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.

Valley of Fire, the Sequel

During our first trip south in 2011/12, we moved to a new location every three to five days, which means we visited a bunch of places. The stops I remember well typically involved something delicious to eat or some other doggy favourite thing. So when T and Nollind mentioned a return trip to a state park with red rocks that we visited on that first trip, well, it could have been any number of places.

Three young men out for a hike.

And then she showed me the photos, and it all came back to me. You see, most of the red-rock places we visited that trip were in Utah’s national parks and therefore the trails were off limits to canines. Sad, right? But in Nevada, just north of Las Vegas, we visited a state park called Valley of Fire where dogs were welcome to hike the trails (on a leash, of course). So we got a bunch of great photos of us dogs on the red rocks.

T was wondering how to get us up onto this ledge for a photo. Uh, no problem, we said.

My plan was to show you side-by-side images of us then and now, sans Logan, but there was only one spot where this was possible, at a roadside stop called “The Beehives” near the entrance to the park.

The other main activity of that day back in 2011 was walking a loop trail called White Domes. What none of us remembered, because it wasn’t important at the time, was how steep the trail is near the start and how deep the sand. This year I walked the first part of the trail until we got to the downhill over lumpy boulders into the canyon. I probably could have made it with some help from my peeps, but then I’d have had to climb up somewhere along the trail and the day was heating up, especially sandwiched as we were between the red cliffs on each side of the trail.

Anybody else finding it a little warm today?

So, we returned to the parking lot and walked the last part of the loop until we reached a tricky rock to climb down right next to a nice shady spot to rest. Shady rest stop it was.

My kind of hike these days.

There is nothing quite like returning to something you once did to make a guy realize just how much older he is and how much less he’s capable of. I’ve actually been doing really well lately. At our last camp, I hiked to the top of a steep little hill for the sunset view every evening and felt quite proud of myself. But that steep little hill would be nothing for the young dog who hiked in the Valley of Fire in 2011.

We’re in the last week of our journey now, camping in another of Nevada’s state parks. The desert is heating up, so my peeps brought me to a higher elevation where it’s cooler. The few days of hot weather back in Lake Havasu had me feeling pretty melty and caused my digestive system to start rebelling again. Since I know they enjoy warm evenings in flip-flops and shorts, I feel bad that it’s too cool up here at night for that kind of attire, but I appreciate how good they are to me.

Always in my corner.

If all goes as planned, barring snowstorms on our route, we should be homeward bound next Fur-iday. I’ll try to check in from the road!