Sunday, June 3, 2012

On the Road to Pottawatomie

Although Sunday was usually a day that the humans slept much later than the cats, everyone was up by 6:30 am.  The Mommy nuzzled Peep as she got up, telling her that there was at least one sensible cat in the house who knew better than to run off on a wild goose chase.  Peep nodded her agreement, but decided to keep her thoughts to herself.  There was no good in sending LT and Rudy off with the memory of negative words from her.  It would be a long separation, and she wanted their memory of her to be something to come home to, not something to avoid. 

The Daddy wandered around in his long johns, trying to make coffee using a brain that was at best working at quarter speed.  He measured the coffee three times before he was pretty sure he’d gotten it right.  LT and Rudy sat by the food bowl waiting for smooshy food.  They wanted one last home-served meal before they left.  Daddy picked up LT and put him in his usual spot on the table and gave him a small dish of milk, never mind that the Mommy didn’t like LT on the table.  When she came into the kitchen she looked at LT but didn’t say a word.  She bent down and stroked Rudy’s back, thinking that she’d better give David a cat brush, otherwise Rudy would come home looking like a witch.  She needed regular grooming to keep the knots out of her fur. 

As soon as the coffee was ready, the Daddy headed outside with a cup for David.  The side door of the RV was open, as was the hood.  David was checking fluid levels and doing the other things responsible drivers do before starting long trips.  He didn’t want any surprises on the road that could be avoided.  David accepted the cup and the two discussed the weather, traffic conditions in Pennsylvania – anything but the cats.  The Daddy was already missing them even though they hadn’t left yet, and David could plainly see that and kept the conversation light.  The Mommy came out a few minutes later, hastily dressed and planted herself between the two men.  “David, all I can say is that you’d better take good care of our kitties and bring them back home to us safely.  I can see you and the cats are excited about this trip but I’ve still got some worries.  Make sure those pictures you send every day have the day’s newspaper in them with the date showing so I know you haven’t lost my cats, okay?” 

David wasn’t used to the Mommy’s plain spoken ways, and was taken a little aback.  “Yes, ma’am,” he replied.  She turned and headed back to the house.  Turning to the Daddy, David said, “Well, you said she wasn’t much of a morning person.  Take care, old man.”  Rudy and LT were waiting at the RV’s door, and after a cuddle from the Daddy they climbed the steps, ready to set out on their trip.  David checked to make sure the cat door was locked, got in and closed the door. 

Inside, Peep and the Mommy stood at the window and watched the RV pull out of the driveway.  The Daddy came in with a very sad look, gave the Mommy a hug, picked up Peep and buried his face in her fur.  Neither said anything for a while.  Peep watched them as they drank their coffee, and alternated rubbing up against their legs, first her and then him.  Finally the Daddy sighed and said, “Well, are you still up to breakfast in New Egypt and a trip to the flea market?”  The Mommy said that they might as well go.  Within half an hour Peep was alone in the house. 

The cats had said their goodbyes while the humans were still asleep.  When Peep had said that she would worry about them, Rudy replied that David had an Ipad, and that she, Rudy, would send emails every day, and that Peep better check her email.  LT tasked her with chairing the Cat Club meetings while they were gone, and the two travelers nuzzled Peep and each washed an ear to make her feel loved. 

Now Peep gently touched her ears and thought to herself that it would be a very long month, even with daily emails and Loaf Cat and Fuzzy for company.  She curled up on the bed, put her tail over her eyes and resolutely counted mice until she fell asleep. 

- - - - - - - -

In the RV, Rudy and LT decided quickly that David was a good travel partner.  He explained the route they would be taking and said they would drive about eight hours today.  Their destination for this first day was Salt Fork State Park in Lore City, Ohio.  The park had a huge lake and plenty of campsites.  He’d reserved a site right on the lake, and it was early enough in the season that it wouldn’t be crowded. 

The cats sat near David as he played tour guide, telling them what to expect and then headed off to explore.  They had scoped the RV out yesterday, but hadn’t wanted to appear too eager in front of the Daddy.  No one was watching, so they checked out every nook and cranny they could get into.  Although the floor was some sort of vinyl, David had courteously put runners down in the walkways of indoor/outdoor carpet that allowed the cats to dig in their claws as the RV took curves in the road.  LT and Rudy each found one of the cat beds from home that had been secured to the bench seats at the dining table.  After verifying the location of the litter box, both settled down for a snooze, as they had been too excited to sleep much last night, and everyone knows that cats need at least twelve hours of sleep per day. 

