I tried to pin my lack of blogging on bad wifi and bad data plans but three weeks at my mom’s house and two weeks at our friends’ farm all came with “free wifi” and still no blog posts came of it. So, instead of trying to find just the right pictures and get them all uploaded and edited and write a long post, I’m just going to post short updates – kind of what I was doing on Facebook instead of writing here. I pulled Facebook off my phone so I no longer have that temptation. If you get too many, you can unsubscribe and just check the main home page once in awhile where you’ll find the map listings showing where we’ve been. (I’m still not sure if you can see that page on a cell phone but the listing have all been updated with write-ups on each stop and even some pictures.)
We are now at Assateague State Park in Maryland. This is where the wild ponies roam free! We are at the very end of the camping season so it is not at all crowded. Downside is that most of the crab places are closed but we had beautiful weather upon our arrival and plenty of time to let Teddy run and swim on the beach. Our campsite is at the edge of the “dogs allowed” section and that part of the beach runs farther than you can see in the other direction so it’s easy to find our own space. I love that loophole in the leash rules: “unless the dog is swimming and then he can be off leash.”
And, of course, the best promise of Assateague camping came true this evening: the wild ponies came walking through the campground to check out everyone’s stuff around 7ish. Throughout the night, we could hear them snuffling around and whinnying to each other. The kids got a couple of pictures when they came really close and we’ll see if we get more pics to add as we continue our stay.
We are looking at a lot of rain tonight and tomorrow so we might have to make it a big homeschool day until it clears. Well, that and checking out a couple of bakeries and a pretzel shop. We can definitely still do that if it rains.
Where to Next?
We are on Assateague until Friday morning, 10/24 and then we go to Williamsburg, VA for the weekend, staying until Monday, 10/27. After that, we are in Greensboro, NC until 11/4 and then just a short distance away in Winston Salem, NC from 11/4 – 11/11. We plan to stay in the Greensboro area to visit open houses at several Catholic schools through 11/21, but we may do side trips around the state between the open house dates. After 11/21, we will go to Summerville, SC to “camp” in my brother’s driveway and stay through Thanksgiving before FINALLY taking my kids to Disney World. They’ve never even been to Disneyland even though we used to live so close. From there, our plans are open for exploring Florida wherever we can still find reasonable campground rates once it is the start of snowbird season.
As always, we can use ideas on good places to go!
Too many wifi restrictions here and threats to cut off service if you upload pictures or look at Facebook or do anything that uses too much bandwidth. There was even a veiled threat of RVers coming after us with pitchforks b/c supposedly the internet service for the whole park will get cut off if there are too many violators. But, we all know that blog posts are incredibly boring without even just one picture.
Here we are at Custer State Park on the Wildlife Loop where you are supposed to see hundreds of buffalo and lots of other animals. We weren’t getting a lot of action so we stopped to play with the timer on the camera. We are all looking happy because this is a cheery overview blog. If it were a different kind of blog, I’d be writing about spending my time at Mount Rushmore crying because I’ve wanted to go there my entire life and I forgot the camera battery and I was stuck having to walk back and forth in the dog ghetto with Teddy because that’s what you do at National Park sites when you are traveling with a dog.
We have been making tracks across the middle of the country trying to get to NY for our time at my mom’s and for a few weeks in New England with the leaf peepers and to to see our good friends in NH. We lingered a little too long in Montana, trying to avoid any hot summer weather so now we are paying the price with longish driving days and one night stops, often in parking lots to save some money for when we can enjoy campground amenities.
The listings section and map pins have been updated with our stops along the way. It’s nice to see that we are making progress! Our time in NY is going to be when we work on getting more organized and making a plan for the rest of the year. For those that don’t know already, our house sale is final so we are not moving back to San Diego. Let’s hope we still like Greensboro when we go spend some time in November…
I can’t believe summer is really kind of over and we’ve been on the road for almost seven weeks already. Despite some days of despairing that I am missing out on seeing things because I am constantly going to the grocery store or sorting through boxes looking for stuff I need, I think we are doing better than expected. The kids are very good-natured about everything, K is doing a great job driving all the time and Teddy has settled into a great traveling dog. Nothing truly awful has happened yet – allowing us to get a foundation of good experiences to help us weather the disasters that might await us.
