Friday, October 29, 2010

RV Adventures

This morning we took our new RV in for actual RV service - get the generator working, the heat working, and a myriad of other stuff that needs to get done in order for it to be really livable and fun for us. We knew we'd have to leave the Cookie for several days, so Hope drove the RV and I drove my car, so that we could both get home. The RV place is about 45 minutes from our house, and of course I got lost when I was almost there. I don't think we've mentioned that I can get lost in the Florida Keys, where there is one road. Anyway, I realized that I took a wrong turn pretty quickly, but Hope called my cell when I was headed back in the right direction. Despite the fact that she left after I did, and had to drive somewhat slower, she was at the service place first and called me. Story of my life. Lost... - Fran

Friday, October 22, 2010

Break to dog training...

A break from Hope's first RV adventure! I'm happy to say that Tango is starting - just starting - to "get it!" He's starting to understand the rules of the house - he does his business outside for the most part, although he can hold for much longer than any other male dog I've ever known (due to the fact that the first 11 months of his life were spent wearing a belly band). He's learning to settle down with a bone when we want to relax - he doesn't have to be on the move 24-7! Tango is learning to differentiate between "sit" and "down." Doesn't sound too tough? Well, usually it's not, but Tango's so operant that he'll still offer every behavior in his repertoire most times when anyone pays attention to him. Getting better, though. And he's leaving the other dogs and people alone during our agility class, mostly. Only a couple of barks last night! And Tango is learning how to "stay" - that one's really tough, though, because more than anything Tango loves to be doing stuff. I still keep telling myself that I've only had him 7 months. Doing things right takes time. Lots and lots of time. Weeks and weeks, and months and months ... - Fran

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rv adventure - Part IV

I had a lovely rest of the evening, talking with my neighbors, then settling in with a good book and a Diet Coke, snug in my new RV at the Cheerful Valley Campground. It was getting just a wee bit chilly, so I decided to turn on the furnace. It immediately turned on - a good thing. Blowing cold air. Not so good.
During this trip I had with me only the things I could carry on the plane. No extra anything. Including blankets. It was a bit of a chilly night.
Next morning was gorgeous. I woke up early and decided to tackle the infamous black tank dumping that everyone dreads from the scene in the Robin Williams movie RV - Runaway Vacation.
The first thing I did was get out my sewer hose and hooked it up to the RV. No problem. Stretched it out (it's built like an enormous flexible straw) toward the hole in the ground it's supposed to attach to. And could not, if my life had depended on it, get out the plug from the hole in the ground. I tried. I tried really, really hard. No luck.
So I walked up to the campground office to get some help. I'm never reluctant to ask for help from experts. It saves lots of time and energy. But the office didn't open until 9 a.m. It was 7:30 or so.
I took a walk, took the pictures in the previous post. Sat and read. And waited. Finally, about 8:45, I went back to the office and was delighted it was open early. I explained the problem and the "strict dad" from the night before met me at the campsite.
I'm delighted to say - I didn't get it wrong. Some idjit drove over the plug and jammed it in. It took tools to get it out. And the actual dumping part? Easy! No muss, no fuss, no bother. I can see how it might go horribly wrong, but it didn't!
Cleaned up, emptied out, ready to go! I set out on the next stage of my trip, with a stop that night at another campground west of Cleveland, Ohio.
On the drive that day I learned that the RV is water-tight (it poured in parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), it likes flat country much better than mountains, and that I can, in fact, drive it and park it at a mall. There was a nice-sized mall at my interstate exit in Ohio and I really wanted to pick up some blankets for that night. If you're willing to walk - there's usually plenty of parking on the outskirts of most malls. While my parking job wasn't the neatest - it worked.
So on Sunday night I arrived 10 minutes too late to check in at the American Wilderness Family Campground in Grafton, Ohio. And if all, or even most, campgrounds are as nice as the two I've visited so far - I'm hooked.

