This is a post that I never thought or dreamt that I would have to write. Molly was in our lives for 4 whirlwind days and at the time I had never been so happy living in our little van. It’s crazy how something so small can leave such a lasting impression in such a short amount of time! I will never forget the 4 days we got to spend with Molly. She will always be our first van kitty!
We arrived at Joseph’s house around 5pm. We were both a bit apprehensive about our chances of being allowed to adopt a rescue kitten without being permanent residents. I had mentioned our situation in my initial email and a part of me was suspicious that they hadn’t read the message correctly when they passed us onto one of the foster houses.
Joseph greeted us and invited us inside. His front room was full of kittens, all different ages. Immediately we were drawn to a slightly older kitten that was a cross breed of a Bengali cat. Unfortunately Joseph informed us that that cat was his. He went upstair and brought down two very hyperactive black moggies, apologising for the fact that they only had plain fur. Those who know us will tell you that we have a soft spot for stray cats, giving a home to Ben and Macy, neither of whom are what some might consider ‘pretty’ cats. But we love them more than anything. For us, the kitten that we would offer a home to would need to be a cat that would adapt to our van life for the next year. It would have to be curious, but it would still really need to crave human affection. After all, it would be mainly us that it would need to return to if it wondered off.
After a couple of minutes talking and watching the kittens, Joseph informed us that there was a 3rd kitten upstairs. It was at this point that he brought down Molly. Molly was a pretty black moggy with a little white tufty bit that resembled a bow tie. Straight away you could tell she was different to her siblings. Straight away she nestled herself into Willow’s hand and lay there for a good 5 minutes without feeling the need to move. After a while she decided to move and decided to climb onto my shoulder. Although she seemed to be the runt of the litter and had a runny eye and nose, she had already shown enough curiosity and attachment to steel our hearts and I think we knew fairly quickly that she was the kitten we wanted to join us on our adventure.
After discussing the next steps, we were told that we could take her there and then upon paying an adoption fee and completing and returning some forms. So we left Joseph’s with a small kitten and large grins!We then spent the next 30 minutes sat in the van, allowing Molly to check the van out in her own time.
We had talked about naming our van cat Molly after the band ‘Flogging Molly’. For as long as I can remember, I have always named pets after bands and musicians. Studying her carefully, we both could tell that she was a Molly.
Not expecting for things to progress so quickly, we weren’t prepared for a kitten living in our van, so we drove straight to the nearest pet store. Willow sitting in the back to reassure Molly in her new environment. We popped in to get some main supplies. E.g – food, litter tray and a few toys. Not wanting to spend another night in a Walmart car park, we drove back to Mallows Bay. Francis had kindly offered for us to return and spend the night there, we just had to arrive before the barrier went down. We got there with plenty of time to spare, just in time to watch our first sunset with the cat.
I’m not sure if it was due to a new environment, but Molly enthusiastically pooped all over my trainers that night. I was hoping that it wouldn’t take her long to figure out the litter tray. I only had so many of shoes she could poo on before I would be barefoot.
The following morning, we set off for another launderette to wash my poop covered shoes. We decided it was time to start making our way further down south, with a bit of a detour over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The bridge is a toll road, but luck seemed to be on our side, as we were waved straight past the toll booth. Maybe kittens pooing on your shoes brings good luck?
Molly didn’t really seemed too fussed about the van. She especially didn’t mind sitting on my lap as I drove. She was still having problems with her runny eye, nose and apparently poo. But it hasn’t seemed to put her off her food or water.
We decided to stop off at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge to break up the drive and potential find a place to stop for the night.We found a small trail, and decided to let Molly out for the first time.
Not finding anywhere suitable to spend the night, we attempted to cut back round to the main road and decided that Walmart would again be our best bet for an easy place to sleep.
Willow found a through road that would cut off a corner, however halfway down the single track road we soon realised that we might have a problem.The road was completely flooded, and although it didn’t look particularly deep, it was hiding some pretty nasty pot holes.
Initially to solve the problem, Willow decided to hang out of the passenger door and direct me past the worst bits. This tactic didn’t really work and on more than one occasion she was almost chucked out of the van. As the water was only ankle deep, she decided it would be easier all round if she just walked ahead, wading through the water in her flip flops. This was still a better option than trying to reverse back down the road!Five minutes later and we were finally back on the main road.
Parts of the main road were flooded as well, but the road was in a much better condition and we had a van in front of us now leading the way.
We eventually arrived at Walmart and had another nondescript night. It wasn’t scenic but it was free and we weren’t disturbed. Meaning we could continue bonding with Molly!
The next day we set of for Assateague Island National Seashore. An island on the Atlantic east coast. Although already identified as a must see destination by Willow, Jen had also recommended stopping off to see the wild horses that roam free around the beach and camp sites.
