Spoiler alert: Happy Ending
We had just sat down to have lunch when I noticed the tunnel was open and Gracie was gone. The Houdini cat had pulled it off again, managing to remove two clips and unzip the opening. So, off we went calling her name and checking with neighbors to see if they had spotted her.
Pete saw her in the thicket of palms and junk behind our RV but couldn't get within two feet of her before she'd run off deeper into it. This is a very dense area with lots of sharp edged plants, cactus, broken bottles and miscellaneous junk. There was a fence on the back edge, but with several gaps near the bottom.
This has happened before and she's always come back by nightfall. The major problem here is that we must vacate our lot before 11:00 the following morning.
We had many neighbors helping us look for her, one man even brought over his German Shepherd to see if he would be able to spot her. All to no avail.
I put on my jeans and tennis shoes to protect myself from the hazards and wandered around as best I could, walking through several nasty spider webs in the process. Yuck!
The sun was starting to go down and we hoped and prayed she would show up before we have to leave the park. There is no option of staying as the park is full.
Plan A was: ask if we could park in the overflow dry camp area for another day or two and then sit near where we last saw her.
Plan B was: send Left Brain to Ft Myers with the RV and I'd stay with the car and tent, begging permission to camp near the spot we last saw her. I was sure several of the neighbors would give me permission to do this.
She has been micro-chipped but given the large feral cat population here I doubt anyone would give her a second look. But I prepared Lost Cat flyers to hang in the area, the office and cabana if we had to finally leave without her return.
Needless to say I was beside myself with grief. During a nice long hot shower I sobbed my heart out and begged G-d to please have her return safely. I probably made promises to Him that we both knew I'd never follow through on.
New Year's Eve has always been a sad day for me, as my cousin (more like a sister) died unexpectedly on this date many years ago. I have always hated the loud noises and fireworks that come with this celebration, especially here in south Miami as the news has been asking people to please not shoot their guns at midnight. What? Apparently it's a tradition here to shoot your guns up into the air. Yikes. What goes up must come down...this was not comforting.
Before long it was dark and we kept the door open with the light on as we tried to distract ourselves with the TV. I noticed George was sitting by the door and staring outside. He was missing her also and I was wondering how to deal with a despondent feline if she failed to return as they are inseparable.
About 7:15 I spotted her looking into the tunnel from which she had escaped earlier. Trying to be as calm as possible so as not to spook her I went outside and told her it was late and she should come in, walking slowly towards her as I spoke. I was ready to do a Clay Matthews style tackle if necessary.
She seemed very satisfied with her six hour jaunt and came in willingly and after a long drink of water nibbled on a few crunchies. I got her brushed out and removed some of the debris she had picked up, but otherwise she seemed no worse for wear. I think Left Brain and I suffered much more from her escapade than she did.
Happy New Year!
Long Live the Very Relieved Queen