Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I know that I said that I would try my best to keep the blog up to date. That clearly has not happened. I am sorry. Circumstances have been out of my control. On 7/22 while traveling through central Oregon we ran into a problem. We left Harris Beach early in the morning in an attempt to get a jump on the long trip to Crater Lake. The countryside we were passing through was just awesome. Giant redwoods gave way to a thick pine forest as we headed east. This was remote country. No gas stations, no towns, and no people to speak of. The thick Oregon fog followed us from the coast as we headed inland. About two hours into the trip, the skies began to clear and all was good in the world up until we hit the town of Stanley, Oregon. As with other small towns along desolate stretches of highway the speed limit quickly slowed from 70 MPH to 40MPH. Just as I lifted my foot off the accelerator to begin slowing the old girl, I saw a quick flash and heard a loud thump. The flash was so quick that I could not even process it. It was simply a thing.

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A thing approaching from the right side of the road into my right of way. Now the thump! That was a different story. The thump, I recognized right away. It was the thump of something that was alive only seconds ago. I instinctively looked into my rear view mirror to see what small mammal was going to be splattered on the roadway thanks to my negligence. I saw nothing. No blood. No fur. No carcass. Nothing! Before I had time scan any further for evidence of my road kill, I looked up only to see life getting worse fast. In a residential driveway at the very start of the one stop light town of Stanley was a cop with a radar gun. The whole hitting an unknown object thing had distracted me from my original task of slowing down for the speed trap. As I later learned, I crossed his radar beam doing 61 MPH in a 40 MPH zone. Now speeding is really not that big a deal in Oregon unless of course you happen to be doing in excess of 20 MPH over the limit. They got strict on speeding when they raised the limit to 70 MPH last year. But I digress…..

Barney had me dead to rights. I was so distracted that I did not even see him. Normally I can spot a Crown Vic from a mile away, but my eyes were on the mirror looking for fresh road kill. His lights were flashing before I even passed. I eased the old girl down to a crawl and made my way to the shoulder of route 81 as Barney followed. When I stopped, I watched Barney from my mirror as he put down his coffee and made his approach to the RV. He looked reasonable and calm and this made me feel OK about the encounter that was coming. Now, keep in mind that our RV is towing a geo tracker. So as Barney left his cruiser he first had to pass the tracker before reaching the back of the RV. From my mirror I could see his casual stroll turn into something much different. His face changed and I think he jumped on the hood of my tracker! Although I could not actually see this. He was out of my mirrors field of vision, as he seemed to dive towards our tow car. So OK. That was weird!

What seemed like five minutes later, Barney emerged in my passenger mirror doing a run/walk thing with his hand close to his duty weapon and what appeared to be tears in his eyes and extreme anger on his face. I swung the RV door open to greet him and was quickly grabbed by the wrist and yanked towards the rear of the RV as my kids looked on in horror. He led me back about 20 feet before stopping and pining me against my RV. Now normally this is not the kinda of thing that I would go for too willingly. However, I could see from the look in this man’s eyes that he was deranged and angry. I could also see from the 40 caliber Glock on his hip that he had the stopping power to quell my complaints quickly. From a man who looked like he had never cursed a day in his life, he screamed just inches from my face….”What the F….k did you do to my cat”?

Needless to say, I was a little confused. As Barney spat his hatred in my face, my mind raced to make sense of the situation before me. His cat? Big Thump? Quick Flash? Could these things possibly be related? Perhaps, but there were still so many unanswered pieces to the puzzle. I looked at him with a puzzled face and told him that I don’t understand the question. “ Could you please repeat it”? I pleaded. Instead he hitched his hand to my collar and dragged me further toward the back of my RV. It was here that the pieces of the puzzle aligned themselves.

It was a morbid scene that I hesitate to describe in detail. It suffices to say that the flash was named Cattie Christine. I learned this later from Barney. Cattie Christine had never appeared in my mirror following the thump because she did not remain on the road. Instead she had been kicked up be my rear mud flap and splayed out in a grotesque pose across the front windshield of my 1994 Geo Tracker after emerging from the rear axles of the RV.

Barney looked deep into my eyes as I stood in horror. He knew immediately that he was wrong. I had not trapped his cat and posed it across the windshield of my tow car in a satanic ritualistic way that seemed so plausible only minutes ago. He knew I was shocked. He knew I was sorry. He released his grip on my collar and we began to talk like gentleman. He told me all about Cattie Christine and I told him what had happened on the road only minutes before. I told him how sorry I was. I meant it! I really was so sorry for what had happened. I have driven over 30,000 miles on these cross-country road trips and I have never had the misfortune of killing an animal en route.

Barney looked deep into my face knowing that I was telling the truth. I could see his eyes welling up again in anguish…. It was at that very vulnerable moment that I said the unthinkable. I looked straight into Officer Barney’s watery eyes and told him that he could always get another cat. Big mistake. His eyes dried and narrowed all at the same time. His hands went for his cuffs and I was now splayed on the hood of my tracker eye to eye with Cattie Christine.

My incarceration lasted 7 days before my bail was reduced to a level that Kristi could pay with our cash on hand.

As you may have suspected, some of this story is a bit of a fabrication. OK fine! All of this story is a bit of a fabrication. I just feel like I am letting my readers down without a story of horror or near death. Every trip seems to have one of these. So far this trip had had neither. The truth is that we have been very busy and I have not had much time to blog. I promise to catch up with all that you have missed over the next few days.