My Travel Companion

Talk about a whirlwind. Two weeks after we’d put the farm on the market, we had a contract in hand for the full asking price. Less than a month later, as the moving van company was emptying our house, John headed down the driveway for the last time.

John leaving

Behind the truck he pulled our Prius, both vehicles packed to the brim and facing a long journey ahead.


I stayed behind and watched as the interior of our home of 14-1/2 years was transformed from this,

house with furniture

into this.

empty room

It was more than a little disconcerting. St. Joseph and his Altoids agreed, looking a tad discombobulated themselves after having been freed from the kitchen drawer where I’d kept them tucked away throughout the various inspections and land surveys, just to be safe.

St. Joe and Altoids

I couldn’t concern myself with St. Joe’s state of mind, however. I had someone else to worry about, someone who had lived in that house nearly his entire life and not only had rarely traveled in a vehicle of any sort, but whose heart generally filled with fear at the prospect of venturing much farther than the front porch step, even on foot.

Even on four of them.

Pablo at door

And he and I had tickets to fly to Seattle the following afternoon.

Several days earlier, John and I made a practice run at sneaking a kitty downer into Pablo the cat’s cooked chicken treat, an experiment that went swimmingly. Although I was nervous the morning of the real thing, I felt like I’d be able to recreate the deception once again. Pablo thought otherwise and detected the pill immediately. After multiple attempts — and after ultimately being left with only spitty bits and pieces of a formerly intact pill — I finally was able to force the remnants down his throat, sans chicken, despite some very vocal objections.

Stuffing him into the travel bag a couple hours later wasn’t pleasant, and he did raise a little ruckus as Dana and Alison drove us to the airport, but once inside the terminal it appeared the pill pieces had done their job. Pablo was awake yet calm inside his tiny carrier, where he acted as my second item of carry-on luggage.

When John and I travel together, we always take a picture of each other in the airport. It’s a matter of superstition for us, like the old tattered red travel bag I insist on carrying when we fly. Were we to forget that bag, or neglect the photos, the chances of arriving safely at our destination would surely decrease exponentially. The day of Pablo’s and my flight to Seattle, I did indeed have the red bag so the only missing link was the mutual photos. As we sat in the waiting area for our gate, I took care of my end of the deal.

Pablo at the airport

I figured in this instance, it would have to suffice. Pablo was far too drugged up to snap my picture, as well.

Once on the plane, Pablo mostly traveled like a champ. I had to cram him under the seat in front of me, of course, where he dozed peacefully the first 3-1/4 hours of the 4 hour flight. Those final 45 minutes were no picnic, though. Pablo decided he’d had enough of that tiny carrier and started yelling and clawing at the sides. I put him on my lap and allowed him to stick his head out of the bag where I could try to talk some sense into him, yet he wasn’t falling for it. Having no idea at the time how close we were to landing, I began to panic too.

Thank heavens for enough frequent flyer miles for First Class seating. Upon seeing a kitty in distress, one of the attendants whispered in my ear for Pablo and me to follow her up to the galley where she closed the curtain so I could sit on the floor and take him out of that godforsaken bag. After holding him on my lap for a while, he settled back down.

As a friend used to say, there’s no class like First Class.

That Saturday night, Pablo and I stayed at the Best Western near SeaTac Airport. We’d arrived too late to drive to Port Townsend and I feared another panic attack overnight — whether by Pablo or me was anyone’s guess — which happily didn’t occur. Pablo was quiet as a mouse all night long. (Please don’t tell him I used that analogy.)

We pulled into downtown Port Townsend around noon Sunday. After parking the car along the street and double-checking on Pablo inside his carrier on the passenger seat, I met with the real estate agent to pick up the keys to our rental house. Port Townsend’s Victorian Festival was going on that weekend, and as I was walking back to the car I noticed a woman dressed from head to toe in garb befitting that era. She was heading straight towards me, grinning from ear to ear.

