- Life on Holiday May 30, 2017
If you are new to RVing, or have a history of staying in a couple of places over the year and don’t typically travel, you may kind of know to book early-ish for remembrance and holiday weekends (typically Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day are the trifecta of camping craziness). You may know this. However, no one can properly prepare you for how ridiculously prepared you need to be if you have your eyes on an area, particularly if that area involves the words “State” and “Park” in it.
Let’s back this fun bus up: how crazy are we talking? We’ll use Colorado as an example. According to our hosts at Cherry Creek, Colorado allows you to book up to six months from the date. Colorado citizens go into the most popular state park websites and book every single weekend from opening weekend until closing weekend. Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day are gobbled up immediately. This leaves little room for tourists outside of the state to come in for a couple of weeks straight (usually there’s a 14 day max) and have one solid visit.
This also leaves very little room for the spirit of exploration or winging it, particularly if you have a very large rig and can’t just pull off anywhere. You shouldn’t plan on Walmart, Cabela’s or similar because guess what? Everyone else who neglected to make timely reservations are likely to do the same thing. That said, we did see the same fifth wheel – with slides out – in a pull-off rest area for the entire Memorial Day weekend. So it can be done.
We were new to RVing last year and left our winter residence in Florida in late April. We knew we had to go to Tiffin to get work done and worked our way to Red Bay, AL. We got there right before Memorial Day. This made predicting exactly where we’d be during Memorial Day to be very difficult, so we didn’t book anything and we didn’t exactly want to spend the holiday in Red Bay (we know people love it here, but we had spent almost two weeks there and were DONE). We ended up in a tiny park in Georgia which was lucky, but there were reasons why that park was available. It was fine for the two days we were there but there were serious issues that could have potentially damaged our coach. We were lucky, and one of the factors we think about is our animals’ comfort. So we definitely had that.
So what did we learn? Book early and book often. When you have an itinerary that’s relatively open, discuss where you may be and choose 2 or 3 locations. Then, as long as the cancellation policy exists where you can cancel x amount of time, book in those 2 or 3 places. They could be close-ish to each other or on different coasts. What you have to lose is money. You will lose approximately $10 per reservation as a service fee for many parks (state parks and KOA included). You must be meticulous to cancel in the right amount of time (parks vary from two weeks to 48 hours before check in time/date) or you’ll be charged either one day’s fee or for the entire time (the latter is rare). If you don’t want to pay cancellation fees, the risk is you don’t have a nice place to stay for the holiday. The risk if you do book is that you’ll forget to cancel. So you need to weigh risk versus reward.
With that in mind, you can ask yourself questions to narrow things down for yourself. What coast will you be on? North or South? Any particular state or states?
This year, we knew that we would want to be in Colorado so for us it was easier. That said, we neglected to log into the Colorado State Park system for a particular park in time to book Memorial Day (missed it by 2 days – 2 days!). Alas, everything was GONE for that weekend, even sites with no hookups (“primitive”). We were able to book Independence Day at a Georgia state park last year in February, so not as cut-throat but still not ideal if you are a wanderer. If you have minimal needs for the weekend (hookups, namely) or are a smaller rig, you’ll find it to be much easier. If you’re a planner, perhaps you live for this. If you have a large rig and aren’t a planner, it is definitely more difficult.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
- Cabinet Battle May 23, 2017
A few things we learned when moving into the RV: 1) never underestimate the power of heated floors 2) your manufacturer, most likely, had one of more workers who cut corners in some way 3) the decor is seemingly naturally, shall we say, dated. It’s a bit too ready for prime time.
We will never regret our decision to get heated floors. We found the corners that were cut by living in the rig full-time very quickly. The decor is a work in progress.
As soon as we moved in, we hated the door pulls and knobs. They were not to our taste. We like something a bit more streamlined. And for a year, we hated the pulls and knobs. And for a year, we said we’d change them.
Finally we had enough, prompted by the installation of our new desk that needed pulls and knobs. We went to Home Depot and bought the farm in the style we wanted. We were limited by the spacing for the pulls (3.25″, or was it 3.75″? We forget).
We also realized that with the shape of the new knobs, whoever did the installation of the original knobs paid no concern with them being level (see #2 above). Something we’d have to live with as we weren’t going to drill new holes for this, and still an improvement over the old knobs.
This is a relatively cheap improvement to do and one we’d recommend doing sooner rather than later. So how much is it? Without doing much research, we opted to get the pulls at Home Depot (the style is “Liberty” brushed nickel). They also have these available at Amazon. Each package of 10 pulls is $23 and change (buy in bulk if you can as each pull sold separately is $4, so a $17 savings per 10). The knobs are $20 for a 10 pack. Now be aware that there are more knobs and pulls in the rig than you can initially imagine. You can buy them here and here.
