Fourth Year – The Emotional Arc

I can’t believe it’s been four years already.  Looking back on this whole journey has been a bit surreal, and if you are a person who likes a high level overview of events,  you might want to read my previous annual emotional arc posts listed below before reading this one.  If you want to skip all of the self reflection then you can scroll past all the text and look at the pictures of some of my favorite experiences of the year.

The year started out with us working at Amazon, completing the last of the “Big Five” work kamping jobs.  From the very beginning I wanted to try all of the “Big 5” types of jobs and see what was a good fit for us, and Amazon was the very last of those.  Ironically, Amazon turned out to be Lee’s least favorite, by miles. Just ask him, he’ll tell you why. He’s been pretty mellow about the different work we have done, but the extreme micro management at Amazon drove him absolutely crazy.  Couple that with lots of time to think, and some personal family issues he was dealing with, and it was a rough couple of months for him.  I was in pretty good shape though, once I got a decent pair of shoes and got past the physical demands of the job. We were both glad to be heading to Columbus to spend Christmas with some family members when it was all over.

As soon as Christmas was over we ran south to get away from the cold and started gate guarding again, and as soon as we were back in the west Lee’s mood improved. Our first assignment was just over the border from Jal, NM and the cold and wind was not the greatest, but we were glad we got a gate pretty quickly.   Thankfully we were done with that gig in a few short weeks and then we moved to an awesome gate in south Texas where we hung out until March.  While we were gate guarding I had lots of time to write and finished the first draft of a book about becoming full timers and wrote several reflective posts. One was called  Phases of Fulltiming and does a nice job of summarizing the first three years and talking about my hopes for Year Four. Back in January I wrote “I would like year four to be about living a life that makes me personally happy and fulfilled, and I really want to focus on that.  In the past,  I have spent an awful lot of time and energy worrying about other people’s well being instead of focusing on myself. It’s a difficult balance, because I do believe that a good person puts others in front of themselves, but I also realize that ultimately I only have one life to live and I should definitely make the most of it.  Hopefully I can maintain a balance this year by letting go of unproductive emotions and focusing on the positive ones.”  Looking back on Year Four I think I made substantial progress in this area.

I also wrote a post called Do We Think About Stopping that talked about whether the challenges of the lifestyle made us want to quit.  It was a fair question, because a few people we know have gotten off the road this past year, although most of our friends are still going strong.  One of the main things I came to grip with this year is to some extent the lifestyle “ruins” you for a traditional life.  Don’t get me wrong, people do successfully transition back to a sticks and bricks life (our friends Kat/Bert and Jo/Ben both successfully transitioned back to stick and bricks this year) but many of us have trouble visualizing ourselves staying in one place or getting traditional jobs again.  The relative freedom of full-timing is pretty heady stuff and the vagabond lifestyle (for us at least) is addicting.  I did do a follow-up to that post called Solo Strategy, where I took a hard look at what this lifestyle would mean for me if I had to do it alone and came to the conclusion that if something happened to Lee I would probably get off the road.  This lifestyle works for me very well as part of a couple, but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want to do it alone.  After much thought and discussion I realized I am OK with that too, it just makes me more convinced that we should enjoy every minute of this while we can.

So January through March were soul searching months and we were both really happy when we were done.  We were heading to the RV-Dreams reunion rally in Pahrump, Nevada and would be seeing a lot of friends we hadn’t seen in a long time.  This rally had been on our schedule for over a year and we were thrilled that so many of the “Class of 2014” was going to be there.  As a bonus our travel plans coincided with Jo and Ben, and just the four of us were able to boondock for a few days before the rally.  Jo and Ben have been a part of our lives since our first RV-Dreams rally, before we even started, and after several years traveling and working on the road as nurses they had decided that they were going to come off the road and settle back in Colorado.  Although I know they will be our friends forever, I was glad we got to reconnect in person with them prior to them settling down in one place.

After the reunion rally we were spending a month in Utah, and for the first time we were traveling for an extended period with no strict travel plans.  We had a rough idea of things we wanted to see, but ultimately let weather and personal preference drive our travel.  That went so much better than I think either one of us thought it would and we ended up boondocking for almost the entire month as well.  Utah in April was an absolute dream and I loved every minute of it.  The landscapes were better than even Alaska from my perspective and I left wanting to return as soon as we possibly could.  I also for the first time got to experience what it might be like to be a travel writer and spent day after day putting out these adventure filled posts.  Every day was so full of experiences that ultimately we needed to slow down so I could take a little break, which is really a wonderful situation to be in.

At the end of April we headed up to Mount Hood, Oregon, for the first time returning to the same company for the summer.  I had been offered a lead position and was excited to see if I could find a way to meld my professional and my travel life together.  Up until this point one of my major dissatisfactions with the life was my inability to find work that stretched me mentally and I wanted to see what it would look like to be personally and professionally fulfilled. The only downside was because I was in a lead position I couldn’t blog much about my life and I found that I really missed it. Turns out that the additional professional responsibility also meant more hours and less creative energy.  I found myself working incredibly hard and taking my work “home” with me.  There was very little time this summer for any kind of fun and even when we had those experiences it was almost impossible to put work aside.  I kept plugging away at it, in the hopes I would find a balance, but ultimately never did.

The difficult thing was I really enjoyed the work itself and felt good about what I was contributing.  The politics, personnel issues, and red tape wore me down though, and reminded me of exactly why I had left my former job.  I think the major thing I walked away with this summer was that for me at least I couldn’t have one without the other.  The same drive that made me good at what I did, also brought the cost of more stress and difficulty unplugging.  Before I started this life I just accepted that cost as a necessary evil and thought someday when I retired it would be different. I knew there were jobs with less stress, but I also knew I found them unfulfilling.  My experiment in trying to get both in one job that fulfilled both things was a bust and I really didn’t know what to do about that. I started seriously looking for a regular job, updating resumes, talking to head hunters, but despite the low unemployment rate the jobs I was interested in weren’t interested in me and the ones where I thought I had a shot were not a direction I wanted to go.  I was left feeling angry and frustrated and really I was emotionally a hot mess.

