Archive for April, 2017


Now What? Heading East.

My spot at the at the Lake was not available for the next day so it was time to move on. For the first time since dropping off Olympia I became truly interested in food. I was tired with long days of fighting the wind. Wanted to head South but there were severe storm warnings in that direction so northeast it was. I headed to Sprouts to pick up dinner makings and having shared some wine with the Martin’s decided to add a bottle for my dinner. For reason known only to Texans the clerk warped his hand around the neck of the bottle and removed my bottle of wine from my reach. His sweet tone never faltered as he explained that it’s against Texan law to purchase alcohol on Sunday’s before 12 noon. All of a sudden I felt like I had really gone someplace else, maybe this was a hidden county or some throw back into the past? I asked why but he didn’t know.

After that almost at random I decided to leave Texas and head to Hot Springs Arkansas. A long time ago I’d read that Hot Springs was a favored inexpensive and enjoyable retirement town even with some Californians. That’s about all I knew about Hot Springs and that there was a National Park designation.

Mason is finally starting to feel better!

And Jackson too.

It took longer than I thought to get there.

Time to eat! I’ve covered both the sink and the stove top with cutting boards. The sink cover / cutting board attaches with glued on stiff pieces of foam to the underside so that it says securely when the van is in motion, Frans devised that and I love it. The piece over the stove is velcroed. This makes my little kitchen rock…. lots of space!  That’s grapefruit jelly in the back and vindaloo sauce, no additive natural turkey slices and two types of cheese.

Simple delicious dinner.

Thunderclap’s gone wild that night! Booming and flashing with Mason happily barking at the monsters, the Lagotti peacefully sleeping when finally I remembered to close the overhead vent!  The storm was long, hot and strong, fortunately no tornado or hail, I’d yet to learn what that could do. I covered the soaked rug which dried quickly and went in search of the National Park.  I was very surprised to find that the National Park was the town. I kept driving around looking for the entrance with my Senior Park Pass at the ready! There are lovely drives into the Ouachita Mountains which I enjoyed,  scenic walks with the dogs and historical bathhouses with the renown Hot Springs water yet it wasn’t what I was looking for that day. I did not stop to take a bath but probably should have. Many faces I encountered had scowls and if I tried the Texas cheer on them I was met with grumbles. No one commented on the dogs except to give me strange looks. Even the Information lady looked askance when I asked her if there any dog friendly activities. It was that kinda day or that kinda town. Things looked expensive and kinda California like, more a place for taking in the tourists attractions, restaurants and spas, the kinda place to (maybe) take a human companion. I love hot springs but it wasn’t the time, I wasn’t in the mood, so instead of spending a few days relaxing, I did what my little RV allows me to so easily do, I moved on.

Bathhouse Row

Ft Worth, Texas

Walkabout, Coffee Creek RV Resort, Santo, TX

 

I had one last night before Ft Worth and then I was there. My memory is fuzzy, likely on purpose like one covers their eyes watching a scary scene. By the time I reached Ft Worth Texas I was TIRED. My dogs were not yet groomed, Mason was worse sick than he had been, Jackson was sick and looking scrawny and my hotel room had no view. Dogs needed baths, grooming, fixing for their stomachs, a good run, practice for the ring. I was feeling engaged although when I arrived at the Hawthorn Suites several police cars had followed me into the parking lot to deal with a domestic dispute. Seeing others with their Lagotto was very cool. Not everyone was staying here, I wished they were or that the entire group could have been together for mingling. Those I was able to meet I really enjoyed.

Crashed

Still feeling a bit sick and not show groomed but my darlings all the time.

I could write reams of comments about the politics, the logistics, all the work folks put in, the AKC Reps, the Judges, the food, the events, the people, competitions and dogs at the Specialty but all I’m gonna say about the showing is that for me it became a parade of too close disasters and “challenges” that left me and my dogs needing a break. It’s left a sadness in me as much as a remembrance of adventure.  My dogs recovered better than I. I’m not the competitive type, neither do I have the strongest body, a companion or helper or much in the way of funds to hire those things. Next time better….  hefting up the ladder.

Walking in one of the large parks in Ft Worth in heavy wind. Had to a crosstown run to get rice and chicken to make a bland diet for everyone’s stomach.

Solar Bike Station Rental on the river walk behind the hotel.

A little piece of the River Walk near the hotel.

Food Trucks, kinda early in the morning.

