C – A Celebration of Life To Be Shown At The 2016 Festigious International Film Festival
We are very honored to have been chosen as a selection for this year’s Festigious International Film Festival. This is an online festival that takes place between November 1st and November 7th, with an audience choice ballot. As soon as we get more details as when the film will be showing, and all the pertinent information, we’ll get it posted.
The Celebrate Life Tour – Day 2 – The Adventure Begins
There was no doubt this was going to be a crazy day. We had to get to our rig, load up the ten tons worth of stuff that we had shipped or brought with us, travel to the RV Park, and then try to get us, and the animals, set up with at least the basics. This of course, was after we had completely worn ourselves out the last couple of weeks getting ready to go, and flying in on the red-eye. But hey, that’s why there’s a Starbuck’s on every corner, right, lots of liquid energy.
Don and I had talked through this day over and over, trying to plan the fastest way to get everything done with the least impact to the animals. We knew that by the time we reached Portland, they would have been in their carriers over 8 hours, and though it wasn’t as big a deal for our dog Tobi, since we would be able to get him to a nice grassy spot fairly quickly, it was definitely more difficult for the cats. Because they had dropped out of their leash training class, and we couldn’t open the kennels and say, “ OK everybody, go do your business and meet back here in ten minutes”, they were going to have to cross their paws a little while longer. We did have potty pads in all the carriers though, just in case.
Our RV has three main sections, each with a door that can be secured; the master bedroom, the main living area, and the garage. Originally, we were going to put the cats in the bedroom while we got things loaded and organized. The last minute decision to bring the kittens changed everything. They had not yet been incorporated into the family, so needless to say, throwing them together with the adults in a small, closed, unfamiliar room after flying all night, would definitely keep us out of the “caring pet owners” club. The revised plan was to put the kittens in the bedroom, put the adult cats in the living area, and then load the garage. There was just one little kink though. Already waiting for us in the garage was the large custom pantry and kitchen cabinet that we had ordered. Until we moved them out, we couldn’t get anything else in, and because there was no floor space in the main living area during travel, they would have to be installed before we left, and especially before we let the cats out. Bet you can guess what was at the top of our “ to do” list.
You know how sometimes someone comes into your life, and you think “Wow, how’d I get that lucky ?”. Well, for Don and I, that was Joe Pedron. He and his wife own and operate Pedron’s Auto, Boat and RV Storage, and 2 nicer people you’d be hard pressed to find. They good-naturedly received and stored our ridiculous number of shipments, took our truck in for service before we got there, and picked us up at the airport in a vehicle big enough to handle our entire load. On arriving at their facility, we found our truck and trailer all snug and protected in an enclosed building, with our boxes and crates close at hand. Joe had a good idea what was ahead of us, so he set things up to make it as easy as possible, but he didn’t stop there. When he found out about the cabinets, he grabbed his tools and jumped right in, and like us, was completely unaware that he would actually be wrestling an 8’ tall monster.
The pantry was triangular, designed to fit snugly in the same shaped space, but the walls in an RV, like a house, are very rarely square or level. Unlike a house though, there’s very little swinging room, and the walls that you’re mounting to, are made of foam. Needless to say, he and Don had their hands full. So while they struggled with the cabinets, I started getting things sorted and loaded. By late afternoon, they had finished the installation, and my arms were reduced to spaghetti from getting those 10 tons of boxes into the trailer. We then quickly said our extremely heartfelt thank you’s, and headed out to the RV Park.
Getting the rig set up in the park provided great entertainment for our neighbors. Our experience was limited to a five day trip, 9 months earlier, and at least then, we had gotten a little bit of instruction. Now we were trying to remember what we were supposed to do, and in what order, and it was laughingly obvious we were serious rookies. Nearly an hour later, when we finally finished up, we took our bows, and the crowd of giggling onlookers went on to other things.
Moving inside, we set up the nearly four foot long custom litter box that was perfectly made by Facecrafters, and then the cats were finally able to start adjusting to their new home. The kittens though were still confined to the bedroom, and because it was important to integrate them slowly, we needed a way to confine them. We also needed food, both in our bellies and in the frig, so it was time to head to the store.
At around midnight, the kittens were safely housed in their new kennel, the cats were checking out every nook and cranny of the trailer, there was cereal and milk in the frig, and Don, Tobi, & I were finally in bed, and just minutes away from a very needed sleep.
