Friday, September 12, 2014

All kinds of Critters

Can't really call this section "RV LIFE" anymore. Who know when we'll take our RV on a road trip again. By the end of September, we'll have FIVE dogs! I TOLD you that would happen! Shouldn't be any surprise to Great Escape blog followers.
But, I'd still like to keep some kind of section about RV'ing.
It is a very melancholy feeling to unsubscribe from some RV newsletters or delete the emails without bothering to look at them. There was a time when I sucked in all the info I could. Fulltime RV'ing was a constant learning process and modifying the RV to make it more livable and comfortable. I was also trying to learn about odd places to visit or great farm markets or restaurants. All that is unimportant now because the chances of actually going there are low. Here are some of the items I used to subscribe to.
Camping World This is the go to store for newbies. After a while, you can find RV supplies from other resources, but Camping World has sales, a wide selection, etc.
Good Sam Good Sam club is now linked with Camping World. As a Good Sam Member, I believe you get discounts at Camping World, 10% discounts at participating RV parks, Emergency Road Service available, which we had. Used it once and was satisfied with the service.
RV plus card To get an RV Plus credit card, you need to be a Good Sam member. This is a GREAT credit card. It is a gas/diesel credit card only for Flying J and Pilot. You not only get a discount for using the card, but by using the card, you also get the cash price at the pump. Our latest bill was ZERO. While fulltiming, our diesel charges were as much as our current mortgage payment!
Escapees  Escapees is great for full timer's. I'm not sure of the benefit for recreational RV'rs. 15% discount at participating RV parks. Only about $15. per night at Escapees/Rainbow RV parks. We also used their wonderful mail service as our address and mail forwarding.
KOA  I won't bother with the link. This is an ok membership. You get a discount at KOA's, but KOA's have become super expensive, so we usually avoided them.
RVillage I was thrilled when this site opened on the web this past year. My main interest was to find out where fellow RV'rs were. You can list where you are currently staying and others in the park can see that and message you via RVillage. Unfortunately, since it was only in the beginning stages, I did not have much use of it. I'm sure as it grows, it will be a wonderful resource, to find fellow RV'ers with similar interests, park reviews, etc.
GoPetFriendly Traveling with two permanent dogs and a couple of times picking up a stray dog, Go Pet Friendly is an informative site letting you know where dog parks are, what sight seeing places allow dogs, whether a place is safe or fun for dogs, etc.
RV Life Magazine You may have seen this large sized magazine free at many RV parks. It's an interesting read with info on places to see.
Roadtreking RV Newsletter I've really enjoyed Mike's newsletter. He is a journalist and does quite a bit of long term RV'ing in his Roadtrek with his wife and dog. Even though they RV differently in a small glorified van, he does visit interesting places and also has news items about RV interests, whether it be crime, RV accidents, safety, etc. A very informative newsletter that I used to enjoy.
Scott is still "enjoying" mowing the lawn. He just pops his headphones on and saddles up on his John Deere riding mower. Two hours later, he's done. Oh how he used to complain about mowing our 80' x 40' lawn with a self propelled push mower. It took all of 1/2 hour! That used to drive me crazy! He'd come in after mowing and blow out his breath,like he was so tired from a long day's work. I guess it was all about pushing/walking as to riding that makes the difference.

We are finding all kinds of critters around here. Deer sometimes in the front yard, although the dogs have pretty much frightened them away. Sigh.

Lots of big black crows picking dinner from the front lawn. There seems to always be about a dozen and only come around about 5-6pm & sometimes in the morning.

My first encounter with the Blue tailed skink or five-lined skink was while working camping at Four Paws Kingdom RV Park in Rutherfordton, NC. I thought these little guys were beautiful! Well, we have them scurrying around our deck, cement walkway, and garage. They don't seem to cause any trouble, so I enjoy the flashes of bright blue as I walk around.

We also have some kind of dragon fly that flit around while we are on our walkway. I thought they needed to be near the water. Again, these guys don't seem to cause any trouble and they are beautiful with their large multicolored wings.

Scott has put up 3 hummingbird feeders and all are being used. I sit on the couch and look out our window and the hummingbird feeder and thistle feeder are within view.

