“I’ve made a terrible mistake…”

…are the first words out of my mouth at 4 :16 am. I *think* I slept? No cats on the bed. I’m going to miss them. “I’ve way overpacked. We can’t just put stuff outside at night. What about when it rains?”

Kyle looked at me at the top of the stairs. He’s trying to help, Mellie won’t get off the couch where she slept; she’s under her blanket, it’s pulled over her head, and then she emits a half-growl-moan. “Well, you’ve got a tarp,” he offers. “You could weight it down with something.”

Zack’s babbling mile a minute. “I already took my pills I had a whole bowl of chicken soup for breakfast Mellie’s not getting dressed we have to be there in 23 minutes what if she’s not ready I’m going to miss the cats (lurches to grab nearest) I love you Catter (who slinks away) Vivi (also dashes off) Where’s Wilkie?”


“Kyle, that’s not the point, I put too much stuff in.”

He shrugs.

I’ve got my underclothes on. I grab my sneakers and phone, and the spare keys, and head out onto the deck, down the stairs to the van. I forgot to leave out the clothes I was planning to wear today. I grab the packing cubes in my tote bag. Underpants and pants. I know my jeans are in the house. Someplace. Shirts are in the dresser with the kid’s stuff.

Kyle calls down from the deck. “She’s not getting up.”

“Ok.” Shirts! *Phew*

Zack comes down and opens his door. “Mellie’s still not up what are we going to do if she’s not ready where did you put my bag how are we going to get on the ferry if she’s not coming…”

Shirt over head. Zip up cube. Close dresser lid. Where are my pants? Close sliding door.

They aren’t on my laundry basket. The house is trashed… *Sigh* I’m an asshole. I head back down the stairs. There! Tucked into the handrail!

“It’s too soon,” she complains, “I didn’t get to say goodbye to my friend in the game. I don’t want to be gone all summer.”

“I know, honey.”

I head back down the stairs to the van. Why did I pack a whole box of art supplies? I start purging stuff. Moving blanket, Paintbox, Paintbox, Pencil case… all on the ground.

“I assume Mellie wants the Sicilian sandwich?” Kyle asks.

Brain. Not. Work.

“What should I get for you and Zack?”

“Um, just our regular donuts? I can text you once we are checked in. But I gotta do this, I can’t think…” Ok, that bag is my bed, that’s my clothes, That goes in the pop up bathroom at night anyway- Hey- that’s waterproof!- Ok, everything else will fit. I turn around and sit on the stoop of the sliding door. Sock on, sock on, shoe, shoe, go upstairs, where’s the coffee?

Mellie is sitting up. “We have to go, Honey. I’ll be waiting in the car.”

Zack is already buckled in. “Where’s Mellie?”

“She doesn’t want to go.” I start the engine. 59,868 miles.

“Noooo! We can’t leave her! Honk the horn!”

*Click* Reverse.

“Wait, Mip! It won’t be any fun without her!”


“Honk the horn! I’ll go get her!”

He opens and bolts out the door and up the stairs to the deck. 5:03 a.m.

Almost immediately they both get in. “I had to pee!” she says.

*Click* Reverse. “Here we go!”

The sunlight is pretty and there are just beginning to be clouds after all these sunny days. When we get to the terminal I park to go check in. “Tape this inside your windshield and park in Lane 2 behind me,” he gestured, then hands me our tickets and the tag for the van.

“Lane 2?”

“You’ll see,” he says, nodding toward the door.


I get back in and head over behind the terminal building. OH!

We park in the front of lane 2. There are two big eagles off the end of the dock. I wish I slept more.

The kids are chatting as I lean into the door frame. Kyle walks up, carrying a white plastic bag. “They didn’t have anything for sandwiches or salads, but they did have donuts,” he said, passing the bag in to Mellie.

Almost forgot to Vote!

A little while later, one of the ferry crew starts measuring the car heights visually with hand gestures, plotting which vehicles should go first. Eventually, it’s our turn.

“Are we going down the ramp?” Zack asks.

Huh? “Well, yeah,” I said, “of course. How else did you think we were going to get the car out of Juneau?”

Do they not know?

“You guys know there’s no roads out of Juneau, right? We have to put the van on the ferry.”They

Both process a moment. “Yeah…” they say tentatively.

M/V LeConte is painted on the side. We ease down the ramp. The weird new tires make a rumbling thrum as we decent into the boat’s belly. The crew directs me toward my parking space.

RIE Munoz print by the galley

“Back,” he says waving me,” Left… Back… Turn the wheel some more… Straighten out…. Good!” He says. “Set the parking brake there.”

The kids are out before I can even turn off the engine. I can’t even tell what they are excitedly babbling at me. I grab the door handle and push. CRAP. “I can’t get out,” I tell them. They don’t hear me. “Kids,” I say again, “I can’t get out.” I try the door again. I can get a foot out, but the some metal box jutting out on the inside wall prevents me from opening the door enough to get both feet onto the floor. CRAP.

I push up onto the middle console hump of the car. “Take my bag,” I say.

Mel reaches for it. I struggle to get all the way out of the driver’s side and end up with my feet on the dash and my head sticking out the passenger door. The Subaru in front of us is already parked into place and the driver turns and looks at me oddly. I probably deserve it. I push my feet down onto the passenger floor one, and then, the other. I reach up and grab the door jamb and pull myself upright into the seat.

“Where do we go now?” asks Zack.

“Up the stairs, follow the yellow painted walkway,” I say pointing at the yellow painted walkway.

They look at the ground and start walking. We find our way up the stairwell and take some seats. “Why don’t you two go explore?”

On the bow


I’ve got all the time in the world.

Zack’s photo contribution

One comment

  1. Carole · June 6, 2022

    Great — you all have a wonderful and safe trip!!!! Love you guys 🙂

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