Saving Aimee

After the night of Molly’s passing, it is safe to say that neither of us slept comfortably that night. We woke up once again in a Walmart car; we had done this so often by this point that it almost felt unusual when we didn’t. At this point we were both desperate to head back further south, where options for free camp sites that weren’t Walmart were waiting.

We had arranged to meet Joseph at 2pm and although we had covered a lot of ground the night before, we still had a bit to go to get back to his house. Not surprisingly, neither of us had eaten the night before, and not in the mood to cook that morning, we ventured to Dunkin’Donuts for breakfast. We ordered two bagels at the counter, the attendant informed us that they only had one multi grain bagel left and the rest were cinnamon and raisins. Now we both hate raisins, but after the last 24 hours we just wanted to eat, so said we would take one of each. A minute later, said attendant called us and apologised for burning the multi grain bagel. Apparently he was new and still getting used to the equipment. Couldn’t have burnt the raisin one could he!!! It was at this point where I started questioning my beliefs about God. Maybe he did exist and the past 24 hours were my penance!

Two raisin and cinnamon bagels later, we were back on the road to Waldorf. About an hour into the journey, Joseph messaged me to inform us that he was running late and if he could possibly meet us at 5pm instead. Bare in mind he was doing us a great favour giving us an opportunity to home another rescue kitty, it is safe to say that my replies were not very tolerant of his request. We were driving almost 4 hours to get to his house, and really needed to head back south if we were going to make a concert we needed to attend in Charlotte 2 days later.

After what can only described as a tennis rally of text messages, he told us that he would do his best to be with us as close to 2pm as possible.

We parked outside his house equipped with some spray disinfectant and set about cleaning the van top to bottom, not willing to risk any possible infections from Molly lingering in the van.

To be fair to Joseph, he rocked up about 2:40, apologising both for his lateness and Molly’s passing.

A minute later he brought down a gorgeous female moggy kitten. A wash with colour and amazing Bengali patterns across her back and belly. It only took us a few minutes in her company to see the difference in her health. Although she was happy to be held, she had way more strength than we had witnessed in the 4 days we had Molly. Wriggling all over us when trying to hold her. What doubts we had about having another cat were quickly washed away the moment we second we both held her in our arms.

Before we knew it, we were back in the van, again just sat outside Joseph’s house allowing the new kitten to acclimatise to her new environment. We may have cleaned the van top to bottom, but it seemed that Aimee could still catch a scent of Molly, and set about exploring and calling out for her lost ‘sister’. After a while she seemed content to just explore her new playhouse.

Discussions turned to names. Again, I was racking my brain for a female name related to a band or musician that would suit our new van kitty. As it felt like we were saving her from a furnace, we eventually landed at the name Aimee. After the former English band ‘Saving Aimee’.

Aware that we had still had a big drive ahead of us, we drove off, me driving again and Willow sat in the back offering comfort.

Unlike Molly, who seemed unfazed by the load roar of Ruby’s engine firing up. Aimee was startled, and quickly found a place to feel secure, nestled under our cushions.

Over the next couple of hours, Aimee was possessed by a hint of curiosity and crept out from her safe place, only to dart back at the first bump or loud noise that she heard.

Not wanting to traumatise our new cat within the first couple of hours, we pulled over at an interstate rest area assuming that we could stop here over night and then continue on our way the next morning. Oh how wrong we were. Rest areas do not consider sleeping rest, and so it seems they would prefer you to continue driving until you fall asleep at the wheel.

At this point, we were both sick of driving and so you can guess it, we pulled up at a Walmart just off the interstate. Unlike previous Walmarts, which had a small scattering of travellers and homeless people, this one seemed to be the hot spot for stopovers.

At this point we were both physically and emotionally drained, but at that point neither of us wanted to sleep. We were both content to sit and bond with our new American daughter.

Eventually the last 24 hours eventually caught up with us and so we climbed up into our bed, our eyes ready to drop as soon as our heads hit the pillow. It seemed Aimee had other ideas that night. Whether she was scared about being left alone in unfamiliar surrounding or she had just quickly bonded with the two strangers who had invited her into their van, she stood below the entrance to our bed crying up to us. We both knew that we should encourage her to settle into her new surroundings as quickly as possible, but after only a couple of minutes listening to her intent moaning, our hard resolve melted, and we brought her up with us to spend her first night with her surrogate parents. Her insistent cries quickly turned to purring, and she soon set about bombing around our bed, getting her paws or teeth into anything she could get to (mainly Willow’s toes!) And so in that moment our broken home (and hearts) started to feel complete again.

At some point, we all managed to get some sleep and woke up finally feeling optimistic about our trip again. We still had a lot of miles to cover to make it to Charlotte in time for our Adelitas Way concert, but before we departed Walmart, we decided to buy Aimee a bed, so she could develop a safe place in the van that she could go to during the day and when we go to bed at night.

With Charlotte firmly in our sight, we identified an actual southern camp site that we could park up at that wasn’t a Walmart. I don’t think a word exists yet that matches our level of excitement about staying somewhere other than a parking lot.

On the drive to the site, Aimee experimented with multiple places to make herself comfortable, except her bed (typical cat!)

Eventually we were pulling down a gravel track, leading into a wooded area named Yates Place with secluded parking spots for camping. This felt more like what we signed up for.

We seemed to have found better parking, but could help feel disappointed that we had lost the warm sun that we left behind when we headed back towards DC, but at that point we were just being selfish.

Eventually the pieces were finally clicking together and she even Aimee finally found her bed.

