mark twain on a shipLittle Lucy has been having issues. She’s always been highly strung and a bit snappy about her personal space. But now she’s taken a turn for the grumpier. And since she’s scared of just about everything, her snippiness has been focussed on Oscar, who fears nothing but her. Her latest trick is running down to the foot of the stairs and guarding the way from Oscar as he whines and yips and cries to come down and join everyone. Finally, one of us has to go up the stairs and pick him up as he snuggles and whimpers in fear in our arms. Yes, Lucy’s become a Mean Girl. It’s time for an intervention. In this house, we subscribe to the Mark Twain cure for all ills: travel.

Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people.

— Mark Twain, 1867

Now it has been noted before that there are two kinds of travel undertaken by the inhabitants of our house. Andy’s method is very simple. He echoes Oscar Wilde: he only wants the best. It can be a fun way to travel, but I prefer a different way. I like travel with a theme, travel that takes me to idiosyncratic corners, travel that is guided by novels, history and art rather than guidebooks or fashion. And my preferred method of travel is always the road trip. Clearly this is not always compatible with Andy’s style. But he has been very gracious and allowed himself to be put up in a crumbling hotel in Florence that once housed Stendahl — and probably hadn’t been improved since then. He was dragged along on my quest to visit every temple in Bangkok until several days in when he broke down and had to finish the third afternoon sipping gin and tonics in some white columned vestige of the British Empire. He spent much more time in California Missions than he could normally be expected to tolerate, drawing the line only when I proposed a roadtrip starting from the last in Sonoma down to the first established in San Diego. In fact, he wisely suggested that perhaps I’d like to do that trip — which became The Mission Mission — on my own or with a friend. So began a great tradition of me planning up one of my patented theme trips per year in the understanding that Andy would fully support me but would participate only by reading the blog.

Well, I’ve got one all planned up. As my theme trips usually do, this one centers on a roadtrip from history. And I’m taking Lucy. I’m thinking this will serve as bonding time between us and may result — if Twain’s prescription proves true — in a bit of an attitude change on her part. Think of it as Thelma and Louise where neither of us is Susan Sarandon and one of us is a terrier.

Lucy as Thelma

First we have to get that headscarf thing down. Lucy’s having more trouble than I am. The look doesn’t really work with a long nose.

lucy as a hobo

For Lucy, a scarf works much better as a hobo bundle. There, packed!

As for Oscie, he’s already getting excited about spending a week with John the Baptist and his Border Collie, Maria, in Sonoma.

oscar watches pride and prejudice

But for now he’s preparing for a more restful time by catching a rerun of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. (Oscar’s a big Lizzie Bennett fan.)

Oh, and the trip? All shall be revealed in the next few days. And take-off is scheduled for next Wednesday. Hint: it involves Mark Twain.

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