When I decided to take Summer with me to Catalina Island for my birthday, I knew it was going to be her biggest adventure yet. Sure, she has flown from one end of the U.S. to the other, but she was safely inside a carrier, unaware that she was thousands of feet in the air. On the hour-long boat ride, she was going to be able to look out the window at the vast expanse of water and know she was not on land.
This whole trip came about when I found out that the boat taking passengers over to Catalina gave free passes to anyone celebrating a birthday that day — and they allowed pets. I’m a July birthday girl, and I didn’t have any cat shows or blogging conferences for Summer to attend — and she needed a big trip. I want travel to be a regular part of Summer’s life, so she never gets out of the habit of leaving home, and July was shaping up to be awfully slow… until I booked our Catalina trip. As a bonus, my fiancé Brian came along.
Up until we boarded, it was not an unusual trip for Summer. With the car ride and waiting area, we could have been taking a plane for all she knew. But once we got our seats on the boat and I let her out of her carrier, she had no idea what to think. It got even stranger for her when we pulled out of the port. How do you explain the ocean to a creature who has never seen a body of water bigger than a Jacuzzi? I’m not even sure she knew what she was looking at — maybe her mind couldn’t comprehend something so big and so strange. While she didn’t freak out or panic, she was definitely more comfortable being away from the window. Instead she rested on the seat next to me, a little frustrated that I didn’t take her for a walk, and more than a little incredulous that I did enjoy looking out the window. She did make friends with a friendly cabin attendant who came by, and soon enough we were on the island.
Once we arrived at the bay village of Avalon and were on dry land, Summer was much happier. We checked into the hotel and she cheerfully explored the room and played with her favorite toy, which I had brought along. Having Brian with us was a bonus for her — that meant she had two people to walk all over and headbutt in the middle of the night instead of just one. (She only does this in hotel rooms — at home, she sleeps through the night along with the humans.) She stayed in the room while Brian and I went out to dinner, but the next morning after we checked out, I put her in the over-the-shoulder sling carrier and she accompanied us to breakfast. I ordered Eggs Benedict with the Canadian bacon on the side… and gave her bits of Canadian bacon as a treat. That was probably her favorite part of the trip.
The trip home was pretty much the same as the ride over. Summer napped on the middle seat while I watched dolphins leaping around the boat. I put her on the window ledge as we passed by the Queen Mary on the way back to port — I think she realized the trip was almost over, so it wasn’t as strange to her as before. If I made the trip again with her (and I might), she would probably get used to it. It would be fun to have her take it in stride.