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WY Wyoming

I want to note for those following my blog that I am posting after my actual time; the date of the posting is not the date I’m a writing about. Sorry if that’s confusing…  the weather and conditions for the area will have changed. I was not able to post at location as I need a new laptop…  will be coming soon, likely another ASUS with a matte screen. I did bring my Sony camera but did not use it, alas. Not enough hands free so all photos taken with my older Note 4 Android phone.

Okay that explained, the rain did come. Not just rain, I love rain, I love water, but with the kind of wind that knocks my little van and wants to tip it over. But it didn’t!  All the modifications I’ve made to my camper have paid off!  It’s very roadworthy and can take a battering.

I headed into Buffalo. I stopped at the information office and picked up a walking tour of the downtown which I enjoyed. I then asked about the weather as I was thinking of taking the scenic road into the windy mountain pass, the reply was, oh, of course, it’s safe it’s a highway after all but she did not at all advise my attempting a few more local sights as floods were eminent. After getting into the The Big Horn National Forest I realized that apparently I was just lucky.   After the fact, if you are headed this way here are current road conditions.

Fast running river water with a nice walking bridge; something we don’t see often in Southern California.

Horses everywhere. Not on the roads but evidence of their importance bejeweled and commemorated all over this part of the country.

“Everywhere you walk in this famous hotel, you will be walking where many famous people of the Old West walked – Butch Cassidy and the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, Tom Horn, the young Teddy Roosevelt… and many more.

And everywhere you look, you will see the Old West the way it really was.

Because the beautiful embossed ceilings you will see over your head in the lobby and in the saloon are the original ceilings. The magnificent back bar that you will see in the saloon is the original back bar that was brought in by wagon a hundred years ago. And the chairs you will sit in are likely to be antiques that are original to the hotel.”

 

I made a loop from Buffalo through the mountains towards Worland to Shoshoni and then to Casper. No particular reason I headed towards Casper except it seemed a good way to go at the time…  or maybe it was the storm chasing me; really didn’t want to get stuck in mud or flooded out at a wilderness campsite. Folks camped out there all had big all wheel drive trucks esp Fords with trailers or 5th wheels.

I start-up into the mountains. All the roads have alarm notices that say if the lights are on then you need to turn around and go back to the last town asap. No alarms today. The further I traveled the less traffic I saw.

There was a crowd here of a handful of vehicles stopped on the road: There were 2 moose cows (only one in this photo); fairly sure they were females as their faces were light colored and of course no antlers. Using my binoculars I could actually read their tracking tags. I saw a little herd of Pronghorn Antelope later but no Big Horn Sheep.

“Moose are the largest in the deer family, and live in cold regions of Europe and North America. They cannot sweat, and their bellies generate heat, so they cannot stay in warmer environments. They are known to be strong swimmers and can reach up to 9.5 kph in the water.” 

Must be covered in wildflowers come summer.

About 9,670 feet. Side roads, lake, hiking, rustic camping, solitude, If you’re staying watch for falling rocks, bring an AWD Truck or SUV unless it’s summer and plenty of water. Don’t expect cell service.

“The Big Horns are a high and wide range that runs north and south. They’re about 30 miles wide and 90 miles long.

On top there are rolling meadows and pine forests. In early summer, lupine and balsa root color meadows purple and yellow. In September, the golden hues of autumn appear.

The range lacks the rugged appeal of the Tetons, the Sawtooths or the Wind Rivers. But what it doesn’t have in rocky peaks and craggy cliffs, it makes up for in broad vistas. From viewpoints looking west, for example, you can gaze across the Big Horn Basin all the way to Yellowstone.

On a clear day you can see almost forever.

By most people’s standards, north/central Wyoming is the middle of nowhere. Unless you’re going from Cody to Sheridan, or vice versa, you won’t stumble on the Big Horns unless you make a point of it.” 

I give a try to a selfie. Yep I do all the driving. See that big yellow rain slicker behind me! I was wearing that and layers of warm things when I ventured out of the van; even then it was biting COLD. Very scenic too.

The dogs and I went for a walkabout at the summit. Mason would not get out of the van. He at first wanted to but one sniff of the frigid cold and nope, he jumped back into his cuddly bed. The altitude and cold didn’t hit me at first, (remember I live at sea level in a very moderate climate,) after walking awhile I too was eager with a pounding heart and crisp edged fingers to get back into the van. My Lagotti…  no problem, they were ready to take off running for the snow. Saw one other car up there, roads were a bit icy, on and off a bit of rain.

Back down on the other side; hot and muggy.


Resting Here. Tons of thunder and lightening!

Videos of the last curves heading down before leaving the mountain. Traffic had reappeared, spectacular (runnable, I think) white water that I was unable to safely stop and photograph.

 

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There is simple beauty of water reflected in the sky and in the land. In the evening the moon plays along with the extended dusk. Up on the hill are “acquaintances” of the moment in a Pleasure Way Lexor on the Sprinter Van. They’ve moved three times now, first in to one of the few powered space, then to the other side away from the main path and now past where I am parked to the top of the hill sans power. When I arrived at this little lake it was like an invading a private party, which in a way it was; a fishing derby for the Lyons Club had attracted a large crowd. The husband in the PW encouraged me to stay and I’m glad he did. He told me how he admired women that took off on their own in a camper van….LOL! My site is $10 right on the water. I admired his sleek new Pleasure Way and his wife happily chopping vegetables for their dinner.  He told how his wife can sleep though anything, but he needs quiet.  Yep, I can relate! I’ve moved as many times myself. The storm, the latest of a series is still on the way.  I have not outrun it.

