Posts Tagged ‘airport’

Why Cats Don’t Fly

by: Corey

To begin with, we would both like to apologize for not writing this post much sooner.  As many of you already know, we landed in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday October 13th for our 2 week + stay visiting Lisa’s parents.  After a couple of days  in Raleigh, Lisa came down with a pretty bad cold.  As soon as she started feeling better, I started to feel kind of crappy.  I don’t know what if was, cold/flu, but it was definitely not very much fun. As you can see, our trip of a life time didn’t exactly start as we would have hoped. On the bright side, we are both feeling much better and we both know we will face much more daunting obstacles in the near future.  Before I proceed, I also want to apologize for the lack of color in this post which will not contain any pictures.  We hope this will not happen t0o frequently in our future posts.

As many of you are already aware of, Lisa and I (mostly Lisa) have done a great deal of research and planning to get ready for this trip.  This entailed many, many hours on the computer looking at reviews on clothing/equipment, reading every interesting travel blog on the internet, and many other random tasks to get ready for what lies ahead.  One of these random tasks was taking our cat, Norma Jean, on a number of car rides to get her acclimated to moving in a vehicle.  We had originally planned on driving to Raleigh, but after looking at the cost to rent a car for the time that we would need it, we found that it made more sense to fly.  Outside of one bathroom accident, Norma was outstanding in the car.  She didn’t whine/cry, she got out of her carrier to walk around, and generally seemed to be enjoying herself.  After that first “accident” we began bringing the litter box along with us, just in case, but she never needed it and was fine on every car ride leading up to our departure. However, Lisa still felt a bit of trepidation about our big travel day, I was confident that Norma would be fine.

Let’s turn to our day of departure, Saturday October 13th.  We left my parents house around 4:45 AM for our flight that left Milwaukee at 6:30AM for our connection in Chicago.  Packed in my parent’s truck was my dad, mom, brother, Lisa, myself, and Norma in her brand new cat carrier.  On a side note, in order to bring a cat on a plane, you need to have a carrier that meets specific specifications to fit in under to seat in front of us.  This is where you’d put your normal carry-on.  Despite this fact, the airlines still charge $125 for her to fly which to us was just ridiculous.  I digress.  Now, when Lisa and I drove, it was always nice out and we made a concerted effort to drive nice and smooth.  This was not the case on this morning. First, it was pouring rain which Norma has always had a hard time with – thunder & lighting are her Kryptonite.  Secondly, my dad (it’s not your fault Dad) didn’t exactly make it the smoothest ride in history.  Despite some fidgety behavior on her part, Norma was pretty good on the way to the airport.  However, as we approached the airport, she started making noise and moving around a bunch.  As I tried to calm her and see what her deal was, I found the reason for her discomfort. I don’t know if it was the weather, the driving, the stress, or the over the counter sedative we tried giving her before we left, but Norma had thrown up.

As soon as we pulled up to the airport, Lisa and I quickly got our bags from the back of the truck and made a B-line for the nearest  bathroom.  We were hoping for a family bathroom with no luck.  Lisa ran into the Women’s restroom a couple of times to wet paper towel with water & soap and clean up what she could as I held a struggling, scared Norma.  Lisa made quick work of cleaning the cat carrier , we forced Norma back in her carrier, and entered the ticketing line as quickly as possible.  Our plane was leaving in less than an hour so time wasn’t exactly on our side.  We were both a little shaking and nervous.  After about a minute in line, I started to smell something kind of foul.  At about that same time, I hear Norma start to squeaking and meowing, I turned to Lisa and said, “Do you smell that?”  I wasn’t the only one with a foul odor in my nose.  I lifted Norma’s carrier, turned it to side, and found the source of the stench.  It was a fresh, logged shaped cat poop.  By this point Norma was trying her best to scratch her way out of the carrier and I don’t blame her.  Lisa and I looked at each other and Lisa said, “It’s fine, we’re going to be fine!”  It must be said, that my wife was trying her hardest to remain calm, but it was a bit difficult considering the circumstance we found ourselves in!

