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all but the cats write here ... to remember, to share, to mumble, to shout ... follow along by RSS or email if you like.

Filtering by Category: cats

“The One that Got Away, and the One that Didn't”

bethany

We left Palmetto and needed a few solo days as a family before Michael took off for a Sol LeWitt install in NYC, leaving the boys and I parked on the east coast of Florida, near friends in Jupiter. We didn't have a campsite booked when we pulled out, and didn't really have a budget for anything, so aimed for a boondocking site that was mentioned somewhere online, supposedly on the edge of a USAF Bombing Range in central FL. Right up the boys' alley, and so I did my best to navigate us in the right direction. We pulled up at the gate at long last, only to discover that all three camping areas were “Closed for a military event” and that was that. When we asked for any local alternatives, the gate guard mentioned a County Park on the other side of the lake we'd been circling, before allowing that “You can turn around right over there ...” and shooing us off.

We pulled around the bend and out of sight before pulling over to do some Googling and some calling. There's a mighty LOT of Googling and calling on this trip by the way, mostly done by me. I don't know how we'd do what we do without it, though the Atlas is pretty handy too, and lives on my lap when we're driving. But back to the side of the road along Arbuckle Lake in central Florida, just out of sight of the tight-lipped USAF gatekeeper. Michael called the County Park number, and got a very down-to-earth guy named John (I can ALWAYS tell the character and accent of who he's talking to, as he unconsciously mimics every single one), who said that they had plenty of sites for a mere $22 a night, and only a couple spots were currently taken. As I was really hoping not to WalMart it for the next two nights, we headed the long way around the lake (the USAF owned half the perimeter), and several phone calls and a hitch hiker later, we finally found John. Google didn't know where he was, once again telling us “You Have Arrived” in the middle of a deserted road. (A paved one this time, however!)

John chatted, showed us possible sites, offered parking advice, chatted some more, talked about his grandkids and the history of the place, mentioned the gators and their usual hunting spots, pointed out the fence 15' from our door which marked the border with the other side of the USAF Bombing Range from where we'd started, and made us feel right at home. Michael parked, and I raced through inside setup while he chatted with John some more. We seem to have that bit down to a science now … Michael and the boys unhitch, put down the leveling jacks, stow the sway bars and all that, and get the whole camper leveled out. I do the power and water and sewer hookups, and move all the things inside back to their “camped” places that were secured elsewhere during travel.

We kept the cats in the first night, not willing to let them out after dark, though Michael took the boys out on a moonlight wander, which included the sighting of an owl. The next morning we got up for sunrise (yes, really!) and scoped out the lake, the dock, and the humongous wild grapefruits just out of reach over the fence. The USAF fence. Just barely out of reach, mind you.

We mucked around, did a little hike, and let the cats out but kept a pretty close eye on them as the gators were known to stroll past our chosen campsite at times. We had a little point of land between our campsite and the water, which was defined by The Fence, a reedy bit on the lakefront where gators were known to feed, and cypress trees along the third side that bordered the boat ramp inlet. A magical little spot with some benches built into the trees, and piles of lizards scampering through the cypress knees. A veritable cat paradise.

My nervousness about the cat/gator situation was much higher than Michael's, and honestly it's higher than the rest of them pretty much all the time when it comes to the cats. I'm the natural worrier, and wary of rule-breaking, as well as of the cats getting into fights that they very likely might lose. Most places require leashes, which we have and sometimes use, but Sparrow HATES it, while Edmund has learned to tolerate it. We often go against campground rules though and let them wander, after checking with the vibe of the place, and sometimes with our immediate neighbors. The dangers of local wildlife and traffic are assessed, as well as the likelihood of offending others or angering the campground hosts. Most places people seem to gladly turn a blind eye, or more often truly enjoy them, sometimes trying to get the cats to come and have their ears scratched. They never comply, but skitter just out of reach. This place had no rules, just cautions from John about the gators.

So the second night there, Michael gets it in his head that it's a crime to let those massive grapefruits fall off and rot, and he's determined to get one. He knows better than to tell me what he's plotting however (see the previous paragraph) and so the first thing I know about it is him coming in the door of the camper with one of the grapefruit cradled in both hands, and a rather triumphant grin on his face. He explained his process of making sure that our camper was between John and the chosen tree, and how he'd just barely hopped the fence. It was truly the best grapefruit I think I've ever eaten, and chock full of seeds, which we saved. So delicious in fact (stolen fruit and all), that the next day a second one was procured with the assistance of a certain smallish someone standing on his father's shoulders. Ahem.

The second afternoon was a lazy one, and I was sitting outside the camper reading, keeping half an eye on the cats' whereabouts, after scanning the water and not seeing any gator heads at the time. Lost in my book, I suddenly heard the SNAP of jaws at the tip of the point, and saw thrashing and splashing through the bushes. Terrified, I threw down my book, hollered in the camper that there was “a gator that just caught something on the point and I don't know where the cats are!”, before taking off at a hesitant trot towards the point. I quickly found Sparrow, unceremoniously tossed her inside, and went back to hunting for Edmund. It was clear that if he was dinner then that was it, but I called, went as close to the still twitching water as I dared, and then ran the other way, hunting and calling.

