13 October 2010

Not So Silent Night

The third day of driving was much more uneventful, and trust me when I say that you want a cross-country trip to be uneventful. This was not meant to be a long, drawn-out trek across America, although it turned out to be. Other than my jaunt down to Cannon Beach, which despite the difficulties with Anjolie and getting the truck in a bit of a jam had been very much worth it to reconnect and say goodbye by means of a photo shoot. I meant to travel as quickly and as directly as I could across America. I was towing my car and traveling with three cats. This was not a situation I was evenly slightly interesting in prolonging any more than necessary. 

I finally drove out of Oregon, across the broad part of Idaho, and down into Utah. Late that night, I found a nice hotel in Trementon, Utah, but they didn’t accept cats as guests either, so I had to leave my sweet babies in the cab for a second night in a row. Don’t you know that those cats were now convinced that not only had I stuffed them in carriers and driven away from our home in paradise, but now I was going to force them to live in the cab of a truck for the rest of their lives? Oh my gawd! If I hadn’t been so tired from pushing on that day to make up some of the lost time, I would have driven onward, but I couldn’t get going and it was already cooler so I knew they’d be okay if not exactly happy about the whole cab camping trip that would have sent them to a therapist if they had been humans.

Fortunately felines are way more resilient so they scrambled out of their hiding places when I laid out the evening’s fare before them. I cleared their litter box again, freshened up their water, and did that best I could to make their accommodations as tidy and comfortable as possible given the close quarters of the truck cab. I cracked the windows again, hauled my luggage across the sand pit of a truck parking lot, and retired to my room on the third floor. I was delighted that the room overlooked the parking area, so I could actually check on the truck at least without going out in the middle of the night this time. I did this exactly once and then passed out on the bed after a delicious shower.

The next morning I forced myself to leave the lovely and comfortable hotel room I’d found last night. After a free full breakfast, I stumbled back out to the truck to find paw prints of a canine kind on the passenger side of the cab along with a smaller set of prints, which looked distinctly like raccoon prints. Ahem. So a dog had treed a raccoon on top of my truck? I guess that should be trucked the raccoon but that sounds like it gave the raccoon a ride, something more on the friendly side of life. Okay then. Needless to say I wasn’t the least bit surprise to find the cab of the truck in a disastrous state, no doubt from the chaos that had ensued with the arrival of a barking dog and the scrambling raccoon. Three felines stared accusingly at me. Even Dustin looked as though he’d lost a bit of faith in me. I apologized profusely while they dined on breakfast and got lots of cuddles and soothing noises from their truly remorseful mother. I vowed then that for the remainder of the trip, my cats were coming inside with me if I had to sneak them in one by one. I’d smuggled a cat into a hotel room before inside a pillow case along with the pillow. I’d do it again if I had to, or I’d stay in the truck with them in a campground.

Fortunately after hearing the tale of the dog prints on the side of the truck cab, my niece and my mother figured out how to get online and scout ahead for cat-friendly hotels. It took a little planning and regrouping when I began making better and better time, but each night for the remainder of the trip they were able to find not only cat-friendly places for me to stay but also ones with AARP discounts and sometimes free pet stays and free breakfast for me. I hadn’t been eating real meals more than once a day on the whole trip, so being able to start out with a decent breakfast at least was nice.

Being able to keep my kitties in the room with me was wonderful. We were able to hone our routine pretty well for the rest of the trip. I had only one more night when I had a problem getting Anjolie to come out of her hiding place. I guess after three days and two nights in the cab, she had resigned herself to living in the small space behind the passenger seat. When it was time to get everyone inside, she refused to budge, so once again I got the boys inside first so I could focus every drop of energy and patience on my terrified little princess.

I finally had to lean the truck seat the two inches forward that it allowed me, reach down behind the seat, grab Anjolie by the scruff on the neck, and lift her to the platform next to the seat. Then I held her there until I could shift my position and stuff her into a carrier. She was none too happy about it, but once she got into the room and realized that she could run around again, she was absolutely ecstatic. She and her brothers feasted on their dinner, slurped water like camels on a drinking binge, and ricocheted across the room like ping pong balls. I was never so happy to see such enthusiastic chaos in all my life. The best thing was that they’d stuck me in the “pet wing” of the hotel apparently and it was empty, so they could make all the noise they wanted, and they did until they wore themselves out finally. I thought that with this turn of events we had finally reached a turning point in our journey, but the next day’s adventures let me know that no, we’d only been allowed one day of respite.


Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link: http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks

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