We have a new hound.  His name is Huckleberry; Huck, for short.  Huck is a Redtick Coonhound crossed with a Bloodhound. Like many of our recent endeavors (mostly my recent endeavors), it involved travel. Specifically, it involved driving 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers).

But, let me back up a bit because this hound acquisition was not exactly on a whim._

At the beginning of January, I was sitting in a hotel in a city in the Mekong delta of Vietnam.  Melissa sent me a message, “What do you think of these hounds?”  It included the photos of a few different coonhounds and a bloodhound.

Aside from previously owning three coonhound mixes over the last decade, I likely contributed to the idea of getting one by taking a liking to bloodhounds while we were at dog shows over the last year.

After getting back to the United States from Vietnam and Japan, I started to get peppered with hound-related questions from Melissa – here and there – at breakfast, in the car on the way to the office, driving down to Racine to check the beehives.  “Of the hounds I showed you, which do you like the most?  I think I like this redtick – he goes by the name, Slim Jim;” He was a nice looking hound, but the name would have to go.  Slim Jim,_ _that is either a stick of compressed, salted and spiced meat or something you use to open a car when you have locked your keys in it; not a coonhound name.

Melissa arrived upon wanting to get Slim Jim.  She talked more with the woman who was fostering the hound – temperament, how he was with other dogs, and other questions.  We worked the logistics of taking off a couple days from the office; the kennel the bassets are from was happy to hang on to them for a long weekend, though, hound-Henry was going to make the journey with us.

We rolled out of St. Paul on a Wednesday night, heading south to the kennel.  For the night, we stayed at the farmhouse at the kennel.  It turned out that leaving Wednesday night and not Thursday morning – St. Paul and the metropolitan area received roughly eight inches of snow.  South of Rochester, MN, where the kennel is located, only received rain.

Thursday morning, we trucked on, heading south into Iowa and eventually headed east across Illinois.  We hit terrible weather on the Illinois/Indiana border but by the time we had crawled our way to Indianapolis, the weather had cleared up.  We stopped for the night – to the southeast of Indianapolis.  Friday morning, after a quick breakfast, we rolled out.  Louisville, and Lexington in the rear view…

I like Kentucky.  It gets a bad rap for being considered backwater and backwards.  Maybe it is because I grew in a region of Minnesota that sometimes gets tagged with those same attributes; or maybe I just like the rolling mountains and horse pastures.

We kept driving – to Knoxville, and Asheville, and, around the time the sun was dropping behind the Appalachians, we pulled into the Hickory area of North Carolina.

On the way to Hickory, Melissa had been working through more logistics for the return trip to Minnesota.  As we had been traveling east, a winter storm had come out of Colorado and was heading east.  The storm would be going through central Illinois, northern Kentucky, and southern Indiana – the same area that we had just driven through.  We designed to head south a bit, after picking up the coonhound.

With the coonhound securely onboard, we headed to Lancaster, South Carolina.  Friends of my family from Hibbing live there now; we would be staying with them.  Lancaster was a farther south than we actually needed to go, but it would be nice to see the Baldwins.

Saturday morning, after the hounds and the Baldwin’s golden retrieves had played for a nice amount of time, Melissa and I packed up the hounds and headed out.

We cut west and drove the length of Tennessee.  Going the Cumberlands, I kept humming Wagon_ Wheel _(Darius Rucker’s cover of the song did come up on the radio on several occasions).

Paducah, Kentucky was the final destination for Saturday.  Sunday, we pushed on through Missouri where the roads were covered with rutted ice (being politically incorrect, I referred to the road as “abortion road”).  Iowa was smooth sailing; we picked up the hounds at the kennel, and eventually, before 11:00 pm, we made it back to St. Paul.