Now that it is the end of summer, I am less worried about getting reservations ahead of time and we are able to plan just a week or two ahead. We are currently in Kalispell, Montana at an awesome campground. Our plan was to explore Glacier National Park instead of Yellowstone but Glacier was kind of a bust because I wasn’t feeling well and it was really crowded and we were not able to stop enough in the limited areas where dogs were allowed.
Glacier National Park was truly beautiful but would have been better without a dog or if we could have stayed in the park itself rather than 30 miles away. Seeing all the people hiking around while we were stuck in slow-moving Going-to-the-Sun-Road traffic was maddening. We decided to make up for that by taking a detour to Yellowstone for 3 days. I found an RV park 1/2 mile from the West Yellowstone entrance that also borders a National Forest (where dogs are allowed on the trails). I think that’s going to make it easier for some of us to take a 1/2 day trip into Yellowstone while the others hike with Teddy in the forest area.
We are going to have to keep an eye out for more National Forest areas. Today we went on a short hike in a pretty much deserted lake area of the Flathead National Forest bordering Glacier National Park. Felt much more freeing than the crowded National Park area.
D got to really try out his homemade sling and launch rocks far into the lake.
With the detour to Yellowstone and some extra days we booked at Custer State Park near Mount Rushmore, we are probably now a week behind our original plan to get to NYC by Labor Day. We may rush a bit through the Great Lakes region because we’ll have time to come back to that area in May.
Update on Oregon Coast and Washington
We had too much moving around and wifi issues to keep up with the blog. After Portland, I felt like we had missed out on the Oregon Coast and we had some extra time so we backtracked to Newport, Oregon. Beaches in Oregon are nice and cool and the sand is hardpacked and dogs are allowed on the beach so those were all wins for us!
From the Oregon Coast, we went up to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, staying close to the Hoh Rainforest. Again, dogs were not allowed on the trails so we had to split up and go in shifts. I seem to be missing a bunch of my pictures but it was rainforesty. A side trip to Ruby Beach was my favorite, even though it was treacherous trying to manage Teddy down the slippery trail and over all the rocks.
Our next stop was just one night near Cape Flattery – the most northwestern corner of the contiguous United States. We ended up staying in a scarily deserted RV park in the middle of nowhere in Neah Bay (maybe more on that later). If I thought Ruby Beach was treacherous, I had no idea what I was in for with the hike out to Cape Flattery – definitely not a good place to try to manage a 70lb dog that can hear the call of the waves but doesn’t understand that they are coming from over a sheer cliff. Amazing views, though!
Our next three nights in Sequim were kind of a bust for me. I thought because Sequim had a Costco that there would be more going on there. We spent our first night in a (free) Walmart parking lot and two nights at a lavender-overload retired person RV park that made me feel like we ought to be whispering all the time. BUT, we did go to the Olympic Game Farm where you can drive through and feed the animals from your car.
Seattle and Spokane
We had two nights each in Seattle and Spokane, staying at KOAs. Bummer the pool was out of service in Seattle but A got an early birthday surprise trip to see the Mariners play his beloved Braves and I got to reconnect with a dog training colleague for a night out without kids or dog.
Not much happened in Spokane because we got there late and it was a little hot and there were no restaurants nearby where we could sit outside with a dog, but Teddy found a Shepherd girlfriend in the dog run. See? That’s what happens when I neglect my blogging – I forget what we even did!
Coming up next – Teddy gets his own post because he has BIG NEWS!
Our internet access remains sketchy as we figure out how much data we can use with our phone plans so it has been a big pain to try to update the blog with slow/no wifi on top of lots of moving from place to place over the last week. We are now in Montana at one place for six nights so we will have a chance to settle in.
I have pictures still to add from the other computer but this post is mainly a note to check the Listings on the home page for updates on where we are. If you are getting updates on your phone, I think it sends only blog posts like this one, not listings. You have to go to the home page map feature to see the write-ups (and photos later) for each stop. Double-click the map to zoom in or choose “toggle list view” to see a list of places.
