Hitchhiking... Georgia to Minnesota

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I spent my Sunday riding from Madison to Eau Claire with a newfound friend - a "hitchhiker" of sorts, if you will. His name was Bryce and he was the perfect traveling partner; quiet, relaxed, grateful, and really fun. I was lucky to spend 3 hours with him in the 'ole car.

What?! "Steve picked-up a hitchhiker? What next?"

Here's me and Bryce, riding along, somewhere on I-94 north of Tomah:

bryce_seat.jpg

Not quite what you may have pictured, eh? Hehe.

I had an opportunity to help a group of rescues transport five (5) dogs and one (1) cat from various locations in the south to a rescue and/or final homes in Minneapolis. It was my first-ever venture with transporting a large group of animals as part of a multi-leg "tour." It was pretty interesting, and the folks who coordinated the trip did an amazing job of lining everything up.

It started with an e-mail from the transport coordinator that was re-posted on a message board at my workplace. The e-mail begged for volunteers to help drive/shuttle these dogs and cat - they really needed drivers to cover the legs from Illinois through Minneapolis. I looked at the available legs and the approximate timeframes and figured, "eh, what the heck? I'll give it a shot."

So, I e-mailed the coordinator and volunteered to drive from Madison to Eau Claire. The only problem was that the Prius can only accommodate one or two dogs at the most, but I had nothing to worry about as the transport had lined-up at least two vehicles per leg to help accommodate the six furry passengers. It also turned out that the Madison legs were covered, but they asked if I could drive from the Wisconsin Dells to Eau Claire. I said, "No problemo," and prepared to meet the other transport drivers in Wisconsin Dells at around 12:15pm on Sunday.

We met at a convenient location near the interstate, figured out who would transport who, swapped leashes, handed-off paperwork, and prepared to hit the road. Here's a few of the other volunteers from the transport - I believe these folks drove from somewhere in central Illinois:

b_van.jpg

Bryce, my passenger, was a lab-mix of sorts and appeared to be 2-3 years old. He was surrendered to a shelter in Georgia because he was supposedly "uncontrollable" and "wild." If he was wild, I'll eat my shoes. He may have been one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met - an absolute gentleman in every respect.

He immediately jumped into the car and sat respectfully near the back hatch. I sat down next to him and snapped a quick photo of us together. He's about 45-50lbs - perfect size.

bryce_steve.jpg

The weather was awesome, and the traffic was light, so the trip went really quickly. According to the GPS, I drove about 145-miles with Bryce by my side. I had him tethered to the inside of the car with a carabiner and a 4-foot leash, but he really wanted to sit in the passenger seat, so after a few miles I decided to let him ride shotgun with me. He curled-up into a classic "dog ball," rested his head on the armrest, and snoozed away. I'd pet him every so often, talked to him a bit, and enjoyed my time with him - I really do miss Monica, Regis, and Riley... dogs are simply awesome.

Before I knew it, we were in Eau Claire, so I started telling Bryce about what was going to happen next and that I was going to miss him. He sat-up and tried to talk a bit - I think I got him a little excited...

bryce_talk.jpg

We met-up with the next shuttle drivers just north of Eau Claire, I bid Bryce farewell (along with the other four dogs that rode in the other vehicle), and headed back to Madison. The trip back went just as quickly - 175.8 miles later and I was back in Madison - total mileage roundtrip? Just over 350. But well worth it. I'll definitely do this again - it was really rewarding and enjoyable.

The only unenjoyable part? Dealing with AT&T's horrible cell coverage. Man, are they awful - AT&T has to be the worst cell provider on the planet; if I didn't love the iPhone so much, I'd drop them in a second (and probably still will when my current contract expires). Here's what I saw for signal strength during 75-80% of my trip along I-94 from Tomah to Eau Claire (look in the upper left corner):

attsucks.png

Only about a year until I can switch to a reputable, reliable cell company like US Cellular.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on January 30, 2011 8:54 PM.

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