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More about Kobae from Base Camp, Utah

basecampIf you want to experience life in the remote desert of Utah, visit Base Camp. The Colorado River runs alongside cutting through the dramatic red landscape.  Tom, the owner, goes walking with his tortoise there.


For the first five years of Kobae’s life he got to 22 pounds. During the last five years living out here for two thirds of the year, he’s gone from 22 pounds to somewhere around 100 pounds and he’s not done.
Kobae grew up with our dogs Bishop and Chewey, rat killing champions of the world. When I’d open up the back gate at the house in San Diego Bishop and Chewey on leashes and Kobae unleashed, would follow us down the sidewalk. Whenever we’d run into other dogs, Bishop and Chewey would be straining on the leashes to fight while Kobae would just wade into the fray. I’m comfortable he’s always thought he was a dog.

Bishop and Chewey passed in the last year or two and Kobae thinks he’s the lead dog now. Whenever other dogs show up at the lodge Kobae charges right over to greet them and establish his dominance by trying to ram them. That’s all he knows.

Most days I’ll open the gate to his acre or two pen in the morning and he’ll head down the driveway and which jeep, animal, or water runoff trail he’s going to take, is always a mystery until he’s well down it.
I’ll take a book, water, and usually something to snack on. When the day is over we will have hiked two to ten miles somewhere. I’ll just follow him and then once he’s established what trail he’s going to take I’ll get a couple hundred feet ahead of him and sit down and read my book. In time, he’ll walk by me and when he gets a couple hundred feet in front of me I’ll catch up and again get a couple hundred feet ahead of him and find a new place to sit down and read my book.
kobaeJeeps, ATV’s, 4x4’s, bicycles and an occasional hiker or two will make their way out towards the lodge though most people don’t know it’s here. Kobae and I will be three or four miles from the lodge and I’ll be sitting down on a rock in 100 degree weather in the middle of nowhere reading my book. A jeep or ATV will pull up and stop. They’ll ask “Are you ok?” I don’t look up from my book and say “Yes.” Then they say “What are you doing?” I still don’t look up and say “Reading a book and walking my dog.” It will be quiet for a few seconds while they look around and then they’ll say “Where’s your dog?” I briefly glance at them and say “He’s coming. He’s just real slow.”  Then I go back to reading my book.

It’s at this point they seem to think I’ve lost my mind cause next they’ll say. “You mind if we wait for a minute or two until your dog gets here?” They think he’s my imaginary dog and they’re trying to figure out if they should call somebody. Kobae will come walking over the hill or around the corner and I’ll hear usually the woman say “Oh my god.” Then the guy says “Holy shit.” It will be quiet again for a minute or so. I keep reading. One of them will say “Sir, that’s not a dog, it’s like a turtle or something.” I look up briefly and say “Shhhh, he thinks he’s a dog so don’t say anything.” They whisper, sorry that they called him a turtle, so Kobae can't hear. Like he understands.