Any other day I would have welcomed a stranger’s smile — even a stranger pretending to live in a different century — but after the emotionally-draining ordeal of pulling up stakes and flying with a cat in tow to a place I’d only once briefly visited, my first thought was, “Please leave me alone.” Besides, Pablo was waiting in the car. All I wanted to do was let the poor little guy out of that bag.

Instead, I smiled back at her as she asked me if I’d like a $5 gift certificate for the Quimper Mercantile. “Sure, thanks,” I replied, and hurried back to my cat.

Once at the rental house, I discovered the bed the owner left for us had no linens or blankets on it — and John wouldn’t be arriving with our bedding until late the next day.

There are no big box stores in charming Port Townsend. The nearest Target or Bed Bath & Beyond is at least 50 minutes away, and I simply couldn’t muster the wherewithal to make that trip. I pulled the gift certificate out of my pocket and headed to the Mercantile instead, where I found a perfectly good sleeping bag. For $5 off list price to boot, thanks to my Victorian coupon.

Pablo and I slept like babies that night, cuddled inside the sleeping bag atop a bare bed. John arrived Monday, right on schedule, after which the bag was tossed to the floor in favor of real sheets and blankets. Pablo couldn’t have been more pleased.

Pablo on his sleeping bag

I think we’re all going to like it here.


34 thoughts on “My Travel Companion

  1. So glad you and Pablo made it OK; you both must be troopers. I know exactly how Pablo feels at that certain point in the flight, God bless him. Of course you’ll keep him indoors in the rental house so he doesn’t try to hoof it home to Texas, right? The new smells in the rental house plus the new views from the windows ought to amuse him until you get to the “real” house, when you can – again after days or even weeks – let him out under supervision for brief periods. Cats are so thoroughly territorial they think nothing of making Incredible Journeys, no matter how small the chances of success. Best wishes to you all from the Welches (including the feline ones) and many thanks for the updates.

    • You’re so right Julia! I don’t know if Pablo would take off — he barely made it off the porch at our Texas house — but he’s staying safe indoors for the time being. The house we have a contract on here in Port Townsend has a fenced yard so happily, there’s some greenage in his not too distant future. Hello and best wishes as well to all you Welches, two-legged and four-legged alike!

  2. Welcome to PT! My dear friend, Jan Roset, sent me your blog post. Her brother is Chuck Middleton, who I understand you are good friends with. I live here in PT with my husband – we moved here in 2010 from Austin. Hopefully you are getting settled in and enjoying life!

  3. Thanks for checking in, Jo. I’ve been wondering how it was going and where you were going to land. Miss you terrible, but know you are happy and on a fine adventure. All the best!

    Mary & Skip

  4. Hi Jo and John,

    I have been thinking about you guys, wondering how the new adventure was going along. Wow, I have moved several times, and although this may be projection, I could feel the beautiful to empty room transition in my bones, as well as the arrival without sheets, etc….Moving….

    Anyway, I am so glad the house/farm sold so well and fast for you. I am not surprised. It had good karma and that little altoid guy. I miss seeing you and your vegetables and your presence in Texas but change seems to be in the air and inevitable. Enjoy your richly deserved green spring time! Lisa

    • Thank you Lisa. Yes, moving is the pits isn’t it? We’re living out of boxes now until we’re able to move into a permanent house here. Should be in our new place in early June, but right now that seems soooo far away. It’s a beautiful spring here, though, with flowers everywhere so that helps! I hear you got rain down there so I’m thinking your spring is also going to be lovely. We miss you!

  5. Would you believe, I felt like crying when I saw your living room go from full to bare. Moving from one life to another was brave but if we are Christians, I believe there is always a “family” awaiting us wherever we go.

    • Oh the living room was traumatic, for sure! Moving is rough, but we’re really happy to be here with so many new places to explore. Thanks for the empathy!

