So imagine you quit your job, sell or rent out your apartment, pack your favourite things in your camper van and set off with your partner driving the widths and lengths of the picturesque landscapes of North America. This young couple did exactly what your dream might be. A young British couple did precisely the latter two years ago and they are still on the road. What makes their story special is a cat that they’ve rescued a cat on the way. And now they cannot imagine their life without their feline companion to the point of taking decision to stay in Mexico for a whole extra year.

Lee Hodges, 33 and Willow Rolfe 29,  both teachers, began their road trip across North America in August 2019 in their restored VW van. Two months into their journey while in Washington DC they decided to to adopt a stray cat which shortly became a member of the family. Bored Panda got it touch with the couple on the road to see how they’re doing.

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Meet Willow, Lee and their adopted cat Aimee they’ve found in Washington DC

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

Aimee was rescued a few months into their road trip

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

The couple felt like they needed to rescue an animal as they have left two of their own cats at home. However firstly they rescue a small black kitten which they called Molly, but sadly the very young and sick animal passed away in a few days. Shortly after they ended up rescuing Aimee and she has been on the road with with the couple ever since. They even joke that the cat is ‘better traveled than most people’. Aimee the cat is fully trained to walk on a leash so that she could join her human companions in their outdoor adventures including the famous trail in Monument Valley. A well behaved, as Lee mentioned before attracted a lot of strange looks. “People can’t believe we have a cat on a lead happily trotting along with us as they think travelling with cats isn’t possible, but we have actually met several people on the road with their cats.”

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

As they crossed from USA to Mexico, Aimee got attacked by a pack of dogs

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

That left her with a broken leg

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

The two Brits with their adopted cat headed to Mexico and unfortunately as trips occasionally turn rough Aimee got attacked by a pack of dogs that left her paw broken. But this didn’t reduce the trio’s wanderlust; they’ve waited for the cat to get back on her feet (literally) and then continued with the trip.

Since the pandemic hit Willow and Lee wanted to return home to the UK, but they simply couldn’t leave Aimee behind. They have been planning their trip for years and in 2015 they bought an old beat up VW to restore. Conveniently Willow was working as a motor vehicle lecturer at the mechanical college and spent 2 years fixing it. Willow and Lee, as most of the great adventurers, quit their jobs, rented out their home and embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip through North America.

The pandemic has brought Mexico to a standstill as the national parks, beaches and other tourist attractions, normally alluring adventurers to this country, have been closed. The travelling trio have faced annoyed locals and health officials moving from one location to another while trying to find where to isolate not exceeding their daily budget of £17.50.

Her leg needed time to heal and the pandemic began trapping them in Mexico

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

They just couldn’t leave their feline companion behind

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

According to Willow, Aimee the cat is super needy, but the couple loves that anyway. “She sleeps in our bed every night and gives us lots of love. She is also the perfect van cat, she loves to travel and gets fed up if we don’t drive around enough. Aimee never runs off, but loves to explore, so we can park up and let her enjoy the trip too. We love having a cat, as we get a companion, but with less restrictions than owning a dog.”
And biting is one of Aimee’s favorite things to do. “She loves to bite everything, especially you and helpful things like your tickets or laptop screens. She also loves climbing trees and going for walks as long as she doesn’t get her paws wet.”

Unfortunately their VW van broke down twice and they are still waiting for parts

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

Unfortunately just recently as the trio decided to make their way home across the Atlantic to the UK, their trusty VW camper van broke down leaving them stranded in Mexico where they have been staying since Aimee got injured. The return home is facing delays as they now have to fix the van and reach USA where the main intention is to catch a ferry from one of the ports. Since the replacement engine came they are facing more technical issues and are waiting for more parts to arrive.

One of the biggest challenge for them at the moment is the time and permits as their humanitarian visa is running out in February and the USA borders only announced to open from 21st of January, so the time is cutting close.

The couple and the cat are doubtful of trying to make to it to a Mexican freight port and prefer to ship from the US so for now they are just waiting to get their VW van back on the road. As the internet is closely following the trip of the couple and their rescued cat, one thing is clear that Aimee is most likely a better explorer than most of the people as by now she visited 15 states in the USA and two countries which makes her a pretty wordy pet.

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

Aimee the cat is now waiting for the journey back to the UK as they are still stuck in Mexico

Image credits: Willow Rolfe

“Our trip is mostly fantastic, despite the breakdowns and COVID. We love seeing new countries, cultures, and people. We have made some friends for life and learnt a new language. We have also seen some fantastic places we never knew existed. The thing that is most incredible is the kindness and hospitality of everyday people. In the media, we see so much negativity, but whenever we have found ourselves needing tools or a space to stay, we have always found people to be incredibly kind and trusting, welcoming us into their lives across both the US and Mexico even when we are complete strangers, and that has made this trip truly special,” shared Willow.

Image credits: Willow Rolfe