Meanwhile…Back at the Bus

Since it was pouring down rain the day we planned to leave we sat it out at the Elks in KC for another day. It’s a good thing we did.

We hit the road and dumped and fueled up in Oak Grove before heading to Marni and Eric’s place in Hartsburg. I was driving the car behind the bus and all went just fine for about 20 miles. Traffic was heavy but started to thin out a little once we got away from the city. It wasn’t raining but was supposed to later that night. The rain has been following us.

The bus had been running fine before we went to get some maintenance done at Inland Truck in Olathe. This was the first time we drove it since then.

We only had about 100 miles to go and figured we would arrive in time for Happy Hour. A few miles more and Jim pulled off onto the shoulder. I stayed in the car as he came back to the engine compartment. I could see that the engine belt was loose and he tightened that up. The guys at Inland must have bumped the switch that tightens up the belt. Jim has fixed this before; it is on the every travel day checklist. So is checking the oil which was at just the right level in the morning before we left. Inland Truck had changed the oil too.

Once the belt was tight he checked the oil again. I could see his shoulders slump when he did and it looked like he was cursing. Uh oh… Then he got on the phone while I watched and waited. He was calling Howard, his bus guru. Then he came back to the car. When he checked the oil this time it was way high on the stick. WTH? He figured some fuel must have gotten into the oil, overheated because the belt was loose, and the engine wouldn’t start because of it.
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What to do? We put out triangles to warn traffic while he got on the phone with Coachnet, our roadside service. They have always been very responsive. This time he got on hold and that was it.

Meanwhile, finally the Highway Patrol pulled up. I had been waving traffic off but once he showed up, everybody moved over. He was on his way to a wreck up the road and couldn’t stay but he called Jackson County Tow and got them to come get us.
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Jim was still on hold with Coachnet and tensions were rising as was the volume of traffic. I went back to waving off the traffic and he continued to be on hold with Coachnet. As I was waving away the traffic, an RV flashed his lights at us, in a show of solidarity I assumed. They pulled off on the shoulder ahead of us and walked back to the bus. It was some friends from our winter park in Texas! They had been going in the other direction and saw us on the shoulder. Jim and Renae said “Is that The Mighty Bus?” We took a quick pic and they moved on. It was very thoughtful of them and boosted our spirits. A little.
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Finally the tow truck arrived. They said they worked with Coachnet but we hadn’t gotten the go-ahead from them so we weren’t sure if Coachnet would pay for the tow. And it would cost $550! Yikes!

Meanwhile traffic was picking up. We had been on the side of the road for a couple of hours by the time another Highway patrolman pulled up. Officer Shubert stayed behind us for quite a while but he stressed that we needed to get off the road as it was getting closer to rush hour and a storm was coming. The tow company sent out another truck to back us up on the shoulder when he had to leave. We found a diesel shop in Odessa, just a few miles down the road and they proceeded to hook us up. Oh, and the drive axle needed to be removed because otherwise the transmission would spin during the tow and that is not a good thing.
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The second tow truck ran interference for the eighty plus feet of rig that was the bus and the tow truck. We followed in the car and they pulled us into a bay.

John, the elder statesman of the garage took a look at the oil and determined that it was just oil, not contaminated with fuel or anything else. That was good news but why was the oil level so high? All they could figure was that the guys at Inland Truck had overfilled the oil. GRRR…

They told Jim to try and start the engine and guess what? It fired right up! And it sounded right. They let it run for a while and then the oil level was back up. Jim called Howard again and nobody had any idea what was going on. They couldn’t find anything wrong. They put the drive axle back together and said we could stay in their lot that night. By this time we were more than ready for a cocktail.

That night the rain caught up with us and it rained all night. By the next morning it was overcast but not raining. The shop only charged us a half hour of labor to replace the drive axle. Howard told Jim to just go down the road and check the oil every 50 miles or so.

In the morning we took off again and decided to pull over and check the oil periodically as Howard suggested. By this time it was raining hard. The first time we stopped, Jim came back and said it was not overheating and the pressure was fine so we just kept going.

We made it to Marni and Eric’s place without further incident and settled in. It was finally time to relax by the river. And concentrate on getting back to normal. Whatever that is….
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We know. We are BIG BIG Lucky. And thankful for our good fortune.

Where the Action Is…

Once we moved to the Kansas City Elks we continued to medicate Astrid and see friends. We knew we would be here through Labor Day so we had some happy hours. On one day, Jim was seeing his dad and there was some police action in the parking lot.

