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.


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.

Feeling Closed in

If you enjoy the adventure part of the posts more than the day to day stuff please feel free to scroll down to the picture of the sunset and start there.  Don’t worry you won’t hurt my feelings 🙂

This week started a little rough.  I really like where we are staying. We are in Rainbow Village, Largo  a 55 plus community and it was by far the best of the choices we had.  The people are very friendly, the facilities are spotless, and I feel completely safe.  But I definitely miss my view and it’s much less fun working from the RV when you can’t step outside for a moment and look at something pretty.  We aren’t within walking distance of anything and it would be a stretch to drive to the beach on my lunch break so I am feeling a bit stuck here.  Lee is going to school everyday and getting out, but to be honest I am feeling a bit stir crazy.  Then, to prove things can get worse, the site next to ours (which has been empty most of the time we’ve been here) was filled by a huge motor home.  For some reason, their main slide-out with their dinette is facing our awning area and now I am staring right into their kitchen window.  I am trying not to, but I don’t really have anyplace else to look, I mean it is really right in front of us.  Can’t be much fun for them either since their windows open to us and now we can hear each others conversations.  Geez. (They’ve got the better end of the deal, our conversations are much more interesting than theirs.-Lee)

So I know we need to start getting away from our site more, but just like in a sticks and bricks it’s tough to come home from work, make dinner, then have time to do anything.  It’s odd really that here we are doing this crazy adventure and I am ending up being a more “traditional” wife than I have been in years.  To be completely clear, I have tremendous respect for anyone who fills that role in a marriage, that was just not who I was in our marriage…mainly because I worked farther away, traveled quite a bit, and wasn’t nearly as good at it as Lee was.  (Further evidence that I rock. She rocks in her own special way. – Lee) But things are different now, and as our life is evolving our roles and interactions with each other need to evolve as well.  

I know we are both experiencing situations where behaviors we have been totally fine with for years are no longer OK.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  This gives us an opportunity to “reset” as a couple and figure out not only who we want to be individually but as a couple.  (I want to be Benedict Cumberbatch. – Lee) One of the things you tend to do as a long-term couple with kids is divide and conquer.  So we are just not that used to doing this together.  I can count on one hand for example when we went to the grocery store together and now we are doing it every week.  That might seem like a simple thing going to the grocery store, but when you have $150 for the week and two different opinions on where to go and what to buy, something that was previously very simple suddenly becomes a conversation and in some cases a negotiation. Everyone says communicate, communicate, communicate to deal with the transitions of the full-timing lifestyle and conventional wisdom is absolutely correct, but what they don’t say is all that communicating is exhausting.  You’re working out “muscles” that you haven’t needed to use in a long time and sometimes it can be painful. (She’s right. Communicating with her is exhausting. I am more of a ray of light and joy in an otherwise grim world. – Lee) 

So what does that all have to do with where we are staying?  Well, the amazing views, moving about, and seeing cool new stuff for us makes those conversations briefer.  They still happen but you’re trying to get through it as quickly as possible so that you can go see the cool things. When you sit for awhile and are living more of a “regular” life those conversations happen more frequently and take longer.  Plus you are having them in a relatively small space and in our case we really need to be careful about how we have them.  You can’t go to separate corners, raising your voice is a bad idea since it’s really loud in your tin box, and arguing outside isn’t an option because you have tons of neighbors. So you not only have to talk about issues that have been resolved for years you may also need to do it in new ways. You don’t have to do any of this of course.  You could transplant your old roles into this new life but I wouldn’t recommend it.  I truly believe that all of this communication is a VERY good thing.  (She drinks. You should keep that in mind while reading her stuff.) Relationships can get stale and if nothing else this life is forcing us to reevaluate who we are with each other.  I would however recommend that you do all that with a really pretty view. (I don’t know what she’s talking about. I always have the prettiest view there is. – Lee)

