Last month on this blog I mentioned that I would be flying to Ireland on the 15th, settling in, and then diving right back into work, so I would have an update on things this month.
Things did not go according to plan.
If you’re reading this just for updates on my life and work, things are still about where they were before: I’m about to start working on the outline for Monarchies of Mau, I’m still working for clients such as Onyx Path, Earplay, and others I can’t yet reveal, and I have some exciting stuff coming on the horizon. If you’re curious why there’s not much of an update, however, I have a story to tell.
A Cancelled Flight
The week leading up to the flight I had scheduled light, because I wasn’t sure how stressful things would be. It turns out the answer was “very stressful,” because on Tuesday, moments after I had gotten Murray’s paperwork certified by the USDA (his “puppy passport,” if you will), the tire on my car exploded. As I was waiting for the tow truck, I was told that Murray’s flight on Thursday might be under a heat embargo, which means they wouldn’t take any live cargo (i.e., pets).
When we booked the tickets, we were told there was a slight chance of this, but Atlanta traditionally hadn’t instituted their embargo until early July. This year had an unexpected heat wave, and for safety reasons the airports stepped up the date. Wednesday it was confirmed the pet relocation agency not only that the flight was embargoed, but that most cities in the US were under a similar embargo. And at least in Atlanta, the next time a plane might fly out under safe temperatures was September.
This, naturally, led to a panic. Me flying without Murray wasn’t an option. Talking with the pet relocation agency (along with lots of friends), we explored every possible option: Murray rides in the cabin (he’s too large and not a service or therapy animal), Murray flies from Chicago or Boston (higher chance of no embargo, but it could still happen), taking the QE2 from New York to Britain (seats fill up quickly in the summer, so I might still have to wait for months), and so on.
A (Reasonably) Crazy Plan
In the end, one solution emerged that was the sanest and safest option: Fly from San Francisco, which hadn’t had a heat embargo in years.
Time was ticking. Our Atlanta house had been sold, and we had to be out by the following Monday. Dublin airport didn’t accept live cargo on weekends, so the latest Murray could fly out was the following Thursday if we wanted to get to Ireland relatively close to our original schedule. And the distance from Atlanta, GA to San Francisco, CA was just under 2,500 miles (just over 4,000 km). We spent several hours discussing the options. I was frankly terrified to do it, but in the end I agreed to rent a car and take him, because it was the best thing for him. I planned the trip, we packed our bags, David drove Murray and I to the car rental place at 5am on Friday, and we were off.
The next four days were, honestly, a bit of a blur. I had planned the drives to be around 8-10 hours each, so we weren’t stuck in the car too long and had time for breaks. I also didn’t want to drive at night, so I opted for leaving right around dawn so the majority of the trip would be as cool as possible, and just as the sun would get in front of the car, we’d be close to the end.
I drove through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma (which goes on FOREVER), the top bit of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, a bit of Nevada, and California. Murray made friends with people in just about every city we stopped in. We shared french friends and cold water bottles as we drove through long stretches of nothing. I listened to the Critical Role podcast and my Big Finish audiobooks while he snored, asked for snacks, and occasionally got stuck in the seat belt. He was a sweet and patient co-pilot all the way to San Francisco.
A Windy City
When we finally checked into San Francisco Monday evening, Murray and I were both a bit sick of the car. But we still had an early Tuesday appointment with Pet Express (the pet relocation agency) to get him re-examined and his paperwork reprocessed — it turned out that you need to have that paperwork done in the city you are flying from, so the work we did before wasn’t valid. Again, Murray instantly charmed everyone he met, and many of the folks at the agency were excited to hear his story. He passed his vet visit with flying colors (aside from some teeth problems), and we headed back to the hotel.
The process for finishing the results and the paperwork was two days, which is why we had to be in town by Tuesday to fly out by Thursday. That meant we had to be available for a couple of days on standby, just in case something went wrong. Luckily, nothing did, and Murray and I occasionally strayed from the hotel. I met with a client at In-And-Out, and Murray got to meet with Cyrus Nemati, the voice actor for Seneschal Murra in the Pugmire interactive audio drama.
A Dublin Experience
Thursday came, and it was time to take Murray to Pet Express and prepare him for his flight. I completely admit I cried as told Murray that I’d see him again in Dublin, and then I drove to the airport for my own (separate) flight.
Flights were had, and I arrived a few hours ahead of Murray. I met my wife, Michelle, and we dropped my bags in our new house in Maynooth before heading back to collect Murray from cargo. Naturally Michelle and I were excited and nervous, but after a long wait he came out with nothing wrong other than a spilled water dish and a damp blanket. He was so happy to see his mama as she took him for a short walk to stretch his legs, and he slept in the back seat of our rental car all the way home.
We were emotionally and physically exhausted, but we were finally together again.