Dread and More Dread …
We were going on a journey that I expected would end up somewhere between that of Lewis and Clark and that of the Donner Party. Someone once said that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude. That’s how I knew I was in for an ordeal.
We were eleven mostly intrepid travelers, closing the traditional exploration circle by heading east from Southern California to Maine. No wagons, just three RVs. After all, this is the twenty-first century.
Of course, we didn’t have many of the difficulties that the early pioneers had to endure. They were going through uncharted territory; we’d MapQuested the route and had three GPSs to make it foolproof. They had limited rations; we had refrigerators full of food, and stoves and microwaves with which to cook it. Not that we were without our refreshment challenges; for instance, we’d have to use a manual corkscrew for the wine.
Their communications went as far as their voices could carry; we were loaded down with cell phones, BlackBerries, and iPads. One of our group said that we actually had more computer power on board than astronaut Alan Shepard did when he first went into space, but I have no idea if that’s true.
One thing we shared with our predecessors was the presence of plenty of animals. Their animals were crucial to their trip, but ours were the very reason for our journey.
Their animals represented the transportation itself; the horsepower behind the vehicles was alive and breathing. They probably also provided food, but I’d just as soon not go there. But if the pioneers hadn’t had the benefit of their horses, when we talk about going out west today, we’d mean Cleveland.
In our case, three gas-fueled RV engines were our power source. The animals were the passengers; we were transporting our dogs, all twenty-five of them, to our—and their—new home. They were all rescue dogs, a small portion of the thousands that we have saved from the misery of the Los Angeles shelter system, but this trip was likely to make new demands on their endurance.
Our group included nine other people that volunteered for the trip, which was pretty remarkable. Some were friends; others were readers of my novels whom I’d met only once or twice. Three of them I’d never met at all. Giving us their time and energy in this way was amazingly generous, and I planned to thank them four or five thousand times before we got to Maine.
Of course, at the time I was thinking “if” we got to Maine.
The truth was, this undertaking could have been even more daunting. Twenty-five is pretty much the fewest dogs Debbie and I have had in the last ten years. We’ve had as many as forty-two, but we feel that more than forty is slightly eccentric.
The human members of our team, none of whom had known each other previously, had been corresponding by e-mail for weeks. They were totally enthusiastic. They seemed to regard this as an incredible adventure, destined to be a source of great memories for years to come.
Since I’ve always been an “RV half empty” sort of guy, I expected it to be torturous at best, and a disaster at worst.
Which brings me to the obvious question: how the hell did we get into this situation?
Copyright © 2013 by David Rosenfelt