About This Cat

August 02, 2020

More than ever, we wanted a Summer-long trip again this year.

Another sailing trip would have been great, but even as we wound down the school year, the Bahamas closed themselves off to visitors. The writing was on the wall for the shitshow that Florida would become. And the first hurricane of the year spun up between here and Mexico. A long sailing trip wasn't in the cards.

We had done some early planning of a road trip across the Alaskan Highway, but in ignorance about its own name, the highway crosses Canada, who was equally inhospitable.

We bought the coolest little camping trailer and headed to the nearest mountains (Arkansas, it turns out). I had planned to be diligent about blooging our travels, but a mishap at the end of our first week left me not in the mood to write.

Some people put catsup on their eggs. Some people remove their shirts to poop. We took a cat on a cross country camping trip.

Maks watches another camper pitch his tent at one of the early stops on our trip.

Here's my defence: Maks isn't a normal cat. He's mostly like a dog. He (often) comes when you call, he doesn't wander off on a male cat quest to get laid, and he's pretty damned loyal to the refilling of his food bowl. He likes strangers just fine, and likes his family quite a lot. Sometimes, he even comes along when I walk the dog, trotting unleashed beside us.

For the first three or four stops, it played out like I had expected. Maks might disappear into the woods for a bit, but then he'd come back and hang with us. At night, he joined us in the camper. He was never out of sight for more than an hour or two.

Then, at a pretty little camp site by the White River in Northern Arkansas, he failed to return. We waited several hours, and then several days. We walked around calling him incessantly. We offered campground kids lucrative rewards. The whole campground was on lookout.

After a week, it was hard to imagine any scenario other than him slipping into the luggage compartment in the belly of an RV that was on its way out. We waited for the phone call from some nearby town, or Tennessee, or Vermont. Who knows? We left Arkansas and worked our way West without a word. I'll write about so many of the places we visited, but for the purpose of this post, just know that we saw places that I've heard about my whole life, along with several spots that I should have heard about, also along with a few great camping spots that I think people are keeping secret on purpose. All of this an no phone call.

In the back seat, you find room where you can on the last leg home.

Until a day, five or six weeks later. We were in a desert in South-Central California. The phone rang, and Maks was hanging around in the campground where we had last seen him. At that point, we were closer to the moon than we were to Arkansas, but we started the longest, hottest, most boring drive that you can devise across these United States. It's a blur of red dirt and scrub brush, and not one of those Bugs Bunny cacti with the two upward pointed arms. We stopped twice to sleep, but both stops were short. I'll turn 50 next year without having seen the Grand Canyon.

(Now that I think about it, I did see it from the window of a flight in to Vegas once. Does that count?)

Some nice people met us in a small town WalMart parking lot, and just as suddenly as he had disappeard, Maks was home. He had to have been so surprised to come out of the carrier and find himself face to face with the people he had probably written off as lost. Rosie gave him the excited dog reunion greeting that dog owners get when they get home from work every day. Ko's level of excitement excited me. Vanya's lack of excitement surprised me, but he explained that he never thought that Maks wouldn't be back, so it was just an expected part of the trip to him.

Maks has settled back into his normal routine, which is pretty much just walking around meowing at people to feed him or pet him. He keeps close enough to see or hear someone in the family. One morning this week, he joined the dog and me on our morning walk.