Lively Clouds

I made it a week out on my own!  And only one call back to Phoenix USA with a question about the emergency brake (which I won’t even tell you what it was because it was so basic that you’d fall over flat imagining someone as green as me out here with this beautiful RV).  I’m exceptionally proud tonight because I screwed something up with the water pump when filling my fresh water tank this morning, and I was able to figure out the remedy along with the help of good-fellow-Google.  What did we ever do before Google?

I am finding that I have to concentrate very hard to do all the steps of even the simplest things correctly.  Like when I arrive at a campground with electrical hookups, I need to plug-in first and make sure my surge protector approves of the power source.  At one perfectly lovely campground in Illinois, I had to try four posts before I found one that satisfied my surge guard monitor.  Boy was I sweaty when I finally found a good one, and it didn’t help that at the first one I had already started unpacking and setting things up before realizing the power source was no good and had to move.  Again and again and again.

I am excruciatingly careful with the propane, from the stove to the tank itself (faithfully turning it off when I fuel up), and mentally following all these steps that are so foreign to me.  I am becoming attuned to the finer points of balancing how quickly my gray and black tanks fill up and how fast my fresh water gets used.  I am becoming a gourmet cook (at least my hungry tummy thinks so) using the simplest and most basic ingredients.  I am listening to my body’s timetable for important events (sleep, wake, potty breaks) rather than dictating to my body.

I have discovered that sweat is not a dirty word.  Nor is wearing a shirt for more than a day or pants until they cross the line on their own two legs.  I have found that I can dry myself off after a shower with a simple washcloth, and that big pink towel I brought (and forgot to bring to the campground shower facility) was superfluous.  (So much for any friends/family who read this inviting me to stay with them for a spell!)

Most wonderfully, I have been introduced to the most lively clouds I have ever seen.  For two days now, while driving through Arkansas, I have enjoyed a magnificent display of white on blue as far as the eye can see.  Ever-changing shapes bring back memories of children’s games of I-Spy in the clouds…  Turtle-gator!  Pikachu!  Armadillo!  Tasmanian-devil-twirling-with-Caspar-the-friendly-ghost!

As for Dawny, she is looking happier each day.  She is starting to relax and sleep when we are on a long-drive day.  Her campground leash allows her movement within our campsite without being tethered to me.  We have had campsites where she can sit and just stare into the forest, study the little creek that runs behind our site, and dream of who-knows-what.

Perhaps she is concentrating on her own steps that are so new to her, like not barking at or chasing any animal, stopping and quietly appreciating the deer we often see on our morning walks, walking at a reasonable pace so that we make it back, and stopping to ponder those shifting shapes up in the sky…   Doggie cookies!  Chipmunk-Squirrel running up a tree!  More doggie cookies!  Buster flying through the air after a tennis ball!

Who would ever have guessed the sky was that big?

(Above photo taken at Ferne Clyffe State Park in Southern Illinois.)

Dawny’s Journal

Dictated Monday 7/7:

Arghhh… 16 hours!  16 hours, you hear that?  Mom thinks I can’t count but I sure enough can, and I let her know FAITHFULLY (like a good dog) every two hours that it was time to stretch our legs and pee on a few rocks and bushes.  Anyhow, we are finally here.  Wherever “here” is.

More importantly, the few things we have left–admittedly, the most important things, like food and cookies and toys (only 8 tennis balls–I must have left 20 good ones back in our big-house yard) are now loaded into this HUGE doggie-mover that Mom says is our new house.  I think I must have peed on, like, six wheels!

It seems to have everything we had in our big-yard house that we left.  A kitchen (yay! pans to lick!), a bed (wish it was mine), a Mom bathroom (I still don’t get that whole process–what is wrong with the grass?).  It even has an outside shower for my baths.  Sheesh, thanks Mom.

I sure hope Mom settles down now.  I swear I thought she had gone stark raving mad there for awhile–getting rid of, well, our whole house.  Bopping around in our little doggie-mover and living in what she called our hotel-house for 9 days (I kept count).  I gotta admit, though, we had some great walks, walks like we haven’t had together in years.  Poor thing had a case of fear-based depression or something.  She says I used to have a case of fear-based aggression.  I guess that’s one reason we understand each other so well.

Ah well, that seems to have blown over as the world has flown by our windows for–did I tell you?–16 hours!  Sheesh, she’s calling me Road Doggie now since I’m so awesome at this.

Dictated Saturday 7/12:

Well, I’ll be darned.  Mom took the annoying little bell off of the kitchen blinds.  I suppose the little ringing sound it made as we rolled down the road wasn’t worth it to her.  She seemed sorta wistful for something called gypsy caravans at the time.  I understand way more than she thinks, but some things will never make sense.

