6 days. 5 nights. 3,000 miles. 2 best friends. 1 epic road trip.
By Tracy Campion
Packing at the Farmhouse
Ah…there’s nothing like an epic road trip with your canine co-pilot. As dusk fell on an early May evening, I slowly packed the Jeep for our journey from Kirkland to Southern California. Jack and I were going to be on the Hallmark Channel to represent Mutual Rescue and our film, Tracy and Jack. We’d only planned to be gone for five days, so of course, I packed ten pairs of socks, half a dozen extra blankets for Jack, and enough gum to occupy the entire Seattle gum wall.
As I packed, Jack became increasingly frantic, watching me suspiciously with his one eye. Gone was his typical “Lab Smile.” I folded and packed his kennel, then his blankets (eight should do), his rope toys, and his favorite ball. Every time I packed more of his belongings, Jack would jump into the back seat and then alternate his gaze between me and his growing cache of goodies.
When we were almost set, Jack let out an anguished sigh and flopped dramatically onto the floor.
“Oh, buddy,” I said, laughing, “Do you really think that I’d take a road trip, take all of your stuff, and just leave you behind?”
Jack stared up at me, his jaw tight. He wasn’t so sure.
From Sepia to Technicolor
When the alarm went off the next morning before 4 a.m., I wasn’t so sure, either. I was completely delirious and nauseous and wondered why nighttime me had done such a cruel thing to morning me. Then I remembered what day it was. I downed a cup of coffee, fed the cats and Jack, gave my 20-year-old cat her medication, wrote down notes for all of the people who would be checking on my cats, packed my toothbrush and Jack’s food bowl, and jumped into the car.
We began our drive out of the shadows of deepest, darkest winter in middle earth and headed toward the dead of summer in Southern California. As we progressed down I5, I realized just how tired I was. I downed a thermos of ice water, blasted the AC, and turned the music as high as I thought Jack could handle, but I still felt like the sedated dental visit kid from the viral YouTube video who asked his dad, “Is this real life?”
“It’s all gonna be worth it, Jack,” I said, glancing back at my co-pilot. He did a canine version of a shoulder shrug, turned in a circle, and fell asleep.
Somewhere outside of Eugene, my mind began to wander. Jack was sleeping on his back, his three legs up in the air, his flappy lips open and undulating like windswept grass as he snored. I smiled and turned back toward the road. I really need to name this road trip, I thought as I traveled up and down the hills of a canyon. I accelerated, hugging the tight turns and watching in the rearview mirror as Jack’s head just lolled back and forth…and then the perfect name came to me: “The Fast and the Furriest.” Again, I was sleep deprived, but I laughed loudly; the sound awoke Jack, who stared at me, wondering why I’d disturbed his sleep. I laughed for a good hour, off and on, over this name; every time I’d glance back at Jacky, he’d have that same “What is wrong with you” look on his face. Sorry, Jack.
“Change of Plans”: Part 1
The fast and the furriest were making great time when I saw Jack gazing hopefully out the window. I saw a sign for “Lake Siskiyou” and thought, “Hey, why not?” So I pulled over to check it out. As the drive became more and more gravelly, I pulled over and texted Sarah. “Change of Plans: we’re going to Lake Siskiyou. If I disappear, that’s what happened.”
(Over the past two years of working together, Sarah has received quite a few “Change of Plans” texts.)
Jack and I hiked around the lake and then, much to my chagrin, he enthusiastically jumped chest deep into the lake and started splashing. “Jack! Oh my God!” I said, laughing. “You’re going on national television tomorrow and now you’re going to be all muddy and stinky!” Jack plunged his head into the water and then smiled back up at me, water pouring down both sides of his face. I burst into laughter, slipped off my shoes, and jumped in, too.
Later, Jack met a Lab puppy named Poppy and her person, Diane. The two played together and I, attached to the end of Jack’s leash, played an impromptu game of try not to snap your ankle as they dashed through the brush.
We’re Not in Kirkland Anymore
Back on the road again, a beautiful redwing blackbird almost made himself into a pie on my windshield and Jack, peering forward, barked with surprise. We continued on. I kept seeing signs on I5 South that speed was being monitored by plane. I gazed up into the blue sky and thought, “Yeah, right.” And then I looked off to my right and saw what appeared to be a yellow plane, right out of Hitchcock’s North By Northwest. I stared in disbelief, wondering if it was sleep deprivation or if crop dusters were incognito speed trapping vehicles. Well played, California. Well played. Send out the Yellow Baron to catch speeders. What’s next? Is the Pony Express just around the corner to hand me my ticket? I glanced into my rearview mirror and was startled to see a police car approaching with great speed. As I pulled into the right lane sheepishly, I glanced over at the passing police car, trying to look as “non-guilty” as possible. Which, of course, was me shrugging with raised eyebrows and a fear grimace. He glanced over, gave me a bro nod, and kept going. Phew. Canine karaoke resumed.
