Key West: cross-country drive

1955 US Highway System

We had a breakthrough in the last week on the route my Dad took to Key West. He had 30 days leave after finishing instructors school in San Diego. I assumed he spent that time with his parents. But this last week my Dad remembered that he went to the Bay area to visit a friend and her family. We are pretty sure that he drove from there to Key West not from San Diego. We also think that he picked up his car in San Francisco. His transfer orders show him flying from Barbers Point in Hawaii to Moffett Field in the Bay area to San Diego and then checking in at the Naval Training Center in San Diego.

He remembers taking a train from San Francisco to Palo Alto where his friend Pat lived and a couple of outings while there. So he must have picked up his car there. He remembers once picking up a car and having to replace the battery. This time makes the most sense because of how long it would have been since he had driven it. You had to turn the car in a couple of weeks before your departure. Then it would have come by boat and sat waiting for him for at least 4 weeks. That would have been 6 weeks and maybe two more weeks of his leave before he picked it up.

Yesterday we got together and plotted his most probable route and likely cities he might have stopped in each night. Her remembered a couple of things along the route. He drove near a small town in Arizona where Pat’s family used to live. He wondered if he had taken the now famous historic route 66. He knows he didn’t drive through New Orléans until a few years later after my parents were married. He also remember taking what was then known as route 41 down through Florida. Adding all of that together we are pretty sure of most of the route.

We know he arrived two days early. He had 13 days for travel. So assuming he left 13 days before he was due in Key West we figure he made it in 11 days. I thought it was his first time really driving cross-country by him self but I found out that when he was in Key West before he drove his motorcycle from Key West to Chicago where his parents were living at the time. On that trip he rain into some cold wet weather. So even though this trip was hot (being early September) it must have been much easier physically than a couple thousand mile road trip on a motorcycle in March.

Here are our current guesses at his stops each night and the number of miles it takes to get there on today’s roads:

  1. Bakerfields, California (261 miles) 29 August
  2. Needles, California (272 miles) 30 August
  3. Holbrook, Arizona (298 miles) 31 August
  4. Silver City, New Mexico (230 miles) 1 September
  5. Pecos, Texas (364 miles) 2 September
  6. Cisco, Texas (239 miles) 3 September
  7. Shreveport, Louisiana (323 miles) 4 September
  8. Meridian, Mississippi (306 miles) 5 September
  9. Albany, Georgia (336 miles) 6 September
  10. Lakeland, Florida (340 miles) 7 September
  11. Miami, Florida (279 miles) – 8 September
  12. Key West, Florida (156 miles) – 9 September

This is pure speculation of course and we ended up with one more day than we think it took him but also a theory on why. My Dad check in at 0915 on September 9th. There really isn’t any place he would have likely stayed past Miami and yet to get from Miami to Key West that early in the morning means he would have to get up really early. So maybe when he got to Miami late he just decided to keep right on going and got to Key West the next morning. Hopefully some more memories will come back to him and we can have more confidence in this trip.

My next task is to look up the historical weather data for the days we think he was in each of these towns so we can use it to flesh out more of what his trip was probably like. I’m really enjoying the time that I get to spend with my Dad working on this project.

Dune’s Book

I finally finished Dune’s puppyhood book. I’m excited to see it in print and share it with Ashleigh. Even though she has no vision, I’m sure her family will enjoy the photos and she will enjoy the stories about Dune’s growing up year.

Dune: d-day


Tomorrow is the big graduation day!

Dune’s recall was unique for us. Because of timing she was due to return to GDB in February when there is no puppy truck to Utah. We volunteered to drive her and Esme and Felix (two other recall dogs) to campus. We got there a couple of days after a huge snowstorm. It was fun to see campus covered in snow. We took her for a walk around campus before leaving her in the kennel kitchen. Dune was excited to be there and not at all concerned about us. I’m sure she was happy to have new faces to meet and places to explore.

Dune: down


Two more days until Dune’s graduation!

I’m not sure how this started but Dune didn’t learn to do this until she was older. When Dune saw one of us going down the stairs when she was upstairs, she would run around to the railing that overlooks the stairs and wait for you to make the corner. The difference in level puts our head about the same height as the floor above. Dune would squat down and stick her head under the railing and get all excited and want some attention as you walked down the stairs. So cute!

Dune: dropper


Only three days left until Dune is an official guide dog!

Dune invented a game she played with herself. I’m guessing that the first time this happened it was accidental but she decided it was fun and played it regularly.

Step One: take a toy to the top of the stairs.
Step Two: drop the toy and watch it bounce down the stairs.
Step Three: after a short pause, run down the stairs.
Step Four: snatch up the toy and run around with it.