Right now, we are in Kalispell, Montana and will be here for six nights to take in Glacier National Park and the State Fair and maybe Wild Horse Island if it is not too far away.
I’ve been feeling pretty good about our first several weeks going along better than expected but then a guy working in the meat place in Seattle where I found some food for Teddy dropped the bomb of, “Oh, it’s only been five weeks,” as if I don’t know what I am in for once the honeymoon wears off. Hmmm.
My blogging has been terrible because we are blowing through our data plans whenever we are away from wifi (and, of course, periodic hiatuses where I seem to have only hateful things to say).
Happily, I just found out there is wifi next week at the house we are renting in Portland for five days so maybe I’ll be able to figure out why I can’t get the map pins to show up and see how to set up photo galleries in this theme or maybe just change to another theme entirely if it’s all a big pain.
Trying to conserve data means that we made an effort to dig through boxes and find my old GPS (thanks, Mom!) so we have that handy in the car AND it got us more quickly onto our plan of using real life maps. I really like to know where I am and our initial plan was for our 13 year old to be our navigator for much of the trip.
We are wrapping up our big stop here on Sauvie Island, just outside of Portland. We’ve been here for five nights and will add an extra night tonight before heading to Mount Hood to stay with friends for the weekend and then back to Portland for five days in the rental house. After that? We have no idea. I only managed to plan the first four weeks in the chaos of trying to sell the house right before we left San Diego.
For now, some quick pictures:
So much for my idea that I’d blog every day with our adventures and mishaps. Seems I’m not so perky about the mishaps and slow/no internet makes it a big pain to upload pictures and stay on top of writing. But, we have at least a phone hotspot option available now and we will be staying a bit longer at our next stops. We ended up sleeping somewhere different practically every night our first week and that was trying.
I hope to catch up on some blog posts this week or next and will keep the listings page current with where we are (home page but I need to figure out why the more recent stops are not showing up as pins on the map). We are currently in Crescent City, CA for three nights – northern coastal California in the land of the Redwoods and constant badgering, “Is that a redwood?”
We still need to significantly pare down all the junk we brought with us and get the coach organized and figure out where we are going after July 25 but maybe we’ll find time to go see something interesting here before heading into Oregon.
Here we are looking happy last night in Fort Bragg – we survived the first week!
For those that don’t already know, Teddy is a 2.5 year old Flat-Coated Retriever. He’s almost 70 lbs and is a whole lot of dog. He also has cancer so we weren’t quite sure he’d even be here to come along on our trip. Our decision to pursue Eastern Medicine options seems to have paid off with a currently thriving young dog but cut into my time and money and effort for prepping Ted for the trip regarding training/acclimation. I’m not sure how well it’s going to go over to play the cancer card against general unruliness. “Sorry he’s humping you! He has cancer you know!” I’m hoping I can use the people’s confusion to make my getaway, “Huh? What does that have to do with him peeing on my truck??” – yeah, Idon’t know, bye!
So, we are figuring it all out on the road.
Things That Are Good
Teddy is being trained with positive reinforcement methods. That means people smile at me when I work with him because we look happy together. No mad faces, no yelling, no droopy tail. It also means he has a number of default behaviors that come in handy, particularly Relax on a Mat.
Teddy is also generally a pretty quiet dog. I’d like to attribute that to my training but that might just be his nature. So far, a few woofs here and there but other dogs have been barking more so we’re good by comparison.
What We’re Working On
Lots of stuff to work on, of course, but the big one for today is riding in the motorhome.
Teddy can’t be loose because he will try to come up front to be with me or he will get into stuff or kids will say, “Hey, he’s stepping on me!” and it will be a big pain to sort out. Plus, he should be secured for safety.
Thanks to my friend Barbara’s suggestion, we realized we could fit his giant crate in the entry area so it would be very similar to how he goes into the back of the car and right into his crate:
Problem is, the step up and angle into the crate is very steep. We’re not sure if it’s a tough climb for him or if he just doesn’t want to go in there or if it’s our own fault for not shaping/practicing ahead of time.
