Monday, 23 July 2012

Day 4 & 5: Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, & Illinois

Day Four: Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota

Mom and I had decided that we’d like to at least get into Wyoming by the end of our third day. But after all those close encounters of the potential roadkill kind, we’d reluctantly given up that dream. So imagine our surprise when, not 5 minutes down the road from our campsite, we hit the Welcome to Wyoming! Sign. It figures! We hopped out and took a few pictures (sneakily turning around and getting the welcome to Montana sign as well. At that point we were still hoping to get all the sign’s, but I’m here to tell you, after two long distance road trips (BC to Louisiana and BC to Halifax) its just not possible. They don’t put the welcome to..... signs on the interstates that often, and when they do, its often on a bridge or something. And the interstate is not exactly designed for stopping! Still, its nice to get the signs when you can. So we were welcomed to Wyoming early in the morning and rolled on into South Dakota within half an hour! (We were on highway 12, which only just barely dips down into Wyoming). South Dakota probably felt like the longest day. We had a great morning- we drove through the ‘black hills’, so called for the dark look hordes of pine trees gives the hills around the park (apparently somewhat of a novelty to Americans? I have to say it was a pretty familiar sight to me!), through deadwood, a frontier type town which is beautiful and was and is famous for gambling; and finally, excitingly, to our morning treat: Mt. Rushmore. Here is where our map first failed us. (The remainder of wrong turns include varying levels of human error. The levels and which human erred is debated J) According to our map, Mt Rushmore was a mere 10 km or so off of the road we were on, but it was also important to note that said road splits, and a wrong turn would take us to a cute little town- but away from mt Rushmore. Well, we followed the signs, gleefully eyeing the dwindling numbers on the “to Mt Rushmore” signs, when suddenly- whats this?!? We were in the middle of Hill City, the aforementioned town. Well, after some on-the-road deliberation we decided to turn around. We were reluctant to trace our steps but according to the map it’d take a great deal longer to get back to Mt Rushmore on the road we were going. So, we turned around, re routed, and made it to the mountain!
Mt Rushmore was a bit of a surprise in that there was NO mountain around until you’re pretty much right there. The entire time we spent in South Dakota we were wondering how they carved this mountain monument out of what’s mostly a pretty flat state, but in the right spot in the black hills, there are indeed some mountains. Still, the monument was a lot smaller than expected, and neither the artist or the landscape look anything like how Disney portrays them in Aladdin’s magic carpet ride (ß Sarah’s idea of a professional reference. You can thank my university education, folks!). Still, it was hugely impressive. The detail and look is fantastic; it was a wonderful tiny hike (just nice to get out of the car!); and in spite of the fact we recognized only 2 out of 4 featured men (they have signs up along the way to aid the undereducated and remedy that problem) it was something we enjoyed a lot. I actually particularly enjoyed the walk up to the monument- the very American pillars and flags.

On all of the pillars is carved the name of a state and which number it is, by year of joining- something I actually found pretty cool.

Anyway, we had our half hour walk and hopped back in the boiling car. We trundled on out, admiring the side view of the mountain, and the scattered lakes, contemplated going swimming, and popped back out—wait, What!?! Popped right back out in Hill City, about 2 minutes farther along than when we had turned around. After a few minutes of being flabbergasted at the map, we retraced our steps for the third and final time (thank goodness!) and hit the interstate, getting down to the serious business of getting places.

My notes on driving in South Dakota: Its hot, yo. Way hot. Early on a friend asked us if we had A/C and we kind of smiled and said yes (we did, thank goodness) and she was like good cause you’re going to need it and we were like pheh, (this was back in Canada, where in May it still snows sometimes, like how it did the week I left..) sure we will. Well: You will. You really, really will. You may want 2 or 3 sets of A/C, in fact. Because there is no relief.  At one point, both of us wiped out from a few hot hours on the road, we pulled over at a windy windy rest stop to get some relief. Well, no such luck. It was just as piping hot outside in the wind, which is something, as a northerner, I had a realllllly hard time wrapping my head around.  2) Holy guacamole bugs mania. My poor windshield. 3) yay high interstate speed limit! Highest we saw, in fact, at a reasonable 75 mph (near or around our comfy 120 km/h.)

