Tag Archives: Florida

Safe and Sound


We made it safely to our West Virginia home Saturday. Thank you everyone for your prayers and well wishes.

The second half of the trip was relatively uneventful. We left the hotel around 7 a.m. and arrived just after 1:30. I was pretty busy and didn’t have time to take many pictures. One of the issues we faced was that it was 91 degrees outside and the air conditioner would not cool the house below 80 degrees. We eventually got an air conditioner guy out here and as I write this at 10 p.m. the temperature in the house is 78 degrees. Hopefully it will continue to fall.

I think the cats have settled in good already. I’m sure they remember their time here last year.

Chris is still able to climb the stairs. It seems he has gained weight since January so I am happy I don’t have to carry him up the stairs.

Rose bought a new chair while we were away and Frankie seems to like it.

Floki is also interested in it. It must be because it is new.

They also like the bed in the upstairs spare bedroom.

I think they feel right at home already. I know Chris feels right at home holding vigal at the empty food bowl. It is like we never left Florida.

Halfway There


I am writing this from our Hotel in Columbia South Carolina, which is a little more than halfway to our final destination in West Virginia.

We had a lot to do before our trip. One of the things was to make sure the Tile trackers that we bought for the cats on our last trip were still working. I procrastinated on that until Wednesday when I learned they all needed new batteries. They still worked but they were close to not working so I ordered batteries from Amazon for a Thursday delivery. When they arrived they were the wrong batteries.

Rose thought the collars were unnecessary and I was just being paranoid but there is a difference between cautious and paranoid. Anyway, I didn’t put collars on anyone for fear of tipping my hand to what was going on to Floki. I thought I would wait until the last minute. The last minute was Friday morning. I had moved both crates to the Florida room the night before and now Chris was sleeping in the new crate and Floki slept in the old crate. Frankie was in the house outside of Floki’s view so I put his collar on. I then put Chris’s collar on while he was in his crate but it was tight on him. I guess he has gained even more weight since January. Just after I took it off to adjust the fit, Floki got wind of what was going on and tried to sneak past me but I grabbed him and shoved him in with Chris and zipped it up. It was a little early but close enough. They didn’t get their trackers on but I decided not to worry about it. I then put Frankie in his crate and we were on the road at 7:34 a.m.

The trip was uneventful for a while. We even had peace and quiet because Floki didn’t cry up a storm like last time. Then there was that incedent.

At 1:15 we crossed the border into South Carolina. At that very moment, Rose said “Oh my God! Somebody pooped.” Okay, she didn’t actually say “pooped” but let’s pretend that is the word she used.

“We are probably just passing something stinky,” I said.

“Don’t question my nose,” she said. “If I say somebody pooped than somebody pooped!”

I should mention that Rose is blessed with a nose like a bloodhound but she is cursed with the inability to tolerate bad smells. Unlike dogs, who can stick their noses in a pile of dung, the tiniest oder is like standing in the middle of a stink factory to Rose.

I looked back and saw Chris clawing at the corner of the pad. I said, “I think you are right. Chris is either burying his poop or Floki’s poop. Probably his.”

At this point the smell was getting worse and Rose’s stress level was through the roof. Fortunately there was a rest stop a mile ahead but I feared she would have a nervous breakdown before we got there.

As soon as we parked I went to the bathroom to get wet paper towels but found only electric hand dryers. It occurred to me that there was a container of window cleaner wipes in the truck but when I returned saw that Rose had already thought of that and was wiping the poop out of the crate with them. The poop was loose and runny but fortunately Chris pulled the pad up first so it was mostly on an easy to clean surface.

We got to the hotel at 3:33, almost exactly 8 hours after we left. The first thing the cats did was use the litter box. They must have all needed to go badly because they couldn’t wait for Frankie to finish.

I cleaned the box about twenty minutes later and is was basically full already.

I then opened the blind a bit so the cats could look out the window. They liked that.

Later, Rose opened up a couple of catnip toys. Frankie and Floki enjoyed playing with them while Chris watched.

I did not get a photo of Floki but I did get a video which I may post later

That evening Rose commented about how exhausted we bought were the evening we arrived in West Virginia the first time. I suggested that since we could not close the cats out in a hotel room, Chris probably kept us up all night.

We went to bed early last night, around 8:45, hoping to avoid the exhaustion this time. Almost immediately Chris climbed up to the top of my head and started digging his claws into my face. For some reason he prefers to bother me and mostly leaves Rose in peace.

I moved Chris to the foot of the bed and tried to go back to sleep but three minutes later Chris was bothering me again. I counted how many times I had to move him or put him off the bed completely. By 9:50 it was eleven times. I stopped counting then but the bothering continued. I woke Rose up a couple of times as I annoyingly moved Chris away. She complained that I was keeping her up and I sarcastically said, “I am so sorry I disturbed you.”

