I decided to drive to Orlando for a conference performance with the UAB Chamber Trio last week. Typically my colleagues and I would travel together, but this time we were all going in various directions so it made more sense to meet there. I took Marley with me for the ten hour trip from Birmingham, both to keep me company and as a good bonding experience for our first trip together. I have always loved traveling with my dogs, and was excited about our first road adventure.
I bought a special sling for the back seat to keep her safe during the trip, packed plenty of food, treats, and water for her for the quick trip down. We would drive on Thursday, rehearse and perform on Friday, heading home early Saturday morning. Thankfully Marley is an easy travel companion; she is well-behaved and doesn’t bark (we’ve heard her bark twice during the ten months since we adopted her from Two by Two Animal Rescue).
The drive was stressful- lots of rain through the first half and accidents that left the interstate a parking lot for long stretches of time, including one involving a hearse…not the kind of sight to inspire confidence. After battling the toll booths of the Florida Turnpike, we finally made it to the La Quinta just as the sun set.
I was worried at first- Marley was not happy about the sliding glass doors at the entrance to the hotel, the tile floors, the elevator, and just getting her into our room was an exercise in patience. She figured it out, though, and with repetition and lots of praise she became comfortable with the new routine like a champ.
This particular La Quinta was located near the conference site at the University of Central Florida in a business park. One of the nearby businesses had created a park with a walkway and dock on a lake, and it made for a peaceful and lovely walk. My favorite part was walking under twisted oak trees draped with canopies of Spanish moss, something I miss from my years spent growing up in Florida.
Marley is such a beautiful and sweet-natured dog, and she quickly became the darling of La Quinta. Employees and guests alike ooh’d and ahh’d over her while she graciously accepted their praise and attention as the gentle giant she is. It is so nice to travel with a dog like Marley who I have complete trust in with other people, and in a new and different place.
Our performance went very well, and I awoke in the wee hours of Saturday morning eager to get on the road for home. I got up at 5 and took Marley for a good long walk in the dark, the moon a lovely sliver of light in the sky. Loading up the car, I got my girl set and comfortable, programmed the GPS, and we headed out on the last leg of our adventure. At each rest stop we went for a little walk to stretch our legs and even there several people came up to pet Marley and tell me about their dogs. I saw one older couple slowly walking a very old Golden Retriever, then lovingly and patiently helping the dog into the back seat of their car. One day that will be Marley and me.Shiva seemed glad to have us back…well, at least Marley. She adores her. As for me? Hmmm…
When we pulled into my garage and I opened the door to let Marley out, my heart about broke as she began to quietly cry. I think she must have thought that I had taken her away from home for good, and when she realized we were back at Chez Gainey she began running around, filled with obvious joy and relief.
We came home to a wonderful date night; Dan outdid himself as usual, making an Italian dinner with a wonderful dessert. We sat by the fire and shared our experiences over the days we’d been apart. How grateful I am to have Dan and our peaceful and loving home to return to after traveling. And, how grateful I am to have Marley- truly the perfect dog for our family.