Monday, October 11, 2010

RV Adventure - Part III

I spent the first night of my adventure at the Cheerful Valley Campground in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I'm sure it's an absolutely gorgeous area - unfortunately, I arrived well after dark and was unable to marvel at its beauty.
I was lucky that the incredibly nice couple who manager (own?) Cheerful Valley was still in the office. I checked in and the nice lady assigned a space to me, and explained how to get there: "Go around the Class A - you can't miss it it's 40 feet long, swing around over by the bathrooms and it's over on the left. Just back in there."
This is about the place where an absolutely panicked look must have overtaken me. I explained that I wasn't used to navigating the RV at all, had never been to an RV campground before, had never backed it up, and wouldn't recognize the hookups I was supposed to park near.
They took pity on me. "Carl will guide you down and show you how. But he's a tough dad - he won't do it for you!"
I loved that.
Carl got into his golf cart - apparently a very common feature at RV parks, and guided me down to my camping site. He was wonderful, patient, and a very good teacher. I was in place in no time.
And then I discovered a very cool thing about RV campgrounds - they're like little neighborhoods I'm used to, but in absolutely gorgeous settings and most of the people will talk to you, help you and be nice to you.
Jason and Cathy had the site next to mine. Carl was teaching me how to make the water and electrical hookups (not rocket science, but not intuitive, either) and Jason came over to chat, introduce himself, and help. We all decided I would tackle the sewer hookup in the morning - when we could actually see what we were doing. Good idea.
Jason and Cathy had a fire going (all camp sites so far have their own little fire pits!) and after I was all set (lights on, water on, motor off) we chatted for a bit. They actually live within a few miles of the campground - it's a frequent weekend getaway for them. I could see why - the neighborhood is kinda nice.
The land cookie all snugged into her spot.
Nice neighborhood

And the scenery was okay, too!

Teddy at the trade show

Another time-out from Hope's RV adventure for one of Teddy's. Last weekend was the H.H. Backer Christmas Show, one of the biggest trade shows of the year, right here in the Chicago area. Hope and I go every year to touch base with some of our suppliers, place orders, and scope out great new products. Since it's so close to home, we feel obliged to check in at the shop before we make our way to the show, but this year the traffic gods were smiling down on us and we made it to the show just after opening time! And we must have been extra-organized because we finished the entire second floor of the show on the first day! (The second floor has more manufacturers and is generally more time-consuming for us.)

So on Saturday Hope decided to bring Teddy to the show. I'm writing this post because Hope had to pay attention to Teddy, making sure he was behaving himself and not mooching too many treats, so I was following Hope and Teddy down the aisles. Teddy was a perfect gentleman, saying hello nicely to anyone who wanted to say hi to him. And most people did. It's a good thing that we didn't have much to do on the first floor of the convention center because it took us three times longer than it would have if Teddy weren't with us! People were stopping us in the middle of the aisle, stooping down to pet Teddy. Vendors were coming up to Teddy with samples of treats. Other buyers were taking Teddy's picture! Teddy got a new harness from the nice guys at EzyDog! And Teddy demonstrated the Tornado at the vendor's booth, getting way too many treats! (Smart little fellow - I don't think he'd ever seen the Tornado before. His favorite is the Brick!) And Teddy was even game for climbing on a fitness ball at the end of the day! (Teddy learned about fitness balls in his Puppies With Purpose class.) Walking behind Hope and Teddy, I was able to see all the other people turning to watch Teddy and smile. People crowded around, snapping his picture at each stop. But doesn't it just figure, we forgot our camera! Afterwards, Teddy was tired afterwards on the ride home (taken with a puny cell phone camera). - Fran

Thursday, October 07, 2010

RV adventure - Part II

So when last we heard, our heroine (me) was sitting at the top of a New Hampshire mountain at a storage facility with her brand-new 13-year-old ginormous RV, less than a quarter of a tank of gas and a hand-drawn map showing how to get to the highway.
After a "here I go, wish me luck!" call to Fran, I set off. I quickly figured out that side-view mirrors are an RVer's best friends. If the mirrors fit, the whole vehicle fits. Another quick revelation - RVs are not good mountain climbers. In the New Hampshire mountains, for every down there's a very-closely-related up. I would like to apologize now to every single person who was out driving in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania on Saturday, September 25. Yes, that was me holding you up and forcing traffic to crawl at 25 mph. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
I also noticed the needle of the gas gauge going down - fast. I needed to find a gas station and I had no idea if I was anywhere close to hitting the interstate and its nice, wide-open service plazas. So when I saw a sign for fuel - I got off the little highway I was on and headed for the service station. Which was on the other side of a two-lane street and had minimal maneuvering room. And an awning.
I know all the hysterical scenarios being imagined here. None of them happened. I filled up (BTW - did you know most gas pumps cut you off when you hit $75?), back-and-forthed back into traffic and went on my merry way.
Remember my day started at home in my very own cozy little bed. Up at 4 a.m., off to O'Hare, flight to Boston, 2 hour drive to New Hampshire. Crash course in RVs.
So my merry way started after 1 p.m., Eastern time. I had a reservation at the Cheerful Valley Campground for that night. Cheerful Valley is in Phelps, New York, west of Syracuse. Which looked entirely do-able on MapQuest and in my TripTik. Both MapQuest and TripTiks expect you to be going somewhat close to the speed limit. Which I wasn't. I tried, but The Land Cookie just couldn't do it. And New York is a very wide state.
It was well after dark when I approached Cheerful Valley Campground. Which will be Part III.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What's in a name?