It didn’t help that while I was looking for a job we had an expensive trip to Vegas to see family and a variety of other things coming at me.   I had a biopsy that was clear but came with a $4K bill (ultimately I negotiated the costs down) and a series of real life issues during our travels that were stressing me out.   Towards the end of October, we limped into San Antonio to see our friends Cori and Greg, and all I wanted was a break.  I wanted to unplug, forget about everything, and give myself time to deal with my emotions.  Turns out Cori and Greg are pretty good people to do that with.  As I am writing this post it is the four year anniversary of the day we closed on our house, left home, and immediately drove to see Cori and Greg.  They were there with us on day one of our journey, and are with us again today.  Being with people who understand that this lifestyle is a process is invaluable.  This year we have been with some very good friends (Kelly and Bill, Steve and Deb, Howard and Linda, Jo and Ben, Rick Raab and Georgia and Jim to name a few) at critical times and always through word and deed they give us permission to figure it out.  What I mean by that is we don’t have to have all of the answers.  None of them do either, and they are pretty honest about that, they just make the best choices they can and live their lives the best they can, being aware that the one constant is things change.  For someone like me, who leans towards wanting a life blueprint, that understanding is a huge gift.

And surrounded by people who support me, my husband being the largest piece of that, working through my feelings really didn’t take that long.  As often happens to me, there was one encounter that more than anything else really put things in perspective.  Back in 2016 we went to a Reunion Rally and met a couple named Mikki and Jay.  It turned out they were on a break from gate guarding less than an hour from us, so we met halfway for lunch one day.  Over the last two years, Mikki and I had stayed in virtual contact and since we had started before them, she had reached out a few times to ask me some questions.  I was really excited about seeing her in person and finding out how the life was suiting her when we had our lunch.  The conversation was great and they were obviously kindred spirits and as is so often the case we learned some things hearing about their last two years.  One story she told really got my attention. She told us about a summer job she had gotten working at McDonald’s.  Before going on the road, Mikki had a high profile management job, but she really loved her time as a cashier at McDonald’s.  She found it relaxing and really fun and I could tell from looking at her when she told the story she meant every word of it.

That moment really stuck with me and I kept coming back to it over the next few days.  She had started in a similar place as I had, but she seemed to have skipped most of the internal conflict and more importantly seemed better for it.  The best way to describe it was she was totally zen about the work thing in a way I really wished I could be. And for the first time, I really thought, if she can be zen why can’t I???  It was clear to me for the first time that it was a choice and she was making it and it was working for her.  Don’t get me wrong, I have met tons of people who are perfectly content doing these type of jobs, but I have never before felt that could be me.  I have no doubt part of that was my being in the right head space to accept it, but it was also partly her.  You just can’t fake being that comfortable in your own skin.  So Mikki thanks for that.  I don’t know if I will ever get there, but I appreciate you being you!

After the lunch with Mikki and Jay, Lee and I had a series of conversations, we had decided to accept a different position with the same company for next summer and as nice as it was to be “locked in”, a huge part of me was struggling with giving up on going back to my profession.  This was not a new internal argument, but this time it seemed more final somehow and I decided to turn the argument around and focus on what advantages there could be to having a regular route and set jobs in place.  The one thing that kept coming back to me was the fact that if we had somewhat regular jobs and route based travel it would make it easier to have a dog.  I missed having a pet and had toyed with the idea a couple of times while we were on the road, but this time I was pretty serious.  Lee to his credit, despite serious misgivings, took a step back and let me play it out and I spent a ton of time researching and looking for a dog.  I wrote a post about the challenges I had during the search recently, but I only lightly touched on the emotional turmoil I was in.  It was a statement of sorts and a commitment to exploiting the positives of the simplified life we live.   I had a good enough handle on myself to make sure that I didn’t make a bad decision, and was completely aware that it was a living being we were talking about,  but adding a dog to our travels was definitely about more than just getting a dog.

And it turned out that getting Jack has brought me a ton of joy.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed a dog’s presence in my life, until he came into it.  I know it’s early days yet, but we have been super lucky and Lee has been really happy with Jack so far too. Aside from the fantastic puppy kisses and snuggles,  he has reminded me that life is about more than work.  Fulfillment comes in many forms and I was doing myself a disservice by so narrowly defining how I could provide value in this world. As I am writing this, I realize that this whole thing may sound sort of nuts and melodramatic.  I’ll just say that on some level I have been struggling with who I am without my old career for the last three years. I won’t say that I am totally “cured”, but I will say that getting a dog and actually having time to spend with it, reminded me of a younger, simpler self and I think that is a good thing.

And finally, here are some pictures of my favorite experiences of the year.  As always, I judge my life to some extent by the pictures I take and experiences I had and it’s always fun to look back and see what we did.  As you can see, despite my personal challenges, we had an amazingly full year with loads of experiences.  As I look at these at the end of Year Four, more than anything else I feel very blessed and look forward to seeing what Year Five brings.

Had a blast taking a tour of the Jim Beam Distillery with Kelly and Bill

 

Celebrating Christmas with my brother and my niece and nephew

 

Having dinner with Kat and Bert while we were gate guarding. I was super bummed they got off the road but excited for them to start the next chapter of their lives

 

Watching the Pats versus Eagles Superbowl with Cori.  She’s a hug Eagles fan as you can tell by the special seat she made for me in the bathroom! The fact that we were in the same place while our two favorite teams played each other was truly serendipity.  I was even happy her team won.  The Eagles were due.

 

We finally got to go stay at Padre Island and had a wonderful boondocking spot. Loved being back at the ocean and really enjoyed all the birds and the sunsets.

 

It was great to get to hang out with Jo and Ben before the reunion rally.  Telegraph Cove was an awesome boondocking spot that Ben found and I was happy to spend time with them just the four of us.

 

Some of our friends at the Reunion Rally From Left: Red/Pam, Curt/Glenda, Jo/Ben, Pat/Bridgett, Tracy/Lee, Steve/Deb, Steve/Linda, Kelly/Bill.

 

Visiting Zion National Park…bucket list checked!

 

Hiking my first slot canyon in Grand-Staircase Escalante

 

Boondocking at Lone Rock Primitive Beach Campground with Steve and Linda close by.

 

Hanging over the edge of a cliff to get the iconic Horseshoe Bend picture.

 

standing at Four Corners.  Yes it’s hokey and it was cold, but had to do it!

 

Taking a jeep photography tour at monument valley. Lee was totally in his element.

 

Seeing an antelope closeup while boondocking in Moab.

 

Having waterfall kisses in this natural cave behind in Silver Springs State Park.

 

Hiking to Little Crater Lake with Howard.

 

Helping coordinate an airlift of an injured horse which included closing the highway to traffic and landing a helicopter on this bridge.  Unfortunately the outcome for the horse was not good, but the teamwork shown by our fellow employees was amazing.

 

Watching fire planes get water from the lake to put out a nearby fire. Yes it was stressful, but watching it happen was also an amazing air show. These guys really knew what they were doing.

 

We saw a piano concert in the woods at Timothy Lake. Not only did Lee have a good time helping get the piano down to the water, but wandering around and listening to the music was really special.

