I am Cat Woman!
Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
55Trip End Oct 30, 2006
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As we're driving down I-90, the Gulf Coast of Mississippi's version of A1A, this guy in a Mercedes pulls up along us and screams out "What do you think of our fair city now?!?!?" Chris chats with him and the guy drives off... then Chris slaps his forehead, says, "Wow! I shoulda had a V-8," and applies the whip to Blue's back end and catches up with the guy. Asks him if he's willing to be interviewed about his experience with Katrina. The guy practically runs us off the road trying to pull over in the parking lane ahead of us. So, we're in town less than 10 minutes and we caught one. It was kinda like catching a 16" trout while trolling in a boat on your way to the fishing destination. John was his name and BOY! was he angry. Had a great deal to say, and wasn't shy about his disgust over how "they" are handling things. He will not be moving back.
The gods must really be smiling on us, because when Chris went to get his gear out of the back of Blue, he notices our "shoe horn" - at least that's what I call it, just sitting on the bumper, having ridden all the way from NOLA to Gulfport that way. Unbelievable! The "shoe horn" is this iron tool that goes with the Equal-i-zer(tm) hitch to get each of the damn sway bars up and onto the shelf on which they sit. A very necessary tool to have, and it's unlikely that we would be able to find a replacement at the local hardware store.
We release our "trout" and head towards Jason's house, per his directions. Jason is this guy that all of the DeKalb Search and Rescue guys keep in touch with and vice versa. They put us in touch with Jason when we were in Atlanta, and Jason remembered Chris immediately and invited us to hook Bokeh up at his house and said he couldn't wait to see Chris again to catch up. Jason has moved back into his house and out of his FEMA trailer, so he said we could use the hookups. We were pretty psyched - especially since he mentioned a coffee shop on the corner of the street he lives on, which we hoped had wi-fi. It did, and it's where I am sitting right now, writing to you. But, back to yesterday.... So, we pull into the driveway, assess the situation, and decide we need a 30amp extension cord and another "drinking water" hose. Off we go in search of...
We got the hose and a bucket of KY-fry (that's Kentucky Fried Chicken, home of the "I don't wanna be knowin' about your liiiiiiiiiiife" incident, for those of you who don't have a "thing" about the Colonel and his 7 herbs. Don't ask...), but no extension cord. Back at Jason's we decided to wait for him to get home before we hooked anything up. One little problem about where to wait - with no a/c in the trailer, it's too hot to sit there, and we can't even stand, much less park a couple of camp chairs on the ground because of the FIRE ANTS!!! I mean everywhere... so we hauled the chairs, the bucket o' chicken and some beveri (word mangling courtesy of Jennifer Schansberg and used with permission. Beveri being the plural of beverage) onto Blue's roof, and copped a squat.
Maybe it was the chicken, or maybe it's just me being a cat woman, I dunno, but just at dusk (when it's too dark to actually photograph anything!), they start coming out into the clearing of Jason's driveway/front yard... Five kitties! Seemingly feral, suspicious but extremely curious. We felt like cowboys surrounded by Indians - it was hilarious... I so wish we had a picture of them. We threw down some of the Colonel's chicken strips and watched as the orange tabby (clearly the dominant member of the passel but by no means the biggest) got to eat every piece, while the others watched... some close by, some farther away. Since I travel with cat food in the back of Blue, I cautiously crept down the back of the truck, courtesy of the new steps installed by Iron Pig in Fredericksburg, VA, and prepared some bowls with wet and dry food, then scattered them about in the yard, went back up to our roof top perch and waited for the gang to reassemble. They did, but interestingly, they only ate out of two of the bowls. None of them were extremely thin, one was rather large (I suspect she's pregnant), but after eating, each laid down and gave us quite the grooming show... Yup, I'm gonna see a lot of kitties on this trip, I can tell. Not sure if these kitties were being cared for by the house they were hanging around next door - it was unclear whether anyone was home or if the light in the window was on a timer to thwart looters.
After an hour or so, Chris and I had fed about a thousand mosquitoes, so we decided to hook up Bokeh and get inside. Just then, Jason came home. So we did the meet and greet, and Chris joined him in the house just as my sister Karin called. Karin and I chatted for a bit (btw, Karin donated to our trip via this travel blog! LOL Thank you, thank you thank you!!) and then I had to go in and be social. Jason, it turns out, is the local funeral director and has quite a story. We're looking forward to making his portrait and getting his interview. While we were visiting, he wanted to show us this video online of the storm surge that came through Gulfport, which Chris had not seen yet. As the video was loading, I asked Jason about the kitties.
He replied that they were the neighbors. And then he said, "there used to be a lot more."
"What happened to them?" I asked.
"I killed three of them."
"You're kidding, right?" I asked, starting to shake.
"No. They were climbing all over my new truck," he started to explain as I got up and walked out of the house, afraid I was going to throw up.
His new truck?!?!?!?!?!?! I listen to his sob story for an hour about all the death and destruction he's witnessed and how devastated he is over losing everything and how he has comforted hundreds of families who have lost loved ones and his response to (what he explained later to Chris after I left) sick and weak cats who scratched his new truck up because they could barely pull themselves up onto it was to, get this.... leave food out for them that was laced with poison!!!!! I am shaking as I type... I have not only met one of the sick *!%#s who does this kind of thing, but I was a guest in his home and have to interview him at some point. I want to throw up. Amazing how people react to stress... some reach out to help others, and some reach out to kill...
No wonder those cats were suspicious about eating food from anywhere near Jason's house! And here's the thing, remember how I told you the fire ants were so bad we had to sit on the roof of the truck? Well, when I went to go pick up the bowls that were not touched to move them closer to where the cats seemed to live, they were covered (and I mean covered - you could not see the food - with ants!) I wouldn't have eaten the food either!! And my guess is that those fire ants were why the cats were trying to get off the ground in the first place when they scratched his shiny new truck. Imagine being hungry, sick,, abandoned, and trying to find a place to sit where fire ants are not eating you alive, and then all of a sudden, food magically appearing that makes you so sick you die.
So, in addition to the day's work, I will be investigating as to whether anyone is home next door, and see what I can do about getting the cats to safety. I will also try to strike a deal with Jason that if he will agree not to poison any more cats, I will do my best to get them removed. The dilemma is whether to leave or not - I don't want anything else to happen to these kitties.
Things we HATE
Anyone who would value the paint job of a truck over the life of a suffering animal
Things we LOVE
Coffee houses with wifi connections