Day 1 – Sunday, pack up self, pack up kitty, jam it all in car, head North to Michigan
I have slept better than I usually do the night before a trip. Still, my usual morning routine of snoozing the alarm for 15 minutes then resetting it for another half hour, then snoozing it two more times till I try to figure out if there’s anything I absolutely have to wake up for right away, finally concluding that whether or not I do, I must get out of bed is reduced to two snoozes, the second of which gets canceled because I am wide awake. Well… wide for me.
Repack the repack and find at least five more articles of clothing I don’t NEED to bring with me, especially since my Airbnb home – my first – has a washer and dryer. But I have this gigantic suitcase! I have to fill it with SOMETHING! The big hiking boots are coming – I spent enough on them, they should be worn every day at least once. I can pack books and projects that I’ll need to do over the next five weeks (aka wishful thinking), my USB DVD player and a few movies in case there’s no civilization or the wifi gods do not shine bright upon me, all the little items of my home apothecary that are too expensive to buy replacements for when I realize I need them. Aw heck, let’s throw in another pair of shoes for good measure.
HOLY SHIT THIS BIG SUITCASE GOT HEAVY!! It will be interesting on BART tomorrow evening. No matter. The story is in the absurdity, right? Spud Hilton?? RIGHT?? I hope so, because I suspect I am going to look pretty darned absurd if there aren’t elevators or escalators on BART…
Garbage hauled, rugs vacuumed, dishes washed, spoilable food packed for sister dear to inherit since I can’t begin to imagine what beet greens smell like when they’ve been locked away for five weeks. The most stressful part of my trip is relocating sleeping kitty into her carrier without much fuss, getting her into the car and comfortable for the eight hour drive to Michigan – about seven hours longer than she’s ever been in the carrier or a car.
Surprise, surprise when I am two hours into my drive, the first wave of blowing snowflakes fill the air above I-70 and it is the first time I notice that I have no coat with me. Heading to Michigan. In January. My fleece will help but, really, I’m not fooling myself. I’m gonna fuckin’ freeze when I get out of this car. At least all my years of training as the daughter of a mountain man haven’t completely failed me; the car is always stocked with at least one hat, a pair of gloves (even if they’re work gloves) and a pair of boots (among other things). It is then I decide that my souvenir to myself from this trip is going to be a San Francisco parka.
That the snow has become as much my companion as the road itself or Emily is irony not lost on me. The clouds are not snow clouds – they were giant and billowy, dramatic, like summer clouds, and there are even a few occasions when sun showers reveal flickers of rainbows. But ultimately, these summer clouds are still loaded to capacity with snowflakes. Here, I thought I had devised the perfect escape plan from Winter in the mid-Atlantic, by spending it soaking up the infinite wisdom of one Don George in warmer, if not even possibly sunny Northern California. Mother Nature would not be fooled, however. By the time I arrive in Ann Arbor, it will be 17 degrees and a thick layer of icy snow will cover the asphalt to which my little Honda and my driving are so much better suited.
In my 7th hour of driving, now on the straight, flat, snowy, lifeless Ohio Turnpike, I start to get sleepy and bored, restless for this part of my journey to find its end. The sun is down and the lights of Toledo are approaching and that is when Emily decides she has had enough of this trip. Earlier in the day, I had opened the gate to her carrier and tried to coax her out to stretch her legs. She was having none of it, so I concluded that the marathon napping she does at home is finally paying off. Not so fast. I have the gate open so that I can reach in and pet her while we drive together, but I have been focused on the road and my growing weariness and not on her. Out of the growing darkness, her face and half her body appear outside the gate, eyes like saucers, accompanied by a uniquely startling whiny, howling meow that sounded distinctly like – WHEN ARE WE GETTING TO THE VET! IT’S BEEN HOURS!!!
She spends the next half hour alternating between perching on the center console as my co-pilot and the backseat, looking out the window at the world whizzing by at lightning speed (70mph, the legal speed limit on the Ohio Turnpike is definitely lightning speed for a cat that’s never gotten above .01 mph), all the while meowing/scolding me for keeping her captive for so long.
YUP! I’M AWAKE NOW!!! Which is good, because the reality of what 17 degrees feels like when you have a fleece, hat, gloves and boots and no coat would certainly have done me in.