So, now that we are here in Pretoria and actually have a (hopefully) reliable connection to the interwebs, it seems like a good time to describe how we got here. It all started with a cross-country road trip.
Since we wanted to minimize the number of take-offs and landings on Indie, we decided to rent a car and drive to New York so we could take a direct flight from JFK. Crazy, yes, but the whole idea of taking her with us was/is crazy, so what the heck. After picking up a pimpin’ gold Buick Enclave from Hertz at Union Station, we played Tetris with the 4 giant duffels, 1 large suitcase, one intermediate dog kennel, 2 backpacks a dog bag and a snack bag until they all fit in the car. Once we were loaded and lattéd, Jenny hit Willie Nelson on the iPod and we were “On the Road Again.” We were like the Blues Brothers, without the blues or the brothers.
I’ll skip past the part where I forgot to get on the Skyway coming out of Chicago, causing us to double back before we were even out of the city, to tell you that Indie was very confused by what we were doing and where we were going. She was in and out of her kennel. Mostly out, actually, because any time we hit a bump in the road she was out and alert. She spent most of the eight hours in the car precariously perched on the back of a single seat, too tired to keep her eyes open, but too nervous to actually go to sleep.
When we made it through the tedium that is Indiana and Ohio, we pulled into the parking lot of the majestic Microtel in Clarion, PA. As it turned out, about a half dozen construction workers were having a microparty at the Microtel, drinking beer and spitting tobacco out of the back of a pickup truck. A lovely welcome.
Eschewing the chain restaurants by the interstate for the charm of downtown Clarion, we drove back in time to the Captain Loomis building and ate at the restaurant of the same name. Decent. Later, as we walked back to the car, we were so distracted by the lovely sunset over the courthouse square that we almost ran right into Norman Rockwell. We excused ourselves and walked on.
The next morning, following breakfast at Perkins (yes, we went for the chain this time), we continued our drive through pulchitrudinous Pennsylvania and into the Garden State. New Jersey, new driver. I took over for the NYC portion, which meant 11 mph across the GW bridge, across the Bronx and into Queens.
After we unloaded at the hotel, I set about trying to give away some extra towels we had in the car to some homeless folks near the hotel. Easier said than done.
Later that night, we met our friends Lisa and Matt at the iconic Don Peppe restaurant in Queens, which is apparently soon to be featured in the next season of Entourage. Baked clams, house white and countless caricatures of Italian-American men made for a fun last evening in the States.
4:45 am came quickly. We woke early to walk Indie, reorganize and get her to the cargo facility. Weird. You know how you’re already feeling foggy when you’re up before dawn? Yeah, I think that made the process of handing Indie to a stranger in a warehouse even more surreal. But, it all worked out, somehow…
Time for Part 2 of the journey: the flight.