Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Perfect Road Trip From Hell

I could tell you travel adventures I have had for hours but you don't have hours and neither do I.

What's more each little adventure would be a snippet, an element of a single trip and I'd have to string trip upon trip upon trip together to the point that you would be confused and wondering why we're hopping an overhead tramway in Olathe, Kansas.

Every trip has an element of hell in it. A traveller's nightmare that is unpleasant and you want to get through and only if you look at it in retrospect does it become funny.

There was the old man's misreading p.m. for a.m. that had us sleeping on the floor of the train station in Switzerland until the next morning. It being Switzerland, we were also obligated to do a little light sweeping and dusting of the lobby.

Or the bed and breakfast from hell in rural Kentucky wherein I posed as a Senior Director of a company I knew to be headquartered a few towns away and we feigned urgent calls to get me (and us) out of there. Hopefully with a few of our pre-paid nights refunded us.

And of course there's always changing in the Detroit airport men's room or sprinting through Atlanta for the seven minute connection. That comes with the territory.

But there was one trip, a road trip, where the elements of misfortune combined together into a perfect storm of discomfort, misfortune and trouble. All in three and a half hours in a Chevette from New Jersey to Rhode Island.

We were moving from one state to the other, from Jersey to Rhode Island. Its impossible to say why, even now. Neither is a garden spot of anything. Rhode Island has some lovely beaches if you like to sunburn to Bon Jovi with radio static. Fortunately, if you extort, print or bleed your own money, you can always pick up some lovely shorefront property from the last guy who's house blew away during a hurricane. Plus the entire state is corrupt as hell. Grifters from New Orleans hone their skills in the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

New Jersey is, well, New Jersey. If you'd like me to elaborate, you have not been paying attention to any movie made by a native New Yorker in the last fifty years.

Essentially, we were leaving one mistake for another. With the cat. In a 1978 sinus infection green Chevrolet Chevette. Rumored to have an engine.

Now cats, for those of you who do or don't know better, don't travel well. My current furbags get irritable going from room to room. So to make the journey manageable for you and the cat, the idea is to distract one of you, preferably the cat, from the uncomfortable aspects of the trip.

You tranquilize the animal with a mild depressant. One that has the effect of concentrating the "don't give a shit" gene all cats possess. After two hours of cornering the animal in a one-bedroom apartment, also applying pressure to areas that are bleeding profusely once you've given the animal the pill (you're bleeding, not the cat, check it out; He: claws. You: zilch) and stuffed the little monster into his plush travel case, you realise you should have taken the pills and let him freak out.

So the cat is sedated, it's lovely Saturday morning with temperatures in the mid-seventies and an early fall opportunity to don shorts and a t-shirt one more time. The car runs. Not well. Not fast. But it runs and with Chevettes you count your blessings.

"Thank you Lord we got to the Tappan Zee."

"Praise be to God, we made it through Westchester."

Somewhere in Stonington though, we were completely and entirely foresaken. The perfect storm began to form when a mechanical front made the entire exhaust pipe fall off the car.

No shit. No catalytic converter either. No muffler so a '78 econobox with a can of bees for an engine now sounds like one of the cast extras from "Mad Max."

Not to mention venting carbon monoxide into the passenger cabin. Solution: Open the windows.

That of course would let fresh air course through the car and fresh air is of course the antidote to cat tranquilizers. This low pressure woke the furball up with a fury and a fury is what he turned into. When he wasn't trying to claw his way out of the cage and into your body cavity, he was howling at the top of his lungs. So loud that it drowned out the Toecutter's muffler-free ride out or more likely made me think we were being pursued by a SWAT team with sirens on.

Finally we introduced tropical moisture that completed the mix.

Rhode Island, and this is entirely non-scientific so don't even think of posting comments of a meteorological nature, this is a humorous blog. Get with it. But Rhode Island has a microclimate that can be evidenced in that it is the land surrounding Narragansett bay, Narragansett being a native American word meaning "Rains here a lot, keep going to Massachusetts."

The moment we got to the border from Connecticut, and I mean you could almost draw a line in the poor soil. The nanosecond that I-95 went from Radar Detector prohibited to drive like hell, we don't care. That moment...

the temperature dropped 25 degrees.

A solid line of cloud hung over Rhode Island and mid seventies went to low fifties and we were in shorts and t shirts and goosebumps the size of baseballs and teeth chattering in unison to the chatter of the few mechanical parts left on the car that were still working and we had to have the windows open and the cat was howling and the car was roaring and we did not take this as a clue that maybe, just perhaps, the move was not the best of ideas?

It was the two bowls of Obtuse Crispies we had that morning. It had to be.

If it didn't go wrong, it was because we didn't have it that day.

We finally pulled into the driveway of the new house, put the cat in the bedroom to let him acclimate one room at a time, forgot that there wasn't a litter box in the bedroom forgot about the cat for awhile and threw out a perfectly good new pair of fleece slippers that day.

We eventually warmed up. I think it was two days later.

It took forever to lose the car. In fact, it took us moving and "forgetting" the old thing in the driveway.

And it made sleeping on the floor of a Swiss train station seem like a night at the Waldorf.


Blogger Kathryn said...

another plus on the dog side of things

7:15 PM  
Blogger thestraightpoop said...

This was incredible! What a great story and from a great storyteller...

"After two hours of cornering the animal in a one bedroom apartment, applying pressure to area that were bleeding profusely once you've given the animal the pill...you realise you should have taken the pills and let him freak out."

SO GOOD!!! Said by the woman who will never travel with a cat again...

2:47 PM  
Blogger Bunny's Cousin said...

The secret to travelling with cats is to declaw the dang thing!

2:22 PM  

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