Only a few other campers stayed. There were signs to stay in your vehicle if there was lightning strikes. As it turned out this was a beautiful stop and there were no problems.

“Deep-blue body of water in Johnson County is a jewel. And it’s a jewel that possesses not just beauty, but plenty of legend as well. Named after the first white man to lay eyes on it back in 1840, Lake De Smet is a huge, deep watery Wonder of Wyoming. Oh yes, the lake took it’s name from a Jesuit priest, Father Pierre Jean De Smet, who when travelling with fur trappers came upon Lake De Smet. It’s a well-protected jewel, nestled in among the hills that surround it on virtually all sides. It pops up, all the sudden, off to the east from Interstate 25. Lake De Smet is a stunner, in a breathtaking setting, just a strong stone’s throw from the base of the Bighorn Mountains, and smack dab in a place with a wonderfully-long history. And, of course the history of Lake De Smet goes back long before it became Lake De Smet. Legend has it that survivors of pre-historic monsters inhabit the lake, and there is one, the real star of the legend, that is believed to rise from the vast depths of Lake De Smet at times, even today. This sea-creature, that has made a centuries-long home in the “fresh water” of Lake De Smet, goes by the name of “Smetty”. Lake De Smet lies over great masses of coal. Smetty is a pre-historic, dinosaur-like creature. Hey, makes sense to me, I’m a Smetty-legend believer. Lake De Smet was also the scene of many an Indian legend. The tragic Crow love story of Little Moon and Star Dust happened here, and to this day, when the wind blows over the waters and creates those “moaning” sounds, that is the Warrior calling. The Sioux firmly believed the lake had magical healing powers, and prompted visions.” 

Been listening to local Cowboy Radio, I like it. After some time however with the love of  family coming on strong and the land so wide open and all, I felt teary, never wanted to be alone and certainly not struggling with each day as appears. There can be a certain stupidly in being faithful, no I mean loyal. An old friend mentioned that there was a value in loyalty maybe he had missed but when used badly it brings heartbreak. I have been so adamantly loyal that no amount of hardship could turn me aside; so many doors opened then closed. I didn’t make the choice to get on and pursue those dreams. Now I temper loyalty, let things drift, open my arms to change even if its solitude in a van full of canines. Living’s not what we think it’s going to be, at least it has not been so for me.  Many of us try too hard, battling to maintain stasis.  We can’t “live-awake”  (to borrow a term) if we’re absorbed in not letting life move though us. Instead of worrying all the contradictions and complications that slog the daylight hours and toss and turn the nights. Nature is not rigid, nature has no concept of absolute no matter how many rules we apply, we really don’t know. I just get up and feed my hungry dogs.

After a nice warm afternoon walk, the night turned cold and my little Mason was tired.

Several far away friends wondered if I was having fun. In truth, the answer is determined, stoic and driven to make it to the Great Lakes or BUST. After the comforts of visiting homes, it’s been drive like mad in the unpredictable moods of the elements with my aging van and pack of dogs. It was a good wake up call; time to reassess. Solo RV’ers like me know we don’t always get to our pre-determined destination, unless there is a real purpose to be at a certain place…  meeting someone, visiting family, an event to attend. Rather our destination becomes wherever we go. I considered this before I announced that I was heading for the Great Lakes but I was proud of saying I would travel all the way there and back but I did say it would depend on the weather, the dogs and my little LTV.

The weather has been scary. I’d heard on the news how a few smaller RV’s like mine flipped with dire results only a week ago in heavy flash flooding and winds. Being so tired driving these roads alone sometimes with no cell coverage isn’t smart. Bring someone with you, drive a vehicle made for bad weather or be willing to hang out and wait for clear passage. I’m confident I can make it but like Mason I’m near exhaustion.

Such a beautiful evening!

Bumpy, rumbley, clangy with stressed and throwing up dogs, dogs wanting to go out at 1 am, 3 am yet I was determined BECAUSE! I said I would. A dastardly romantic notion of camping on the shores of Lake Huron with wild birds and big waves…  oh and wait since I was late getting started will there be huge crowds and super high fees at my destination as I’m starting to find here too? This lovely little lake is Great Lake in my eyes.

My merry band. They each have their personality and issues but we are a team. They stay within the borders of my campsite and heed my call to load up (get back in the van at once) if there are distractions. It’s a judgement call for me, a smoothly operating training for them. well behaved dogs are far more welcomed. I see people all the time that have out of control dogs but I see far more that are really great travelers. Was much easier without the combo of my boy Jackson with his mom Olympia, it’s a challenge.

The speed limit in Montana is 80 mph but when the rain is fierce it gets under my RV and stalls it out. It was suggested I hide out for a few days until the weather cleared. The region is also affected by drought and dying crops, will this rain help? After this storm more are on the way with lightning and sporadic heavy winds and flooding. South Dakota where I’d had my sights on was being flooded right at the moment. It is peaceful here today but the storm is coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dogs, drive, stop and feed dogs, drive, stop and sleep, drive, stop and let dogs have a break. My Daisy is not built for speed, nor built for long hours. Noisy, really loud noisy, bumpy, rumbley, clangy with barely sleeping nights, stressed dogs, throwing up dogs, dogs wanting to go out at 1 am or 3 am dogs. and me falling asleep behind the wheel. I was determined no matter what even though I told others that how far I got depended on the weather, the dogs, how I felt,  oh no, I was just determined BECAUSE! I said I would so I would. I wanted to know what the Great Lakes were like. And that dastardly romantic notion of camping on the shores of Lake Huron with wild brids and big waves.  My trip wasn’t really going to begin until I reached the Great Lakes….  I nixed Port Townsend and Sequim. Put the coffee in and it goes, but a little fermented kombutucha or a wine spritzers and it stops. She has a lot of ambition but she fails to deliver. Well no, that’s not right..  I’m the one that does too much and then retracts and does nothing al all, it’s that loyalty thing.   It’s that fundamentally being lost thing. Knock Knock, who’s there. No One, I took everyone away, why are you still asking!