I saw two police cars pull to the back of the lot and figured they were just having a chat. I went out to throw away our trash and two Elks were talking to a guy by the dumpster. Apparently he was not an Elk and they told him to leave. He told them he came to vote. On Sunday before Labor Day. Right. He didn’t leave so the cops rousted him out.

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We had a couple of friends, Nancy and Laura, over for Happy Hour and Laura had already left when a pickup pulled up next to the bus with music blaring. I went out and asked him to turn it down. It quickly became apparent he was very drunk and refused to turn down the music or move his truck. I went into the Elks and told Pat and Mike about it and they came out. By this time Jim was calling the police. So were the Elks.

It took a while for them to arrive so I took a picture of his license plate in case he decided to take off. He knew we had called the police and just sat there in his truck even though he knew they were coming. By the time they got there, he had reclined in his seat and fallen asleep.

The police asked the Elks if they wanted the truck towed and Pat said “Yes!” They also said they wanted to press charges. I don’t think this guy knew how expensive DUIs can be but he is about to find out.

Elks are awesome.
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Out and About in Kansas City

We got to Kansas City and found that our usual spot at the Grandview Elks was taken! The horror! Missouri is in a huge drought so we took the other spot which had electric but was on the grass. And the bus is heavy.  We figured it would be OK since it was so dry.

We had friends to catch up with, happy hours to attend and host, Jim’s dad to see, our trailer to pick up, the Apple Store to go to, peonies to dig, our financial adviser to see, ahi tuna to eat, martinis to drink, bad haircut to fix, art to buy, maintenance on the bus and a million other errands. Oh, and we had to pick up our new (to us) car. And, of course we were determined that Astrid continue to get better. We are ever hopeful.

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The first day we arrived it rained all night. Hard. We figured the spot would be OK since it was regularly getting packed down by RVs. It rained the whole next day too. Hmmm.

Jim saw his dad and got the car (that’s another whole story) so we had a way to get around. We proceeded to complete our lists. We also got the first Shingrix shot. We had the Zosterax vaccine two years ago. The next day I got shingles. GET THE SHOT!

Sunday evening we went to Marg and Jay’s for happy hour and to see the quilt she is making for our new house. She is a prolific and talented fabric artist and we have a quilt of hers in our bus plus a couple of other pieces. If you are in the Kansas City area, her work is a must-see. She has a show every year at Darling Yoga in Johnson County and this year she has another one in Brookside. She also has a huge and eclectic yard sale every year where she sells all the stuff she has been collecting for the past year. All really cool stuff. This year her sale is September 14 and 15. Go to 52nd and Wornall and follow the signs. You won’t be sorry. We even got a few advance items from the sale including some antique quilts and an older one of Marg’s. The prices were just too good. This is one of the antique quilts.
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Some of her work..

And the piece we got for our new place in Texas. And the new quilt she is working on for us…

Work in progress. This piece is going to be amazing. It already is.
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When it freezes she is going to send me some cannas and elephant ears for our new garden. We have some of Jim’s mom’s peonies from our old house and I am going to try them too.

We really needed the happy hour and met Peter and Theresa, a British couple who run a B&B here in KC. They have just purchased a Sprinter van and are planning to sell the B&B and hit the road. We invited them to happy hour at the bus the next day along with our old friends Betsy and Ralph.

Oh. On Sunday we had noticed that Astrid had started to get lethargic again and had trouble eating. The appetite stimulant works for a day or so. Jim called a friend of his from high school who is an experienced veterinarian and explained the whole situation. We took her in on Monday and we will update on that when we have a few more days behind us.

Meanwhile…

Tuesday we met Doc and J and Bob and Carma, friends from Texas. Doc is hauling the trailer back to Texas for us and that was the pickup day. The guy who stored it for us had gotten it out of the barn and when we were here in May, Jim packed the bearings, put new tires on, got a receiver hitch lock and readied it to roll. Then we went and ate really good Mexican food and drank margaritas. It was great to see everybody and get our minds off the cat.

