Hello there, traveler!

I’m Tara Jill, and this is a blog about all the great road trips I took with the best little Long-haired Chihuahua who ever lived and died on Maurepas Street in New Orleans, Lupe.  The posts detail the roads we took (sans GPS), across half of America, stopping at odd roadside attractions like Foamhenge  or lingering to watch butterflies along The Natchez Trace Parkway.

On May 06, 2011 at 8:33 pm, Lupe was hit by a drunk driver while chasing a cat and died almost instantly in my arms. She died the way she loved, fiercely; her only fears were taxidermy and robots.  Every moment of her life was great.


Zooey came to live with me when he was a tiny puppy. One of these days, we’ll pick up where Lupe and I left off, heading West (or farther west than Baton Rouge).


~Tara Jill

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Bob Dylan – Jokerman

Wait for it… 

The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers
In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed
Michelangelo indeed could’ve carved out your features
Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space
Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face.

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Going Twice

Dear Lupe,

It has been almost one year since you died. Zooey and I are going to the ocean. I miss you. Something happened though. The part of my heart that I thought died with you isn’t so dead anymore. I still say your name when I’m scared. Somebody who never met you called Zooey “Lupe.”

You are still with me always.

~ Your Girl

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And Then 2011 Was Over

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Dogs still rest their chins on me when they sleep.

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It originated mysteriously, the sudden urge to protect her.

Perhaps it came on in on the gusts of her New England girlhood as the wind laughed beneath her skirt.

The little black dog does not understand this wind that sucks plastic bags from trees and deposits them on the steps and chases him like a shadow.

At first, Zooey does not fear this wind that almost swoops him up by his ears – the twin black kites of them – until he soars above Maurepas Street fearless as a bat. But even bats, perhaps, grow frightened as six-month-old puppies who, accustomed to loving everything, abruptly shrink into the fur of a girl’s vest.

And that same girl considers the possibility of sweaters. Not for herself but for the short-haired Chihuahua who has been introduced to October.

Nice to meet you, wind.

The better to steal you, Zooey.

And the leaves swirl in circles around his tail. And the wind steals sleep and smoke and scraps of dreams of the most sacred sweaters (the sweaters fit only for little dead dogs) which have been packed away with the legacy of the first black leather collar.

The one red sweater that remains fits Zooey. He wears it the way he wears everything – without complaint.

Zooey In the Red Sweater


She says she has reached the stage of acceptance over the first dog.


Lupe's Red Sweater

And the wind blows the day by. The cat cries let me in and let me out. The sweater is shrugged off and on. The two of them bundle up and rush to the barn where the boyfriend lives, through the fence and across the lawn while everything vibrates.

And his dog Iggy, who they have spent three weeks in a hotel with, jumps onto the girl’s lap to lick her face.

That is when the puppy growls for the first time.

The red sweater.

Another dog on her lap. A growl whose pitch could be mistaken for a child’s mimic of a snarl.

This is how Zooey claims her.

In the morning, a rooster will wake him and he will bark, his body having grown into his erect ears.

The protecting of her has begun.

She has warned him.

This will not be the easiest of jobs.

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Room 859

After our trip to the lovely Cottonwood Books of Baton Rouge and an epic quest to buy donuts, I put blue hairspray in my hair and Zooey tried to bite me in the face.

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Safe Driving with Zooey

This is the first “Filmed while Driving” video that features Zooey, as well as some breathtaking footage taken while driving on the interstate of Baton Rouge.

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Black Smoke Testing

Today is October 6, a pagan Day of Bad Omens and I awoke to a large crowd gathering beneath my hotel window. We are on the second floor. At first, I thought these folks, who were setting up chairs, had come to admire C’s scooter, which could be haunted.

I took Zooey outside for a walk to investigate. Apparently, these people had gathered to observe and record different levels of smoke.

I immediately brought Zooey upstairs to the room and grabbed my camera. At this point, the person in charge of the gathering would not tell me why they were releasing smoke into the air, but I observed white and then black smoke billowing out of a portable smokestack.

Very Black Smoke

It’s not like this area is not already dangerous enough.

