Headed for Boot Camp

Sunny, our elder cat continues his travels:

So we were, at home: our northern home (base) for the summer (and many more to come). We enjoyed being parked at Sunset RV Park at our site that looked straight out onto Lake Ontario. We could lie on the dash and look out at the waves in our salt-less ocean Enjoying the sunsets and feeling safe when the wind blew across at us from Canada.May in NY 2014 009.JPG

One day we had a nice surprise. Tumblweed’s friends, Frances and Arlene, were parking their RV right next to ours. They had driven from Colorado with their little West Highland Terrier to visit relatives in the area. They wanted to see our RV home. We all had a nice visit.

Later in the summer, Tumbleweed decided that we should all go to an Escapade for Escapees (a club for RVers with headquarters in Livingston Texas.) So, we pulled in the slider in September so we could drive our home to Van Wert, Ohio. It’s on the west side of Ohio.

We filled up our holding tank with lots of water. I didn’t understand why because she said we would be dry camping. Later, I understood that that meant that we would not have a hook-up for water like in this park. She also said that she signed us up for the RV Boot Camp. But how could that be? We didn’t have any boots? Again, I soon found out that SHE was doing the boot camp to learn all she could about our RV home so that we could be safe and understand how everything worked.

Boot Camp.jpg

So, we headed to the Van Wert Fairgrounds where we parked with the most RV’s that I had ever seen. We parked with the ones who wanted to be able to use their generators. Tumbleweed didn’t want to take a chance of running just on our batteries. We would be limited to certain hours when we could use the generator and that was when she fed us. The generator running told us to expect food. There were some hot days sot it also meant that the air conditioner could run for a little while. Wearing fur coats can heat you up in the summer!

Other people had cats and dogs too. Tumbleweed learned from one of the men about a litter called “small Spaces”…it smelled better in our RV.

We soon found that we were “just along for the ride”…she was gone a lot and came home each day excited about new things she learned.  She also bought a few new tools and extra fire extinguishers and smoke alarms. She pointed out to us a little green light close to the floor by the sink. It was the alarm built in to let you know if you had a propane leak. I tested it: I sat right up against it and farted! It worked…and Tumbleweed got all excited until she saw that I had done it.

One of the last things we did on the day we were leaving was to get our tires checked (with verification of proper psi) and have our RV weighed on special scales to see if we were balanced with the weight we had stored. She made us divide up where we were sitting to spread our weight. We got really high marks for our distribution of weight.

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We went back to Lake Ontario feeling really smart. Tumbleweed went back concerned about the age of our tires (she had bought the RV second hand) and now had learned that the age of the tires are identified on the tires by the date they were made. It seems that the age is more important than the number of miles.  So she explained this to her friend Kyle at the supply store and had her order new tires and make sure that they were made this year. Her friend also helped her get a spare tire holder that was a converted bike holder made to attach to the rear hook-up for towing. Nice and strong and NOT pulling weight on the back wall.

We spent time planning our path for the coming winter…I, personally, tore up the maps that I felt were useless and therefore had the most say in the trail to follow in November.

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Time to Head North

Sunny, the Elder Cat, Continues his travel story:

It was time for us to head north. Jo was getting anxious to get on with her new life at the senior residence. Tumbleweed was still concerned about the back wall. She had nightmares dreaming about we cats slipping out the back as she drove down the road leaving us scattered along I-95.

Since we spent most of our Florida time near the Gulf of Mexico…and a little too close to alligators for my comfort…we stopped for a couple of nights at a park on an outer bank of Florida where we were surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean except where the causeway reached out from the mainland.Jo Ocean

Jo went out with her big shady hat to sit on the beach and enjoy watching the waves. However, it turned out to be windy and she soon wanted to come back to the RV where she didn’t have to hold on to her hat to keep it from blowing.

Soon we were on the road backtracking on the roads that we used coming south. When we got to Oswego, NY we were really ready to sit still and be able to sleep on the dash which we couldn’t do while driving. (Remember: No cats allowed on the dash while the RV is in motion.)

We delivered Jo to her new residence. She had just moved in after selling the farm when she decided to go to Florida with us. Now she needed time to get used to her place and all the new people that she would be living with.

We were enjoying Lake Ontario and our site at Sunset RV Park. But Tumbleweed wanted to get the back wall repaired so she soon moved all of us cats to Paws and Effect to board there while the RV was being repaired. Peanut and Jelly were going with Tumbleweed and staying in a motel near the Camping World where the repairs were to be done. Lucky dogs!!

We had a good time in our temporary quarters where someone fed us, changed our litter pans and let us out to play in a large room for a while each day. More space than we had in the RV. Termite was the only one who didn’t enjoy this foray.TermiteHe was so shy and all he wanted to do was hide. But this was like being in a fish bowl and sometimes the “keepers” forgot to give him his blanket to hide under. They got him mixed up with Butter who never wanted to hide. He was just a big show-off.