We had work scheduled on the bus for Thursday and decided to move to the Elks in Kansas City after we had scoped out the much better (drier) parking spot. We had planned to stay at Inland Truck the night before but it was good that we moved early. When we went to pull out of Grandview, the bus had sunk down into the grass quite a bit and at first it wouldn’t budge. The tires weren’t spinning though so Jim gave it another shot and it began to creep out of the holes the tires had created. Slowly at first, then when it was working, a steady effort. Our leveler pads were in a U shape…

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The next morning we got up early to take the bus across town for the preventative maintenance. Right before we left it started raining like hell. We had to go so we got on the highway and headed west. Then the heavens broke loose with a monster thunder and lightening storm. The lightening was some of the longest lasting I have ever seen. And it was close by. Jim did a great job and we got pulled into our bay and the guys went to work.

Brake adjustment, oil change, lubrication, lug nuts torqued, and fuel filters changed. When it was done, Jim went to fire up the bus and it wouldn’t run. It usually starts right up when you flip the switch and push the button. Made sounds I had never heard before and wouldn’t stay started. And we cranked it many, many times. Too many for my liking. The shop stunk and they were all trying to figure out what was wrong. Jim called his bus guru, Howard, while the very experienced mechanics were standing around scratching their heads. Meanwhile, I took over the engine starting so Jim could hear the sounds we had never heard before. Finally one of the guys in the shop asked if he could do the throttle, like I didn’t know what I was doing. It didn’t work for him either. I hate mansplainers. None of this helped our anxiety level.

Finally Jim found that they had primed the new filters with automatic transmission fluid, not diesel like he did when he changed them. They said they do that all the time. But then they found that air had gotten in the system because they hadn’t closed the check valve and the fluid had run back out of the hoses. They fixed that and after some more cranking, it fired up. Whew! We don’t need any more high anxiety these days.

We got the bus back to the Elks and figured we could just relax! Finally! We are staying put through the holiday weekend to make sure the cat is good to go.

Astrid Aftermath

After we took Astrid to the vet in Minnesota, she seemed to improve. The antibiotic shot perked her up and the appetite stimulant worked really well. For a day or so, then she got more lethargic. We can only give her the stimulant every third day.

By the time we got to Waterloo, Iowa we thought she was out of the woods so it was time to celebrate my birthday and Astrid’s continuing recovery. I started out by getting a much needed haircut and we had reservations at Galleria de Paco for dinner. This was a very reasonably priced four course dinner and the courses were small enough so you could enjoy them all. And the decor!

Around Waterloo.

One afternoon I just had to distract myself so I took a walk around the block. I was at the light which was green in my direction and I had a Walk light. As I got into the crosswalk a car came barreling toward me at high speed and made a left turn right in front of me. I actually had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. That shook me up. Right before I took this picture, a real fixer-upper.
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By the next day Astrid’s lethargy became more pronounced and her eating slacked off. Again. We found a vet in Cedar Falls who could see her so we got an Uber in the pouring rain and went to the clinic. By this time we had discovered that her left paw was super sensitive when we tried to trim her nails. The Minnesota vet didn’t catch this.

We asked the vet to do a thorough exam and gave her another antibiotic shot and a two week round of oral antibiotics. I figured this would do the trick. We got Uber back to the bus where she immediately started pawing hard at her mouth and crying. WTH? I called the vet and she affirmed that she had given Astrid’s mouth a full exam and saw nothing there. She added, “Her teeth are perfect.”

She said she could prescribe some pain medicine so the next day we rode our bikes up there to get that. At least we got to ride. As we started out I asked Jim, “You locked the bus, right?” He had gone back in for something and knew he had locked it the first time.

After about three miles he said “I have to go back.” I asked why and he couldn’t be sure he had locked it the second time. After leaving the screen open we just don’t trust ourselves anymore. So we rode back to the bus and it was indeed locked. Whew. I fed Astrid some shrimp and we headed out again.

Along the Riverside and Hartman Heritage Trails.

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We started on the oral antibiotic the next day and she seemed to be heading in the right direction. On the seventh day it was extremely difficult to give her the pills so we crushed them up and shot that into her mouth with a syringe. I had asked the vet if we could mix her canned food with water and force feed her and she said “Absolutely.” So we started doing that too on the days when her appetite was weak. That’s a lot of fun for everybody. The vet said eating and drinking was the most important thing and that a sick cat wouldn’t groom itself. She was doing that too. We were just as determined in this recovery phase that she would be 100% as were were when we were trying to find her. We just had to keep on keeping on.