I know I am a bit all over the place with this post, but all of these feelings seem to go hand in hand.  Frankly it’s too tough to be able to separate what’s a symptom and what’s the source at this point so I am working through all of them simultaneously the best I can.  Not the best scenario.  I also find myself missing having a dog.  Not Molly (the cavalier we gave to a friend before coming on the road) but just a dog in general.  (I have offered to lick her face to simulate having a dog, she seems uninterested. – Lee) Molly would have hated this lifestyle…she traveled terribly even short distances, but she was just one of many dogs I have owned in my life.  Plus ALL of our friends have at least one dog and even though we get the occaional envious comment about the freedom a “no-dog” life offers, they all seem pretty happy with their choice despite any limitations the dog might cause.  Cori/Greg and Gene/Eileen both have the same kind of dog (cavachon) and we love both of these dogs.  They are small, smart, active, and cute as a button. I mean seriously look at these pictures…how can you resist these dogs faces.

Hobi the wonder dog

Hobi  “The Wonder Dog”

Max the cutie patooty

Max  “The Cutie Patooty”

 

I know getting a dog is a long term commitment and should not be done on a whim.  I also know that our concerns regarding us living with a dog in this lifestyle have not changed.  But I really miss puppy kisses….don’t know what else to say.  (The offer still stands.) So I went on my lunch break to a nearby puppy store to check them out.  Let me say for all of my New England friends, I do know puppy stores are not the best place to get a dog. People feel so strongly about it there that I think I only saw one puppy store in the 13 years I lived there.  But in other parts of the country they are pretty common and if you’re not in a circumstance to locate a local breeder or adopt through the local humane society they are an option.    On a side note, my stepfather, who is 65, wanted to adopt a dog from the Columbus Human Society and because of his age they would only let him adopt a dog that was 8 years or older.  Seriously not cool.  People are living a lot longer and as much as I love dogs I definitely fall into the “they are animals and not people” group.  Anyway, there is a puppy store right around the corner that I have been dying to go into, so I I took a quick trip on my lunch break on Wednesday.  The place was very clean and they had tons of puppies…so lots and lots of puppy kisses and the staff was very nice and helpful.  They didn’t have any cavachons but  the trip certainly brightened my day.   After the visit I spent some time researching the cavachon breed and am more convinced than ever that when we do eventually get a dog again, this is a great breed (by temperament) for this lifestyle.  So I did some research and found a private home breeder in Sarasota and they had a white male puppy who was exactly what I was looking for.  Lee and I had a serious conversation about it, but in the end his common sense won out over my puppy fever.  We really don’t know what our life will look like (being here in Largo for 10 weeks is not an accurate representation) so the responsible thing to do is wait and see.  I hate being a responsible grownup.

Walt the puppy I found at a local breeder was perfect but the timing was not

Walt the puppy I found at a local breeder was perfect but the timing was not

So in order to combat the “closed in” feelings and  “no puppy” sadness,  I have planned a nature day for us on Saturday.  There are several wildlife parks/gardens in the area that are free or near free and I want to get out there with my camera and immerse myself in some wildlife.  Plus, my good friend Jo (who seems to have a sixth sense for these things) sent me a text and asked me to come down and visit her and Ben, Gene and Eileen, and Kelly and Bill on Martin Luther King day.  I totally forgot I have that day off and replied back with a huge enthusiastic YES!!!   Lee has school that day so I will go down on my own and it’s great to have friends where being half a couple if not an issue at all.   So this weekend is covered and I need to find something to do during the evenings and maybe on the occasional lunch to break up the day.

While I am talking about going to see Jo and Ben in Fort Meyers I wanted to mention the differences in weather.  Even though they are only 2 hours south there is a 10-15 degree swing when you travel there.  I think because Largo is in between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and surrounded by water on three sides it is cooler.  I don’t mind the cooler temps…I’ll take 50-60 over 10-12 degrees any day, but it is cloudy here.  Not the Florida I am used to where it rains a bit in the morning and then is sunny the rest of the day, but overcast most days until early afternoon and then a little bit of sunshine.  Again, waaay better than up north, but I could use some more sun as I think it would help improve my overall mood.  So excited about seeing the gang, not just for the company, but for a little dose of warmer weather.  It reminds me a bit of New Hampshire in that we could drive two hours into the Green Mountains in Vermont and get totally different weather.

