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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy 2012!

2011 went so fast! People say time does that as you get older...
Practiced clean habits.
Enjoyed the beach.

Made new friends.
Took time to smell the roses.

Enjoyed doing things I love with people who are fun to be with..

Always remembered my old friends.

Visited some interesting places with interesting people.
Enjoyed myself wherever I was.
Made sure to get plenty of rest.
Never took myself too seriously.

Welcomed new family members!
Saw some strange sights.

And had a great time celebrating the holidays!
Hope your year was as much fun. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours!

I'm all dressed up in my jingle bell collar - can you see one bell peeking out from my fur? Hope this Christmas each of you is able to find a way to grant a special wish for someone you love.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Book About A Puppy

This is Archie, when he came to join our family almost 9 years ago.

Since this is gift giving time, I thought I might take up more space than usual to recommend a book - especially for people who might be thinking about giving/getting a pet.

First, I was not sure I would like “The Puppy Diaries - Raising a Dog named Scout.” Since it was written by Jill Abramson, a managing editor of The New York Times, I figured it might be a little snooty for my tastes, but I liked her writing style - not the least bit uppity.

She tells the trials of a New Yorker raising her British Standard Golden Retriever. (British Standards are more cream colored than the reddish gold more used associated with the breed.) Whether you live in the country or city, any pet owner, but especially a puppy owner, can relate to the trials that she goes through incorporating Scout into her life style.

She takes a few jabs at Cesar Millan throughout the book but by the end, her conclusion was the same as I have - dogs need different training/behavior methods at different times in their lives. Any one who has a dog as part of their family knows the dog is not a stagnant being and behaviors change, for better or worse. It’s up to the thinking members of the family to come up with what will work for their dog at that particular time.

Jill is not the first person to be put-off by Cesar’s methods but I always wonder if the people who knock him are watching/reading the same information as me. He is never mean or hurtful to dogs. When you see him on TV with his pack, there is no doubt - those dogs love him. I think dogs know what they like and they like Cesar. In case you haven’t noticed, I like Cesar (on TV anyway), too.

What I really like about this book, though, doesn’t sugar coat anything. She told about the problems she had with her pup, even those that were grounded in her own insecurities. Scout was not a “Marley,” but she did misbehave once in awhile and had some real issues Jill had to address.

Which is why, if you are thinking about getting a dog or know someone who is, read this book first. I think too many dogs end up in shelters because the families think it’s going to be like a Disney cartoon once they get their pet home. Puppies need training, love and to be a part of the pack. For most of them, that means they need to live inside the house with their humans. If you aren’t willing to put up with the changes a pet will make in your routine or the responsibility a pet entails, please just leave that cute puppy in the window. If you are thinking of giving a pet as a gift, make sure the intended “receivers” are also aware of the changes this gift will make in their lives.

If you do feel you are ready to include a canine member in your family, and especially if you are thinking about a puppy, take the time to read Ms. Abramson’s book. After reading it, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

To Grandmother's House We Go...

This week we decided to visit family in Springville.

We park outside Aunt Lisa & Uncle Henry's house. They have a new dog, Shorty. He is so little, I thought he was a toy. Then he started moving around - he was very fast.

The nice thing about traveling RV style, I have a place of my own for pets and people to meet me. Shorty and I got along, even though he's real little. We had fun together, until he got a 'Frosty Paw' (dog ice cream - D). He was not into sharing.

In Springville, sometimes you can walk around without a leash! I went exploring and came across some strange animals. Were they huge dogs? Little horses? What were they?
I'm not sure they knew what to think of me, either.

This is my friend, Ella. We've met before. She lives across the street from where we park the motor home. She usually takes a little time to remember me but, finally, she does and then we have some nice walks.

Grandma and Grandpa live nearby. I can't go to their house because their dogs are not into socializing. Grandma and Grandpa always come to see me, though. I think Grandpa is more of a dog person, but I can tell I am winning Grandma over.

Grandma & Grandpa watching TV with Mike
Have a tail-wagging week!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Happy Place

Guess where I went last week?  Disneyland! Of course, I don’t really get to see too much of it - parking lot, tram ride, ticket area, kennel.

There were other dogs on board the tram, too - “working” dogs. Sometimes I think I should get a vest but since I don’t go to the bathroom "on command" and I am rather excited when anyone acts interested in me, people would probably realize I was faking it.

