Camping is the Cure

You might have noticed I’ve been absent from the blog for over a month. I was hoping Storm would fill in more than just the one week in early May, but he claims he’s been too busy helping Rosa with her weight-loss program, Gidget with her frisky-old-mare program, and Nevada with his food-sharing program. It does sound busy, although I’m not sure what all these programs are. I’ll let him fill you in next time I can get him to write.

I tried Hank too, since he hasn’t written anything since last year, but he claims he’s far too occupied with his new barn-mate, Mariah. I’ve met her. She’s cute. So I can understand him being distracted. Although from what I heard, the distraction wasn’t due to love at first sight. But again, I’ll let him tell that story.

Deep sand is hard going in my condition, so I did the smart thing.

One reader was concerned that something had happened to me. Well, it did. I got old. And, for me, old age isn’t just a slowing down, but a breaking down it seems.

Although coming home wasn’t without some challenges (read The Hazards of Home), I was on a GI-tract positive roll since mid-January which meant I was more energetic, stronger, and had put some weight on after my months of poor digestion. And then T’s attempt at a food addition went awry, which was followed by some poor scavenging decisions on my part, and multiplied by a previous food addition turning on me, which was heaped on by the pet food company changing at least one batch of the duck & potato (D&P) formula I was eating. Come on! Give a guy a break!

Getting a break of a different kind our first night in camp. That tall grass just kept tripping me!

And then I got one … a break, that is. Despite my guts being in frequent turmoil, T and Nollind packed up the remaining cans from of an old flat of D&P food and carted me off to Little Fish Lake Provincial Park for a few days of camping.

We’re on our way! Grocery stop in Strathmore.

Now you might think that taking an ailing dog camping wasn’t a great idea, but consider it from a canine perspective…when camping, my people have nothing to do but hang out with me. Right?! Nobody goes to Calgary to teach sailing lessons, nobody goes outside to hang out with horses, nobody sits staring at their computers for hours on end, and when we’re in the trailer, the peeps are never more than seventeen feet away. It’s all me, all the time. Dog-a-palooza! We go for walks, we hang by the fire, we cuddle on the bed, we have meals together. And this particular camping trip was made even better when G & S joined us on day two, making for even more attention.

A chilly first evening in camp…but together.

The combination of old-batch D&P and trailer time was just what the doctor ordered. I felt great. On our last night, we did a long walk up the hill above the lake and I didn’t even need a rest. I got a tiny glimpse of how I felt back in March and April when I was passing my chariot on the trail.

Evening walk along the hill. That’s camp way in the background.

With my good-old-reliable food now not so reliable, and increasingly hard to find, T is cooking for me. Which is great, except that my system had an initial reaction to the increased fat and protein in the diet. She’s adjusted the quantities of things and we’re hoping for an improvement. I sure love the taste, have been licking my bowl clean enough to put back in the cupboard, so I’m hoping we can land on a recipe that works. Oh, how I miss my iron-stomach days.

We also tracked down eleven cans of a different batch of D&P. It looks the same as the old stuff, so toes crossed.

Can’t wait to get me some more of this camping cure.

I hear we’re headed camping again in just over a week. I am looking forward to that. In the meantime, I’ll just have to share my people with the boats and horses and computers.

Final Days on the Road

Another RV snowbird trip, my sixth, has come to an end. And it finished on a definite high note.

When last I wrote, we’d just moved from the dispersed camping area near Valley of Fire north of Las Vegas, and that spot made fourteen and a half straight weeks of boondocking. The reason this is significant is that boondocking means water rationing, rocky campsites, monitoring battery levels, finding places to drop off garbage, and other such off-grid camping necessities. Don’t get me wrong, we all love being “out there” but the humans do miss the luxuries of home after a time, like non-military-style showers, and we usually break up the winter with short stints in RV parks or campgrounds.

Looking down into the gorge from up top. Nope. I didn’t hike those stairs.

Nevada state parks are all first come, first served, and when we reached Cathedral Gorge State Park at around eleven in the morning, the sites were all full, other than two tiny, van-sized spots we had no hope of getting into. After our second time around the loop, just to make sure, we crossed paths with the ranger coming in to do his rounds. A lucky break, as it turned out. He directed us to a large pull-through site that was one of two sites set up for disabled campers. Paved, level, garbage disposal right in camp, and showers just steps away (on a paved path) from the trailer. The peeps were pretty excited, especially when the ranger told us we could stay in the site as long as we wanted. And we did. A full week! (That’s our camp in the banner image.)

Happy campers.

I didn’t try the showers, but apparently they were well worth the one- or two-quarter cost. And the scenery and hiking were worth the nightly fee. I tend to be more of a scents than views guy, but Cathedral Gorge is a spectacular little corner of Nevada. And in addition to its cathedral-like spires and slot canyons, there are three very cool communities nearby and three more state parks, all of which we explored during our week in the area.

I’d noticed T was sometimes homesick after we left Lake Havasu, but that disappeared when we got to Cathedral Gorge. It breathed a whole new life into her and we were constantly out walking around the campground or exploring the caves and canyons. At least we were until … the WINDSTORM.

Happy travellers.

It was a windy winter in general, with at least one wind advisory in every place we stayed, and many other windy days that didn’t quite reach advisory strength. But the wind at Cathedral Gorge was on a whole new level, especially in the blowing dust category. Holy sandstorm! The canyon looks like it does because of all the sandstone cliffs, which means there’s a lot of loose sand everywhere, and it was everywhere, a bunch of it inside the trailer after two days.

