We had planned on taking three days to drive across the country. Joe and I would switch off driving every three hours. He’d take the first morning shift every day because he’s the morning person. I’d end up with the late shift that way, which works well because I’m the night person. We decided that we’d try to have the kitties take bathroom breaks on the road, whether it was in a bathroom or just at a rest stop and bought a suitable plastic container for the litter. We researched. We booked hotels ahead of time. I knew, roughly, where we’d be taking our breaks every day.
It was perfect.
It was doomed to fail.
In retrospect, I don’t know what we were thinking. We wanted the cats to be upset as little as possible, but our plan put the cats in the car for sometimes as much as twelve hours a day. And Parker… well, we knew he “didn’t travel well.” But that’s actually part of WHY we tried to push so hard, so he’d have to deal with it as little as possible.
The problems started, actually, on the day before we left. We rented a truck to move our things into a
impossibly tiny small moving crate that would be shipped across the country. Both rentals were from a company that rhymes with “You-Stall” and I’m calling it that because when you use them, you stall your progress on your move. Or, at least, that’s what happened with us.
We lived roughly ten minutes from a You-Stall location. So, that’s where we ordered the truck and the box and that would have been fine. Only… it wasn’t. It REALLY wasn’t. They called to let us know that, hey, the box we ordered? It wasn’t there. They had one across town, though, so we could use that.
That’s a problem. A really big problem. Because getting across town in Seattle is often difficult. Traffic is never what I’d call “good” and often what I’d call “not moving much” or “hellish”. Guess how traffic was that day? HELLISH.
So, after we loaded the truck, which, of course, took longer than we’d thought, we spent an hour sitting in an area locals often “The Mercer Mess”… and THEN we hit freeway traffic. And then, when we got to the facility, they informed us that, oh, hey, we were told your order cancelled so we don’t have a crate out. It’ll be a bit.
Then, the loading… took longer than we hoped. And it was hot. And not everything fit, so we had to make some heartbreaking decisions about what to leave behind. Additionally, by the time we were to that point, the facility was about to CLOSE so we couldn’t unload and reload it in a better way, based on what we were leaving behind.
After that ordeal – and quite an ordeal it was – we tried to return the truck there. No can do. Apparently, it was a “local truck” which means it had to be returned to the facility. Once again, traffic was bad. Our phones, which we were relying on, were dying. My mother, who had come to help us, had some blood sugar issues and her phone was dying and she doesn’t actually spend a lot of time in the city, so I was worried about her when she went to get something to help her blood sugar.
By the time we dropped off the truck, it was late-ish. We needed food. But with food sensitivities and allergies, the places we could go were somewhat limited, unless we wanted to spend a lot of money. So we drove across town to one place we thought would work. We paid for parking and… they were closing early due to something that happened down the street (or something). So we drove, again, across town, to a Denny’s, because we know that although the grease can cause us issues, we typically don’t have some of the other issues that we have from a lot of restaurants.
Then, we drove home, said goodbye to my mother, and went to bed.
So, that was “the day before”.
In the morning, we woke up late. Because we were out late the day before. And we still had cleaning and such to do because the stuff the day before took ALL DAY. So we didn’t get on the road until late afternoon. This would have been fine… except that we had a long way to go. The first day, we had planned to drive from Seattle, WA to Missoula, MT. And late afternoon means rush hour in the Mercer Mess.
Remember when I said I knew Parker didn’t travel well? He cries most of the way. He will, even under sedation, bash against the carrier trying to get out. He has BROKEN CAT CARRIERS. Impressive feat for a cat who, until recently, was very tiny. Before we even moved them to the car, Parker was crying. Sometimes, his crying encouraged the other two to join in. We were serenaded by a cacophony of cat cries.
On Mt. Rainier, we stopped and brought the cats into a bathroom, hoping they’d go. Of course, the didn’t. I think we tried again later, but I can’t remember for sure. We knew they weren’t going to go in the litter box while on the road. We ended up trying to drive as much as possible without stopping for breaks until absolutely necessary. It was helpful that Kai drifted off to sleep and the kitties slept some, too.
At roughly 1:30 a.m., we were on the road in Idaho, when suddenly, a cat starts mewling, horrendously. It’s Parker. Soon, he’s joined by two other kitties. Just a Kai start going, “UGH,” the stench hit the front seat. Parker had had an accident. We’d planned for wet accidents. We hadn’t counted on cat crap.
We pulled over at the first available exit and pulled into a gas station. Without a doubt, this was the CREEPIEST gas station I have ever been at. It was dark. The gas station was closed and there was only one main light on. It was in the middle of some woods in the middle of nowhere. There were no lights ANYWHERE nearby. The whole time we were there, I was certain something awful was going to happen to us.
It was creepy. It was so creepy. Did I mention that it was THE CREEPIEST GAS STATION EVER? It was like the beginning of a horror movie, when something breaks down and the main characters end up somewhere they didn’t mean to be. Like a dark gas station. In the middle of nowhere. With a cat that runs off…
We take the cats out of the car and start trying to get them to use the litterbox while Joe is cleaning out the box. There were a million paper towels used. Luckily, we had a spray to work on cleaning the box with.
Then, Hanners, who has always been pretty skittish, managed to slip out of her harness and run under the car. Lots of worrying and trying to coax her out ensued. Finally, she came out for her favorite human, Joe. (Thank goodness… she could have ran off into the woods and been gone for ever. She’s the only one of our cats with no claws and she definitely wouldn’t be okay on her own.)
Eventually, we were able to get back on the road. After a time change and a bunch of construction and what has to be the WORST freeway ever (I-90, I’m looking at you) and some extra stops so really sleepy drivers can trade off, we finally arrive in Missoula…
…at about six in the morning.
So, Joe checked us in and booked an extra night. The “next day” (really, it was later the same day), we would re-arrange our trip and rebook all our hotels.
Until then… sleep.