I finally found him waltzing slowly up to the camper from the other end of the park, and my heartbeat began to slow a wee bit. It only took about 2 minutes in all, but it was an awful two minutes. I know it's the price I pay for letting them out, and the risk we take, but the alternative is miserable cats as they've never known being cooped up. So be it.

I suspect what did turn into gator dinner was a heron or something like that, though I never went close enough to check for floating feathers.

Lots more photos here.

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My name is Edmund

douglas

My name is Edmund. I am a 4-year-old tuxedo cat. Me, my sister, and 4 tall-ones live in a small moving-home. But I didn't always live in a moving-home. A lot of feedings ago we lived at a home by a big water with lots of tall greens with moving prey to eat! It was nice to live there. I even fell in the water two times! Then the tall-ones got the moving-home and we had to go in it for a long time and it rattled around. After a long time the bumping stopped. A couple feedings later we got to go outside and it was a whole different place, and a big hill with trees on it, and even lots of small prey to chase and eat!

There were two other cats there too but one of them didn't like to play with us. We sometimes got to eat bits of the tall-ones food after they were done eating.

A little bit before we got back in the moving-home and went somewhere else the second cat disappeared in a sleeping box. We always had to stay inside after our darktime food because of the coyotes.

Then we appeared at a place that had only one home and was full of trees and had a big water next to it!

We got to run around as much as we wanted and play in the greens. The next place was a small home that had three dogs in it!

While we were there the tall-ones dug a big pit full of water that we couldn't go into. That place had lots of bushes to hide in and small trees to climb! Sometimes the dogs chased us, but they had to stop at the edge of the home-grass. The homes next to that one also had dogs that could only go in a circle around a stick. I liked to sit at the edge of the string and watch them!

Very soon before we left the tall-ones made a platform out of dead trees, with more dead trees sticking out of it.

Then we went to a place that had no trees! Just homes that we couldn't go into. We got to go outside a lot there, but the tall-ones were gone a lot of the time. Sometimes I caught mice and other prey. And then for four feedings there were lots of lights and very loud noises, that were so loud my sister hid! But she came back when the noises stopped. In the grass behind the house there was something that was always making it rain. There weren't any other cats there that we could play with, just birds and prey.

Then there was a similar place, but it had a lot more grass. We were allowed out there, and there were also some dogs, and another cat. I even caught a piece of long-eared prey, but when I wasn't looking it disappeared. I think the tall-ones took it.

Then we went back into the moving-home, and when we got out we were at a place that had lots of other moving-homes. There were lots of other cats and dogs there but they were all inside or on strings held by other tall-ones! We couldn't go out very much, and after a while the tall-ones put us on the same strings and didn't let us outside without them holding the strings. Neither of us liked it at all and Sparrow even got out of it and hid several times! Once when I was in the moving-home I could hear flying-prey in the see-through room!

After a while, the tall-ones started letting us out a little after light-time and at dark time without the strings on. Some of the other tall-ones there had a cat in a tiny home of its own! There was a big open green close to our moving-home that had huge things that were like the deer at the river-home, but we weren't allowed in the place they were in. We also weren't allowed in the other moving-homes.

Then we left and went to somewhere that we weren't allowed out at all, and had lots of noises, and other moving-homes that looked different. Then we went to a place like the one with lots of other moving-homes, but it had a lake and we were allowed to go out without a string! We got to follow the tall ones on walks. Sometimes we went really far from home, and I didn't know where we were. I liked that place a lot! One time the tall-ones tried to get me on a big water-float, but I didn't want to.

Also, we went back to the river home for a little bit, but we weren't allowed in our old home. That was very confusing. 

I'm really happy that we got the moving-home and started living in it and moving around, and I enjoy exploring new places!

The End

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MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT LIFE ON THE ROAD

douglas

I like the ability to just stop on the side of the road and go sleep in the camper when we all get too tired of driving. My bed is the 3’ x 2.5’ x 6’ top bunk at the back of the camper, and I still managed to fit all of my things (books, Lego, and toys) on one tiny shelf at the end of my bed!

 My window

My window

 My light

My light

Sometimes Edmund sleeps under the left side of the shelf at night. One time, we while we were driving he sat there at the window the whole time. What really surprised me is that they didn’t barf while we were driving even after they got out of the bathroom! We’ve also started training them to be let out wherever we are, and to come back to where they were let out from, such as Keren and Bobby’s house.

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cats

douglas

at first we weren't going to take the cats because we thought they would run away. now we've decided that we are going to bring them but they will be in-camper cats. here are pictures of them:

 this is edmund

this is edmund

 sparrow

sparrow

IMG_4977.JPG
 edmund

edmund

right now edmund has a lump on his tail and we don't know what it is, but we thought it was broken. the difference between edmund and sparrow is that sparrow is thinner and has a more narrow head and edmund is fatter and has a wider head. he also has a goatee. one time edmund got himself stuck up in a 70 foot tree because he was chasing crows. he stayed there until midnight then came down to a bowl of fancy feast.

here is a picture of that:

IMG_2412.JPG
IMG_2413b.jpg

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