I was on a tight budget and couldn’t afford a motel for even one night. So I squeezed a pup tent on top of the bulging plastic bags and suitcases crammed in the car trunk.
We got a late start, and without air conditioning, the car got uncomfortably hot. I rolled down the back windows a little so some air blew over the tops of the boxes on which Dulcy and Ish lay.
When not dozing, they surveyed the countryside sanguinely as we drove through Indiana and then into Illinois. We’d traveled an hour into Missouri when fatigue settled in. I needed to stop for the night.
Fortunately, I found a place to camp before the sun set. I retrieved the pup tent from the trunk and laid it out on the ground. With hammer in hand, I began to pound the stakes. It was then I realized just what drought meant. The ground was like cement. I didn’t have the strength to get even one of the seven stakes all the way into the ground, so I settled on halfway.
Soon Dulcy, Ish, and I lay, spooned around one another, in the darkness of the tent. I quickly fell asleep, only vaguely aware that the wind was picking up.
I awoke, disorientated, as a mighty gust swept across the campgrounds. Without warning, the tent folded in on me. The cats yowled in terror while I shouted “What? What? What’s happening?”
It was dark. I couldn’t find my glasses. The cats were trying to claw their way to deliverance. The rain began to pelt the tent as I struggled to free myself from its clammy embrace. My one overriding fear was that the cats would run off into the night and I’d lose them.
I managed to extricate myself from the wet tent and gather the kittens into my arms. They scratched. Yowled. Hissed at the rain. Tried to climb my chest to jump off my shoulders to freedom. I rushed to the car and dumped them unceremoniously inside.
Back at the campsite, I got the tent back up and the cats and I settled down again. I’d just begun to doze when the whole scenario happened again. Tent collapses. Cats panic. Dee fears their loss.
This time, we all three got into the car and drove off to the nearest motel. Sometimes you just have to spend money to enjoy the comforts of a bed that doesn’t collapse and comes without caterwauling.