February 10th, 2019


By Mary K. Jensen, Author of “Rudy’s Rules for Travel: Life Lessons from Around the Globe”

Dear Reader,

In Part One of this true story, my husband Rudy and I are in the midst of planning our move from northern California to southern Arizona, where I am scheduled to pursue a doctoral degree and Rudy is expected to live out his dream of being a watercolor artist. We unexpectedly take a turn due north and head instead to Eugene, Oregon. Part One, found at the website,  explains all that.  As with our other stories, this episode takes place in the Dark Ages, that is, before cell phones.

As this chapter begins, Rudy is in the lead of our small caravan, driving a U-Haul rental moving van that is pulling our station wagon. Our German Shorthair Beau Jensen has a reputation for frenetic behavior, but this morning the dog sits calmly, proudly, turning his head from side to side, looking from window to window. His motions, however, get slower and slower as the veteranarian’s relaxation pill takes hold.  Doggie valium conquers and Beau sprawls across the cab of the van, snoring loudly. The narcoleptic cat Jeopardy Jensen and I follow in a 15-year-old Ford. Jeopardy spends most of her life asleep; she has no need for tranquillizers. I am relaxed too, not bothered by the Ford’s propensity to stall on left turns. After all, how many left turns can there be on Interstate 5?  As you will note, I am making remarkable progress in my attempts to be brave, to conquer my tendency to catastrophic thinking.

Rudy has long been aware that my caution and his impulsivity do not always blend well.  Apparently aiming to achieve some balance or, more likely, control, he has issued clear warnings about our journey:

“Mare, this is a long drive, but it’s a simple one. We have full tanks of gas, water bottles, sandwiches, radios…  We just keep going.  I have it all timed out.  If we just drive on, we’ll be in Eugene in time for tonight’s pre-season  game. We’ll be Oregon Ducks. If you get nervous take those deep breaths you take but keep going…flash your lights only if it’s a real emergency.  I mean a real emergency.”

Less than one hour from home,  I have to make the decision: “Is this a real  emergency?“  Our wagon master has been clear that the wagons stop for no man, or woman.  But as the smoke increases, pouring out clouds of gray that cover the rear of the station wagon, I think it might be time to mention it.  Flashing my lights over and over, I conclude that lights aren’t easily seen as they emerge from behind thick gray billows.

When at last we pull our vehicles into a rest area, it is clear the smoke is coming from the station wagon…the station wagon that has its emergency brake engaged.  Emergency brakes, moving vans and station wagons fall in that category of household responsibility labeled Man/Husband, just as laundry, dishes, and curtains are Woman/Wife. I am innocent. A bit of a first.

Beau the German Shorthair leaps from the moving van but, under the influence of his tranquilizer, falls flat on the asphalt, limbs spread out. A bit like angels in the snow. As a crowd begins to gather, spectators are torn between the attractions of the recovering dog and the smoking car. Comments on both situations are ample:

“You’ve got some big problems.”

“Hope you don’t want to use that station wagon again.”

“There’re laws, you know, about pet abuse.”

In time, with the brake disengaged, the pets fed and watered, and the smoke decreasing, we drive on to Oregon.  Once there, we leave the station wagon with a mechanic, Beau and Jeopardy with a veterinarian. The moving van takes us to our first University of Oregon pre-season football game where we learn the anthem: GO DUCKS.   

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