by sky Out in the desert, a lone eagle soars. Day three of the fast. I wake bolt upright. Wings brush my shoulder. No vision. I stretch and sigh. Time to go home. The road awaits me. It stretches out forever. I want to just keep going. Returning home, the wife’s fussing about in the kitchen. She’s made all my favorite dishes. Grilled salmon, baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, caesar salad. An elaborate feast fit for a king. Why am I annoyed? All I wanted was a hot cup of coffee and a piece of pie. She’s got our VW bus already packed. It’s stuffed to the gills. The only thing missing is the satellite dish. Everything we own appears to be crammed in here. She must have spent the whole three days I’ve been gone packing all this. There’s barely enough room to squeeze the three of us in. Wife, me and Irish, the setter. Wife takes her leash off as she settles Irish in the backseat. She wants to take the wheel first so I put myself in the passenger seat. Within minutes Irish has sashayed herself into the front seat and settles into my lap. I rub her head. A puddle of drool collects on my jeans. I kick her butt down to the floor and she settles in at my feet. Wife slips a tape in. Mary Mc Caslin and Jim Ringer. She starts singing. “See how the bramble and the rose, interwine, uh ine, uh ine, uh ine. Love grows like the bramble and the rose. ‘Round each other we will twine.” Wife’s happy. We haven’t been camping together in years. She pops in a Marty Robbins tune. “My love is the valley, the breezes that sigh, my love is the mountains that reach to the sky…..” I remember us singing this one our honeymoon trip to Leslie Gulch. That was awhile ago. She smiles at me. I open the window, not much of a breeze blowing. By the time we make it to the campsite it’s late afternoon. I’m pleased to see there isn’t a soul in sight. We set up the tent and the wife wants a nap. I’m restless and ready to stretch my legs. Irish and I take off for a hike. The road leads to a trailhead. We’re in a canyon. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a coyote run between the trees. Just for a second, and then its gone. Irish didn’t notice. She’s too busy with her nose to the ground, tracking something. My footsteps make crunching noises. It’s spooky quiet. Trailhead is closed up ahead. It says closed, no entrance. That’s never stopped me. I bypass the gate. The trail winds its way up and the creek sounds dim. I’ve lost sight of Irish. She’s up ahead somewhere. Fool dog. I just hope it’s not another skunk she’s tracking. She’s been sprayed three times. Never learns. I hear Irish barking, excited. She’s barking and chasing something. I hear the rustling, the sounds of her running. All of a sudden her voice changes. She’s yelping, distressed. Now what? I hear her howling in pain. Something is really wrong this time. I start running, following the direction of her voice. It’s uphill. I’m panting. Thundering feet echo in the canyon. I look up to see Irish running down the trail, her tail tucked between her legs followed by an enormous shadow. It’s an elk, huge and angry. Each kick produces a new cry. “Stop! Stop!” I square off in the path yelling and waving my arms. The elk stares at me and snorts. I realize he’s horned and towers over me. The elk pauses, as if considering. For a wild moment, the adrenaline burns my arms and I stop breathing. I may have made a big mistake. Then, suddenly, the elk turns back and is gone as swiftly as she appeared. I would have almost doubted it happened, if not for the blood. Irish is badly wounded. She may bleed out and die before I get her back to camp. Carrying her part of the way, making her walk the rest. Stopping to wash her off in the creek. It’s a sinking feeling. We wandered farther than I thought. Back at camp I yell to the wife, wake up, we’ve got a problem. Start packing! We’ve got to get out of here. It’s the middle of nowhere. We stop at each place we see a car. Most vacation cabins empty this time of year. Wife is chewing her lip. “Where is the nearest vet? My dog’s been kicked by an elk.” A old man in filthy overalls and no shirt spits out tobacco before speaking, sizing us up. He tells me there’s a vet in El Rito. It’s thirty minutes from here. By the way, he says, where did you see that elk? He’s surprised. By the time we pull into El Rito Irish is panting hard and reluctant to move. The wife goes in to fetch the vet. Irish may be in shock. She moans and cries as I pick her up and carry her in. The vet has me place her on the table and leave the room. He’s taking her immediately into surgery. He tells me the elk just missed the femoral artery and she’s lost a lot of blood. By the way, where did you see that elk? Hunting season has started. None of his friends have bagged any yet. He tells me it’s unusual to see elk this time of year. They are mostly in the high country by now. The wife and I spend the next two days in a crappy motel waiting for Irish to make it or die. The room smells bad and is scuzzy looking. The wife says she wishes she had her slippers. The rug is puke green and feels disgusting on our feet. The room’s got a mirror on the ceiling. It doesn’t do all that much to get us into the mood. Wife’s trying to make the best of it. I feel bad for her. She had such hopes for us on this trip. She’s planned it to a tee, put a lot of effort into it. But now nothing she’s packed makes any sense. I can’t breathe. I find airwick deodorants in several dresser drawers, along with a pile of mouse turds in one of them. I toss the deodorizers into the trash and put the bag outside. By the time Irish is ready for discharge the wife and I have barely a word to say to each other. Six months later, she packs up, takes the cats and moves back to Ohio. I trace the demise of our marriage to my lack of vision.