 

So where was I? Somewhere in Montana with the 80 mph speed limit that the flooding rain started. Love that Montana.

Loving Montana

We went up high in the mountains and we came down, we went up in the beautiful mountains, down and up and up and down again and again; cloudy, pretty, oh so green! It’s not crowded, it’s like a song or an opening scene from a classic movie, really lovely. My eyes are taking pictures. Passed through some huckleberry land a ways back.

Community Food Co-op on Main Street in Bozeman (thank you Bob.) Loved this place. Photo is the upstairs cafe and coffee bar. I’d say this is an exceptional co-op. Nice lively trendy downtown area too.

Not crazy about KOA’s. Some are amazing, most are so-so and some are really terrible. Consistency varies widely. Many are overpriced. This one was on the okay side of in-between. Mostly nice people except the guy with 2 BIG dogs that broke loose and came barreling towards me and my dogs as were walking!!!  I don’t get why people tie their dogs anyway expecting that will be sufficient …   can’t you train them? No?  Maybe you should not take them camping then.

Spent a night in Billings, Montana at the first KOA campground in Montana. My space is in the back with the pond at my feet. i.e. the rear of my van where my bed is. It’s as I asked, quiet and calm. That’s a miracle as there are 165 spaces and the camp is mostly full. The one and only dog exercise area is ridiculously petite. The camper two spaces down has a bloodhound and 2 pigs he’s traveling with, right next to me two senior women with 3 little yappy white poodles, across the way is part of a family meeting up with others on the other side of the camp, they have 2 dogs, one of which bites children! They are here to meet their grand kids and are driving a 1990 RoadTrek on the Dodge Ram, like my base unit, but they are having trouble with theirs. Saw a couple with 3 Burmese Mountain Dogs, still I’m that “crazy-lady” with the tiny camper and 4 dogs! No I don’t know what they call me, but everyone does notice me, I stop and talk to people interested in the breed, and sometimes women that are wondering how I can do what I do. The comments about my dogs being so well-behaved surprise me. I’m a good camper though, I always turn out my porch light, I don’t walk through other people’s sites, I keep my dogs quiet and happy, I don’t leave trash, don’t blast music or make piles of smoke; really its super easy but I’ve been camping and road tripping in one form or another since I was a baby.

RV camping around Billings as it turns out is EXPENSIVE and minimal. I tried to stay closer to town but RV spaces were sardine-jammed and all on gravel… terrible for my dogs. Another “camp” down the road from the KOA was over $80 for partial hook-up or maybe that was without services. They had a sign saying not to freak out about their prices that they had some discounts…  ha-ha.  Everything was nearly full so guess they can charge whatever they want this time of year 😦 I needed heat and air-conditioning (for my dogs) so could not do without power and somewhere to safely exercise them. Billings did not look like the best town for Boondocking but I learned later that I might have checked Cabela’s or Sam’s Club, no power though and of course noisy but worth checking out if you are passing though and are not looking for a place for your kids to play.

 It’s 9 pm local time, I’m running my air conditioner in a dry spell, for the moment, in an ongoing storm with more rain for the next few days, a break and then more rain, heavy rain.  I’m bit up with mosquitoes; forgot to get lemons when I stopped at the Coop in Bozeman. Loved that Coop, actually loved the city of Bozeman and would have stayed except the rain is expected to produce heavy flooding and even stronger wind than I’ve been battling. I was hoping (erroneously) I could outmaneuver the worst of the storms and make headway east. Driving has been intense, loud, and stressful.. The dogs freak out, been giving all them calming pills, Jackson gets extra.

Every Morning Olympia carefully checks out the site for the day.

The distance to the Great Lakes is seeming like a joke. Other than visiting friends it’s been rest stops to walk the dogs, get gas, search for a sleeping / resting place for the night, clean the van, feed dogs, exercise dogs and occasional food stops for me. I’m driving all day, resolving problem as they occur, not sleeping very much, waking at 5 am, certainly not relaxing (there’s always something that needs doing and only me to do it) and super tired. The last part of today I picked up the speed. For the last 2 weeks I’d been keeping a steady 60 to 65 (except for the slow crawl in gridlock)…  today was 70 and at times 75 as it seems the more I drive the further I have to go… My little camper is running strong.

The windshields are dirty and for some reason almost every gas station lacks cleaning substance in their window washing supply, is mostly dirty water. Why is that? A new mood in the country, dirty windshields? Somewhere in my supplies I have soap, my own bottle of water and cleaning wand but it keeps raining anyway. Love these trains.