Other notes: If you happen to drive through rapid city, there is a Mobil gas station, rather large, with animal statues scattered outside. We thought that was rather over the top for a gas station until we went inside. We’d stopped simply because it was a large city and we needed gas cause the interstate sucks it up like nobody’s business; but we ended up spending a half hour or so among what might be the most impressive personal taxidermy collection I have ever seen. The man had everything! Every species of bear, wolf, sheep, cat, alligator! Giraffe! Elephant! That I had ever heard of and even some I hadn’t. And keep in mind, we had already been inside Cabela’s at this point, so the level of taxidermy expectations in mass numbers was high, very high (side note: After our 2 added hours to visit Cabelas on day one, we drove RIGHT PAST no fewer than 4 MORE CABELAS before we had left South Dakota. After SD they thinned out, but still. It was kind of an IN YOUR FACE YOU SILLY 2 HOUR DETOUR TAKERS on Cabela’s part...).  In any case: random gas station is epic, and worth seeing, if you ever go to rapid city and are interested in taxidermy. Pretty sure thats going to be a miniscule portion of my reading population, but hey. I try and put in a little something for you all.

Speaking of something for everyone: once past Rapid City, (and in fact a little before), Mom and I started seeing roadside ads for the most RANDOM things, all pointing to this “Wall Drug”, whatever that was. Sunshine! Free coffee and donuts for veterans! Free ice water (tempting!) Ice cream! Cowboy clothes! Smiles! Really weird yet mesmerizing advertising! And what the hell, we wondered, (trying to stay awake on the boring and hot interstate) is wall drug?? What’s a wall drug? And why does it have so much random and unrelated things!? Ultimately, there was only one way to find out. We decided to take the recommended exit and see for ourselves.

*Spoiler Alert!*

Well, turns out Wall Drug is a drugstore, roughly speaking (more in the older sense of drugstore, as in general store, except its actually a large mall, so it does indeed have a ton of random things inside, like most malls) in the tiny town of Wall. The official name is Wall Drug Store but it’s fondly known, worldwide!! As  Wall Drug. (hyperlink to more info for the curious. Its actually kind of interesting, mostly for the super impressive directly effective advertising, which can be found as far abroad as Paris Metro’s and draws in 2 million foreign visitors a year.) We stopped, stepped outside, regretted that immediately, scurried to the nearest air conditioning, and relaxed. Whew. We wandered around a little, waking up the brain cells overwhelmed by heat, got ice cream cones- delish!! And a sarsaparilla, which I was totally unfamiliar with (for the other undereducated youths, its basically root beer. Apparently a forerunner to root beer. In any case tastes awesome cold out of a bottle!) With these small successes,  we moved on.

South D, overall, was a great state, a bit tainted by how hot it was, but still cool. It is, however, home to my biggest regret about the roadtrip. Which is thus: Leaving wall drug, confounded and lazyfied by the heat (my excuse for everything! Haha), we turned back onto the interstate. What we really meant to do but didn’t discover until 15 min later was turn onto the small side road which travels along the interstate- with the important distinction of giving one the best view of the badlands. On the interstate, we got a cool peek, but it was really only enough to whet the appetite. The formations we saw were incredibly cool and both of us wish that we had taken the road with the view. Alas, we did not; maybe next time, eh, mom? Mom? Anybody?

Kidding, kidding. Maybe someday. Anyways, thats South Dakota in a nutshell. Also, after the black forests, its worth noting there’s no trees to speak of; only wind. So, Minnesota was a pleasant, pleasant surprise. “Let there be Trees!” I like to call it. (Trees do start appearing before the border, guys, its not a line or anything. But it really felt like I blinked, and where there had been desert, now there was trees. I <3 trees... especially compared to wind!) Also, leaving the windy plains behind (although I feel I must point out that Minnesota is also windy, and the trees are pretty evidently planted as windbreaks along the road and surrounding houses) eventually meant running out of the windmills, which were chasing us across the country, much to mums preturbance. Not cute windmills- those tall, white, skyscraping wind turbines. (Our opinions in a nutshell: Sarah: Eh, eco friendly at least.. Mom: Creepy and unnatural and give me nightmares! Its like they slice into my dreams! ß actually fairly accurate rendition of our conversation. As you can see the heat fried mom too).

