Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Which I Become Brave, Part 2

When last we heard from our (allegedly) brave blogger, she was about to embark on an epic journey across the country. Well, maybe not "epic", and not exactly "across the country". Still, it was from New Jersey, through the whole state of Pennsylvania (which is a pretty wide state, by the way), and well into Ohio. Yes, I do know how pathetic that sounds, but I've never been that far west! Yes, I know how pathetic that sounds, too.

Moving right along... The plan to leave on Monday was scrapped, and new plans were made to leave at 9:00 on Tuesday morning. That would still give us a full day on Wednesday for me to help my friend unpack, return the rental car, and be on the train at 12:25am on Thursday. WP_000601

I packed my things late Monday night, and had everything ready to go. Dad would pick me up and take me to my friend's house in Cherry Hill (about an hour away) and we would get the cats in their carriers and be on our way.

But alas, that was not to be. My friend calls at 1:00am to say she is not feeling well and can't possibly leave on Tuesday. OK. Plans were made to leave Wednesday morning. I would be at her house by 7:00am, we would gather all the cats and be on the road at 9:00am. Sharp. 

Wednesday morning, dad picks me up at 6:00, we make good time and get to Cherry Hill a little before 7:00. There are no signs of movement in or around my friend's house. I knock on the door and she comes to the door. At this point, I am seeing this whole thing through dad's eyes. There are boxes and packing material all over the house, empty cat carriers in the hallway, and my friend comes to the door in her bathrobe. I look at dad, he looks at me, and I tell him everything will be fine, it's under control. He doesn't believe me for a second. He gives me a hug, promises to pick me up at the train station the next day, and against his better judgement, he leaves.

Our plan was to be on the road by 9:00, so I enter the house with thoughts catching cats and loading them in carriers. I find out that first we have to finish packing. FINISH PACKING!!!! OK, calm down. How long can that take? I find out that her plan was to be on the road at 10:00. OK, that's just an hour later. We should still get to her house in Ohio by 7:00pm, allowing for a couple of stops for gas, etc. 10:00 comes and goes. 11:00 comes and goes. She is packing, and I am moving boxes into two pods that are still in her driveway. The pods are scheduled to be picked up at noon. We surely have to be on the road by then. Surely not. The pod men come and go, and we are still packing and loading the two cars. 

At this point, I ask, delicately, if we shouldn't be catching cats and getting on the road. You have to understand that my friend has such a good heart, and is truly a wonderful person, but I am beginning to see that what I thought was a mild case of separation anxiety (along with her normal crazy) is out of control. I tell her that no matter what, we have to be on the road by 1:00. That would get us there by 8:30 if we don't stop for gas or have to pee. (Not exactly realistic, but I am trying to make the best of a bad situation.) That would give me 3 hours in Ohio to help her unpack the essentials and get the cats acclimated to their surroundings before having to leave to get to the train station.

Are we on the road by 1:00? No. We have a terrible time catching the cats, in which much blood was shed. Human blood, not kitty blood, although I have to admit I was tempted... We finally had 8 cats in crates, at least I think it was 8, and then two get free. Turns out we had the cages upside down and they got out through the big holes that are supposed to be at the bottom of the crate under a tray. I sat on the front porch and could feel the tears starting. My friend says, "Maybe today isn't a good day to go, after all." I point out that for me it was the last day I could possibly go. I have to get the 12:25am train on Thursday to be back in Philly the next afternoon. I work on Friday, and have got to be back. I also can't afford to reschedule the trip for another week and take more time off work. For me, it was Ohio or bust. I said I would drive the rental SUV which was packed to the ceiling, literally, and whatever cats she wanted me to take. I would drop them off at her sister's house in Ohio, and her sister could take me to the train station.
WP_000603So that's when I became brave. At 2:45 on Wednesday afternoon, I pulled away from her house, and headed to Ohio. By myself. Not counting the wailing cats in the back seat, of course. To let you know the enormity of this undertaking, I do not drive over the Walt Whitman Bridge, and I certainly do not drive on the Schuylkill Expressway. Have never done it, and never will. Heck, there's a reason why people call it the Sure-Kill Expressway. However, to get to the PA Turnpike, I drove over the Walt Whitman Bridge and the Schuylkill Expressway. (How brave am I?)

