October 9, 2012

University of Michigan Football OR Smells Like Punishment

My husband, Ray, is a fan of University of Michigan football. He bleeds maize and blue. So when football season starts he plots how to get me to a live game. This year we went to Crawfordsville, Indiana to watch Michigan v. Purdue. Sounds nice...driving up to Indiana to see a game during a fabulous fall day. Of course...with us...it's not that simple. Here's the bigger story.

Two days before we left for Indiana I was at the vet with Cookie, and it didn't look good. In fact, it looked like maybe I wouldn't be walking out with Cookie. He's been very sick for most of this year, from mold-related allergies plus a zillion other allergies I had no idea he had. He started taking allergy shots a few weeks ago and...well... Let's just say his will to live is strong.

At the vet I called Ray and told him Cookie has a 103.5 fever and he's down to 7.5#. Dr. Ellis looks exhausted, and I'm certainly exhausted. What should I do? Ray said if Dr Ellis thought it best to euthanize Cookie, then he would drive in from work (and month-end closing!) to be there for Cookie. After all, Ray is Cookie's most favorite human in the whole world.

Well...Dr Ellis came back and said there was still some fight left in Cookie. He refused to let her siphon out his nose. Okay, that was A Sign. He got a reprieve.

Friday afternoon when Ray came home we loaded our tabby, Buddy, age 21 with diabetes, and Cookie, age 15, into our POS van. This van represents Ray's upbringing from his father. Why junk it if it still runs? Okay, so it doesn't have much heat (only in the back) or air conditioning. At all. The driver's window does not roll down, and the back vent windows work only when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars. The backseat was removed and junked years ago (don't ask, long story.) So naturally this is the vehicle of choice for Ray to take us up to Indiana.

I used to make snide remarks about the parents who had to drag the whole house into the restaurant because the had babies with them. Now, with elderly and sick cats, I totally get what they're all about. First, a bed-size foam pad is placed in the back, and on top of that a large flat cardboard box. A low-walled storage box serves as a litter box and is placed on top of the cardboard. Two donut beds are then placed behind our seats and on top of those are two self-heat-generating pads to keep the cats comfy. 

Water bowl, two food dishes, a cooler containing insulin and needles, cat pills, plus a fork and additional cans of uber-expensive special diet food for diabetes and cats who are sick. Buddy's ramp because he can barely lift his feet to enter a litter box, jumping on bed is out of the question. Another bag contains plastic grocery bags, paper toweling, a pooper scooper. Dust pan and whisk broom. Luggage, in this case a duffle and an overnight bag, put in the back along with two cat carriers each padded with a blanket. There is also a super large black trash bag to slide the litter box into when we arrive at the hotel...cuz yes, where we're headed cats are not welcome.

The wheels are in motion at 1:30. 

Kim: Oh god! Buddy's pooping!
Ray: We just left!
Kim: *scrambling over seat to push Buddy's bottom inside box as opposed to over the edge* Urp! Hold your breath. It's bad.
Ray: I'm being punished. I don't know why...all I want to do is see my football team...but this smells like punishment.
Kim: Pull over so I can dispose of the crap.

*Two minutes later*
Ray: We were only five minutes from the house. That was a new record.
Kim: No. He set the record at Christmas when he crapped three houses from ours. *Looks behind her.  Cookie is doing chin-ups to see out the window.* Something tells me this isn't going to be a smooth trip.

Ray: I want Arby's. There's one down here on Goodman Road, right?
Kim: I don't know! I haven't had an Arby's since we moved here six years ago.
Ray: Well, I want an Arby's. I don't care how long it takes to find one.

*We are only 2 miles from the house.*

Eventually we find an Arby's, get food, head for Interstate.

*On ramp*
Kim: *craning neck to see into back of van*
Ray: If you're looking for Schmucko, he's under my feet. 

