When I told people I was moving to Monkey Valley, they inevitably thought I needed a man, a truck, a dog, and a gun. In fact, when I first bought the place, I had the man, Hugh McMillan, and we were getting along pretty good. I bought a pickup truck—a beige Ford Ranger that needed some work but was priced well below market value. And my mom gave me a beautiful Siberian husky-malamute cross puppy, with white and grey fur and startling blue eyes, and the cutest curly tail, whom I named Shaula, after the star in the tail of the constellation Scorpio.
But I was still living in the lower mainland, and I found that having a puppy, training her, walking her twice a day, and cleaning up her poop, was not for me. Maybe having a dog in the country would be great, but I wasn’t ready to move yet—in fact, it took Hugh and me two years to install the solar power, pump, and hot water heater. Plus that’s how long it took for two-way satellite internet to be available in Canada—an important component for me in being able to work from Monkey Valley. Shaula and I parted ways long before then. First I took her to the SPCA, but felt so sad at abandoning her, I cried buckets and went to retrieve her. A few weeks later, at the end of my rope again, I sent her by airplane to Williams Lake, where my mom retrieved her and eventually passed her on to a tree planter from Ontario. As far as I know, she lives there now, happily I hope.
Just as having a dog wasn’t for me, the truck didn’t work out that great either. The first winter Hugh and I went up there after snow fall, we found that with only six inches of snow the truck got bogged down, fishtailed around, and refused to go very far up the unplowed logging road. And in the city, driving a stick-shift in stop-and-go traffic drove me nuts. Not to mention trying to park it! I still have nightmares about a certain parking garage on Granville Island! So the truck had to go. I bought a four-wheel drive Geo Tracker instead. Hugh said it was a chick car. But it handled way better in the snow than the pickup, was easy to park, and great on gas.
And, sadly, to my regret and many subsequent wonderings if I made the right decision, when it came time to move to Monkey Valley in 2002, Hugh and I had a parting of the ways. So, long story short, I moved to the wilderness with no man, no truck, and no dog. All that was left was the gun… (to be continued)