Turning up with not much of a plan other than to explore the island and see some wild horses, we parked up in the main car park. Lady luck seemed to be on our side again… We pulled up to the parking kiosk to pay and the lady sat in the booth pointed to a sign saying the booth was closed. Gotta love a bit of free parking. The island was gorgeous. White sand speading to the horizon in both directions.
We decided that we should make the most of a camp site right on the beach and so we broke into our budget some more and paid for a spot. At $35, this spot was miles ahead of the first camp site we were forced to pay for, here we had the luxury of showers, a fire pit and a picturesque beach a couple of minutes from the van; so it seemed worth the expense.
Due to Hurricane Melissa passing by over the Atlantic, we were advised that under no circumstances were we to swim in the sea. Stand in the sea. Looking at the sea was prohibited! Although it was fairly sunny, I don’t think either of us harboured any desire to paddle out into the cold waters, and so tried to repeatedly reassure the lady serving us that we would steer way clear of the sea.
We nipped out to get some drinks and fire wood supplies. Not wanting to blow our budget any wider, we scavenged for fire wood in a nearby woods.Before long we were back at the van, introducing Molly to the great wide world. She loved being able to bound up and down our pitch. Occasionally passersby would stop and comment on how adorable she was. We decided to make the rest of the light, so went for a stroll along the beach to look at the wild horses.The temperature had really dropped and a moody sky was blowing across the Atlantic.
Back at the van, we got speaking to a guy named Steve, who was also here in a VW. We ended up having a long chat about our plans whilst over in the States and he told us about his ambition to ship one of his vans over to Europe to road trip in before selling the van at the end of it in England. Sounds like a good ambition to me. We spent the rest of the night chilling out to some music, under the stars, warmed by our roaring fire. I could definitely get use to more nights like this one.
I woke the next morning to find Molly tucked away in the back of the van.
After a refreshing shower, we moved the van down to the main car park again as we had to vacate the site by 11am. Today was a completely different day to yesterday. The moody sky and bitterly cold wind replaced by a warning sun filled sky. We went for a quick walk down the beach, but quickly decided that we should make the most of the weather and camp out on the beach for a bit and work on our fading tans again. We even managed to bring Molly down for her first experience of a beach. Some lifeguards pulled over at one point and I was half expecting them to tell us off for having an animal off it’s lead on the beach, but they just popped over to see her. Telling us she was the cutest thing they had ever seen on the beach.
Sadly the warmth eventually faded and so we packed up and set off. Our aim was to get across the Chesapeake Bridge and Tunnel. A 19 mile stretch of bridge and tunnels that takes you over to Virginia Beach.We had timed the drive almost to perfection, arriving just as the sun had set.
The drive across the bridge was unusual. You kept expecting it to end, only to find it kept going on into the distance.
We eventually arrived at a Walmart near Virginia Beach. Molly had slept most of the long drive and was still suffering from diarrhea, so we decided to give her a warm bath to clean her up a bit. She was starting to smell pretty bad by this point.
Although she wasn’t overjoyed with the experience, it didn’t take her long to forgive us and to go back to climbing us like a monkey.
The following morning, we let Molly out to do her business outside. She had seemed to forgotten the bath she received the night before, but Willow had noticed thag she hadn’t eaten much of her dry food, so put down some wet food that she wolfed down immediately.
We planned on heading down to the outer Banks based on another recommendation from Jen. To our relief, we found a free car park which allowed us to stay overnight in Kill Devil Hills Even better, it was a two minute walk to the beach.
Molly had spent most of the drive sleeping, so we decided to leave her to rest some more whilst we went for a stroll down the beach.
We had timed the weather just right. The sun was once again showering with gorgeous heat, people were out on the beach, enjoying a few cans of beer. It was such a relief to finally be in some southern states that were a little bit more relaxed.
We walked down the beach towards a pier that we could see in the distance, letting the ocean wash over our bare feet.
We were shocked but pleased to see that the pier had a bar, so we enjoyed the novelty of drinking a beer outside in a public place.
Sadly, the sun disappeared behind a set of clouds, so we finished our drinks and headed back inside.
As well as bar, the pier also had an arcade. Willow had hoped to win a toy frog from the claw machine, but to her disappointment it was not working. So she settled for a game where you could win tickets to exchange.
She seemed to have more of a knack for the game than I did, as I watched streams of yellow pour out at her feet, whilst I had to settle for a few measly tickets.
As she had ammased over 200 tickets, she was able to claim a stuffed fish as her prize.
A sign outside the pier reminded us just how far we had travelled since leaving Ross and Jen’s house.
