Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Kitty Karavan Revisited

Over a month ago, I documented the tale of our drive through the Atlanta ice storm, transporting our cats, bird, and fish to Celebration. However, that blog entry ended a bit prematurely. I only wrote "part one," as I was waiting for some photos to illustrate "part two." The adventure did not end with our arrival at Duloc Manor. You might guess that we crashed into bed, exhausted, and didn't stir for the next 24 hours, but no...there were more adventures ahead. Below is the story as I wrote it back then, saving it to post until I got the photo links ready too:

Ah, the simple joy of arriving home after a long, arduous journey through mountains, rain, ice storms, and an endless forest of Disney World ticket deal billboards. My husband and I were reveling in that joy on the Saturday night of the Kitty Karavan, having gotten the car unpacked and the cats released into their new environment.

My lovely, pristine home quickly turned into a forest of plastic bags (easier to stash into limited car space than boxes), and the cats were already shedding while the bird dropped dander and flung his seeds around for good measure. Ah, the joy of owning pets. All you need are a few animals to turn a home from "shows like a model" to "lived in" within minutes.

We decided not to bother unpacking everything that night. We would pull out the necessities and deal with the rest later, once we got caught up on our sleep. Even though we'd managed some fitful spells of shut-eye in the car, I wouldn't classify it as "restful." The vehicle was packed to the gills, so the passenger seat would not recline. The only way to fall asleep while sitting bolt upright is when you are so exhausted that consciousness is no longer a physically possible option.

We had forgotten a few essential items that could be picked up at Walgreens, so we decided to run out for those and then hop across the street to Logan's Steakhouse for a real meal. After grabbing fast food on the road for 24 hours (most notably Wendy's and Taco Bell), we were craving something that didn't taste like greasy cardboard.

However, in all the insanity, I had forgotten one minor detail: Not only was Saturday our homecoming, but it was also the date of the latest meeting of the Bunny Brigade. If you read my blog regularly, you are probably familiar with this splinter faction of Celebrationites. Founded by a resident we'll call "Jan" (names not changed to protect the innocent), the Brigade is a loose-knit social group with a tendency to don strange headgear and to do even stranger things. The head gear started out as rabbit ears and evolved into a forest of fuzzy, funny and just plain freaky head toppers. The only requirement is a willingness to cover your scalp and to let loose and have fun.

The first meeting was held last summer at the Town Tavern when the Tampa Bay Bucs were in town. The hurricanes put a crimp into the next planned get-together, but the Bunnies have re-banded now that Mother Nature has calmed down. We had a blast at Founder's Day, and now there was a shindig at Jan's house to celebrate her "29th" birthday. That turned out to be the very day that our ragged and exhausted Kitty Karavan pulled into town.

As I was making a futile attempt to sort things before collapsing into unconsciousness, the phone rang with a call from the party house. At first, I was tempted to skip it due to my sleep-deprived stupor, but my love of partying was at war with my common sense. Finally I said that my husband and I would probably stop over after we grabbed a bite (if we managed to stay awake through the meal and still had enough soundness of mind to make it back to Celebration).

My husband had managed to make the time for a shower, but between playing cat referee and attempting to bring some small measure of organization to the chaos of Duloc Manor, I hadn't gotten around to cleansing my sweaty body. I figured that it didn't matter; Logan's was likely to be packed with tourists who I'd never see again. After a long day at the theme parks, they were probably dirtier and sweatier than I was anyway.

As we approached the car, I had to fight a panic attack brought on by a sudden rush of memories: being crammed in for 24 hours like a sardine; sitting frozen in fear behind the wheel as my vehicle slid along the Atlanta expressways like an out-of-control figure skater; trying to fall asleep without stiffening up like a board and freezing into a statue position in the crammed passenger seat; fighting to combat sleep deprivation to make it to Celebration before I totally lost my mind. I strongly suspected that I might now be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But my hunger for a real meal overcome my vehicle phobia. We left the critters to explore their new surroundings and headed off across 192. Both Logan's and Walgreen's are within spitting distance of the entrance to Celebration, so within minutes we had picked up what we needed and were tucking into juicy steaks. I also treated myself to a strawberry margarita (well, okay, TWO margaritas, but only because there was a two-for-one special).

Once our bodies were fueled, we decided to stop by the party, even if we just said a quick hello. But as we crossed the bridge into Celebration, we spotted the NEV train (an electric train made up of Neighborood Electric Vehicles, the Celebration version of streetworthy golf carts). And on the train, we though that we recognized several members of the Bunny Brigade!

Granted, I knew that I might be hallucinating, but we figured that if the Bunnies were out and about, it wouldn't make sense to go to the party house since it was most likely deserted. Instead, we returned to Duloc Manor, ready to hibernate as deeply as narcoleptic bears.

Our crazy cat, Tooncinator, had been hiding behind the television stand when we left, acting as though his world was shattered. But as I approached the back door, I could see him through the curtain, standing up on the kitchen counters. Of course, he scattered like a New York cockroach when he heard the key in the lock, but I had caught him. He could pretend to be a poor, frightened kitty all he wanted in front of me, but now I knew he had made himself at home the minute we were out of sight.

My husband tried to finish up the unpacking, while I brought my porch swing cushions outside. I was just plumping them in place when I heard the strains of party music approaching. Sure enough, I saw the NEV train coming around the bed. We hadn't gone to the party, so the party was coming to us!

In a panic borne of exhaustion, I dropped the cushions and ran inside. Like some lunatic version of Paul Revere, I yelled to my husband, "The Brigade is coming! The Brigade is coming!" Knowing that resistance is futile, we headed outside to surrender.

It was on that night that I learned the protective powers of aluminum headgear in combating alien mind control. The entire Bunny Brigade was wearing customized, fashionable aluminum hats. My husband and I quickly fashioned our own; considering that we had had no quality sleep for well over 24 hours, and that I had a couple of alcoholic beverages in me, they turned out pretty good.

If you'd like to see the train and several Brigade members modeling their lovely and functional chapeaus, click here (it will open in a new window). On the web page, you will also learn how the Brigade uses this special headgear to combat the mind control of paraterrestrials who have infiltrated Disney and who see to control the innocent citizens of Celebration. And we're actually part of a larger, nationwide movement. For the official Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie website, click here. IF you scroll down and click "Testimonials," you'll see some familiar faces.

Believe it or not, we somehow managed to stay conscious enough to party into the wee hours of the night. Much of it is a blur to me; all I remember is getting a ride home from our neighbors and crawling into bed, oblivious to anything but a long-anticipated journey to Dreamland. The next thing I knew, it was well into the next afternoon, and I crawled out of bed to spend my first full day as a bona-fide full-time resident of Celebration.

My email address is celebration@mailblocks.com

My Celebration website is www.celebrationinfo.com

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