My hair is drenching hot, it holds warmth perfectly but I want to be cool. I slugged an entire bottle of Orange Recharge, refilled it with water and drank that too, all of which seemed to vanish directly, evaporating as fast as I could take it in.  I should let the dogs out more to play, but not tonight.  We did several spins in the way-too-small dog exercise area and walked all over the roads here including a path by the Yellowstone River and even through the tent area on the other side of the pond since no one is in a tent tonight.  All those swollen inflamed bites on my arms, and toes, the back of my neck are heavy.  The river too is swollen having flooded recently and from the looks of things it will flood again soon, it might flood tomorrow from listening to the news. The dogs all had Kaopectate with dinner as I’d let them drink some local water a few days ago, same as what I was drinking but that didn’t settle well for them. They responded by gobbling big wads of native grasses this morning then of course throwing that up along with waking me up during the nights for potty breaks. Mason was sluggish, I had to carry him for our walk so we all will rest. Jackson and Olympia of course disagree and want to go out and play! Olympia is liking the spot I made for her under the bed. Mason was the first to discover that space, he was so cute under there, I had the back door open, was the first night we actually camped and he ran under there all excited. He was so happy, I really meant the space for Olympia but both Mason and Olympia enjoy the crawl under spaces.  I have not missed not carrying the dog crates and exercise pen, my dogs are well-behaved, they stay close to home-base.

Battle of The Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass.

Or known as Custer’s Last Stand

Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, leaders of the Sioux tribe on the Great Plains, strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the U.S. government to confine their people to reservations. In 1875, after gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. This betrayal led many Sioux and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. By the late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River–which they called the Greasy Grass–in defiance of a U.S. War Department order to return to their reservations or risk being attacked. . . .”

 

 

This was the morning traffic jam before I left my campsite:

 

Chattering away at the gas stop.

Arrived in Idaho. I partook of a cup of free coffee and 2 chocolate chip cookies. The bathroom was being cleaned for an extraordinarily long time. Trail behind the reststop in case you wanted to walk for a few hours or so, we did about 20-30 minutes.

Lovely walking in Idaho.

Gorgeous Montana

River Edge Resort Montana on the Clark Fork River, 30 miles west of Missoula. Everyplace was crowded but I landed a perfect spot overlooking the river. Dry camp (no electric, tent site about $20.)  Was planning on breakfast in the morning in the restaurant but as it turned out I left before they opened.

A view of the river, taking a walk from my camping spot.

This was a funny sign, they meant it literally as the path led right into deep water. Decided not to risk it with the dogs, water seemed to be moving fast.

Montana is beautiful, filled with whitewater, the Rocky Mountains, long open drives, big skies, endless stars, stunning lakes, bright flowers, cool air, waterfalls, rainbows, the Continental divide, snow-capped mountains and vast prairies (the last I did not see.) I like Montana, I like wide open county. From a woman who hates gridlock, billboards, cheap developments, urban decay, distressed horizons, endless blacktop, all those signs that say no; Montana in the lush Springtime says yes.

 

Busy Reststop in the Washington Cascades. Look at all those big Class A’s! So roomy compared to my little camper.

It was so hot…  in the mid 90s!  I put up all my sunblocker curtains and was running the air-conditioner as low as it would go. You need to do that and leave it running as the window type air conditioner will otherwise at best only lower the temp by 10 degrees.  If you work at it can do better, maybe 12 to 15 degrees. The volunteers at the Park told me it was fine to take the dogs for a swim which I did! The water was perfect, the walk was perfect. Was a great stay here.  This was the quiet peaceful part of the park, down below closer to the water were groups and families. The volunteers warned me about a snake that liked to hang out on the other side of the fire pit where my dogs were playing catch but none of us ever saw it. We (I, the human) checked carefully esp in the morning. Saw plenty of bunnies!

After our swim. They were making faces as they still wanted to PLAY and chase chase chase the tennis balls.

Approaching Spokane

Driving through Spokane. A rather confusing and spread out city with differing sections.  A newer fun looking downtown and older run down sections, very evident of homelessness and a sense of loss yet also has organic foods (I took the opportunity to restock my frig.) Trendy in parts with parks, bike paths, bridges and big box stores, a nearby State Park along the river which I’m sure must have been jammed.  Lots of traffic.  Would this city, or near this city be livable? I’ve driven through before but have never stayed long enough to explore it. Is there a City Plan or does it sprout ideas in increments?

I love my friend’s garages! Winter snow and summer grass takes lots of labor to maintain.

A sweet night at Jane and Pat’s home in Loon Lake Washington. I felt very welcomed and very much enjoyed my visit. The dogs did too, our apologies to the resident cats.  Mason was quite afraid of the fiery little black one!

I fit right in! 🙂 I listened in awe to amazing tales of adventure and perseverance that my friends told about their travels ( major challenges) in their big RV! Wow! They have a trailer too.

Jane and Pat treated me to breakfast at their regular Saturday hangout. Hmmm… maybe I will remember the little town and name of the popular Cowboy restaurant where they know your order and my host and hostess have been known to get up and help serve coffee and food. Maybe it was Pauline’s Place in Deer Park? Lots of gravy and biscuits, chicken fried steak. . . “comfort food.”

Very touched by the hospitality being shown to me and my dogs. Jane is a new quilter, loved her work, wish I had a picture to show. Maybe she will enter a piece for the quilt show in Santa Barbara since she is from here? Very impressed with Pat’s hand designed and created greenhouse he’s crafting. He showed me the machine that will form and shape the plastic sheets into arch pieces that will create the greenhouse and of course he built the machine as well! So incredible! Lots of snow in Loon Lake and lots of summer sun and lots of trees!