Kim: *Gasp!* You're driving! How did he get there?
Ray: He crawled under the seat. Leave him. He's fine.
Kim: Unless you have to stop unexpectedly.
Ray: In which case I'll break his neck.
Kim: *Tries to drag Cookie out from under gas pedal. He fights her.* Awww. He wants to be by his daddy.
Ray: *grumbling* I could have painted the porch in the amount of time it took to get on the road. Thirty minutes!
Kim: *Pulls Cookie onto her side; Ray forfeits his shoe so Cookie can smell him*

*Not much later*
Kim: Is it windy, or are you weaving the car deliberately?
Ray: It's the road. It's uneven.
*Noxious odor permeates the air*
Kim: Oh god!
Ray: Oh god!
Kim: Pull over. Buddy is car sick. He just ralphed all over Cookie's bed. *Climbs into back to clean up mess.* Oh no! He poo'd in his own bed. *Uses half of paper toweling, throws soiled covers aside*

And that all happened in the first hour of travel.

Subsequent hours of travel included running sparse heat into the back of the van to warm the cats while we froze in the front and a monsoon pounded our windshield. The wipers worked, but without air the windshield fogged, so there was constant swiping at the fog with paper toweling so Ray could see. He didn't figure out until a couple hours later that by switching from Air to Vent it pushed the cold air against the windshield and evaporated the fog. We had run out of paper toweling by then.

Arrived at hotel around 10 pm. After checking us in, Ray drove us around back where we made several trips up the back stairs carting our luggage, the ramp, the cat bags, the litter box and the two cat carriers with the cats. A Do Not Disturb sign is latched onto the door, to remain until we check out. Hotel maids love us. They are allowed to skip our room during our stay, and when we check out we take the garbage and have swept the floor so there is positively no evidence of anything feline having spent time in the room.

 After nine years being diabetic Buddy is an old pro at traveling. He finds a cubbyhole in the bedside table and claims it. 
Meanwhile Cookie explores his new "home" quacking like a duck. Um yeah, he quacks. He especially embraces the bathroom acoustics where his quacks reverberate off the tile. All attempts to hush him are met with louder quacks. He's fed, given his night pill.


 Ray sets up Buddy's ramp and demonstrates to the half-blind nearly-deaf old man where he's supposed to camp for the weekend. Not long after we arrive Ray is sound asleep. Buddy is sound asleep in his cubby. I take a Melatonin because I have a very bad feeling I will not be joining them any time soon.

Throughout the night Cookie patrols his new domain, and reports back to me with annoying regularity.
 He finds it distressing that Ray is asleep, and tells me about it by hovering over my face, snorting back runny snot. Oh god, I think. Please don't let him sneeze in my face.

Throughout the night I slept less than two hours. Cookie needed his nose wiped, a couple helpings of special food, reassurance that Ray still loved him even though he was blissfully unconscious. Cookie quacked loudly as dawn peeked over the horizon. And when Ray bounced out of bed, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed...I wanted to slap him!

The rest of our trip was fine. The weather was bright, sunny and chill enough to need jackets. 

Ray enjoyed having awesome seats on the 45 yard line 20 rows up from the field on Michigan's side. 

 He made best buddies with the guys seated behind us. Even sipped from the dude's flask (OMG!) Michigan looked great and did an excellent job of trouncing Purdue Boilermakers 44-13.
Ray isn't in his seat 1 minute before he chats up the fans behind him.
We explored downtown Crawfordsville and their antique stores, and had meals at Alan's Country Cafe, in what used to be the bank section of a large hotel. In fact! We ate inside the bank vault for Sunday breakfast!
Phone inside vault also used to allow air into vault in case someone
was accidentally trapped inside.
 What I noted to be most remarkable was Cookie seemed better. His nose wasn't liquid with snot, and he seemed alert and strong, prowling the room, checking out the window and whatever surface he could jump onto. He was stubborn, determined and very much like The General he'd been all these years, keeping order in our family. 

The trip home was less stressful because Cookie was exhausted from his first stay at a hotel. The drive was dry, and unfortunately warming as we headed south. And as we neared Memphis both Ray and Cookie began snorting and sneezing in unison from allergies. Which verifies my suspicion that our local air is being polluted from the Mississippi River running alongside our state.
Sigh. No, he isn't licking the bars.
Since the Mid-South is not "home" there is always the hope Ray will be job-transferred to another part of the country. I'm hoping for a four-season Mid-west climate. The colder the better.

Our next trip is coming up, and you may be wondering whether Cookie and Buddy will be joining us on that adventure. To which I say... Hell No!

1 comment:

  1. ha ha reading this brought back memories of traveling with our first cat 50 years ago. Only difference is we had only 1 cat, but we went from Florida back to Wisconsin. Great experience.