We were both up well before 4 a.m. and decided to stay up. I estimate that I moved Chris more than 40 times that night. I kept thinking that cats are supposed to sleep a lot so soon he would tire and fall asleep. I was wrong. He waited until I was up before taking a nap.

It is now after 5 a.m. The hotel serves breakfast at 6:00 so we will eat then and get back on the road.

Photo Friday: Irony


I find it ironic that Chris and Floki have been spending so much time together in the very crate that they will be spending so much time together in for the next two days. If only they knew.

Today we are leaving for the long drive to West Virginia. I don’t anticipate any problems but I don’t suppose a prayer or two would hurt.

Our Brush with Hurricane Elsa


Before I even knew there was a storm brewing, one of my coworkers told me, very concerned, that we were going to get hit by a hurricane. I had not seen the news and had no idea what he was talking about but since he just recently moved to Florida I told him not to worry, we don’t get hit by hurricanes here. I told him of a local Indian legend that says there is something under the ground here in Pinellas County that repels hurricanes.

Indeed, I believe there is no record of Pinellas County Florida ever getting a direct hit by a hurricane, although a few have come close. Several years ago Hurricane Charley was predicted to slam right into Tampa Bay but suddenly, and unexpectedly, veered east and hit the Ft. Meyer’s area. Maybe the legend is true.

Yesterday that same employee asked our boss about the company’s inclement weather policy. I couldn’t help but laugh. Since we are a small business, I pictured that written down in a big manual somewhere.

My wife was concerned too but not about our safety. Her concern was that we might lose power and thus the ability to cool ourselves. She wanted me to make sure I had the batteries charged on our alternative power supplies.

The worst of the storm was supposed to pass by, just offshore, between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. We watched the weather that evening but there was barely a breeze.

We went to bed around 10 p.m. but left the bedroom door open incase the storm got bad and the cats wanted to be with us. Chris showed up around 2 a.m. and proceeded to bother the hell out me by scratching my neck and face. After a while I put him on the floor and lured them all out of the bedroom buy getting out the Stella and Chewy’s. I then went back to bed but realized I forgot to look out the window so I went back out to the kitchen and looked out the window. None of the trees were moving from the wind except a lone palm tree. Not sure what happened to the hurricane. Perhaps it was repelled.

This morning everything looks fine. There is no flooding and no debris that I can see from my house. Now I have to go to work. No excuses today.

Returning to Our Florida Home


The second leg of our trip back from West Virginia went pretty well except Floki cried almost the entire drive home. He would stop for brief respites and then start again. I half expected Chris to smack him and meow at him to be quiet.

We got home at about 1:00 in the afternoon. When we reached Tampa and were about a half hour from home we started joking about how surprised the cats were going to be when we put them in their old home.

30 seconds to home.

I never researched how good a cat’s memory is. I always imagined it to be similar to a human’s memory. I’d like to think that if I brought Chris back to the home we lived in when we adopted him more than eleven years ago he would remember it, or at least find it familiar.

I brought both crates inside and then opened the door. They were all so happy to be free and I could only imagine what they were thinking. What they did not do was go exploring. A new place requires exploring but this one was already known to them.

When we left for West Virginia I cleaned our three litter boxes and brought two of them with me. Before coming back I ordered from Amazon a replacement for each of the two boxes I took from there along with a couple of bags of litter. Our neighbor was kind enough to bring everything in the house for us so I was able to quickly get all the litter boxes filled with litter because I knew that would be needed right away. I wasn’t wrong about that.

One bad thing that happened in West Virginia was that Floki mostly stopped paying attention to Rose. Every morning Rose would sit on a stool at the side of the bed and check her email, Facebook, and I don’t know what else. During that time Floki would come to Rose and let her hold him for a while. While in West Virginia, he never did that. And to throw salt in the wound he would get on my lap right in front of her. The day we got home Floki let Rose pick him up and hold him again. I was very pleased to see that.

Another bad thing that happened up there was my toes almost fell off. Well, not literally, but it felt like they would. Even in Florida my hands and feet always seemed colder than they should be, but in West Virginia, there were times when I felt like I had frostbite on my toes. One evening, on Christmas Day or the day after, I spent quite a while standing in the kitchen. When we finally sat down to eat my toes on my right foot felt frozen and were throbbing with pain. When I took my socks off later I saw they were red and slightly swollen.

I looked up what might be the cause and the closest thing I could come up with was a condition called Chilblains which is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air.” One symptom I didn’t have was itching so I wasn’t sure. I also read it was common in very young and very old people. If I did have it, I reasoned, I must be too young.

