Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Dec 18 2009

Wyatt’s Way

Filed under Travel

Hey Wyatt Ray, check this out!

Mom saw this street sign in Tombstone Territories RV Park while her and Pop were walking me. You have a street named after you, you lucky dawg!!

Riley Pup

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Dec 18 2009

Riley’s Excellent Adventure

Filed under Travel

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Dawg, have I been a busy Pup these past two weeks. We left home to go out west. I don’t understand that exactly, but I do know that we rode a really, really long time in the truck….and I do mean days!

I’ve seen really cool sunsets.

I’ve hiked for miles and miles and miles. Check out this cool wash in Catalina State Park. I don’t know why they call it a wash, cause no one was there taking a bath, but I really liked romping in the sand. I just wish I didn’t have to be on this stupid leash so much!

Mom and Pop keep driving us WAY out into the desert on these really bad, bumpy roads. A few days ago, we drove for miles and miles and miles thru this place called Ironwood National Monument in AZ. We were almost back to the interstate, when we came to the river that was flooded. We had to turn around and drive all the way back the way we came, like 20 miles, in the dark, cause the water was several feet deep!! That took us another couple of hours! I thought it was great fun when the cows crossed the river to come see us while Dad was trying to turn the truck around and not get us stuck in the deep sand. I barked at them, but I was really laughing inside cause they were funny!

We go rockhounding. I helped Mom dig up some cool, blue rocks the other day, while Pop splored a mine. She said that made me the official rockhound!

I listen close for scary things that go bump in the day and night, in case something like those scary doves try and get Mom or Pop, or in case the coyotes that keep howling at night get too close to the doghouse.

Oh, I can’t forget the javelinas. I worked hard barking and barking and barking to scare them off!

This is me, being a German Shepherd. Mom says that was my feeble attempt at a stack, whatever that means…

I’ve eaten lots of sandwiches for lunch, and taken long naps in the evening, cause all this road tripping is wearing me out!

I’ve played frisbee in a dawg run , made friends with a cousin in Tombstone , and scared up some antelope for mom and pop to see !!

I left lots of tracks in my big honkin sandbox in Texas , zoomed up and down hills chasing mom and pop as they slid down the sand dunes on big saucers , got sand in my mouth , and cactus needles in my tongue cause I tried to play stick with a cactus limb (mom said she didn’t have the heart to take pictures of that, but her and pop held me down while they plucked lots of needles out of my tongue – that hurt BAD). I didn’t know the stick had sticker-fuooeys in it!

We rode up to the top of Mt. Lemmonade and played in the snow . And you know what was really cool? I made yellow snow!

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Dec 18 2009

The Hillbillies Go Grocery Shopping

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I normally hate grocery shopping…despise, detest, abhore, loathe, you get the picture. Except when we are on vacation, that is. Since our choices at home are extremely limited, consisting of Hellmart (and not a good one), BiLo (buy high to us), UGO (one sniff & you-go away fast), Save-a-Little (on dented, sometimes out of date, & off-brand products), & Shop Wrong (think Satan & his minions), well, who’s to blame me?

Which is why, when we go on vacation, we both look forward to going to farmers markets and real grocery stores to shop for new and unusual products. While we haven’t stumbled upon a farmers market on this trip (out of season), we have ventured into several interesting grocery stores.

Take Lowe’s in Monahans, TX. Totally unexpected, as when I think Lowe’s, I think home improvement, bastards, minions, and other less-than-lady-like descriptions. Lowe’s grocery store is a local TX chain, and though overall nothing special, it was new to us, and admittedly different on several levels. Take for instance the 15 lb cans of hominy, or the mounds of jalapenos. Their tortilla selection was so vast that I was seeing circles for hours.

Then there was Fry’s Marketplace in Sauharita, AZ. LOVE that one. We were so completely overwhelmed at the sheer volume and variety in the bakery, produce, and meat departments that we couldn’t find what we were looking for.  I told James we were like the Beverly Hillbillies grocery shopping. I am sure we were good entertainment for several fellow customers, as we zipped from isle to isle, stumbling from item to item, and exclaiming over and over about ALL THAT FOOD!!!