Astrid’s arsenal of meds…
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We left Waterloo and went to the fairgrounds at Osceola where we had the place to ourselves. Astrid went outside for the first time here and we thought things were looking up. The appetite stimulant worked fine for a day or so, then her eating slacked off and she became more lethargic. This round she was eating some each day. I told Jim that by the time we got to Kansas City we would have Astrid back.
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Our view from the bus.
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My iPad was beginning to lose its charge quickly and become hot during use. A trip to the Apple Store is in store. It seems like we always spend a lot of money when we go to Kansas City. We also have a meeting with Amber, our financial adviser to see if we have any money left.

So Astrid was out of the woods but not out of the woods yet. Gotta get to Kansas City so all can be well.

To be continued…

I Was Really Hoping For a Happy Ending…

Blueberries, Brats, Bikes and Bunyan

Time to get back on the bikes! Jim found the Paul Bunyan and Heartland Trails in Minnesota and we headed for Pine River to check them out. We had called ahead to a campground right by the trail but never got hold of anybody. We also found out there is a city park where we could stay for $5 a night. No hookups but that works fine for us.

When we got to the campground Jim went in and finally roused somebody. There was one spot in a sort of permanent camp and it was $38 a night. We decided to head for the city park which turned out to be a really good spot. And except for a tent camper who came and went we had the place to ourselves. Another good spot for the kitties.

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The first day we headed toward Bemidji. When we got to Backus, we decided to buy a soda to go with our sandwiches so Jim went into the Backus Locker to get change. We had forgotten to get something out of the freezer for dinner so when I saw that today’s special was Wild Rice brats, I went in and suggested those for dinner. What a place! They even do emergency butchering! Whatever that means… We ended up getting a couple kinds of brats and made a plan to come back through when we left and stock up on meat. They had over 50 different kinds of brats and all kinds of meat. We had seen a sign for blueberries on the way up but it turned out they were only open till noon. Corn Festival coming up…
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A walk in the park for a boy and his cat…

Speaking of cats, they are pretty good at staying around the park and not getting into the weeds. More on that soon. Much more…

Around town in Pine River. I turned over 4000 official miles on my bike.

 

The next day we set off for Pequot Lakes on a cool and rainy/misty day. Geared up.

 

We actually made a plan for awhile ahead, which is unusual for us. A weekend at Avatan, then on to Waterloo, Iowa, bike trails and celebrating my birthday month. As Jim says, it’s good to have a plan…

Stay tuned.

On to North Dakota

Our goal with our last few stops was to find a good place for the cats to be ale to go out. Big aspirations, right?

A few more photos from Fort Peck Lake.

We set off for Williston, North Dakota for a weekend of provisioning and laundry and Walmart.

We moved on to Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota and another Corps of Engineers site. This time we were on the lake, not the river and it was a great stop. Jim was playing his uke outside the bus and a guy stopped by and mentioned that he played guitar. He left, came back with his guitar and some beer and we had a good session of music. He was an accomplished player and Jim always learns alot from those guys. The next day he was texting Jim chords all day long! Hey Kimo…
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We moved sites after the first night and spent our time kitty walking, playing ukulele, doing iPad art and getting in 10,000 steps a day. It takes about an hour and a half and at least I was doing something. We haven’t hit as many bike trails this year and we are due for some. My bike computer quit working at Fort Peck so I may have already hit 4000 miles. Got a new battery and will try again.

A lady on my walk had beautiful flowers and we visited awhile.

The lake is the largest on the Missouri River system, 178 miles long and 14 miles across at its maximum. I read somewhere that the amount of water could cover all of North Dakota in six inches of water!
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After four nights it was time to move on. A friend in a Facebook group saw that we were in North Dakota and messaged me to say we should meet up. I checked and there is even an Elks in her town, Jamestown. It is also the home of the world’s largest buffalo. We will see that on our way out of town.

She also said the Elks was closed. OOPS! While we were driving I called everybody on their website and found out that the lot in town was small, but they have a whole park outside town where we could park. I messsaged my friend, Stacey, and we made a plan to meet for happy hour. She brought along her little girl, who was charming and adorable. We had a lovely visit and took some pics for the group. I felt like I already knew her and we have some interests in common. She is a psychologist with her own practice. She described her interest in psychology in two words, “I’m nosy!” We got a good laugh out of that. Hopefully we can have a few more meetups as we travel around. Already thinking about one in Minnesota.