 

Celebrating Lee’s 50th birthday with Deb and Steve. We all had a blast doing an escape room together.

 

Seeing a black bear on a trail while at Mt. Ranier.

 

Lee’s friend Brian came to visit all the way from Ohio and we played a virtual reality game.

 

Going to Seattle and seeing Pikes Place (not a fan) but mainly to see our daughter Kay (also known as Poooooooooh Beeeeaaaaar!!!) who had been stationed in Korea for over a year. (The picture looks weird, but what I’m doing is exploiting a hug as an opportunity to pull out her ponytail, which I have done to all my daughters since they were little, just to annoy them. – Lee)

 

We got to visit with Georgia and Jim who now live in Eugene a couple of times.

 

Rick and Maxine came to visit

 

I did the 23 and me test and found out I do NOT have the gene for Alzheimer’s which made me very happy since I have it on both sides of my family.

 

Celebrating my sisters 40th birthday in Las Vegas. From Left: Lee, me and Eddie in the front and Mom and Wendy in the back

 

At a real Texas Rodeo with Cori and Greg

 

Lunch with Mikki and Jay

 

Celebrating Cori’s birthday with Greg Kelly, Bill, Mairead, and Dave.

And of course, bringing home Jack!

And finally celebrating our road-a-versary with Kelly/Bill and Cori/Greg in Texas!

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Fourth Year – By the Numbers

November 14th is our “road-a-versary” and since the format I used the past three years is working, I’m going to stick with it.  I do a second post that describes the emotional arc for the year, and a third at the end of December with our financials, but this one is all about the numbers and gives a broad overview of our travels.  I would like to mention here that our friends Kelly and Bill do an amazing job on their “by the numbers” post and go into more detail on campgrounds, memberships etc.  If you are researching the lifestyle I highly recommend their Year Four post.

As always, I’ll start with a map of our travels and this time I thought it would be interesting to show all four years together. These maps aren’t totally perfect, but basically show the routes we have taken and the places we have been.  This is what it looks like when your family is on the east coast but you want to explore out west.  Lots of criss-crossing the country!

 

Year One (2014-2015) started in Keene, NH, and ended in Susanville, CA

 

Year Two – (2015-2016) started in Susanville, CA and ended in New Braunfels, TX

 

Year Three – (2016-2017) started in New Braunfels, TX and ended in Campbellsville, KY

 

Year Four – (2017-2018) started in Campbellsville, KY and ended in New Braunfels, TX


2018 Route Information

We started this year in Campbellsville, Kentucky where we (and some of our best buddies) spent two months working for Amazon.  After that we spent Christmas in Columbus, Ohio and then hightailed it down to Texas as soon as we could.  We traveled around Texas seeing friends and doing a couple of gate guarding gigs and then went to Pahrump, Nevada for the RV-Dreams reunion rally.  From Pahrump we spent a glorious month in Utah spending time in Zion, Page, Monument Valley, and Moab.  From there we went to Timothy Lake in the Mount Hood Forest in Oregon and work kamped there until the beginning of October.  From Oregon we went down to Las Vegas to visit my Mom, brother, and sister and then back down to Texas to take a little break before gate guarding the winter away.

By State

Kentucky – November and part of December

Ohio – part of December

Texas – January, February, and March

Utah/Nevada – April

Oregon – May, June, July, and August

Nevada/Texas – October and November

Travel Miles

The trailer traveled 8,045 miles in Year Four with a lifetime total of 41,947 miles. The truck traveled 20,531 with a lifetime total of 99,397 miles.  Here is a comparison of the four years we have been on the road.   The truck mileage is low in 2015 because I still had my company car which I put an additional 9,800 miles on. The spike in mileage in 2016 is due to a trip to the trip to Alaska. 

RV and Truck Repairs

  • After one full year of not having a furnace we finally got it fixed in Columbus, Ohio!  Just in time, because we definitely needed a working furnace for all the boondocking we did in Utah.
  • We dealt with frozen pipes in the rig for the first time and Lee added some insulation and a heat source to help with the problem.
  • We replaced our toilet with a standard sized one, which by the way I still really love, and is one of the best repairs we have ever made!
  • Lee put in valves on the fresh water tank vents.  Seems like a little thing, but for him it made things a whole lot easier.
  • We also spent a few days having our slide floor replaced.  We found a great RV tech in Texas who had previously worked in Indiana at the Open Range factory and he did a terrific job.
  • Lee (with Bill and Ben’s help) replaced our steps and did lots of other small repairs while we were at the reunion rally.
  • We had one of our front jacks fail and Lee had to do an emergency repair.
  • A front truck bearing seized up and we were stranded on a mountain road.  The whole thing turned out OK, but it was pretty stressful.
  • Our entry door window glass broke in a wind storm in Utah and Lee replaced the window portion of the door in Texas.

Top 10 Things We Saw

My favorite part of the numbers post isn’t about numbers at all.  It is completely subjective exercise of looking at our life through pictures and deciding what my favorite things were. Once again we were very blessed to see some beautiful things and if we were not living this lifestyle I do not believe I would have ever had most of these experiences.

 

Pelican eating a fish at Padre Island. I’ve never seen this before so was super excited, – March 2018

 

Zion April 2018

 

Grosvenor’s Arch in Grand-Staircase Escalante April 2018

 

Gooseneck State Park.  Scary getting the pics, but had to see it April 2018

 

Monument Valley April 2018

 

Ahhh the Canyonlands April 2018

 

Arches National Park April 2018

 

Kayaking at Trillium Lake with Mt. Hood in the background with Howard and Linda was amazing – June 2018

 

Hiking an 11 mile waterfall trail made Silver Falls State Park my all time favorite. June 2018

 

We spent a night camping out at Mount Rainier and even though it was smoky, the bear sighting, hoary marmots, and amazing waterfalls more than made it worth the trip. August 2018

Was really tough just picking ten this year and really there were so many more amazing vistas.  Next up I’ll talk about our experiences in Year 4.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time at the Vet, Groomer, and Alamo Drafthouse

Despite the fact that I felt really good about the breeder we bought Jack from, I knew we would need to establish a vet, and possibly a groomer.  I have had a vet of course in the past, but believe it or not have never taken a dog to a groomer in my life, so I asked Cori lots of questions about what she does for Hobie.  Since their vet is a little far away, I looked online and after checking out reviews (Cori’s suggestion) chose Animal House Veterinary Clinic.  It was close and reasonably priced and I thought it was a good place to start. Jack is still doing great in the car, so off he and I went.  When we arrived a huge German Shepard was coming out, so we waited until he was in his truck before going in.  The staff greeted me right away and after weighing Jack (11.5 pounds), they put us into a room, which I was glad for.

