On Sunday morning we began preparing for the long trip back to California with puppy Bean. I think all of the dogs sensed that something was imminent. As they had in the previous mornings we were there they had congregated in the upstairs area next to the kitchen.
Aimee had made a run to the grocery store and was greeted by all the pups:
After we ate the dogs lay in their respective spots in the family room:
Rachel and I had decided to start home before noon, so we tried to occupy ourselves as best we could in the time we had remaining, and tried to postpone the inevitable, painful departure. Aimée played ball with Bean:
Then we went on one final walk down to Medicine Lake.
And then we returned to the house and got ready to go. We thanked Aimée and Stuart for fostering Bean for two months, and finished loading up the van. After that was done Aimée sat in our van for one more (and not the last, I hope) picture with Bean.
We drove away and headed south for Omaha under cloudy and sometimes rainy skies. Bean proved to be the easiest-travelling of all the greyhounds we've adopted over the years. She gnawed on a bone, ate a few treats, played with a toy or two, and then curled up and went to sleep. While Rachel rode in back with her she got this photo of Bean that will forever make me smile:
On Interstate 35 we soon passed the Minnesota-Iowa state line, and then passed the exit that would have taken us back to Bean's farm. I looked to the left several times as we drove by, I'll admit, although the farm was too far to the east to be seen. Then we took a turn to the west at Des Moines and onto Interstate 80 which we would follow to our overnight destination of Omaha.
As we neared Omaha I thought I'd make a detour at Council Bluffs and visit the Bluffs Run greyhound track because I'd never been to a track before. I mumbled some sentences to Rachel about wanting to go there, and she was a good sport in saying she was okay with it. I blundered my way around the casino and track trying to decide where to park. Finally I picked a spot to park and we all got out. As I wasn't sure if the security guard at the track entrance would let us bring Bean inside, I had Rachel led Bean around the front to relieve herself while I went exploring inside the grandstand.
Entering the building I asked the guard if they were racing at the moment, and he tells that they're racing right now. "I think the tenth race just finished," he told me. "You can go see the dogs being led out for the next race." I thanked him and wandered further inside, heading in a direction I though would take me to the track. Looking at the posters and racing paraphenalia as I walked past it seemed so foreign to me. I wanted to go out onto the apron to see how close I could get to the track. I had thought of taking my big camera with me but then thought better of it: I hadn't asked for permission and I wouldn't have been surprised if the track employees were a little leery and defensive of a stranger taking pictures of a race. So I only took my smartphone.
I found my way out onto the apron and decided I would watch a race. As it turned the tenth race had not yet run: in fact, the lead-outs were taking the dogs to the post parade. After the dogs were shown to the patrons they were walked over to the starting box, each dog being placed in their assigned trap. As the mechanical lure (whose name escapes me) started down the homestretch the dogs were released. They thundered past me going into the clubhouse turn, shaking the ground. I just watched and marveled. In a little over 30 seconds the race was over, so I turned around and walked back to the entrance to meet Rach and Bean.
The skies were full of mammatus clouds -- which Rachel found fascinating -- as we got back into the van. But as we drove into Omaha there was word of a tornado warning to our west so we went directly to our motel after making a failed attempt at finding some take-out food before the storm hit. We unloaded our bags and checked in. Afterwards I went back to the front entrance and fetched a few more things out of the van and looked up at the gray clouds being torn to shreds by the increasing winds. There was really nothing else to do but sit in our motel room and wait out the storm. Bean took all of this in stride by lying down on one of beds and falling asleep. She couldn't have made it any easier for us that night, although I did take her out a couple of times overnight (once in pouring rain) to do her business since we didn't know what her routine was.
Eventually the tornado threat ended in Omaha but we saw on the news that other areas to the west and north had some pretty heavy property damage. And the weather wasn't going to improve much for our drive to Colorado the next day.