Monday, May 18, 2009

Road to Gainesville

We took the Parakeet to Gainesville last Saturday to attend a party. Since we weren't staying over, we took Chili as an experiment and left the other two dogs at home. Here's what we learned:
1.The slightly more than two hours each way was a major piece of cake after the grueling Atlanta drive.
2. Chili travels just fine without the other two dogs. No barking, no RV soiling or damage. She self regulated her drinking.
3. We will always recognize the exact spot on the hwy where we broke down on the way to Atlanta. I think it may be a portal to another level of reality that leads to Hell.
4. Buying and installing a SunPass transponder made the trip faster and much more pleasant.
5. Traveling at 60-65 is smoother than at higher speeds.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Parakeet's wings clipped on flight to Atlanta

It's a long drive to Atlanta from Orlando on a Friday night after work. Especially when you only get as far as Ocala before disaster hits. I was reclining on the sofa bed reading a book when the Winnebago swayed. Thunk!! I thought maybe somebody had sideswiped us on the right side of the Winnebago. "What the hell was that?" Danny and I said at almost the same moment. "Did the awning blow off?" he asked. I looked outside and saw nothing amiss on the right. I dashed to the bathroom window and looked behind us."I dunno," I replied, "I don't see anything in the road back there." Then I smelled burning rubber, the RV leaned to the side, and we heard an ominous thump thump thump. "I know what happened," Danny said. "We had a blow out." He pulled off on the highway shoulder, stopped, and put on the emergency flashers before getting off and going out to check. A minute afterwards he reported that we had blown not one but two of the rear tires. We had one spare. It was eight o'clock and we had been on the road for two hours.

I fished the Camping World Roadside Assistance card out of my wallet and handed Danny my iPhone. He made the call for help and we sat down to wait. With the passing of every big rig on the highway, the Winnebago shook. I put the blinds down and worried that some driver would lose control and plow right into us. If I was going to, as my mother would have said, die dead, I didn't want to see it coming. Two hours later when I was nearing the freakout stage, the Roadside Assistance man called back and said he'd located two of the right sort of tires and a guy would be coming to put them on for us at a cost of $800.00. I sighed and pulled out my Discover card. "He'll be there by midnight the guy said." A short time later, there was a loud knocking on the hood and Ginny and Abby began barking. There was a man outside. Danny jumped up.

"They're here, "he said, opening the door and going outside. I looked out the window. There was no repair truck. Ginny climbed into the cab and began a weird rolling teeth bared snarl that plainly said "You are not coming in here," in any lingo.

"You okay?" the good Samaritan asked. Danny replied that we were waiting for Roadside Assistance and the man disappeared. Danny got back on board. "Where's his car?" I asked. Danny pointed across six lanes of traffic and a guard rail. Jesus!" I exclaimed. I'm still wondering if he was a recklessly brave and lucky good Samaritan or a potential robber who spotted a stranded Winnebago and hoped it was empty and full of loot. If so, it was probably a yellow-eyed snarling 'hoola that discouraged him. Ginny sat in the drivers seat, obviously on guard, for the next hour and a half.

The repairman arrived shortly after midnight and put on the new tires. We were roadworthy again by one am. All thoughts of going on to Georgia were abandoned. We went on about forty more minutes to Gainesville and safely boondocked next to Danny's ex-wife's house. We made the trip to Atlanta safely the next day.

What we learned:
1. having Roadside Assistance is essential.
2. never get off the vehicle to talk to strangers in the dark
3. having big dogs on board is a good thing, especially when they have strong bladders
4. watching Romancing the Stone while waiting four hours for help on the highway does not make the time go any faster
5. adventures that involve discomfort are better written about or viewed on film.

On the way home on Sunday night we encountered a lot of rain, a double rainbow, a microburst that knocked down trees and shut down I-75, and a creepy weird mist. I will post those pictures tomorrow. We made the trip home with only one stop for fuel and potty. This was too long to drive and arriving at three in the morning is the absolute pits. We do not plan to do that again.

We did have a great time visiting Danny's family in Atlanta though and it was worth the inconvenience.

Danny's Comments:
So glad Nancy opted for the Roadside Assistance plan. Otherwise, I'd have done lots of walking.

Driving up to Atlanta, I tried to keep the Parakeet at the 'flow of traffic' -around 70-75 MPH. While the Winnebago view has no trouble doing that, it's not a comfortable ride at those speeds, and the mileage is not great. Driving back to Orlando, I kept the view at 62-65 most of the time. Big difference! The ride is much smoother, and the Parakeet is much easier to control. Mileage is much better too.

Driving up during the day, we found that the cabin air conditioner could not keep the entire coach cool. The little 12 volt fan helped some, but not much. When we got back, I looked on the Yahoo View/Navion Group site, and found that you can turn the generator on while driving. That way, you can run the coach air conditioner. That will help a lot here in Florida.

Unless I have to do it, I'm going to try to avoid those 8-9 hour drives. 4-5 is much easier to handle.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Way Back

After watching "The Long, Long Trailer" with Lucy Ball and Desi Arnez, Nancy and I realize not a whole lot has changed since the first person came up with the idea of putting their home on wheels:

And for those who've never seen "The Long, Long Trailer":

That is part 1 of 11. Just go to the next one (2 of 11) and watch them all. Resolution is excellent on an iPhone/iPod Touch.