  6. Best of luck to you both-and Pablo too! Keep us updated, what an adventure! Also let us know if the owners will continue the farm?

    • Thanks Reece! So far, so good. As to the new owners, they’re going to start small, which is very smart. It’ll likely be a while before you see anything from the farm but hopefully not TOO long.

  7. Hi guys…Thanks for checking in! We’re glad you all made it safe to Port Townsend…I really enjoyed your blogging 😉 keep them coming! Love you guys!

  8. Jo and John,

    I miss you so much already! I know this is a wonderful adventure for you. Please keep us posted on your new horizons. Moving SUCKS! But, it should get better. Love to you both, Brad and Deb

    • Thank you Debbie! Aww, we miss you. Hope your party in March was loads of fun, and so sorry we had to miss it. Keep me posted on what’s up with you and Brad too. Many hugs to you both.

  9. Wow, congratulations on your new place- that didn’t take long. Your view looks spectacular! Hope you get settled quickly…..sounds like the kitty has settled. Glad you are staying in touch.


    Sent from my iPhone

    • Thanks Jan! We’re getting there. Won’t be moving into the new house until early June, which right now seems like forever, but you know how fast time flies by. It’s great to hear from you!

  10. Yay, love your story! Reminds me of our 3 day trip with back to California with our wild girl Emme (our pitbull mix,) stuffed in the back of the car. She ate an entire seat belt in her frustration! So glad to hear you and Pablo made it safe and sound. Best of luck as you settle in. Sounds wonderful.

    • Ha ha!! I would have eaten the seat belt too, had I been riding along with John from Texas to Washington. I can relate to Emme’s plight. Great to hear from you Annette!

  11. We can relate to traveling with cats . . . when I first moved to Austin, my husband stayed behind for several months. When he came out to join me, he gathered up our FOUR cats and put them in my Corvette and drove straight thru to Austin! Must be love!

    We so enjoy your updates while, at the same time, sorely missing the Wednesday stands. Enjoy this adventure . . .and keep the updates coming!

    • That is love indeed! And it reminded me of when we moved to Austin from Indiana long, long ago. Like your husband, I had four cats in the car along with me. Utter insanity. Great to hear from you — we’re missing the Wednesday stand too, believe me. Hope all’s going well with you!

  12. Just knowing you are gone has put a hole in my heart. On the other hand, we are very excited about your move, your new place, and the changes and adventures that are happening for you. Is the growing season short up there? Will John be able to adjust with no garden to tend to? I’m sure you’ll have a small farm stand up there eventually. Thanks for the update–loads of love from a very healthy family thanks to YOUR good food. Love, Tria, Joel and Eden

    • We’re so sorry to have missed out on seeing you before we left Tria. It all happened so crazy fast. We will indeed have a garden here for John to putter in, but it won’t be anything like the old farm. He swears he’ll adjust…but that’s left to be seen! We send loads of love to you too — you know how special you are to us. I mean, c’mon, who stuck with us every single week from the very beginning? You, that’s who. And you’ll always have a special place in our hearts.

    • Ha ha! I’ll work on that Gaines! As for the home hunt — believe it or not, we’ve already found something we love. I’ll be posting photos real soon…

  13. Oddly enough, I don’t enjoy moving. Although that seems like all I’ve done for the last twenty or so years: move. Me and a dog and a cat. In crammed-full vehicles, moving halfway across the country and back and all around the towns. Nineteen or so times. I just want to sit down somewhere and not move for a decade.Or more.

    Congratulations, Jo. The absolutely worst part is behind you.

    • Nineteen times! Sit Lisa, sit (good dog). I can’t imagine moving that often. When we built the house at the farm nearly 15 years ago, we thought sure that would be it — with instructions to just dig a hole when we croaked and toss us in. Then Washington reared it’s beautiful head and here we are. I’m hoping against hope this will indeed be the last move. Thanks for the congrats. Now it’s time for us to be good dogs for a while too.

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