The Vet clinic looks smaller outside than inside

 

the waiting room was nice

 

And the exam rooms were really clean

 

Jack was super happy having no idea what he was in for.

I went in for a doctor’s check and a rabies shot but when we arrived they really wanted to do a fecal check to check for diseases common from breeders and I went ahead and let them do it.  They basically used a large Q-Tip up inside to get some material and Jack REALLY did not like that.  One of the nurses was also a little brusque, but I was probably being too sensitive.  This was our first time at the vet and I was a little nervous because you just never know until you do an independent check.  Turns out the fecal check was totally clear and the Vet came in and talked to me.  While we were talking he examined Jack and said he looked perfectly healthy and then very deftly gave him his rabies shot.  He did it so well Jack didn’t even whimper, which was really nice after the other exam.  After the shot we started talking about my options for heart worms, and fleas and ticks and this was where the conversation got very interesting.

I told the receptionist that we traveled, and the doctor totally got that.  Most vets require a checkup every six months but since we will be in Oregon, we knew that wasn’t possible.  I really grasped how he started helping me find a solution and he told me that he worked with an online company to ship medicines.  Since Jack was on file with him, he was happy to fill prescriptions for heart worm and flea/tick chewables for a full year until we would be back in the area.  I was thrilled to find a solution and later Cori and Greg were interested in it as well.  It just isn’t practical for us to see a vet twice a year, and this seems like the perfect solution.  If we have an unexpected issue of course we will find a vet in Oregon, but this way we can get everything we need online.  We needed to come back for a rabies shot anyway, because the puppy version is only good for one year.  Overall, I felt great about my choice and hoped our groomer experience went just as well.

A few days later we had the groomer and since that was a longer drive I was really happy that the Auto Dog Mug I ordered had come in.  Cori and Greg had found one of these at a trade show and I thought the concept was absolutely brilliant.  Basically instead of carrying a small bowl and water, this plastic cup has the bowl on top.  All you do is squeeze it for the water to come into the bowl and the dogs can drink.  When you release the water goes back into the bottom and can’t spill.  Best idea I have seen in a really long time and at $12.99 the price was super reasonable.  Jack liked it right away, which was another plus, and I used it on the way to the groomer.

Like the vet, I found Happy Tails by Lisa online.  She has been grooming dogs since the 1970’s and at $45 was reasonably priced.  She also had an opening (one person I called was booked until January) and I liked the small business feel.  Yes, I could have chosen one of the large doggie spas or pet stores, but I would prefer local groomers for both the personal service and price.  As I said earlier, I have never in my life been to a groomer so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Lisa did a great job of reassuring me.  She took Jack in at 9am and told me she would call 20 minutes before he was done.  It was supposed to be between 1pm -1:30pm, which surprised me a little but I said OK and off I went. Oh and by the way I am aware how these costs are adding up, so we will be adding a new Pet category to the budget for July and we will see what our annual expenses turn out to be.

I’ll be honest I was a little nervous.  Not because of Lisa; she was very nice and competent, but I hated leaving him alone.  It was good for both of us though because when she called at 12:10, she said he was initially skittish but had done great. When I went to pick him up I couldn’t get him to stay still long enough to get a picture, but I could see how much more brown he had in his fur than I thought.  Lisa also said he is still part puppy fur and part adult fur so it will change over time, which is good because I am not 100% sure I am crazy about the look.  It’s a bit to fru fru for me! Aunt Cori loved it though and she was our first stop when we got back.  Eventually I got him to settle down enough to take some pictures and the shorter hair is growing on me, although I think I will like something a bit shaggier, which has the side benefit of keeping costs down.  Some people groom every 8 weeks, but that would cost more than I spend on my own hair, which I will have a hard time justifying unless there is a need.

And the end result

 

His head looks too big for his body now 🙂

 

Lots of brown

 

Jack’s in the bottom of the pic and Hobie is at the top. You can see how much more brown Jack has.

 

He’s a fluff ball. The whispy white stuff on the legs is baby fur.

After his haircut Jack got lots of attention and as he was running around I was glad he seemed no worse for the wear for the trip to the groomers.  I am completely aware by the way, that I am being a bit obsessive here about my dog, but I promise to calm down soon. He’s just so darn cute!

Jack loves his belly runs from Aunt Cori.

 

And you can see Lee is completely won over at this point

 

Oh and by the way, I got a hair makeover too. Kelly came to visit and was kind enough to dye my hair back to it’s original color. I like it much better dark.

After the groomers we all had plans to go and see the matinee of Bohemian Rhapsody.  I love Queen, and think Freddy Mercury was the best rock star singer of our (or maybe any) generation, so I was super excited to see it.  We chose the Alamo Drafthouse which was fun because several of us had never been here.  The movie theater is cool because they serve food and drinks and have a strict no noise policy.  You are warned once and then ejected from the theater for talking, texting etc which Lee and I both loved.  The prices were decent and they had a nice selection of choices and the waiter we had was really great.  Plus you can get ice water which I really liked.  It was a lot of fun and I really loved the movie.  They even played Queen You Tube clips and old concert footage prior to the show, which was so preferable to tons of ads.  Actually there were no ads at all which was awesome!

They serve drinks at the table too

 

For $8 we got an unlimited bowl of popcorn we could share. It was really good, but I think I ate too much of it.

During the movie, Jack stayed at home in his cage and did just fine.  Ultimately I would like for him to be comfortable staying in the truck for short periods (weather permitting of course), but it’s still too soon for that.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

October 2018 Budget

I’ve been putting this one off, because I knew it wouldn’t look pretty…and yep, I was right about that.  This is what it looks like when you throw caution to the winds and “go on vacation.”  It’s also what it looks like when in the same month you travel from Oregon to Texas and do lots of home repairs. I know this sort of thing balances itself out over time usually, but I still don’t like to see a “spike” month. But it is what it is.  We spent $5916 this month and only received $3186 to off set those costs from our last paychecks.  Detailed information is listed below. I’ll try to keep brow beating to a minimum 🙂

 

Campground Fees – Most of this was staying at Circus Circus on the strip in Vegas (that place is not cheap) and the rest was the stays when we traveled from Vegas to Texas. Thankfully we have a free place to stay in Texas or this would look even worse.

Groceries – This included a $300+ dollar Costco run and lots of smaller grocery runs.  We are stuffed to the gills on items now, so hopefully we can eat our way through that while gate guarding and have some low months there.

