Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Year Since the Wild Ride

Hey mommas of the blogosphere, Mike here. It's been one year since we left Madison, WI to start the next chapter of our lives together.  In the last year we've grown our family with Aurelia, our sweet pea, I started and have really enjoyed a new research position at Yale, and we've had so much wonderful time with family.  What we have never really shared, however, is just how we, and I mean all of us, got out here.  Melissa and Carina hopped a plane, flew to Philly, and enjoyed a few days with my family.  Me? Well, on the eve of the one year anniversary of my odyssey to pick up my ladies in Philly, here is the full story of my eastward trek with Rufus, Layla, and our over-loaded station wagon - five states, 900 miles, and one hundred and forty ounces of coffee in a single, 17-hour wild ride across I-80.

Episode I: A Journey Begins
My alarm went off at 3:00 am on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011. Prior to leaving I had to, God help me, get the kitties into their carrier.  A friend had told me about this kitty valium they had and gave me a few tablets.  You give it to your cats, and supposedly they konk out in an hour and then you drive wherever you want.  Rufus and Layla ate their little 'treats' and... reeeaaaallly pissed off.  So at 4:00 am, I picked up one cat in each arm and tried to stuff them into the carrier together.  Layla went #1 on her brother, and a stink-laden furball churned through our empty apartment.  Take two - one cat in, two cats in, close and latch the door, done - whew!  We all made it into the car and left Madison at 4:30am, getting to the outskirts of Chicago by sunrise and after only one 20 oz cup of coffee.

Episode II: The Stench
The smell in the car was overpowering.  I don't know who did what on who, but it was vile.  I pulled us all over at the nearest rest stop, prior to heading through the Windy City.  I picked up coffees number two and three (ounces 21-60), a bunch of paper towels, and a big bottle of water for my feline companions.  With a paper towel in each hand, I cleaned up the kitties, and put them onto the blankets in the back of the car that covered our stuff.  I didn't even bother with the cat carrier this time. Unfortunately for me, the rest of the ride was perfumed with eau de litter.

Rufus slinking about and Layla looking out the trunk window
Episode III: The Fight
We hit a traffic jam.  Chicago rush hour is horrific, this coming from a Philly guy.  However, the baddest 'tudes on the road were not held by Joe Schmo Bears Fan, but instead by Layla and her brother, who were still obviously high on kitty valium.  I'm not sure who hissed first or threw the first paw, but I heard, suddenly, a Hollywood-quality cat snarl.  Looking in my rear view mirror, a raging vortex of gray and black fur was rolling from the trunk to the passenger seat and back again.  The volume go so loud, I turned around and screamed SHUT UP!  Their response: HISS!!! Simultaneously at me.  Great, I'm going to die by furballcarwreckinferno.  I managed to honk the horn when I turned to yell at my tripping cats, which also earned me some "you are such a nice person" response honks.

Episode IV: @#$%@@#!!!  
We made it through the traffic jam with Layla on the floor under my feet and Rufus in the back meowing non-stop.  I had to pull over.  Cue up the next forty or so ounces of coffee and an early lunch.  We then embarked out through flat, straight, 75-mile-an-hour Indiana.  A breeze, or so I thought.  You definitely get highway hypnosis in this state.  At that precise moment, Rufus thought it would be a good idea to sneak up for an apologetic scritch'n'snuggle.  From the back seat, he leaped up onto the parking break, and then up onto the dashboard and stretched out.  Ahem,  

"OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET DOWN AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!" (edited for copious profanity)

I scooped him up and threw him backwards over my head into the backseat and redirected the car from the shoulder into which we had swerved rapidly at almost 80 mph.  He was fine, I was not.  My heart-rate went through the roof, my palms were sweaty, and I stopped just outside of Toledo, Ohio, ate a bit, and refueled on coffee (the ounce count is up to 120).

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Epilogue: Our next big step
I made it to Philly without too much more trouble at about 11:30 pm.  I got a little sick from rest stop food and stopped in Western, PA, and had some snow to deal with for the last four hours of the ride. That last bit was neat though; I was bringing winter with me.  I arrived to my loving family in Philly, we shared some champagne, and I forgave the cats in about 48 hours.  The last leg brought us to our current home in New Haven and so began the current chapter of our lives back east.  It was an unforgettable trip across about a third of our country, giving me memories that I'll never lose, and a wonderful marker of the biggest transition yet for our growing family.

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