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Dec 06 2009

Riley Does Texas: Pup’s Big Honkin’ Sandbox

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We pulled into Monahans Sandhills State Park in Monahans, TX late this afternoon. I’d read that the campground is pretty awesome….but I really didn’t expect it to be this wickedly cool!  The dunes are attempting to overtake the sites and roadways, so it really feels as though you are parked in the midst of the dunes (funny how that is)! James backed into our site, which is technically a pull-thru, but thanks to the dunes, just didn’t afford us enough room to pull out the other side when it is time to leave here. We lucked up with what I consider to be the best site in the campground (#9 fyi).

The view out our back window is truly a picture-perfect sand dune scene, overlooking some prime sand-surfing real estate.

And best of all, we have a few neighbors but pretty much have the park to ourselves. We never saw a soul during our wanderings into the back 40 of Riley’s sandbox.

After we set up, we took Pup out for his first adventure in Texas, in snow, and in the dunes. After being stuck in the truck napping for the past two days, he could hardly contain himself.

Though he didn’t quite know what to think of the white stuff on the ground, he didn’t hesitate to zoom up and down the dunes chasing sticks, us, and even himself until he could barely climb back up them from sheer exhaustion. Then, just when we thought Pup was completely pooped out, he huffed and puffed himself into a second wind, and zoomed even more.

Tomorrow, as our rest day before moving on to our next Texas adventure, we plan to rent sleds so we can partake in some sand-surfing (ok, sledding. James didn’t bring his boogie board). Too bad they don’t provide lifts for us! The best dunes won’t show our legs any mercy….

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Dec 05 2009

Bertha, Bertha, Bertha

Filed under Travel

Well, we left the house Thursday morning, and made it about 10 miles when Bertha got sick. She was spewing and smoking, and had spiked a low fever. After a brief physical, James determined that she had blown the gasket to the new thermostat he had just installed for her the day before.

So he rehydrated her and we went down the road to Napa, where he was able to get another themostat and he installed that one in their parking lot.

So,off we went again. Bertha stopped spewing, and her fever resolved itself quite nicely. Then, about 3 miles later, Bertha stroked out. This ischemic attack left her powerless, able to do little more than 30 mph with the pedal pegged to the floor, while all the while coughing, sputtering, and spewing white smoke out her pipe hole. James did a U turn and gently forced Bertha to drag her sick ass and the Doghouse back home. She was barely able to make it up the steepest hill. All the while, the calculator in my brain was adding up the expenses, while being both relieved that this happened so close to home, and fretting over how much a tow bill would be because our emergency roadside assistance doesn’t kick in until we are over 50 miles from home, not to mention worrying about what was wrong.

Bertha did get us and the Doghouse home safely. James unhooked and set up the camper, and then took Bertha for another drive to get an idea of where her stroke originated from. Forever being an information junkie, I hit the Internet.

James suspected something to do with the fuel system, because in 2001 when we hit the road as fulltimers, we made it to Gadsden AL before Bertha had a similar loss of power, sputtering, and smoking episode. The difference then was she was completely paralyzed, unable to even limp down the road to the next exit. She wound up having her injector pump replaced. That was a weeklong ordeal, but fortunately all of the repairs, and our expenses we covered by Chrysler after a brief battle.

Anyway, our investigation found that the lift pumps on our Dodge are notorious for conking out. If they fail abruptly, it usually doesn’t cause damage to the injector pump. However, a slower failure can damage the much more expensive pump. Bertha’s symptoms matched those caused by a failure of the lift pump. Fortunately, a local auto parts store had one in stock. So James spent yesterday afterrnoon doing a lift-pump-ectomy and replacement.

After another test drive, which revealed that Bertha had regained the full use of all of her faculities, we camped in the driveway overnight. We hit the road AGAIN Friday morning. I am thrilled to report that Bertha drug the Doghouse up the steep mountain into Crossville with no problems this morning. We finally headed westbound on I40, listening to the seedy underworld of the CB Radio, and thanking Dog that we were delayed for a only day, at home, and that the repairs cost us a few hundred dollars instead of the few thousand had Bertha’s injector pump been the cause of her illness.