Sunrise on the River Walk

Folks in Ft Worth were friendly. So many smiles, pleasant interchanges and Thank You Mam’s. Even folks on the bicycle path that I was walking with my dogs were so polite telling me they were behind me and then smiling at my dogs shouting friendly comments and greetings.  The locals I had conversations with  left me feeling happy. Didn’t that use to happen in California, way back in the past? It was hot and then hot and super windy. More of a meat and religion place, cows and cowboys but they also have Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and I saw vegetarian and vegan restaurants. I’d like to see more of Texas. Lots of pickup trucks and full size parking spots, good art scene, trendy draws, big parks, eco-friendly although the air quality apparently suffers. I wasn’t there long enough to have more than a passing impression.

Dallas

 

Round UP! Who says truffle dogs and little terrier can’t take these guys!

I did a quick pass through Dallas since I had no idea what it’d be like; didn’t stay long as I headed for a camping spot, yep, I landed the last spot available in the entire park. I’d tried Cedar Hill State Park that was full and this one was posted full as well. I drove up  to the kiosk anyway and said, hey I know you’re full, but maybe you have a space for me?  And yep they did!

Lynn Creek Park. Grand Prairie, TX

John and Judith Martin along with their Lagotto crew and I decided to camp together in El Paso. They have a Rialta, which they claim drives just like a car!  That must be great! I’d already passed the KOA they’d found and drove back getting somewhat lost in the process. We both lamented the KOA we landed at. It could have doubled as a landing field for mini UFOs, all dust and gravel, tons of round lights on sticks all lined up in massive rows, few amenities.

El Paso KOA next to John and Judith.

The small dog park was too muddy to use so we used the kids play area, definitely not what comes to mind as a KOA. Windy out there and barren. Nice to spend the time together chatting with Judith about the Club.  John told me about teaching “Art Materials and Techniques,” will absolutely look into this. I was very touched that they’d spent time thinking about ideas for me, how I can survive and even prosper. I gave them one of my Mom’s lemons. I felt a bit blessed that night with my rig parked next to theirs. I woke early and found a nearby off leash dog park.

My plan was to head south to San Antonio and Austin; didn’t look too far on the map, then shoot back up to Ft Worth. The manager at the KOA suggested I take 375 Trans Mountain loop and to be sure and look down and see the view as a more interesting route. He told me the KOA had once been part of the Camping World next to it but had been a KOA for the last 2 years.  The winds and dust storms could be brutal, he said it was near impossible to get grass to grow. They had an entire second lot, bigger than the one we camped on studded out with RV power boxes and those lights on lollipop sticks. Was not a fun place but since we weren’t blown to smithereens it was okay.

Time was confusing as I crossed time zones, all though Texas and beyond I’d go to sleep on local time and wake on California time. That put me short of sleep every night. The other thing about Texas is the distances. On the map somehow it doesn’t look bad; in real-time there is the wind and not being able to keep up with the 80 mph speed limit amid plethora of semi’s (I’d say trucks outnumbered cars 8 to 1.)  Needing to do a little in-town shopping I bypassed the scenic loop for speed and worry about the forces of nature, figuring the “touring section” would begin after the dog show. Was a lot of construction on I-10 slowing things down as it was.

Along somewhat of the same thinking, mostly it was the wind making driving extra tiring I took the turn northeast on I-20, I was still thinking if the wind let up I might have time to buzz down south, that’s where the wildflower blue spring blooms were happening. Along my route I saw dust and oil drilling. Okay somewhere about this time I was wondering why the Specialty had to be in Ft Worth, over 1,500 miles one way. The battering wind would only be a warm up for the real thing. After innumerable full RV Parks that been turned into oil worker camps and fully booked hotels I landed at Monahans Sandhills State Park west of Odessa. Plugged in and banged on the air conditioner, it was hot! Sand dunes with no ocean was not making sense to me. The sand is soft, blowy, powdery; once it cooled off we hiked around but not too far off the road. That sticky sand would only further mat my dog’s coats, I wondered about them breathing it.  Was a peaceful evening being far enough off the hwy to see stars.

Two other single camper women came by to chat. The two of them were each driving an older Born Free Class B van, one had a dog with her. Conversation centered on projects to keep our rigs running and pretty, dogs and places to go.  They told me about a Dinosaur Board for the Dometic Refrigerator, mine had quit running on AC or 12Volt and was limited to only propane. It’s a replacement control board and now on my list for repairs. The new carbon monoxide alarm I installed went haywire that night necessitating a disconnect. Jackson was up and therefore me, most of the night. Taking him out in the quite stars, with the other few distant campers asleep was kinda dreamy. In the morning Mason was starting to get sick as well.