A couple of days later it happened again so I went to the doctor and she wasn’t certain but agreed that Chilblains was probably what I had and I should go out of my way to keep my feet warm. I think we decided then that we would not be spending Christmas there anymore, even though all of our Christmas decorations are there now.

We have been home for almost two days now and the cats have gone back to their old routines like nothing ever happened. I, for one, am happy to be wearing shorts with no socks.

Florida, Here We Come


It is now 6:30 on Saturday morning as I start this post. Ten minutes ago we left our home in West Virginia and ate heading back to our home in Florida. Getting to this point wasn’t easy.

I think what caused me the most stress was worrying about getting Floki in the crate before he ran under the bed. My idea was to feed them in the empty bedroom and then put them all in the crates when we finished everything we had to do.

I woke up at 3:00 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worrying about carrying the crates down the stairs, especially the big one with Chris and Floki. I am sure the handle was not designed for that weight and I didn’t want to drop them down the stairs.

I also knew I had litter boxes to clean since we didn’t want to leave with old litter in the box. Actually, Rose didn’t want to do that. I cleaned two of the four boxes last night. I figured I would clean one this morning, which I did, but the last one would have to wait until the cats were in their crates.

Rose couldn’t sleep either so we got up at four and decided not to lock the cats in the bedroom. I fed them and spent the time preparing to close up the house and get stuff ready to go out to the car, including cleaning our giant litter pan.

I then started loading the car. There was way too much stuff for Rose’s little car and didn’t know how I was going to fit everything. I had the car more than half filled when Rose stuck her head out the door and said “We have a big problem.”

Since we had to put the top down to fit the crates in the back set she reminded me the trunk had to be empty to put the top down. Since it is a hard top it takes up room in the trunk when it’s down.

So I had to empty everything that was in the trunk. As I was doing that Rose informed me she caught Floki and put him in the crate. I went inside and helped get Chris, who we put with Floki, and the Frankie, when is flying solo. I then put the last litter box in a big garbage bag.

Rose put the top down and I put the cats in the car. I then loaded the trunk, which is as full as it can be, took out the trash, double checked the house and left.

Forty five minutes has gone by since I started writing and Floki is still crying. Wish us luck.

West Virginia Here We Come


We rented a moving truck yesterday and I spent about four hours loading it. When I was mostly done we went back to the U-Haul place and got the car carrier. They quasi helped us but said we had to do it so they couldn’t be sued.

This morning we got up at five but had so much to do that we were not ready to go until 7:45. We put Chris and Floki together on the bottom and Frankie by himself on the top and then strapped them in.

As soon as we started Floki started screaming and Frankie was just wide-eyed and shaking. Chris was the only calm one although he did claw at me occasionally.

It is now 8:35 and Floki just stopped crying and has settled in. Frankie turned around and has calmed down too. The only issue now is that this truck feels like a bounce house but without the fun.

Riding the Storm Out


We were hit by Tropical Storm Eta yesterday evening. I once heard that there is an old Indian legend that says there is something under the ground in the Pinellas County, Florida area that repels hurricanes. Indeed, we have never had a direct hit by a hurricane but maybe a tropical storm doesn’t qualify. I’m not sure where the center of the storm hit but I know it was north of us, perhaps in the next county, preserving the legend. In either case, it was pretty windy for a long time.

We have a a large oak tree next to our house and I think the wind was causing branches to fall on our roof so every couple of minutes we would hear a loud bang. Frankie and Floki were not exactly scared but the noise did seem to cause them concern.

Chris, on the other hand, was sleeping in the Florida room, totally oblivious to the noise. I wanted to get a photo of him napping but I made the mistake of turning the light on and woke him up

We decided to go to bed at around 10 p.m. That is when our power went out. Rose insisted we leave the bedroom door open for air circulation even though Chris is a pain in the butt.

He was actually not too bad at first but then fighting off his attacks became too much and I had to put him down off the bed. He, of course, didn’t stay down and by 1 a.m. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I got up and got the power inverter that I bought for last year’s hurricane season and plugged in one of my Ryobi 40 volt batteries. I then plugged in a fan and brought it into the bedroom and closed the cats out.

That worked good but by 4 a.m. the battery had died and we were both uncomfortably hot so I plugged in my other battery but by then we couldn’t go back to sleep.

We got up and I tried making coffee but it was too much for the battery so I ended up going to Dunkin Donuts for coffee after they opened.

We are now in the car heading to Lakeland where Rose has a property that she oversees. I assume our power will be back by the time we return but just in case I brought my batteries with to charge.

Update: I was wrong and the storm did not make landfall near me. It looks like it moved north along the coast and then made landfall 100 miles away as the state curves to the west.

