Getting Ready to Go
It’s Sunday. We leave Tuesday morning. Here’s the plan:
Finding a way to take the dogs wasn’t easy. First thought was to take them across on the Queen Mary which has a small
number of kennels on board. We discovered several problems with that, however: First, even though you are on the same ship as the dogs, it’s not as if you get to commune with them, walk them or otherwise provide some aid and comfort or familiarity to the no doubt disconcerted creatures. Besides, there’s a two year waiting list.
Next stop was Continental airlines, a flight from Jacksonville to Newark and then Amsterdam. Several problems with that: Trepidation about putting the dogs through several flights, with possible mishaps on plane changes, and the unlikelihood that during a very drawn out process they would ever get a chance to take care of business. Altogether unpleasant for all concerned. Plus, $1,000 per dog each way was not particularly enticing.More research. (Alice). Finally, a plan…
We’re using an airline called “Open Skies”, which I had never heard of but which offers an interesting product: 79 seats on the entire plane, all business class. Actually, there are two levels of business class, with the “upper level” offering seats that fold down all the way into a bed and then recede into a kind of private cubicle, and “regular” business class which is what we’re taking. The nice part is that you are allowed to take a dog (limit three dogs per flight) for $200, and they ride in the back of the main cabin. The less good part is that the flights are extremely limited and we’re taking the one from Dulles International in D.C. direct to Paris.
You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned a flight from Jacksonville to Washington, because, to avoid the “plane change” issue with the dogs, we’ve decided to drive to D.C. Which brought up another issue: Try renting a car big enough to take two people with clothes for six months and at least two seasons, two sets of golf clubs, one bicycle, two dog cages and… two dogs. Hertz said they could provide a “Tahoe” which, in theory, would be (just) big enough, but when I pressed them, asking, “Okay, you and I both know that sometimes you go to pick up your car and you’re told ‘sorry, the car you rented isn’t available, but here’s a nice Smart Car you can use instead’”. The Hertz person admitted that there was no guarantee should could provide that that wouldn’t happen.
So we’re going in a different direction: We’re going to pack everything into our 23 foot RV, drive the first day to Pinehurst, North Carolina to crash with some friends overnight, and leave early the next morning for Dulles International, planning to arrive there around 3pm for our 5:30 flight, with the idea being to wait until the reasonable last moment to check in the dogs, thereby reducing their overall-cage time.
We’ll park the RV in the airport’s longterm parking lot, and then my nephew, Brian, has agreed to fly up over the weekend and drive it back to Jacksonville.
This, anyway, is the theory. Starting in two days, we’ll begin to see how all this works out….
But getting to this point, reasonably ready to go, has been a challenge. It’s one thing to go away for a week or so, or even a month, but quite another to think of and deal with all the issues you have to, well, think of and deal with if you’re going to be away so long that certain things won’t be able to wait, bills you can’t be “tardy” on, contingencies that must be anticipated; and just when you believe you’ve thought of everything, ten more issues occur to you, and then, as you deal with them, ten more, Hydra like, in a what seems to be an ever expending to-do list.
We thought about renting the house, but after hearing one nightmare store after another, decided that instead, we would bring all systems down to “silent running” status and have the place looked after from time to time by a trusted friend. But, as luck would have it, the folks who built the house for us have just sold their most recent project, and needed a place to stay while they completed the next. Who could be more familiar with the intricacies of the place than they, who built it? We know them well, have grown to like them a lot, and trust them completely. With them here, we can rest easy that what needs to be taken care of will be handled expertly.
Yes, we’re leaving most of our possesssions in place, but, of course, we’ve had to clear spaces for them, put things in storage and generally organize things. This has been a laborious task but one that has generated some unanticipated benefits: It’s not a bad idea to be forced by circumstances to go ahead and make choices about what you really do want to keep as opposed to that which you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of, but should have, weeks, months or decades ago.
For example, one very large carload of clothes made its way to the City Rescue Mission.
Beyond that, bills, from monthlies to annual property taxes, have been dealt with, obligations large and small attended to, goodbyes said, and now it’s simply a matter of getting there.
We’ll see how that goes…
N E X T : Traveling