So, to the kennels I go after walking through crowds of people, which is fun because everyone notices me and I get lots of attention - I like that part. But we didn’t want to waste too much time - kennel cages are first come, first served - no reservations! Get there late and you might get stuck in a little cage. After I got mine, there was only one other big one left. We got there early (The kennels open ½ hour before the park. -D) but they seem to be more accomodations for little dogs than big ones.

My paper work filled out, my shot record studied (Be sure to bring up-to-date proof of vaccines. No proof and the dog does not get in - NO EXCEPTIONS! - D) and I was shown to my clean cage. I had my blanket, treats and a couple of toys with me, so I was set. A bowl for food and water was provided and the Disney crew did a good job of making sure I always had something to drink and came by to say hello.

My kennel-mates were nice and well-mannered as we waited for our people to come back to walk us from time to time. The walking area isn’t really all that big but Mike and Dana could throw my ball for me to chase after.

The only scary part - Disney’s grand fire works. Mike came back to the kennels just as they were going off but some of my canine buddies were not so lucky - they were alone and shook.

I went back for a second day. I was pretty excited about seeing friends I’d made the day before. I got more attention as we rode the tram and then I pulled Mike through the ticket area to the kennel pretty fast - something you know I don't do very often. You would think I was going to visit old friends - maybe I was.

We all had a great time at Disneyland/California Adventure but was it crowded! Schools were out, which explains why there were times, if we had fallen over, we wouldn't have to worry about hitting the ground. Still, it’d been a few years since our last visit and, except for the disappointment over Pirates being closed for refurbishing, it was still a magical place.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm Back!

My turn - finally - here’s some more stuff about ME!

By now, you know what I look like - big, golden and very fuzzy. Dana calls me her fuzz-muffin.

Furry is good, kids like it, but I do get hot. Even when everyone else is cool, like when it’s foggy or overcast, I’ll still heat up and start panting. Dana worries my brain might explode - she read that somewhere about dogs’ brains. So, I got a K-9 Kool Coat Ó - made in the USA! The material is a special mesh fabric that blocks UV-rays. If it’s super hot, Mike or Dana can soak it in water before they put it on me. I haven’t had it long, but I did try it a couple of times and it really does seem to help. Another thing, look how slim I look in it!

(Hope you like this pic of Archie in his Kool Coat; it sure was hard work to get it to appear for some reason. - D)

So high temps - not my friend. But then, when it gets too cold or damp, I limp because my front legs hurt. My vet says I have arthritis, which feels like a lot of needles stabbing into my joints. DeramaxÓ to the rescue! It helps a lot - I can walk without limping! It’s kind of expensive so, after experimenting, we found I can usually get by on ½ a tablet daily but every once in awhile, when it’s really wet and damp, we gotta boost it back up to a full one for a few days.

Dana says I’m like those people that are never happy - either too hot or too cold. Until next time - Archie

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Take a Look Around

The problem with RV parks and campgrounds now days - some of them have so many things to do, you might not want to leave and see what else is in the area.

For example, the first time we were in Sedona, we stayed in the campground the first two days. Imagine our surprise when we finally ventured out and saw stunning landscape:

After our daughter’s family got their own rig, they let the kids decide where we would take our first big summer trip - they picked Mt. Rushmore, again. I was a little disappointed because I was anxious to add a new state or two to my USA sticker map. Besides, I thought we’d seen it all the first time around: visited the monument at night where we saw the patriotic lighting ceremony, rode the 1880 train out of Keystone, and visited the Crazy Horse monument. There was no talking them out of it, the kids had their hearts set on returning to the KOA we’d stayed at last time because they’d had so much fun and probably wanted to spend most of their time in the camp. I figured, since we were traveling from home this time, we’d came in from the west, so at least the drive itself would be new.

If we hadn’t gone back, I would have missed the hike around Mt. Rushmore (President’s trail) and getting caught in a rain storm that drove us inside where we got to hear “President Lincoln” give a speech. This time we visited the Rushmore Cave where we heard tales of its history while we walked through designated areas. Then there was the chair lift; a whole new perspective on the monument. We took an ATV ride - got up close and personal with the Black Hills who also got up close with us; we were so dirty. We also visited Bear Country, where we saw more wild life in one drive through that park than all our other trips put together. See, we didn't spend so much time in the camp ground after all.

