Grand Trip Day 1: Getting Out the Door

I recount to you “The Grand Trip to the Canyon: Day 2” from the quiet dark bathroom floor of the Pinyon Cabin of Maswik Lodge in Grand Canyon community. It is about 7:30am MST and just about the only moments I’ve been able to steal away to blog. Upon further reading you discover why.
Now, let me pick up where we left off…

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Temple Terrace Maass residence

4 am came quickly, and despite her fret over missing her alarm, it seems Momma was already up and going. The adrenaline and adventure of travel day must be contributing to her energy and I recall this being true of early family travels as well. Familiar sounds and smells of coffee brewing filled the kitchen, dimly lit by the oven light which revealed 2 happy cats feasting on their generous breakfast portions on the counter and the floor.

“All is well,” I thought. Pleased and surprised to find Momma had come through.

Mommas always do.

I had woken up in my guest bedroom alone, apparently. Either Gigi could not sleep with the window AC unit fan noise or the potential of Cody the cat sneaking in and out all night. She found her rest down the hall in what we call ‘The Adirondack Room.’

Regardless, I confirmed that all was on schedule and hopped in the shower.

Karl so kindly came to pick us up for the airport by 5am. I was glad to find he was amused, even at this hour, by this trio of ladies – crazy packing up bags and the house for this 4 day journey out west. He performed his expected duties of any man or bellhop and got to loading the car.
Mother began her usual “it’s time to leave the house” tirade of locating both cats, confirming every door and window were locked, fixing the volume of FOX News to the appropriate ‘scare burglars away’ level* and then the procedures of setting the house alarm. You would think she was locking down the Pentagon.

*Mother has a theory that if the television is on, a passerby ‘up to no good’ would naturally presume the owners were home and leave that house to rob another. I don’t know the source of all these security theories she holds. I find this one reminiscent of the scene from Home Alone, minus the life-size stand up of Michael Jordan moving about in the front windows attached to a toy train.

It has taken me a few years to learn, remember, anticipate and plan for this event. It is an event. Sometimes even a circus; and today was no exception. With an impending flight departure of 7:10am out of Tampa International, the inevitable was sure to occur. (Mother also demonstrated in the past the ability to miss by minutes the baggage check in cut off, causing, not her, but me to miss the plane flight. This could not happen again.)

I had just brought my things out to the car, and I turned back to the garage to see it. I froze as the realization struck me: the cat was out.

We locked eyes. Alone in the still darkness of the morning, Cody and I stared at each other like a Wild West draw: Who was going to move first.

While I anticipated his first move, I quickly did the math in my head. We were already pushing the time schedule. A delay of cat chasing was sure to result in missing the flight and much much unneeded anxiety. I ran a quick roster in my head; who else was available to help? Usually my brothers or a pile of nephews came to aid in the cornering and acquisition process of said escaped feline. It was me. Karl and the ladies were unaware of the crisis at hand and busily closing up shop inside.
Cody perched calculating his move at the edge; under the car bumper, safe from human interference and inches from his dart to freedom.

Suddenly Gigi emerged from the inside door.
“Gigi!” I exclaimed, “Close the garage door, the cat is out!”

With a flurry she hit the button and I straddled the driveway defensively watching to see if Cody would make a break for it.
It was down. He was in. I was relieved; momentarily.
Suddenly the door started coming up again and Karl and the ladies were busy rushing out. Cody maintained his position, and so did I.
The small crowd had entered the driveway by the time I had gotten Mom to understand that the cat was out.
“Oh God! oh God!” she cried. (This is her greatest and strongest of language ever used by Momma Maass. Do pay attention when you hear this.)

The idea of the cat running out loose overwhelmed her. I rushed into action. We had essentially traded places, managed to get the garage door down again, with Cody and I trapped in the garage ready to duke it out until he went inside.
I grabbed a broom and with “take no prisoners” mentality began winging it around under the car shouting at him to get inside. I mean i love this cat, but today i would beat him if i needed to. There was no time for these shenanigans. He finally yielded and trotted his fat-bellied self into the house and I slammed the door shut.
I emerged from the garage a victor only minutes later and finally, we were off.

Mother guided us along the “shortcut” to the airport that I knew so well from many many trips with my family as a child.
“You could go a little faster,” my mom stated to Karl. I sat back with surprise. Wow, these were words my mother had never given me. I applauded Karl for his driving skills that would reassure my mom he was far from a reckless driver.

She endured some lite jest and mocking while we noted she knew quite well the way to the Hard Rock Casino. Mother laughed it off; the notion that she would ever sneak out to go gamble.
We hopped the quick on ramp to Interstate 4 and zipped off to TIA without further incident.
At the departure curb I made a small spectacle out of kissing Karl goodbye, just to get a rise out of mom. (And because I would not see him for 4 whole days!) I love to see her get moving faster and give me that eye roll. “Oh now come on Jen, let’s go.” She yanked her tiny rolling suitcase but I caught the smile and giggle under her breath as she walked off.

Clearly the Frontier airline desk attendant took pity on our fragile, partly silver haired party, as she discounted our baggage fees by $5 each, honoring their online pricing. She also handed us revised seating assignments, graciously giving us the last of the special “Stretch Seating” first four rows. Standing almost a foot taller than both of my lady friend travelers, I was probably the most grateful. This airline chooses to advertise these special rows with sticker signs above announcing to all passing by, “Stretch Seating: 5 extra inches!” And though it made me take more advantage of the leg room, I felt a tad guilty for all the extra inches when I glanced at the man behind me.
So we were comfortably seated, bellies full and wallets a bit lighter already from the exorbitant pricing of our airport breakfast choices. (Why didn’t I pack my own breakfast bars and save $7.00?!) Little did I know, this was only a foreshadowing of our upcoming expensive vacation eating.

And so we were strapped in for our big flight out west. Destination: Denver, Colorado. Wake me up when we land.

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