"Mark, it is not easier to be on the road longer when you are travelling with two dogs and a cat." I could feel the edge coming into my voice. My husband and I had been having this same conversation over the past several weeks. He was in Texas and I was in Ohio. He left over a month earlier to begin his new job.I stayed behind until we could arrange housing in Texas. His trip had taken two days, pulling a trailer with all of our belongings. I had been been dreading this trip for several reasons;leaving behind family, moving to an area that specializes in hot weather and travelling with a cat who doesn't travel well and one puppy who isn't completely leash trained and strong as an ox, just to name a few. My idea was to burn miles and shorten the unpleasant trip but my husband wanted me to take it slow and easy. On the chinese calendar he was born in the year of the dog and I was born in the year of the horse. This is a pretty accurate description of our personalities as well. He is easy going, loyal , laid back and fiercely protective. I am a race horse. I am loyal, strong, driven and usually know how to get where I am going. However, I require a bit in my mouth to keep me from running myself into exhaustion or off the track.
My husband and I do, however, share many common interests. One is our love for adventure and new experiences. I am a pretty good road warrior. I can move down the road without fear of travelling alone and I am usually the one who charts unknown territory. And yet I had been dreading this particular trip. I spent a good deal of time praying over it and planning. I decided the best approach was to book a cabin at a K.O.A. campground for my overnight stop.
K.O.A. campgrounds can be found all across the United States. They typically have cabins and are pet friendly. In the end, I had relented and booked cabins for two nights which stretched my trip to three days. The last day of travel would be a short five-hour day. I decided to stop early evening before it got dark so that I could take the dogs for a long walk. I kept my stops on the road to the minimum so as to keep the chaos in check. The first day, though a little stressful, went okay and better than anticipated. The K.O.A. was nice and practically empty. The puppies were wildly enthusiastic about our stay in the campground. The cat, also, loved the new adventure. I felt safe and glad to be off the road.
One day down and just two more to go.
On day two the pets travelled much better. The first day Evie, the American foxhound had gotten sick in the van by day two her stomach seemed to be acclimated. The cat settled in easier as well. Ivan, our beagle is an excellant traveller so not a problem. I relaxed a little. I wouldn't call the trip fun but still I clicked away the miles. By the end of the day and as I neared my second lay over stop, I began to feel a little uneasy. For some reason, I kept thinking that I should just keep driving which would get me home a little past midnight. The animals were settled in for the drive and wouldn't it just be easier to keep going, I reasoned. Sometimes being a self- sufficient, strong personality type as a woman can be a bit of a curse. I knew that my husband would want me to stop. I knew that travelling late at night with three animals on unknown roads was not wise.That I should be a submissive wife didn't really occur to me and yet, I have been married for twenty three years so on a subconscience level, I knew that stopping was the right thing to do. In the end I reluctantly stopped.
The second K.O.A. was not nearly as nice as the first had been. In fact, it felt like little more than a trailer park. It was extremely crowded. I walked the dogs but Evie pulled frantically at the leash because other people were out with their dogs. The campground was dark. All in all. it was going to be a long night and I felt more than a little frustration creeping in. The dogs barked at every sound and clammered to get out of the cabin. The cat, too, was freaked out. I wanted this road trip to be done and over with. I made my decision. I would sleep for a few hours and then get up early and hit the road. The animals would sleep the better part of the trip and I could always take a nap once I got this circus home. I set my alarm for 3 a.m. and went to sleep. When the alarm went off the next almost morning, I dragged myself out of bed and loaded up. I put the puppies into the van after taking them for a walk and left the cat to have her morning constitutional. She is very good at staying close due to her being a bit of a scaredy cat so when I returned from the bath house, I was surprised to find that she was nowhere around. At that time of morning I certainly didn't want to be making noise by calling for her so instead I began walking around the campground. My hope was that she would join me in my walk and I could scoop her up and throw her in the van for the final leg of the journey. This hope was soon dashed when I heard a commotion on the next street. As I rounded the corner, I spotted her in an altercation with another cat. The other cat chased her up a tree and not just a little up a tree but way up in a tree.
Oh no! This can't be happening! How in the world am I going to get her down?
I began to pray. "Lord, please help her to come down from the tree." She obviously did not want to be up there but she was afraid to come down. I tried quietly coaxing her at the bottom of the tree but didn't want to wake the other campers. The idea came that maybe, if I open and shut the van doors, she will hear them and be afraid of getting left behind. It worked a little but she was just, too, afraid to come down. I decided to drive up to the corner and get a cup of coffee and see if that caused her to come down but when I returned, she was still up there. She had moved down a branch or two but that was it. The other cat had returned and was sitting at the bottom of the tree on a picnic table daring her to come down.I threw a rock at the other cat. I prayed more fervently but was at a loss. I cryed and ranted at God but nothing. Two and a half hours later the cat was still up a tree and the office didn't open until 7a.m. I called Mark and told him what had happened but he didn't have any ideas either. I considered leaving her there and calling the campground later to explain what had happened and tell them that we would return to get her but I didn't really want to have to drive five hours back nor did I want to leave her. So I sat there...me and her up a tree without a ladder. I tried to sleep but frustration made that impossible. I tried to come up with an idea but I was stuck. Finally, I decided to go get some breakfast and then come back and wait for the office to open. I drove off. I found one little fast food restaurant open and bought a version of egg and cheese something and some juice. I told God " If you want her up the tree, fine. If you want her down, fine but I give up. This is in your hands. I don't know what else to do. I drove back to the campground.
When I pulled into the drive, there she was,covered with tree sap and distraught but down from the tree. I tossed her in the van and drove off with tears coursing down my cheeks feeling more than a little weary and frustrated but grateful. As I once again began clicking away the miles, I wondered what had just happened. Why on the final leg of the journey did I have to go through that frustration? Maybe God was protecting me from getting lost on uncharted roads at night or some other disaster. A few days later, I told Christy, a friend of mine the story of woe and my thoughts on why this might have happened. Now, Christy knows me.We have been friends for nearly 25 years. She said, "Darlene, you were being submissive to your husband but with a little bit of Darlene thrown in. I'll spend the night but ... God isn't going to honor that kind of submission." I realized that she was right, dead on right! We laughed at my half-hearted submission.Thankfully, God let me get up a tree with out ladder but He still brought me safely home.
Darlene is a writer who travels with her husband, Mark across rural United States as he builds power plants.
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