See all that sand just waiting to be relocated?

But we endured and got in one more hike around Juniper Draw on our last day. Between the hill climbing at Valley of Fire dispersed and the many walks at Cathedral Gorge, I was feeling pretty fit by the end of the trip, so much so that I passed Nollind and my chariot at one point on the trail. If it hadn’t been sunny and warm, I probably wouldn’t have needed a ride at all and it’s a 5+ kilometre loop!

On your left!

We spent two nights in Cedar City getting Sid ready to store for the summer, and the temperatures at 5,800 feet were a bit of a shock to all of us. My ramp became a slide after some overnight rain! Last Fur-iday morning, we dropped Sid at a storage place north of Cedar City and were on our way, homeward bound. It was a good thing I’d gotten used to riding in the front seat because there was no room in the backseat for me. We were filled to the roof with everything that needed to travel home with us.

One final night around the fire at Cathedral Gorge SP.

After two days of driving and one night in a motel in Idaho Falls, we were across the Canada/US border and home. I didn’t leap out and zoom around as I’ve done on other arrivals home, but I was pretty excited in my old-dog way. There is truly no place like home, especially when you’ve spent some time wondering if you’re ever going to see it again, like I did when I was so ill back in December/January.

Hitting the road.

I am confused about one thing, though. How did our floors get so slippery while I was gone? Did someone polish them? But, more about that next time.

Havasu and Funny Horses

It’s been a full couple of weeks for this travelling trio. A failed revisit of a favourite dispersed camping area resulted in an unplanned trip to Topock, Arizona for a bluegrass jam camp which was very cool. T and Nollind got to play music with some folks from California and I met a pile of nice people and a few new dogs, one of them named Banjo. You can probably guess which instrument his dad played.

The dispersed camping area seemed okay at first.

Our stay at the jam camp was cut short by a day when Nollind got called to work early for the Bluegrass on the Beach festival where he volunteers. They needed help putting down the lines and markers that tell people where to park. And boy, by Thursday of last week, it was a good thing there the spaces were marked because the campers just kept rolling in until the parking lot was completely full. Getting there early gave us choice of spots, so we picked one right along the canal leading into Lake Havasu, the same place we stayed in 2018 when we were there.

Lake Havasu camp spot.

Nollind likes to say “you can’t go back” and boy is that true. It happened first at Craggy Wash, the dispersed camping area I mentioned earlier. It was such a great place, but it’s been ruined by uncaring campers leaving their garbage behind and not picking up after their dogs. We had another “can’t go back” experience at Lake Havasu. In the four years since we’ve been there, it seems everyone that didn’t have a boat at Havasu bought one, and the big power boats that are popular now are so loud they startle even this deaf dog! On the days when it got up to 30 degrees Celsius and the wind was calm, it was like a constant parade of boats coming and going from the marina via the canal. I think there’ll be a different camp spot next year.

Fresh lake water.

The festival for me was all about three things. In order of priority: find food discarded or dropped by humans, sniff every spot another dog has peed, meet as many humans as possible. Unfortunately, my first order of business resulted in an upset system that meant T and Nollind had to tag team between me and the music on the first day of the festival. Oops. I didn’t think those under-the-table snacks would have such an impact. My second order of business meant we didn’t walk very far or very fast, but it was hot so who wanted to anyway? And my third order of business made me very popular and a much-loved, familiar fur-face around the event. I do love to make new friends.

A cool place to nap is moving up the list of priorities as I get older.

The festival ended on Sunday and by Monday morning we had the place nearly to ourselves again. It went from a bustling city to a ghost town in hours. And with the high probability of food scraps lying around, I was kept on a pretty short leash. Drat.

Absorbed in all that bluegrass listening and playing, T and Nollind forgot to discuss where to next, because when we rolled out of Lake Havasu State Park around noon, they didn’t know where we were going. Since it was a very windy day for hauling a trailer, they considered nearby Craggy Wash for a few days, but abandoned that idea when we drove up that way and found it not only dirty but terribly crowded.

A windy day at Lake Havasu.

But sometimes the best plan is no plan at all, because we wound up down the road near Parker at this very cool little campground on the river, one we’ve not visited before. When I hopped out of the truck (okay, I was lifted) and sniffed around our site, I was surprised to find piles of horse manure. What the…? Horses in a campground? The next day, the manufacturers of the piles showed up, and they were the funniest-looking, long-eared horses you’ve ever seen!

Relaxing by the Colorado River on our first evening.

Seriously, I know they weren’t horses but rather donkeys, or burros as they call them around here, the Spanish word for donkey. They run wild in the area, lots of them, but contrary to most wild animals, are not at all afraid of people. They wander right through the campground to get to the river for water, check out people’s sites, and they even scored a bag of dog food in one man’s campsite the other night. Talk about a feeding frenzy! As much as kibble scattered on the ground is a great temptation for a guy like me, I didn’t go near the place. I saw them biting and kicking at each other as they competed for the food and I wanted none of that!

Keeping an eye on the visitors.

Today we’re on the road again, headed to another new destination, a BLM dispersed camping area that we hear has Joshua trees. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of those ever-so-interesting Dr. Seuss trees. I’ll post pics next time. Until then, may you eat your favourite foods, smell wonderful smells, and make many new friends. In other words … live the dream.