign.  
That’s 300 miles darlin.  
Tomorrow is the 10th of June and our one month anniversary on the road.  We’ve zigged and zagged through mountains, farmland, swampland, sea ports, and urban sprawl and Oregon is now in our sights.  
This Saturday, the 14th, join Hudson, Indiana, and Yer Big Dog at the Esther Short Park at 12 noon for our crossing into Portland, the second state on our historic cross country trek.   There will be a meet and greet at the park and then we’ll walk across the I-5 bridge into Oregon.  
For more information, contact ginger@2milliondogs.org  
Every few weeks I’m gonna try to post random pics from the road for those that aren’t on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.  I’ve already taken about 2,000 photos thus far and we’re not even out of Washington State yet.

The Chaos Before the Calm – our Super 8 Hotel Room prior to launch.

I’m guessin that’s Hudsy’s way of saying goodbye to Red or ordaining her to a higher office or something.

That’s Confucia and Super Cooper we met while walking thru Bellingham WA.

Polar opposites – even posing for photos in our tent.

An evening of R&R at the Hotel Bellwether in Bellingham.

Waterfalls find their way down the westside of Chuckanut mountain.

Don’t even know what to say about this other than the the photo was taken in Edison WA and it appears to be a flamingo headed dude with a cryptic and misspelled message nearby.

Hudson and the mini-donkey farm.

Fields of purple irises in Mt. Vernon WA.

Perhaps the most surprising and unbelievable fact about our travels thus far is that we’ve only had 2 rain days since we launched May 10th and had to break out the fuzzybutt ponchos.  No one up here believes it but it’s true.  Fair winds and following seas keep with us.

Spring seems eternal here as the dogwood trees and rhododendrons continue to bloom in unabashed beauty.

Last week I noticed a blister on Hudson’s paw and he’s been sidelined since. Just as in people it’s not an uncommon occurrence but in all of the miles we’ve logged together, not one we’ve ever encountered before.  

Perhaps it was a jagged stone, or a thorn from the wild strawberry bushes that abut the backroads we travel, or a shard from a discarded bottle that caused it but it’s healed now and tomorrow Hudson will rejoin the ranks and our pack is back again.  
——–

To Booty or Not to Booty

… is the question.  There are many many mitigating factors for an answer but for me, it’s three.  (1)  Breed.  Some do better with footwear than others and some are better suited than others.  With double hind dew claws – Pyrs aren’t.  Plus, dogs in general just don’t like them.  

(2) Trail conditions. Some situations necessitate them, surely, as Hudson and Murphy wore them many many miles on our first walk.  And (3) Temperature.  The weather has been favorable for us since we first left the border May 10th barely reaching above 70 during the day but it’s on the rise which is why we try to reach our daily goals before noon time before the ambient temperature of the sun has yet to heat up the pavement significantly.  

——–

Hudson has always had ‘soft paws’.  It’s part of his charm.  Can’t wait to have him rejoin us on the trail tomorrow as we have 10 miles to Tacoma.  



‘Shave Yer Ears’
Funny the things you think about before embarking on a six month journey – mine was this and I stored it in a voice memo on my iphone just in case I forgot my last thought before I got on the road.
——–
It’s always fascinated me how much life experience can be condensed down into a mile, a moment, and even a microsecond.  We’re on week three and already it feels like eons have passed.  We’ve zig zagged the coastal mountains and the farmlands of northern Washington down into the city proper and witnessed a whole lot.
——–
Seattle:  The City of ???
Walking amongst the innermost guts of a city, you kinda get to know it on an visceral level.  You don’t need to read municipal code, do a Google search or even check in with Wikipedia – just walk through it.  And though I have done all of the above I have torn feelings about this place perhaps because of and despite of itself.  
——–

Bare Naked Baristas?

From Everett to the George Washington Bridge is pretty much a continuous row of used car dealerships, box stores, strip malls, and these curious salacious sexy time coffee shacks like this one. 
And this one.  (FYI – Neither of which convinced Indiana they were worth their weight in Expresso to pop in).
I tried to look up what Seattle’s sobriquet is and I got bupkis other than ‘Rain’.  Perhaps this place and its people aren’t even sure what it is.
——–
To Be Sure 

The beauty here is boundless.  From Pike Place Market to the Chihuly Garden and Glass to the Waterfront District and countless soundside nooks surrounding Elliot Bay, the rusted steel structures of the Gas Works Park and the magnificent Madrona trees that are only found in this part of the world.  