Another trip that illustrates the hazards of not driving around a little when you get some place, was our first time in Tahoe. We came in from the east and after a beautiful drive along the south-side of the lake to get to the campground, we felt like the direction we came in was the only way to go - that all the action was to the right. My husband decided to hunt for bear, the carved kind. So, every day when we left the camp ground - we turned right. We never found what he was looking for. Then we headed home and had to actually turn left. What did we see? A huge assortment of carved bears. This place was so close, we could have walked from our motor home - if we’d only gone the other direction!

So, when you take a trip, whether you stay in a camp ground, hotel or a relative’s house, make time to see some of the surrounding area. If you don’t, who knows what you’ll have missed!

And if you can - take your dog with you! Archie

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Don't Leave Home Without It

The most used “gadget” on our motor home is the awning. How can anyone go RVing without one? Depending on the direction we’re parked, one side of our rig always stays shady.

Awnings are handy for hanging things, too. People tend to use it to hang ornamental lights, wind chimes and other decorations from it. I used to do that until one night in Mitchell, South Dakota. It was around two a.m., when the sound of the awning bouncing up and down woke me out of a deep sleep. I waited to see if it was a “jump out of bed quick” sound because, after all, Mike had spiked it into the ground. Another hard shudder and I knew it was a husband-waking worthy moment. On our way out, to save the awning, lucky for me, my son-in-law, who was along this trip, woke up and took my place in the awning brigade; I got to stay inside. Since this spot was a one-night stand, I hadn’t put our lights or any other decorations out but it still took them awhile to get it safely secured. After fighting the wind for awhile, they were finally able to roll it up. The guys looked around before they came back in and felt bad for the tent campers who were trying to sleep with their tents flat against their faces. After that night, I don’t hang a lot from our awning.

Another time, as we checked into an RV park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a couple pulled in with their awning hanging down from the side of their trailer. Their story - the winds picked up speed as they drove along the 40 and blew their awning so hard it extended itself out. Before they could get their rig pulled over, it had ripped partly away. I felt bad for them but got to experience it for myself on another trip as we headed up the 5 to visit my folks. My husband suddenly veered to the side of the road. When I asked what was wrong, he told me to look in my side-view mirror - our awning was flapped out, waving at passing traffic. We pulled over, jumped out and tried to get the awning to roll back into its cylinder but the wind kept catching it. Mike jumped back in the motor home while I walked beside it holding on to the awning trying to keep it from getting damaged. Mike pulled up onto the side of the road so he could park it out of the way of traffic but still use it as a wind block - scary. That maneuver enabled us to roll the awning back up and drive to the nearest Camping World, which actually wasn’t too much farther, where we bought an awning lock - don’t leave home without it!

Then there was the time we were parked at a casino RV park. On our walk the evening before, we had noticed a couple of rigs with torn and ripped awnings. We figured the owners had been having too much fun gambling and hadn’t noticed the wind’s increase in velocity. This time, we hadn’t used our awning because of a bad storm but it still got wet. Once the rain passed and the sun came out, we decided to unwind the awning and let it dry out a little. Since we were sitting right there in our chairs, enjoying the sun and weren’t going to leave it out too long, we didn’t bother with the de-flappers or to stake and anchor the awning. We were just watching the clouds go by, when I noticed how fast they were moving and said, “Mike, I think we should put the awning away.” He looked up at the sky and then at me and said, “I think it’ll be all right for a little while longer. The awning really needs to dry out.” At that very moment, it was like two, large invisible hands reached down from heaven, lifted the awning up and pushed the opposite ends up into a V-shape. This emancipated the awning and slammed the now free flying arms into the motor home before the whole thing flew up and landed on the roof! Our jaws dropped and we just stared. It had happened so fast, neither one of us even moved out of the way, so I was glad none of the free-flying aluminum had headed our way. Some of our camping neighbors came over to assist and Mike was able to get all the pieces off the top of the motor home and in a nice pile.

So, an awning is a necessity in my opinion but it can add excitement to your trip!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What are you doing with that thing?

Happy Halloween!

Why do you want to a motor home anyway? My people are always getting asked that question - nobody ever asks me. Wonder why?

Well, I’m glad we have one because no matter where we go, we’re always home. In the truck or Scion, I get nervous because I know Mike and Dana will go some place without me and then I’ll be left in a strange place by myself - I don’t like that.

Guess what? Mike doesn’t like to sleep in strange beds. In the motor home, where ever he ends up at night, he always gets to sleep in his own bed.