Sometimes she would repeat the game. The funniest thing is that Dune taught this game to Emma.

Dune: delightful


Just 4 days to Dune’s graduation!

Dune has a delightful personality. She delights in everything in life. She delights in new things and as a puppy in training she experienced lots of different places from a week at Girl’s Camp to hiking along the Jordan River to the annual puppy pool party to a trip to a preschool at the YMCA.

She especially delights in showing people how much she enjoys them and in how much they enjoy her too. Dune is very in tune with people’s emotions and she enjoys being loved, even by strangers. To her they aren’t strangers at all.

Dune: decisive & in class


Great news! Dune is in class scheduled to graduate on June 21st! She will be living in Arizona after her graduation with her new handler Ashleigh Gonzales. We are super excited to see Dune next week and get to know Ashleigh. We knew she was capable and we hoped that Dune wanted to be a guide dog and it looks like she does. Way to go Dune!

Dune knows her own mind and she knows what she wants. A good example is her relieving. As a young pup she relieved every time you asked her. As a teenager she learned she could hold it for a longtime. Now, if she is going to relieve she will do it pretty quickly. If she doesn’t think she needs to go, no amount of waiting will change that. It isn’t unusual for her to go 12 hours without peeing. If she knows she is going somewhere. She is great at quickly relieving.

Dune is a girl who knows her own mind. I am sure that this trait will serve her well in decided her future.

Dune: demonstrator

I’m posting an extra page from Dune’s puppyhood book today. I just made it today too. I just had to share the great news. Dune was the demo dog at the Guide Dogs for the Blind graduation today in Boring Oregon. This is an honor. As far as we know none of our other dogs have been the demo dog before. Thanks to fellow puppy raiser Martha who was at graduation for making this page possible. I’ve had trouble focusing on anything but Dune since I got the news so I decided to channel it into this page. Fingers crossed for good news next week. The demo dog is often in the next class.

Dune Demo Dog

At all of GDB’s graduations they have a short demonstration of what guide dogs do. The pick one dog in training for that honor. On 7 June 2014 Dune was the Demo Dog!

I was on my computer when a message came through on Facebook from a fellow puppy raiser who was at graduation:

“A small yellow dog is demo dog. I will let you know soon.”


“It is!”

“You mean it is Dune!”

“Posting pictures of her now”

I was so excited to see Dune and hear about her. Martha apologized for the quality of the photos because her phone was having troubles plus she said, “Dune is also very fast and she was excited about working. She was really cute and very focused!”

Dune: distance

Time for another page of Dune’s book. A new class starts on Monday and there are 11 dogs in Oregon in phase 8 with two more in 7. That gives Dune a 50/50 chance of being in this class. The bad part if Dune is in the next class, is that Emma is in heat and on house arrest until the end of the month so she wouldn’t be able to go to graduation with us. The good part is that no matter what happens next week it will be a good thing in one way or another. As an interesting side not, in the last few weeks Emma has taken to looking out the window too. She never did it while Dune was here.

Dune is the second of our pups to use the kitty tower to look out the front window. She is always interested in what is happening in the world around her. She doesn’t want to miss and thing. If she hears a sound outside she will run to the window and fine out what is going on. When we happen to leave her home she will watch us go. Or when she hears Bill get home from work she hops up on the kitty tower to have a better view of the outside world. She is the same way in the car. Dune is much more likely to be looking out the window of the car as we drive somewhere than to be snoozing as most dogs do.

Dune: dear


Another class started this week and Dune is not apart of it. She has now been in phase 8 for 5 weeks. There were 12 dogs in Oregon in phase 8 last week and with 6 dogs per class, Dune had a 50/50 chance of being chosen. No such luck. I spent some time (too much probably) analyzing the phase reports since January. 80% of the dogs that make it to phase 8 are either career changed or in class by the 5th week in phase 8.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I truly want the right match for Dune more than a quick graduation. I friend’s dog spent 9 weeks in phase 6 and she finally moved on to phase 7 this week. I am so excited for her. That was a long wait. It is much easier for them to have them waiting in phase 8 for the right person and Dune needs the right kind of person that will love and appreciate her for who she is. But this is a patience building stage of being a puppy raiser. While we wait for the next dog day in Oregon on June 9th, enjoy another page from Dune’s puppyhood book.

Bill does the morning relieving and feeding. When that is done he likes to get on the floor with Dune and play with her and then spend some time snuggling with her. He does the same thing when he gets home from work. Dune gets a bit silly sometimes in her pleasure at playing with Bill and getting his undivided attention.