Minnesota also had less large road kill, comforting to those of us who have recently been traumatized by friendly deer in Montana (really not something I ever thought I’d be traumatized by). So we were comfortable driving into the dark- handy, because while Minnesota has a nice trick of posting camping signs along with gas and food, it has the sad trick of nothing being open until memorial day. And so, Minnesota was home our first hotel. Probably time for a shower anyways; not to mention making our own cup of tea (not that we needed hot drinks.)

Day 5: Minnesota, Wisconsin, & Illinois

Finally, we were into the shorter states. We’d managed to drive through most of Minnesota, so we made it to Wisconsin by the early afternoon. It was still hot, hot enough that we gleefully stopped and dipped toes (and hands and shoes and whatever body parts could be dipped without stripping) into the Missouri river in Minnesota.

It wasn’t until we hit Wisconsin, thought, that we really started seeing water again; I hadn’t realized how much I missed river’s and the greenery that comes with water. It was a joyful moment.

A large part of my joy also focused on the return of recycling! You don’t want to know how many bottles we were hoarding inside the already jam packed car, waiting for a recycling container.

We managed to detach ourselves from the recycling area and mosey on. A few hours later we encountered something new: our first traffic jam, courtesy of roadwork outside Milwaukee. 2 hours of some slow and some speedy movement later, we entered Illinois, and started following signs for Chicago. Exciting!

At around 5 in the afternoon, we officially reached Chicago. It took about an hour to get in, and once in, we followed our couch surfing hosts directions to the Ukranian Village, a little nervous a) about what the place and people would be like and B) about parallel parking (mostly me nervous about that, mom parks like a boss). Thankfully, we were in for the most pleasant kind of surprise: everything working out even better than we could have hoped for.

We were nervous also because moms host was in the midst of moving to London (Look study abroad friends! It can be done!), so she wasn’t sure she’d be able to host for more than a night. When we arrived, Rachel, our host, was still at work; her little sister Gracie was supposed to be home, but had forgotten her keys at work and was furiously speeding across town to get them, apologizing to us profusely (and adorably). So mum and I walked around the neighborhood, and I must tell you, Chicago really impressed me. I hear tell it’s because we were in the North side, and the South side is not a place for one to go by oneself, but if so then I still have to say Chicago’s north side is lovely, lovely, lovely. The Ukrainian village was thoroughly charming, full of gardens and enchanting old brick houses, and people walking their dogs. Parking was free (BONUS!!!) and not really an issue; we ended up leaving Gabby parked in the same spot the whole time. I was hugely relieved; it felt safe and nice, somewhere I’d be comfy dropping off my mom overnight (which is kind of surreal in itself. Sign of adulthood: worrying about the quality of place you leave your parents in?). Also, When the key bearing Gracie appeared, she was charming and effortlessly sweet, a young lady working for a high end eco friendly all natural etc etc daycare (“people pay more per year to have their kids there than my entire education cost!” 0.o) and babysitting her boyfriends dog, the equally charming Apple, a beautifully behaved (those of you who know us and dogs know I don’t say that lightly!!) Rottweiler whom mom bonded with immediately and took photos of before she left. I, however, had a date with a hotel and a group of psych nerds to attend. So, after getting directions with the bus (and obsessively tracking my location with my phone while on the bus, in order to find my stop) I headed off to the Chicago Sheraton, by myself for the first time in ages and already missing my mom :p

The bus ride was uneventful, and I did manage to find my stop, but that was where the smooth ride ended. It was a beautiful night and a beautiful spot; the Sheraton is on the waterfront. However, I could not for the life of me tell which building was the Sheraton, and there weren’t many people walking about at night time to ask.  I headed off in the direction it should have been in- but ended up walking into a giant parking lot, which didn’t seem like it at all. So I aimed off in another direction, walking a block away, hoping to spot the large sign all hotels seem to sport. And after another 10 minutes I did indeed spot it- hovering proudly above the parking lot I’d gotten lost in in the first place. Figures!
So, after a day of adventure, I finally found my hotel, settled into the lobby to wait for my roommates (who held the key cards), and reunited after an hour or so with some beloved BC friends (specifically Sanne; most of the others on the trip I didn’t know.) Then it was off to bed and rest before a day of sightseeing- tomorrow!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Day 2: Idaho & Day 3: Montana

We crossed the border into Idaho  around noon, after a slow start to the day. The price of gas dropped instantly, we stopped to take a picture by the “Welcome to Idaho” sign and stole a branch off a wild lilac bush to smell up the car. And then we drove! Our first stop was a Wal Mart (how properly American of us) where we bought a map- a map being one of the few things forgotten at home, along with a belt and raincoats, which we haven’t needed!) After that, we were undecided which route to take but it was decided for us when we took a semi wrong turn, and after that we were headed to Cabela’s at Post Falls.
Mr Moose at Cabelas!

