Max wasn’t sure about his first holiday. In spite of the fact that we were up at five, he missed his morning walk. Bewildered, he watched us load the car, after which we all piled in and set off for Lillouet via the Squamish-Whistler route. Our old Ford never had quite enough ear room for Max when he stood or sat up, and given that he was sharing the back of the wagon with bags and boxes, it couldn’t have been the most comfortable trip. I always prepared a mystery game with travel clues for the girls, so Max was also bombarded with shouts of triumph from Caroline and Katie as they spotted key signposts along the way. Finally, Max got his walk when we stopped at Squamish and we let him go for a run on the field of the high school where I did my practicum many years ago. What memories that brought back! After breakfast at McDonalds, we set off again and drove to Nairn Falls where we hiked a long trail to the falls. By now, Max was beginning to perk up. The forced rides in the back of the wagon were being offset by the benefit of extra runs, and what’s more, the new walks were full of new smells, not to mention new adventures. On the way back, I caught my foot in a root, sprawled headlong and began to roll down the bank towards the racing river. Fortunately, a log stopped my progress, but my family looked as shaken as I was. Not Max, however. He seemed quite entertained by my acrobatics. I swear the wagging tail was saying, “Do that again!”
We drove the rest of the way in one go, but once we’d had time to settle in our motel and cool off with the air conditioning, we went to Seton Lake for a swim. Here, we found a host of friendly First Nations locals bobbing in the water, which was glacier blue and very cold. We all braved the water, though not for long. It was too cold, even for Max. After a return to the motel for hot baths and clean up, we ordered pizza for dinner, after which we went gold panning in the river and took a drive up the mountain before coming back for the night. Max was exhausted, but very happy. A full day of action with his family. A dog couldn’t ask for more.
Max may have been tired, but he was very restless sleeping in strange surroundings. It certainly wasn’t a great night with the air-conditioning roaring and Max alternately snoring or crashing about in his food bowl. Hugh and I got up just before seven and walked up to the local school field. It was fenced so we were able to let Max scamper about. He raced back and forth, little legs flying, happy to be running again. Once he’d burned off his surplus energy, we went back for breakfast, then set off for Lac La Hache. By now we were driving through heavy rain, and we had a near calamity when we stopped for a break at a gravel pit. Hugh insisted that Max could have a run there, but the moment his leash was unclipped, Max ran straight out onto the highway and was just missed by a truck! After that, I set the rules on off-leash locations. I had no intention of Max’s first holiday being his last.
After a lunch stop at 100 mile house, where we enjoyed strong, hot coffee, good burgers, and a friendly waitress who oozed country-style hospitality, we drove straight through to our motel at Lac la Hache. The room had an attractive view of the lake and there was a huge resort area for us to amble about in. After dinner, the rain had stopped so we went for a boat ride. Max had never been in the outboard before, but he was very blasé about it. Obviously, his experience with the Optimist had convinced him that he had mastered boats of every type. He hopped in right away, put his nose into the wind, and smiled his wolf smile the whole time we roared around the lake. The next day, he had a wonderful time. On our tour of the lake the previous evening, we had discovered two uninhabited islands with trails around the perimeter. What a perfect opportunity for Max to run, but not get away from us. After breakfast, we took the boat out to the larger of the two islands. Max raced back and forth, reveling in the exciting new smells, while we hiked the circumference. The wind blew up during our walk so it was a rough ride back, but Max didn’t seem to care.
That afternoon, however, Max was less than thrilled, because he had to stay at the motel while the rest of us drove up to Timothy Lake for a trail ride. This was my first time on a horse. As a child, I had ridden donkeys at the seaside, and even elephants and camels in the London Zoo, but never a horse. I was a little nervous, but our friendly guide gave me a good-natured beast called Two Bits who was amiable and obedient. Two Bits stepped over logs with the same one-foot-at-a-time care I use myself, so we got along very well. In spite of the fact that I felt the need of an elephant hoist to get me on and off my mount, I enjoyed the experience. Once back at Lac la Hache, we went swimming, and Max forgave us for deserting him. The reality was that the quiet time had been good for him. He’d been getting increasingly wild-eyed with all the country smells and changes in routine. It might be holiday time, but we didn’t want to undo everything we’d begun to accomplish through his training sessions, and short periods of isolation were needed to calm him down.
The rest of the week passed happily. Hugh fished while the girls and I swam; we took long boat rides to explore the lake; we roasted marshmallows; and last, but not least, we took Max for numerous walks around Treasure Island. We christened it that because Max found so many old bones and odd sticks littered about the trail, all of which he carried proudly throughout the walk and hid in carefully selected hidey holes when we refused to let him bring them back in the boat. We were all quite sorry when it was time to move on to our next stop. As we walked around the resort on our last evening, we looked across the lake to Treasure Island and resolved to take Max back there next year. But in the meantime, there was another week to our holiday, and who knows what new adventures lay ahead.
Next: Rebellion at Horse Lake.