Alcohol – This category includes several drinks in restaurants that we paid for, which is really unusual for us. Since Lee got most of his drinks for free while gambling wasn’t too bad at $20 over budget.

Dining Out – OK this was just insane by anyone’s standards, at $544 over budget.  We had a $140 dinner for my sister’s birthday, the Paris buffet, a couple of dinners with our friends, and tons of grabbing food while we were traveling or running around.

Entertainment – The bulk of this $384 overage was the $200+ tickets to Beatles Love, but Lee and I also went to see Piff the Magic Dragon and went to the rodeo along with other incidental purchases.

Truck Fuel – It cost over $1K in fuel to travel from Oregon to Texas.  This category is all about the annual total though, and we know when we are relocating we will take a cash flow hit.

Home Equipment – We went $538 over in these categories and the bulk of that was the $300+ dollars for the new entry door window, which also fell in October…although we didn’t receive the part until November.  Lee also bought a new outside chair since his fell apart and I took advantage of a clearance and bought a new outdoor rug.  The rest is numerous pieces parts Lee purchased to work on his rotating list of home projects. It’s been awhile since he has worked on the list, and these are things mostly had to be done.  At some point he is going to do another post on that and talk about those projects in more detail.

Tax Preparation – Our taxes were a little more complicated this year and we had to file Kentucky and Oregon state taxes.  We did get a couple of small refunds, which helped with the costs some but I went ahead and put the full amount of the tax prep here.  Still love Travel Tax, who does our taxes.  The cost is more than worth my piece of mind.

Miscellaneous –  I really love Lyft and Uber, but as cheap as the individual charges are it does add up when you are running around.  We spent about $100 on rides while we were in Vegas, but it was convenient.  Plus it’s nice when you are sharing a car or if you want to drink when you are out.  Adds up though.

Well October was our “off month” and we obviously enjoyed ourselves.  Time to get back to work and start socking away some money for our next break in April! Good thing we don’t have too many months like this or we would never be able to afford this lifestyle 🙂


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

It’s not all about Jack

It’s crazy how much my life has become all about Jack in such a short period of time, but we have been doing other things.  It’s been wonderful staying with our friends Cori and Greg, and after a long summer and some crazy travel, I finally feel relaxed, and it’s also been very productive.  So here is a bit of a hodge-podge of what we have been doing.  Some of the things were PJ (pre-Jack) and other were PO J (post-Jack)!

First off, not long after we arrived I saw my first tarantula in the wild!  Maybe not a big deal for many people, but it was really close to our RV and freaked me out for a couple of days.  I know they are not aggressive, but I was walking around barefoot, so I immediately stopped doing that! Lee came out and took a picture, and I don’t have anything for scale, but it was only slightly smaller than my hand.  Yikes!

After that event, I was thrilled to accept Cori’s invitation to spent the day out and we went and visited her Dad.  Don is a really nice man and I enjoyed talking to him, plus he treated us to a wonderful lunch at Krause’s Cafe in New Braunfels.  I am German on my mother’s side and love trying out German restaurants.  Turns out not only was it a great restaurant (the potato soup was to die for), but also an historic place and when I walked outside I saw a big plaque with information about the building.  One of the things I like about Texas hill country is that so many Germans settled here, it gives the area a European flavor along with Texas.  I mean how many restaurants offer both Po Boy’s and schnitzel on their menu?

this plaque gave detailed information about the founding members of the town

 

And the building had a cool mural all along it

 

Mmmm potato soup

 

I actually got a club sandwhich (which was perfect) and some home made chips

 

Don and Cori

I eventually put the image aside (thankfully it’s the only one I have seen), because Bill came in to see us.  He drove down to see us from Arkansas and we were going to watch his cat Callie, while he flew back to Pennsylvania to be with Kelly (who was already there) for their daughter’s ultrasound and the big gender reveal of their first grandchild.  They are going to be grandparents in March and it was nice that it all worked out so they could be there when she found out the sex of the baby.  If you want to read more about that you can check out Kelly’s blog here.

Callie was pretty chill, just required every day litter box cleaning and actually being with her helped me decide that what I really wanted was a dog and not a cat. She’s lovely, but I prefer puppy kisses to purrs.

While Bill was with us, we did have a bonfire one night and we all went to a local Mexican restaurant for some dinner.  It was reasonably priced, there was lots of food, and the setting was very casual.

From Left: Me, Dave, Greg, Cori, Mairead, Lee, and Bill

 

Mmmm enchiladas

 

When we came outside we saw a beautiful fat rainbow

 

Bill, Greg, and Lee talking about something technical. I get a little lost when they start talking about mechanical stuff.

 

Bill brought presents when he came… cookies from Bridget..look at these beauties, and they tasted as good as they looked!

After Bill left, I spent most of my time looking for a dog and other paperwork type stuff.  I signed up for the Affordable Care Act next year again (third year running) and because of my doctor’s bills looked at upgrading to a different plan.  Unfortunately those were $600 a month (versus $175 a month for my current plan) and the deductibles weren’t low enough to make it worth it.  So with the attitude of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, I went ahead and signed up for the same plan.  On the plus side, I finally heard back from the Providence Medical Center and they approved 100% aid for my medical bills.  That was a huge relief, and Lee was really happy although I still had mixed feelings about it.  I like to pay my own way, and wasn’t crazy about asking for assistance in the first place, but I had zero luck negotiating the bill down to something reasonable.  Since Blue Cross paid them $1100 for the room and equipment and I paid my full piece of the doctor, ultimately I felt the amount paid was just.  After all it was 50 minutes in a regular doctor’s room, and the bill was an outrageous $3K for the room alone.  I knew with the payments they received they were covering their costs, which made the entire experience more palatable.  And thankfully this protects what’s left of our HSA account which I have been using for incidental medical expenses for the last four years. (I vigorously disagree with her on this. She and the insurance company paid more than a fair price. After lots of discussion with them, she was basically told they can charge whatever they want. Over $4700 for a biopsy is just absurd, so as far as I am concerned, all they did was sheepishly adjust their price to something realistic, and only because she didn’t back down. This wasn’t “aid” or charity, this was them correcting an unethical and immoral move. – Lee)

While I was working on admin stuff, Lee was trying to work through his list of repair items.  One of the biggest one was to finally fix our door, which as you might remember was shattered by a wind storm back in April.  Lee has spent weeks trying to find a solution and ultimately called the door manufacturer who said they could make a custom window insert for the door.  We were both excited when it arrived in a heavy packing crate, but were disappointed that one metal corner was bent and more importantly the plastic catch for the window had broken off in transit.  Lee was faced with sending it back, which we didn’t want to do, but then realized he could take the catch off the previous broken window, and put it on the new one.  That sounds easier than it was though for a variety of reasons, but now we have a working window in the door and you can’t even tell it was broken.  Awesome, and I really appreciate all the trouble he has gone through to get this done.

