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Lambs, miles, and mild mayhem - A Holiday Story

Published: 12/17/2014
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Editor’s Note:
This holiday story was sent to us from Nicki Claus, a NickerNews reader from northern Nevada.
Readers may ask, “What’s it got to do with the holiday?”
Compassion, critters, creativity, and a sprinkle of craziness. Sound like the holidays to you?

Enjoy this multi-part series.

By Nicki Claus

I want to tell you about a journey involving animal rescue in the midst of a luxury car rally by an old woman (me) traveling with her daughters and dogs across 13 states.

I’ve done a little traveling. Since I was a young woman, I’ve racked up hundreds of thousands of miles across a dozen countries. But what can I say about this last trip without smiling and shaking my head?
It was supposed to be a simple cross-country trip. We would drive in two cars and camp from Nevada to Maine.
What followed was an unlikely exercise in serendipity, resourcefulness and a tad of wacky.

The Trip:

We decide to stay off the dreadful Interstate 80 for the first day. Instead we take Route 40 through Utah’s desolate Uintah Basin and then more vernal country, including Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
That first morning, things get weird as we’re caught up in the middle of the "Gold Rush Rally," a high-end car rally from Las Vegas to New York. A party-all-night, drive-like-heck-all-day, type of deal. They blew past us in Maseratis, Ferraris, Lamborginis, Rolls Royces, even a Bugatti.

It’s a nutty scene with them streaking by, doing over 100 miles per hour.  Photographers hang out of convertibles, catching others as they leapfrog big oil trucks. Slinky women are riding shotgun and looking bored.

But gas is our great equalizer. We catch up to them at small town gas stations where everyone is gawking and taking cell phone pictures.
In the crowded ladies’ room, we wait with several Gold Rush gals. They’re clad in all things gold: gold-colored rhinestone ball caps, gold stiletto sandals, gold stretch jeans and one-piece gold body suits with wide slits for, em, ventilation?

“Did you see that deer?” a woman with gold-tipped fingernails asks her friend.

I assume she means a live one, but most of the animals I see are dead: deer, rabbits, beavers, and prairie dogs. Hundreds of flattened prairie dogs. Literally tons of roadkill.
Route 40 is very rural. As we cross the Utah-Colorado border, I notice fewer and fewer people, homes, amenities, and animals.

This suits me fine. I like to let out my two dogs for runs without worrying about leashes, other people, and other dogs. They are two mutts, Rudy and Donner. Some might call them boisterous and unruly. I call them energetic, active and happy.
I pull into a gravel road with no sign of humanity (except passing cars) for one of these run-around-and-pee breaks. I open the passenger door and at just that suspended, slow motion, everything-will-be-different-from-now-on moment, two little lambs appear from nowhere, baaaah-ing and running towards us.

What the heck?

Picture this:

•    Dogs that LOVE to chase prey animals...
•    Prey animals...
•    100 feet yonder, Route 40 with no one doing less than 80 and certain cars doing over 100 miles an hour.
•    Dogs chase lambs into road for biggest nightmare road kill scenario ever.

I grab the dogs and shove them back in the car in the split second before they take action on the lambs.
The lambs come running up to me: “Mom! Mom! Where have you been?” they seem to say.

They are dirty, skinny, and seemingly frantic, weighing all of seven and 10 pounds perhaps. Their dried up umbilical cords still hang from their bellies.

Where is their real mom?
Where is the rest of the flock?
Where are the ranchers who should be tending to them?

I grab the lambs and plop them in the front passenger seat. The dogs look at me and look at the lambs and seem to say: 'What the heck?!' I drive down the gravel road a half mile, assuming I’ll come to a ranch. I come to a big sign that says Toxic...Hazardous...Do Not Proceed.

Coming next: Meeting Gryll and Lep and running into tornadoes.

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