North Dakota has fabulous windbreaks, trees 100 feet tall and five rows deep. It turned out that the Elks Park had such a feature and we parked accordingly. The field was wet so we stayed on the driveway apron. We were right on the banks of the reservoir. Stacey said in the winter it gets to -30 degrees and everybody leaves their car running with keys in it at the grocery store! That’s some serious cold!
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This turned out to be a great spot and extra good for the cats, they were far afield and they each caught a mouse. We got the bus door closed before they could get inside!

That evening we were treated to an ever-changing sky and a good old fashioned midwestern thunderstorm. It cleaned the windshield off a little…
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More Montana

Once we finished up our sad business with Tikita in Dillon, we continued on our plan and headed toward the fairground in Helena. This was a few days of recovery and just hanging out with our two remaining kitties. They don’t seem to know what to think about Tikita being gone. I wonder if they think we will take them away for good? I do think they both knew she was sick though; they just seemed to.

On our way from Dillon to Butte for a night at Camp Walmart we saw eight Tesla recharging stations at a rest area. Eight? Really? In rural Montana?

We passed through Boulder, Montana where good friends from the Oldsmobile club live. Well, he still lives there but she died several years ago when they were returning home from a trip to Yellowstone in their 1927 Model T. They were struck from behind and she was killed instantly. He and their two dogs were seriously injured but survived. A very sad time for us.

I had written him a postcard to let him know we were passing through and when I went to the Post Office to mail it (he doesn’t have a phone and just a PO Box) the lady there couldn’t tell me where he lived but a guy in the parking lot who was taking a picture of the bus knew him and told us where to go to find his house. Cool! Except he wasn’t home. Boo. We left a card and went to lunch before heading to the Windsor Bar where the PO lady said we could find out where he lived. It turned out he didn’t go to the bar very often, once a month or so. We left him some cash for drinks on us when he comes in next. The diner we ate at.

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And the bus in front of his house. I’m sure he will never see the picture. No phone, no computer…

We are finding that the Elks Lodges in the west are few and far between so we have switched over to county fairgrounds for now. We had the one in Helena to ourselves. And a nice view from the bus.

Big sky country indeed…

After Helena we detoured to Great Falls since there was a bike trail there and we hadn’t ridden since Colorado. Jim found an RV park and we squeezed in for a couple nights. The drive between Helena and Great Falls was spectacular with sweeping views of the Missouri River valley and mountains and water all around. I would have taken some pictures but I was driving. Worth the trip for the drive alone. The day we set to ride Jim wasn’t feeling great so I went out on my own. After about four miles I discovered that I hadn’t tightened up my handlebars when removing my bike from the rack. So it was a four mile walk back. OOPS!
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When we moved on to Havre for the Fourth of July we were practically alone there too. Fairgrounds are good for walking, biking and there are lots of little interesting and colorful buildings. We did have neighbors for one night in Havre where we wanted to hide out for the Fourth. They came down from Canada “for the fireworks” but we weren’t sure what to expect. The kitties were on their own here and Carmella climbed a tree onto their neighboring RV. “Nothing to see here!”

Lo and Behold! They shot off the fireworks right at the fairgrounds and we had a front row seat with hardly anybody else there! It was also one of the very best fireworks displays we have ever seen. Sunset on one side, fireworks on the other.
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The next morning we were alone again. We took some walks and found where they shot off the fireworks. LOTS of them!

When Jim put together this northern route we didn’t really know what to expect but sweet serendipity strikes again. The last piece of the puzzle was Fort Peck, a Corps of Engineers site that is first come first served. We knew we might have to dry camp but we’re good with that. We arrived to find no electric sites and took a temporary one right by the office. It seems like wherever we do have to stay in an RV Park we are crammed right in front. Which is actually good for people-watching. We don’t stay in them often.

The next morning they came to the bus and said we could move to another site with power. It turned out to be a stone’s throw from the Missouri River in a big, shady site. Cats on patrol.

Speaking of cats, Carmella was lounging on the picnic table and Jim said to come see the kitty on a leash! Turns out the people next door have a full time traveling kitty too. Linda and Buttercup came over to say hi and Carmella watched from a comfortable distance. Buttercup is a very friendly and pretty kitty, a tortoiseshell, tabby and calico all in one.

Hi Linda and Buttercup! They left the next morning so we didn’t get to visit more. Maybe down the road.

We’ll spend another couple of nights here during which time we will have to come up with another plan. Corps of Engineers are at the top of the list, especially as we follow the Missouri River. We know we are going to North Dakota since it is one of three we haven’t been to in the bus. In the lower 48. Rhode Island and Maine are the others.