We've come to the obvious conclusion that we will not be traveling with all three dogs, ever again. If there is an emergency, and we need to use the Parakeet as our "Escape Pod", we'll crate Ginny and Chili for the trip.

Life at home will return to our normal routine that we grown accustom to. A routine that kept Ginny and Chili from going at each other. But, we will always be aware that they do, indeed, have some sort of weird canine tension between them.

For travel, we'll bring either Ginny and Abby, while we board Chili. We can alternate between the dogs, and bring Chili on some trips, especially to the beach. That seems to have the best effect on controlling her allergies. Ginny and Abby are pretty easy to take care of, and if necessary, we could get someone to come over to feed them and let them out for 'voiding'.

So, with a very difficult and painful lesson learned, we move forward. Get it? Forward? Motorhome? Oh...nevermind.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Road to disaster

I listened to the media over reacting to the possible Swine Flu pandemic. Which I shouldn't have probably, since I have a particularly good immunity to flu of all kinds. I mean, I haven't had it since I was twelve and that was a whole lotta decades ago. But, I listened.( Cue in the ominous music here.) We were going to stay in town but drive the RV to Sea World, ride all the water rides I generally refuse to go on and go back to the RV and change clothes. We also planned to see Wolverine this week end, but then I thought, "There could be a lot of people in close proximity at both those places and a lot of people could mean getting sick people. So, I said, "Let's go back to the beach this weekend. There's nothing to stop us. We'll be away from people, out in the fresh air. And this time we'll take Chili."Her allergies have been so severe that she is on steroids and I thought the sea air and salt water might help the intense itching. My thought was to see how she traveled, in hopes of not having to board her. THAT WAS A REALLY BAD IDEA. (More ominous music here.)

The drive up the coast was uneventful. We parked at the beach side campgrounds. Day was beautiful: a perfect beach day. I could hardly wait to get down on the sand with the three dogs. I took Chili out to pee first since she has bladder issues and since she and Ginny have some sort of weird leash issues and can't be walked together on leash. Then Danny walked Ginny and Abby while I made lunch, which I put on the RV table. I put the dogs food in their dishes and set them on the kitchen counter. The door opened, Chili lunged at Ginny before she even got all the way up the steps and they were at it. Fortunately, we got them separated right away and no damage was done to either dog. I don't know why Chili got food aggressive on the RV. While we don't feed them in the same room at home they often stand shoulder to shoulder when I am preparing the food and never get nuts about it.

We fed Ginny in the RV bathroom. Then we went down to the beach. All was well for about forty minutes walking down the beach, The dogs ran in the surf, chased birds, Chili chased a ball. Then, on the way back for no reason I can think of, Chili lunged at Ginny and they were at it. This time in a real nasty fight. Trying to separate them Danny got bit three or four times and I got three hand wounds and an arm scratch. I also fell completely in the ocean, which meant that the beach bag went too. My really good camera got submerged and was destroyed. At least, thank God, I had left my iPhone behind. Chili and I sat in the ocean for awhile letting the water wash the blood away and then it occurred to me that maybe since we were both bleeding we shouldn't be where sharks might be. We walked the forty minute walk back to the campground with me dripping blood from my hand all the way, smiling and pretending nuthin' was wrong as we passed folks on the sand.

Ginny, as far as we can tell, has no wounds but Chili has a nasty neck wound under all her long hair.

Well, needless to say, our overnight at the beach had to be cancelled. After cleaning everybody up as much as possible, we decided to go home. I began washing the lunch dishes and stowing stuff away. Then, things got worse. Abby threw up her lunch all over the sofa bed, my good shoes, and everything else in range of dog projectile vomiting. My guess is that she drank sea water. Forty five minutes later, I was still cleaning that up as best I could with my fingers still bleeding all over the place.

We are now home. It is five hours later. It hurts like Hell to type this, although I've been beaten up much worse in the past by one thing or another. I am probably going to lose a thumb nail and I haven't even looked at the worst wound under two band aids yet. It probably needs a stitch or two. Everybody says don't get in the middle of a dogfight. Let them work it out. Ha. Let them kill each other is what would happen. If Chili starts fights with Ginny, Chili won't submit. Chili doesn't give a rat's ass about being torn apart. She takes a lickin' and keeps on provoking more. Chili is an Australian Cattle Dog. ACDs have Dingo DNA.

I have the nasty blood and vomit soaked towels and sofa throws and rugs in the washer and the smelly clothes in the dryer...except for the nasty ones I am still wearing. I am going to take a shower as soon as I finish this post. Danny just finished the rest of the RV cleanups. Some friggin' week end this turned out to be. Should have taken our chances with the swine germs.

We probed through all the hair and cleaned out Chili's wound. It looks like a gaping mouth and may need stitches. She's on antibiotics. I am not going to spend the next six hours at the Emergency Vet as I have done in the past. Not tonight anyway.

Oh by the way, Chili's allergic skin is much much better. I was right about that anyway. Next week end when we go to Atlanta, I guess she will go back at the vet's boarding facility again. Now, I'm even leery of doggie day care. Can't take a chance of her getting possessive of a toy or anything else. Anybody have Ceasar Milan's number? Help me, O Obi-Wan Milan. You are my only hope.

PS: I took some great pictures of the dogs on the beach but can't post them since my camera drowned.