They say (those who say things) that travel broadens your mind:
traveling through 11 states in 4 days with 5 cats in the back of your
vehicle will broaden your mind wide enough to drive several
tractor-trailers through it at once.
It is, of course, unfair to form judgments about states you are
seeing only from the interstate at 70 mph, but it's also impossible not
to at least get an impression of what the state is like. As we
moved from state to state it was clear we weren't in Nevada anymore.
Utah, as usual, was lovely -- it was the only state along the route
that actually had beautiful scenery to see, including the incredible
salt flats of Bonneville. Once we left it, though, we were mostly
left with thousands of miles of the same, flat, farmland like country no
matter what state we went through.
Not the billboards, however. They started to change into weird
and odd sightings that told us we were truly strangers in a strange
land. As soon as we hit Wyoming we were beseeched with ads for
fireworks: they touted fireworks as some states would tout gasoline
("Last chance for fireworks for the next 50 miles!").
They also mentioned, specifically, that they sold alcohol along with the
fireworks. Yep, that's a combination I always want to see
-- when I think of setting fireworks off, I think of getting really and
truly drunk first.
And these were no small one-person stands as I was used to seeing as
a child in California (long since legislated out of existence).
No, we would pass huge complexes, the size of a small Wal-mart,
filled to the brim with all manner of explosives and booze. We
could see the many pickups and older sedans parked in the parking lots,
making their frantic purchases as they drove home for the day ("Honey?! Did you remember to pick up the Wild Turkey?
Oh, and a case of Flaming Ninja Shooters?").
It wasn't just Wyoming -- this pattern was repeated with some
variations nearly the remainder of our trip. The biggest change
was in Missouri (near the birthplace of Harry Truman, our 32nd
President) where the combo the stores sold changed from "Fireworks
and Booze" to "Fireworks and Pornography" (not such a
large stretch when you stop and think about it). Once again,
they used scare tactics: "Last Chance for Porn for 50
miles!" I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
("Honey, are you sure we have enough pornography for the
next 50 miles?")
It was also around Missouri that we had the final straw with our cat
plan. The Plan had been to stop two or three times throughout the
day and let the cats use the catbox we had brought along for this
purpose. It seemed a reasonable Plan as plans go, but in actual
practice it meant we both needed to get out of the vehicle, remove the
cat box from the one tiny space it was in to remove all the stuff that
was crammed in it, one of us get back into the vehicle with the box
while the other closed the door behind them (so the cats couldn't get
out) and then remove one cat from the cage and place them (so they
couldn't wander about the vehicle) into the box and have them
perform. Rinse and repeat. Four times.
Of course, after having been subjected to the most terrifying three
or four hours of their life, then being given freedom (such as it were)
and placed into a pile of sand, the cats weren't exactly
cooperative. In actual fact with the dozens (and dozens) of times
we repeated this ritual we got results exactly once: one cat, one
time actually used the box. (This, of course, was worse than if no
one had ever done it, since we were always thinking that this
would be the time that someone once again would use the boxes and so
repeated things unsuccessfully again and again and again).
I think eventually the cats got the idea -- they could get us to stop
this horrible experience by simply acting as if, right now, they
needed to use the box. Sure enough, we stopped not once, not
twice, but three times within about 15 minutes when Jasmine each time
told us she had to go in no uncertain terms. And then, of course,
That was Missouri and after that we stopped with the boxes and made
much better time. Of course, it was also soon after that that
Jasmine has an "accident" about 20 minutes from our hotel
room. But at that point it didn't matter -- the trip had taken its
toll and we were nearly done. Each night had brought relief from
the cats as they were let out -- yes, it was a strange room but at least
it wasn't moving and there was food and water. Every morning had
brought new terrors for our babies -- oh, no, we're getting locked in
the cages again for another full day of torture and despair. On the last day (of the four day
trip) the cats were in a surly mood and were letting us know this had
better be the end or else.
At a rest stop late in the day we opened the car door only to be
swarmed with mosquitoes and other flying, biting bugs. We
immediately got back in and drove off but they had invaded the vehicle
and the only way to get rid of them was to open all the windows.
As the cats were in their carriers (always during the trip) this
presented no problems but as the wind whipped about the interior as we
went 70 mph the cats started screaming -- it was an ungodly sound, like
the howling of banshees -- as they knew it was the end of life for them
for sure. Both Annie and I were laughing as punch drunk maniacs,
which only added to the cats anger. It was indeed the end for all
Next: The Emerald City