We woke up sorta around 10:00 AM and I honestly don't remember much of the tediousness, except the usual packing up, shower, animal feeding, giving Charlie insulin, walking dogs around the morning motel. Robin pooped on the grass and we picked up after him.
Then, before checkout time I went in to the front desk to settle the bill, and asked the lady there for a small extension of time so we could pack up, she said, "OK, to take another 45 minutes or so."
Somehow mom and I were moving around so slowly, that we took longer, and the cleaning ladies were walking everywhere around us, giving us looks. Then the motel owner lady came out and sort of reprimanded us for taking so long (close to an hour and a half instead of 45 minutes), since she was paying the maids for their time, she said, etc. So mom and I panicked and started to rush, and we were just throwing things in the car, and I was putting the cats away, and a I carried Johnny to his cage, he went absolutely limp in terror and peed on the front of my t-shirt… with the most smelly, concentrated urine possible (he hadn't been drinking, hardly any water over these last few days).
So I had to apologize to the waiting maid, and I rushed back in the room, washed my bra and front of t-shirt in the bathroom, and came out completely soaked in the front (no time to look for replacement clothing.
I left the maid a decent tip, and she even came out to thank me as we had already officially vacated the room but unofficially were still putting stuff away in the car.
Finally we were all in place and accounted for, and I programmed the GPS to take us to a hotel in Iowa.
This time before getting on the road I had the sense to check the fuel indicator, and drove around town to find a gas station to fill up.
When I pulled into a town gas station, I was cut off by a huge semi-truck that was getting gas. So I was stuck in a weird spot for like 15 minutes waiting or it to move, then drove around it in frustration and finally got gas.
We got on the highway at last.
And we were in Colorado flat country, nowhere land, absolute straight-as-an-arrow road, sort of to make up for the previous night's curvy nightmare. Nothing but two lanes in each direction, a grassy center divider, and on both sides green grass an in the distance, occasional houses, misty horizon and dark specks of cows.
For about a half hour we were going straight as an arrow, and it was sort of mildly overcast morning haze.
The road was really bad. I mean, the pavement, super crappy pre-industrial, rattling to drive on. At one point it got so awful, I thought I had a flat tire. So I pulled over to the shoulder to look, and nope, no flat tires anywhere, all was okay. At that point I got back in the car, and we continued forward. Several rattling miles ahead of us I saw a large truck that was just ahead also pull over, and I think the driver was checking his tires for flats too -- that's how awful the road was.
Then it got better so that the rattling was just average-crappy.
As we continued forward in that same eternal straight line, the morning became warmer and warmer, though still overcast. The country was unrelenting flatland with occasional tiny rise. In the back Murray started to meow really loudly and frequently, and the dogs looked really awful, so it was apparent they were overheating. I was unsure if we were still in Colorado or Nebraska at that point, but it didn’t matter, Mom thought it was Nebraska.
There was a sign for a gas station and a Subway, so I took that exit, and we pulled over to the gas station, and got gas, then drove to the Subway and I went in the Subway restroom to fill up the doggie bowls with water. Back I the car, the dogs drank the water, and I don’t remember if we took them for a walk or not, but definitely drank the water as I held it for them in the back seat. Then I opened the hatchback to air it out and offered water to the cats (they had turned over their water bowls frequently, making a mess of their bedding, so I stopped putting water in them, and only gave them water when we were stationary). Both cats refused the water but Murray was panting, with his poor tongue sticking out. So mom suggested I wet his head, and I did, with wet wad of toilet paper, smearing it over his forehead, which does work to cool animals down. I think it worked somewhat because Murray did get better and stropped panting, though he continued to yowl somewhat. Charlie continued to appear passed out, but he did have water to drink.
At the Subway I got another veggie sub for me, and a yogurt for mom, like we did the other day in Utah (mom cannot chew raw veggies, has no teeth, and we didn’t know what else to feed her, besides the veggie hotdog from the pack in the cooler, which she was getting sick of). We also got more iced tea.
Before we got back on the road, I asked the Subway worker, "I realize this is a weird question, but what state are we in?" She said, Colorado. So, weird, we had thought it was Nebraska but I guess not.
So we continued driving for a long time, and we still didn't know what states we were in. Everything was uniformly flat and green grassy.
We stopped to get gas, I don't remember where or how, and also I don’t remember how or when we called in the hotel to again tell them we are running late.
It was so dull I have no memory of details. At some point it got dark and I guess we entered some kind of more urban area, and were on highways that looked more like large city freeways, and I think at some point there was a sign saying "Welcome to Iowa."
Then we finally found the smallish Iowa town (forget its name now, I think Coralville) where the hotel was, thanks to the GPS's accurate instructions. It was somewhere near a university, I guess, and this was a larger hotel, the fanciest one yet on this trip, of many stories, and a real front entrance and interior rooms. It was around 1:30 AM at night.
I ran inside and checked in, got the keys, then went back outside.
Mom was worried about how we were going to get the animals upstairs, with an elevator, of all
things. There was no way I could do what I did the previous other nights and hand-carry the cats, not all the way through the lobby then elevator, down many hallways, etc.
But then I had an idea, partially inspired by Jane Fancher and C.J. Cherryh, who traveled with cats in cages, and I remember being to their room at some worldcon and Jane had these casts in large cages very similar to ours, and they were in the room.
Anyway, I got one of those luggage bellboy carts from the lobby, and I parked the jeep in front of the lobby entrance, and then I managed to get the cages out of the trunk, and loaded them, one on top of the other on the rolling luggage cart. The cats were shocked and Johnny rattled his upper cage loudly.
There was an older African American lady seated in the lobby and she watched in great amusement as the cats got rolled in. She asked if they were going to some cat show, and I said, no, just moving cross-country, LOL! Then I saw a lady walking some dogs outside, so apparently this was indeed a pet friendly large hotel.
I rolled the cats with their cages very smoothly through the lobby then onto the elevator, and we went to an upper floor, where I rolled them down the quiet nice carpeted hall, and stopped near our door. This was actually MUCH easier and less stressful than the previous two nights' methods!
Mom and I went inside, spread the bedding on the floor, prepping the room as usual, then I unloaded the cat cages from the luggage roller, and we went back down for luggage and the rest of the stuff. It was easy to put everything on the cart and make one trip.
Then we walked the dogs on the green hotel lawn, and brought them in the front lobby and on the elevator, and down the hall to the room. The dogs behaved very well, and everyone was happy inside the nice room. We let the cats loose, and they were extremely relieved and Murray immediately started to roll around on the covers and do the happy roll with his legs up. Johnny again attempted to hide under things.
Since this hotel also had the free breakfast deal, there was no microwave in the room, so I went downstairs where the lobby clerk showed me the kitchen morning eating area and I got some hot water for our tea, but put it on a paper cup for a tray which bent and fell, so I accidentally scalded myself all over my arms, and it HURT, and my arms got red -- I got real dratted burns that blistered over the next day!
Anyway, the hotel person got worried, ran to get me a towel, etc, but I told him I was okay. And I got replacement water, and some ice from the ice machine in an ice bucket, and took it upstairs, where mom and I had our usual night tea and ate a little of something from our cooler, and I gave Charlie his insulin shot.
Since the checkout was at noon, we had a it more time to sleep. We went to bed, and the beds were really nice and SOFT, so I wondered if this was some kind of fancy bed mattress, super soft, maybe that Tempurpedic or foam stuff? In any case it was very nice.
So we went to sleep in Iowa, with cats walking over us and in a pretty nice hotel.
... Continued in next post ...