As we arrived at the Oxford Suites in Redding, I saw that it was a good 40 degrees warmer in Redding than it had been when I left Seattle. I filed this away under “good to know.” But then my alpine skin burned within 15 seconds of emerging from my vehicle and I hurriedly brought Jack into the hotel lobby.
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain
After a restful night, Jack and I were back on the road again. We only had eight more hours until we reached Los Angeles, where we’d be on the Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family” show. With Jack for company, the miles passed by quickly, and we arrived in LA ahead of schedule. After checking in at our hotel, we toured Burbank and began to mentally prepare for our big day. (Jack prepared by hogging the posh king-sized bed while I worked on some writing projects.)
The following morning, Jack and I were both jazzed for our Hollywood debuts. His coat was shiny, his eye bright, and a smile was affixed to his goofy face. My hair was mostly non-crazy, so I chalked that up as a “win” and we set off for Universal Studios just a few miles from the hotel.
Being on the set of “Home and Family” was definitely a new experience for both of us. Jack thought that everyone was there for him and made himself at home by lounging on the bed, generously watering every plant, and greeting everyone. The opening scene of the show included each guest sitting on a stool outside. Every time I clapped after a guest was introduced, Jack darted forward, almost pulling me off my stool. Determined to not be on the blooper roll of the footage, I held his leash tightly as I clapped my hands and balanced on the stool in a dress. It was hard to not just start cracking up.
Prior to our segment, the producers had an “inflatable horse Kentucky Derby” with the horses ridden by the stars of the new reality show “The Second Wives Club.” As the only equestrian present, I was asked to be the “referee” and had to don a referee shirt over my dress and sweater. Afterward, three crew members were trying to remove the shirt without messing up my “TV hair and makeup,” which proved to be difficult…by the time it was off, I bent down to pet Jack, but he wasn’t there.
“Um, where’s my dog?” I asked with alarm.
“Your what?” one of the crew members asked.
“My…Oh my God, where is he?” I said, staring at the open door. I raced around the set, finding Jack and his leash being held by a cameraman who was flying my wayward kite while also filming the next segment.
“I’m so sorry,” I mouthed, grabbing Jack’s leash. Apparently, Jack wanted to be in every scene of the show; while it would’ve been funny to have him randomly streak into the next segment, I’m sure that’s not what they’d planned.
Fortunately, our segment went smoothly; Jack shared the couch with me and was on my lap for my initial moments of nervousness, and then as my nerves subsided, he made himself comfortable on the floor. I was happy to share our story of Mutual Rescue and hoped that viewers would be inspired to submit their own stories. After filming, we took a small tour of Universal Studios, visited the Hollywood sign, and then enjoyed a meal together back at the hotel, which had a dog-friendly patio.
The next morning, we hit the road again. My mom and her husband also happened to be in California at the time, traveling the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, but they were far off in the desert. As I traveled up I5 North, though, my mom called: she was near exit 202 getting water at a rest stop and wanted to know if I was close. I was ecstatic when I passed mile marker 191 and then 192.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited to give my mom a hug. Jack was excited to see her dog, Rose, and the four of us hung out for a few minutes until my mom had to hit the trail again. But a few minutes was more than enough to refuel me for the trip.
Change of Plans: Part 2
Afterward, I messaged my friend Ranae Holland, the scientist on Finding Bigfoot, to see if their filming locations happened to coincide with the Fast & Furriest Road Trip. When I found out that I’d only have to take a detour of 140 miles, I thought, Sure, why not?
I messaged Sarah: Change of plans…Jack and I are going to hang out with the Finding Bigfoot stars.
Jack and I enjoyed a two-day detour in Arcata, California, while the show’s stars filmed their series finale. Jack especially loved hiking the redwoods, exploring the California beaches (and seeing seals!), and meeting Bobo’s amazing squatching dog, Monkey.
There’s No Place Like Home
When we finally hit the road again for home, Jack and I were both tired from hiking the previous day (nine miles for Jack; 13 for me!) and ready to spend the night in our own home. As the terrain changed from California’s beaches and redwoods to the lush greenery of Oregon and then to the familiarity of Washington State, we both sighed with contentment. Pulling into our long, gravel driveway, Jack leaped up excitedly and kissed my face. “Yes, Jack, we’re home,” I said, laughing. It was good to be back.
Jack did a wonderful job representing Mutual Rescue and as I fell asleep that night, I was so proud of him and so glad that Seattle Humane took a chance on this wonderful dog. Jack and I are happy to support Mutual Rescue, Seattle Humane, and Brokers Supporting Pet Rescue (BSPR), which donates 10% of net commissions on every home sale or purchase to Seattle Humane.
While Jack already has a loving home, there are still so many animals waiting to start the adventure of their lives – perhaps with you! BSPR helps give rescue animals like Jack a future while you build your own. Learn more about Mutual Rescue here and learn more about BSPR here.