Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Small Step For Ham

Neither the camper nor the Jeep broke down. Nor did I, for that matter.

Two road trips are now under my belt and it looks like this idea of hauling 1600 pounds of steel and aluminum behind me just might work.

Last Thursday I took the Canned Ham on its maiden voyage to visit my friend Cass Morgan in Vermont. (The scenic aspects of that trip are elaborated on in my brand, spankin’ new column on Feel free to leave a comment there. In fact, I beg you: leave a comment.) It was also a test run for Mickey. She’s only been in the car a few times and in those instances she was in the cat carrier and we only drove a few miles. She does not speak highly of those experiences. I put her catbed in the passenger seat and the hosed-down and sparkling clean litter box in back. She found that immediately and took a nice big pee before we got very far down the road. At least she found it.

I took the local road to Albany, at which point I was forced to get on the highway for a bit. My sister-in-law Amy is right: highway driving is easier than the back roads when you have something in tow. You get up a good speed (a dizzying 55 M.P.H. in this case) and the whole thing just hums along nicely.

But it was back to the blue highways once I hit Troy. The main road out of Troy goes all the way to Bennington, VT so I didn’t have to worry about directions too much.

Mickey, who at first seemed more confused than anything else at what was going on outside, soon settled into to a typical cat routine: nap, explore, nuzzle. She seemed fine.

Once across the border into Vermont I came to my first real challenge: the Green Mountains. By this point in the trip pulling the camper wasn’t really too much of a challenge anymore. It was, uh, braking and, um stopping that were not the sharpest weapons in my arsenal.

OK, I thought, trial by fire: mountains. And as I got further into them, the highway department threw construction into the mix, too. At one point, coming down from a summit, the “trucks use low gear” sign got my heart pounding a little harder. The runaway truck ramp didn’t instill much confidence, either, and as I rounded a bend and saw the “One-lane road ahead. Be prepared to stop” sign, the odor of cat urine cutting through my brain and Mickey herself deciding that between my feet was the best place to be, I did sort of wonder what the heck I had gotten myself into.

But it all worked out in the end, just a slight squeal of camper brakes giving away my novice status.

My visit with Cass was, as always, sublime. She’s got a very comfy log cabin that gets nicer every time I visit, but as this trip was to be the subject of my first column, I decided it would be a good idea to sleep in the Ham. Such comfort! Such coziness! I slept like a baby. A baby who had a cat sleeping on its neck.

The trip home was pleasant and uneventful, and I even started to pick up a few towing techniques (like, you want to start thinking about braking about a mile away from the stop sign. The Canned Ham is not quite as hard to land as the Ile de France, but you just want to take your time coming to a halt.)

The next day I took to the road again, this time to join Alan Cumming’s weekend house party in the next county over. (More from that at a later date.) Again, mountains... narrow village main streets... and—the real kicker—Alan’s driveway. If I tackled that beast (and I did) I’m in pretty good shape.

And again, it felt so great at the end of a long evening with friends to “go home” to my house-on-wheels to go to bed. I think it bodes well for life on the road. No matter where I am I’ll be going home to sleep.

And Mickey will be there waiting for me.

September 23/24 at Dixon Place in NYC. Tickets available here.


  1. Thanks for the update, Tom...

    Again, your gift with words made it all come alive...

  2. I can't believe you had Alam Cumming in that thing. And just as I typed that I realized that if that were true in both senses, he'd be a very lucky man.

  3. I just read Mickey's journal entry on the "Cat Fancy" website. According to her side of the story the urine smell was actually emanating from the nervous human behind the wheel (a classic case of the pet getting saddled with the blame which is why she suspects she was dragged along in the first place). "After all," she remarks, "I was the one with the litter box. Where was his?"

  4. Love the unfolding story of the "Canned Ham". Looking forward to following your journey. One suggestion would be a tag with your cell number for Mickey and/or microchip. I traveled the lower 48 in an RV with two cats and almost lost one in Albuquerque. Is there a list of performance places and dates? Happy Trails!
    p.s. Wal-Mart parking lots ain't so bad, great place for a cheap breakfast.

  5. am I famous now because I was mentioned in the blog?! I am sooooo honored! glad I gave you good advice!!

  6. I'm happy to hear that both you and Mickey are adjusting to life on the open road. I doubt my cats would adapt as quickly.

  7. Hi, Tom, Mickey reminds me of the two grey cats I once of them stayed with me for 20 years...
    By the way, how old is Mickey?

  8. sick be inquiring soon to discover what extra posts you incorporate.
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