                Cabela’s is an entrancing store for people like us, all outdoor and workable clothes and more camping, hiking and hunting gear then you can shake a stick at. Very American, though- there are also safe’s and all sorts of gun accessories, not to mention guns themselves; and the whole store is speckled with taxidermy. We spent at least an hour testing foamies, and mom came away with a delightful air mattress; and both of us got new jackets which are crying out to be hiked in. All in all a success. But, it was a 2 hour out of the way success, so we didn’t make our intended campground, which was Lewis and Clark Caverns, and instead pulled over in a tiny town called Drummond (their street signposts- first street, west street etc- were handmade wood. 0.o) and tented it. It was a tiny and mostly abandoned camp beside their equally small rodeo grounds, but there was potable water and outlets for the RV’s and it smelled like cottonwood, so it was a lovely night and morning. The morning especially, because the electricity worked, and we managed to boil water for a cup of tea to travel with. Perk! We laughed a lot and snacked on smoked gouda and pepperoni and salt and vinegar rice crackers. So, Idaho was pretty good to us, though we actually camped in Montana.  Montana didn’t start out quite as well- not very far into it, a ghost car pulled us (specifically mom!!) over for speeding in a work zone (though of course there were no workers or even working vehicles/machines to be seen). They said ‘citation’ and we breathed a sigh of relief. And that was our second day on the road!
Mr. Moose pulled over in Montana. Whoops...
Day Three: Montana

On day 3, we woke up in Drummond, Montana, beside a river, train tracks, and the town of Drummond. The town is small enough that the campsite was within city limits (it doubles as a fishing site). We were serenaded by the sweet birdsong of magpies (for those of you not in the know, there is nothing sweet about magpies. Not a darn thing) and actually a dove, which sounded to me much like an owl, albeit a confused owl, given that it was daytime. We packed up slowly, trying to give the tent time to dry out from the overnight condensation. And as the site also hosted RV’s, mom decided to experiment with the electric outlets, which ended up working, and we had with our breakfast of pioneer bread and huckleberry jam a lovely warm cup of tea! Posh camping!

We left before the city employees even arrived to check the campsite, so could have gotten away with a free campsite, but we paid the ten dollars because they also had a very nice restroom and one simply must support things like that.

On our way out, headed to the Lewis and Clark Caverns, we decided to skip off the interstate 90 and take highway one, which met up with the 90 after about 45 min. An excellent decision and one I recommend to all! Highway one was beautiful, winding and mountain climbing and reminding us of the lovely parts of home. And it was so nice to be off the mindless interstate. There was stunning campgrounds (oops, should have gone a little further last night!) and lovely lakes and we drove through the town of Anaconda, which charmed mother. It was in fact a lovely old town, lots of brick, and we stopped to take a picture of the big white A on the hill headed into town- and also of the 3 american flags in a row, put up on people’s houses. A very American picture, according to mom, who found it funny. Having since seen much more than three flags in one yard, we’re no longer as amused by the relative restraint of one per yard!

We drove on through Anaconda, past a few mining and refinery sites, staring at the mountains for a surprisingly long time- I stared especially intently since I know it might be a while before I see mountains again! And eventually found the Lewis and Clark caverns, where we had intended to camp the first night. The website advertised yurts, but after a thorough drive through, I assure there were not yurts, nor were there teepees, which had also been advertised. So no regrets there about missing it as a campsite! We drove up and up and up on the windy little road till we reached the base of the cavern hike, from which they launched tours every 15 minutes. There was a school there and on the way out we saw Mennonites, which is always a bit of a double take- no one should be wearing so much clothes in heat like that! But interesting to see the long hair and pioneer like dresses and clothes. The Lewis and Clark caverns and state park is also proudly home to the oldest (still standing) building in the state of Montana: a rock outhouse, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps while they were making the caverns safely accessible (an enterprise taking over a year which involved blasting entrances and pouring a concrete path in a cave).  There is something magnificently humorous in Montana’s oldest man made building being full of shit...