The Celebrate Life Tour – The First 24 Hours Thank Goodness For Skycaps
When I was growing up, I was a pretty easy going kid, and with the exception of procrastinating on my homework, never intentionally put myself in a stressful situation. Once I reached adulthood though, that started changing, I wasn’t looking for stress, but I was definitely looking for excitement. Then, we started our business. The first few years were over the top exhilarating, so much to do, so many possibilities, but as the years wore on, those new challenges gave way to da, da, da, daaa “small business stress”. If you’ve ever owned or managed a small company, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, trust me, you don’t want to know. Twenty seven years later, I was living in a world of sleepless nights, sugar binges, and fingernail biting, with the old time favorite ” money woes blues” playing in the background. When we finally sold our business, the dream we’d been dreaming for years came true, the stress was gone, but what I hadn’t anticipated, was the enormous void that was left by it’s absence.
Don and I immediately jumped into everything we could to fill that space of time and energy, not once taking a minute to enjoy the quiet. Over the years, we had apparently become stress addicts, and were looking everywhere to find a fix. At this point, you’re thinking, “OK, so what does this have to do with the Celebrate Life Tour RV trip ?”. Well, I just wanted to give you an understanding of why two fairly normal people would get themselves into such a crazy situation.
June 29th – 6:00am, Departure Day – When the alarm went off after just a few hours of sleep, I resisted the urge to take a hammer to it while the day’s ” To Do List” came flooding back into my brain. Though we had done all we could ahead of time, we still had a ton of stuff to take care of before our flight left at 9pm.
Preparing the property for a short trip has always been a challenge, but for a 3 month trip, it’s insane. Things like, making sure the tenants were covered in case a sewer pipe breaks ( which actually happened our first month out ), arranging for exterior upkeep so we would be able to find the house when we got back ( if you saw the movie Jumanji, you know what I’m talking about ), organizing the finances to keep the bill collectors at bay, and trying to remember all the other little things you do every month without really thinking about it, becomes a necessity. With this situation, we couldn’t just say ” Oh, it’ll wait a few days until we get home “, we had to make sure we covered our behinds. Also, because we were leaving a few animals, fish, and plants, we had arranged for sitters to stay in the house, which basically means doing a spring cleaning. I don’t want anyone opening a drawer or door and going “oooh, yuk !”, so every little corner and crevice gets a once over, and when you have as many furballs as we have, that once over needs to be done right before you leave. Linens need to be changed, the kitchen and bathrooms cleaned, litter boxes emptied, etc. etc.
On top of that, we had arranged for the house to be termite tented the next day. If you read one of the recent posts, you remember me mentioning some of the things Hawaii doesn’t have, like snakes and rabies. One thing Hawaii does have in spades, is termites. Generally you need to have your house tented every 5 years, but because of the nature of our building structure, the fact that we have tenants on property, the amount of plants and animals in the home, and the momma mia price-tag, it had been 18 years since the last big treatment. When we got a call from one of our tenants a few weeks earlier telling us they were having an epic battle with the termites over their toilet paper, we decided to bite the bullet, and get it done.
Since we had already planned to move the majority of the plants outside for the duration of the trip, and most of the animals were going with us, it made sense to have it done while we were gone. We just had to relocate the rest of the plants and fish ponds, board the remaining animals for a couple of nights, temporarily rehouse the tenants, trim all the shrubbery away from the house, and double bag all the food, medicines, and toiletries. Notice I said ” just”; frick, in addition to everything else, it was monumental. By the time we did all that, and packed 3 months worth of clothes, we were two steps away from moving out altogether.
For all of you not addicted to stress, I’m sure this would be plenty to deal with, but for this junky, apparently it wasn’t quite enough. A few months earlier, in a moment of total insanity, I had decided to put on not one, but four Celebrate Life Events in the first month of travel. I had literally made hundreds of phone calls, and sent hundreds of Emails in the weeks before leaving, and still had the majority of work ahead of me. That meant copying all the computer files relating to the film and the events, and bringing them, along with all my notes, with me.
We had arranged for both our house sitter, and good friend Tom to take us, the 10 animal carriers ( one of the carriers housed two kittens ), the 4 suitcases and 3 carry-ons to the airport, and it took every bit of both vehicles. When they arrived at the agreed upon time, we had gotten everything done that absolutely had to be, but I was a mess. The first thing our sitter said was ” Are you going like that ?”. Needless to say, that wasn’t my plan, so while everything was getting loaded in the cars, I took a luxurious 20 second shower, threw my clothes on, and got back out just as the last carrier was loaded.
On arriving at the airport, Tom thankfully grabbed a skycap knowing that it would have been a lot funnier watching Don & I trying to deal with the 10 or so little airport carts it would have taken to handle our load. As it was, it took 3 of the skycap’s carts to do the job.