And Then We Were Four…

It’s been a pretty depressing couple of weeks.

First, it started raining in south Texas. And I mean raining. Like 14 inches of rain in two days. The area is very flat and has flooded before. We figured it would be a few days and things would go back to normal. Then all hell started breaking loose. A newly constructed drainage ditch behind the park burst and water came pouring under the fence into the park. Folks who have lived there many years said it was the worst it has ever been and it has flooded five times since 2005.

Long story short, the water sat for days. In the meantime, the county released a bunch of water from Lake Edinburg which is near the park and we took all that on too. They released the water because they didn’t want the dam to collapse but it had pretty much the same effect on the park. More water.

We have been getting photos from friends who are still there and the house is built up higher and OK (even underneath, we hope) but the garden sat for eight days with standing water. I am just hoping the small trees and large bushes are OK. A lot of the smaller stuff will provide new “planting opportunities” in the words of the current owner. We haven’t closed on the house yet but we have committed to buy and we will get everything worked out. Still, very disconcerting since we are not there. The water has gone down now. See “planting opportunities” in front.

And then there’s the world news, which is almost all depressing these days. Suffice it to say that some people hate everybody unlike themselves and they have been emboldened by rude and uncivil behavior by top government officials. And ratcheted up a notch by our country’s new zero tolerance policy highlighted by separating even very young children from their families at the border. Some people have been deported without their very young children who have been shipped to various states with little accountability. And don’t forget, we are the ones with the Statue of Liberty declaring “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Now they are huddling in cages.

So that’s depressing. To me, anyway.

Days before five people were killed in a newspaper office, our president declared “The media is the enemy of the people.” Does he not realize that he is empowering people to be hateful and commit crimes? Again, ashamed and mortified. People are dying.

That’s depressing.

And then we come to the cat, Tikita.

Tikita is our 14 year old white kitty who never wanted to be a white kitty. Her whole life, she displayed a toughness and gentility that made her unique. She was cute and curious and a constant companion/mother to Carmella. She and Astrid got along OK but mostly kept at a distance.

She was clumsy too. Good thing she was a tough kitty. One day we watched her race across our acre back yard and run full tilt up a set of stone patio steps. Very cute. Later that day, I noticed she had what I thought was a claw stuck through her front cheek. It turned out to be her own tooth that she had hit on the stone step. Kind of a klutz.
DSC_0544But she never got sick and except for her shots, never had to go to the vet. Until here lately.

We noticed she was losing weight and behaving a little poorly before we left Texas so we took her to a vet there. They did bloodwork and determined that she was anemic which could be because she was suffering from fleas. Some liver health indicators were low and concerning. We fixed the flea problem and started to feed her up to get her fatter. Butter, half and half… A few days after the vet visit we discovered a patchy area on her leg that looked like an abscess that had healed and was scabbed up. Maybe this was another reason she was not doing well. But how many kitties heal an abscess on their own? Tough kitty.

We decided to forgo the X-ray and sonogram because if we weren’t prepared to do cat chemotherapy we didn’t need to know. The vet in Texas told me her gut feeling was that it was cancer but could progress slowly.

We hit the road and gave her endless treats and all kinds of super duper cat food. She had a great appetite and we thought she was getting better. Her patchy fur grew back in. By the time we got to Utah, her belly was distended and swollen so much that we figured we better take her to see a vet. I didn’t want her to pop!

The Utah vet listened to her history and did more bloodwork, which was more positive than the Texas bloodwork but still had some bad indicators. He warned us that even though this was an improvement, whatever was wrong with her was “not fixable.” He also drained 200 ml of fluid from her abdomen and explained that her red and white blood cells were not replicating like they should. The fluid in the abdomen was a sign that the nutrition was bypassing her digestive system. He said since her appetite was good and she had a fairly comfortable quality of life, we could probably get her abdomen drained once a month for about a year or “until it’s time to say goodbye.”

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At the Utah vet after draining her belly.

She seemed revitalized and was as interested in her food and treats as ever, so we proceeded to Blackfoot, Idaho. We had a three day stay at the fairgrounds there and were planning to leave on Sunday.

By midweek we noticed that her belly was swollen up again and she seemed a little uncomfortable lying down or getting into a chair. Still eating and begging for treats. We created a treat monster.

