We had made it to St. Louis when a craving for Olive Garden hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed the salad, and I needed it badly! We stopped for gas and D went inside to inquire about any nearby branches while I had the Tripletking (TK) look it up on the internet. He found one not more than 20 minutes away and right off the highway, perfect. We chowed on salad and breadsticks and hit the road again, D was driving since she likes night driving. I decided to take a nap on my favorite carnival ride again, the back of the RV. The cats didn’t know what to do when mom went to bed at the back of the bus. If they wanted to stay near me, which they did, they would have to tolerate being bucked and thrown like a bull rider while laying on the bed. But, if they wanted a solid, smooth ride, they had to stay up front with that other lady, D and lose sight of dear old mom. Mostly they stayed with me. Roxanne, of course was still hiding in her carrier under the covers.
When I woke up we were in Kansas. I drove for a little while longer and then we hit a rest area and slept a good 6 hours. This is when Roxanne decided to relocate. A bouncing bed with a carrier on it apparently was no longer her choice. She first took another opportunity to relieve herself and refuel, then poked around the whole car. First she checked out D, sleeping in the bunk that hangs over the front of the car. Not satisfactory. She nosed around the chairs up front, noticed that there is no ‘under’ anything in an RV. Due to the need for total efficiency in packing a stove, bathroom, three beds, closets, chairs and a shower into a 25 square foot area, there was no way to have any room under the chairs or stove or anywhere. Nowhere for a cat to hide down there. So, she headed up higher. I had left a cabinet open up over my own bed. She jumped up there, found a blanket in the corner, curled up and stayed for the rest of the trip except for bathroom breaks.
We woke up still in Kansas, (imagine that, no tornadoes!) and after a breakfast of hostess cupcakes and coffee, we were off again. Day 3 we planned out that we would make it to a campsite that evening, plug in the RV and sleep in luxury, relative that is: heat, electricity, showers maybe. The plan on the map looked good but we were reconsidering our plan to get to Utah and visit the animal sanctuary. The truth was, once you've driven for 3 days, spending an afternoon visiting something instead of driving like a bat outta hell so you can get somewhere seemed like bad planning. Midway through Kansas we started making new plans. We could cut back up to I80 from Denver, but that was a 100 mile plus straight north drive and weren't we driving West? There was no other smooth way to get back to I80 but we found a small highway that cut through the Utah Great Basin and slowly angled itself back up north to I80. The danger was that this would be slow or we'd get stuck behind people all the time without being able to pass them. Little did we know we'd picked "the loneliest highway in America." But back to that night. So we needed to get all the way through Colorado and halfway through Utah to sleep that night. No big deal, just a couple of states. We didn't count on the mountains or the armadillos, actually I'm kidding about the armadillos. But when we hit Denver, we understood its tourist skiing attraction. BEEEEEG mountains.
Well it’s mighty sad to only see Vail in the dark. The one chance we had with an excuse to drive through Vail and act like crazy rich people in a beat up RV was a bit off schedule. By the time we hit Denver, the sun was setting. All we saw of Vail was lights. Must be nice. I suppose I’ll never know now unless I trade up for a movie star. Just after Vail, we stopped for Mexican, the craving of the evening. We had the best food at this little hole in the wall there. That meal was perfect after, of course, I switched chairs because the one I sat in smelled like death. How do you tell a waiter politely that your chair stinks? Well it seems I failed. He didn't remove it from the scene at all and even sat in it himself when he stopped to talk. I pity the poor next client who sits in that one, they'll probably think it's the restaurant that stinks. Ah well, the guacamole could not be beat.
As usual I went to sleep after dinner while D did the driving. I woke up in Utah. As I took over driving I drove past a campsite we had considered spending the night at, but rejected because it had no electricity hookup, so what was the point? We only had about 45 miles to the next campsite, how hard could that be? I drove up and up and up these mountains in Utah, who knows where they came from, and the poor RV slowed down to 40, foot on the floor! I would put the RV on cruise control on the flat parts of the road only to have it unceremoniously kick off when we started going uphill. We became convinced that the RV was breaking down because it couldn't handle these hills whereas it had taken Denver by storm. No better idea to two women traveling alone than to have your RV break down when the next gas was almost 50 miles away and all you could see around you were shrubs and wasteland. This was turning into a horror flick.
(Deep scary announcer voice) “Two lonely ladies set out on the journey of a lifetime only to find themselves stranded in the wastelands of Utah. Would they get out alive? Who would rescue them? How would they get their kitties out of the dying RV in time? Would they ever make it to California?”
Well, that’s kind of how it felt. Cruise control kept conking out and we couldn't get up these hills. And it was getting to be 12am and who knows what would happen if we showed up at the campsite so late, would they even let us in or would we still be wandering? Discouraged, and not seeing a truck stop or rest area for miles, we finally pulled over onto an on ramp like the truckers do, and settled in to sleep. We were just dozing off when I heard a truck approaching. Faster, faster, closer, closer it came until BOOM! Rattle Rattle Squeak Squeak!!! it passed us and practically made the RV flip over with its windy wake. D was so terrified she couldn't stop her heart from pounding. We hadn't seen anyone else on the road for hours so I was relatively sure it was a one time thing. Well apparently they had all been behind us, because twice more they whipped past us, shaking the RV all over the place and terrifying D, who had a classic case of post-traumatic shock from the first impact. It was clear we couldn't stay here for the night.
We packed up again and took off, and wouldn't you know it, less than 2 miles up the road was a rest stop. After nearly running over a man aimlessly walking around his semi in the parking lot, we pulled into a parking place and settled down to sleep again. Mind you, it was 32 degrees that night in the Utah mountains, and all we had were just some sleeping bags and a few cats to keep us warm. Thankfully we were dead tired and despite our frostbitten noses, slept for about 6 hours. God it was cold. Knowing that campground was less than 30 more miles killed me. We started off the next day with our teeth chattering, but better rested than the last few nights. Even the cats were shivering in the morning. Poor Darlene didn't even get one to warm her up, heck we should have slept together to keep warm.
And again...to be continued...