Monday, March 29, 2010

Learning to travel light....

So I'm one of those people who, in preparation for a trial, packs for every contingency. Do you need a AA battery? A 500mg celephexan? Is there a celebration? SURE, I've got some champagne. My truck was empty for exactly 12 hours before the dog crates went into the back and then the rest of the trial and training gear. First aid kit (rivaling an EMT), shade cloths, tarps, bungees, leashes, harnesses and collars, pop-up crates tucked behind the seats, an entire package of socks, dog toys, tennis balls, non-perishable dog treats and dog food, brushes, scissors, bowls, shampoo, extra bedding, towels, umbrellas, extra sneakers, boots, sandals, several changes of clothes in various layers of warmth, assorted toiletries and naturally a kitchen sink. I was "that" person, when I fell and broke my wrist field training, I was able to pull an ice pack out of the first aid kit as I drove myself to the critical care hospital for an x-ray.

This becomes relevant because yesterday afternoon after taking the dogs for a run/romp I stopped to fill up my truck with gas as we were running on fumes and I thought I'd try to same time on Monday morning. While I was there the tire pressure sensor was on so I thought I'd check the right front tire. When I removed the plastic cap the entire valve stem came out with it - and the tire flattened in front of me. SUPER.

I have onstar so it wasn't a big deal to get someone out to take care of changing the tire, but I had both dogs with me, in their crates that are over the 3rd row of seats in the back of the outlook. It could have been worse - I was only about a mile from home, I was in a safe location, it was daylight and it wasn't raining, snowing or windy. The spare tire for the outlook is located under the truck - between the two rear tires - however (and I only know this NOW because I looked through the manual as I was on the phone with onstar), the release for the spare tire is in the storage compartment that is behind the third row of seats - in my case that means UNDER the dog crates.

So as I'm waiting for the roadside guy, I called the dispatcher and asked for an ETA - all things being equal it's probably a better idea to walk the two dogs home and walk back to meet the service guy than it is to logistically figure out how to keep two dogs safe on leash while removing their crates from the truck and all the assorted stuff I had packed in and around their crates while standing 50' from a major highway. My guys aren't crazy - but it's an environment that we're just never placed in (Thankfully). The local GM service dispatcher cheerfully reports that service will be there in 10 minutes. Just enough time for me to get home - but not back to the truck to meet the service guy. Crap. So I used that 15 minutes to move all of the things that were next to the crates into a pile in the front passenger sear (thankfully the 2nd row of seats had been unpacked since the last trip). There wasn't a ton of stuff there - but it was all the stuff that I keep there for an emergency - those supplies that never get unpacked.

In order for crates to go in or go out Teller's crate (the 36" crate) has to get pushed back into the second row to allow Murphy's crate (42") to slide out, this means that the second row seat had to go flat. It's a bit of maneuvering, but since this is exactly the first time since I leased the car three years ago that I've ever removed the dog crates it's not too big of a deal. I'll commend the roadside guy from Spillane's for happily removing Murphy's crate from the truck while I held the two dogs on flexis and then when he was finished putting the crate back in. I couldn't have held the dogs and either removed or installed the crates at the same time. I've got to give them a call today to provide positive feedback.

So now that everything is unpacked and strewn around my garage, I need to rethink what I repack. My habit before every trip and trial (daytrip or week away) is to go through the truck, unpacking and repacking anything that needs to be restocked or consolidated, despite the fact that a daytrip to a trial is fundamentally the same as going out to Waggles to train. If I'm working out of the car all I really need a chair, a cooler (water, cheese, etc), my camera, shade tarp/clips/bungees and the dogs - depending on the location I might not even need a chair. If I'm setting up a tent the amount of stuff I need to bring increases a little - the tent of course, stakes, more bungees, the noz crates, perhaps a small table to make the tent cozy. If we're over-nighting there's more clothes and my laptop. For indoor trials when I have crates to lug in and out I've found that this handtruck has been a live saver - it takes up virtually no space!

It was really strange to drive to the Saturn garage this morning without the crates in the back. No crate rattles, no buckets clinking against the sides of the crates. It was also a little weird to look out my back window without the crates being there. I'm used to looking through the wire crates to see out the rear window. The picture on the left is my rig without dog crates - both crates (42" and 36") are usually right up against the back of the second row seats. I also discovered how much hair has accumulated under and around the crates! Holy cow I could have built another dog! I raked most of the hair out with the bristles of a snow brush this morning, but I think I'll vacuum back there before putting the crates back in. Just another adventure!

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