Stormy in Heaven

After thirteen wonderful years on the road, Stormy is using this blog to communicate with all his fans from his hammock in cat heaven where he is cuddled next to Princess and is still nipping her ear.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Close Encounters

Daddy and I collaborated to create a special bonus story for readers of my blog. This story is not in my published book and the incident occurred a week before I traded in my my hammock on earth for my hammock in the sky. I hope that you enjoy reading it.

            Mommy and Daddy rarely pick up hitchhikers. In all my years of traveling with them, I can only recall one other time. But their kind hearts came through for some stranded bicyclists during July of 1983.
            My name is Stormy and I am a 13 year-old, black, part Siamese cat with a white splotch on my chest. I have been traveling and camping with Mommy and Daddy ever since they adopted me in 1972 when I wandered into their lives during an Arizona rain storm, hence my name.
            We had just spent the night camping in the city park near the ball field in Arcata, California. It was a rainy night and true to form, it began to leak around the roof vents of our Perris Valley pickup camper. After a restless night, Mommy and Daddy got up early to find a place to dry out the sleeping bags and get some roof sealant. We headed north on highway 101 and stopped in the very small town of Klamath where Mommy spotted a Laundromat right off the highway. Daddy left Mommy at the Laundromat to dry out the sleeping bags while he headed for a hardware store to purchase some roof sealant. On the way there, he noticed three bicyclists along the side of the road trying to repair a damaged front wheel on the young ladies bicycle, or rather I should say, we both noticed the long, curly, auburn hair of the female of the group. But we had more important things on our mind, so we continued on to the hardware store. Daddy found what he needed and headed back to pick up Mommy at the Laundromat.
When we were heading out of town, the three bicyclists were still there, but this time, they were thumbing a ride. Being bicyclists themselves, evidenced by the two bicycles hanging off the side of our camper towards the rear, they had to stop and try to help. When they got out of the pickup, they found out that Susan, Jim, and Paul were college students who were spending a week bicycling from the Bay Area to Eugene, Oregon, our destination as well. Susan’s bike had hit a pothole and the front tire blew and the wheel warped. They needed to get to a bike shop to see if they could buy a new wheel and wondered if we could give them a lift to Crescent City, fifteen miles up the road where there was a bike shop. We said we would love to help, but there was no way we could fit three people, three bicycles, my kitty litter pan and water dish, not to mention moi in the back of our camper.
But Jim was more optimistic and said, “I think we can do it, if you don’t mind my trying.”
Daddy responded, “Sure, give it a try. If we can’t get you in, we could leave one of you here with the bikes and then bring the others back after the bike is repaired.”
Susan smiled and purred, “We can make believe we are cramming a dozen people in a Volkswagen.”
While Mommy and I went for a walk on my leash, Daddy removed the tabletop from between the side seats and placed it upside down on the cab-over bed. He put my kitty litter pan and water dish on top of the tabletop so that the floor space area of two feet by six feet was completely clear. Then Jim and Paul went to work.
The challenge was figuring out where the handlebars would go so that three bikes would fit in. The first bike went in upside down so the handlebars were out of the way on the floor. The second bike went in right side up with the handlebars facing the front. The last bike was the real challenge as we needed the handlebars to face the rear and they were too wide to fit through the door and there was no room to twist them sideways. Jim had Paul climb into the camper and lift the third bike as high as he could while Jim fiddled with the handlebars. Lo and behold, they got the bike in and lowered it down to floor level.
With everything loaded, all that remained was to get the remaining two passengers inside. Susan and Jim climbed over the bikes and joined Paul on the side seats with their legs pulled in to their chins. I joined Mommy and Daddy in the cab and off we went to Crescent City.
At Crescent City, we discovered that the bike shop did not have the replacement wheel Susan needed. Before picking up the bikers, our plan was to find a campsite nearby in order to repair the roof and get some sleep before heading to Eugene the next day. Since it was still raining and we couldn’t repair the roof until it stopped, we offered to drive on to Eugene that day and bring our passengers to their destination. After everyone climbed back in and adjusted their position for the 200-mile journey, I decided it was time to cuddle up with Susan. I climbed through the sliding window between the cab and camper and found a nice comfortable spot on Susan’s lap.
All of us arrived safely although a little cramped. Susan, Jim, and Paul were very grateful for our assistance and we enjoyed their company. The sun was out in Eugene and we repaired our roof and got a good night’s sleep.
This trip turned out to be my last camping trip as the tumor in my bladder got so big, I couldn’t use my kitty litter pan any more. I’m still smiling thinking of Susan and that fun trip as I swing in my “hammock in the sky.”