You can save some bucks by buying online, but we had our minds set, gosh darnit. So for peace of mind we bypassed the savings.
- Ally Puppy May 15, 2017
We haven’t updated in a while because we have gone through a loss that we knew was coming but we were still thrown off by it. We did the research, prepared as much as we could, hired hospice during the last health scare, made judgement calls and enjoyed our time together as much as we could. And even with that, life sometimes sticks its middle finger up at you and says “But can you handle THIS?” Knowing what was going on with Ally internally, we opted to drive from Wyoming to Fort Collins CO to ensure we had access to in-home care rather than taking her to a vet if and when the time came. We were hoping for a month based on previous experience. We had 4 days, but they were a fun-filled few days. She left us while laying on her Star Wars blanket, surrounded by her toys she used to bring us. Her sisters and we surrounded her as she watched birds in the trees and passers-by. She knew that she was loved.
Ally defied all odds. She was diagnosed with Cushings Disease at the age of 10 (Cushings dogs average 3 years after diagnosis). She had pancreatitis 4 times. She had an internal bleed (perhaps it was the aspirin, perhaps it was the tumor that was inoperable). Couple that with petellar luxation surgeries and a torn ACL (which we couldn’t surgically fix due to her internal issues, but had laser treatments twice per week every week), boy her medical records were thick! Every vet who met her later in life was shocked at how happy and vibrant she was, despite the world of mess that was going on internally.
That’s how we want to focus on Ally’s life of 15 years. She was a maze of issues inside, but outside she was the most joy-filled dog. She was happy to be alive, and each day we imagined her saying “Today was the best day of my whole entire life.” People who met her were so sad to hear of her passing and that’s because once you met her, you wanted her in your life. Our entire extended family was very upset, because Ally was FAMILY. Ally ate off a food mat with a ton of words that basically described her life: Play. Pet Me. Lazy. Jump. Cuddle. Eat. Spoiled. Play. Snore. Treats. Love Me. Happy. Kisses. Sweet. Sleep. Love. Dream. Best Friend. This was Ally, through and through.
We wanted to provide her with the platform to exude that joy, and part of that was keeping her as pain-free and healthy as possible. With that, we wanted to say a special thanks to the vet practices that helped us along the way, whether it be during her crazy puppyhood or during her twilight years. These aren’t all the places Ally has been (with our travels and laser therapy sessions twice per week, the list wouldn’t ever end), but these are the places that left pawprints in our hearts with their extra care they showed our girl and us. They allowed us to focus on the joy while they took care of the health stuff, including being our crutch during her end. Thank you all.
Cary Veterinary Hospital – Cary, NC
West Chester Veterinary Medical Center – West Chester, PA
West Orange Veterinary – Winter Garden, FL
Village Vets – Decatur, GA
Dr. Lauren Cassady, Lap of Love – Atlanta, GA
Unita Animal Hospital – Fort Bridger, WY (note: this is where Ally met a horse, and heard it whinny!)
Home to Heaven – Fort Collins, CO
So while we knew it was coming, it’s an empty feeling not seeing this amazing dog all the time. The last time we had two animals was before we were married (17 years ago), and that only lasted six months before we got the third. Not only are we getting used to two pets but Ally was always with us, wanted to be a part of the action, always. Sommer and Piper are adjusting along with us. We miss her every single day.
With that, this is what we wrote on our personal facebook page.
To say we’re heartbroken doesn’t even begin to cover it. Ally came to us as a crazy lil puppy and left us as our best friend. This little dog was a miracle dog. She defied diagnosis after diagnosis and shocked every vet we met with her ability to live and making each day the best day of her whole entire life. We lived our lives together for the last eleven months on borrowed time. Our borrowed time ended today but not without 15 full years of joy and love.
Ally was the quirkiest dog who invited you into her home and with those big brown eyes, wanted you to feel as home as she did (showing you the toys she has, but would instruct you to not touch them). She was the hostess with the mostess and if you let her lick your face, she called it a success. Give her a comfy blanket and this dog could sleep every which way, anywhere, anytime, usually with a buried nose, snorting, eyes open and most likely with a kick to our ribs.
So little miracle quirky dog with the big soulful eyes, the one with puppy power, giver of puppy kisses, our Pebbles, Poopy Pants, Ally Puppy, you were our heart dog. Our hearts are broken but you were worth every single second of this heartbreak. Thank you for making us better human beings.