Monday, February 3, 2014

Part One: Sahara and Miss Monk Go To Florida

     We've been talking to the girls about this trip for a year. You'd think they would be ready. Sahara (who will not answer to any nicknames at all, a family tradition that she ignores) complains, her voice constant and loud. Raven, whose name has been switched to Monkey or Miss Monk for a variety of reasons, quietly stares at us with a deep seated suspicion borne of the belief that a car ride leads only to the vet. We promise them sunshine and lollipops, but they aren't convinced.
     Into the cat carriers, we spray the pheromone stuff that's supposed to calm them down. In the freezing air, Vince plows through the snow to warm up the car for them. We bundle up in hats, mitts, coats and scarves and pack everything. Despite the fact that they have four legs each, Sahara and Miss Monk don't even offer to help. Once we have all the luggage arranged, the big pheromone-soaked pet tent strapped safely into the back seat, little bowls handy for fresh food and water along the way, we are ready for the girls to board.
     During the preparations, they wound themselves in and out of our legs, over our feet, tripped us on the stairs. Now they are nowhere to be seen. We wait a few quiet moments. Sahara, unable to stifle her curiosity, pokes her head into the hallway. I snatch her up and shove her, legs stiffened and howling, into the carrier. Immediately I remove her to the waiting, warm automobile, lest her howls spook Miss Monk. Naturally I am too late.
     Monkey darts past us and burrows her way under our bed. Now, ours happens to be a king-sized monstrosity with wooden sides only a very small child (or cat) can squeeze under. Judging from the dust balls, not even the Merry Maids have been able to get under there with a vacuum hose. Miss Monk has scratched a little pocket into the box spring. With a nice sharp exacto knife, we manage to make the rip larger, but she simply burrows totally out of reach. However, she purrs to let us know she's pleased with herself.
     An entire frustrating impossibly long hour later, several litres of gas keeping Sahara and me warm, and Monkey strolls out into the hall. Vince quietly follows her, down the stairs where she finds the doors shut, up the stairs where she finds the doors closed, and finally into her master's arms. (Who am I kidding with the "master" monicker?)
     We're on the road to Florida! The girls sing joyously - or should I use piteously? - for a few kilometres and then...silent resignation.
     Whichever one of us is not driving balances Dave Hunter's book, Along Interstate 75, on our knees. If you are planning a trip to Florida, we highly recommend it. (Insert commercial music here.) As Dave suggests, we take the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, which fortunately is fairly devoid of traffic. Under our wheels, we can feel the difference between the economy of the Canadian versus the American city.
We approach the border with a little bit of trepidation. We've got  our passports, the house rental contract, and the vet's papers, ready for inspection. Luckily there's not much of a line up and we slide up to a booth very quickly.
"Afternoon."
Yes, it is. Might have been morning if Miss Monk...
"Afternoon," Vince says.
"Where are you folks headed?"
Folks. Such a...well, folksy kind of word.
"Florida."
Always answer the question. Provide no more detail unless prompted.
"For how long?"
"Two months."
"Do you have more than $10,000 with you?"
"I wish."
Silence.
"No."
"Tobacco?"
"No."
"Alcohol?"
"No."
"Okay." Hands back the passports. "Have a good time."
You didn't even ask what the huge tent in the back seat is for!
"Thanks."
Right away, there's the toll booth, after that a twisting left, and we're on I75 headed south. The girls are still silent. Vince and I are grinning like Cheshire cats.





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