Tag Archive: RVing with dogs


Camping at another KOA in the rain.

I headed south towards I-40 driving briefly though Fayetteville as I wanted to camp at one of the State Parks. Forth Smith was the closest: not only was it SUPER WINDY it was isolated with no Wifi and other than the joy of being blown around if you didn’t have a boat there was not a lot going on. I decided the weather wasn’t right.  I don’t mind being inside my little camper with the dogs on an inclement day but I like to have somewhere to walk during breaks other than sink deep mud, stickers and burs. Soggy gunk automatically transfers into my van hoping for a free ride to California no matter how many paws get wiped. I drove in and out  of local towns, walking with the dogs when the rain and wind allowed. Wound up at a KOA. It was muddy but I managed a spot with some gravel, a view of the fields and masses of colorful birds. Couldn’t do the hiking trails with wading in calf-high mud but the KOA dog park worked out great and afforded a long conversation about “bad” breeders and some tragic tales with another breeder camper. (Please if you breed animals be responsible and if you don’t know what that means, get yourself some fixings for stuffed animals. You can smooch these together in any way you like; stay away from living creatures! Got it?)

This was one of those times when I parked “backwards.” My RV is not quite 20 feet so if the “camp” side (that’s the side with the picnic table where my double side doors open (parked correctly) means that there is not a nice view out the back doors/window, I turn around the other way. Don’t care how many campers watch with amusement as I vie for the right angle. With only one of me this sometimes means backing a little, then getting out to check, going forward, changing angle and doing it over until I’m satisfied.  My power cord is long enough to wrap around from the power side (the side with the RV connections) to reach the campsite power box and water supply.  If I want to use the septic I’ll turn around in the morning before I leave to drain the tanks.

Love waking to a great view and relaxing in the evening to the outer world. I leave my bed (which when retracted is a couch) all the way down or mostly down when traveling with the bed made up with sheets and blankets.  I have a 2″ foam pad  with a 2″ organic wool topper under me, this compresses but is very comfortable. Then a fitted sheet to keep these clean, covered with bed sheets and a blanket.  Over all of this is a fitted soft polyester sheet for keeping dog sand (and mud) out of bed.  If I know we’re going swimming or it’s pouring rain I have a waterproof dog blanket that I can throw on top.

Typically I buy gas at a Truck Stop, this is the truck side; there’s another side for cars and van’s like mine. The prices are always better than commercial gas stations, there is more space, proper windshield cleaning tools, useful amenities including food and showers, and one can rest without being disturbed. A few such at Pilot provide additional gas discounts with a Good Sam card. Alternatively Costco has good prices and other larger chain stores that offer gas stations. This Love’s Truck Stop was just past Oklahoma City. There were truck stops on all 4 corners, both sides of the highways and they were JAMMED PACKED WITH TRUCKS! Red ones, and pink ones, blue ones and silver ones, black ones and white, yellow and purple and on and on and on.

Oklahoma City was a mega shopping mall overlaid with Lego like freeway overpasses. Don’t most people buy things online?  Well, maybe not, what would they put in their pickup trucks?

 

Nice secure feeling, one can run for the restroom! And so many told me how they were afraid of CA earthquakes. Typical Rest Stop Tornado Shelter! Glad I didn’t have to test this.

 

I drove all the way through Oklahoma into the Texas Panhandle not stopping till I reached Amarillo. My plan to head south onto highway 9 and leisurely explore had instantly been replaced around 10 am. I was exploring Muskogge, OK, birth place of Carrie Underwood, most everything was closed so that’s when I decided to head south to 9 thinking I’d spend the night somewhere around the river or lake, maybe Lake Eufaula State Park , can’t always avoid “man-made” lakes or perhaps Fountainhead State Park, I tend to be curious and I-40 was too big a road for me.

I had known that hwy 9 just south of me was where the worst of the hail had hit, but that was days ago. It was on my mind. I pulled into the town of Checotah hoping for something open, maybe a coffee or late breakfast. I never got out of the van. The sky went from partially cloudy, a little drizzly to densely clouded, looked like it might flood which is what the posted signs said to watch out for. I pulled over and studied the map. I pulled open my weather app, turned on the radio. Those darn words, DANGEROUS weather conditions…  Oh Shit. That was happening here and hwy 9 was the place to avoid! Even as I sitting and checking on this the sky did something I’d never experienced before. It turned completely BLACK! 10 am and reminiscent of black velvet being spread out on the sky and tucked into the corners. AND IT WAS QUIET. I floored it. Go West Young Woman (hmm …   not so young woman) and Dogs, Go West. No wonder nothing was open. I was the Lone Ranger with the William Tell Overture  This RVgirl kicked her accelerator pedal and off she went. Yeah, the dogs gave me a nasty look when we didn’t get out and walk.

