In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Beyond the Pale.”
It was quite out of the ordinary three years ago on October 9th when I loaded my van, with my two dogs, ( Molly a Scottish Terrier and Rubio a handsome Wheaton Terrier that I brought back from Mexico a year before), and my marmalade cat Perry and set out on a road trip. I remember feeling very matter of fact about it which was also strange as I had planned to go clear across the continent of North America all by myself… meaning I was the only human on board. I was living on Vancouver Island and had my destination set at New Brunswick. I had not calculated it at the time, but it turned out to be a 6,016 kilometres drive. Without much fuss we were on the road. I had an extra large animal crate for Perry, he was nicely installed with litter and cushions, water, all the comforts, but I was barely out of town when he began to vocalize so I pulled over and opened the door to his crate. He remained free to roam the van for the remainder of the trip and was as content and comfortable as the dogs. He favored a spot on top of a box that was just behind my driver’s seat, he gazed out of the window and never again complained.
I left Vancouver Island on a ferry which took me to Port Angeles and from Olympia in Washington state I headed east all the way. Montana was a long drive. Two full days to cross and much of it was isolated, no one on the road but us and rolling hills went on forever. I remember feeling uncomfortable with the thought of having a malfunction on that road. When we reached North Dakota we hit our one and only snag. Who new there was a lot of oil rigging going on and no room could be found. It was 11pm, I had put in a very long day driving and the temperatures were freezing. I circled around asking everywhere I stopped if they new of a vacancy. Just before panic set in I found a place; unfortunately I was informed that no cats were allowed. I accepted saying that my cat could spend the night in the van. Have you ever said something to someone and new at the time it was not true. Well I felt something not quite right when those words fell out of my mouth. I was so grateful for the room and we all got settled in except Perry who was left in the van. Shortly after midnight I went out to check on him… it was very very cold, freezing in fact. I quickly slipped him into his travel case and smuggled him into our room.. He is a brilliant cat and always enjoyed sussing out our new digs. We spent a restful night and come morning were on our way. It took me 9 days to arrive in New Brunswick where I stayed for a month while touring the Maritimes. I visited Prince Edward Island which actually upped my distance to 6,132 kilometres. In essence I had gone from one end of the continent to the other. From there I headed west to my place of birth, Montreal where I had not been for almost 40 years. I revisited my old high school, found high school friends, returned to places I had lived while growing a up and reconnected with relatives I had not seen for a very long time. I remained there for 7 months.
I was a different person heading back. I had owned parts of my past that were lost on a younger me who left her birth place and did not yet know what to treasure. The many miles I was about to travel had already been mastered. I never would have guessed that I might take my two dogs and my cat on such a trip, over 12,000 kilometres. Now, when I have to go someplace I have never been and feel hesitant , I think to myself, I could do this, I drove across the continent and back. Molly, Rubio and Perry were my guardian angels. Keeping them cared for and safe protected all of us and I never felt alone for a moment.