Lee’s temporary solution to our broken window.  The plastic unfortunately didn’t allow for any air flow.

 

Lee putting in the new window

 

Then screwing it in

Not long after he got the window done, Kelly and Bill arrived and we finally celebrated Cori’s birthday.  This was the first time we have been with Cori on her birthday (we are usually working) and we all had a great time.  Everyone brought steaks and we chipped in sides, and there was lots of alcohol!

I love the lights, made it really festive

 

Yummy steak dinner

 

Mairead made these shots of Fireball and cream soda with whipped cream and nutmeg on top. They tasted a bit like a cinnamon roll.

 

I made a birthday cake which tasted good, but as you can see is the opposite of Bridget’s beautiful cookies 🙂

 

Looked better with candles though

 

We sang happy birthday

 

And had some cake

 

I always love it when we happen to be with someone for their birthday, and was really glad we got to celebrate Cori’s with her.  There has been lots going on and we are getting ready to put our names in for a gate soon, because as fun as this has been it’s time to get back to work!


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time with a Puppy in our RV

We weren’t really 100% what we were getting into with a new dog in an RV, but based on past experiences we were prepared for lots of challenges.  I am so pleased to say that so far it has been really terrific.  I think adopting a 5 month old puppy has made a huge difference and the fact that he is socialized and friendly helps even more.  Let me walk you through it!

Right off the bat we were worried about how Jack would do in the car, but he did very very well.  Which is a good thing, because obviously we spend a ton of time in the truck.  He didn’t do nearly as well when we stopped at a tractor supply for some basics (leash, collar, etc), but that is mainly because he had never been leash walked and didn’t get it.  Since I didn’t want to work on that with all those distractions we just put him in the shopping cart and he tolerated that just fine!

Some confusion about how the leash works but he is doing better.

Even though he isn’t leash trained he isn’t a runner, and tends to walk exactly where a leashed dog would heel. Should be pretty simple to get him up to speed.  He also did really good with Hobie when they met, and thankfully Hobie did good with him.

Hobie is in the back, and Jack is in the front.

And probably most importantly he has both peed and pooped outside.  The peeing he did on his own, but the pooping came right after he saw Hobie do it, which was awesome, and Greg says he will only charge us a modest dog training fee 🙂 And really that is where getting a 5 month old (versus 9 week) puppy is a huge advantage because he can apparently hold it for a long time.  I am under no illusions we wont have the occasional accident, but he is going hours without going to the bathroom, which is a pretty good sign.

Hobie, as the senior statesman, was inspecting the pooping action. I think he approved.

 

And best of all he is doing fine in the crate. We purchased a 32″ wire crate (with two doors) and added a luxurious puppy bed to it. He has slept in it overnight two nights in a row and the first night he had a tiny accident, but the second night no accident at all.  Ultimately we want him to sleep in the bed with us, but need to make sure no accidents first, plus we think occasional crating is a good thing and since we are leaving it out with the door open, it gives him a place to go an hand out during the day if he wants to take a nap.  Really though his favorite puppy nap place is Lee’s chair.  It’s kind of funny, because Jack has taken it over, and Lee seems totally fine with it.  Weird because he doesn’t like it when I sit in “his” chair.  I guess we know who matters around here!

Leaving the crate available and open all the time turns it from a punishment into a safe space. Then when you do occasionally lock the door generally it’s a non issue.

 

I know crazy adorable right!

 

He does make room for Lee though

What else?  Well we were worried about him being super nervous or not social, but that has definitely not been an issue.  He has never met a lap he didn’t like and with those big brown eyes, he’s hard to refuse.  Even our buddy Dave couldn’t resist, although he’s trying to play it cool!

Aunt Cori loves lap time with Jack, plus he was helping her with her work emails!

Aside from the basics, I also had a small list of puppy items I wanted to pick up, so Cori and I took a trip to Walmart and Petsmart.  I’ve been Aunt Tracy to Hobie for years now and been buying him lots of squeaky toys and Cori wanted her turn.  She got a bagful of stuff, including a Kong, Kong snacks, a stuffed squeaky monkey with a replaceable water bottle inside, and assorted other squeaker toys.  She also bought a  waste bag and dispenser packet for me, which was super nice.  So far at least Jack is more of a people person and would rather be on a lap with someone petting him than play with toys.  Hobie on the other hand is dying to get to those toys.  I’m fine with him playing with the sturdier ones but we all know he can demolish a stuffed animal in about 8 seconds flat.  So I put those away but he just comes in and stares at them, which is pretty funny.  It’s a battle of wills, but I am confident I will be the victor!

Gotta say I am not a huge fan of Petsmart, I much preferred what we saw at Tractor Supply and Walmart. Petsmart seemed more about the different types of food and even had this refrigerated section which I have never seen before.

 

Hobie can play with these toys so of course he’s not interested.  You can see in this picture why we affectionately call him “thug dog” though 🙂

 

Jack doesn’t care about the toys but he wants to play with Hobie, who is largely uninterested.

 

Theses cloth toys would last less than a minute if Hobie got hold of them

 

So I put them away when Hobie comes to visit and as you can see he is fixated on them

 

So potty training is going amazingly well, crate training is going great, but we are keeping an eye on the chewing.  Since he is not interested in any of his toys, he has picked up a few small items and gnawed on those.  When I saw him with Lee’s reading glasses I knew I would have to do something and reached out to Cori for potential solutions.  She had a rawhide strip so we decided to try that and immediately Jack went to town.  He was amazing good at manipulating the rawhide to get to his back teeth and munched contentedly for awhile.  I know rawhide can cause digestive issues so I did some quick research online, but he was enjoying himself so much I decided to let it go.  The main thing is to make sure the chews are made in America and actually I am doing that with all the edible products I buy.  Not worth the risk frankly, especially for such a small dog, and the little bit extra it costs is totally worth it.

 

Jack did a great job holding it with his paws and getting his back teeth.   Have I mentioned he’s super smart?

Finally since he was completely accident free we decided to let him sleep in bed with us on the third night.  It’s been a really long time since I slept with a dog.  I always thought sleeping with a dog was a quintessential kid experience; our dogs always slept with our girls.  I was honestly more worried about how he would impact my hot flashes.  Turns out he did great, total snuggle puppy with zero whining or licking through the night.  I did wake up at one point with a face full of dog when he crawled onto my pillow but other than that it was really awesome.