Sometimes, we can do good deeds in the motor home, like when Dana’s grandma needed to go from one daughter’s house to the other’s. We picked her up and took her, about 350 miles. In the motor home she could lay down and rest whenever she wanted. When it was time to eat, she didn’t even have to get out if she didn’t want to. As for me, I prefer to eat in the motor home because, for some reason, restaurants are not crazy about big dogs.

Once Genie went to a conference and needed someone to babysit her baby girl. We were able to get an RV spot not too far from the conference and Genie could come over whenever she had the chance.

When we visit relatives, we always have our own place to stay - no one has to give up their room when we come to visit.

The best thing about a motor home? It’s easy it is to change the scenery. Need some fresh mountain air? Drive on up. Miss the feel of sea spray from ocean waves? Head on over to the beach. Want to view a desert sunset? Just get there before the sun goes down.

Our favorite thing? Hanging out at a campground or RV park where family and friends can come over and be with us.

See you on the road!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

California RV Show

Last weekend, we went to the 59th Annual California RV Show at the Fairplex in Pomona. It’s fun to check out all the different types of recreational vehicles - the ones you don’t think you’d ever be interested in and those you don’t think you could never afford.

There were trailers - folding camp trailers, travel trailers, toy haulers, and 5th wheels. Found the iconic Airstreams but didn’t see Teardrops or the relatively new R-Pods - we were told regular trailers are now built so light, there’s no need for this smaller category. All the motor homes were there, from Class A to Class C, including the mini-A’s and the converted vans/Class B.

We had a great time but RV shows used to be even more fun because of the other related displays. One year, some of the antique RV’s were on display. That was great fun, looking at what some people had put together out of necessity and the ingenious amenities that had been manufactured in those early models, like wall slides, making you wonder how they’d come up with something like that in the “olden” days. We enjoyed looking at them and imagining how it would feel to camp-out or travel cross-country in those early accommodations. Another year, someone brought in a huge, Class A that could also float and be used as a house boat - too cool!

Today, there are interesting activities going on at the side stages. Seminars included cooking shows, specific dealer demonstrations, RV adventures, RV maintenance and even new ways to find campgrounds. These programs would especially benefit new RV owners - before starting out with their new toy.

Being the gadget junkie that I am, I miss the “cool” vendors - those selling devices an RVer just shouldn’t be without. Used to be, you could walk through the vendor tent/s and see bed sacks, portable campfires, easy to fold/store hammocks and stand-up dryers that did their job leaving a minimum number of wrinkles while heating up the motor-home, a handy benefit if it's cold outside. Camping World used to show up, too, usually with some supplies you knew you better get while you were there. The vendor tent is still pretty full but it’s mostly with mechanical and maintenance products (boring to me), insurance brokers (yawn) and, of course, Good Sam’s Club - a good thing to know about, especially if you are an inexperienced RVer.

Maybe it was just me - we've been wrestling with the cost of RVing in our motor home, can we really afford it? So finances are on my mind. There seemed to be an air of resignation hovering around the exhibitors’ area. When the economy is bad, the RV industry is always hit hard. On the other hand, we don’t usually attend the RV show until near the end instead of when it starts, so that mood could be due to timing. But with gasoline prices sky rocketing, maybe there is just a general feeling of, “How much longer can we hang with it?” from the sellers and the buyers.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Wild Life

Had some technical troubles, so I’m a little late getting this out. Since I’m in a hurry, thought I’d just put out some of the wild life pics from our last trip.

Some of you are going to see just how urban we really are; most of you see more wildlife from your porch than we saw on our trips. Honestly, when we “camp” in the motor home, we like amenities, you know, like hook-ups. We are not “boon dockers” - not that there’s anything wrong with that. But camping the way we do, limits the wildlife interaction so, we get excited about it when we see any.

In Yosemite we saw a raven named Kevin. This guy was so tame and hung around the park tram so much they named him. (If an animal gets named, is it still wild?) We have a lot of crows at our house, but not friendly like Kevin.

While walking in the parking lot, my keen-eyed grandson spotted an injured butterfly, the tip of one wing was missing. Since was on the ground where many people were walking, Garrett put him in a bush. Not sure that was helpful but at least he didn’t get squished.

This was our top encounter. In Yosemite Village, we were sitting on a rock wall outside of one of the stores and this deer just walked right up...

...and started eating a bush.

On to Lake Tahoe and this osprey's pictures tell it's own story.