Currently there is a praying mantis keeping the hummingbirds away from the feeder.
Are these Goldfinches?
As I was performing my nightly routine in the bathroom, I noticed something out of sorts in the bathtub. I look, I look again, and "Sccccotttttt?"

What the...? How the...? Where the...? Very cool, but how DID it get in the house? There must be a gap somewhere!

Poor thing was so scared when Scott was trying to capture it, he pooped all over the tub! Damn! We don't even use this tub. Now I have to clean it!

Now for the more creepy crawlies. Of course there are ticks around. As I'm clearing the backwoods, I do bring home a couple. So far they've been the larger dog ticks...still yucky, but easier to find. Luckily, they prefer the overgrown areas outside our fence, so the dogs have not had a problem with ticks.

As we do our "poop patrol" in the yard, we've come across...YUCK! EW! I'll never walk barefoot again!!!! Yes, you could say that about the piles of poop we clean up, but that can be washed off. But oh no...
These guys are beautiful in their own way, but still kind of creepy since they are so large, about 3" long!

Eeeeek! Now that is creeeeeepy! We have no idea what kind of spider. He was only about 1/2' long, but still, I wouldn't want to step on him!
Different strokes for different folks...or dogs. Devin loves all the critters around.

This is a good place to start if you are looking for like minded people to get together with. I found a Social meet up in Jackson, which is the closest larger city in the area. I was hoping to meet local people who would be a wealth of info about the area. Unfortunately, in this case, the group is much younger than me and are looking for people to socialize/date with. I went bowling with one 20 something girl. Very sweet girl, but she was only here for the summer, so no local info from her. Last night I went to dinner with 5 other people. The oldest being 33 years old. All single.
In NJ, where it is more populated, you find meetups for all kinds of things, from specific crafts, to dog breeds, to wine makers, etc.
I'm glad I signed up, but it hasn't been very helpful. At least it got me to try a new restaurant.
Sakura Japanese - Jackson, TN
I can't rate since I don't like sushi. But according to Yelp, their sushi is very good.
I went here with a group from Meetup. I was the "old lady" of the group, but we all got along fine and enjoyed trying new items.
SAKE to you!

Sunset roll

Sakura is well know for the excellent sushi. I will say the presentation is impressive. But you will have to rely on other's reviews, since all I had was the scallop fried rice. Very good fried rice, but nothing that I would make a special trip to order again. Very stingy on the scallops. Basically one or maybe 2 scallops sliced on top of the rice.

She Went to War: The Rhonda Cornum StoryShe Went to War: The Rhonda Cornum Story by Rhonda Cornum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not an action packed book. Nor is it a book about being tortured as a POW. It is simply a dedicated army doctor that loves her job and her country. We read about how she went from private research to join the army and follower her career through different areas of army life. Ms. Cornum does not want special treatment being a woman in the army. She takes pride in her work in what ever area she is assigned and will fulfill her responsibility.
She was highly respected among both male and female fellow military.
It was very interesting to read of her strong mind set and how she compartmentalizes to deal with what is at hand and not waste time worrying over what she cannot change.
To read of the bonds formed by having the common thread of their freedom taken away and how it was dealt with.
Interesting read.
On a personal note: I found out about this book because Ms. Cornum is a breeder of Gordon Setters, of which I am getting one of hers.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander, #8)Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

How sad that I've grown to dislike this series. Books #1-5 were probably in my top 10 list of best books I've read. I was obsessed with the series. All 5 star ratings. By book #6, still a great book, but rating dropped to 4 stars. Books #7 & 8...only 1 star. This last book, I couldn't even finish. I returned it to audible for a credit.
Maybe it's my simple mind. I just could not keep up with the concurrent past and present time lines. Then to add to that, the family has grown, so we have the original character Claire and Jamie, but complicated by a 2nd husband. Claire's daughter Brianna is grown with her own hubby and children. Brianna is in the present, but her husband is in the past. Claire is in the past, but her 1st husband is dead, or is he? I couldn't keep all the characters straight and the past and present going on at the same time. Yep, I must be simple minded. I'm sure others would thoroughly enjoy this. Good exercise for the brain!
September is a month of much knitting. I've joined FOUR knit a longs, three of which are mysteries. And out of the four projects, I only bought yarn for one. The other 3 I'm using from my stash.
Updates to follow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Eight feet


