Monday, November 29, 2010

Traveling With Sonja

Last night I finished reading "American Nomad" by Richard Grant. It was the most compelling nonfiction book I've read in a long time. I usually like the idea behind nonfiction--the story of a person's life or the development of a scientific concept or whatever--but I usually can't get as excited about the details as the author does. But this time, I just wanted to be along for the ride, as the author traveled, met interesting contemporary nomads, and researched historic ones.

I could identify with the author's dilemmas. Do I stay in my rental house when I could be someplace else in my truck? Where can I work better, where there is electricity or where there is silence? Do I really have to have a reason, purpose or goal, or is just being enough?

What I learned from this book is that I have the same yearnings as the people Grant wrote about. I even have a new name for the type of wanderer I am becoming: a "technomad." I'll be making my living on eBay while traveling the country, finding great inventory.

I wish I had acclimated my cat, Princess Sonja Begonia, to travel as soon as I got her several years ago. However, teaching her to ride in a car seemed unimportant at the time, and, besides, she had enough adjusting to do, living in a house with other cats and dogs. Sonja had been dumped in a park along with her mom and the rest of the litter, and she was probably about 7 or 8 months old when the whole kit and caboodle was rounded up by Animal Control and offered for adoption.

Sonja has been a fabulous pet, especially considering her feral youth. She's not much of a lap cat, but she sleeps on my bed every night. She loves boxes and seems to genuinely like the pet stroller I recently bought in anticipation of our travels together. I'm figuring that when we're staying someplace just a night or two, I won't let Sonja outside where she might get lost. But I can take her out in the stroller. We'll see how that works out.

I hope the stroller works out better than my last attempt to exercise control over Sonja in the great outdoors. When I moved to Eugene in January, I kept the cat indoors for several months. When the weather got nicer, she wanted to go outside, but I was concerned about her safety. She may have survived in a park for some time, but I knew she didn't have street smarts. So I got a cute pink harness and leash and tried to train Sonja to walk on a lead. Unfortunately the only thing I trained her to do was to run and hide when she saw me coming with the horrible pink contraption. Eventually I gave up and let Sonja wander freely outdoors. She loves to chase squirrels and climb trees. Clearly the leash idea was doomed to fail from the beginning.

I think it's going to be a challenge to confine Sonja in a moho, especially because she hates traveling in cars. Her experience with car travel is limited, but memorable. She traveled five hours with me from Seattle to Eugene, sedated--yet she managed to caterwaul most of the way. She gets so worked up on the short trip to the vet that it takes several staff people to administer shots or whatever, with the cat sometimes airborne and the staff looking like receivers all reaching to catch the football.

But everyone who has done extensive vehicular travel with a cat tells me Sonja will eventually get used to full-time RV life. At this point, that seems pretty impossible...but many years ago I did have a cat, Punkin, who eventually got used to our twice yearly commutes between home in Alaska and grad school in Oregon. So maybe there's hope for Sonja (and me!), too.

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