Probably a good thing we didn’t leave Thursday anyway. We were going south thru Mobile, and across southern Texas. We would have made it to Houston just in time to get stuck in their snow storm. By skirting north, we missed the majority of the nasty weather. After all, we certainly aren’t flying west to play in snow. I want out of this cold, nasty Tennessee weather!!!

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Sep 29 2009

Brakin’ down

Filed under Travel

So, I’m not exactly mechanically inclined, at least when it comes to vehicles and all the parts that make them stop or go. The girl in me deplores dirty fingernails, and all those hoses, tubes, valves, pistons, tanks, belts, fans, coolers, injectors, rejectors, turbo chargers and sucker-outers intimidate me. Because I was a tom-boy growing up, I understand how internal combustion engines and diesel engines work, and other basic concepts, like, say, how a transmission cooler works, or oh, how the brakes make a vehicle stop. And I guess a respectable IQ combined with a healthy dose of common sense help me to be able to identify when something is bad bad bad bad.

Rewind to Labor day weekend. James and I took a roadtrip to Franklin, NC for a week of relaxation and rockhounding for garnets and sapphires. We drug the camper up along the beautiful Ocoee River into the NC mountains. And, well, as we all know, what goes up must come down at an accelerated rate of speed (thank you Sir Isaac). So when we reached the little pull off area just after the sign warning of the 8% grade ahead, James drove on by thinking we were good to go (down down down), geared the truck down, and I stuck my feet thru my brake-hole in the floorboard, which I made all by myself a long time ago, after we left Lassen National Park, if I remember correctly, as I may have blacked out from anxiety during that little downhill trip. You see, I have downhill-fear when we have a 15k camper behind us pushing with all its might. Sure, again, I understand how the trailer-brakes work, and intellectually I know that those brakes are strong enough to stop the trailer and the truck…when they are freakin’ plugged it! When we did our usual pretrip inspection, checking steps, doors, antenna, brake lights, blinkers, etc., everything was working just fine. And because we had brake lights, we thought we had trailer brakes.

So away we go down the mountain, geared down, but gaining too much speed, even as the tread burned off my tennis shoes, cause I was helping  to brake as much as little ole’ me could possibly help. We passed the first runaway truck ramp, and I remembered the injuries one truck driver I know of sustained as a result of his having to make use of one of those babies. My dear sweet hubby was getting worried, but didn’t tell me, though I was thinking something was seriously wrong when the smoke started boiling out from under the front end of Bertha (our Dodge 3500 dually). James just calmly said, I think we’ll pull in here, and magically a pull-off appeared for us. I still don’t know how he managed to stop, cause try as she might, even with two humans and one precious Riley pup loading her down in the cab, Bertha is seriously out-weighed by our camper.

So, there we sat, watching the smoke pour out from Bertha’s brakes, while James (again) calmly said to me, I don’t know how we just stopped, but I don’t think the trailer brakes are working. Let’s go see. WTH? Well, when he plugged in the camper, the plug latched, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t pushed in enough to make the connection to power up those trusty trailer brakes, or perhaps it had vibrated loose just enough to lose that connection. Bertha has continued to punish James for that little violation to her tootsies, by flashing the ABS and Brake lights in James’ face everytime she is driven.

So today, I come home from work and a dentist appointment (that’s another rant), and see that James has taken Bertha’s front wheels off and torn the brakes completely apart so he can replace the brake pads, have the rotors turned, and figure out why Bertha feels the need to torture him with those dash lights. He shows me some electrical component thingy on one side, which is dirty but intact, though the bearing thingy is shot on that side and has to be replaced. Then he takes me to look at the same electrical thingy he had pulled off the brakes on the drivers side, which was a melted blob, thus Bertha’s reason for flashing James everytime he  drives her. Now, I don’t know what that part is or exactly how it controls the brakes, except that since Bertha has ABS brakes, that part surely must have something to do with the computer taking over braking should Bertha spin out uncontrollably, to keep her from tossing her passengers. Anyway, the melted blob is bad bad bad bad, and probably expensive to replace. Fortunately,  that seems to be the majority of the damage to poor Bertha’s tootsies. You can be sure that we will always get on our hands and knees by the trailer wheels to listen for that characteristic, and extremely comforting,  hum of the electric trailer brakes, before departing on any more road trips!

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