We woke at five and started loading the truck, trailer, and Suburban with all the things we couldn’t load last night, such as the beds we slept on, perishable food, and animals. We left behind another load’s worth to be moved early next week. At nine a.m. we hit the road.
Our truck is a Chevrolet Super 6, fleet-side, half-ton, regular-cab pick-up purchased in 1979 by Greg’s grandfather. It has a solid steel body and generally tougher construction than comparable newer vehicles, but lacks many amenities, including air conditioning. For this three-hundred-mile, warm-weather, mostly-Interstate trip, Greg drove with both windows down. The wind generates a lot of noise and has no good effect on the personal appearance of long-haired passengers, as I have reason to know from previous trips. Daniel was needed in the Suburban to manage Ready, the larger of our dogs, so the girls took turns being Greg’s passenger.
So Greg drove the truck, with Emilie as his morning passenger, and pulled the trailer, which was piled high with our worldly goods. I drove the Suburban and pulled our pop-up camper. With me were Daniel and Anna, our cat Navo in a cat carrier, Clover the guinea pig in another cat carrier, and the two dogs (freshly bathed) riding on the floor mats at Daniel and Anna’s feet.
We had good weather for driving, cloudy and not too hot. The dogs and the guinea pig behaved well. Navo, after the first hour and a half, meowed pretty much incessantly.
We got lunch from a Subway in Waco (halfway point between Krum and Luling) and ate it in the parking lot. Anna and Emilie traded vehicles, and we took off on the last leg of the trip.
Daniel and Emilie played several rounds of the alphabet game–that traveling game in which players race to find all the letters of the alphabet, in order, on signs, buildings, and billboards. They called the letters aloud as they found them, hitting lulls at J, Q, and Z. Navo played too, but pronounced all the letters as “meow.”
The house we are temporarily renting is owned by a consortium of individuals, one of whom is Greg’s first cousin twice removed. The other owners are two brothers not related to us. One of the brothers has some acreage of his own adjacent to this place and runs cattle on both properties. This man was present when we arrived at the house, as were lots of cows and calves, and a horse.
Emilie loves horses and has long hoped that our move south would give her an opportunity to own one. We are not equine people, but know enough about horses to know they are expensive to maintain. I made no promises, but told Emilie to study horse husbandry and save her money, figuring you are always better off being prepared. The sight of this horse, an energetic, friendly roan, was a treat for us all. He examined the contents of a box I was carrying and let me pet him, and later he cleared the woodpile against the fence with a spectacular jump, amazing our dogs.
Now, the right way to treat a dog after six hours of confinement in a motor vehicle is not to deposit him in a strange yard surrounded by large bellowing animals, then drive off half an hour later to go eat dinner at your mother-in-law’s house, leaving him no more than some shade and a water dish for comfort; but that is exactly what we did to our dogs. It couldn’t be helped. The perishables had to be properly stowed in the kitchen or refrigerator. I was incapacitated by a bad headache, so bad that after unloading a few boxes I had to go lie down on the floor. The dogs had to be contained; we could not have them underfoot in the house while we carried boxes and furniture. They are not used to being shunted aside; they looked at us through the fence with puzzled expressions as if to say, “What the heck?”
At first the dogs were tied to trees, as the fencing at the house was not adequate to keep them away from the nearby highway and railroad tracks, much less the milling cattle and horse just outside the yard (and I do mean just outside; some of the cow patties were barely two feet from the wall on the unfenced side of the house). Bridget coped with being tied better than Ready, who promptly wound his leash around his tree and had to be unwound.
Before we left for Ben and Ann’s house, Greg and Daniel ran some field fencing along the side of the yard that previously had only a couple of strands of barbed wire. The dogs now had the run of the yard, at least. I can only imagine their feelings as we drove away.
Greg’s mom, Ann, made a delicious meal for us: spaghetti, lasagna, salad, chocolate pie, and haystacks, a kind of candy made with peanut butter and Special K cereal. I took some Aleve, drank some hot tea, lay down in a dark bedroom, and slept through dinner.
I woke right at seven, feeling fine. I ate some dinner, borrowed a pan from Ann to heat water for my morning tea (I had forgotten to pack my tea kettle), and drove to the rented house in our Geo Prizm, which had been left at the farm on a previous trip.
I was pleased to see how much Greg and the kids had gotten done while I napped in air-conditioned comfort. The fence and gates needed additional work; in our absence Ready had managed to escape, and trotted up to meet the returning Suburban in his important dog way. Now Greg and Daniel proceeded to patch the gaps, with help from the girls and me (we mostly handed out fence staples). They recycled materials from behind a kind of shack: bits of rusted hog wire, strands of barbed wire, a wood pallet, and several cinder blocks. The result was a real Redneck Special that kept the dogs in and didn’t cost us anything.
One troubling snag is that we can’t find Daniel’s collection of carnivorous plants. This morning in Krum, he drained the saucers and boxed up all the plants. He did not label the box but is confident it was loaded. Unfortunately, we cannot find it. We opened box after box before concluding that the plants must have been left behind. This is a problem. Our plan is to return to Denton Tuesday or so for another load. Can the plants survive that long in a box with no water?
It is so frustrating when you think you have done the right thing, taken the right precautions, and still something goes wrong. This collection of plants represents a sizable investment of Daniel’s money, time, and energy. I hate to think of them all perishing on account of some random disconnect.
After dark, we made a quick grocery run to Luling. Greg made me drive, beginning my education on how to get around in his hometown of five thousand eighty souls. The first thing I had to learn to do was honk at the cattle blocking the drive. The placid bovines stood and stared at us in an unintelligent manner, shifting their freight only at the last minute as the car ooched towards them, and then shifting it a just foot or two farther down the drive, instead of off it. We proceeded slowly: honk and ooch, honk and ooch.
Finally we got out the gate and made it to H-E-B, the prevailing grocery store in these parts. We got enough food to get us through the next day or so. Greg drove the car home, as he couldn’t stand how slow I went. We all dropped into bed around eleven.