"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Frankenstorm Road Trip

At 5:00am on the 23rd, I received a text from the hauler saying that they'd stopped for 5 hours in Savanna to rest, and was continuing the trip. He said Lily was eating and drinking. I, however, was not able to fall asleep again, as all I could think about was Lily pawing for 5 hours straight because the trailer had not been moving...after the incident with Romeo at Tree Tops park, she WILL paw in the trailer as long as it's at a standstill.

In the end, Lily made it to Maryland safe and sound, and didn't lose weight on the trip. According to Barn Queen (the barn manager-I will be calling her by her blog name for herself-check it out at barnqueenadventures.com/!), she was somewhat dehydrated, as her stools were very dry. Her appetite was so-so, but I mentioned that Lily always goes into heat on trailer rides, and this always puts her off her feed, and BQ confirmed that Lily was indeed in heat. Over the next 5 days, she sent me these photos, along with detailed reports via e-mail and text.

Out for a walk in the indoor arena, the night of the 23rd.

Slowly being introduced to pasture in the medical "paddock".

Staring longingly at Beauty, the feisty black pony mare.

Hand-grazing with one of the boarders (she quickly developed a fan club!) BQ discovered that after eating the nice grass by the driveway, her poops weren't as dry.

What barn manager does this?? I have yet to hear of another one like this! It gave me a tremendous peace knowing that Lily was in good hands, and so I was able to concentrate on getting the rest of our stuff together.

Instead of driving my car and a U-Haul with the truck in tow, we figured out a better and less expensive option was to cram all of our stuff into a U-Box (similar to the PODS concept) and have it shipped to DC. We also had the truck shipped to DC by Nationwide Auto Transport, who hired Reliable Auto Transport to do the job. The Reliable Auto Transport people did a F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C job, managing to deliver the truck safely, at our new apartment complex, before Sandy hit land.

This is what the U-Box looked like when we were done:

This is how big it was:

I think between Charles and Charles's dad, they were able to pull off an Undetectable Extension Spell of their own.

And the house. I'm anal about leaving everything clean, but at the end of the 3 days of packing and cleaning, I was done. The house was as clean as it was going to be after 3 years living in it. I'm still cringing that we didn't paint the 3 walls I'd painted back to their original color, but it was almost $300 for the paint (they wouldn't sell you less than 5 gallons!) and we needed that money for other things. Cross your fingers that the deposit is enough to cover it!

We woke up at 4:30am on October 27th to finish packing the car and start our journey up to DC. We absolutely had to be there by the 28th to get the keys to the apartment. This is the longest road trip I had ever been on, and my first time going up the US East coast. I've gone to many places on the West coast, but not the East. We were scheduled to arrive 24 hours before Frankenstorm Sandy was to hit New Jersey. High winds and rain were predicted for most of the East coast between the 27th and 28th. It was extremely aggravating that the forecast changed from one hour to the next, from one news channel to the next, and from one website to the next. We had friends and family calling us with all sorts of different reports as to where the storm was located and when and where it was supposed to hit land. It was nerve-wracking not knowing.

We left the townhouse at 6:30am, after struggling for an hour trying to arrange and re-arrange everything in the car. We ended up throwing out more things, including our pillows, simply because they didn't fit. We had 4 suitcases of clothes and shoes, our jackets, my saddle, Lily's Smartpak supplement drawer, backpacks with our laptops and important documents, sheets, blankets and a quilt for the bed at the new place, and all sorts of essential odds and ends. Plus Astarte and her carrier, and a litter box on the floor of the back seat so she could go potty while on the endless trip.

Astarte remained loose in the car during the trip, but I took the carrier because it was a place to put her if we needed to transport her safely anywhere.

This is what my Corolla looked like. I started calling it the Mary Poppins car:

This is my favorite photo because it looks surreal, like there was no gravity inside the car. *lol*

Yup. I was really glad we had traded in my MINI Cooper for the Corolla at this point. You can imagine what the trunk looked like! Poor Astarte was trying to find some stable piece of something to lay on.
Astarte eventually gave up trying to curl up in the back and took turns between lying on Charles's lap and napping on the floor of the passenger side of the car between his feet.

I drove. And drove. And drove. The winds were awful in South FL, and I was gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles all the way into Martin County, when the winds started to settle. Once we started going through areas where there were trees on both sides of the road, they served as a wind block and I was able to relax.

Beginning of the trip. Still looking happy and excited. *lol*

I95 in South FL

South FL cypress trees

It stayed between 69-72 degrees all the way north, until nightfall.

We stopped at this gas station as a pit stop for us and the car (to get gas) and arrived at the same time as 2 bus loads of tourists. It was a long line to the restroom.

Little shop at the same gas station. This was somewhere north of Melbourne, FL.

