• Lauren Burke

Summer Trips, part 1

I’m kind of a workaholic, and I seldom take time off for myself. When I do, it usually has to do with work—even when I take trips for myself, I sprinkle a little work in. And part of that is that I’m attached to my dog, and people come up and ask us questions, and I end up spreading a lot of knowledge about Early Alert Canines and what Ricki does. Initially this wasn’t a part of my job, but when I started working for EAC, it became my whole job and my whole life.

Every year since 2015 (except for 2018), I’ve gone to meet Risa wherever she is for her birthday at the end of June. Sometimes we don’t meet until July, but I’ve spend four of the last five summers with her in some capacity. In 2015, to celebrate her 21st birthday, I flew to New York City, where she was doing an internship at a fancy cancer research center. Her whole family came, as two of her three sisters were also living in the city. In 2016, I flew to Albuquerque, where she grew up, and stayed with her and her momma. We went to Santa Fe, and then down to Gila where her dad lives. We then drove her all the way to Durham, NC, where she would begin her first term as a PhD student that fall. Two weeks after I got home from that trip, I was placed with Ricki. For her 23rd birthday, Ricki and I flew to Durham, and we drove out to Wilmington and spent the 4th of July on a little vineyard on a lake. I missed her 24th birthday, thanks to finances and my grandpa, but I got to escort her on a lovely girls weekend for her 25th to the Outer Banks. We stayed at a little cabin in the woods in Duck, NC.

Getting there was sort of an adventure. Ricki and I flew out of SFO at 9:45PM on Thursday night, and landed at 5:45am Friday morning. Every time I would fall asleep, Ricki would pop up between my legs and wake me up. I think she was anxious that we would miss our stop or something, but it was a full flight, we had the window seat, and both the guys next to me were asleep the whole time, so I couldn’t get either of us any Benadryl to help us sleep. I’d hardly slept the night before, either, with the usual pre-travel jitters. One we landed at RDU, we went back to Risa’s place, where I showered and brushed my teeth, and we went out to breakfast. We got a brief chance to catch up at breakfast before going to her lab for a few hours. I was so productive that morning— I got more done in the 4ish hours we were at her lab than I probably did all week! Who knows the quality of the work, since I was running on less than 5 hours of sleep in 48 hours, but I GOT ALL THE THINGS DONE! Ricki was out cold most of this time, curled up in a ball against a wall, snoring and dreaming. Then we went to lunch with her lab people for a farewell lunch for one of the ladies in her group, and then we drove the 5 hours to the Outer Banks. I got about an hour of sleep in the car, but Ricki didn’t settle much there either. We had a quick dinner at a cute little diner, and went to bed early. I slept more that night than I have in months! I think we were asleep by 8, and didn’t wake up until 9 or so the next morning.

Saturday was Risa’s birthday. We got breakfast at a cute little coffee brewery, and spent a few hours on the beach. We both got so fried! I was so careful with sunscreen, but we didn’t have an umbrella or chairs… Just two towels, two girls, and a dog. Ricki befriended an older couple, and stayed under their umbrella most of the time. They were kind enough to hold her leash and dogsit while Risa and I went swimming. Growing up on the West coast and spending most of my beach time on SoCal beaches, I’m so used to freezing cold Pacific Ocean waters. It was so nice to be able to go into the ocean and have it be warm! I actually went out and swam in the ocean!

Granted, the swimming is probably what did us in for the sunburns…

After the beach, we got some afternoon drinks, and wandered some shops until dinner time.


Sunday we went to the First Flight Memorial, and walked the path of the Wright Brothers and the First Flight. Ricki didn’t like all the walking we were doing, I think she’s just too young to appreciate the history of the place! Even on that tour we met a grandmother there with her diabetic grandson and ended up talking about diabetes and dogs.

We had lunch and decided it was too hot for the beach at 2pm, so we wandered some more shops, and went to the beach closer to 5. Everyone was clearing out for dinner, so it was a nice time to be there! It was still hot, but not as hot. Ricki snuggled right up on my towel and went to sleep while I read on my Kindle and Risa was on her phone. Before too long a storm came rolling in, and we had to run off the beach. We ordered a GF pizza and packed and went to bed early again.

Monday we drove the 5 hours back to Durham, just in time for my flight to be delayed. There was a lot of anxiety involved, because I had a connecting flight out of Seattle, and was supposed to be on the road by 7:30 the next morning. Thankfully we made it, and it wasn’t a full flight, so we had an empty seat next to us. The kid on the aisle seat was there alone, which seemed odd. He was pretty young to be alone. Turned out his dad was in the million mile club and got upgraded to first class, but they didn’t upgrade the kid… The dad has T1D, too, and the kid and I talked about alert dogs and Dexcoms. Always working! His dad could be a great donor for us, but I didn’t have time to chat, as I had to run across two terminals to catch my next flight! We made it just as they were about to seal the door! We landed, got my car, drove home, unpacked, repacked, ate a little, and crashed hard just in time for my alarm to go off.

At 7:45 am Tuesday morning, Jill, Max, and Sumner came and picked us up for our Portland trip!

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