More Great People

Coffee and light breakfast off the I-90 heading East

Granite Falls was as far north as I traveled. The Olympic Peninsula is a favored locale but I sought the not so much known way, heading for the I-90. Before the turn east I stopped to visit another Lagotto friend, Jan Danielson. I had not met her in person nor her dogs.  She’s planted truffle inoculated Hazelnut trees in her yard! How cool is that! I know of one person who reportedly attempted to cultivate truffles where I live, they quit the effort. I have not spoken to them to hear the story; will they or will they not grow here or wild in the Las Padres forest? In Oregon and Washington they can be found wild and cultivated. In time, when it’s the right, my dogs and I will head to OR and WA during (actual) truffle season and have some of these great people and their dogs teach us how it’s done.

Vasa Park…  the neighbors who were interested in my dogs left super early that morning for a medical appointment. Doesn’t look tight now that they were gone and the other neighbor was not hanging out playing cards outside their rented rig, but it was a tight squeeze to get my little van in that spot. As far as I could pull up I could not reach the power box so had to use my extra power cord and adaptor; so glad I had it along. (No, backing in would not have worked either although sometimes I can twist the power cord under the van and reach the outlet on the other side. ) 

I camped for the first time on this road trip at a commercial park; by day it was open to anyone who paid the entrance fee being situated on a small lake with a children’s playground. Dogs were not permitted for day users. Dogs were permitted to overnight “campers.” RV’ers  park like this to be legal, receiving hookups (water, power, sewer, cable for your TV (if you want it,) wi-fi, often some outdoor furniture, a bathhouse, sometimes a swimming pool and spa, a game room, laundry room, dog play-exercise area, sometimes nice and interesting walking trails, sometimes group activities, happy hour, arts and crafts or tours, bicycle rentals, kayaks, a library, can even be meals provided and brought to your rig . . . all depends. Some are no more than an ugly squeezed in parking lot, others are glorious. This “campground” had a terrible identity confusion…  really needed to have some therapy on who it wanted to be …  Dogs allowed? Dogs not allowed? Big signs saying no dogs, yet dogs all over, even the proprietors had dogs. Not OK to walk dogs on the beach or in the park even after the day use was closed. Why? Because the day use people could not have dogs even though the day use visitors were required to leave at night and as noted there were dogs a plenty. Instead it was required to take your dog across the heavily congested road to an open field where they could run and play on or off leash. Dangerous scary cursing as you try to get across, crossing with no signal.  Do such owners stay up all night dreaming up this stuff? Can you imagine the planning discussions?  Arguments? Debates?

My neighbor (for the night) when they showed up back to their trailer jumped out of their car…  Oh, I LOVE your Lagotto Romagnolo’s!!!!  Say what? Hardly anyone knows this breed. Guesses range from them being certain that it’s a Doodle to a Poodle, a Bedlington Terrier, a Wheaten Terrier, a Bichon and some really odd guesses even once a Sheepdog. I’ve even been asked after explaining that no, these are not crossbreeds but purebred esp to the doodle People. . .  (they give a funny look first as they try to take this in) ‘Okay, what was mixed with a poodle then to get these fancy Lagotto mixes then?’ Or. ‘is this a poodle mixed with a Lagotto?’ Choke! No, you fool, purebred! All these hypnotized crossbred aficionados have no idea what they have.  Yes my breed is special and it’s a real breed with honed instincts, personality, character with developed type and conformation. An Italian dog. And then there’s Mr Mason. Everyone says he’s part Corgi, they call him the Yoda dog. A Chi-Terrier something mix for sure, Mr. Lovebug.

Kate playing with my gang in the park, she snapped some photos of them all. Good to see her.

Short visit with a high-school friend, Kate Johnson in the morning at a local park near her home. Found out that white fluffy, not so fluffy when it started piling in huge drifts and getting clammy sticky when wet stuff. . .yep, it was raining …that fluff at first so lovely but now annoying is residual remaining after the pollen from the Cottonwood (Poplar) Tree.

Litter blowing off the Cottonwood tree.

 

 

 

Nope these are not bison but part of the canine greeting committee adjacent to the Valley of The Rogue State Park in Gold Hill Oregon. About 20 of them came running over to stare at the dogs!

Valley of the Rouge State Park is directly off Interstate 5. It is also a reststop area which I’ve frequented many times. Camping is further along the long and narrow frontage road, with almost as much walking as you’d like since it’s part of an access trail along the Rouge River. Not a destination Park but perfect for a stopover. My night was peaceful, far enough from the Interstate not to be bothered by passing trucks.  $29 for electric I believe, a tad more if you need a full hookup. It’s worth the time to hunt around as some spaces are close to the I-5. I recommend this location as opposed to the expensive KOA although if it’s a destination there are plenty of campgrounds on the river.

Somewhat deceptive image approaching Portland Oregon. The traffic was HORRIBLE! Of course it’s horrible in California too. Over 2 hours to get through the city center, late afternoon. My “friendly” GPS keeps adding delay time to my route….  ha ha. What is the solution to all this crawling gridlock! What happened, Portland? I recall Portland positioning to be a model for traffic relief….  it didn’t work. Rush hour now 6 hours a day.  Maybe not as congested as LA’s gridlock (which I avoid) but daunting.

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I was thrilled to spend a night with Sue Yarbrough, a Lagotto Romagnolo friend I met at last year’s National Specialty. When she said she lived in Vancouver, I automatically put that as Canada, but nope I was wrong and I realized it just in time. She lives in Washington so we were able to connect. Graciously opening her home to me and my 4 wild ones, we had fun, what better topic that dogs! She brought us dinner and invited me to do a load of laundry. A beautiful home she shares with her daughter. Can’t wait to visit Sue Y again for truffle hunting with her soon to be Lagotto puppy girl.

