"Where's Wombat going to go?" My twenty-one-year-old daughter looked from the Mazda RX7 to the well of the pick-up truck, a look of concern in her sea green eyes.
"In the truck--where else?"
We had just finished unloading suitcases, dog and cat food, three cats, a Pomeranian and our 75 lb. shepherd-lab-wolf mix (Wombat) from my Volvo station-wagon and were in the process of stuffing things into the horse-trailer and wherever else we could find a spot. We were over half way across the country on a trip that led from Santa Cruz, Ca. to Rhode Island when the timing belt on my Volvo decided to give up the ghost and since it was a holiday weekend we decided to leave the car at the fix-it shop in Indiana.
"So, how exactly is this supposed to work?" my niece asked, looking at me, my husband, our son and daughter.
"Geoff and I will go in the Mazda, you and Nik and Sam can fit in the truck with Wombat." My husband's eyes looked especially blue on this warm summer day as he smiled this pronouncement. The Mazda had air-conditioning.
It was in a run-down gas station somewhere in Ohio that our next major mishap occurred. I was in the bathroom thinking about "Deliverance" when I heard a thin cry of HELP from my seventeen-year-old son. When I hurried out to see what the problem was he was standing stock still looking helpless and holding three empty harnesses--running down a trash-covered hill into some trees were the three cats. "Well don't just stand there!" I yelled. "We have to catch them!" I took off with Geoff behind me, my daughter moving quickly off to the side to corral them. Somehow we managed to get all three of them but I now knew that they could easily shrug out of their harnesses by hunching their shoulders.
The trip from then on was a blur of 'trying to get there as fast as we can'. One more night was spent in a motel--one room for all of us--and if it hadn't been for the toilet overflowing and one of the cats getting lost inside the box spring, it would have been fairly uneventful.
Our arrival at my brother's farmhouse in the wee hours of July 4th was only marred by horrendous humidity and fog so thick you could barely see the front of the car. Everyone piled out with exhausted smiles. "We made it!" I said looking around at the wan white faces. Wombat rolled on his back in the grass making happy grunting noises. The cats were still in their one medium sized crate their disdainful stares sending daggers toward all of us.