I wish I could have taken a picture of the look on check-in agents face when she saw our entourage; guaranteed, she hadn’t seen anything like that before. The first thing she said was that we needed to take all but 2 of the animals to cargo. I calmly explained we had reservations for 9 carriers in baggage, and 1 in the plane with us, to which she replied that I had apparently misunderstood because that was against the airline’s policy. After almost 45 minutes, and numerous calls back and forth to one supervisor after another, we were checked in and on our way to security. This was the step I had already lost sleep over. Since 9-11, when you travel with animals, you have to take them out of their kennel while security gives it a good going over. We had 7 cats, and 3 kittens that had to be taken out of their carriers amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy airport. Needless to say, I had visions of chasing cats all over the terminal. Thankfully, my fears didn’t materialize, and we breathed a huge sigh of relief when that last carrier door was closed.
Once on the plane, a flight attendant headed down the aisle with a stack of the vouchers that tell you your animal has been loaded on the plane. When she got to our seat, she said ” All yours ?”, When we admitted to it, she broke out in a laugh, and then went back to her duties.
A few hours later, we were in Portland, waiting on the curb for the ride that would take us to our RV, the busy day ahead, and the beginning of the Celebrate Life Tour.
And Three Makes Eleven. From Left To Right: Bruno, Josie, and Gracie.
The Celebrate Life Tour – What ! I Thought You Said Eight ?
Our first official overnight guest in the RV was aware going in that he would be sharing space with our seven cats and one dog. When we picked him up at the airport, he jokingly said “ OK, so how many of them will be sleeping with me, all eight of them ? “. We laughed with him for a little bit before telling him that it wasn’t eight anymore, it was actually eleven. After we picked him up off the floor, he said, “ WHAT ! How’d it get to be ELEVEN ? “.
OK, I know that you already have been thinking we were nuts, and this will probably confirm it, but there is a very good reason we ended up with three extra furballs on our 3 month Celebrate Life Tour RV trip.
A few weeks before we were scheduled to leave, we discovered a litter of three kittens playing in our front yard. As young as they were, we had 2 choices; do nothing, or take them in. Doing nothing is of course the easiest option; that is until they start multiplying, and trust me, rabbits have nothing on cats when it comes to reproducing. Also, feral cats are becoming a serious problem in our neighborhood, and Hawaii in general. You’re now thinking, “ Why didn’t they just take them to the Humane Society ? ”. That’s exactly what we would have done if they would have accepted them, but in Hawaii, they’ll only accept kittens if they’re on solid food, and they are “ adoptable”, meaning handleable, and this threesome didn’t meet either of those requirements. So, the plan was to take them in and get them “ handleable “, while looking for their forever homes. Shoots, we had 4 weeks, so no problem, right ?
As the clock kept ticking, we weren’t getting any closer to finding them homes, but we did find some very interesting information. First, in Hawaii, those that have a fondness for cats are in the minority, and almost always have as many as they can handle. Second, the very few that are actually looking for kittens, would rather pay a couple of hundred dollars at a pet store than getting a free one from someone they don’t know.
With time running out, we turned from trying to find forever homes, to just trying to find someone to babysit them while we were gone. Our house sitters were open to feeding them, and litter box duty, but they wouldn’t be there most of the time. I don’t know about you, but having 3 rambunctious kittens running loose for 3 months without supervision just wasn’t an appealing thought. I doubt they would bring down the structure, but I’d put money on coming back to an interior that was either broken or shredded, and since we actually want to live in the house when we get back, that wasn’t an option.
The day before our flight, we reluctantly made the only choice left open to us, which was to take them with us, and hope that we could find homes for them during our travels. We ran them over to our wonderfully accommodating vet, got their health certs, and called the airlines about the quantity change. And then there were eleven.
The Celebrate Life Tour – The Critters are Coming – Part 2
Please forgive the long break between posts on the Celebrate Life Tour RV Trip. It turned into a whirlwind of adventures, and has only just now started settling down enough to write. If you’re still interested in what’s been going on, I’ll try over the next few weeks to get you all caught up. So here we go.
You already know that Hawaii has great natural beauty and amazing weather, what you may not know is that it doesn’t have snakes. Needless to say, that can be very handy when you’re strolling through the woods. It is also the only state that doesn’t have rabies, and the government is bound and determined to make sure it stays that way. All animals coming to Hawaii from areas that do have the rabies virus must go through 2 rabies vaccines, a Rabies Test, and a 120-day quarantine before they can join their families. A few years ago, they started a program called the “ 5 day or less release “, which allows people that live in Hawaii to take their pets to the mainland and bring them back without going through the quarantine, but you still have to do the shots and tests. That means to get your little furry ones back home to paradise, you’re looking at no less than 5 trips to the vet, plus the cost of the shots, tests, and of course , the “Entry Fees “. Cha-Ching !
