Three months ago, after spending the winter on the coast of the Northern Mexican Baja, we loaded our possessions — and our 3 feline dependents — into the Blazer, and headed out on an extended road trip. Our plans were to travel over the border, up the West Coast and then head east across the Great Plains to see family in the upper Midwest. Now, after migrating from Mexico to Seattle to Denver we have covered a lot of ground. We left Denver Friday and woke up yesterday in North Platte, NE. Today it’s on to Omaha. Tomorrow the day’s drive will end in Des Moines, Iowa.
We have learned a lot in the past 3 months, both about ourselves and about what works on an extended road trip (when it comes to comfort and efficiency). We have learned that the cats are happier if we give them a good 4-hour window between “breakfast” and when we load them in their crates for the day. It gives them time to “process” and get into full nap mode so they will sleep comfortably in forced isolation from their litter box. They are also happier (and there are fewer accidents) when we limit the number of total hours in captivity to five or fewer. So that’s how we roll.
And we’re doing pretty well so far. The cats seem to like exploring the room when we arrive at each new hotel (all those interesting smells!). But Traci and I realize that we prefer no more than three or four days of consecutive driving — and then need to settle into a place for at least two nights. By then we’re ready for a breather…..a day when we don’t have to lug the bags (and Bubba, Lucy, and Chuckie) in and out of the car.
Aside from travel preferences, there’s another thing that has become evident as we crossed the country. It’s something I expected to see but has been fascinating to watch unfold hour by hour and mile by mile. We have witnessed the transition from a beautiful land of geographic diversity to a land much more one dimensional, with vast stretches of prairie grass, pastures, and big open sky. At the same we witnessed a transition from large metropolitan areas to vast strings of small and smaller towns where diversity does not really apply. Like the landscape and demographic make-up, mindsets change across the country too.
For example, In northern Idaho we saw a pickup truck plastered with signs declaring the driver’s positions and opinions. One said “Save America, Defeat Obama”. Many of the others I wouldn’t repeat. The truck flew two flags……the American Flag above the Gadsen Flag. At least he got the order right.
In Northern Colorado we stayed at a hotel next to a retail shop displaying a sign that read “GUNS GUNS GUNS”. They were advertising local gun shows, where in most states you can drive a truck through the background check loophole. In a restaurant parking lot down the street a car had a sticker that read “pray for Obama….that his days may be few”. A uniquely Colorado event occurred that same night. We were having a margarita at a restaurant when a stranger tapped my shoulder and said “I think you dropped something”. He pointed to a small plastic bag on the floor with a card that read “Organic”. I picked it up and turned it over to find it held three lush green buds of pot. As I started to say that it wasn’t mine, a gentleman smiling from the next chair caught my eye to wordlessly say it was his. If it wasn’t his before that moment, it was after I handed it over.
My favorite bumper stickers we’ve were both on the same vehicle in Seattle, Washington. One said “A closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose”. The other said “what if the hokie-pokie IS what it’s all about?”