I beat the storm, but is wasn’t far behind me!

Have you any idea how fast such a sky can change and fill with dark clouds, rain and thunder. Can you see how the wind is blowing.

The wind pierces holes in this realm we inhabit as the cold bites inside minuscule channels of my skin.  will the world really hold together?

The reminder of my drive that day was as fast as I could go. Every-time I found sunlight it felt good, but it never lasted long. Along the highway wind turbines and cows.

“Wind power accounted for 12.68% of the electricity generated in Texas in the 12 months ending Oct 2016. …..   created over 24,000 jobs”

This Amarillo Visitor Center is permanently closed but the important stuff is etched on the door.

 

Advertisements

Leaving Memphis

The day I left Memphis was W I N D Y ! My dogs trust me, people say to me how much my dogs love me. I don’t know what they are picking up, but they are my priority. I treat them better than I treat myself and why wouldn’t I? It’s my job to keep them safe and happy and that means not letting us flip over or get eaten by the weather goddess. I’d looked at the map the night before deciding to head to the lake camping just north in Tennessee. I could lake-hop my way to Nashville. First though I needed propane; that wasn’t as easy to find as I’d assumed and required some driving. That’s when I discovered how WINDY is was! As the attendant filled the tank with me and dogs standing about outside ….  he made sure we all exited the vehicle, he told me of last night’s damage in various parts of the city; vehicles including RVs, homes and other structures had been damaged or destroyed. It was so windy out there talking about dogs and wind I had to pick up Mason so he wouldn’t get blown away. Once back in the van I clicked my weather apps, yep D A N G E R O U S winds to the north, darn! I could make it, I reasoned, everything was fine last night. How windy was too windy? Would there be hail? The road I’d picked looked a bit desolate. You can see where this is going. I bailed and decided (wisely) to head for the next nearest campground; this time I picked a KOA back over the bridge on the Arkansas side. On the way I stopped at the Info Station, I was feeling disappointed about Tennessee. The “info” woman was super friendly, mapping a scenic cross-section of Arkansas just for me and of course she had to come see my dogs.  Dog viewing is a standard thing; anytime someone hears about my dogs, and I frequently mention them, that person often gets excited, their eyes pick up color and their faces start expressing joy; oh, they’d never seen a Lagotto in real life, could they meet one!  That is if they didn’t think I’d fabricated a name like Lagotto Romagnolo.  My dogs are friendly so it works out. I think they are all proud of themselves and enjoy showing off.

I pulled into the Memphis KOA mid morning, a line of big rigs following me. How can I describe the force on my vehicle? My van would jerk hard to one side with my hands vice gripped on the wheel, I’d bash it into place and then wham it’d go the other way, like a twisting bucking bronco determined to throw its rider to the ground, esp when you add the lifting sliding effect of movement forward with the wind tunnel underneath.  A passing truck is really insane, I’m gonna call it  an earthquake machine that is coming from the air rather than the ground, it would be fun if it was an amusement park. And it was wet too.

The staff at this KOA were super nice, one of them repaired my laptop as it was set to not accept WiFi, she somehow fixed that. I was assigned a crappy space behind the propane tank (as if I hadn’t just filled up elsewhere) with a big noisy outdoor fan attached to the back of a building as my only view. Since I had a camper-van KOA decided (and it’s all in their computer) that I should not be given a regular pull through space. I find this annoying except when it’s a better location and comes with a discount. Anyway they let me move to a better spot which I enjoyed as I had the camping area to myself while the rest of the park was jammed full of folks escaping the wrath of Mommy Nature. This was my first KOA that provided dinner; you call it in and they bring it to your site. It was pulled pork which I don’t eat but I did go to the cafe for breakfast; 2 over easy eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for $4.80. The KOA also provides bus tours of many sorts around Memphis, didn’t ask but a great addition would be some doggy day care. I spent the day doing laundry and listening to the wind, by night-time it finally calmed.

Nope didn’t seem to take many photos. Just picture me slaving away in the wet wind hauling laundry and trying to put the quarters in the correct slot. Ha-ha!

Traveling alone is not as alone as you might think, at least not if you have adorable dogs with you and you can smile at people. I’m often amazed at the depth folks will share. I’ve started to think of my encounters as serial friendships, sure there are conversations that are polite greeting but more often about how others survive, what’s going on in their lives, why they are at this particular place at this particular time. I meet world travelers and those that are following the sun and good weather. Some are orphaned from a stick house by divorce, deaths, lack of a job, wanderlust, kids gone, retired, working mobile, lots of things bring them outside. Lots of folks have dogs too. On the road we have a temporary bond beyond the gulf of wealth and accommodation being closer to the elements, being able to leave at a moments notice and be somewhere completely different the next day.  That’s one of the things that draws me, being able take off and whatever transpired in that place gets left behind and replaced by an equally fascinating new day.