Jacksonville, FL
Georgia was a breeze, but we were surprised to see that there seems to be no fall in Georgia-the trees remained green all the way.

The only sign that we were in GA. That, and the mile markers re-started.

Green GA trees on both sides of the road.
South Carolina was interesting. We saw real cotton fields, which Charles had never noticed on his drive up. The trees started changing colors as we drove further north in the state. We kept seeing these signs for a place called South of the Border. The billboards seemed to be every few miles-these people had spent a fortune on advertising, and most of the billboards were downright silly. We drove and drove, and still no sign of the place.

SC did have a sign to announce entry into the state.

Cotton field!

Some orange and yellow trees.

South of the Border sign. One of the better ones...

We were approaching North Carolina, when we finally saw it:

The place was HUGE. It looked like a Mexican Old Town (in Orlando) on steroids.

90% of the place was desolate. Only some of the rides showed signs of life. Rather depressing after announcing themselves so much.
I guess they spent so much on advertising that they went broke? Who knows...

Charles and I finally traded seats, and he got to drive the rest of the way. I had driven 9 hours so far.

My turn to snuggle with Astarte :)

Since my feet are smaller than Charles's tree climbers, she really had room to get comfortable on the passenger side floor.

In North Carolina, the winds started up again. Around this point, the in-laws called asking if we were going to stop yet. It was only 5:00pm, and we were wide awake and going strong. Plus there were neon signs flashing on 95 announcing that high winds and debris were expected that night in NC. There was no way in hell we were stopping there.

We drove into Virginia as night was falling, and these last 4 hours turned out to be the most grueling part of the drive. Since it was dark, we had no idea of our surroundings, and being in VA, technically we were already home-the apartment was in Alexandria-but we had to drive all the way north.

At one point, the road dipped, but I could see the horizon rise in front of us in a slope. "Charles!! It's a MOUNTAIN!!" "It's just the tree line." he said. "No, that's a freaking mountain!" I insisted. It was. As we continued to drive, I pointed out that southbound 95 was above us, carved into the side of another mountain-you had to look up to see the cars driving by. You'd think I'd never seen a mountain before... I have. But it's been a long time! And it's been 8 years since I lived anywhere with mountains!

We finally, finally arrived in Alexandria at 10:30pm. Now we had to find a hotel that would accept cats... We called Charles's mother with the Alexandria apartment address so she could look for nearby hotels on the internet at home (we don't have smartphones YET) and she found a Red Roof Inn that allowed pets, but it was 7 miles from our exit. We had no idea how bad the weather would be the next day and were trying to stay as close to the apartment complex as possible. Thank God for my GPS...we were able to look up hotels within a 1 mile radius from the apartment (there were MANY). The first choice, a Holiday Inn, didn't accept pets. We went looking for our second choice, and accidentally stumbled upon another hotel from a popular chain that had cabins. This made it easy: we left Astarte in her hiding spot on the passenger side floor of the car, and checked in. We got lucky: not only did they give us a first floor room, it was also in the back row of cabins. I snuck Astarte in the room wrapped in a sweater, and put her in the bathroom while we unloaded our suitcases.

Afterwards we got settled. Astarte went nuts running around the room, her nose to the ground like a beagle, then jumped on the second bed, and I swear, if she'd been a little kid, she'd have been bouncing on the bed.

"MY bed!"

Happy face

Eventually she settled down and just stretched out. She really thought that bed was all for her. *lol*

I think she was the happiest of the 3 of us to get out of the car after 17 hours.

Charles checks his e-mail on his iPad, and later I was able to check the weather forecast.
We had a good night's sleep (including Astarte, who eventually popped over onto our bed and fell unconscious at Charles's feet-she didn't stir when I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom!) and then showed up at the apartment leasing office at noon to check in and get our keys. There was a small glitch where it seemed for a minute like we weren't going to get the keys (I was horrified! I didn't want to spend another night at a hotel with our car overflowing with stuff...), but it got sorted out and we were able to drop off everything at the apartment, including Astarte, who had been majorly upset to find herself inside the car again.

It was cloudy and cold, and we still had to do storm shopping, as we had no food nor water in the house. But I was not going to be able to see Lily due to the bad weather for the next 2 days, so we took off right after unpacking the car for the long drive to Maryland to see her.

To be continued...


  1. Oh South of the Border didn't go bankrupt immediately. They very well may have now, but they've been around for most of my lifetime! I can remember seeing it on our drive to the grandparents for as long as I can remember!!

    Pooooorrr kitty! So funny about her in the hotel though. Sneaky sneaky owners! Haha.

  2. Oh I believe you! South of the Border must've been something when it was in its glory-it's huuuge! It was just sad to see most of it shut down after all of that advertising. Yup, we've become masters at sneaking cats into apartments and hotels. It's a good thing my kitties have always been so well-behaved! *lol*