Reno-tirement, Day 1

Well, the day has finally arrived, the day I have been dreading and my parents have been living for…the sojourn to Reno-tirement has begun!  And it has NOT had an auspicious start.

We made it as far as Dayton, Ohio today…about 100 or so miles short of our target, Indianapolis.  It’s after 10pm and I’m trying to write this as my mom talks on one cellphone and my father talks on another, all three of us and two cats sitting in a rooms slightly larger than a postage stamp, and the muted television shows bands of green and yellow rain sweeping across the route we just drove today for 8+ hours.  So forgive me if it’s a little convoluted….

The day began for all of us at about 6am for a 7:30am family breakfast at IHOP, complete with Mike, Andrea, and little Eric.  The plan was to pick up a pair of weighed and fully sedated cats from the vet (they were boarded two days ago, before the movers arrived to pack the house), meet back at my house, load up my stuff, and hit the road by 9am.  Eric tucked away an astonishing amount of food for an almost-seven-year-old, and solemnly gave Grandma his stuffed moose from Maine so it could be waiting for him in Nevada when he comes to visit in July.  The service was faster than we thought, and we reordered the plan and went to my house first, hugged and kissed and choked up as we told Mike and Andrea and Eric goodbye, and merrily caravanned off to the vet, waving goodbye to Montclair in the rearview mirror as we went.

That’s when everything ground to a screeching halt.  The sedation order did not make it into the medical file.

The cats were wide awake.

There was no vet available.

And the drugs we needed were locked up, and our “lowly receptionist” was powerless to help us.

Dad stood scowling, Mom had a minor meltdown, and the receptionist looked like she wanted to hide under the desk.  She made about twenty phone calls to (so-called) on-call vets (who didn’t answer), nearby emergency animal hospitals, and God knows who else, trying to find somewhere we could get the prescription we’d expected without paying astronomical emergency-room-type fees, and without waiting forever for a new vet to re-do the examinations the cats had already had at this place.  Finally, we settled on an option in Springfield, loaded up a cat in each car, and headed out.

The cat who went with us, Marbles, has a history of peeing in her crate.  So does my cat.  I solve the problem by holding her on my lap…Machka has a clean lap-record.  I figured it’d be the same with Marbles, so I held her as we headed to Costco for one last fuel stop before leaving the area.

Just as we reached the highway, we realized we’d forgotten the carton of cat food back at the vet.  Thinking Dad was behind us, we called him and sent him back for it while we went on to Costco, thinking he’d join us just a few minutes behind.  We didn’t realize he’d somehow gotten ahead of us and was ON the highway, forcing him to turn around and cross town again and adding about 20 unexpected minutes to our post-fueling wait time.  As we waited, we tried to soothe Marbles as she practically vibrated with anxiety, both lashing her tail AND purring at the same time.  Dad finally arrived, and we made for the highway.

And that’s when I was confronted with a pungent, spreading warmth all over my lap.

The friggin’ cat PEED ALL ALL ALL OVER MY LAP.  On my mother’s leather seat.  And I had her carrier between my feet, and couldn’t move, and the towels were all in my dad’s truck.  And we were 8 miles north of my house and heading north another 12 miles to the next vet stop.  And there was not a damn thing I could do except squish the cat back into the carrier, drop the first F-bombs I’ve ever dropped in front of my mother in 33 years, and sit in a puddle of cat pee.  Oh, and did I mention bumper-to-bumper traffic for about 6 miles?

What seemed like hours later, we got to Springfield.  They took the cats to the back to do their thing.  I bolted for the lobby bathroom (which, thank GOD, had a whole pack of wet-wipes in it) and changed and tried to get the cat-pee smell out of my nostrils.  We borrowed some industrial-strength, Big-Red-smelling “odor-counteractant” from the stoner kid behind the desk, and later begged the whole can off of him.  I attacked the seat with wet wipes and Lysol wipes, sprayed Big Red all over the inside, and wadded up my jeans in the back of Dad’s truck, next to the cat crates (where the suckers would’ve been in the first place if they’d been sedated when we arrived).

More time passed while the three of us paced the lobby.  They finally brought the cats back, SANS SEDATIVE.  Vet finally appeared with a bottle of quartered pills.  No one offered to handle the first dosing for us.  The wife of our original vet called in the meantime to apologize profusely for the snafu and promised reimbursement for the boarding fees and some of the emergency fees (we’ve known her for 20 years…she did everything she could to make this right).  We wrestled a pill into Marbles, and finally got a tech to handle Belle, who was ready to kill any or all of us if we came near her.  They told us the sedative would turn the cats to zombies within half an hour.  Marbles went into the crate in the back of the truck, Belle went into her carrier in the cab of the truck, Mom and I got into the BigRedCatPeeMobile, and we were finally northbound at twenty to twelve.  About three HOURS behind schedule.

And that was the beginning of the trip.  I claimed the Good Sport Award for the day.

Nothing else eventful to report…we stopped in PA around 2pm for lunch and checked the cats (NOT SEDATED AT ALL).  Headed past two Somersets (Mom and Dad’s new development is called Somerset), a town called (I swear) Eighty Four, a Washington, a Baltimore, a California, and a Philadelphia, all entirely in the wrong states.  Stopped for gas for the truck, checked the cats (YOWLING).  Stopped for gas for the Acura, checked the cats (WIDE-EYED AND SQUALLING).  Tried to make the Indiana line and gave up at Dayton at about 8:30pm.  Checked into this Red Roof Inn (I have my own postage stamp, which is nice), and we’re planning to head out at 7:30am…with eight hours to go till we reach our friends’ house in Columbia, MO, which was supposed to be our lunch stop (when we thought we’d be way farther along than Dayton).  So far, I’ve been dead weight, thanks to some crazy, sprung-up-outta-nowhere allergies and lack of sleep last night; I only drove an hour.  So I’m gonna close this for now, skip the part about the sideways rain ALL DAY LONG, and try to get enough sleep to earn my spot in the car tomorrow.  Claritin GOOD…Naso-gel GOOD.

Plus, I gotta date with two cats and a coupla pills early in the morning.  I don’t even care, don’t even mind getting bitten…as long as I can stay on the INPUT side of the cat, and not the DEPOSIT side. I’ve taken my hit for this trip.

Here’s hoping tomorrow will be better.


About merlintoes

Amateur marathoner, constant wanderer, sometime teacher, and pilgrim for life. As of July 2012, I have picked up and moved my life to Colorado, a state where I know no one, have no job, and hear it is very beautiful. I don't understand it myself...but I'm gonna run with it.
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5 Responses to Reno-tirement, Day 1

  1. Emily Comer says:


    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE report that the rest of the trip is 150% disaster free! *shudder* that whole day sounds horrible. Hugs! Have some wine before you sleep!

  2. Fran Phoenix says:

    Never a dull moment in the Engelen family! I truly hope that tomorrow is very boring! I can only imagine how awful it was driving in that rain…it stopped here about an hour ago! Double the dose for the cats tomorrow!

  3. Jeff says:

    I have added you to the prayer list.

  4. Denelle Pelletier says:

    All you need now is to find a few towns named Paradise, Hallalua, and Ideal.

  5. Gerry Wheeler says:

    All I can say is “What a day!!!” Have been worried about your weather and hope the worst of it is past you and well on it’s way to where you left. Hope you get a good night’s sleep.

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