I don’t want to jinx this but this dog is amazing!  I really feel like I have won the dog lottery and super happy with how this is all going.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Trying to Adopt a Dog on the Road

I have had a dog almost my entire life.  I’ve had dogs in apartments and in houses, raised dogs while raising kids, and juggled having a dog with a demanding job.  But when we started talking about going on the road, we realized that the dog we had would not be a good fit.  She was a terrible traveler for one thing, hating to go in the car even for short distances, and she also had a nervous personality and didn’t like change very much.  One of our steps for becoming full timers was to find her a good home, and luckily the mom of a friend of my daughters was going through empty nest syndrome and was happy to take her.

Despite missing having a dog, we rarely regretted that decision.  We were getting used to the lifestyle and saw how having a pet complicated the lives of some of our friends, and we both wanted things to be as simple as possible as we worked our way through the transition.  We also were finishing a 25 year period of raising kids and to be honest not being responsible for anyone other than ourselves was very appealing. It was finally “us” time and we wanted to focus on that.  As time went on that became the norm, and between trying new jobs and seeing new places, we had plenty to keep us busy. There were times though, especially when when we were traveling with friends with dogs, when I really felt the lack of a pet in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being “Aunt Tracy”, but I saw firsthand how they managed to travel and have a dog, and the irony of the fact that we were living a lifestyle that lends itself to having a pet, but were pet-less ourselves was not lost on me.

Fast forward to now, and hanging out with Hobie (Cori & Greg’s dog), combined with having some down time, and I really started thinking about it again and started looking around.  As a general rule, all other things being equal, I am a huge fan of adopting from a pet shelter, so that’s where I started.  But even though adoption rules are much laxer in the south than they are in the north I ran into some brick walls pretty early on.  For one thing most of the available dogs are much larger breeds, and although I have friends with large dogs who are perfectly happy, we knew a smaller dog would be a better fit for us.  Not surprisingly the small dogs are pretty popular and the review process to adopt them takes awhile, so routinely I would find a dog I liked but by the time I went and saw them, the waiting list would be 2-3 families long.  Plus the criteria for adopting can be difficult for a full time RVer.  Do you have a vet they can talk to to find out how responsible you are?  Well no, my vet is in New Hampshire and from 4 years ago.  Do you have a fenced in yard?  Well no, and then of course you have to explain it. Some people understand the lifestyle, but many just don’t get it, and since there are lots of people looking to adopt smaller dogs, you are probably not going to be on the top of the list unless the dog is less desirable.  Plus with an older dog you have no idea if they are trained, have major behavioral issues, or travel well, which are all pretty big factors for us in the decision.  The process also takes time, so if we were going to be in one area for several months we would have that, but we knew we would be moving soon.

I’d like to take a second here and mention that I could have lied about my circumstances to help cut through the red tape, but as a general rule when faced with a situation where I need to do that I tend to avoid it.  I know we are coloring outside the lines here with our lifestyle and it’s complicated because our situation is unique, but whenever I am forced to lie about what we are doing, on some level it makes me feel like we are doing something wrong and I don’t like that feeling.  Let me explain.  As a general rule, I don’t tell the casual person I meet (Hey, I see you have Florida tags where in Florida are you from?) that we are full time RVers, but don’t mind talking about it to the person cutting my hair (Are you just visiting here?) or providing other services.  That’s different than being in a situation where people want to know your address and don’t understand why it is out of state (my recent car rental when the truck broke down comes to mind) and like I said, in general I just avoid that stuff when I can.  Anyway, these adoption agencies want to make sure you have a stable environment for the dog, which is a good thing, but explaining it to the very busy volunteers at these shelters isn’t easy. I’m not saying it can’t be done with time, but since they are staffed by volunteers many of the applications can take several days to process and there is a high level of subjectivity in who they decide to give the dogs to.

After going down that route I took a step back and looked at local breeders searching on the AKC breeders website.  The benefits of a puppy are getting the dog used to the lifestyle from the very beginning, but the downside of course is the training.  It’s also easier to research the breeds when they are purebreds and see if in general they would be a good fit.  Although most breeders also ask lifestyle questions, most are more concerned with the money, which is another downside because breeders generally mean big bucks.  As I was going through my search I was looking at Corgi’s, for example, and those are all $1500 minimum.  Plus availability is a huge factor as many of them have waiting lists for dogs, and although they occasionally adopt out retired, older dogs those situations are few and far between.  I even stopped in to a pet store at one point just to check that route out, and although they had a lovely selection of dogs, I got sticker shock at the $2-3K price tags. And yes, I know, lots of these puppies come from puppy mills which is not a good thing, but I was exploring my options as a traveling RVer and wanted to see all of what was out there.

All of these dead-ends ultimately led me to Craig’s List.  I’ll be honest I am not super savvy when it comes to Craig’s List.  I actually don’t think I have ever bought anything from there, but since it is the modern day version of the classified ads, I decided to give it a try.  After some trial and error,  I found the best search was a 40 mile radius of the zip code we are staying in, and lots came up.  All of the different types of pets are mixed together and the listings changed all of the time.   I learned that there are lots of scammers out there and even though my search was local, people from out of state were putting dogs in to try to scam money.  People who use Craig’s List a lot are probably used to this, but I got emails back from the same “doctor working on polio” in Virginia on four different ads.  For me, I would never buy a dog sight unseen, so these were easy to weed out, and eventually I got a feel for the language on these fake listings and just disregarded them.

There were lots of big dogs on the list, and lots of puppies that would grow into big dogs, and those I also went past.  The most interesting ads were from people who were moving or had a life change and had a younger dog that they needed a new home for.  Many of these dogs were at least partially potty and/or crate trained, the price was reasonable, and most came with a crate.  That seemed perfect.  Unfortunately it was also perfect for lots of other people, and it seemed like by the time I could arrange to come and see the dog, someone else had already purchased it. That happened a couple of times and really bummed me out. My general attitude this whole time was, if it was right the dog, would come to me, but after four years of waiting for that to happen and now being thwarted in my search, I was thinking I would need to push a little.

While I was looking, Cori got interested in the search as well so we had two people looking.  She checked out puppyfinder.com and some other sites, but most of those dogs weren’t the right fit or were too far away.  I realized that maybe regular animal control shelters might have less stringent rules about adoption and started taking a look at those.  Kill shelters (for lack of a better word), still exist down here in some parts of Texas and because animal abandonment is somewhat common they are less stringent on adoption.  Again though those were mostly bigger dogs and unfortunately they don’t spay or neuter all of them and since the dogs are in and out of those shelters so quickly there was generally much less information on their personalities.  It was definitely an option though, and one I was willing to check out, when I finally ran across a foster situation with a small dog and the woman who was the foster mom didn’t seem put off by the fact we were full time RVers.  She did stress the fact that the small dog had a rough start in life and was very shy and needed lots of time to warm up.  I set up a tentative appointment to come see the dog, but had concerns about how well she would do being thrust into a completely new environment.

