Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Arriving at Pottawatomie

The cats awoke to the sound of rain on the RV Tuesday morning.  Rudy drowsily noted that it sounded louder on the roof than it did at home, but she guessed that was to be expected, since there wasn’t an attic between herself and the roof.  Having made that observation she decided to sleep in.  There was no reason to get up.  When LT woke he was hungry so he padded to the food dish and ate a couple mouthfuls of crunchies.  The smooshy food bowl was empty, which was not good.  He went into the bedroom, jumped on the bed and stared at David.  That usually worked with the Daddy.   When David didn’t open his eyes, LT walked closer and gently patted David’s face.  His eyes flew open and he made a loud ‘woof’ and shook his head.  “Aw, jeez, rain?  That’s going to slow us down today.  I hate rain when I’m driving this thing.”  He got up and wandered around blearily for a few minutes.  LT shadowed him until David realized that the reason LT was on his heels was a lack of smooshy food, so he filled the bowl.  LT chowed down and arranged himself on the couch to watch David’s morning routine.  By the time David was eating breakfast LT had fallen back to sleep. 

When LT woke again he found himself surrounded with pillows which were surrounded by bricks.  Very odd.  He thought about it and decided they were there to keep him from sliding off the couch if the RV took a sharp turn.  Quite a courteous gesture, LT decided.  David was a considerate human, even if he didn’t ensure a constant supply of smooshy food.  He joined David in the front of the RV, jumping up on the passenger seat.  “Well, old man, we’ve got a longer drive today, particularly if we can’t outrace this rainstorm.  It’s about 450 miles to Pottawatomie, but most of it is I-70 and that’s a pretty fast road.  I’m likely to be the slowest vehicle on it today if the rain keeps up.”  LT watched the rain, which gradually slowed and then stopped. 

The day’s routine was the same as it had been for the past two days, except that today’s lunch stop was brief.  Eat, run, and jump back in the RV.  David was anxious to get to his destination.  By the last day of a drive like this he just wanted to settle in and know that he didn’t have to spend the entire next day driving.  It was after 4 pm by the time they left the interstate.  “About 30 miles and we’ll be at our destination, folks, and it can’t be soon enough.”  David laughed as he said this.  He navigated the smaller road and made a phone call about his rental car.  He’d arranged for it to be delivered to the RV park, and he wanted to make sure it arrived soon after they did.  He needed to get groceries, and it was too hot to leave the cats in the vehicle with no air conditioning while he shopped. 

It was Rudy’s turn in the passenger seat when David called, “We’re in Pottawatomie, kitties.”  LT scrambled to join Rudy on the seat.  They looked out the window, craning to spot the special cat dwellings or perhaps a cat conclave, but all they saw were fields, and occasionally a driveway.  Where were the cats?  As they drew closer to their destination there were more buildings, but nothing like they had imagined.  They didn’t see a single cat.  David made a left turn onto Main Street, and now they saw stores, but still no cats.  One more turn and they pulled into their destination, Oregon Trail RV Park.  It wasn’t nearly as impressive as the places they had stayed for the last two nights; in fact it was pretty small.  Within a few minutes David was hooking up the electric and expanding the living room and bedroom.  Finally he invited them to come outside and explore, with a reminder to stay close, as they were in unfamiliar territory. 

They were the only RV in the park, which wasn’t surprising since it was mid-week and school was still in session, and this obviously wasn’t a big tourist destination.  The cats nosed around for a few minutes, finding nothing of interest.  Two small cars pulled up and David went over to talk to one of the drivers.  He came back and called to the cats to get back in the RV.  “I need to go get some groceries, and I’m not comfortable leaving you two outside here.  We don’t know if there are dogs around or what the people are like.”  Sighing, the two cats climbed back into the RV and watched as David pulled away in one of the cars.  This was not what they were expecting from this trip.   Not at all.  And grocery shopping?  When the Mommy or Daddy went grocery shopping they were gone forever.  Were they just supposed to spend the next month cooped up in the RV while David worked or shopped or whatever?  No way, José. Rudy jumped down and pawed at the cat door.  LT joined her and through sheer luck they discovered that if one of them pushed on the latch while the other pushed it down that it unlocked.  Quick as a bunny both cats were outside.  

A systematic exploration of their immediate area revealed a building with some rustic showers and sinks, a few picnic tables and a storm shelter.  As they ranged a bit further they saw a community pool (that wasn’t open) and a large hole in the ground surrounded by a fence.  Rudy figured the fence kept children from falling in.  Still they didn’t see a single cat.  As they wandered back to the RV, LT spotted a dog out near the road.  Preparing to run, in case he wasn’t friendly, LT called out to him.  “Hello?  We’re visitors to the area and are looking for some information.  Can you help us?”

The dog, who had just been passing by, looked over and saw the cats who had addressed him.  “Well, I suppose so, seeing you aren’t from around these parts.  I don’t usually talk to cats, but there’s no one around here likely to help you.”  He walked closer, stopping about ten feet away.  “How can I help you?” 

Rudy couldn’t contain herself.  “Well, now that we’re in Pottawatomie, we’re looking for the cats, you know.”

The dog gave them a quizzical look.  “Well, some folks around here have cats, I suppose.  I do see them in town.  There are quite a few strays that have been abandoned over time.  They tend to hang around places where folks might throw away food scraps.  The South Forty Café puts food out for them at night after they close.  Are those the cats you mean?”

Rudy and LT took turns explaining what they had heard about Pottawatomie, the salons, special houses for cats and the high respect they were shown by humans.  The dog looked more confused the longer they talked. 

Well, first off, you’re in Westmoreland, not Pottawatomie.  Yeah, this part of town is in Pottawatomie Township, but there’s no real town called that.  And there’s none of that foolishness here.  Cats are cats, people are people and dogs are dogs.  No one caters to cats specially and the humans certainly don’t ask their advice.  I think someone was telling you folks tall tales.  If you don’t believe me, go talk to Sheba up the street towards the center of town.  She’s a tabby who’s lived here her whole life, and she knows every cat in the area.  She can set you straight.”  The dog shook his head and trotted back towards the street.  He couldn’t wait to tell his friends about the ‘pilgrims to Pottawatomie’.  They’d get a kick out of this.

The two cats just stared at each other.  LT shook his head and said, “It’s too hot out here.  Let’s go back inside and think about this.  Maybe the dog was wrong.  Maybe he’s jealous that dogs aren’t treated special.  There has to be an explanation.”  Rudy nodded.  They couldn’t have come all this way to not find their hearts’ desire.  

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