For your viewing pleasure...
I'm still trying to get used to country life. We are having a difficult time finding someone to put up 6' fencing. Luckily our present 4 dogs don't challenge our 4' fence.
There is a definite divide between West Tennessee and East Tennessee. I was at the local veterinary office and oh my, my, the vet tech was such a pleasure to watch. In NJ, most vet techs I've come across are women. But here in Huntingdon the vet tech I had was a 20 something country boy. Call me a dirty old lady, but I was definitely enjoying his rear view while he was working on the computer. Tsk, tsk. You know that country cowboys like to wear their jeans a little snug and "my" vet tech was no exception. Like men say, "I may be old, but I'm not dead!" If he caught me looking, I could always just say...

Think he'd believe me? Did you know, Pinterest actually has a board called "Cowboy Butts"? You know I'm following that one!
Well, this country boy vet tech asked me a question and I just looked at him blankly. No, not because I was thinking of his butt! Just simply because I had no clue what he said. Excuse me? He says it's again. Still nothing registered. My brain is trying to very hard to unscramble his words. It's not working.

I finally had to confess to him that this Yankee doesn't understand his heavy southern accent. Woo hoo! That made him smile. The vet starts laughing and says "he's not from around here". He's from the other side of The River. Hmm, the Mississippi? Nope. I'm still not sure what river he was talking about, but vet tech was from Eastern TN, which supposedly is a whole other culture and accent.
Did you catch what I said about our dogs and fencing? Our FOUR dogs? Yep, we have grown by 8 feet, at least temporarily. We are fostering a sweet pair of 8 year old English Setters. They had been in another foster home for quite a while. They are wonderful dogs and I have no idea why they haven't been adopted! Lou & Ella arrived 10 days ago and settled right in like they've always been here. They are house trained, very loving and well behaved. Feisty Ella likes to claim her own space on the couch or bed, but she's all talk/growl and no action. We make sure to let her know that is not ladylike behavior. These are the first fosters that Scott has invited into our bed.
Steven Huneck

Ella always like to have body contact, while Lou wants to be near also. They are fine with a 4' fence, but are happy to stay inside all day as long as they are with their people. No food aggression, although they would love to finish off our other dog's food before they've had a chance to finish.
They are spayed and neutered, fully vetted, HW negative.
They are very easy care dogs and seem to adjust to a new home easily. Any of my blogger friends interested in adopting this pair or even one? Since they've always lived with other dogs, I think if you don't adopt both then you should already have another dog in the home for company. If at all interested, email me or go to Above & Beyond English Setter Rescue website to fill out an application.
Ella under Scott's knee, Lou in foreground
Lou (left), Ella (right)
 I'm really enjoying having a larger amount of dogs in the house again. Our own dogs are a little standoffish, so it's nice to have dogs that want to cuddle.
I'm very happy to be living in a house again. I do regret not waiting until the fall to purchase. Just a short two months and we could have seen the Upper Peninsula. But we got all caught up in househunting. I was feeling very lazy, we didn't want to move as often, we lost interest in sightseeing. I think if we hadn't had such a miserable Winter between the cold in New Mexico and being stranded for 3 weeks in Fort Stockton, TX, then we may have traveled as we had planned and Wintered in FL. That may have extended our full time RV'ing for a while. But, if the truck's engine didn't blow, we would have arrived in TN 3 weeks earlier and gotten the house we were originally looking at. What's the point of "if's". Let's talk "NOW".

We still have a fairly empty house, although as you can see in the photo above, we did buy a sectional couch. This was mail order from Home Reserve. We could configure it any way we like.
Our layout
Notice our furniture before, a couple of lawn chairs and the easy chair from the RV.
We can also add to it if we want to go larger/longer. What sold us on this particular brand is that the cushion covers are all washable. They zip off, throw in washer, zip back on. This also means, that I can make my own covers if the dogs really wear and dirty them, or purchase more covers separately.  The seat cushion sections lift up for storage. That's a great place to throw clutter when we get unexpected guests, or a place for my yarn stash!

The couch came in multiple boxes and we had to put it together. We spent about 4 hours completely setting it up. Home Reserve does an excellent job of packing, shipping, quality control, instructions, etc. With each section, there is an instruction booklet, a pair of work gloves and a foam sandpaper block. I would highly recommend this company.

