Road trips are an everyday thing at the Damn Dog house, we drive across the country like we are going to the corner market. These trips are mostly dog related in necessity, being in rescue I am always on the road moving dogs. Most of the time they are hectic but fun. I believe that they play an important need in my kids life also, as they see the country, meet lots of new people and are introduces to many new things. When the call comes I hook up the camper throw the kids and dogs in the car and off we go. There was a time we just stayed in hotels but as the number of dogs we took grew the chances of getting caught with 10 to 15 dogs in a room with 4 or 5 people was a bankable bet to take, and my odds are running out, hence the camper. Now there have been a couple trips that just about killed me. This latest being one of them. It started after work at 4:30 on Tuesday. I ran home hooked up the camper took the dogs and kids that could go and put them in the car and headed for Newport News, VA. I thought I would leave and get as many mile behind me as I could that night knowing I wanted to get to VA by early afternoon and 12 hours driving times turns into days sometime with all the stopping one must do with a car full of kids and dogs. One of the kids has a bladder the size of a green pea, one dog gets car sick and no one wants the same thing at the same time. I give the car sick dog Dramamine to keep him from puking and it does work but it puts him to sleep, not a bad thing but when it wears off he is up and trying to eat everything in sight and then pukes it up before he can be re-dosed. Do you know what recycled Hot Cheetos looks like? I might add it is just as disgusting coming from the other end. Now kids pee breaks can get out of control, we get to the restaurant and they all run to the potty before we order. As soon as I pay for the bill they all head to the little girls room again, 20 miles down the road, I hear "Ma I have to pee". These things alone does not give me cause to drop off the deep end but put me on a toll road and I loose it. By the time I got off the toll road I was in WV and it is 2:30 in the morning and finding a camping spot is out of the question but I can not drive another mile as it has been 20 hours since I slept. We got comfy in the seats of the car parked in the first rest area I came to after we entered the state. As the sun started to come up I could hear the trucks pull out, I did not sleep good as they run their engines the whole time and we parked right in the middle of the lot full of them. Waking to the smell of diesel fumes and and the roar of semi truck engines is not the best way to start your day off, but it is now started. We head to the restrooms and hit the road, as soon as the car hits third gear coming out of the rest area I see the KOA sign, next exit...
I made it to my friends house and totally enjoyed seeing her again and we just had a wonderful afternoon. I had all intentions of getting to bed early as I am exhausted; having 4 hours of restless sleep in two days sucks. We put the camper up in her drive way and I found that one corner of the camper does not go up as far as the other three so putting the door in has been getting harder every time we use it. So we just velcro the the sides down and use it any way. This time I could not even do that as the top is so low on that corner that the frame of the door is up high enough that the door will not open. I told the girls we would be closed in till we get up in the morning. So the door was sealed up around 11:30 and we settled down to sleep. I awoke to the bouncing movement of a half awake kid trying to get out of the camper to pee. In my very tired state I grumbled "Seriously what part of locked in till we get up did you not understand? Didn't you pee before you came to bed?" Now the tired kid stumbles back to her bunk and I went right back to sleep. Next morning, I so, did not want to leave I was enjoying a cup of coffee and my friends hospitality. Alas I knew I had to go as the kids kept reminding me where I had to be at 2PM.
I needed to meet a plane in Washington D.C. to pick up a dog flying in from Peru. I really can not miss this flight as the dog has been in his kennel for over a day. I get to the airport late it is after 3 PM and I am in a panic because I do not know where to pick up the dog. I park at the terminal short term park and run like hell as it about forever to get from parking to the terminal let alone find out where in this airport I have to go. I go to the ticket counter as my first place to ask and they all have the deer eyes in the headlight look. I showed my paper work and they tell me I have to go to cargo and oh by they way no one knows where that is. 45 minutes later and a short 5 mile trip around the airport I get to cargo. I learned that the plane actually just land at 3:15 so the dog should be coming into cargo in a minute. They printed out some documents and told me to take them to customs down the street. Off I went thinking I did not screw anything up because I was late. I got into the office and gave all the papers to the officer and told him I was picking up a dog. He looked at the paper then silently he went through many key strokes on the computer and then looked through my documents again, then back to the computer. I am getting worried when he looks at me and said this is not in the system because the dog won't be in till midnight. What? I was told he is here. The officer tells me to go back to cargo and straighten it out and bring back the corrected paperwork. Back at Cargo I tell them what the officer told me and they started searching for the dog. Yes in deed he was in Panama and would not be in till midnight. Now the fact that I need to be in Michigan at 7 am Friday morning and it is now 5pm Thursday night is not making me feel any better. I can feel myself slipping down the slippery slop of unacceptable anger. I go to the car and start making phone calls to find someone willing to come to the airport and get the dog and hold it till I can return on the weekend. Like I wanted to drive another 24 plus hour back to get the dog, but I was running out of options, and I needed to get back. I found someone willing to come and pick up the dog so I went back to Cargo to make the arrangements to have some one else pick up the dog. I paid my fee and signed all the papers to allow this to happen and started to walk out when the cargo agent says but you are the only one that can check the dog through customs. Now I am so pissed I can't see straight and started my rant on the cargo agent. Then after I emptied my balloon of frustration out on the guy I ask "Will the dog be dead when I come back to pick it up" Because you have not seen nothing yet if the dog is harmed because of this mess. I made my, piss off exit, and I could not even slam the door on the way out as it had a hydraulic door closer. As