 

An advantage to having a small van-type RV is that it can go (almost) anywhere; perfect for visiting and parking in driveways where a larger rig could not fit.

 

 

 

Getting through Seattle, mid-morning. Took the 2 mile Underground Expressway (coming up) underneath the downtown area. Is it a good answer? I don’t know but much as I missed the view I found it useful and a bit surrealistic. Drilled by a machine named Bertha. Zoom, zoom, zoom.  People like to lean on their horns. 

My ex-pal Sue Belanger moved from Santa Barbara to Granite Falls to initiate a romantic life with her long time known and now newly wed husband Jim. Many people I know (of my middle age and older generation) are finding new adventures like this.  A harmonious companion, a home with land, financial security, purpose and love;  along with water, birds, plants and the joys of simple beauty …  Sigh. If only such delight would catch me and my band of canines too. As she says, she is blissful.   I somehow missed a nice shot of the front of the house, complete with porch….  sorry.  Very much enjoyed my visit, thank you Sue and Jim for your welcome and hospitality.

Jim is a master craftsman, this is his Hudson Jet he’s rebuilding, he has other classic cars he’s taken apart and put back together as well as an impressive array of motorcycles, and power lawn equipment.

Flying Curls Jackson demolishing yet another tennis ball.

I found an article from this last January explaining that permanent water rationing will be coming to California. This is to occur with faucets spraying tiny jets of water annoyingly  delivered by a plethora of quirky gizmos and gadgets. This kind of thing is already in evidence across the country and not just in those bathroom faucets where patrons practice the latest in hand waving voodoo, finger flipping and swearing in hope that enough wetness will be delivered to wipe away all the germs, dirt and feelings of guilt, oh and the responsibility, that yes, you see, we have clean hands. You’ve all been there, shaking off your wet hands or just avoiding it altogether because of the absence of a towel in favor of a blasting jet of loudly delivered air that is said in public facilities to be spreading fecal mater right back into your hands.

 

The article explains that homes will be retrofit to have these things and not just public facilities. In almost every state I visited water is rationed in this manner, even in the showers let alone the sinks where the water spurts so quickly and uncontrollably that it’s nearly impossible to brush your teeth unless you remember to bring a cup.  I experimented with dry tooth brushing and paper towels when using camp restrooms. The most extreme was a shower that required the pushing of a button approximately every 20 seconds. Maybe it was 10 seconds.  A quick flash would jettison something that sure looked like water but before you could test it out or feel it on your skin it was gone!  I developed some nifty new skills, leaning in just right to press the button with my elbow while still having hands free for soap sort of twisting my torso so I could get wet or more difficult to rinse off.  I learned to use a stick to control the sink water, I even used an empty paper towel roll to get enough water to clean my toothbrush; ever try to get two hands washed when the water only stays on for a fraction of a second? Forget washing a dog! Or your hair! Need to add a sink stopped to my toiletry kit.

A long time ago, maybe 30 years ago I began to write a book about water wars. In my story, something had happened to all the water making it generally unusable. Individuals were assigned only a few cups a day which were jealously guarded. A young girl child born into this world of scare water started having dreams. …  and so on….     I’d worked out the story line except for one thing, why or how water would be in such short supply. And now here we are.

Along with water rationing I’ve noticed a boom of housing developments. I used to call them bedroom communities. They seem to be incredibly popular yet I remain leery of them. My good friends however have recently moved into theirs in a suburb of Sacramento CA and they love it. Visiting Lee and Craig, their American Eskimo Dog Zak and their new Eskie Asha was first on my list. It took me over 13 hours from Santa Barbara to reach Elk Grove although I stopped in Atascadero to visit a new friend for coffee and conversation. I was so tired when I got there. . . . after meeting Asha was treated to a nice room and bath in the front of the house where my camper was parked all for me and my gang.

Cute Asha, the new Eskie love in Craig and Lee’s new home.

Zak and his sista Asha

   I was unable to explore Elk Grove beyond a trip to the store for groceries and a fun find of a Vietnamese Drink called a Che; mine had red, white, mung beans, taro, pearls, pandan jelly & combo jelly, coconut milk at Bambo. I’d like to try more of their drinks, next time I’m in the SF Valley seems to be one of these shops in Panorama City. I looked Elk Grove up on Wikipedia. It’s fast growing which explains how my friends were able to watch their home being built as the region moves away from away from farming to suburban. Urban sprawl, I think is the right term. They seem to truly enjoy being back in “civilization,” closer to their activities, nightlife, restaurants, concerts, art classes, music, yoga, all the things they love.

I’d hoped for more of a tour but Lee is a busy woman with the new house, the new dog Asha needing lots of TLC and all her community and creative involvements.

My friends engaged on their computers enjoying the view of their growing trees and open space

Jackson was being a pest. Lee bought my dogs an automatic ball launcher.  I put it together and tried it out. It’s very loud! Olympia was scared but she gave it a rousing try, Jackson of course loved it but he did not learn to put they balls back in so I still had to go gather then up and place them back in the machine.

