The Viking and I have a 37 foot Fifth Wheel trailer, two Seadoos and a little Honda motorcycle in storage in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Every April and October we drive down to visit our belongings and enjoy the sizzling heat for 3 or 4 weeks.
This October’s trip began without much ado, which concerned me. Every vacation must have its drama and I prefer mine to happen before we actually begin the vacation rather than in the middle or near the end. Let’s just get it out of the way so we can enjoy. There should be hair-raising curses, arm waving, tears and mumbled threats while we try to find all the shit we haven’t used since the last time we went to Havasu. We should sit in the truck in stoney silence until we hit the Tim Horton’s in Fort McLeod where we strategically pee, order coffee, breakfast sandwiches and Tim Bits.
But I changed things up this time. I decided to try a new approach – leave everything to the last minute and then panic. As a strategy for a fairly long vacation, I don’t recommend it. At one point, The Viking looked at me like he was about to say something so I screeched to a halt and said “Just do yourself a favor and don’t comment on my organization skills, alright? And it might be a good idea not to talk to me at all!” He must have decided it was sound advice because he didn’t make a sound – he just backed up slowly, not making eye contact until he was close enough to the door to make an escape.
And that’s where we made the mistake. He should have accused me of being lazy and I should have yelled that he was insensitive and then he should have questioned my intelligence and I should have outlined my theory on why he’s never been married and he should have hollered about my procrastination and I should have bellowed about him leaving everything on my shoulders.
But we didn’t and I dared to think that this trip would be different than all the other ones. Sucker.
Once the cat, The Viking and I squeezed in the truck with all our shit, we set off. It became clear almost immediately that Izzie wasn’t happy with the mode of transportation because she started shouting and calling us names, some of which I’d never heard a cat use before. And, to be honest, I was a little impressed with her eloquence. The Viking and I are constantly surprised by her capacity to swing wildly between beautiful, gentle sweetheart to a biting, vengeful Harpy in a micro-second.
She carried on for several hours, only stopping for a few moments when The Viking and I started shouting and yowling too. She wasn’t amused. Eventually, she crawled up between the back of The Viking’s head and the head rest. It was the perfect position to minimize the bouncing and bumping of the truck, but it also gave her the ability to stare at my left ear with The Stink Eye for the next 300 kilometers.
Having failed miserably to get me to return her home, she then took up a position between my head and the head rest in order to gift The Viking with The Stink Eye. And that was her location when we crossed the border into Montana.
Border Guard: What’s the purpose of your visit?
The Viking: Vacation.
Border Guard: And what is your destination?
The Viking: Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Border Guard: How long will you be staying in Arizona?
The Viking: Three weeks.
Border Guard: That’s a long vacation.
The Viking: Yes.
Border Guard: Do you have $10,000 or more in your possession?
The Viking: I wish! I mean, no.
Border Guard (squinting suspiciously): Any firearms?
The Viking: N….
Border Guard: Is that a cat?!
The Viking: Um…yes.
Border Guard: Does she ride there all the time?
The Viking (turning to look at Izzie behind my head): Um….yes.
Border Guard: She’s a cutie. It’s okay. I don’t need to see her documents.
The Viking: ……
Border Guard: Here’s your passports, have a wonderful day.
The Viking: Um….thank you.
We were both a bit stunned for a few minutes. Finally, I said: “I guess he’s a cat-loving Border Guard”. In hindsight, I think he was just taking pity on us. He could probably see the sheer evil residing in the eyes of the ‘cutie’.
She was very needy but overall she weathered the first day sort of fine. The Viking and I were sort of fine as well. We arrived at our target of Arco, Idaho about 8:30pm and Izzie was….well…..fucking ecstatic!
We loaded all our shit back into the truck to an audience of 3. I don’t know who these people were, they didn’t appear to be staying at the hotel, but they seemed to like what we were doing. Maybe it was a new thing the residents of Arco were supplying to tourists.
Without really trying, The Viking and I can produce a Laurel and Hardy-esque performance. I would try to help load stuff up and The Viking would unpack the things that I packed and then pack other things instead.
He says “Please stop.”
I say “I’m just trying to help.”
He says “You’re doing it all wrong.”
I say “I didn’t know there was such a thing as a wrong way to put shit in the truck.”
He says “There is and you’re doing it.”
I say “Just because it’s not your way of doing things doesn’t mean it’s wrong, you know.”
He says “Yes it does.”
I say “Fine.” and stand on the sidewalk beside the other 3 spectators and watch him do something like solving a Rubik’s Cube in the back seat of the truck. It makes me want to go pull something out from the bottom like ‘Jenga’ but I keep my impulse under control.
We wave goodbye to our audience and hit the road. And that’s when things got interesting again.
Izzie is howling like we’re torturing her. When we stop, just down the road, to fill up with fuel, I make a small change to the backseat Jenga puzzle. I move the Sirius Boom Box from the middle of the back window to the right side of the back window and make a bed for the damned howling cat so she can see out the front window. It didn’t help.