I stormed out to the car cussing like an old drunk sailor on shore leave, I again have to make calls to make sure the dog I was suppose to pick up would be kenneled for the day and take care of work and make sure everyone at home would do the things that needed done. Then I went to have dinner with a friend as long as I was going to have to wait till midnight. I end up 20 miles outside of DC to meet up with my friend, she was so excited she jumped out of her car to flag us down and lock her keys and purse in her car. So we went to fast food close by while we waited for her husband to bring the spar key. While we are enjoying the balmy breeze on the patio of the restaurant I get a call from the cargo people. They tell me I have to get back to the terminal before 9 PM to clear the dog through customs as they close then. Now my stress level just went from 0 to 90 and I start herding kids and dogs and my friend to get on the road again to get back. My friend so wants to buy the girls an ice cream and I am barking" NO we have to go". We got back to the terminal again I must pay five bucks to park again and go in to find out that I can not clear the dog because I need the original paperwork that is on the kennel with the dog. Okay now I must keep my sense of self control which I have none because I am real sure the customs officer will not tolerate my unacceptable pissed off behavior. I ask in the calmest voice I could muster up." What do I need to do exactly when the dog arrives"? I was instructed to go back to the cargo and wait till the dog came off the plane, get all the documents that should be attached to the kennel bring them back to this office and we will clear the dog. I ask" Will some one be here then"? No, but you can call this number and some one will meet you here and clear the dog. My parting comment" Are you sure"? I took my ass outside before I melted down. Now I have 4 hours to wait for the dog to get off the plane. I then go back to the car and tell the girls lets go see DC at night the monuments are gorgeous at night. Now it has been years since I have been in DC at night, who new the trees grew up and roads closed etc, and all you can do is get a glimpse through the trees of the Monuments. The only one that we had a good view of was the Washington Monument and it had scaffolding around it as it is in repair from the earthquake they had over a year ago. Now as I drove around our Nations Capital towing the pop up camper and I'm the driver that can not back the damn thing up;it did not give us any chance to park, pull over or just stop to take a quick picture. So we opted to go get ice cream for the kids and coffee for me. I need decompressing so bad. We find this place that looked like an old fashion dinner but in fact was a up scale place for business people to get drinks and dinner. Of course we look like a pair brown shoes under a tux but we stayed and got our ice cream and coffee. As we waited for our order to come we started to drink our water; I tell the girls my water taste strange and one of the girls says hers taste bad too. The other one tells us she likes her water it reminded her of the water back in her country she drank from the river. Great we are drinking river water from the Potomac River, then the jokes started, one of the girls says 'Mom, can I tell you something"? Ya what. She then starts to laugh and says "can you take it"? What the hell does that mean can I take it. She is now totally laughing out of control as she begins her story with do you remember last night when I was trying to get out of the camper to go pee. Now the first vision I have is her sticking her butt over the bunk between the side of the tent that gets attached to the pull out bed. All three of us are laughing and she tells me no she peed on the blanket. I think she meant peed the bed now I am on hyper Mom alert and she says no I did not pee the bed I peed on the blanket. Where is the blanket in the camper stinking it up? No I put it in Tina's trash in the morning so you would not know. Now I am laughing out of control as the visions of this start running though my head. Hell I don't know who is worse you or the damn dogs. I am now decompress and we have laughed ourselves into embarrassment so we left.
I went back to Cargo and waited for the dog to arrive I called the number I had and it was a short wait till the cargo agent came out with the papers and told me to go back to Terminal and once the dog is cleared through the system I can come back to cargo and pick up the dog. As I was taking the ticket to park again, I looked up and saw the cameras looking at me and the thought that if someone is monitoring this camera they will want to know what the hell I am doing. Well one quick thought made my behavior fall of the deep end and I started yelling at the camera. The girls quickly snapped me back to reality so I could park the car and breath. I called the number I had for customs and got a supervisor and he was very pleasant and told me someone would be down to meet me at the office and get me cleared. I waited outside the office for what seemed to be eternity, when an immigration office appeared. He promptly told me that he did get some training 4 years earlier on how to clear the cargo through customs but he only did it once. He was an immigrations officer and that was his specialty; an hour later it came down to no one knew how to do it in the system so he would just stamp my papers and sign them and hoped it would be enough to get the dog released. Now as I am paying for my parking I again look up at the cameras and cut loose again. There was no bringing me back. I ranted and cussed all the way back the five miles to cargo. Called the number again and told the man that if the immigrations officers stamp and signature was not going to be enough he might want to call 911 now. He came out and met me at the car and said he would make it alright and took us into the dock area to get the dog. I signed my life away and took the dog straight to the grassy knoll to pee and move about, I gave him water and walked him and I calmed myself down to see he was Okay and not dead from the ordeal. So we started our journey back home it is now 3:30 AM I have a headache from hell have no idea where we are going to stop and pop up the camper. So back to the rest area and the parking lot full of semi trucks. We pulled over around a quarter to five and I could see the horizon lighting up as the sun was rising. I napped till around 7AM and we hit the road again. Now the kids and dogs were ready to abandon the ship many times as I my behavior took on a life of its own.
We pulled in at 10 PM Friday night. It has taken me every bit of over a week to recoup from the trip and my kids are just now starting to talk to me again. I have learned a lot on this trip and am so glad the dog I rescued from Peru did not die. Some lessons are eye opening.