 

This isn’t the ball throwing video, need to find that one but this one is all 6 of the dogs 🙂

 

 

 

It is not easy to travel a la solo with pets, esp not 2 or 3 high energy sporting dogs and 1 senior not high energy, doesn’t like to get his feet wet or walk on oh, so many different surfaces, dog. Two of my “tough” pawslinger gang are ball crazy and will do anything to get me to throw for them long and often. One dog likes to pull the lead to see if that shoulder of mine will dislocate, another likes to tangle everyone, one wants to be carried, another is fond of 2 am potty walks, none of them wash their feet and oh, they all agree rolling and rubbing their coats thoroughly in un-nameable gunk is heaven. Sure I could stuff them all into crates and only let them out when I spot a clean perfect romping spot with no stickers, no bugs, no mud, no cars or trucks, no other dogs and none of those ‘no dogs allowed’ signs…  or better, I could uncover a fortune tucked under my mattress and  afford a nice new climate controlled, generator free motorhome that keeps the interior temperature perfect all on its own and that is easy-peasy to drive. Maybe one of those driverless ones so I could take a break once in a while and relax like my canines do.  Can you imagine getting up hills without fretting that everything’s going blow, not cringing at every dip and scrape,  jarring and banging, scarring the dogs, scaring me.  The dogs give me bad looks when the road gets rough, they can tremble and shake.

And what gives with the lack of shade in parking lots!  Really steams me that the little, if  any, shade that there might be is commandeered by luxury sedans or convertibles, anything but a pet car. Don’t those motorists know our pets are not permitted to come inside like the rest of us are? Those left behind NEED SHADE!  The non inhabited empty car does not need shade, cars don’t overheat with the engine off but I guess most motorists have yet to discover this amazing fact?  I’ve been known to troll a parking lot up to 1/2 hr trying to vie a shady spot to run in and get a meal or some groceries, let alone a museum, at least I have my own on-board toilet, an amazing blessing as you often can’t take your dogs to a restroom, not to mention even walking on the grass at a reststop.

Yes, I know there are plenty of awful dog-people who don’t clean up and let their pets engage in all the annoying and obnoxious behaviors that I’m guessing they’d really like to do themselves if they could get away with it. It’s a dog, PEOPLE, a dog, not a wild beast that cannot learn to fit in. Don’t know how to teach anything to a dog?  No Problem, get yourself a stuffed one. Don’t know or care about camping ethics, not sure how to use a trash can, too difficult to figure out how a leash works (and no it’s not a pull rope,)  get yourself a nice dog app on the playstore. And for goodness sake my dogs are not lonely and have no interest in your “friendly” scoundrel racing towards us at top speed, esp one off-leash or on a 20 foot retractable (trip) line to say, Hello?”Really? Invest in a text on dog-to-dog communication and what is a normal (non predatory) way to say hello, and if you can’t read or comprehend all that the very least have your dog go to school with a professional trainer. Mandatory schooling for dogs, not a bad idea, including potty and social manners. Oh I get it, they are dogs, they love to run and tear about, chase things, bring things back, bark, etc…  mine are nowhere near perfect but that’s my job to help them, to remind them, to keep them in line. It’s not easy to travel with your pets. It takes diligence.

A younger shot of the gang before a previous trip.

Here’s a few general guidelines for RVing with one or with multiple dogs…  kinda off the top of my head so not inclusive, just what comes to mind. .

  1. Bring water from home or provide bottled water. The water at location may be perfect for you but differing mineral contents can easily give your dog the runs.
  2. Don’t forget the canine first aid kit, including a cold pack, stuff for disinfecting and bandaging, tick puller, itch lotion, flea comb, meds, nail trimmers, bathing items, warming blanket, cooling pad, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, hydrocortosone, I like TZON pet skin care. I always carry stomach pills like Pepcid AC (Famotidine) , Pepto Bismal, Tums or Kaopectate, Pedialyte, saline eye wash, Benadryl, vet wrap, activated charcoal, Vit C (I also keep Colloid Silver,) ginger for travel sickness, Swimmer Ear, deodorizing shampoo, a muzzle, some paw balm, a little oil like olive oil for getting out fox tails, scissors and wraps and whatever else your pet needs.  A hair dryer is a good idea for warming up a cold pet or drying out a soggy one and whatever you use for parasite control and on this trip am bringing apple cider vinegar and cedarwood oil to help make my dogs (and me) unappetizing to ticks.
  3. Teach your pet to come when you call, to stay and to wait. Also teach quiet, leave it, instruct on where to potty and no your dogs do not need to sniff and poop and pee on everything,
  4. Carry pooper bags and clean up. Leave every place cleaner than you found it.  I also bring a rake for those camp sites that are too dirty for my dogs and I clean before I let my dogs out.
  5. Monitor the temperature in your camper…  not too hot, not too cold.
  6. Always provide water and make sure they are drinking enough.
  7. Don’t leave your dogs sitting around barking and howling all day.
  8. Maintain a respectful distance from other pets, children or really anyone unless they specifically ask to pet your dog or if their dog can meet yours and you like the way their dog is behaving.
  9. Nope, they don’t get to chase wildlife, there are lots of other ways to have fun.
  10. Don’t leave your dogs in your camper, tied to a stake or in your hotel room to bark and bark and bark, get a pet sitter. You can train them to wait more or less quietly as long as you don’t abandon them while you’re out having fun.
  11. Keep them on a SHORT leash when in crowded places, A 3 or 4 foot leash is ideal. teach them to sit or lay down when you stop somewhere. Under the table is a great place when you stop for a meal.
  12. Be mindful of things that scare your dog. a calm dog is a happy dog and a happy camper.
  13. Make sure they do have fun. Take them swimming, for a run, let them explore, take a long walk or a hike with them everyday. Establish a routine that everyone likes including a way to keep your space clean and comfortable.

Revving up to GO

It’s early May and the LT Daisy is getting a fiberglass waxing. My neighbors don’t see me out front that often, especially not sitting on the ground, on the curb laboring.  The house I live in has an unusable driveway, so my camper is parked on the street.  It’s not so comfortable and with too fast drivers not my favorite place to spend an afternoon but other than residual fatigue from short-sleep nights am relatively content.

