Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two Kitties and a Squish

A bit of squishy history:

1. When I was growing up, on my birthday some well-meaning aunt or uncle would ask "so, how does it feel to be eleven?" or whatever year was appropriate. I was always perplexed by this question. What does one say? How does it feel? My mother, in her wisdom, came up with the perfect response: "Squishy". A ridiculous question, does, indeed, deserve a ridiculous answer. It was perfect.

2. In the Midwest, after the rain, you may find your front sidewalk littered with worms. In the summer, they may fry if they don't retreat to the grass before the sun comes out. I remember rescuing many a worm in my younger days. In San Diego, earthworms are replaced by snails. I had never seen a snail until I moved to California. The morning dew is enough to bring them out. In my early morning trips to the gym, I'd often find myself faced with a walking path covered in snails. Though I'd do my best to avoid them, inevitably, I'd step on one. It's a horrible feeling. First they go "CRUNCH" and then, "SQUISH". I always felt like I'd committed a crime. I'd step off as quickly as possible, knowing that it was too late, and sometimes step unmercifully on another. On these sad mornings, before I left for work, I would impress upon my husband a warning: "Beware the crunchy squishies". He knew exactly what I meant and shared my remorse when either of us stepped on one.

Now that you know the origin of squishy, it will still make absolutly no sense when Nick or I refer to each other or Ivy as a squish or squishy. I can't honestly answer why we do it or when exactly it started. Our kitties, similarly, are also squishy--they are squishy kitties. Ivy has a stuffed cat whom we have named Kitty Squish.

In any case, kitties, squishies and all, we once again made the long drive across the country from Missouri to California, and oh, how full of adventure it was!

Now, I'm no stranger to this drive. I've done it twice now, once with Nick, once alone and always with my attack cats, Jean-Claude and Oberon. Technically, Ivy made the trip with me last time since I was pregnant. This time, we decided to make it a family affair. Ivy had done well on her last two car trips--to Madison, WI and from Chicago to St. Louis, but those were relatively short. We had five days in which to make this long drive and had stops planned out incase Ivy couldn't handle anything longer than five hours or so. She and I drove to Tulsa on Monday night and picked Nick up at the Tulsa airport. What a little angle our squish was! She slept the ENTIRE drive. We arrived at the Tulsa airport a little after midnight, found a hotel, went to sleep and got up refreshed the next morning.

The nice thing about most of these hotels along the road is that they serve free breakfast the next morning. Oklahoma was gloomy. Our goal for Tuesday was New Mexico. We planned to stop in Amarillo for lunch (about five hours) and see how Ivy was doing before pressing on or staying in Texas. Again, the squish surprised us. She slept all the way through, sadly, missing the largest cross in the northern hemisphere (I think it was toting the title of worlds largest cross the year before. I wonder who constructed a bigger one...).

Driving along through Texas, I spotted my very first REAL tumbleweed. At first, I thought it was one of those things you only see once, if you're lucky. As we moved through New Mexico, however, we discovered a little known phenomenon--Tumbleweed Farms! Yes, it's true (ok, not really), these little dried up bushes are grown in open fields across the desert. They start out firmly planted in the ground and as they ripen (dry up) they unroot and tumble away! At least that's what it looks like.

Pressing on, we made it to Tucumcari, New Mexico. Those of you who've been reading my blog for a while may recall my previous attempt to stay in Tucumcari. Once again, I discovered hotels to be somewhat full. However, we were able to secure a double. Great! Ivy could have her own bed! Ok, so no, but hey, we had a room and another free breakfast.

Day three--we were shooting for Flagstaff, Arizona. This was a long day. We made it to Gallup, New Mexico and stopped for a snack and a rest. I mean, what's a trip across the country without a stop in Gallup? Day three was tough for Ivy. She was awake a lot more and not at all happy about another day in the car. She was pretty fussy from Gallup all of the way into Arizona. We stopped a few times to feed her and give her a bit of a break from the car seat. With all of these unplanned stops, we were in the car for about eleven hours on day three. We rolled into Flagstaff at almost 8:00 that night and hit the first hotel we saw--a Hampton Inn. Fine! Whatever! I don't care if it's more expensive! Well, we should have cared. It was the worst night's sleep we had the entire trip.

All we could get was a handicapped accessible room or a smoking double. We opted for the handicapped room--at least it wouldn't stink. However, the bed was too hard, the pillows too soft, hot and DRY! Moving under the covers in bed created so much static that it seemed to light up the room (ok, I'm exaggerating just a bit, but it was REALLY DRY). The cats decided to pick this night to get revenge as well. All night long, Jean-Claude was whining at the door. As if we would let him out! He was climbing on things, knocked the phone over, knocked a shelf in the bathroom over and probably a few more things I've forgotten about. To top it all off, Ivy and I were getting sick. I was up every hour either for my own coughing fits or hers. Too many climate changes in too few days. Needless to say, we left early.

I hadn't had a good cup of coffee since Oklahoma (they have QT there). I'd seen a Starbucks somewhere in Texas but for whatever reason (driving-related insanity, certainty that it was a mirage, whatever) we didn't stop. I tried drinking the stuff at the free continental breakfasts, but alas, it was undrinkable. A mere sip left me choking and unsatisfied. After our dreadful night in Flagstaff, I was more than on the lookout.

Driving in the left lane of Interstate 40 at 75-80 MPH (three lanes of traffic, I think), I spot the green mermaid.

"Is that a Starbucks?" I shout, pointing.

"Uh, yeah. I think so. Oh, but you're past the exit ramp," Nick said.

Ha! You think a silly little thing like an exit ramp is going to get inbetween my coffee and me? Nosiree! I crank the steering wheel to the right, caring not for cars in my wake. I cut across the shoulder, ignoring the protesting grated pavement and finally lighten up on the gas as I cruise softly to a stop at the end of the exit ramp. I would have my coffee, if it was the last thing I did.

It was just the thing to lift our spirits. We pressed on. From here, the drive wound all over, making it tough to maintain a desirable speed. We pulled up to the Brown's house in Goodyear, AZ around noon--not bad.

A visit with El and Carrie (and of course, Jalen) is always fun. We stayed most of the day, waiting out a wind storm and then Ivy's bed time. If we waited to leave until 7:00 or so, she'd sleep the rest of the way home, which she did. We made it home a little after midnight and had a long night of much needed rest.

This is a temporary situation, however. We're only in San Diego as long as we need to be. Who knows where we'll end up next?