Another Move is Coming


I did a DNA test recently and I was almost certain it would come back 100% Nomad but apparently they don’t test for that. I counted all the homes I have lived in throughout my 57 years and ran out of fingers and toes. 22 was the number I came up with and that is assuming I didn’t miss one or two. Well, soon that number will be 23.

We currently live in a 55+ mobile home community in Florida where we own our home but pay lot rent. That rent goes up every year faster than inflation. Our original plan was to buy a motor home when we retire and travel in the summer but we needed a home base that wouldn’t cost so much while we were away. We spent a lot of time looking around here but it is almost impossible to find anything but a fixer upper or a tiny home with one bathroom for less than $200,000. Condos are an option too but with their high maintenance fees they are not much better than what we are paying now.

Enter option number two. A couple of years ago I went with Rose on one of her business trips to West Virginia and Virginia. At the time she was managing an apartment complex in each of those states. I was most impressed with the town that the West Virginia property was in. It is a small town on the Ohio River of about 3500 people or so and it just seemed like a nice change of pace. We currently live in the most densely populated county in Florida and driving places can be a real drag sometimes.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast and the owners there mentioned that the house across the street was for sale. They said it would probably sell for about $40,000. The place was about as big as the bed and breakfast and Rose and I figured it would probably take another $40,000 to restore it, still an excellent deal. While the idea of buying a home there intriged us, we were not ready for that commitment.

Two years later Rose comes across a Five-bedroom, three-bath, 3000 square foot home for $159,000. The home is not only in good condition but it has a separate two-car garage that has an apartment above it that we can rent. It is also 120 years old and is on the National Historic Registry.

I always assumed we would downsize when we retire. We even talked about living on a boat in the winter and then living in a motorhome in the summer. This house is the exact opposite of what I imagined but I think we will really like it there. The photos below were taken from the Realtor.com website. We have not seen the house in person.

I think the cats will have a great time exploring this house but I may have a hard time getting an accurate cat count.

I was hoping to get a home with a fenced yard where we could let the cats out but this fence probably is too short to be useful. Still, I could probably figure something out so that they can enjoy the outside. Maybe we could screen in this patio for starters.

Of course, this won’t be a done deal for a couple of weeks and anything can happen before then but so far, everything seems good. For now we will be going back and forth between our two homes and eventually we will sell the Florida home.

My biggest problem has been figuring out how to best transport the cats. My original plan was to rent a cargo van and put a cat playpen in the back. (Note: I am using Amazon links so you can see what I am talking about. I am not recommending anything but I will get a small commission if you buy something). I thought I could put the three cats in the pen with a small litter box and some water and maybe food. Then we could pack the rest of the van with supplies. I didn’t think we needed to bring anything big since it would be easier to buy everything there. I also thought we could rent a car carrier and tow Rose’s car. That idea was shot down when I could barely find van rentals that were one-way and none had a towing option. In addition, the vans that were one-way had a $350 drop off fee that doubled the price.

My second option was to buy a hitch for Rose’s car and rent a trailer. I would then have to put the cats in the back seat of her two-door car which wouldn’t be easy. I thought I could find one big carrier that covered the entire back seat but no such luck. Then I found out that her sister was giving her a sofa and loveseat which meant we had to rent a truck and since we were renting a truck Rose decided to bring the bed in the spare bedroom and she also bought the mermaid dresser from the last post.

I dreaded the idea of renting the truck because we would then have to put the cats in the front seat between us for the fourteen-hour drive which would probably be sixteen hours in a truck. We decided it was too long and will split the trip in two and stay at a hotel in South Carolina.

I went to a local U-Haul location and measured the space in between the seats. I then ordered two pet crates. One crate is 18×24 inches and the other is 13 x 22 inches. I could have ordered two of the larger crates but then I would have a problem getting them both in Rose’s car on the way home. My plan is to seatbelt the larger crate between the seats and then attach the smaller crate above it. I will put Chris with Floki and Frankie by himself to minimize fighting.

The larger crate arrived last week and the cats, or at least Frankie and Floki, were very curious about it. Chris must have been napping.

I wish I could give them a bigger space but we just don’t have the room. It is the trip with the cats that I dread the most. I think, perhaps, it is because I fear the unknown. What happens if there is an accident or we break down? What if one of them escapes the hotel? I’ve never been a Boyscout but I like to be prepared.

I bought them each a collar and Tile tracker.

I wrote their names on the front and my phone number on the back. The Tile has a range of about 200 feet and you can find it using an app on your phone. There is one that has twice the range but it is also twice as heavy. The nice thing is if anyone else with a Tile app comes within range of your tile the location will be recorded for you. It is not perfect but it is an added piece of mind. We also have all the cats microchipped as well so that will help too.

So I think I am as prepared as I can be but I would welcome any suggestions and a little luck too.