California Vacation Over-shadowed by Shadow

Me and the enemy!

Me and the enemy!

I first met Shadow in September of 2011. It was a brief meeting, and completely uneventful.  We posed for this photo, and that was about it. We later met in January of 2013 (2 weeks ago). It was this second meeting that was a pivotal one!

I have always been severely allergic to cats and typically avoid them at all costs. In fact, I now suffer from asthma that resulted from accidental feline contact about four years ago. That was debilitating, and knocked me on my butt for several weeks. The doctor prescribed a rescue inhaler, which is now a staple in my handbag. So basically, cats are my kryptonite!

OK, now that you have the background on my cat allergy, I can tell you about my recent California vacation…

I always look forward to going to California, no matter the reason and no matter which part of the state I am visiting.  Seeing the Pacific Ocean has a mellowing effect on me, and immediately calms my thoughts, my nerves and my pace.  Seeing the Pacific Ocean gives me renewed perspective and helps me recenter when things get a little crazy.

I had looked forward to this trip for a couple of months, particularly because I was going to visit my BFF, Cheryl Howe. It had been a year since we had last seen each other, and we were both counting down the days until my visit.

Finally the day had arrived! I boarded the plane early in the morning and took my seat in First Class. This is not the typical way that I travel, but this was a treat, courtesy of my airline miles. A Bloody Mary or two later, my plane touched down in San Diego and Cheryl picked me up at the airport.  We had an awesome day together in La Jolla.  We ate lunch at George’s at the Cove overlooking the ocean, sipped Cosmos (our signature drink whenever we are together), and caught up on life.

George's at the Cove La Jolla, CA

George’s at the Cove
La Jolla, CA

We spent the afternoon doing a little shopping before driving to Cheryl’s house.  We entered through her back gate, where I was greeted by her two dogs, Texas Jones and Jenny. They were both very happy to see me. Tails were wagging, and little dog smiles formed on their faces as I eagerly petted them.  After several minutes, they calmed down, and something else caught my attention. From the corner of my right eye I noticed two green eyes staring at me.  Oh no…it was Shadow! I was face-to-face with my enemy!

I gave her a look, and she gave one right back at me. I didn’t have to say anything. We both knew…a line had been drawn in the sand. I knew I had to stay away from her, and I hoped that she would respectfully do the same. But no, instead she was thinking: “Game on!”

A couple of hours later, I could feel Shadow starting to get to me. My throat was getting scratchy, but I was still determined that I wasn’t going to let her win. I had waited too long for this trip, and tomorrow I was going to feel a lot better. Right? Not exactly!

The next morning I woke up to the sound of my own coughing and grasping for air. Yep, I was having a little asthma attack. So, I reached for my trusty inhaler, took a couple of puffs, then headed for the shower. The fact that it was raining and very humid outside didn’t help matters.

I am not going to take you play by play through each day of my decline, but suffice it to say that for three days, there was no escaping Shadow and her crippling effects on my health. Everywhere I went, there she was. Then on the last night, when I was feeling the worst, I decided to go to bed early. I was quarantined behind closed doors in my own little shroud of hand sanitizer, with an air purifier running at mach speed, and most of my belonging sealed for my protection in Ziploc bags.

At one point in the middle of the night, I heard her. She was at my door. She was meowing and clawing at the door trying to get in. I even saw her paw swiping underneath the door trying to open it. I buried my head in my pillow to drown out her cries, until finally she went away.

As the sun came up, I quickly jumped into the shower, called a hotel, then packed my suitcase. I was getting worse and worse. I felt so bad, because Cheryl and I had really looked forward to my trip, but all the fun had been overshadowed by Shadow. It was so foggy outside that I could hardly even see the ocean that I loved so much.

Sunset in Carlsbad, CA

Sunset in Carlsbad, CA

Just about the time that I arrived at the hotel, I noticed the sun starting to peek through the clouds. I at least made sure that I had a room with an ocean view. After a long nap, I woke up just in time to see a gorgeous California sunset through my window.

When the sun rose the following morning, it revealed an incredibly blue sky. I was able to enjoy the view for a few minutes and take a couple of photos, before leaving for the airport. I was heading home a day early. Unfortunately, this had been a California misadventure.

As I sat on the plane (again in First Class), I thought to myself that this had really not been a total disaster. The night before, Cheryl had reminded me of how our friendship was like a marriage, and we were going to have good vacations and bad vacations together, but there would always be a next vacation together. She was right! We have been best friends since we were 12, and have an unbreakable bond and friendship that has many times transcended all time and space. And our next time together is actually just around the corner…I will be heading to San Diego in May.

As for Shadow the scary poltergeist, who relentlessly stalked me for three grueling days until finally driving me away…well played!


  1. Sorry to hear about the misadventures with Shadow. At least the sun came up for you a little bit. Perhaps the next trip will be spent in a hotel. She can come visit you with her pooches

    Great Read as always Michelle!


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