More Room For the Dogs! Seen from the outside door, looking in towards the back of the van.

Seen from the inside, looking at the back. plenty of room for the dogs to sleep under the bed instead of in the walkway where there’s a constant scramble for space.

I hope to do that video walk-though I never accomplished the last time I mentioned it. Everything in my RV has a place. Am trying a few things different having decided to eliminate crates and exercise pen which were stored under the bed/couch and instead make that area available for my dogs. It’s an experiment. All the little things that start to encode on my patience as I travel I’m attempting to change. Like the frigid air purring past the door seals; sometime soon will replace them, for now I bought a can of slide seal and applied the lubricant to every door and window, something I should have done sooner as they all have tiny cracks. Then I applied sound proofing closed cell foam tape weather stripping wherever I could.

Covering the dash has been an issue as Mason as well as Jeana insist on climbing up there when I’m away from the van. I tried using Clawguard  Protection Tape – Ultimate Pet Shield but found it did not work. The material is difficult to apply and once applied is highly reflective, not so great when one is driving, and it’s slippery, not so great for the safely of my dogs. (For a different application likely useful.) Instead I taped a piece of thick cardboard to the dash panel where they climb up, it’s taped into the glove box…  you just have to image the layout, but it works; have covered this with decorative paper so it looks a bit less bohemian, this provides a nice protection from thick canine nails. I really don’t mind if they want to be up there, esp Mason cannot see where it is I’ve gone. They are less likely to bark or to be stressed if they can stare out in the direction I’ve disappeared. It comforts them and I’m a softy, what makes my dogs happy, makes me happy as long as they are safe and well-behaved. Looks so funny to see 2 of my dogs squished up there flat as they can get…  oh, I see them scrambling down as quick as they can when they see me approaching! Silly dogs. Somewhere I have a camera that links to my cell phone, need find that and see if I can set it up in the camper.

For the first time I have a kitchen trash bag that does not need to sit on the rather limited counter: Attach-A-Trash The Hanging Trash Bag Holder. A simple idea, it holds the trash bag to the counter. Who knows if it will work and I see there are cheaper ones. I think it will be great, I don’t generate a lot of trash so I splurged and bought compostable trash bags, ( Unni ASTM6400 Certified 100 Percent Compostable Bags.)  I don’t want plastic everything. I’m tired of plastic even if my grandfather found his fortunes in plastic. Plastic in the ocean, in the stomachs of creatures that starve with full bellies, haven’t you noticed how much comes wrapped in plastic! Stores no longer give these out for free so purchasing some makes sense, about $9 for 100 bags.  I’d like to banish throw away plastic from my life but it’s not easy unless I request never wrapped packages and bulk products in biodegradable boxes.

No one but me or another RVer would get excited about this next item: Camco RhinoFLEX 5 ft RV Sewer Hose Extension Kit with Swivel Fitting and 2 end caps! This little hose will save me having to drag out the big guy and wrestle with it, and like a slinky toy it collapses with fun crinkly noise into a much smaller length for storage.  Am very happy I now have this.

My van will be stocked with my travel watercolor painting system. I’ll talk about that later and how it works out.

I’ve cleaned and uncluttered the van, the serpentine belt has been replaced along with a motor mount, oil changed, lubed, brakes checked, air-conditioning checked, tires rotated, propane tank filled; I applied some chalkboard like contact paper to the refrigerator so I can make notes or draw pictures on it. I have not fixed the generator problem nor the power to the refrigerator problem which means I’ll still be running the propane 24/7 except on a Ferry, to keep food cold. My mechanic, Bruce and his son Bruce of Bruce’s Auto in Goleta, (who gets to write Bruce three times!) checked and the frig is getting current but nothing is happening so likely I can replace the board, but hasn’t happened (yet.)

I’ve used Velcro to repair the broken hinge to the freezer compartment and will add some duct tape to get a good seal so I can carry ice cream! There are scores of little things, upkeep things I’ve done the best I can with while limiting expenses. I found I had 2, yep 2! super large umbrellas, so extra stuff like that has been bunted out to find itself a place somewhere in the house or one of the storage sheds.

Have trimmed Lagotti coats short, given pedicures to all 4 dogs and we all know how much dogs love having their nails done…  (baths to come) paid upcoming bills, told my bank I would be traveling, registered for summer classes, renewed credit cards, applied for Amazon 5% discount card, renewed camping memberships, picked up paper maps, signed up for medicare and supplemental insurance, made arrangements with my volunteer jobs and Board responsibilities, puppy people, made arrangements to start re- teaching Nose Work when I return, working on organizing a committee for the Lagotto Club, taught my dogs something about real truffles, fought viciously with a little laptop that would not comply…  am now back to my old one which badly needs to be updated but it works!  Still struggling to update my very annoying Garmin GPS. . . Jeana managed to come into Heat and that came with its own long list. Had my teeth cleaned, hair trimmed, still need to pick up a pair of jeans, vet visit coming up, eye exam will have to wait until my return,but dogs need theirs so I can fulfill new breeder requirements, cleaned the house, the yard, replanted anything I don’t think will make it until summer without help…  you get the idea, the list gets e n o r m o u s l y long somehow.  Will see what day I actually leave… towards the end of this coming week??? Am short on sleep, did I mention that already! The power was off yesterday again but it’s all good!

What’s so great about the Great Lakes?