After 50 days of being home-bound, we ventured out on our longest journey since mid-March. It was just shy of a month ago that we did a shorter get-away out to the closed Vista House. State Parks like this were just re-opened to the public this past week. Our dog, Tally, likes to ride in the car and often perches herself like a surfer on the armrest between the two front seats of my wife’s convertible. In mine, she has an elevated dog bed in the back seat that allows her to see outside. I probably would have driven, because there is more space for everyone, but my battery was dead from little  to no use. 

Our goal was to pick-up a case of wine and enjoy a beautiful, sunny day. I was appeased with a quick stop at McDonald’s for a Diet Coke, a rare fountain treat these viral days. We also got a tankful of gas for the first time in recent memory. Premium was only $2.55/gallon, a bargain for Oregon, while the rest of the country often boasts of half that price. We were soon experiencing the refreshing openness of the countryside after the suffocation of isolation. 

I was a “Five-Peak” day, as the mountains loomed in the distance. There is little more thrilling to my wife than a clear day in Oregon and views of Hood, St. Helens, Rainier, Jefferson, and Adams. Tally sat unimpressed until we stopped at the side of the road by a Llama farm. I’m not sure if she’s ever has been as close to something so tall. I could almost reach out and touch it, while she was hesitant to even move. They stared at each other for a minute before she started to bark..but it was more of a cautious woof. My wife wanted to take a picture of Tally and the Llama. “Tally Llama,” she quipped. It was a memorable moment of laughter. 

Llamas have been in the news lately. According to Belgium scientists, “A female llama called Winter has been injected with a protein present on the surface of the novel coronavirus, first detected in China last year, and has reacted by developing antibodies. These in turn appear capable of playing a role in shielding the carrier and neutralizing the threat of the virus.” It seemed appropriate that we were face-to-face with what could be a hero in freeing us from isolation and the threat of respiratory disease.

We’re all familiar with the Dalai Lama, “spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and in the tradition of Bodhisattva. He has spent his life committed to benefiting humanity.  In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent efforts for the liberation of Tibet and his concern for global environmental problems.” Maybe next year’s prize could be awarded to Winter the Llama?

In the business world, there are those that have obviously capitalized with variations on the Dalai Lama name. For example, The Dolly Llama “specializes in unique, hand crafted dessert waffles paired with artisan ice cream and personalized toppings.” Now, there’s the Tally Llama, the product of my wife’s vivid imagination. It’s a schnauzer with black fur and a long neck that likes ice cream.