Did you ever see a movie where the balloon is heading towards a mountain
top, or very high tree and the folks inside the basket are throwing
stuff out as fast as they can in order to gain some height? Well,
we've lived that.
Bright and early the next morning, at o-dark hundred Annie and I got
up and deflated our bed and prepared to pack up all our clothes, our
five cats, and the remainder of the stuff we had decided to take with
Some of the stuff we couldn't have put in the truck if we wanted to
-- firearms, clothes for the week we'd be on the road and without our
washer, some cleaning items, a machine to clean the rugs (for when the
cats threw up in the hotels :>), our pillows and inflatable bed (to
sleep on until our furniture arrived a couple of days later). A
few things were "extras": things we just hadn't quite had the
time to load but would take with us in the vehicle. And then, of
course, the five cats (each in a separate cage) along with food and cat
supplies such as litter and a litter box (more on this later).
We had meant to have a rehearsal on loading all of this up to make
sure we knew exactly where it went. For one thing, I had no real
idea how I was going to attach our luggage to the roof rack of the
Durango, so a practice was very important. It was on our to-do
list, and it kept slipping further and further along as the many other
to-do things that were more urgent crowded it out until at last it was
And we were on a timetable -- because all of our hotel reservations
had to be made in advance in order to assure we'd end up at places that
wouldn't have a heart attack when we showed up with five animals in
cages, we needed to drive a certain number of miles each and every
day. There wasn't much margin for error -- I had planned on 10
hour driving days so the trip would only take four days (and three
nights). I didn't think that either the cats or us could take
anymore (and I was right).
So when we awoke that morning we were pressed for time. The
mountain cliffs were coming closer, and we only had so much altitude in
that balloon. And as we started to pack everything it became
crystal clear that unless we started jettisoning things we weren't going
to make it.
So out they went -- out went boxes of stuff we had no time to pack in
the trailer. Out went pillows and blankets and things for which
there was just no room for. We had to leave the cleaning machine
behind -- no room at the inn.
Annie would look at me and say "we're leaving this behind?"
and I'd say "well, do you have any idea where we'd put it?"
and so it got left. It was somewhat comical at the time, except
that I was starting to panic that we wouldn't be able to fit the cats in
either. But we did, and that particular part worked out as well or
better than I had planned.
The cats certainly weren't happy about the situation. Certainly
they knew being in cages was a Bad Thing. It only meant
humiliation at the hands of white-coated sadists who liked to stick them
and prod them in places they weren't meant to be sticked and
prodded. However, they also knew that it would come to an end,
eventually. They had no idea.
But we got away at a reasonable time, reasonable enough to expect
we'd make our first stop that night. The cats started crying, of
course. The cacophony (catcophony?) of their wails was
funny. For a while. After 100 miles or so it became very
tiresome. The next 200 miles were the worst. And the next
200 miles after that, that was the worst as well. It was not
looking good for the home team but then they did sort of wear themselves
out and after that, for the remainder of the trip, they would cry but in
a rather resigned way, as kids do when they know you aren't going to pay
attention to them but they need to make the effort just to let you know
they haven't quite given up.
We had one big scare -- Jasmine rolled over on her back and acted
like she was going to die. Right then. Right now. She
played dead as well as any dog I've ever seen, and there wasn't much we
could do about it so we just kept going. After a while she turned
over again and looked at us as if to say "Well, if that
didn't work I don't know what I can do about this."
Arriving each night at the hotel was a comedy of errors in and of
itself. While we had booked in "animal friendly" rooms,
after the first hotel where we mentioned we had five cats and
they said "well, it will be $50 per cat" with subsequent
calls we became vague about quantity. "It's okay if we bring
our cat(s)?" So we smuggled in the five cats (are there such
things as cat smugglers? "Okay, let's see what you have there
in that mewling, meowing, case with airholes!") each night.
With five cases (and 80+ pounds of cats -- no kidding!) it took at least
two trips for just the cats, not to mention our two huge suitcases and
pillows and cooler. By the time we spent 30 minutes getting
everything into the room we were exhausted.
If only that was the hardest part...
Next: Fireworks, etc.