I called the 4 hour assembly, "quality time" with my husband. A couple of differences of opinions, but overall a memory made.
I like knowing what's behind the fabric and how it is built.
The dogs certainly are enjoying all the off the hardwood floor area. There's enough room for EVERYONE on the couch!

Lost River Campground - N. Woodstock, NH
Our rating for tent camping, 5 out of 5
We can't rate RV sites since we were not RV'rs at the time of visit.
RV's up to 32 feet.
Some full hook up sites.
Very wooded.
A lot of things to do in the area.

I was speaking of  the artist Stephen Huneck earlier. He is only with us in spirit now. About 10 years ago, when we were still tent camping, we stayed at Lost River Campground in NH. It is not big rig friendly, but if you have a smaller RV, this is a lovely, very wooded campground. Many sites are along the flowing brook. We loved camping here, but it was an 8 hour drive from NJ, so our vacation days were wasted in travel time.

Lyla was about 6 months old. Her first camping trip.

Ryley & Lyla
 There was a beautiful pine forest area right next to our site. We would let our Flat Coated Retriever, and our Irish Setter Ryley, have a blast running through there in the morning.
All the comforts of home?
Dog Mountain - Saint Johnsbury, VT
Our rating 5 out of 5
Stephen Huneck's "Dog Mountain" was about 45 minutes away in Vermont. If you are a dog lover, this is a great place to visit. Mr. Huneck was in an accident that left him seriously ill with a long recovery time. His black lab at the time was his savior and gave him the will to survive. He turned his 150 acres into Dog Mountain and built a dog chapel, an art gallery, a gazebo and hiking paths.

Memory wall where you write your pet's name you've lost and sentiment

When we went, it was free (donations accepted). I did not know if it still existed since the artist's death but looking at the sight, they still have activities up there.
There are no leash laws on Dog Mountain. Owners are encouraged to let their dogs run free and enjoy the land and water.

The art gallery can be pricey, but it is fun to look at all the whimsical doggie items. Check out the bathroom. The faucet is a dog's mouth if I remember.
I ended up buying a t-shirt for $15. and framing it instead of buying a print for $35.00.

Chance, our Flat Coated Retriever loved the water! Best dog I ever had!

Chance was in doggie heaven on earth!
Lyla's first swim. She was not happy.
I'm sure there are places to RV, but that was before "our time". New England is a lovely area to explore, vacation, relax.

So it seems, I can still find things to blog about...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Country Life

RV PARK Revisited

Yes, I've come to realize that even though Walmart is only about 12 miles away, we are still in the country.

We can't get high speed cable internet or phone. Luckily, there is at least DSL and cell service.

There is no recycling garbage...sigh...I drove 30 miles to the county recycling center to check it out. Since there was no recycling pick up, I figured, I go once a month and deposit them at the county center. Maybe I'd even ask the neighbors if they could recycle just one type of item and I'd take with me. But, alas, I was very disappointed. I arrived way out in the back country, to see large garbage containers with no labeling on them, so no way of knowing what should be deposited where. A sign by the building stated to not drop off anything before seeing an attendant. Hmm, where's the attendant? In Neptune, NJ, if you drive up to the recycling center, an attendant comes out immediately, all full of himself, asking what we were dropping off and proof of residence. Not here in Carroll County, TN.

No grouchy attendant giving me the 5th degree. I REALLY want to recycle my garbage. What a waste of resources and space to throw plastic, paper, glass, aluminium in with the regular garbage. So, I go inside the building. I see a lot of shredded paper, a large factory fan blowing and making a lot of noise, but no humans. I peek in the big work one. I go into the one! Am I in a horror film? Have they all turned to Zombies and are going to attack me? I was actually a little nervous. Out here in the middle of no where. No witnesses. Help!!!!
No one came out to attack me, nor did anyone come out to help me. So much for the recycling center. I may have to write to "someone" in the County and ask what's up with this?

Some bills have no option for on line payment or even credit card payment. I actually have to write a check & mail or drop off the payment!! But the bills are fewer than NJ living. No water bill, no sewer bill, no gas bill.

Local folk don't understand fences, except to keep cattle, horses, goats in, but not dogs. Dogs come by to greet the neighbors.

For any "big box" stores other than Walmart, we have to drive 27 miles.