This week we also spent some time dealing with some rig repair issues.   When we originally got our rig they did not have a Splendide and gave us another washer/dryer combo.  This never worked at all from the first day, so we made the dealer replace it with the Splendide we had ordered originally. Four months into use the Splendide just stopped working and locked tight with clothes and water inside it.  When we called our warranty folks they said it was still covered under the Splendide warranty and Lee then had to call them and they told him to call a local RV tech to do the work and they would pay for it. The first tech he called refused to do anything but replace it (which Splendide would not accept) so Splendide provided the name of another tech.  It took several days for the guy to call us back, another week to get on his schedule, and after waiting all day Monday for a no show he finally came on Tuesday.  The tech was very nice and I was grateful I finally got my clothes out of the washer, but he said the board was fried and would need a part.  We spent the rest of the week trying to get Flagg RV to send us some sort of paperwork that we could send to Splendide to prove it was under warranty.  Meanwhile, doing some research on the Open Range site I also discovered that there was a recall on our slideout switches.  Open Range Technical Service Bulletin 07092014 from Highland Ridge RV on July 09/2014:  “Highland Ridge RV has identified a potential issue regarding the function of the slide-out systems with the Open Range products. Models affected are new unsold models and models that currently under the limited 2 year warranty…Highland Ridge RV has determined that the slide-out in/out switches that were installed may not produce enough electric amps for the system to function correctly. Due to this there is a chance of slide-out motors, gears boxes and/or drive shafts failing.”  Other people on the forum stated they called their dealer and they either sent them new switches or scheduled a service visit. Our dealer (who has gone through four Service Managers in a one year period) didn’t notify me about the recall.  I asked them if they could just send the switches and we could replace them. This was really a good thing, because we noticed the motor was making a funny noise the last time we put the slideout out and hopefully this explains it.  I generally avoid the more technical discussions in the forum, but I have to say I am glad I stumbled across this as we could have had a much more serious problem down the road.

So enough of all of that not-fun stuff.  Friday’s weather was absolutely beautiful, so Lee and I drove to Indian Rocks Beach (about 15 minutes away) to watch the sunset.  Lee has gone a couple of times, but it was always too cold for me, but tonight was just perfect and we took the most beautiful pictures.  We also got to listen to taps being played when the sun goes down.  An older vet comes every night and plays his bugle as the sun falls beneath the waves.  Absolutely lovely moment and a very nice man.

Sunset at Indian Rocks Beach in Largo Florida

Sunset at Indian Rocks Beach in Largo Florida

Gentleman who plays taps every night at Sunset beach

Gentleman who plays taps every night at Sunset beach

 

On Saturday we got up early and decided to check out one of the four local parks.  Pinellas County has a large park about 15 minutes away called The Florida Botanical Gardens We went there first because it’s so close to the house I could go on a lunch break and hang out.  We ended up spending several hours there because it was so amazing.  It is totally free and it is divided into multiple sections so we took a while to walk around.  They have the east and west gardens, a tropical section, wedding area, herb garden, butterfly garden, alligator area, and a wonderful historical village with over 25 buildings.  The buildings were largely left to the historical society in wills with enough funds to completely transport the building.  Then other members of the historical society fill it with antiques.  Very, very cool, completely free, and totally unexpected.   The historical area also has volunteers in several of the buildings who explain about the time period and the particular building they are in.  I spent quite some time talking to a woman about how quilting is done today versus how it was done in the 1800’s.  Really neat. 

Camellia

Camellia

I had no idea bananas had a large flower at the bottom. Reminded me a bit of the flower from Little Shop of Horrors

I had no idea bananas had a large flower at the bottom. Reminded me a bit of the flower from Little Shop of Horrors

My first alligator. The duck swimming close by didn't interest him at all

My first alligator. The duck swimming close by didn’t interest him at all

Turtles sunning themselves on the bank pretty near the gator but they seemed unconcerned

Turtles sunning themselves on the bank pretty near the gator but they seemed unconcerned

 

Center of the historical village

Center of the historical village

One of the volunteers was in the Grocery Store

One of the volunteers was in the Grocery Store

Village Garage

Village Garage

The garage was very cool

The garage was very cool

After such a great time at the gardens I really didn’t want to go anywhere else, so we will save those for another day.  We went back to the RV for lunch and then we puttered until 5pm when the RV Resort was having a pig roast.  Lee wasn’t terribly thrilled about going, but I thought it would be good to at least put in a short appearance, plus free food, so we walked down at 5pm.