The caverns themselves were very cool and a very welcome temperature change. The small 2 mile hike up was HOT and we northerners, who had been snowed on twice in the week before we left! Were not and are not adjusted. The caverns were fairly close quarters, and you’re not able to stand up straight in a lot of places (bless our lack of height)  and some squeezes would make a lot of Americans regret their expansive food choices.  The highlight for me was a slide! A natural slide, butt shaped after years of use, which is very short but the only way to get from one room to another. Awesome!  Also, on the tunnel out, there are two cavernous doors used to keep out the wind. On the way out the guide shut the front door on us while we were in the echoing hall, and the deep, echoing boom sounded like it came straight out of the Mines of Moria. Excellent.
Mr. Moose in the Lewis & Clarke Cavens!

But after the 2 hour tour it was back to the heat, and I assure you Gabby (my car) was hot. We rolled down the windows and barreled down the hill panting like puppies and trying to find ways to make the air conditioning work better/faster/colder (a theme of the trip for the next few days!) Then it was back on the road.

We spent a lot of time on the interstate and ended up on a drive through the Crow Indian Reserve, home to the Cheyenne (or some of them). An interesting discovery: American reserves, in spite of being a different country, group of First Nations, and like TEN TIMES the size of any of our reserves (not an accurate fact. Merely an impression) look just exactly the same. 3 trucks in front of every house and no one keeps a yard, wild dogs running around... but at least one man galloping across the hills on horseback, so we pretended he was a brave and bareback and lived 200 years ago and decided to be charmed by it all anyway J And it was actually a lovely drive. However, it was also a loooong way between gas stations, so we also started coasting down hills (likely not saving any gas considering the effort it takes Gabby to get up to speed again, but fun!) until we finally found a tiny, ancient gas station ran by a tiny, ancient man (we marveled about how we didn’t have to prepay and he laughed at us and said where would you run to? Yes, that far into the middle of nowhere haha).  So we filled up there and prepared to move on. We planned to camp and had asked a gas station attendant if he knew of any camping a few hours away and his reply was basically “Well... you’re in Montana!!” which turned out to be pretty accurate. You could probably spit on a campground from any point in Montana.

We drove on for about another hour, into the sunset (alas, heading East, and therefore robbing the moment of much of its romance), and as we still had a lot of energy we figured we’d drive a few hours into the dark and maybe get a hotel. BUT, there are SO MANY DEER IN MONTANA. And not like British Columbian deer, which have a well deserved fear of the road. No, hordes of inordinately friendly deer, who like to chill either right beside or right on the road. We had been counting them, but promptly lost track, and after passing probably 30 or so in about as many minutes we decided our nerves couldn’t take this madness (as a girl who has previously experienced 4 intimate vehicle encounters with the Bambi species, I figure I’ve had more than my fair share and am eager to never repeat the experience, ever). So we pulled over at a truckstop which (this being Montana) also was a campground and pitched our tent in the dark with the help of headlights and head lamps, which mom had cleverly thought to bring. We then snuggled down for the night... and were slightly disturbed, by these soft but repetitive noises... not the highway, but an odd ripping noise and the occasional swish of something twitching in the air.

Well, having managed to scare us off the highway, the darn deer were apparently only too happy to see us, and they spent at least an hour chewing up our campground (the ripping noise was their teeth ripping off grass) and whuffling our tent. Cute, but not so much so when you’re trying to sleep!

Still, we finally managed to pass out and awoke to the cheerful humming of semi trucks. Ahhh, the delights of camping :p after buying and discarding to disgusting cups of tea (they cost 50 cents each, so we couldn’t resist; but then it turned out you get what you pay for!) we were on the road again.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

BC to Halifax: Day One

Hello, everyone!

As some of you know but many of you probably don’t, I’m about halfway through a roadtrip with my mum. As I write we’re in Wisconsin (HELLO WISCONSIN keeps running through my head- though how I got a piece of the theme from That 70’s Show stuck in my head without ever having TV is a mystery), only a couple hours from our first destination: four days in Chicago, for me to go to the Association of Psychological Science conference and for mom to play, sort of. It is a mystery to us all (probably especially mom) what she will do with this free time!