Perhaps then, Seattle is a city of contrasts as its expertly manicured landscape is mottled with the misbegotten.
I have never seen so many homeless people in all of my travels and it’s now perfectly clear to me how the Grunge genre got its beginnings here.  
Don’t get me wrong, I’m nothing more than a passing observer but taken as a whole, my Seattle experience has been a bit disappointing.
——–   
The Second Long Island?

Only once before have we walked through a community that not a single person stopped to inquire about our cause or mission.  Or offer a warm greeting of welcome to the fuzzybutts.  And that was the stretch between the Brooklyn Bridge and Port Jefferson on our first walk.  Seattle now has the distinction of being the second.  

I’ve spoken with a few folks about this and the best guess is due to the breadth of the homeless population people are desensitized to them.  And by ‘them’ I mean ‘me’ since I have a backpack and look kinda homeless.  
At least the chap whose backpack I snapped a photo of at Pike Place Park has some panache.  
——–
Cat Town?

Don’t know how to sum Seattle up really and maybe won’t have the context for some time. That’s why it’s taken me a tad longer to post this blog. I suppose I had a preconceived notion of this place and it just didn’t play out like I had hoped. The media was kinda ‘Meh’ I guess from so many who pass through here for some cause or another.
Is this where grumpy cat lives?  Maybe we’re just cat-less in Seattle…
——–
Annuit Coeptis
We’ve been granted safe passage thus far and that’s the thing to be grateful for. A few close calls and some rough and tough stretches but we’re making progress and as our dear friend Buddy pointed out yesterday, we’re at the midway point to Oregon.  And we made some new friendships and revisited old ones, too.  
But it’s time to move on.  
It’s not always up to us if the message we deliver is received but no community can be deaf and dumb to an epidemic so broad reaching and indiscriminate. That’s why we talk loudly and carry a big stick.  
Friday we made it to Edison WA wrapping up week 1 of 25 of our journey. By my estimates we logged about 55-60 and given the week we had, I’m pleased with our progress.  
The Launch

Our sendoff Saturday the 10th at the Peace Arch Park was great. Folks from five states were there including two of our PUPS (Chris & Hope & Lori & thanks to Valerie for helping plan and coordinate), Erick with TAGG, and Sarah Charney the veterinarian oncologist from Boundary Bay Specialty Hospital in Vancouver.  
Iliopsoas 
Unless you’re an extreme backpacker you’re prob unfamiliar with this anatomical reference. It puts the G in grind and the work in twerk.  It’s a subset of pelvic muscles that are quite possibly impossibly capable of being trained.  But after a few days with a fifty plus pound pack they hurt.  
But for me, the term is also a metaphor for what the onset of a massive undertaking is like. There are things that just can’t be planned for or anticipated. Like Hudson throwing up in our tent.

Yep, just two nights into it, I had drifted off into the good sleep only to be abruptly awakened to the sound of retching.  Hudson had vomited earlier that Mother’s Day morning and I didn’t give it much thought since he occasionally has a heave and a hurl and seemed fine from then on.  But after five more times in the tent Sunday night, I made the decision to pull him from the road for a few days rest.  

Google v Reality

Planning our route from Memphis is a whole lot different than getting up here and scouting out the terrain.  I had planned on a more direct path but road conditions sometimes dictate otherwise.  
To be sure, the options are kinda limited since I-5 is the only direct highway from border to border so I anticipated zigging and zagging until we got to Southern Oregon at which point we’ll pick up 1/101 the rest of the way.  But I’ve made the decision to stick the shoreline as much as possible because they be mountains up here.  Speaking of….
Chuckanut
Only in my world would our first great technical challenge be a mountain named Chuckanut.  
And though it did try to toss us a few times, its native name means long beach and even on the occasionally treacherous stretches, we bore witness to some of the most stunning bay side vistas.  As well, the mountainside is lined with cascading waterfalls pictured nearby.  

It’s also home to Larrabee State Park, a destination point for anyone travelling in this area.  We took a days rest there and the beach on Sammish Bay was so totally alluring.

The whole area, including our time in Bellingham WA, now known to me as the City of Backpacks, reminded me of the Sirens of Shenandoah in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountain back on our first walk.  I didn’t want to leave.

The people I met here are all so beautiful eclipsed only by the presence of their surroundings.  From the Bellwether Hotel to Boulevard Park to the Interurban Trail we picked up for a bit, this is a special place in the universe and I’m surprised I’ve been tempted so early on in the walk.  Indeed, Erick my walking companion for a few days remarked many times that this is a place he’d like to relocate to.  But the journey must continue…

Testing the Mettle

The first week is always unkinking – adjusting weight load, routes, and all sorts of last minute adjustments physically and spiritually.  It’s a curious truism one which I can only suspect because god’s just making sure you’re serious.