We had barely cleared the town limits when Izzie lost her fucking mind and in a complete frenzy of slashing claws and snapping teeth she attacked The Viking! Yup! It was a rodeo in the front seat as he tried to push her away and stop the truck while I tried to get a grip on the scruff of her neck. Once I got a handle on her we sat in shocked silence, staring at the cat who was still spitting.
“Holy Fucking Hell!”
I wrapped her in my arms and put my hand over her face in an effort to calm her down. “I guess we know how she feels about another day in the truck.” I ventured.
I had packed a small spray bottle of stuff called ‘At Ease’ and sprayed it in the truck. She calmed down, closed her eyes and hunkered down against my boobs. And then I noticed a pronounced rattling in the back seat. It was the damned Boombox banging against the window! Fucking Jenga! Another stop to rectify that problem and several moments of The Viking staring at me in accusation and enduring the silent lecture on doing shit his way all the time from now on! Gawd! I hate it when he has proof to be self-righteous.
When we reach Wells, Nevada, we stop for a pee, coffee and some Dunkin’ Donut equivalents of Timbits. The Viking went in to pee first because it was already getting hot and we couldn’t leave Izzie in the truck without the air conditioning. While The Viking was inside, I sat watching a cluster of state troopers – six of them – and a couple other people fiddling with the engine on a car two parking spots down. I thought maybe an animal got caught in there or something because I couldn’t quite explain to myself why 6 troopers would be fixing a car like mechanics but apparently that’s exactly what was going on.
In the meantime, The Viking came back out and I went in to pee and buy the coffee and donut holes. Then things got even more interesting.
While I had been fetching refreshments, Izzie was berating The Viking, calling him names and biting and he had finally had enough!
“I’ve had enough of this fucking cat!! What the fuck is her problem?! This is bullshit! Does she need more space?! I suppose I have to take everything out and put it in the back of the truck?! FUCK!!”
And he proceeded to do just that. The carefully constructed Rubiks/Jenga puzzle in the back seat was unceremoniously tossed in the box of the truck: power inverter, our orthopedic pillows, the CPAP machine, the cooler and a couple other things were heaved out, accompanied by shouted curses and death threats against the cat.
I grabbed Izzie and pushed her into her kennel. I tried to calm The Viking but there is no talking to Blood-Eye the Beserker – ‘At Ease’ doesn’t work on Vikings apparently. I climbed into the back of the truck and tried to arrange things so they wouldn’t fly out of the box while we were driving.
Blood Eye shouted at me to “Leave that fucking shit right where it is!!!!!!” and he promptly got into the cab and waited for me to join him.
As I was getting out of the box of the truck I happened to glance up and 2 of the 6 state troopers were walking past. At that point I may or may not have actually rolled my eyes and tipped my head back in resignation. I got into the truck and was putting on my seatbelt when there was a tap on the driver’s side window and there were the 2 troopers. The Viking rolled down his window.
“Afternoon, sir. Is everything alright here?”
“The fucking cat is driving me nuts!” The Viking
said reasonably shouted.
The closest Trooper looks past The Viking over to me.
Okay, let me just say that I’ve have only been pulled over by police once in my entire life and that was a routine traffic stop checking everyone’s driver’s license and registration. I almost cried. I was 24 years old. I’m more than twice that age now.
And I’m fairly sure that I looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
“Sir. Would you step out of your vehicle please.” It wasn’t a question.
The closest cop puts his hand on the pistol case on his belt. The second cop takes a position slightly behind and to the side of the first cop.
“Shit.” A small part of me wanted to just drive away and leave him with his new friends. I’m a reasonable woman though, and decided that instead of making a shiv out of his toothbrush, I should probably go and save him. I can hear The Viking shouting about the Boombox and the cat and the Rubiks Cube construction in the back seat and his frustration. I should probably intervene.
I got out of the truck and smiled nervously at the troopers. “Sorry. It’s just been a long drive, and we’re a little tired and the cat is being bad and we just needed to blow off a bit of steam. We’re fine now.” I smiled again.
The second Trooper takes a step towards me and looks me in the eyes. “Are you sure, ma’am?”
“Yes. I’m completely sure. Sorry for the bother.”
“No problem, ma’am. Have a good trip.”
And with that, The Viking and I climbed into the truck, put our seatbelts on and left Wells, Nevada. Gawd. We won’t be able to stop here on our way home.
We spent the remainder of the day not speaking to each other. Izzie spent the next hour and a half in her kennel until she finally stopped name calling and making threats. Our plan was to overnight in Laughlin, Nevada but apparently there isn’t a single hotel/motel that allows cats. Fuck you, Laughlin!
We found a place called the Red Roof Inn in Needles, California though, that would allow the cat. The room was spotless and very nice. So, for anyone travelling with pets – especially cats – go to The Red Roof Inn in Needles, California.
I had a lengthy conversation with Izzie about getting back into the truck. It’s only for about an hour and then she can go into the trailer. It seemed to have worked because she was completely reasonable, curled up on my boobs.
Izzie slept for two solid days once we were settled in the campground. The Viking didn’t break any laws for a solid week. And I did my level best to stay relatively sober. Someone needs to keep their wits about them around here.