Once we get the bus repairs finished, we keep traveling south and west, stop each night to cook our brown rice over a camping stove. The state parks are almost deserted except for a few late travelers like us. We sleep on a mattress in the back of the bus with Caitlin. Our eyes are on the horizon, on distant California, we don’t stop to look at the sights or admire the vistas, we just drive.
In West Virginia we decide to get a pet. We ask at a gas station for directions to the pound, it’s down a long dusty road on the outskirts of town, all stark cinderblock and fence. We walk up and down the cages trying to spot the dog that will be happy living in our VW. Finally we find him, the only one who cowers back against the wall and doesn’t bark. We feel sure that means he is mellow, like us.
We head for Denver. To get to Denver, you have to go up the Rocky Mountains. I know this with certainty because the engine in the VW doesn’t quite walk off the job and picket, but there is definitely a work slowdown conspiracy. We manage only 10 miles an hour up the steepest places. It goes downhill fine. Our mellow dog has now revived and throws himself from side to side in the back of the bus, barking at every passing vehicle.