Driving To The International

by Tammy Roark
Tamarakatz Somalis

Published July 2007

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Wow! The excitement and celebration when we heard the news that the CFA International show was not only going to be on the west coast, but IN our region, and within a day’s driving distance! This was a first, in my 10 years in the cat fancy (I flew to the Int’l in LA, as it is more than a day’s drive)… and so I began planning how many cats I could take, which cats I could breed before that show date, etc.

And of course, the cats didn’t cooperate. The breedings I had planned either didn’t take, just didn’t happen, and in one case, the queen lost her litter. So much for that plan.

OK, on to plan B – take some adults, and maybe an alter. How many can I fit in the car? How many is my traveling partner planning to take? What do you MEAN, I have to enter almost three weeks before the show? And LOOK at those prices for doubles and grooms! So I entered pretty much anybody that was a “possibility”, knowing that all of them wouldn’t be going, and I could make my decision more at the last minute, as to who was actually going to get in the car… You know, whichever one hadn’t managed to dig out a chunk of hair the day before we left, or was squinting at me through one eye, etc.!

Oh yes, and then “the car”. I always thought my Explorer was plenty big enough to transport Kathy and I to the cat shows, with all our stuff. Then along came the International. I entered six cats. She entered three. First problem. The back seat holds six cat carriers, and then it’s full. And of course, we’re heading for a show that’s more than the normal two days, so we’ve got to pack along the cat shampoos, Goop, cat hair dryers, etc. Plus more clothes for the humans, than for just a 2-day weekend. And our own bottled water. And Coke (NOT Pepsi!)… The Explorer was shrinking before my very eyes!

Then, I’m the Somali breed council secretary, and since the show is in my region, guess who’s responsible for the breed booth display? Our breed booth from the past few seasons tried to commit suicide in Houston last year (and also tried to murder a Siamese benched on the back side of it!), so it had been retired. Time for a new one. There was just no way I could also transport a new breed booth! Luckily, a very kind person in the bay area volunteered to build a new booth… and he isn’t even a Somali breeder or exhibitor, although he is a Somali owner… thank goodness for his volunteer efforts! That still left me with nagging for photos, gathering them up, getting them matted and labels made, etc. Oh yes, and the text to go on the booth… and the fabric… and all the “stuff” to bring along to hang everything up, etc. Another sack added to “the pile”… And of course, it’s an annual tradition on Somali row at the International that we all bring some food items from our area of the country, to share… so yet ANOTHER bag of “stuff” to come along.

I’m a great believer in “lists”. I have them for everything. My normal list for a show is a one-page thing, which just gets used over and over, with all the standard “stuff” on it. My list for the international show became a 3-page list. And it seemed like every time I crossed something off, I added two more things!

Pretty soon it became obvious that I couldn’t wait until the night before we left, to start gathering up things that were on “the list”. Now where to put them, so the cats wouldn’t unpack everything I was packing up? Or worse yet, so none of them would do some unspeakable bodily function to this stuff?

So… I found a really good use for one of our big walk-in cages, that wasn’t currently being used for any of the cats. I put “the stuff” in the cage, and locked the door on it, so the cats couldn’t get to all the stuff! It drove them absolutely crazy – every time I opened the door to put something in there, I had to then remove at least two or three cats. Suddenly, the place they never wanted to be was the place they desperately NEEDED to be!

The night before we left for the show, I had four cats to bathe… and the car “to pack”… and then off by 5:30 am, to pick up Kathy at 6:00 am, and start our almost 700 mile drive. Oh yes, and the week before the show, there had been snow in the mountain passes we were headed for, and chains were required! Yet another thing that had to be packed in the car… whose idea was this, anyway?

So I get the cats bathed, pack most of the stuff in the car the night before, and manage to get a few hours of sleep. Up in the middle of the night, pack the cats up in their carriers, check “the list” one last time to make sure nothing’s been forgotten, and off to Kathy’s. Silly woman – she actually thinks she’s going to be allowed to put a couple of bags of her own in the car! And her two cats… oh yes, and herself! And down the road we go…

Keep in mind that the Int’l show always has great vendors, and we ALWAYS buy stuff. And I pre-ordered a DOZEN cat beds, from my favorite vendor down in the SF bay area, which now need to be stuffed into that same car for the return trip home… oh yes, and one additional cat, who is coming back to me from a date at another breeder’s house…

The trip from Vancouver (WA) to Vacaville (CA) went very smoothly. Very foggy all the way through Oregon, until Ashland, where we stopped for lunch. The fog cleared while we were at a little café, having lunch.

It was a beautiful trip over the mountains, with a gorgeous view of Mt. Shasta. We made the obligatory stop at “The Olive Pit” in Corning, so I could pick up a couple of jars of olives for the hubby that stayed at home, and back on the road we went. By the way, why are there NO Dairy Queens along I-5, once you cross into California???

Then we hit Vacaville, stopped for gas, and got back on the freeway. And took THREE HOURS to get the rest of the way to the hotel. These people that drive in this mess on a daily basis are insane – there’s really no other word for it! We finally arrived at the hotel around 7:00 pm, and got checked in. Multiple problems with our rooms, but we finally got the cats all settled, and got unpacked.

Up early the next morning, and off to the show hall we went. As we were attempting to pack 7 cats and all their “stuff” onto my metal cart, I began to understand why I never take that many cats to an Int’l show. <g> Anyway, into the show hall we went, and off to our respective benching areas – I was benched with the Somalis, and Kathy was with the Persians. We were actually not too far apart in the hall, which was nice… since I had the cooler.

Lots of hugs and hellos to all the people we hadn’t seen since the last Int’l, and the day got started. The show ran pretty smoothly, except for the one time I managed to get called to a championship ring with all three of my entries, and have the premiership cat called at the same time. They did all make the rings, though!

Both of us were good about not buying a lot of stuff from the vendors – funny how packing that car up made us VERY aware of how little extra space there was! Sunday morning was quite the trip, as we had to check out of the hotel, put all “that” stuff in the car, and go back to the show hall. When the show was over, we actually had to completely unpack the Explorer, so we could repack with the show bags – they go on the bottom, of course!

We had a reservation in Redding for Sunday night… but hadn’t planned on spending 2.5 hours getting “out” of the bay area. Again, unbelievable traffic. We got to Redding about 11:00 Sunday night, and fell into bed. Off by 8:30 the next morning, for the trek home.

Of course, Monday included a stop at “TICPARH” for lunch. For those that have never been there, this translates to “The Ice Cream Place At Rice Hill”. It’s a little tiny “hole in the wall” drive-in, in southern Oregon, at an exit labeled “Rice Hill”. I actually have NO idea what the real name of this place is… but they have at least thirty flavors of ice cream, which we sat in the car to eat, with the heater on.

Back onto I-5, and we reached Vancouver about 4:30 Monday afternoon, after another beautiful drive thru the mountains, with some areas of fog. The weather gods truly blessed all of us that were driving from the upper NW, with glorious weather, sunshine, etc. No snow, no rain, no ice, etc. Hallelujah!

And the show was lovely… it also didn’t hurt that Kathy came home with the best Particolor Persian in championship (along with two finals), and the best Himalayan Persian in championship (also with two finals). I came home with the 2nd and 3rd best Somalis in championship (and two finals for the 2nd best Somali), plus granded a female Somali in championship! And my little “baby grand” neuter made FOUR of six finals, and was best Somali in premiership. Yup, it was a great show!

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