The only grocery store is Walmart, unless we drive 27 miles to Jackson.
NJ Turnpike

It's quiet

We can't see our neighbors.

There is no dog licensing required.

The major highways are not crowded
No toll booths.

Population of Cedar Grove is only approximately 2400. That is a population density of only about 26 people per square mile. Compare that to our old location, Shark River Hills, NJ had a population density of  4200 people per square mile.
42 HUNDRED!!!!

Ooh, ooh, just saw a deer trot across the front lawn! Ahh, the country life.
I'll accept the negatives of country living because the positives oh so very much outweigh the negatives!
How to eat a gourmet cupcake. You know the "in" cupcakes, the cupcake stores that was all the fad and now fading. The cupcakes are large and the icing is even larger, higher, than the actual cupcake! I enjoy trying out new cupcake places. Most times I am disappointed but it's still fun trying all the unique flavors.
But how do you eat those darn cupcakes with all that icing?? They are too big to really take a bite with both cake and icing included in the bite. I usually end up using a fork and knife and eating it like a meal. But the icing top heavy cupcake usually topples over. The mystery is over.

Cut the cake part in half horizontally. Then take the bottom half and put it on top of the icing. Genius! You now have what is basically and piece of layer cake! I have tried this and it works wonderfully.
Speaking of cupcakes, I have tried two "local" (if you can call anything local to itty bitty Cedar Grove) cupcake bakeries.

Woodstock Bakery - Jackson, TN
My rating 3 out of 5
Prices were better than most "gourmet" cupcake shops at $2.25 per cupcake. The cake part was moist, dense and tasted home made. They had the correct, in my opinion, amount of icing. Although icing swirled high on top of the cupcake looks impressive, it can be too high and too much icing to really enjoy the cupcake. You need a more balanced ratio of cake to icing, which Woofstock understands.
Their flavors are unique and named after many Beatles tunes.

L & T CAKERY, INC - Milan, TN
My rating 2 out of 5
First off, be forewarned. You will be heartily laughed at if you mispronounce local town names. The town where this bakery is located is called Milan. Now us "Yankees" would pronounce it mee-LAN, like in France. But no, this town in TN is pronounces MY-lin. I snicker every time I have to say it that way.
Back to the review...
Very expensive. $3.00 per cupcake. $2.50 if you buy 4. But, if you buy the 5th, that is $3.00. I would think they'd continue the discount after 4 purchased.
Cake tasted like a box mix. Very airy. The icing was double the height of the cake. So with an airy cake and a very top heavy icing, this was even difficult to eat using my split the cake method.
And to top if off, not very good icing.
But I'll end with a good note. Their refrigerated Coconut Creme cupcake was excellent.
RV PARK Revisited:
I have reviewed this prior in my June 17, 2014 post. We returned to this park for the first 2 weeks of July, our final days before settling down in a house again. We had a different site this time. Although the first site #34 was nice in that it was an end site, it was in full sun. Our last 2 weeks, we were located on the other side of the park. What a fabulous site #26! Huge, lots of shade, but open enough for clear sky for satellite set up.
View from our front door
View from behind the RV
The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole, #1)The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Could have been a bit better if the responses "unh-hunh" were not repeated over and over and over.
Exciting, action packed,suspense. I'm surprised how much the PI gets away with. Elvis and his side kick Pike are a couple of macho types, with Elvis having a soft side and Pike has a not so much soft side, but if you get to know his character a little, he can be likeable in a scary way.
I look forward to reading more, but hope the conversations have a little more depth. My husband has enjoyed the series a lot.

Fish FarmFish Farm by Walt Sautter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It reminded me of Carl Hiaasen books, but minus the quirky characters, but the characters certainly get themselves into difficult circumstances. How do they deal with the problems? Ahhh, that's the sick charm of this book.
People end up down and out for a number of reasons. These guys all have a different story, but they are all brought together and become friends in this bad area of town. Gangs are harassing and demanding what little money these low income guys have. What to do? What can they do? How long can they take this extortion? If you stand up to the gang, you may just get yourself killed.
There is a hero in a morbid sort of way.
There were many, MANY editing mistakes, misspellings, words left out which interrupted the flow of the book because I had to take a second or two to fill in the missing, sometimes essential word.

Our Travels