Not Just Any Sunday Drive

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Graham admiring a cornfield.

There were about eight dozen different activities going on this weekend. One of the ones we picked was a harvest celebration for the Foods Resource Bank to which we’d been invited by old friends. The invitation promised pulled pork sandwiches, music, combine rides, and a petting zoo. I’m planning to write an article about the organization, so I also wanted to see what it was all about.

Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to bring Graham. We figured we’d walk him a little bit when we got there and then he could wait in the car. My husband said, “As long as we don’t park by the goats, it should be OK.”

We dosed the dog with a product called “Rescue Remedy,” which someone suggested we try for calming him during stressful situations, but pretty much as soon as we turned left instead of right towards our normal weekend hiking place, there was nothing but yelping most of the way.

The farm where the celebration was taking place is about a half-hour away, east and south of Kalamazoo, on the other side of Interstate 94 from us. We could have taken various routes but we decided to stay off the highway and took Michigan Avenue through Comstock. Unfortunately, this involved driving past a boarding kennel where Graham has been incarcerated in the past. The Rescue Remedy sure didn’t seem to be doing much.

Instead of crossing I-94 at 35th Street, we drove through downtown Galesburg, planning to cross at 40th Street. It was such a pretty stretch of road, passing a horse farm and the Kalamazoo River, I wished the whole trip could be so scenic.

As it turns out, 40th Street does not actually cross the interstate (see map). We did not know this as we approached it and came to a fork in the road directing us to the left if we wanted to go west on I-94 towards Chicago or right if we wanted to go towards Detroit. Both options looked like they could just be highway on-ramps, but we figured one of them would have to intersect with 40th Street. We guessed left. We guessed wrong.

You can’t get there from here.

As it turns out, we could have turned north on 40th Street and made a U-turn, but we didn’t see that option until it was too late and we really were on the highway on-ramp.

We drove three miles back west to the 35th Street exit, where we wanted to turn left to cross the highway, but the south-bound lane of the overpass was blocked by a construction barricade. (As it turns out, the bridge was open in both directions, with signal lights allowing the north- and south-bound traffic to cross alternately. We learned this on the way home.) It seemed our only option was to go back through Galesburg, past the horses and the river, to 40th Street.

This retracing of our path was even more anxiety-provoking for the dog, but we took the right (and correct) fork this time, and the rest of our journey to the farm was without incident. We took a dirt road past the farmhouse, along a cornfield to a large open area with a pole barn and several massive green combines. A man waved us into an open spot in the rows of cars parked on the grass.

As it turns out, we had to park right next to the goats. Seriously.

Car not shown.

We got Graham out of the car and immediately steered him away from the goats. After a short walk to stretch our legs, we were bringing him back to the car when the goats’ owner approached us in a panic, asking us not to bring our dog so close, because the goats would see him as a predator and become upset. After we explained we were just putting him in the car, we were all very understanding about our mutual predicament. We wondered about moving the car, and she suggested we park it in front of her truck, next to the barn, where the dog would be in the shade – and a little bit farther away from the goats.

We did so and went to join the festivities, leaving Graham perhaps somewhat calmer than expected – maybe the Rescue Remedy was kicking in?

We greeted our friends and got something to eat. A quartet of ladies in black and white polka dot dresses was singing 1940′s swing tunes. We declined to take a combine ride but watched the huge machines unload corn into trucks. The air around us was filled with golden chaff, which we were told was called “bees’ wings.” While we stood around, the goat owner came up to chat with our friends. She was carrying something that looked like a balled-up fuzzy sweater but which I believe was a large brown rabbit, its head tucked under her arm.

By the time we were ready to leave, our parking space was blocked by a team of Very Cute baby oxen.

Apparently oxen don’t have a problem with dogs. This dog is less sure.

Once we had extricated ourselves, we drove away, stopping at Cold Brook County Park for a nice quiet walk. Then we headed home (no detours this time), where we brushed the bees’ wings off our clothes and were suddenly overcome with exhaustion. As it turns out, it was a pretty good day.

Portage Lake at Cold Brook Park

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