We headed back down the sea front to Ruby, reflecting on the enjoyable walk we had just had and making plans for the night. We planned on making the most of our ideal parking space by having a drink on the beach and then decided we would continue driving down the outer Banks towards an alligator sanctuary the next day.
When we got back, we could tell immediately that something was not quite right with Molly. Lying limply on a chair, she was panting and crying out to us but seemed unable to move.
Concerned, we tried to stroke her to reassure her that we were back again. She had always been a bit small and frail but this was completely different to how we had left her before the walk.
Watching over her, we tried to Google her symptoms. One website said that we should keep her warm and feed her ourselves if she continued to struggle for strength.
Everything that followed this moment happened so quickly.
Unable to stand, she suffered more diarrhea, this time full of blood. Immediately we both new this was more serious than just a bit of lethargy.
Trying to remain calm, we searched for the nearest veterinarian hospital. It was 5:50pm on a Sunday. There was a clinic 10 minutes away, bit it was due to close a 6pm. Hoping for the best, we set off. Paying no attention to the speed limit at this point, I drove as quickly as I could, desperate to avoid missing someone by a few minutes. You could just tell at that point that if she didn’t receive immediate attention then she might not survive.
Passing a different vets on the way, with a van looking like it was leaving, I pulled over in the hope that there was someone there who could look a Molly. Annoyingly the practice was closed. Dialling the emergency number written on the door I was greeted by a voice message.
I hadn’t noticed that the driver of the van had turned around and gotten out of her car. She asked if I needed to see a vet. I explained the situation and she informed me that the on-call vet had literally just left. I think she could see the panic in my eyes, as she tried to contact him. With no answer, I could feel our time running out.
As it was now 6pm, I phoned ahead to the vet hospital we were initially heading to, only to be greeted by another voice message. It seemed that it couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
Willow was sat in the back of the van with Molly wrapped in a blanket. She informed me that Molly seemed to be in a lot of pain and she was still crying out.
The voice message informed me that all emergencies had been diverted to another hospital that would be covering the for the evening and so I called ahead to that emergency hospital.
I was overjoyed to finally be greeted by an actual person, rather than a message offering us no solutions. Trying to hold myself together, I told the lady on the other end of the line Molly’s situation and asked if they were still open. My heart sank when she told me that they were, but they were located back towards Chesapeake near Virginia Beach. An hour and twenty minutes away from where we currently were. Speaking to the owner of the van, she confirmed that they would probably be the closest animal hospital at that point.
Feeling time slipping away, we were left with very little options. Willow was continuing to soothe and reassure Molly in the back of the van, whilst I tried to get us there as quickly as I could manage without killing us all.
I still remember watching every minute to our arrival pass by. At that point it was all I could do to stop myself from crying. I felt completely powerless and resented that there were three vet practices in Kill Devil Hills and not one of them were open.
With twenty minutes left till our arrival, Willow had seemed to go very quiet. A minute later, she called out to me to say that she believed Molly had died and an eerie quietness filled the van.
Just writing this reminds me of the smell that had filled the van at that point. Joining her in the back, we lay Molly down and just sat in the dark comforting each other. At that moment I couldn’t help but feel like I had let them both down.
In under 2 hours, our sweet kitten who we had hoped to travel with and bring home to England was gone.
At this point the weather had really changed and the heavens had opened up above us. I couldn’t help but think of the lesson I thought about pathetic fallacy. The weather was doing a grand job of reflecting our current mood.
In a state of shock, we searched for a place to bury her, settling on a peaceful wooded spot at Great Bridge lock. With rain pouring down from the sky, we buried our little girl the dark, hoping that this spot was worthy of her final resting place.
Cruelly we had ended up in Chesapeake again, near the Walmart we had started that morning at, only now our van seemed empty in comparison and the noticeable smell of death hung in the air.
Phoning Joseph to update him about Molly, he told us to try not to beat ourselves up, as often rescue kittens can have a very stressful start to their lives, can catch all sorts of illnesses and as a result can sometime have a slim chance of a healthy life. He told us that he had received another kitten since we last saw him, who he though we would fall in love with immediately and recommended us driving back up to see it.
Feeling torn, we agreed to drive back up towards Waldorf to meet him the next day. This meant we would almost have to do an 8 hour round trip to get back to where we were today, but it might be our last opportunity to find a kitty to bring on our journey.
After a quick trip to the launderette to clean the seat cover Molly was lying on and our drenched clothes, we set off back on a drive towards Waldorf trying to get most of the drive completed that night.
Not sure what tomorrow would bring, we both had a pretty sleepless night in another Walmart car park, haunted by the guilt that I would be betraying Molly by taking another cat so soon. But knowing I had so much I wanted to give Molly that I couldn’t just give up on.