We were picked up Friday and transported to Seattle for the Petapalooza and it was great to spend time with Buddy and Ja-Cee, our PUPS up here in the area and their kiddos – Fonto & Sabrina.

In a few hours, we’ll be back on the road…. Until next time here are a couple of other pics to tide you over…

Thanks to all of the walk sponsors:  TAGG the Pet Tracker, Hollywood Feed, Orijen, EMS, P2 Collars, Rudy Greens, Everlasting Memories, Institute of IMT, Toki Poki,  
One walk sponsor was inadvertently left out of the graphic in the trailer and that’s Easter Mountain Sports (EMS).  They donated a sleeping bag, head lamp, and other camp gear. There are other individuals who have made this journey possible and my heartfelt gratitude goes out to them as well.  Puppy Up!

Speaking of, I have to promote the Puppy Up song that Joshua Louis composed – this is the instrumentation of it but you can purchase the full version of it on iTunes.  

Murphy’s Rain
Back when Murphy was undergoing his second round of radiation at CSU, I witnessed a rainbow from a sunshower and wrote about the Japanese expression ‘Mono no aware’ in a blog in 2010.  Down south we call that phenomenon the Devil’s Rain a phrase I renamed as to describe the hopefulness I felt beneath my tears.    
As Hudson, Indiana and I drove through the Cascades Tuesday morning and approached the Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 to Seattle, I was welcomed once again by Murphy’s Rain (top left photo).  That’s all I needed.  
The Drive 
After a tiresome 2,800 mile 40 hour drive, the Fuzzybutts and I made it from Memphis yesterday to make final preparations and get a lil R&R&Romping prior to our launch from the Canadian Border.  That’s a pic of lil’ Nana committing the cardinal sin of trespassing on Hudzer’s Altar.  Yeh, you can tell how well that went by his expression.  
Peace Arch Park
One of the first tasks on my list once we got there was scoping out the park where we’re having our launch this Saturday, high noon.  Never been this far north and west before and the only border crossing I’ve ever made on land was from Brownsville TX to Matamoros Mexico.  
There it’s all chaos with rows and rows of sputtering cars, a smoggy haze, and the incessant rapping on the window by Chiclet peddlers.  
Here it’s, well, peaceful and I found the inscriptions on both sides inspiring. Facing Canada, it reads, ‘Children of a Common Mother’, and facing the US, ‘Brethren Dwelling in Unity’.  
Recon
Task 2 began at 5:30 AM as I went to scout our route on the first stretch of our trek:  The Border to Everett WA.  Driving up Interstate 5 yesterday I became a bit concerned about the road conditions we’d be confronted with but after reconning this morning, most of my fears have been allayed.  There are some tough spots sure; shoulderless backroads lined with water-filled trenches as well as long spanning narrow bridges but all doable and we’ve seen this many times before on our first 2 Dogs adventure.
However, there’s a 10 mile track on Route 11 that presents considerable risk to our safety. Pic nearby.  High reaching cliffs on the left and a 50-80 foot drop off on the right with little to no room for negotiation.
This has me slightly worried but two things are in our favor.  First, sunrise is 4:30 AM on the west coast this time of year and when driving this stretch this morning, it was relatively desolate so we’ll have a few hours to get through it before morning school and commute traffic gets underway.  Second, it is not only perilous to pedestrians but cars as well so if there we do encounter traffic, it will be slow moving.  
But there’s a saying on the road, as in life I suppose.  Don’t walk 10 miles until you walk the first.  Or maybe that’s my saying.  I recall meeting a Marine on the trail and I always liked his perspective as we shared our many challenges on our travels.  ‘Impossible is just a degree of difficulty.’  
————–
Yer Big Dog’s Notes 1:  For the next six months, this blog is my journal of our journey from Canada to Mexico and this is where it’ll be posted first and from the road.  I’ll have limited time and energy to proof, re-read, edit, or even re-think its content. 

YBD’s Notes 2:  In 2010, Seattle was our last stopping point on the lecture circuit after the Austin to Boston walk and it was right before Murphy was due for his second CT scan back at CSU where we would ultimately learn that not only did his first radiation fail but a new sarcoma had developed on his nasopharynx.  

It’s bittersweet to be back here again and I couldn’t help but find a subtle irony in that to return here, we had to cross through the Bitterroot Mountains and the flowers that they’re named for.  Nearby is a photo, not mine, as they were not in bloom yet. 

What I love about the Bitterroot is it’s stubbornness to survive even in the harshest of all conditions.  It can live up to a year without water…
“There is no greater glory than a good piece of wood in hand, the path underfoot, your companions at your side and the call of the wild leading you on…”

– Yer Big Dog