Sweet Tyler, who died in 2007. RIP
Cats are really more adaptable than you think.
You can catch up with the preface and Ch. 1 on my home page … scroll down to the Trippin’ category.
We were moving West. Originally, the plan was for Bob and me to drive the truck and tow my car —-containing the cats — on a trailer. I had been distinctly uncomfortable with this idea for fear they wouldn’t have enough ventilation … or that the trailer would come unhooked and they’d all die in a car crash…. ok, yes, I am an infamous neurotic.
Not to mention that on a good day, Bob’s driving made me crazy. This was so well-known among my friends that one emailed me before the trip and asked me to remember to repeat my trip mantra, “Bob is a saint”, when things got hairy on the road. Bob behind the wheel of a 24- foot truck with 20-foot trailer and my car sent chills down my spine.
Anyway, at the last minute we decided we’d forgo the trailer. I’d drive the cats in my car, following Bob who would drive the truck by himself. In my spare time on Friday, in between packing boxes and calling van lines I’d run out to Target and bought several new CDs for the trip (all mine were packed) along with two walkie-talkies so we could keep in touch during the trip.
Oh. You’re probably wondering what a walkie-talkie is. These were the days before everyone had a cellphone attached to their heads. A walkie-talkie is….well, Google it.
I decided on a 6-CD variety to keep me amused. Abba, I figured, would give me mindless energy. Enigma would play to the mysteries that lay ahead. JoDee Messina was for Texas, a little bit of country honky tonk. Opera from Andrea Bocelli would provide drama. (“Why is that guy singing with his eyes closed?” Bob once asked me.) And then, just to be contrary, I got my very first Christian music CD. Only it was a 2CD set. What the heck, I thought, it’ll be different.
The rice rocket’s CD player can be temperamental, so I tested it the day before. Yep, it would only play two CDs. The Christian CDs. This was problematic. No matter what I tried, it wouldn’t play any of the others. So, I used a trick my father taught me: I banged the magazine on the ground a few times and then tried again. Worked like a charm.
Oh. What’s a magazine? It’s the multiple-CD holder.
Meanwhile, we had cat accommodations to consider. In a stroke of genius, Bob had created the ultimate in cat car carriers. He bought a huge dog crate and built two carpeted second story berths so two of the cats could ride “upstairs”, while one rode on the main floor with a small litter pan.
The cage fit wonderfully — but that was when we were towing the car. Now that I was driving, I couldn’t see out of my rear or side windows, and definitely couldn’t see my blind spot even if I turned around. We fiddled with the cage for an hour until we got an acceptable angle that allowed me enough visibility. Barely.
Departure morning dawned warm and sunny. We introduced the cats to their mobile home, tested the walkie talkies and were off.
The Kitty Chorus began almost immediately. Of course, I’d gotten some Valium from the vet, but had reserved it for myself–it had been a trying week. They would be adjusting without the pills. I definitely need them for my own adjustment.
And they did fine, only occasionally singing along with me and the CDs.
Not my cats, but could have been.
Early on, Tyler and Cecily saw the advantage of riding up top. But when Taz commandeered the litter pan as his traveling berth, I knew we would have problems. Periodically, hisses and spits would emanate from over my right shoulder, as a cat tried to unseat Taz so as to use the litter pan.
And that part was pleasant, too. Fortunately, I’d bought a lovely peach spray for the trip. I used copious amounts.
Things were going pretty well. The weather was good, Bob and I stayed in touch on the walkie talkies and the cats were calm. I learned quickly that driving behind Bob allowed me to use the cool new walkie talkies to liberally comment on his inability to keep the truck between the white lines.
Soon, Bob asked me to drive ahead of him, which made us both more comfortable. I didn’t have to watch him weaving all over the road and he didn’t have to listen to me correct his driving. Of course, since he had the only map, faith was my navigator, not one of my strong suits. But we had the walkie talkies.
We stopped in Mobile the first night, at a pet-friendly Clarion. Getting the huge cat cage and all its accouterments out of the car was an ordeal, but finally we were in the room. It was immediately clear that Taz had had a personality change on the road.
Whether he was autistic, or simply crazy, we didn’t know, but on a good day, Taz wouldn’t let anyone go near him, much less pick him up. However, in the motel that first night, Taz was all over me like white on rice. Just like a normal, lovable cat. And it wasn’t just the first night-it was every night. So what if I was covered with long white cat hair–I had this sweet, lovable kitty finally completely rehabilitated!! Very cool, I thought. He’s happy to be returning to California.
Come morning, we couldn’t find any of the cats. Anticipating a continuation of the drive, each had found a good hiding place in the motel. Still, everyone got packed up before dawn, and we were on our way. Day 2. Making progress.
Texas is big. Real big. So big it took 2 days to drive through. And it’s flat. I didn’t see the road runner Bob claimed tried to run him off the highway, but I did see so much road kill I was convinced it was a way of life in Texas. One memorable vision was a huge steer lying dead and bloated in the median, horns in the air. You don’t see many of those in Florida. Even though there were tons of road kill – we saw no carrion. I buzzed in on the walkie talkie and told Bob I was convinced they were so sated they just didn’t bother to come out any more.
The horizon stretched forever. Long, flat, boring. I decided to memorize one of the Christian songs for entertainment. You think I’m kidding? “Wash meee innnn….his preciousss bloooood…..”
The cats occasionally chimed in.
We stopped in San Antonio for the night. It was a mercy.
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