 

 

Notes from the women I met: Someday check out Davis Bayou Campground and Seminal Lake Corp of Engineers.  Also Ft Davis Mountain State Park Texas…  2nd scenic loop near the observatory.

 

I-10 East from the West Coast

I drove through LA via the 101 on my way to the I-10; the traffic in LA moving at whopping 5 to 27 mph. Someone mentioned about LA traffic that it’s possible to have a nice conversation with someone on the other side moving in the other direction as traffic moves so slow. Visited my Mom and her Lagotto Dino; my 3, Jackson, Jeana and Mason had a blast running around Grandma’s yard. I picked some lemons, a favorite fruit of mine even if it brings back the Peter Paul and Mary song; lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat. It really isn’t, you need to know how to enjoy them, not to mention their hundreds of useful uses. I’ve loved lemons since I was a child.  The San Fernando Valley once had huge groves of groves of oranges and lemons. I studied natural resources management and animal science at Pierce College in Woodland Hills in the early 1970’s, it was the joke then how the best farm land was paved over with parking lots and how the black asphalt cracked as the verdant soil pushed its way to the light. I rode a big Appaloosa stallion in Canoga Park crossing over Devonshire to the open hills; these days (I heard this morning on the radio) kids don’t really go outside very much, maybe 1/2 hr a day. Really!

My friend Sue had given me a piece of glass art made by our friend Kristine which was now around my neck. It bore the symbol of Unitarian Universalism and was gifted to me for protection on my journey. The protection was love and the thought to give it, a reminder too, for compassionate kindness. I was stressed, beyond stressed, what would that be called? My Lagotti were thoroughly matted with hard red clay and dead hair, the best I could do was clean the outer part of their coat and that had taken weeks of carefully working out enough tangles to fake it. I left their coats as long as I could expecting to do a finishing trim before the show, no one need know what was underneath, it would all come off afterwards. My clippers, of course had taken that time to quit recharging. There wasn’t enough time to get them fixed and the new spiffy sheers I’d purchased at the West Coast Grooming Conference were defective. There were bigger problems like the final discovery of the RV generator having no compression and therefore non-reparable. I’d been stiffed by a long time favorite, Quality RV in Ventura. Gabriel who greeted me as a long-lost friend and reassured he would take care of everything, left me high and dry. He’s the one who restored my RV a few years ago, this time it took over a month for him to do nothing. Absolutely nothing! Oh, he did provide some really bad and inaccurate advice. The problem seemed to be that some shiny new, big and expensive RVs had rolled into his shop after mine and with no dollar limit were given priority. I wrote a scathing report which I’ve not yet published. Beware old friends even when they give a joyful smile and a gracious warmth, what can I say? Quality RV’s failure to even let me know they’d decided to renege on the repairs I needed left me in a terrible panic to get the work done elsewhere with almost no time left and all the things I still needed to do. I also had a significantly long list of just stuff, like getting pants with no holes in them and shoes and sundries, a hair cut, living I’d neglected with the disappointing news when Olympia’s pregnancy did not take. I did the best I could and thank you, thank you, thank you to Bruce’s in Goleta. Not everything got done but I was given honest answers.

Made it to Cabezon (Banning) KOA on the first night out. I arrived late finding exactly one spot left and it was a lovely, quiet and peaceful. Whenever I’m in Banning I half think I might run into a married fellow that had a bit of a crush on me but of course I never see him.

As I continued East I’d stop frequently at rest stops….  once out of CA more of these are actually open! It’s a good thing traveling with dogs, means stopping and walking around, this is a big help with my joint laxity / hypermobility issue. My eyes especially need a good stretch, along with fingers and toes, and yeah, everything in-between! Somewhere around day 2 or day 3 an odd serendipity started occurring. Rest stops don’t happen that often and the chances of being there in those few moments when someone you know shows up can’t be very high. You know, like running into your next door neighbor or your childhood grade school teacher when you’re overseas….  how does that happen? The first one was right before Phoenix. I saw a woman from a distance, mostly I saw her two attractive border collies and was thinking, wow, those 2 look a bit familiar. Yep they belonged to a woman here in Santa Barbara that is part of my local dog club, she and her entourage were on a vacation to Phoenix. Then I started running into Lagotto people like Judith and John, that happened on and off for days until we finally decided to camp together, also ran into Adrienne, outside of Tuscon, her van parked two spots from mine while I was in the restroom; I had to thump on the window as she was departing; she said, hey I thought maybe that was your van and then she zoomed off.  Small world, right? Serendipity! There were a lot of bees there!

Adrienne and Cubby’s “Lagotto-Mobile.”

