I awakened when a warm whiff of moist air brushes my ear.
I was deep asleep because usually, even his very soft leap to the end of my bed alerts me I’m about to get a delicate tongue in my ear.
I half-turn my head while attempting to untangle my arms, trying to gently avoid his nose. Too late.
It’s not quite five. But both Bernie and Chris are in for a surprise this morning. Every day just before the sun rises, we drive the car thirteen miles to the vacant lots way out on Grand Avenue.
But not today. In fact, I am not sure when I will be able to go there again.
The last two days highway construction signs warned our entrance road would close. No other information. It is the only Grand Avenue entrance into the community. In fact, I wasn’t aware there was another way to get into this rural community.
Of course, that’s silly. For fire and other safety reasons, people must have a way to avoid being trapped. The following day another sign appeared. It indicated an alternate road to use.
I had no idea where Jonas Road was, so I went to Google map. Immediately I realized I had to find another exercise place.
This bird’s eye view identifies Jonas Rd near the top. My thirteen-mile route begins at the very right bottom (Route 60). I pass Hwy 303 in red, and my turn is the next right road (163rd road). Our current exercise area is somewhere in the first cluster of vacant lots on the left side of the 163rd road.
However, Jonas Road is off the map on the right side. I expanded the map view but never did find an interacting point to reach from my home easily.
If I wanted to wander around, I’d be looking at heading north to Flagstaff on I-17 and then someplace turning west and finally finding Jonas Road. My original thirteen-mile one-way trip would easily triple in both time and mileage.
Using Jonas Road was not an option.
I didn’t want to do it, but it looked like my only option was to go back to the desert. The lower right shows a house icon. That is Bernie and Chris’s home. It is a straight shot north on N. El Mirage Rd to W Williams Drive at the top of this map.
That little triangle corner (about a mile of the desert) is where Bernie and Chris play. It’s only about five miles from our home.
Unfortunately, unlike the nice paved streets and sidewalks and landscaped ground void of rattlesnakes and coyotes… this patch of desert is bare.
It does have rattlesnakes, though I’ve never seen one in more than the three years we have been coming here. It does have coyotes. That is one of the reasons we stopped coming here.
When we stopped coming, I put away my coyote horn. It’s the only protective device I have to scare the coyotes. It also alerts Bernie and Chris to immediately run back to me as fast as possible.
Because it was less than fifteen minutes away, we didn’t have to leave before six. At least that is a blessing.
The dogs were up and anxious to go. These early morning exercise periods are rushed. They are ready immediately.
It takes me a few minutes to get dressed and acclimate myself. I have to put their collars on, make sure I have the car keys, my identification bag, and cell phone. I’d like a cup of coffee… but sometimes they are antsy. Eight paws anxiously tapping floor tiles hurry me along.
Forget the coffee. Grab everything and hustle out the door, down the porch steps, into the car and off we go.
They still don’t know where we are going. However, instead of turning left on Bell road, I drive straight north on El Mirage. Within a minute they become alert. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that.
Now they start to get excited. Bernie and Chris love the desert. It is a paradise for them. They are not whining yet. That will happen when in about ten minutes. Once I get within a mile or two, the back seat will vibrate with their dancing feet.
I’m apt to get a full tail slap alongside my head. It’s all part of the game. Usually very quiet in the car, all bets are off when they know they are going to play in the desert.
I pull in to the spot just as the sun starts to appear in the east.
What a beautiful first day of November. The six o’clock temperature is a brisk 62 degrees. There is very little wind.
The desert is different this year. Now there is lots of noise. In the past it was quiet. Now the whisper of vehicle tires is almost constant. I hear the stick shift cars as drivers enjoy revving through the gears… each gear increases its unique sound as it climbs the scale.
Even as dawn breaks, construction is happening. The machine rat-a-tat-tat as nail guns drive roofing nails into plywood sheets.
I miss the quiet. I’m glad I experienced it in recent years. I won’t hear the birds now. Maybe the coyotes have moved on?
No sidewalks here. However, the dogs are happy. I look at the scraggly brush, totally bare branches but there are lots of critter holes for Bernie and Chris to investigate.
You can see the large critter hole at the base of the brush.
The entire desert is like that.
Dusty, full of tire track trails. It’s not exactly the nature walk through a forest, this tiny piece of my desert.
But, they are happy and excited. It will do.