Ok, this ordeal is bad enough for one pet, but if you multiply it by eight ( 7 cats and 1 dog ), you know you’ve gone loop d’ loop. Then again, for us, there was no way we were going to leave “our family” for a 3 month Celebrate Life Tour, so it became of matter of “let’s make a deal”.
We are fortunate to have 2 very good vet clinics close to our home, and we use each for different types of issues, but definitely have a favorite. Our first choice is the smaller of the two as they seem to be a bit a more personal, and have a very caring staff. I contacted them both about pricing for all the work necessary to get our animals back into Hawaii at the end of he trip. The larger clinic took their basic price times 8, but the manager at our preferred clinic, went above and beyond. She gave us discounts on the visits and shots, and allowed us to ship the blood tests to the Kansas State University lab that Hawaii approves for testing. We literally saved hundreds of dollars, whew ! There were however a few bumps in the road.
Now, timing is everything with this process. There is a specific time between shots, between shots and tests, and between results and Hawaii’s application approval. Also there is a limit in how long the blood sample for the test is good, and how it has to be handled, meaning “ refrigerated “, and carefully packed for shipping.
When we reached the point of getting the blood work done, we scheduled the appointment for a Thursday, thinking we could ship it overnight, and get it to the lab on Friday. We also assumed ( usually a bad thing ), that we could ship the package as a refrigerated item. Well, that was the plan, but this is what actually happened.
The sample for the rabies test requires quite a bit of blood, and in dogs, that’s not a big problem, but in cats, it can be a long and very uncomfortable process. Since we were dealing with 7 cats, it turned into a very time consuming appointment, and by the time the vet had everything they needed, we had missed the outgoing shipment for both Fedex and UPS. Our only choice was to get them out on Friday morning, and hope the lab would accept a weekend shipment. The vet kindly kept the samples in their refrigerator overnight, and we picked them up all neatly packed in a Styrofoam ice chest with icepacks, and headed first to FedEx. After a lengthy wait in line, we were told that there was no such thing as “refrigerated shipping”, and that if we shipped them on Friday, they would sit in a “not” climate controlled warehouse until late Sunday night, when they would be sent to their delivery city. CRAP !
We then headed to UPS, who of course gave us a similar song and dance. The only option left open to us, was to take the samples back home, pop them in the frig overnight, ship them on Saturday, and pray the icepacks would keep them cold enough to last until Monday morning when they would be delivered to the lab.
I had a dentist appointment in town, so Don ran the samples home to take care of them. What I didn’t realize is that he had not been part of most of the conversations about preserving the samples, and assumed that since they were in an ice chest with ice packs, that they should be put in the freezer. When I found out a couple of hours later where they were, I immediately called the vet to check if we were in trouble, but in using the speed dial on my phone, accidentally called the wrong vet. They of course, not knowing what I was talking about, told me it was fine. You know how some things just don’t sit right, and that uneasiness just keeps coming back until you do something about it. Well, it took about an hour of dealing with that before I finally gave in and called again just to double check, but this time I called the right vet, who said we were only in trouble if the blood had frozen. CRAP !!!!!
At that point, we were about a half hour away from home, and immediately raced back to the freezer to find 3 of the samples frozen solid, and the remaining 5 with only a few drops of moving liquid. OK, this was bad. It meant that we would not only have to put our babies through another round of blood drawing, but it was jeopardizing our timing in being able to get them back to Hawaii.
I called the right vet again to appraise them of the situation, and they called the lab, who thankfully said, that we were OK for this type of test, WHEW !!!!!
We took the samples to FedEx as late as possible on Saturday, to give us the best possible chance of keeping them cold, and on Monday morning got confirmation that the lab had received them, and they were usable. A week later, we were told that all had passed with flying colors, yeah! The hard part was behind us, or so we thought.
The last step that we needed to take in this process while we were still in Hawaii, was submitting the applications and payment to the State for re-entry. We could have mailed them in, but with this much paperwork, there’s no way we were going to do anything but hand deliver it. After the clerk, picked herself off the floor with the 50lb packet we handed her ( Ok, I’m exaggerating a little ), she informed us that they would not have time to process it that day, and for us to call back in a week or so, to verify they had everything they needed. When you have one application, they almost always process it while you wait, so we weren’t concerned about things getting done in plenty of time. Well, I called in a week or so, and then another, and another, until the day we left, to still get the answer that they had not had time to review them. Oh well, we had a 3 month trip ahead, and plenty of time to deal with it, I said to myself with fingers crossed. At least we had everything we needed to get them on the plane to Portland.