Early June 2017. We had been at the ranch a few days and Cannonball and Larry had been on the periphery, the ranch’s latest inhabitants. My sister-in-law knew them from school bus stop mornings on the Denio route, where she is the substitute bus driver and otherwise helps carry that school along. They accompanied two children of a farm worker to the stop, but when the family pulled up stakes the dogs were left orphaned and my sister-in-law took them in.
It was the big water year and we had taken advantage, floating on the Black Rock Playa and the Quinn River. Places water flows only rarely, ephemerally. It was a year since Coco had gone on, and Dusty three. Cannonball and Larry, orphans, were a little adrift at the ranch, in limbo, and with a day free we decided to take them out, but with the caveat that we weren’t going to get too attached. They were a pair, had never lived inside, we weren’t ready.
We went out to Elephant Mountain. We’d hiked its flanks many times before, but never gone up to the summit and so we continued past our usual parking place on Paiute Creek farther up the road that bisects the wildernesses. Larry who then went by Yo-yo, and no one had ever learned Cannonball’s name, so she went by Girl (a name she is still known by in some quarters), and they were very nervous in the front of the pickup with us, they had never or rarely ridden in the front before and they didn’t know how to behave themselves, or exactly what to do.
We stopped and started to climb. The day was overcast and Cannonball and Larry kept us good company. From the north, Elephant Mountain looks just like it sounds, like an elephant charging toward you. We climbed between its ears and up the back side of its skull. It was not a long hike to the top, steep but mostly just a nice desert walk. We stopped for a break and got to know each other well. Cannonball launched herself into us and Larry climbed up on my lap finally and settled in. With him there, I had a chance to see if he had his male parts, which he did, but not for long, after we told my mom. Then we headed onward, up the mountain.
At the summit there was a marker stone and a wide view of the desert and mountains. We sat comfortably in shadow of the harri mutil, the stone boy, that lonely pile of rock that separated range lines, or was made by lonely Basque boys dreaming of their green home, or, who knows? Yo-yo informed us in his kind and wise way that his name was not Yo-yo, but Larry. Cannonball richocheted. Renee hand-stood. When we started down we drifted apart, as we often do in trackless desert, and Cannonball and Larry accompanied Renee on the way down—fortuitously because I crossed paths with a small rattlesnake among the wind-carved rim rocks.
We arrived back at the truck in good spirits and parted on friendly terms. Us back to Reno. Larry and Girl to stay at the ranch.
Soon thereafter we came back to the ranch and met Larry at the door of our little studio there. Cannonball had dumped him for my mom, and, especially, her four-wheeler. In no uncertain terms Larry let us know he was going with us.
After my mom’s surgery, Cannonball, still Girl then, was lost again. With plenty of time at the ranch to acclimate to living indoors, she has fully joined the crew. She and Larry are back to being soulmates. And now they are here, sleeping alongside me while I write this and nurse a bit of a gimpy foot, looking forward to our next explorations!
This blog is dedicated to stories and ideas from our explorations. We hope you enjoy!
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