I also made a tentative appointment to see a breeder of Corgis, because the dog was so darn cute, but at this point Lee and I really had to sit down and have a serious conversation.  Window shopping is one thing, but I was honing in and Lee had some pretty valid concerns.  In most of our past life we had a fenced in yard and dog training was never a major issue.  This was going to be completely different, and he had some concerns based on past experiences that he would get stuck with the more unpleasant parts of dog ownership.  He wanted to make sure I had really thought it through and make it clear that he felt like he had his hands full already and the bulk of the care of the animal would fall on me.  I thought the points he made were very fair, but I also thought it was unfair to judge how it would be based on the past.  Sure I didn’t have lots of time when I was raising three kids, going to school, and working full time, but our lives were different now. I had been paying attention to our friends and their dogs and was aware of the downsides, but frankly didn’t know what that would look like in a life on the road for us.  I think that the good will outweigh the bad, but a lot of that depends on the dog.  And most importantly, even though we are in this together and what we do affects one another, in this particular case he didn’t get to decide for me.

The conversation was a little tense, but it was a good one, and I ended up with a few additional criteria.  He really didn’t want to mess with puppy training from scratch , but thought a younger dog was a better bet because they would be more flexible.  He also really likes smaller dogs and cavachons in particular, but that wasn’t a deal breaker.  After talking to him I continued searching and somehow stumbled across a website neither Cori or I had found.  This was surprising because between the two of us we had spent hours looking, but this one eluded us for some reason. It was called My SA Marketplace and was online classified ads for the San Antonio area.  This website was more like old school paper classified ads and all of the ads were legitimate and local.  There were two different breeders on cavachons (and numerous other breeds) on the website and unlike the AKC breeders the prices were much more reasonable ranging from $350 – $1200 for dogs.  The ads also had clear contact information and I got immediate responses from both of the people I called. One of the breeders in particular was of interest because they had two 5 month old male cavachons available.  After talking to the gentleman and his wife on the phone, Lee and I decided to drive out to see them.

This particular breeder was located in Mason, Texas which was two-and a half hours north/northwest of San Antonio. It was a retired couple and because they lived out in the country the directions were pretty awesome, including turn left at the blinking light past the Dairy Queen, and my personal favorite “go down a dirt road until you see my gate with a star on it.  If my bulls are standing in font of the gate give me a call and I will come move them out of your way.” My kind of place!  Lee agreed to go with me and even though it was a long drive, I promised myself that if I wasn’t feeling it I would walk away.  Our friends Jim and Barb had bought a dog on the road a couple of years ago and I vividly remember when they wrote about it in their blog, her walking away from a couple of dogs based on gut feel.  Here’s the link to their post Say Hello To our little Friend experience, as a comparison, because I think they did an excellent job of working through the challenges of adopting a dog on the road.  They were the first people I knew who did this (although later my friend Jo adopted a cavalier puppy while in her RV) and hearing about both of their experiences really helped me have an idea of what I was getting into. Not every dog can handle the lifestyle, that’s where I started this post, but most dogs are adaptable over time with lots and lots of attention.  I needed to keep that in mind when we were looking today and basically if it didn’t feel like a good fit, trust my gut.

When we arrived at the gate we discovered that the owner wasn’t kidding.  There was a HUGE bull in the shade right at the gate, and my cell phone picked that moment to not have any service.  I was going to get out and try to move the bull (hey I was excited) but Lee put the kibosh on that plan and thankfully he had a sliver of the bar on his phone so we could call.  The owner Sammy came down and moved the bull pretty quickly and then we followed him up to the main house.

The gate, no way we were getting trough there

 

I probably would have tried it if it wasn’t for the huge horns

 

This guy was monster big

 

The family unit after they moved

 

I was happy to see that a bichon was riding in the ATV with him.

Once we arrived there were dogs everywhere.  It wasn’t chaotic, but several retired dogs (a poodle, a bichon, a westie, a cavalier, and a cavachon) were all hanging around the house.  All of them were super friendly and tails were wagging everywhere.  They also had a barn with the breeding dogs and pups and her setup was really good.  They had separate areas for the moms with pups, weaned puppies, and mating pairs and lots of long outdoor dog runs so the dogs could go in and out freely.  They had pulled out the two male 5 month olds and put them in the house and we went in and starting hanging out with them.

The thing that I liked the most was the owners let us take our time.  They were in the house with us, but didn’t talk unless we had a direct question and just let us get a feel for the dogs.  The smaller male had more cavalier characteristics and was more of a lover.  The bigger male had more energy and seemed more bischon, and they both seemed active and healthy so it came down to a matter of preference.  After a little while I asked to take the larger dog outside and we went and ran around a little.  Initially all the other dogs came out to and it was a complete fluff fest.

I was happy to see they had stairs on their porch and he was navigating them pretty well.

Finally after we walked outside and talked a bit we decided to go ahead and adopt him.  The cost was $750, which was on the high side, but not as much as other puppies I have seen, and they sent us a complete care package with him.  We got a bag of his current food, his toys, paperwork showing he was current on shots and had been fixed at 4 months, and information on his RFID chip so we could register him online.  I’ve never had a dog with a chip before so that was new.  She also had paperwork on her dog training methodology and included a piece of green astroturf carpet that he had been using.  What Peggy does is put a small piece of indoor/outdoor carpet in with the puppies when they are with their mom and the mom teaches them to go on it.  Then when they are weaned the carpet goes with them and they use that in the night and their doggy door in the daytime.  She gave me some extra carpet as well and recommended I take the used carpet and put it on the ground outside our house, which I have faithfully done.  The best part of the whole transaction was that our being RVers never came up, although he did ask if we were visiting from Florida since that was the address I put on the paperwork and that’s also our license plate.  Overall it was a good experience and best of all when we put Jack (yep, that’s his name) in the truck, he was perfectly content.  He tried a few places in the car, but eventually ended up in the back behind my chair and slept most of the way home.

Meet Jack!!  He’s never had a hair cut and still is cute as all get out,  Can’t see what he looks like with a puppy cut like Hobie.

 

As you can see Lee isn’t bonding at all lol

The next few days should be pretty interesting, so I will take lots of pictures and pass along how it goes.  So far Jack is pretty mellow, which is a good thing, but we will see once he gets settled in.


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