I got him in reasonably okay at the house with a Kong and some click/treat shaping but we had trouble when we stopped for a break and had to start again. Ground was hot, motorhome was warm, it was already rattly for him in the crate, we were stressed out, etc.
Me: Hop up!
Teddy: Standing there
K: Why don’t I just pick him up?
Me: You can’t keep picking him up or he’ll never learn to jump in!
K: I think it’s too steep for him to get in there.
Me: He doesn’t like to get picked up. He’s going to start avoiding your reach earlier and earlier each time until we won’t be able to get him even near the motorhome! Ahhhh, I think his feet are burning!! OK, pick him up.
My older son had the good idea of turning the crate around so the door is on the inside. That way, he he can climb in through the cab area and it also gives us access if we need to get him out or tend to him. We’re going to try that today to see if we have enough room to open the door. We’ll also put some rubber pads under the crate to minimize the road bumps. Wish us luck!
This water bowl thing is turning out to be a good purchase. It’s called Water Boy and it’s a mystery to me how it works but you can fill it with a bunch of water and it will continue to replenish the bowl area with about 1/2 inch of water and will not spill if you turn it over. You can also step on it or squeeze it to get more water in the bowl area.
Teddy met a little girl, about three years old. I usually don’t let kids touch my dogs at that age or younger but she met my criteria of:
a) Being able to hold a conversation with me (vs. parroting what the parent is saying)
b) Actually stopping a few feet away to ask and waiting for the answer! The waiting for the answer part is often missing in the sequence.
So I sent her back to go confirm with her Dad that he was okay with her being with me and my dog. Funny how parents get slightly annoyed by this but you really need to turn around and at least watch what your three-year-old is doing.
I told the dad, “He’s going to lick her,” and he thought that was fine, “Ha, ha, won’t have to give her a bath” and all that.
Girl comes back and I’m holding onto Ted sitting on the bench with me and I tell her, “I am holding him so he will not jump on you, but he will lick you.” (Kid has food on her face, too – irresistible!)
Girl tentatively touches Teddy. Teddy licks her. Girl shrinks back, “He licked me! I don’t want him to lick me! Don’t let him lick me!” This all confirms my idea that very young children don’t always want to be as up close and personal with dogs as they think they do.
It was all fine, though. She hung around long enough to be comfortable stroking Teddy’s side and the licking was minimal so it was a good encounter.
We finally left San Diego – a day late. We just didn’t have it together enough to make our June 29 planned departure. Too much junk still to pack and sort and clean and wherever we turned, we found even more stuff. If it wasn’t for our neighbor Ted (who our Teddy dog is named after) coming over to help all day and K’s sister and brother-in-law on call for disposing of the furniture and left overs, we might have decided to just set the house on fire instead. Could’ve still had marshmallows so A would have still been happy.
We ended up shoving stuff randomly into boxes and piling it into the motorhome to sort later.
I can’t believe how giant our rig seems when you look at it all stretched out with the car being towed + the bikes. Everyone advised us to err on the side of bigger size for actually living in and I think we are glad we took that advice. K drove the whole time today and managed well through a bunch of traffic and narrow Los Angeles freeway lanes.
It’s nice tonight to have the bunk beds set up in the back so A could go to bed and we could stay up in the front of the motorhome.
Our first night is at the Ventura Ranch KOA (see separate “listing” on the map page – I still need to figure out how best to use this blog template with the map feature). It’s already late, so all I have for tonight is a mystery and a bunch of pictures.
On the 210 freeway in LA, a trucker pulled alongside us and gave us an urgent hand signal – his fingers opening and closing, kind of in a “talking” gesture. His face seemed concerned vs. p.o.’d so I don’t think it was a substitute for THAT hand gesture. We’re like, “What does that mean?” K thought maybe our car fell off the hitch and we had a moment of panic. Once we saw the car was still there, we thought maybe a bike was dangling. Stopped to check – all was well. Then we thought maybe he meant our rear lights weren’t working so we stopped again to check. Nope, that was fine, too. Who knows what that signal means?