Thursday, July 12, 2007

i never did write about the drive to pullman

I've moved quite a bit in the last fifteen years or so, and even Max (my eldest cat) has approximately 10,000 car miles under his belt (if cats had belts). My Dad was a truck driver (of the local variety, not long-haul) and I would go with him when I was really little and "help drive," which if I remember correctly was probably really dangerous. But it was the 70s. Whatever. The upshot is that I probably inherited his stamina for driving. It used to be nothing for me to hop in the car and drive from Durham to Atlanta for a day and then turn around and come back the next [384mi each way]. The day before our comprehensive exam in the English Dept. as undergrads, a few of us drove from Staunton to Charlotte and back [274mi each way]. Basically, driving doesn't bother me.

But those trips were a long time ago, and the drive to Pullman would be1000 miles in a straight shot with stops only for gas. Up until two weeks or so before the trip, I was going to do it alone (the person driving the truck would be on her own schedule because trucks are hard to drive and don't contain cats). But one Friday night over Cosmopolitans I asked my friend and frequent commenter, Mary, if she wanted to come with. Her husband piped up right away with "Yes! You should go." I wonder what he had planned for the days she'd be gone?!?!? [just kidding] So now I had a buddy to go with me.

As for the route, I was going to go the way Google Maps said...until the day before we left and my thesis adviser and all-around good guy (and travel planner) said "Oh no. I think you should go this other way." I should mention that his son just graduated from a university in Salem OR, and the family also had just returned from a driving tour of the NW to look at colleges for his younger son, so the man knows of what he speaks. So I changed the route.

Boy howdy am I glad I changed the route. The one we were going to take, courtesy of Google Maps, would have been absolutely idiotic to take in the middle of the night or when time is of the essence, as it took us off-freeway. What's on the freeway? Higher speed limits and regular gas stations, for one thing. I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

So, my mentor profs sent me off with a new route and a bag of plums from their yard.

Fast-forward through the packing and cat-drugging (Max didn't get drugged because he's used to this and he's old; Deuce got drugged because she needs it for stressful things like 16 hours in the car) and leaving-town errands, and we started off on our trip at 1pm on Saturday. I think I ate three plums before we got out of San Jose.

The first traffic issue was twenty miles or so into our trip. You see, the county contracts with a farmer/goatherder and sends hundreds of goats out onto the hillsides next to the freeway so they can eat up all the vegetation so that it won't catch on fire as things in California are wont to do. Apparently, Californians haven't ever seen goats before; the traffic slowdown/stoppage was purely for people rubbernecking at the goats...and then rear-ending people in front of them. Idiots.

Basically, it took us three hours to get from San Jose to Benicia...a trip that usually takes an hour. So we stopped to relieve ourselves/stretch and headed onward. However, I could only make it 40 more miles or so before I HAD TO STOP RIGHT NOW, complete with cold sweats and clenched hands around the steering wheel.

You know what plums turn into, later in life, yeah? Yeah.

Before leaving the gas station in Winters, we sacrificed the remainder of the plums to any squirrels or other animals who might want a feast. After that, it was smooth sailing into the Mt. Shasta region of California. I'd never been north on I-5, and had never seen Mt. Shasta, so it was pretty cool except for the fact that there was very little snow on it. Mary remarked that she'd never seen it so bare.

From that point, it was just freeway freeway freeway freeway freeway through northern California and into Oregon. Cats were awesome; Max was mouthy and Deuce was totally blissed out on her drugs. Somewhere around midnight and Salem, I offered a little litter box to Max and he dutifully peed in it. Deuce looked at me like I was insane. Max drank a little water, and again Deuce looked at me like I was insane. My vet said to offer water but not to be surprised or worried when they don't drink it. So I wasn't. But then a few miles later Max made a weird noise and I stopped the car again and checked him out. Turns out it was just his "I'm tired of being in this crate, so I shall puke a little bit on my blanket" noise. He was fine.

Sometime around 1am, Mary took over for a few hours so that I could at least pretend to get some sleep. I did, in between snoring and waking up and asking if everything was ok. I'm not a good passenger in my own car. Heck, I'm not a good passenger in other cars either, as I typically fall asleep on the ride from San Francisco to Mountain View after a baseball game. But I digress. Mary was fine.

I took over the car again sometime around 4am, I think. We were in Washington by then. When she was driving and I was asleep, Mary got to see the entire Columbia River Gorge by moonlight. She said it was really pretty, and imagine what it would look like in the daytime! So I picked back up in the wheatfields. Wheat wheat wheat wheat wheat and then voila: Pullman. We dropped off the cats; I set up their food and water and litter and left them in the room they'd stay in for several days while people were here and things were being moved in. Then we went to Denny's.

The truck with my stuff eventually showed up, and we moved things out of it, then everyone stayed at my house until Tuesday when I took them to the Spokane Airport. Remarkably, Mary's already planning a trip back here because it's just such a nice and calm little place!