 

There is always something to do, at least there is for me.  Never have time to watch TV and rarely time for a book, much of this is because I travel with 3 dogs and am considering doing so with all 4. I walk them many times a day, they eat twice a day and I take them to dog parks, regular parks, schools, grassy fields, places to swim, we walk together in town centers and tourist areas where they are frequently so warmly welcomed. I keep a fairly clean RV, so there is an order to how the dogs and I proceed to keep it that way. When I eat dinner if there is an outside bench and table I’ll use that otherwise I’ll take out my camp chair and table, the dogs like to be nearby although little Mason frequently watches from the comfort of the bed esp if it’s cold out and looks out from the open back door to keep his eye on us.  I enjoy just looking, watching and listening . . . the sun coming up or going down, birds of all sorts and other wildlife, trees, flowers, grasses, clouds, rain, trains, what other people are doing, how things looks, little cities and towns, open fields, cluttered building, paths that lead off somewhere, the way the weather changes and how the light is different wherever I go, seeing the highway at a distance with all those huge trucks moving about, piles of debris that collect and no one seems to care. It’s not boring, there are sometimes stars or rainbows, sunclouds, rivers, lakes, desert and bugs, mountains, the sounds made from the soil, a wire overhead or within a tiny creek . . . .   … . these things are precious; our home, how will we treat it.

Scorpions – Wind Of Change

 

Every day on this trip was enjoyable, wish I was still staring at wild sea, hidden lakes, trails of flowers; the startling friendliness of being somewhere else. For the women who dream about traveling alone with or without pets, drop me a line.  I’ll write more about this in coming posts.

Meanwhile here’s some photos of my drive home from the Washington Peninsula back to Central Coast California. There are more and lots of adventures but for now just photos.  I’ll try to do a park / camp spot review in the coming days.

When I crossed into California, it was HOT!!!! Hot and expensive. I immediately longed for the Pacific Northwest in spite of the all too evident troubles, for example Capital Lake in Olympia is so polluted you’re best not even to go near the water. It is a reservoir, it is beautiful something I don’t often say about reservoirs. The lake suffers high levels of phosphorus, toxic algae blooms, fecal coliform bacteria and the nasty New Zealand Mudsnail. Once this area was estuary. My opinion, yes it should be restored. No swimming for my dogs. How can one explain that you just can’t go in the water? I liked Olympia as I always have, spent a few days there. Beautiful parks in the area, fun restaurants, lots of activity, art, music, people having fun, harbors, traffic not so bad, so much to like except the terrible pollution.

20160615_172626

Washington …   when it’s season to capture these little guys and the other shellfish must be a mob scene. 

20160615_172416

20160615_172649a

20160618_175845a

20160619_121350a

My my Olympia! Yes, my girl Olympia has been to Olympia. I camped at the same campground behind the Texaco station near the State Park as I’ve stayed before. The State Park was unbelievably jammed, had to believe everyone was actually in their own space and not doubled or tripled up. When the crowds come out they do so like shellfish. Tons of kids and groups of family campers.

20160619_121512a

Capital Lake … took a nice hike around the lake to Capital Park.

20160619_132727a

In downtown Olympia they were having a Pride Day. Stopped and watched the parade and was about to leave when a youth came running over asking if my dogs were Lagotti. Behind him was mom and day with this little young one! 🙂

20160619_151135a

I told my dogs to stay like this, which they did. I took a handful of pictures and came back to relax. A woman in the park walked across the field to tell me she’s never seen anything like it, how I talked to my dogs with regular conversation and they understood and happily complied.

20160620_161916a

Bullseye Portland. so sorry everyone I might have connected with in Portland. I can only plead traffic and fear, fear of not being able to park so my dogs would be comfortable and safe, cars everywhere, gridlock, fast drivers, my pathetic Garmin with bad directions, I wanted to stay but not in this RV, not this trip. Apologies.

20160621_182634a

On the Rogue River. the fellows all came by and checked me out. Lots of single men camped out for the summer.

20160621_202101a

My view. watching the river.

20160621_202209a

Was quite hot.  Good to have power for the air conditioner. Not a lot of area for walking. I didn’t feel like driving so took the dogs down that grassy area which leads to a rocky beach. No swimming here though, the river is moving fast and deep.

20160621_083127a

Somewhere near Salem. don’t recommend this place, on top of the fwy and backed by mega shopping centers. Looks are deceiving here.

20160621_083151a

Double woof! WOOF!