I was doing fine, concentrating on  listening to the GPS, getting through the traffic, and not missing an exit, but when I finally got on the Turnpike and the mechanical GPS voice said "Continue on Route 76 (the PA Turnpike) for 298 miles" I broke down. After the PA Turnpike, I still had to drive on the Ohio Turnpike for well over 100 miles. I thought there was no way I could possibly do this alone. Again, not counting the angry, wailing cats in the back seat.

Turns out, I could do it alone. Although, I was on the phone with my sister or parents every hour (hand's free, of course) so I wasn't really alone. Then my friend's sister, Judy, called, and assured me that she would get me to the train station in time. So even though I was alone in the car (except for some really, really pissed cats) I had a whole support network making sure everything was OK. Some might say my family is over protective, to be so concerned about a 49 year old daughter driving to Ohio. I prefer to say my family loves me.

Anyway, I only made two very quick stops for gas (where I also pumped gas for the first time, by the way! Yay, me!), and made it to Ohio, without mishap, at 10:30pm. We will overlook the fact that I arrived at the wrong house and knocked on a complete stranger's door at 10:30 at night. People in Ohio are really, really friendly, by the way, even very late at night. After finding the right house, I finally met Judy, her husband and her best friend. They all welcomed me like a long lost friend.

I followed them to my friend's new house, where we set up litter boxes, cat food and bowls of water, and I unpacked cat beds. They we let the cats out of their kitty prisons, and we left for the train station. Judy and her friend Peggy insisted on accompanying me to the train station and waiting until I was safely on board. I kept telling them they could leave me, but they insisted. I'm glad, too, because the train station was in a dodgy section of a small town in the middle of the night. Also the train station was unmanned, and the building was really, really nasty. We all agreed that is was a perfect spot for a murder.

Eventually three more people arrived to board the train, but they wouldn't have been any help in an attempted murder. It was one older woman wearing sandals, and a couple who had to be at least 100 years old. And the man was blind. No help at all. Plus the train was over an hour late. Could things have gotten any worse? Yes, we could have been murdered, but we weren't, and we made it safely onto the train.

WP_000605The train trip home was uneventful, and I made it to Pittsburgh in plenty of time to catch the connecting train to Philly. I was exhausted, but had so much caffeine the day before that there was no way I could fall asleep.

In honor of my new-found bravery, I had a Greek Salad on the train. It was delicious! I even ate the stuff that I usually discard. Instead of eating just the lettuce and the tomatoes and tossing the rest of the add-ons, I ate the black olives and feta cheese. First time ever. You might point out that there are also onions and mini pepper like things in the salad, also, but no, I didn't eat them. Eat onions? Unidentified peppers? That's just crazy talk!

The train eventually made it's way into 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. I have always told dad that, while it's good to see him at any time, I was never so happy to see him as when he came back from the pharmacy after picking up my prescription for pain killers after my back surgery. I was so happy and relieved to see the prescription er, him. He now topped that day. Both mom and dad were at the train station to pick me up. This is the only picture I got...


...but I think it's my new favorite picture of them.


SissySees said...

That's quite a story. I think you deserve an award or three!! Is your friend with her cats now?

Donna Lee said...

I had a friend that I helped move just like that (without the long cross state trip). When we got to the house, we found that it wasn't packed at all. Frustrating? oh hell yes.

I drive the Schukyll (sp) all the time to get to my daughter's house. I hate it. No real shoulders and all those PA drivers!

You were wonderful and amazing to be such a good friend!

Sue said...

You are a much nicer person than I am. About the second time the date changed, I'd have handed her the keys and said " Have a nice life."

My sister used to pull that kind of stuff all the time. She is probably the most self centered person I've ever known. Probably the reason we haven't spoken in 26 years.

gMarie said...

What a great adventure! We may have driven over that bridge and on that expressway unknowingly when we were out there for vacation. And we picked the Princess up at that Train Station to! I'm always so surprised at how close everything is on the East Coast. g