In Tahoe we took the gondola up to the top where we heard coyotes howling. Rangers told us they had just made a kill. The coyotes blended in so well with the landscape, I had a hard time seeing them. Finally, I spotted one lone fellow:

Well, the rest of the pics aren't downloading so will stop here. Have a wild week!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Archie by Truck

Now everybody knows, I’m a travelin’ dog. Mainly, I roam via motor home - sometimes referred to as the “dog” house. But every once in awhile, we have to take our car or truck, for instance, when we go to the Mitchell family reunions. Luckily for me, they’re held at a pet-friendly hotel.

We used to have another truck, but I didn’t like it. There was a shell covering the truck bed. Mike and Dana thought that would be a good place for me to ride - BY MYSELF! They said, “Oh Archie will love moving around back there. He can have all the windows open and get lots of air.” What?!! Why would I want to be stuck back there by myself, on that hard floor? There was a perfectly good, comfy seat just waiting for some dog hair.

So, one day, while we were driving down the street, I stuck my head through the window of the shell that opened into the back of the truck’s cab. I saw Mike and Dana each had a seat and there was a perfectly good seat I could have all to myself right underneath my head. I decided there must’ve been some mistake. I stuck my head through the opened window just a little farther. No one seemed to notice and that seat looked a lot more comfortable than where I was riding. So, I just raised myself up a little and, bam, went right through. I heard a loud crack and a bunch of crackling, but I was in that seat. There was a lot of crunchy stuff under me - the whole window was in the seat with me, seems my rib cage was wider than the opening. I looked out the window hoping no one would notice but I couldn't help but notice Mike and Dana’s expressions - surprise followed by, well, I’m not sure what those expressions meant.

(Surprise? This is a dog that won’t even use the pet door, which is plenty wide. Archie also refuses to push open a door that is just not quite open wide enough for him to go through without touching his sides. So, his going through a window was totally unexpected. All I can say is, he must’ve really wanted that seat! - D)
After that, we fixed the window and sold that truck. The next one had a bigger back seat and no shell and now, I always ride in the back seat.
So, we drove to the reunion in our truck. The people at this hotel are very nice to me - they always make a fuss when I arrive. Of course, everyone notices me when I make an entrance because I’m very big and very furry and very noticeable.

But when I went into the family meeting room, what did I see - competition! It was a new cousin from Las Vegas and totally opposite of me. I am big; this dog was little, not just smaller than me, I mean, really little. I am a guy; this dog was a girl. I have light-colored fur and a lot of it; hers was mostly dark and not much of it. What do you do with a canine that small anyway?

What's she going to do - sit on my nose?

And you want me to do what with this little dog?

Are you sure that's a dog?

Well, if she's related, she can't be too bad.
In spite of this new dog in attendance, the reunion was fun. I got lots of love pats from everyone around me because, luckily, I am in a dog-friendly family, too!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trip of the Trees

(Archie says, "Dogs love trees - we leave our personal information with trees so other dogs can learn about us - they're kind of like social bulletin boards for dogs.")

“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and all its fullness; let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.” - Psalm 96:11-13a Sometimes, vacations unintentionally take on a theme of their own. Looking over pictures from our July RV trip, I decided this one was all about the trees.

Our first sight-seeing day, when we rode the Sugar Pines Express, we encountered the train’s namesake, said to be the tallest of all pines (around 200 feet). It can live up to 500 years. This tree gets its name because the resin in the bark is sweet. I thought the name came from the short, stiff needles that make the branches look like they’ve been sprinkled with sugar.

Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove was next. These famous trees are Giant Sequoias, quite tall at 290 feet. Many of the trees here are so unique they’ve been given names.

The grove isn’t the only place with trees in Yosemite - there are plenty of trees all around this national park.

At Lake Tahoe, there are trees everywhere. I think they were mostly Ponderosa Pines at our campsite, but they were so thick, we had a hard time seeing the stars at night.

Next stop, Santa Cruz, which included a visit to the Redwood Grove Nature Trail in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The trees in this park are just majestic!

Redwoods are the world’s tallest trees and they repel fire and disease. One tree is about 270 feet tall and over 17 feet wide - almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty. They only grow in temperate, foggy, moist conditions. You could also see Douglas-fir, Tan Oak and Bay trees on the trail.

We took a drive over to Pebble Beach and, among other impressive sites, saw awesome Cypress Trees.

Then there were some pretty big Eucalyptus Trees at Natural Bridges State Park.

Look at the size of that branch!
During our last stop, in Buellton, we visited the Santa Inez Mission. Perhaps that was where we saw the most inspiring “tree.”

Have a wonderful week!