All I know right now (and right now is all that counts) is that I would love to burn this harness.   But I guess Mom’s right that it is good for all these walks.  I sure wish she could walk faster, though.  Hmmm, I DO have twice as many legs as her, so I should give her a break.  She always teases me about my “lack of opposable thumbs,” as she puts it.  I say, who needs ’em?  Just give me enough time and I KNOW I can open that doorknob with my mouth!  Ah well, it all seems to even out and we make a good team out of it.

I saw a new critter today.  Mom called it a chipmunk.  She made me stay back and just look at it until it ran off into the woods.  What a waste of a perfect bite-sized varmint!  Then we saw some deer.  I’ve seen those before at my big-house yard, where I could bark at them to my heart’s content.  Mom seems to think it’s important we stay quieter now as we move to different places and see different things and critters.  Something to do with respect and sharing territory.  Whatever.  I am not one to argue.  Honest.

The hardest part is not barking at other doggies, though, especially when they bark at me!  Mom!  Have you no sense at all?  No mercy?  Ugh!  Arghhhh!  Grrrrr….. AROOOFF!!!!  Ahhh, that feels better now.

Wish me luck on that, OK?  And if you talk to my Mom, tell her she can take this leash off me and I’ll be good.  I promise I promise I promise!  Bye now!  We’re heading out for our fourth walk of the day!  AROOOFF!!!!

Oh Lord… What Have I Done?

 

First full day is today, but yesterday was technically the first day.  I cheated!  I had every intention of writing a blog post on our very first day with our mobile house but instead I was curled up in fetal position, crying “Oh Lord, what have I done?”

So, we’ll just call today the first day instead, since it is much prettier.  I suppose in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, however, I should report on our yesterday.

Well, Dawny and I left a dear friend’s house on Sunday morning.  Our visit was a lovely transition from nine days of hotel living after the house closed, nine days of burgers and fries, nine days of nervous anticipation.  We eagerly set out, full of adrenaline and coffee and drove straight through, arriving in Elkhart, Indiana at midnight.

I was so bleary eyed by then that I chose to check into a hotel that I thought was a Day’s Inn.  Turned out it just had the word Day in it.  It should have been called Nightmare’s Inn.. on Elm Street… where The Exorcist welcomes The Shining Freddy Krueger!  I won’t belabor the nasty details but we fled after 30 minutes and ended up in the parking lot of Phoenix USA, our mobile house’s manufacturer, dog-and-cat napping fitfully until the sun rose, at which time we wandered around town killing a few more hours until our appointment for the walkthrough and purchase.

By this time, I looked like Bozo the Clown’s graying, gender-confused sibling–a result of a haircut stuck at that perpetually awkward stage of growth, humidity, and nasty sweat.  I must say, the people at Phoenix USA were amazingly patient and kind as they efficiently completed the transaction.  They artfully managed to get back on topic whenever I strayed off into babbling tangents like a delirious dog tracking a bouncing bunny.

Now the hard part.  As if 3 hours of sleep in 30 and a looming monster case of dehydration weren’t enough.  It was time to unload.  Transfer.  Toss the result of months of downsizing from a 1600 square foot house into the 200 square feet (including the engine, which is hardly fair, but so be it) that comprised our beautiful new RV.  (Oh, did I forget to tell you?  It is beautiful!)

Working furiously so that I could complete the task before collapsing, I managed to get all the tote bags, plastic bags, boxes, and multitudes of assorted plastic containers loaded in.  All over the floor, the bed, the dinette.  Some still outside.  There was barely room to crawl into bed, stomach nauseous, head throbbing, crying out loud, “Oh Lord, what have I done?”

Sick, alone, far from family and friends, when my pounding skull would allow, I peeked at all my… stuff… knowing that I just had to make myself unpack.  As I rested and gradually rehydrated, I slowly started in, mostly just tossing things into approximately logical places, and cursing at myself:  “What was I thinking packing all of these breakables??  Insane!  Oh Lord, what have I done?”

But I kept moving, a step a box a drawer, a bag a shelf a prayer at a time.  Eventually had enough put away that I rewarded myself and Dawny with a Subway sandwich–in an earnest attempt to wean ourselves from those intestine-clogging burgers–took a shower, and collapsed into bed.

Which brings us to today.  A pretty day.  A healthy day.  A day framed in rational, rested perspective.  And a day of humble gratitude.

By day’s end, I have everything in its place and not only does it all fit, there is room to spare.  Those breakables that I resented yesterday are today sitting in places where they warm my heart with their sentiments and memories.  It feels like home.  It is home.

I practiced driving a lot today and got the stamp of approval from Phoenix’s owner, who was brave enough to ride shotgun and give me tips and confidence.  I’ll probably head out in a day or two, ready to continue the journey in earnest.

Meanwhile, now that the dream has met reality, I am thankful that it has come out of the experience stronger, polished, and with an important footnote attached that reminds me that dreams are best when they come alive… really alive… the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly parts all tossed together… like a gigantic veggie salad… with NO burgers and NO fries!

P.S. Dawny has been bugging me to let her get a word in edgewise soon.  Next post will be hers.