On Sunday Lee went to a study session held by one of his fellow students who is a retired Air Force Colonel and a whiz at all things electrical, so I decided to go and visit the Sunken Garden.   After the great experience on Saturday, I almost didn’t go because I didn’t want to be disappointed, but the weather was beautiful so I drove the 20 minutes to St. Pete.  Sunken Garden’s claim to fame is that it is a 100-year-old garden and I really wanted to see plants that were that old.  The $8 admission threw me off though.  Not because $8 is a lot of money but because I have found the free or near free attractions are often better.  I was pleasantly surprised however and definitely felt I got my money’s worth.  Although it was a bit crowded (there was a line when it opened at noon on Sunday) and not as big as I would have liked (only took me 45 minutes to walk through), it was jam-packed with huge beautiful plants and there were many more flowers in bloom than I would have expected in January.  Also the gardens boast many plants from tropical regions around the world, so I got to see plants and flowers I had never seen before.  Definitely worth a trip, but I would recommend going during a weekday if you can manage it. 

The growth was huge and dense which makes the relatively small place feel bigger

The growth was huge and dense which makes the relatively small place feel bigger

Beautiful paths are cut at multiple levels so you could be very close to someone and not see them.

Beautiful paths are cut at multiple levels so you could be very close to someone and not see them.

I have never seen flowering vines this high in my life. They were like two stories tall and hanging from the tops of giant trees

I have never seen flowering vines this high in my life. They were like two stories tall and hanging from the tops of giant trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The limestone was excavated when the gardens were originally built

The limestone was excavated when the gardens were originally built

You sit on it and feel peace and serenity. IT was a really cool, smooth rock

You sit on it and feel peace and serenity. IT was a really cool, smooth rock

This was the view across from the growing stone which did make me feel peaceful

This was the view across from the growing stone which did make me feel peaceful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful beautiful flowers

Beautiful beautiful flowers

Never seen one of these before

Never seen one of these before

 

I've never seen this flower either. Wish DeDe was with me she would have loved it.

I’ve never seen this flower either. Wish DeDe was with me she would have loved it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday was a holiday for me and it was great because when living in New England I thought it was a waste to have a holiday in January (no disrespect to Martin Luther King just wish it would be a different day), but down here it was amazing.  The day was absolutely gorgeous with temps in the high 70’s and sunny skies.  Lee had school unfortunately , but I was free so got up early and drove down to Fort Meyers to see my friends Jo and Ben, Kelly and Bill, and Eileen and Gene.  I had an absolutely wonderful time talking with my friends and we had a nice dinner (thank you so much Gene and Eileen for treating me…that was incredibly sweet) and I reluctantly left at 7:30pm to start the two-hour drive home.  It was a long day but absolutely what I needed to brush the last of those “closed in feelings” away.  I know I’ve said it before, but I absolutely love these people and they are the best support system in the world.  No matter how you are feeling, they are there for you and although the experience does vary from person to person, we are all absolutely committed to supporting each other as we transition to the full timing lifestyle.  There was lots of laughter, great advice, and some commiseration which is all a wonderful thing.  And most importantly it reaffirmed that I am not alone in this.  So thank you all so much for the wonderful day and I can’t wait until we are all together again.

From back left Tracy, Ben, Kelly, Bill, Jo, Gene, and Eileen

From back left
Tracy, Ben, Kelly, Bill, Jo, Gene, and Eileen

Lessons Learned

  • When you are feeling closed in get out and do something.  See friends, visit a nature park, go see an attraction.  
  • You can fill an entire weekend without spending much money (I spent $8 this weekend).
  • Be careful of making any big decisions when your feeling antsy or closed in.  Give it some time to pass.

————————————————————————————————————————————-

Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  Search Amazon.com here