After a refreshing sleep Rudy woke as the RV made several sharp turns and then stopped.  She stretched and walked to the driver’s seat.  “Well, you two slept for half the trip.  It’s time to stop for some lunch.  Luckily I remembered to get my groceries out of the fridge in the house before we left, otherwise, I’d be a hungry man before we got to Ohio.”  He proceeded to take out cold cuts, bread, mustard and salad stuff and put together a quick lunch.  LT appeared, looking hopeful, and David shredded one of the slices of turkey, giving a bit to each of the cats.  “You’re not going to get my food at every meal, you know.”  He cocked his head and then said, “Well, you probably will, but you might not like it.”  He laughed, thinking that he was always being chided by his fiancĂ© for feeding the cats from the table.  It wasn’t a habit he wanted to break right now, and neither LT nor Rudy looked overweight.  They’d all just enjoy themselves, and if they came home a pound or two heavier, oh well. 

David walked around as he ate his sandwich and then the salad.  The last thing he wanted to do was sit right now.  Telling the cats that he would be right back, and that they needed to stay inside as they would be leaving as soon as he returned, David went outside.  The cats sat in the front window and watched him perform a series of stretches and then run up the road until he was nearly out of sight.  He turned around and walked quickly back, stretched again and hopped inside.  Total elapsed time, less than ten minutes.  They turned to look at him and he said, “I always need to stretch my legs and clear my head when I stop.  You’ll see me do this any time I can stop where there are not a lot of cars around.”  He got into his seat, turned on the RV and broke into an off-key rendition of “On the Road Again”. 

The next time the cats awoke it was because David had called to them to wake up.  They’d arrived at the campground, and he’d already checked in.  He drove slowly to the campsite, parked the RV and hooked up the various hoses and electrical lines.  He came inside told the cats that he was going to push out the sides, and that they would probably be better off in the bathroom or the front seats.  LT took the driver’s seat and Rudy the passenger seat, and they watched as the sides slowly moved outwards.  In the front area the kitchen and dining table moved outwards, but in the bedroom both sides expanded.  That did explain to them why they could barely get by the end of the bed when it was…unexpanded. 

Putting his hands on his hips, David looked at both cats, still in the front seats.  “Okay.  This is the moment of truth.  I want to trust you two to be outside on your own when we get to Pottawatomie, but while we’re on the road, you can only go out with me.  No running away.  I checked and there are no dogs around, so that’s no excuse.  Remember, I need to send your mom a photo every day to prove I haven’t lost you.  I’ve been friends with your dad a long time and I don’t want to lose his friendship by losing his cats.  Understood?” 

Rudy jumped down and circled his legs.  LT just blinked.  Most humans didn’t address cats quite so…directly.  They talked at them, about them, or maybe said silly things to them.  The Daddy didn’t, the yarn lady didn’t, but those were the only ones who talked to them like sensible being.  Well, the Mommy sometimes, but not always.  Finally he nodded his head and jumped down.  David opened the door and the three of them went to explore.  They were in what David called the ‘high rent’ district, so it wasn’t as crowded.  Their site overlooked the lake and the three walked to the beach which was pretty deserted.  Rudy refused to walk on the sand, so the three walked back to their site.  David opened a side hatch and pulled out a folding table and lounge chair.  He flopped down on his stomach and groaned.  Rudy and LT explored a bit and settled under the RV.  Although it was late afternoon, it was still warm, and their site had no shade.  Within five minutes all three were asleep. 

David woke as it was getting dark and put together another sandwich and salad.  He was too tired to cook anything.  He fired up his laptop and sent off an email to the Mommy apologizing for the lack of newspaper.  He’d been too tired to get one.  After changing into PJs, David flopped into bed and turned on the TV.  He’d purchased satellite service, and so had every channel imaginable as well as internet service.  He flipped through a few, settling on a documentary about dingoes.  Within ten minutes he was asleep again. 

Rudy and LT waited until they were sure he wouldn’t wake up and nudged the bedroom door closed.  Rudy fired up the laptop and composed a quick email to Peep. 
_____________________________________________________________________________
To: peepmissrudyandlt@gmail.com
From: peepmissrudyandlt@gmail.com
Subject:  Ohio

You know, I probably should have opened an email account just for you, but we’ll just have to do it this way.  Make sure you change the subject when you write to me, and don’t just hit reply. 

We made it to Ohio.  The RV is really comfortable.  This guy talks to us like we were humans, it’s kind of odd.  The food is the same, the litter is the same, it’s just about as warm as it was at home and so far this trip is just kinda boring.  Well, it’ll get a LOT better when we get to Pottawatomie!!!

Don’t get too lonely,

Rudy
_____________________________________________________________________________

After sending the email, Rudy quickly turned off the computer, and the two cats settled in on the dashboard and watched the world go by for a while.  Eventually, Rudy jumped down and headed to look for a place to sleep for the night.  The couch looked comfy, and she jumped up, circled a few times and settled down for some more sleep.  LT decided that he’d stay right where he was and keep a look out for…whatever.  A family walked by on the way to the beach, and then walked back a little while later.  A few bats zoomed past as the sky darkened and that was the last thing LT remembered until morning.






Photo courtesy of J. Stephen Conn - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jstephenconn/4322209865/

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