20160621_094620a

This was a pretty lake near Salem, but there was way too much trash.

20160621_103908a

Salem, Oregon

20160621_104215a

Beautiful architecture. No one seems to smile. I was either ignored or greeted by a half snarl, nothing personal I’m sure but the citizens seemed preoccupied and stressed.

20160621_104532a

This wasn’t open, it’s an art dealer.

20160621_182450a

I love you sooooo much my little Mason.

 

 

20160621_202440a

20160622_133810a

20160622_190110a

So hot here in Red Bluff. 108 or so. I have a friend in Redding but at this point I wanted to get out of the heat. The lid opener for the overhead fan had broken. being without that cooling air was significant and borderline dangerous.

20160622_190233a

I paid extra for this end spot on the river. There were mosquitoes so I didn’t walk as far as I’d planned. As soon as the Park ends, the trash starts. Piles and piles of it. It seemed to me the area residents no longer see it as anything unusual . Lots of evidence of smoking. 

20160611_114255a

A small reminder of Washington

 

So, I’ve finally caught up to where I was when I started posting about my current trip. Being the pups first camping experience most of my time has been spent having fun with them and Mason of course.

As I headed up the coast, at first I was not happy. I had figured on doing this part of the drive after gorging myself on the luxurious beauty of the Washington Peninsula and I would be prepared and ready to drive the coastal route home. Oregon becomes crowded, RV parks, RV parking lots as well as RV repair shops dot the roadways. Passing through the redwoods was startling short. Two hundred million years ago they could grow all over the planet, now they cling to this small region hugging the Western US coast from Big Sur to just before the Oregon border. The trees are stressed and even though I camped among them and passed the usual tourist locales their presence hit me with a wavering uncertainty

 

In Coos Bay I past the Mill Casino where I’d stopped before…  on that trip I’d wanted to explore Coos Bay, it was a satisfaction in the recognition but this time I only wanted a quiet spot to walk and run the dogs and rest; my goal was the Olympic Peninsula and on the way Oregon town of Florence. I felt unsettled and angry at the general level of commercialization; yes, I should be used to it living in Southern California, in my heart it is the wilderness and the sea, natural lakes, wild rivers, busy harbors, open fields and cute towns that draw me to the road, not spreading of the blacktops, cement, tourists baits, the trash in blown remains from the grasp or children and dedicated vacationers; homes crammed up next to shopping malls and all that.

I use several apps on my cell phone: RV Parks, RV Parky, Allstays, Roadbrekers and Google Maps, the Garmin is more or less useless at finding specific information. I found something I thought would work; I think it was Ocean Pines in North Bend, but I’m not certain, will have to search about for the paperwork. I thought it would be a different place than it was.  The proprietor greeted me when I entered, I was tired and ready. I thought he was going to tell me they were full, or that no dogs were allowed. They were almost full, he had dry camping (that means no utilities) out in the field with use of the bath house. He took me out there and said come back with five bucks if I wanted to stay. It was cool, there was only one other camper on the field and they were way on the other side. Some kind of animals, lamas or alpacas or something, but I came to think of them as yaks occasionally used the field. I let the dogs out to romp and yep, first thing Jeana found a pile of that poop and rolled in it, then she invited Jackson to check it out! Washy washy washy…  with wet Dawn detergent dogs in tow I headed to the office with ten bucks. He said he didn’t have change so it suddenly became free. As he said this wasn’t exactly a money making operation. I think there were 1 or 2 or maybe 3 other visitors among the long timer/permanent residents…  it seemed like kinda a homed-homeless camp. One fellow gave me two roses from his garden, several women said hello, lots of dogs barked at us quite aggressively even little ones. It was quiet, cool, roomy and nice, perfect for the night.

My spot for the night out in the field.

My spot for the night out in the field.

Long timers at the camp.

Long timers at the camp.

The next day I started out for Florence, esp Old Town Florence, for me this is where Coastal Oregon begins. Along the way I stopped frequently getting into a rhythm with my 3 canines. Did not expect this!

Never Did Find Out What Was Wong With The Trees

Never Did Find Out What Was Wong With The Trees?

Land of Dangerous Trees

Land of Dangerous Trees

Found this along the way; might be a easy spot for a night.

Found this along the way; might be a easy spot for a night.

Winchester Bay Lighthouse

Winchester Bay Lighthouse . . . arrived hours too early for a tour.

Winchester Bay in the Oregon Dunes, Port of Umpqua

Winchester Bay in the Oregon Dunes, Port of Umpqua.

Plenty of fly fishing, salmon, sturgeon and crabbing in the bay, along with oysters and whale watching. Nice quick drive to the beach for a look around, plenty of sand dunes.