I’m lying here in a hotel room in Hays, Kansas, after yet another sleep-deprived night spent trying to keep Loki quiet. After three days on the road, we have discovered a few things about ourselves.
The biggest realization is an overwhelming sense of relief that we made a last minute change of plans and did not head straight to Mexico. Looking back, that would have been a disaster. While the idea seems romantic, traveling with Crowley and Loki has not been easy. My Darling has only kept his sanity because he’s been driving the moving truck and hasn’t had to actually spend eight or nine hours in the Raza with a mewling Loki. Spending the nights in the hotel rooms with restless pets has been hard enough.
The other eye-opener is just how hard it was for us to give up everything to be nomads. In the end, we just couldn’t do it. We were able to give up a lot – including a number of treasures that were quite precious to the both of us – but we just weren’t able to pare everything down to a couple of suitcases, as much as we tried.
Finally, we needed a stable place we could call home, and that was going to be near impossible if we wanted to travel all over Mexico exploring. I’ve always needed to have a home, as much as I would like to say I don’t and I was getting more and more depressed about leaving ours. My Darling has become accustomed to owning a house now, and to give that up with no real substitute was devastating to him. That he kept his chin up and played along for as long as he did just illustrated to me how much he loves me. But in the end, his anxiety over being homeless, coupled with my grief at giving up our home, started to take a toll on our relationship.
It became apparent in those last few weeks that we had to rethink things drastically. The closer we got to leaving the house, the more irritable we both became. As much as we both wanted to believe we could be free spirited world-travelers, the fact is that we both needed a stable home base to come back to. The idea of leaving that was becoming more and more frightening.
After some thought, we decided that we could still throw caution to the wind and take off for parts unknown, but that maybe we should start by traveling to other regions of the States, where we at least (mostly) understood the culture and didn’t face the daily challenges of living in a foreign country that we’d really never spent any considerable time in before. At the same time, I still wanted to get away from the grind of working in tech, which seemed like the only way to really afford the high cost of living in Portland.
During a visit to Mississippi, we found a house in Clinton, a small, quiet college town outside of Jackson. It had a decent-sized yard and, more importantly, was cheap enough that we could buy it outright so that we’d have a stable home to come back to even if we didn’t have a source of income for a while. We’d had enough left over to put a bit of work into it to update the kitchen for my Darling, and still be able to travel and enjoy our lives pretty much exactly the way we’d envisioned – only without the stress of carrying our home on our backs like a couple of turtles. Jackson happens to be a decent central location for exploring the South, which is an area that I’ve really never been to. It’s only a few hours from the major large cities: New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta… It’s also only a day’s drive from the US/ Mexico border, so we can continue that journey in a slightly more reasonable and leisurely manner.
By the time we got back to Portland, we had decided to shift gears and buy the house in Clinton. Overall, the transaction went about as smoothly as one can imagine when entering into real estate negotiations through email, text and phone on a property that needed to close within a couple of weeks. There were a couple of last minute snags, which made my Darling’s blood pressure soar, but by the morning of October 18, we not only had packed up everything to leave Portland, but had a safe haven waiting on the other side of a very long five day drive.
Which brings me to my current situation: wide awake at 5 AM in a motel room in Hays, Kansas, surrounded by stressed and exhausted traveling companions.
The vet was kind enough to give us both canine and feline sedatives for the trip. Unfortunately, we quickly realized that the knock-out pills for Loki are about as effective as gumdrops. His sleep schedule hasn’t really changed at all. Cats normally sleep about 20 hours a day and Loki has always had an annoying biorhythmic pattern that puts his wide awake time from about 2 – 6 AM. So we thought if we knocked him out at night, perhaps we could get some sleep. Not a chance.
The first day, we drugged both the animals during the long haul from Aloha, Oregon, to Boise, Idaho. They were both pretty out of it until, you guessed it, 2 AM when the drugs magically stopped working on Loki and he started howling.
The second night we stopped at a pretty miserable Travelodge in Rawlins, WY. The place was about halfway through a badly needed makeover, but we were settled in one of the rooms that hadn’t been updated yet. The shower stall was in dubious condition and the torn and stained carpet, heavily-deodorized. My guess is that the addition of a dog and cat to our reservations had a lot to do with the room we were given.
Both Loki and Crowley paced all that night. Loki decided to channel Big Ben and meowed constantly for ten minutes on the hour, every hour, until 4 AM, at which point he fell asleep and I finally drifted into a light nap.
Yesterday we drove for nine hours straight, stopping only for gas, bottled Frappucinos, and to let Crowley out to pee. We didn’t sedate either furry traveler – we figured we’d try just drugging them in the hotel room and hoped that would keep them quiet when we needed them to be. That worked for Crowley, but Loki, while a lot calmer than the previous night, still started in with his quiet mewling at 4 AM.
Today we’re driving to Van Buren, Arkansas and I can already tell it’s going to be another long caffeine-fueled day.