Think this was the Butterfield RV Resort and Observatory in Benson, AZ.  The Observatory was closed 😦

Sights of the open road.

My memory gets a little blurred esp in New Mexico. I know this guy showed up:

Las Cruces Overlook Reststop

This would be a great place for a geocache! Maybe there is one.

Was this also the same rest-stop that I hated or a different one? It was NM….  was full of stickers, hot and dry with warnings of snakes. Signs posted every 10 feet…  NO DOGS around buildings, Keep Dogs out of shelters, Keep dogs on Short leash.  Was nowhere to walk a dog without giving it heatstroke, burnt feet or stickers in their nose or paws or a possible snake bite. Yep I was fuming. Idiots. The people who sit in their cubicles and come up with this!  It’s a Rest Stop.

 

No, I didn’t have the time or patience to try to figure this out, we just all sat together in the shelter relaxing from the heat for a few minutes. That little sign says, no pets on this side!  ???? What in the heck is one supposed to tie their pet to, 10 feet away? Out in the middle of the road????? Sorry but whoever wrote this and approved it….  here’s your sign from me:  Idiots and those that hate animals, please remove your shoes and clothes and go sit quietly in the un-shaded and snake infested sticker patch until further notice.  If you get heatstroke just lay down and you’ll be fine. 

Please never leave your dog in a hot vehicle alone or expose it to dangerous conditions.  Stand up for the rights of your pets and your children. Teach your pets to have good manners, clean up after them and yourself, control their reactions to others, prevent damage or disregard to public convention.  Rest Stop = Safety Center 

First there’s one.

Then there’s two! Little Mason is in the back. My job is to protect these little love-bugs 🙂

It’s hard to find the right place to catch up so I might be jumping back and forth a bit, this might go well with my mood as different challenges and pleasures banter my attempts at a stable peaceful world. I still have my 1996 Dodge Freedom Wide Leisure Travel Van as those that met me out on the road can attest. My Leisure Travel, the dogs and I survived some intense weather and the kind of wind that I’d think would be what they’re talking about when they say high-profile vehicles should be cautioned to not be on the road. I’m back in California now with “safe stuff” like earthquake, fires and floods, things I understand. I know what to do if there’s a fire or the ground shakes and glass and bricks fall out of the buildings. I can handle a drought being able to conserve water to the ninth degree; I can brush my teeth with just a drop and clean myself with a damp washcloth….  but hey, in the South, in the East they have wind, thunder, lightening and big huge chunks of ice they call hail. Not that pitter-patter stuff we get here that makes a nice drumming sound on the roof and makes a game of the grass for the dogs to chase and play, oh no, they get golf ball, softball, grapefruit size bombs  (or bigger) that can wipe out your windshield and put holes in everything you might consider precious. Yep I learned the word…  TORNADO…  never noticed how, torn, is the beginning of that word.  No worries, I was fine, I outran/out drove the worst, my RV very sweetly took on the challenge of long hours in intense blustery gale.  It was fine when the sky turned pitch black at 10 am and the wind blew so hard it was like being a pinball machine.  I did have a great time in the Southeast.

So, where should I start. I looked at many different Class B and Class B+but was dissuaded by their sticker price versus their build quality. My older LTV has issues such as a dead generator with no compression, an electrical problem with the refrigerator, the new carbon monoxide alarm would not stop alarming and something in the battery on-off switch beeps randomly for no apparent reason.

The LTV is comfortable and solid. It can hold up to my dogs and whatever the road throws at it. I would still like a newer rig, but I’d also like to have funds to enjoy eating and buying gas and so forth.

 

Later I’ll give a run down on recent repairs, etc etc.

My Lagotto Romagnolo breed club’s 2nd National Specialty took me south. The show was in Fort Worth Texas and having failed to attend the show back east last year due to failure of repairs with the LT, I decided to try again. Thank goodness next year the Specialty will be in California! I did make it to Ft Worth without trouble but as you’ll learn things went wrong regarding the actual showing of my dogs….  third time’s the charm, right?

My Lagotto Romagnolo Girl, Olympia.

Olympia didn’t go with me this time. She stayed with my good friends Lee and Craig.

Lee came to meet us half way between her place and mine to pick up Olympia; we’d just had a rousing game of Tennis Ball in rather warm heat!

Jeana came with to keep me company on the drive. We stopped at Camp Roberts Rest Stop Hwy 101 on the way home.

Gaviota Pass Overlook. We also stopped here in the delicious cool fog so I could pay respects to those I’ve loved and lost.

My 1996 Dodge Leisure Travel Van almost packed to go.