The trip has no afforded a lot of time to write, mostly because it’s been hard to get to the computer, packed away as it is. Was. Along with most of everything else  I own! The pack of my car is currently a highly impressive feat of packing engineering, including 4 large suitcases, 2 pieces of artwork, the contents of my kitchen and a table- all packed away neatly enough to afford a small peephole through the rear window, which is probably more useful as a comfort than as an actual visual reference. Also included in the back reaches is a tent, bedding, and there was once enough food to get us through about 4 days- we’re down to slim pickings now, but bought food for the first time yesterday.  A special thanks to Sheri Ganguin and Heather Patenaud, whose gracious food contributions of bread and dip respectively have probably fed us much better and longer than you realised!

As for the adventure. We left at 8 am (later than anticipated, but we anticipated that!) on the 19th of May, with a full tank, stomach full of waffles, and an even fuller car. We drove as far as the 150 Mile Center (approx 8 km, otherwise known as out of my driveway...) before our first stop- checking the mail. We had to check because I’m taking online classes over the summer, which means the University mailed me my textbooks, and they hadn’t arrived yet. In the mail we picked up our travel insurance, also something handy to have, and the slip saying a package had indeed arrived. Thir brought up a new problem: packages are picked up at the video store in the center, which opens, on Saturday, at 1 pm.

                Well, obviously I didn’t want to wait that long, but I wasn’t very fond of the idea of leaving without, either. So we decided to see if we could call the owner of the video store, Dan, as we knew he lives nearby, and just see if he might be willing to open the door for us.

                The problem with this plan was that we couldn’t remember his last name. So we decided to ask the ladies at the attached gas station- Everyone knew his name was Dan, but no one could remember his last name. So they decided to ask the mail lady, who was out of sight in a separate room behind the PO boxes sorting mail- and the lovely lady did indeed know his last name, but declared she could not share it with us, such information being much to personal.

                Now unable to call (and unable to indulge in any deeply personal contact like, perhaps, facebook stalking, thanks to the brilliant service of the mail lady) we decided to go the safely impersonal and unobtrusive route, and knock on his door. Take that, personal information.

                Having lived in the 50 all my life, I knew that he and his family had moved in on the same street as the Spurn’s and lived near to Jeremy Schmid’s old rented house. So we drive to there, spotted the video truck, and knocked guiltily on his door, feeling slightly bad as it was 8 am on a Saturday, and very hopeful that he and not his wife would answer, as he seems by nature to be much more affable than she.

                He did answer, and once we explained ourselves smiled gently and said “I’ll just meet you down there, ok?” And so I got my textbooks, owe a great debt of gratitude to the video man Dan (whose last name I still cannot remember!) and owe a nose in the air snub to the mail lady. Never the less it was a good start to the trip.

                A less auspicious sigh had been the death of my (freshly updated and sorted and well loved and audio book filled) beloved i pod the very night before we were to depart. This mild panic and major bout of depression led to the decision to stop at futureshop in Kamloops, as we had to stop in Kamloops anyways. So off we went, driving into the sunny day. In no time at all we were in Kamloops, and pulled into futureshop, where we managed to replace the i pod with the gracious help of a friend of mine who works there; and deposit a book for one friend and the jacket of another with still a FOURTH friend who met us there to hold the belongings for the two missing Kamloopsians, who were both in Vancouver at the time and who’s things I did not much want to pack to Halifax. With this success we moved on the TRU, where I dropped off my old lab key and blinked a little bewilderedly at the thought that it might have been my very last time on that campus, almost certainly my last time as a student. Sometime’s its alarming how fast things change.

                With Kamloops under our belt, we headed on to Kelowna, where we stopped at Timmies for the last time in the next several days- I’m positive we won’t see one until the 27th when we head to Toronto- and met with a few more friends to say au revoir until, at best, Christmas for me! When we left Kelowna, the trip began in earnest.

                Buy 9 pm we’d reached our first destination, Creston BC, right on the border and the home of a dear friend. We dined like royalty, snuggled into a delightful mattress, and showered for the last time in 3 days. We also got to say a final goodbye to a four legged friend, Angie, who was one of my puppies and who spent 12 years as the most loyal of friends before passing away in her sleep.