So we interrupt the adventure for a small, related tangent. A few people are insisting we name the RV. We already have. It's the "Land Cookie."

Of course, there has to be a story attached to such an absurd name. And it's an "awwwww" kind thing, so a little bit embarassing. But we're all friends here, right?

When we were little, Fran, our Mom and I made up our very own fairy tale to help Saturday morning chores go faster. Our story featured our dog, Spunky, a Boston Terrier. We made him king of a tiny island in the middle of Lake Michigan. There was a whole lot more to it than that - years of spinning the yarn longer and longer. The upshot for our tangent is that King Spunky had a magical boat that could take him anywhere and back in an afternoon (adventures had to fit between school and supper). And his boat was the "Cookie."
Hence the "Land Cookie."
Hoping to live happily ever after.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

RV adventure - Part 1

Fran and I decided a while ago that we really needed a motor home. It's the perfect solution for spinster sisters with five dogs and high hopes of getting out of town - at least once in a while.
So we found the perfect one on, of all places, Ebay! And oddly enough - we won it.
The down side of the transaction - we're in the Chicago area and the RV was in New Hampshire. A week ago Saturday I flew into Boston, the seller picked me up at Logan airport, and took me to the RV. He gave me a quick introduction to the workings of the machine (no, I'd never driven one before), took his check, and took off. Leaving me alone at the top of a mountain with a mountainous vehicle.
It wasn't until a couple of days before I left that a few people mentioned that I was "intrepid" and "brave" for flying across the country to pick up an RV and drive it back. No one bothered to say anything before we bought it. Thanks, guys!
I'll let you in on the secret now. It was fun!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Good news & a headache

Back to the vet with Dax this morning for a recheck of her corneal ulcer. Good news - it's improving! I'll admit I've been scared spitless. Whenever we've had dogs suffering corneal abrasions or ulcers before, they've always healed normally in just a few days. One that wasn't healing but worsening was uncharted territory. I'm a glass-half-full kind of person, but I did have some nightmares of my competition/performance dog losing her vision, even her eye. We're hopeful that scenario is now only a remote possibility.
The good news didn't stop my headache, though. I spent an hour and three-quarters in the vet's waiting room with three, count 'em, three, unattended home-schooled children. Their other brothers and grandmother were in the exam room with the vet.
It's Monday. We have perfectly fine institutions to keep children during weekdays. It's called school. Free for the registration - sign your brood up now!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

It's always something

Tuesday is Daxie day at work - the one day she's the only dog in the office and I get to play and practice with her. This week she started squinting and goo was coming from her eye. So we stopped by the vet's office after work. First thought was an allergic reaction - but an exam showed a corneal ulcer. Two different drops, twice a day, recheck on Friday.
Friday showed the corneal ulcer had grown and worsened. Change of medication; ointment, antibiotic, pain pills and the cone of shame. Recheck this coming Monday. Fears of a "melting ulcer." I looked that up on the internet - it's about as scarey as it sounds.

The thing is - Dax is so very good at being miserable. I brought her with me today to give her a bit of alone time and so Teddy won't constantly be barking at her to get her to play. She's huddled up in a little bed on the bench, snoring away. I know she's uncomfortable, I know she hates wearing the cone, and there's not much I can do to make her happy right now.

There's no way I can let her know "hang in there, it's temporary." Dogs live in the moment, which is generally a good thing - they enjoy their lives without worrying about the future. But when "now" isn't fun and happy, they don't understand that tomorrow will be better.

Poor Daxie.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Where does the time go?

Wow - it's October already. We're getting ready for the holidays here at Golly Gear. We've already gotten our holiday pre-ordered items from a couple of our distributors and have to figure out where to put them! (They'll be up on the site very soon!) And next weekend is the big Christmas pet trade show here in Chicago. It's a good opportunity to scope out nifty new products, and take advantage of some great show specials from the manufacturers we already purchase from! I have a love-hate relationship with this show. I love it because it gives us a chance to reconnect with our suppliers and discover new products that we can't live without. I hate it because it's here in town so we have to take care of our regular business and everything else at home, and our feet hurt...