Notice: Danger

While I was photographing the black smoke, Zooey ran away. He ran out of the hotel room and was running around by all the people watching the smoke. Someone said, “Did you lose a dog?” and I grabbed him.

The man in charge of the smoke explained he was testing employees to make sure they were able to recognize toxic levels of smoke coming from factory smokestacks. I understand that this testing must occur somewhere, but it seems odd that it would be conducted in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn.

Smoke is not listed as one of the “bad omens” a person could encounter today.

Steve Jobs is dead.

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Travels with Zooey

Chuck E Cheese of Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, Louisiana. October, 2011, Year of the Metal Rabbit.

After I stayed in New Orleans all summer for a variety of reasons, I left. But first, I should explain why I stayed and did not drive north and spend an eccentric amount of time in West Virginia and visit my beautiful friends and family.

My parents went to France and I did not want to watch their dogs alone with Zooey

Zooey would not stop biting me.

There was too much work and too little money, the curse of New Orleans summers. I decided to invent a line of accessories fashioned from duct tape and succeeded in making a pants protector that kept Zooey from biting my sock.

This high quality durable pants protector deters puppies from biting.

I could not bring myself to care for the yard, remove the Bon Jovi Shrine, and leave my apartment in respectable shape until Labor Day weekend.

all good things…

I could not bring myself to stop holding vigils from 8 to 9 pm Central time each Friday (see also: The Wretched Hour).

Shrine to Lupe

My car was vandalized and I had to appear in court.

Criminal Mischief

Zooey and I were learning about one another.


Working with Zooey

At times, we saw ourselves reflected in yard waste.

Zoo and Me

And Zooey’s only fear was of the holes on Maurepas Street.



I did not know how to stop wearing Lupe’s collar and missing her. I knew if I went to the north, I would see my family and all the places Lupe and I had gone, and I would grieve for her in a way I was not ready to cope with.

Zooey was not ready to travel.

Zooey got snipped.

And I met someone wonderful.

The wonderful person is what brought me to the Holiday Inn of Baton Rouge, and launched the first Travels with Zooey.

I drove with Zoo to Baton Rouge to meet C, who was already there with his dog. But we were not staying in The Holiday Inn where C’s co-workers were residing. We instead had reserved a room at The Red Roof Inn because it appeared pet friendly and offered a number of amenities including a lovely view of Chuck E. Cheese of Baton Rouge and several loitering derelicts.

The Red Roof Inn of Baton Rouge

C had to go to work, and on Monday, I remained in The Red Roof Inn to watch our two dogs (his dog is a pit bull) and grow more terrified that the loitering derelicts would at any moment break down the door since the lock was not working right and rob me of everything I owned. My extensive experience of creepy motels, steel toed boots, and individual protective devices failed to make me feel safe. In fact, after exchanging several text messages with C and calling The Holiday Inn and explaining to the manager that C was working on a movie Switch and that the rest of the crew were staying at The Holiday Inn and that our dogs were good, I did not feel safe enough to load our things into my car without first walking Iggy back and forth past the loitering derelicts, one of whom was lighting a thirteen dollar barbeque grill and while another smoked crack in a pick-up truck for hours.

I walked Iggy around the parking lot several times, and he did not tug on the leash, and I did not notice anything strange when I switched the leash to my left wrist to light a cigarette before moving the leash back to my right wrist, and it was not until long after I had broken down and unsuccessfully attempted to use the GPS in my phone to drive to The Holiday Inn that I noticed Lupe’s collar was gone.

I had not known how I would stop wearing it or whether or not I would let Zooey wear it, and I had cried the day I took Zooey to the vet to be neutered. My little guy was wagging his tail as the vet tech carried him off, and I was initialing the box confirming that the vet should perform CPR if he suffered complications during surgery when the secretary handed me his collar, which I wore around my wrist with her collar until I picked Zooey up.

When I stopped wearing her collar by no fault of my own, it seemed like a sign that I could possibly join the new dogs in my life and let go of Lupe just a little bit. And for the first time, when Friday came, I did not check the heart painted on Maurepas Street during The Most Wretched Hour.

I have two weeks to explore Baton Rouge and swim in the three pools here where no GPS can find me.

The big pool at The Holiday Inn of Baton Rouge.



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