We couldn’t get through that line fast enough. Fortunately, no one, including the United employee who checked us in, seemed to notice our plight.  If they did, they didn’t find it necessary to embarrass us.  Once we dropped our checked bags off, we wound my parents and brother.  Although there was supposed to be sadness because we were leaving, they found our problem pretty amusing.  We finally did find that Family Bathroom that we were looking for and again did our best to clean Norma and her carrier up. When we were done, we had just enough time to say goodbye to my parents and my brother.  We got through security without incident, found our gate, and got a few minutes to relax our nerves.  Norma settled down, although be were both waiting for her to complete the trifecta and pee all over her carrier.  Lucky for us, that didn’t happen.  Both of our flights, our lay over in Chicago, and our drive from the airport to Lisa’s parents went off without incident.

We have now been in Raleigh for the past 11 days.  Norma Jean acclimated herself to her new home pretty well.  She only scratches on her new scratching post, she is constantly acting like an idiot (chasing her tail or imaginary objects), and is very curious about the goings on in her grandparents room.  For us it has been nice, despite our illnesses, to relax and get everything prepared for our up coming journey.  It wasn’t optimal, but I think our cat flying experience was a good precursor to help us prepare for dealing with the unexpected situations that we’ll be facing in our upcoming months on the road.

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It’s not like this is the first time we’ve ever traveled anywhere, but it is the first time that we were actively looking for ways to improve our travel style.  I decided to do a test drive with both my main pack & my day pack, while Corey just did a test drive with his daypack.  We’re happy to report that we love all three items so far, but it was also a small trip!  But, here are the top 5 things we took away from our trip:

1 – Pack More Efficiently:  For starters, we were only in Raleigh for 13 days & we both overpacked!  We each took 1 to many pairs of shoes (Lisa: 3 & Corey: 2), too many books (Lisa: 4, Corey: 6 – though I did read 4 books, 3 of them were my mom’s & Corey also read 3), I took a bunch of nice clothes (1 set was worn to church) & Corey took way too many t-shirts.  We also ended up bringing our own bodywash, but my parents provided that for us.  I can only imagine all the weight that this extra stuff added to our load!   

2 – Patience:  Without a doubt we always end up near the screaming kid or farting man or nosey chick on our flights.  It’s something we have come to terms with, however, that doesn’t make our travel days very enjoyable.  And, it always seems to happen at the beginning of our trip, because the 2 flights from Raleigh back to Milwaukee were hassel-free.  Anyway, from MKE to EWR (Newark) I had the excited 4-year-old kicking my seat, while Corey had the farting man in front of him & from EWR to RDU we both had kicking kids behind us.  Another 4-year-old behind Corey & then mom was behind me with an infant on her lap, while dad was across the aisle yelling at his wife to control the kids. So not cool!  

3 – Stick to the Budget:  We actually get a silver star this year, but that’s only when you compare it to how badly we did last year!   We went to Raleigh in 2009 where we had a crazy shopping spree, buying jeans, shirts, movies (dvds & theater) & books.  To top it off we hit all of my favorite restaurants!  We were absolutely ridiculous!  This year we still went to my favorite restaurants, bought 4 books (2 each) & saw 5 movies (How do you Know, True Grit, The Fighter, Black Swan & Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows for the 3rd time), but paid for 3; my parents paid for the other 2.  I realize that some people would still see this as a lot, but besides all the eating out, this is what we enjoy doing while we’re home, so it just makes sense to do the same with our family during the holidays.

4 – Take (More) Pictures:  For anyone who doesn’t know, I majored in photography & I used to be one of those people who brought my camera with me everywhere. . . I mean that, EVERYWHERE!  So, I brought my camera with me & had intentions of keeping it on my person during our trip.  But, I took zero pictures.  You read that right: zip, nada, zilch!  I’m so angry with myself & this is definitely something we both need to work on considering that we plan to bring 2 cameras (1 nice, 1 point & shoot) for the big trip.  Photo score for this trip: F.

5 – Love Each Day: While we weren’t watching movies, playing video games or reading, we were enjoying each other’s company.  It sucks that we only get to see each other once a year & I think it’s important to enjoy the little things because our time together is so short.  We all had a great time & I think one could argue that there’s never enough time, so A++ for not taking it for granted!  Too bad we don’t have teleporters like the Jetsons!  

Now, we have a better idea of what to expect for our next trip.  We’ll be putting more effort into packing less & sticking to the budget, while packing an extra case of patience for the crazies we will inevitably encounter while on the road.  We hope that everyone had a Happy New Year and that this next year brings joy & happiness!

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