It wasn’t long before she was really appreciating her bed!

The camp site was situated in around the Uwharrie National Park, and had an interesting circular walk that we really fancied checking out whilst we were there, however the weather got from bad to worse over the course of the day, so for once we were forced into spending a day in the van.

Wednesday finally arrived and so we had one final drive to get out of the way to take us to Charlotte for the gig.

We made a stop off on the outskirts of Charlotte to look at a potential bike for me to buy. We had still been carting around the bike that Willow had only bought me this year and I had stupidly crushed whilst reversing the van early on in the trip. I ended up buying the bike for $50 and so we added an additional stop off to chuck my old bike in a land fill site. It seemed like such a waste, but we didn’t really have any other option.

Bike sorted, we headed to Amos Southend, the venue for the gig. We had done some research to see if we could potentially park the van in a pub next to the venue, but was horrified by multiple reviews of people who had their van towed whilst drinking in the bar. The reviewers seemed to suggest that the bar owner had a secret handshake with the responsible company. This was not something we were willing to risk, especially with Aimee living in the van.

We tried our luck with a multistorey car park opposite the venue, which was recommended by the venue’s website. The owners of the car park had clearly anticipated people doing this and had implemented a high restriction. With no clear sleeping arrangements, we parked in the bar next to the venue and decided to risk it there for the duration of the gig.

Parking up next to the bar, we were greeted to ‘America’ by a very enthusiastic guy named Andrew who apparently worked at the bar.

We spent the next couple of minutes listening to is cautionary warnings about attempting to sleep in the van in Charlotte. By the end of chat, I wasn’t sure what to be concerned more. Homeless people or towing companies? We eventually headed inside to order drinks, surely they would tow paying customers vehicles right?

Once back outside, Andrew introduced us to his colleagues. Apparently Andrew liked to talk more than he listened and he had told them that we were from Austria. Now I now that our accents are different, but I’m not quite sure how he managed to get those two countries confused? We spoke to his colleagues about our concerns about the van being towed and their reply was ‘Don’t worry… We don’t do that anymore!’ Not completely reassuring knowing that they used to do it, but we risked parking it there during the gig, leaving our bar receipt on the dash under their instruction.

Since needing to be in Pittsburgh for the friends reunion, we haven’t really had a timetable of places to be a part from this gig. Adelitas Way are a small self promoted band we have been following for a while now, they did actually come to Birmingham in support of Buckcherry and Hoobastank, however it was a Sunday night, just before summer when we were trying to cut back costs. So we’re were both very excited at the prospect of actually seeing them live.

The venue Amos Southend was quite small, but did have a small viewing balcony you could sit at.

As there were 4 bands playing, the opening band had already started by the time we arrived. They were a small local band who’s name I didn’t quite catch.

The next band were a band we had heard a few times on Spotify, their name is Blacklite District. A 2 piece poor man’s Hollywood Undead. And that is saying something. Even Hollywood Undead are a poor man’s band.

The ‘band’ consisted of a rapper and a singer/guitarist playing over synthesized beats and guitars.

As you can probably see from the picture, they even adorned a mask just like the Undead mob.

I actually really appreciated their effort for trying to make a band work, and to make matters worse, some of their songs were borderline catchy. They just didn’t quite understand the concept of writing lyrics that weren’t ridiculous, especially considering that they couldn’t hit the notes they probably could disguise on a digital version.

Their set finished, and we both couldn’t help but feel a little bit dirty for liking some of the songs we heard.

Up next, a band named The Black Moods. I had recently heard a song of theirs on Spotify which I actually really like, but hadn’t really given them anymore of my attention since hearing it.

The Black Moods were a funk old school rock’n’roll band and immediately caught our attention.

Willow was so impressed that she actually ended up buying a vest of their at the end of their ser. We even got to buy the best directly from the band, and spent the time between Adelitas Way talking about our trip. The lead singer was incredibly taken about our trip and was very grateful that we had taken the time to see his band.

Before we knew it, Adelitas Way were on stage, and we were finally rewarded for the extensive driving we had to put ourselves through in order to make the show.

Adelitas Way are a self promoted band from Las Vegas who have over 130,000,000 streams online and yet still struggle to be known in either America or England.

The band roared through their set list, playing all of their hits from their 4 albums, much to mine and Willow’s delight. It really pains me to see such talented song writers struggling to make their way in the music industry when there is so much rubbish plaguing the charts, and I love the fact that they refuse to believe that a record company is the way of achieving commercial success.

After the show, we finished our beer and waited to thank the singer for the show. We told him how we had detoured to Charlotte, which we was incredibly greatful for. He went on to tell us how he is desperate to come over to England and play at Download, but Andy, the festival organiser keeps moving the goal posts. If by any chance your reading this Andy, pull your finger out and get these guys on the bill next year!

As with all things you wait for in anticipation, the gig passed in a flash and we headed back to the tavern hoping to find Ruby where we had left her… We did. And we were greeted by a very enthusiastic kitty, happy to have some company. I think that was the longest we had left Aimee since picking her up.

Still paranoid about towing and homeless people breaking into the van (Thanks to Andrew!) We left the car park and drove to the outskirts of Charlotte to our favourite national supermarket car park.

Tomorrow we needed to stop off at a post office to collect some time we had sent by ‘general delivery’. All we had to do was get through a night in a car park a stone’s throw a way from a major road. To make matters worse, Aimee had figured out how to climb up to our sleeping area by herself.

Who needs sleep anyway?