I called the Utah vet and explained that she was distended again and he said he hoped that draining the fluid would last longer than a week. We said we had too. He gave us the name of a classmate of his in Blackfoot and we went there Monday morning. We explained the situation again and showed him the most recent bloodwork. They took Tikita off to be drained this time; we were with her in Utah. The vet came back in and said they had already drained 600 ml from her, over three times what they did a week ago. Situation worsening.

He also opened our eyes and explained she was not receiving sufficient nutrition from the food she was eating because her red and white blood cells were not replicating like they should and protein wasn’t reaching her bloodstream. The Texas and Utah vets had told us about the blood cell deficiency but not that she wasn’t receiving much nutrition from her food. No wonder she was so hungry! Good appetite, my ass. I felt terrible. All those treats for nothing. Poor cat.

The Idaho vet pointed out how skinny she was, which we already knew and he didn’t come out and say it but we knew that time was short. He was compassionate and said if it was his cat he would put her down. We were headed to Dillon, Montana to some BLM land and decided to continue on and contact a Montana vet, another classmate, after we had a couple days with her. We knew it was the end.

We got to Clark Canyon BLM land and found a free spot right by the lake. We all went outside and she ate grass and scratched on a tree, two of her favorite things.  It was just one day since we had her drained and she was already starting to swell up again. It’s time. We decided not to wait another day. Knowing she was eating with little benefit was the last straw.

Not a bad spot to spend your final days in…
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We contacted the classmate vet in Dillon but they are a mainly large animal practice and were out until afternoon. I wasn’t sure Jim and I could bear that.

We called Dillon Small Animal Clinic and they were very gracious. It is in a small house right in town and homey and nice. They were thoughtful and accommodating. When the vet gave her the sedative shot in her leg, she squeaked her last little feisty squeak. Then it was over. We were both a hot mess. As Jim said, “I hate this part of pet ownership.”

All the veterinarians we dealt with were knowledgeable, professional, compassionate  and amenable to our last minute scheduling. We were grateful that we landed in the hands of kind people. Maybe there is hope for the world after all. I told Jim once that I knew I wasn’t going to have a huge impact on the world, cure cancer or be president. But if I can make a small creature’s life better and more comfortable and make them feel loved, that is enough for me. In the end, only kindness matters.

And I know; it’s a cat. I have friends and family who have lost their husbands, wives, partners and children lately. We have perspective. My heart truly goes out to every single one  in their loss.

More random Tikita. I got a new camera the day after Carmella and Astrid came home so I practiced on them a lot. I’m glad I did. I still use the same camera.

Goodbye sweet Tikita.

Biding Time in Blackfoot

Once we left Delta, we headed for Blackfoot, Idaho for a few days since we had been traveling almost every day. We had gotten Tikita treated in Utah and the vet there said we could probably do that once a month for a year and she should maintain. Her appetite was still good, constant actually, and she seems to have good quality of life. Loves her treats, going outside and cheek scratches.

We spent the first night in the Elks Lodge in Roy, Utah, where they drove the golden spike for the continental railroad. We didn’t see the spike since it is in California now but we got into the Elks and got situated. It’s a good thing we were a little early before the parking lot was packed for Bingo that night.
Before and After:
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This was just a one night stop so the next day we proceeded to Blackfoot, Idaho for a few days at the fairgrounds. We had the place to ourselves and the kitties enjoyed their off leash time. Jim played ukulele. We were planning to leave on Sunday but decided to stay over another day in Blackfoot to take Tikita to the vet. Again.

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I walked to town to get some ice. I walked and walked toward a Sinclair station but by the time I could see it, I could tell it was too far away to walk back and have any unmelted ice. So I walked back into town although we had been there the day before and didn’t see any likely spots but we did discover there was an Elks Lodge there that we didn’t know about. We have gotten ice at the Elks before so I gave it a shot. I rang the bell and a lady finally came to the door and said they weren’t open today. I explained that we were Elks and that I couldn’t find anyplace to buy ice. She agreed that everything was closed up and offered to give us some! I got two good sized Ziplocs and headed back to the bus. Gotta love the Elks! And I walked over five miles to get it!

Around town:

We had to go to the Idaho Potato Museum, of course. It is the small town, kvetchy kind of place we love. Much more lighthearted than the Topaz Museum and just what we needed. Lots of potato mashers, peelers and spikes to distribute the heat through the potatoes. I don’t remember those but I bet my mom had them. I liked the potato themed postage stamps from around the world the best.

And then we ate Mexican food. Again. We got back to the bus right before a big storm. And a nice sunset.
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