Though we were well treated and well taken care of, we all were glad to get into our crates to be carried back to the RV. No matter how good things are, there is no place like home. Most of us really appreciated that sound: HOME. We had been wanderers or shifted from home to shelter etc. so we really had good feelings of coming home….even if our home was on wheels.

Recall = Repair = Waiting

(Sunny continues his travel stories)

While still in Punta Gorda, we had our first Christmas in our home on wheels. What seems strange is the lack of snow and cold weather. Can this really be Christmas in December? xmas-ga-3…..or do you think it’s July?

Tumbleweed received mail that was not a Christmas greeting. It let us know that there was a recall on our brakes!! We were able to get another month in Punta Gorda waiting for our appointment for the brake work.
When we finally got to the RV shop we found out that the new brakes were on back order. It would be another month. So we drove carefully to the Everglades. I did not like alligator alley. Not only were there alligators near the road but a high fence was in place to keep the panthers away from the road.

We stayed in a nice park but some spots were still being cleaned up from the last hurricane. Once we got settled in our spot, I warned Butter not to try his trick of jumping out the opening in the screen for the handle. It just might be his last jump.

Late one night Truffles and Iggy were in the hallway in hunter mode in front of a lower drawer near the floor. Tumbleweed opened the drawer very carefully thinking that there might be a mouse. However, they found Paco. When Josephine put her shoes in and took out her slippers, he must have climbed in and she closed the drawer. He went from one drawer to another and rearranged everything. PACO

Look at the size of this little Maine-coon mix! I don’t know how he fit!

We were finally able to return up to Ft. Meyers where the RV shop now had the brakes to replace ours.  Now we can head to the east side of Florida and take a look at the Atlantic Ocean.

Parked in Punta Gorda, Florida

Sunny Continues his travel stories:

may2It’s around Dec 4th and I hear Christmas Carols on the radio  but the sun is shining and there isn’t any snow. I can’t believe this! Tumbleweed drove the long way around. Near Tampa, she decided to take the bridge across to St Petersburg. It was a long one (I think I read 7 miles long). We found a Cracker Barrel Restaurant where we stopped (thank goodness) and stayed overnight. Next day I heard her say we’re going to Punta Gorda. “Mary Rose lives in Port Charlotte but we would go on to Punta Gorda on the other side of the Peace River.” So we headed in that direction. And then stopped again for a night in Venice at Snook’s Haven. I heard her say that our reservations were for the next day.

When we were finally parked in Encore Park in Punta Gorda, I saw the strangest tree outside our window. Tumbleweed said it was a Palm Tree. We didn’t have anything that looked that strange in New York and still call it a tree.

We settled in the park in Punta Gorda and prepared to stay for a month so they could have Christmas with Mary Rose. We (meaning us cats) would stay in the RV enlarged by having the sliders out and have a great time running, climbing, playing and sleeping inside. Tumbleweed and Josephine would visit friends in Florida and dray the dogs ut along.may3

Peanut and Jelly got to sit outside in their pen and go for walks in the RV Park.

They soon learned to watch out for fire ants. You remember if you get bit by fire ants!! We didn’t want them to bring any into the RV with them.

Peanut may look small but she is ferocious and caused trouble sometimes barking at large dogs and expecting Jelly to follow her on her “attack mission”. She was lucky when she got away from Tumbleweed one day to run after a big black dog. She turned back when Jelly wasn’t there behind her. She gave him such a hard time when they came back to the RV!

When they were walking, they saw a creek with big birds that they had not seen before. Some were big and blue (I overheard Tumbleweed talking about Great Blue Herons). That’s what they probably saw. But she said there were large white ones too.

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This is what they saw at the back of the Park. Tumbleweed walked with another woman in the park to a nearby reserve which she said was called Alligator Creek Reserve.

I hope the Alligators stay far away. The dogs did not get to go there for their walk!

Strange! We used the air-conditioner in the RV in December! I was glad. My long haired coat is not designed for hot, muggy weather!

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Sunny continues his adventure: After Thanksgiving, we moved out of North Carolina. We stopped for a couple days in Santee South Carolina. Tumbleweed said it was time to do laundry and clean up a bit. Then back on the road to Georgia. Tumbleweed had found out about Jekyll Island where friends had stayed and enjoyed the island. From I-95 we found our way to the causeway that led to the offshore Island. The ocean was all around us. AND the place was less commercialized than the other “Golden Isles” of Georgia.

Scan0002This place protected Sea Turtles. We learned a lot from turtles because they knew how to travel with their homes wherever they went. Now we do too.

We had a great time. This is our back room…the cats’ room. Termite and Truffles are lounging on the bed. That handsome cat on top of the window cover is me. I really enjoy climbing around in the RV. We loved the wonderful sea air now that it was warm enough to have a few windows open. Of course, Peanut and Jelly got to go outside and they told us about the beach where they ran on the sand and chased the little sanderlings (the little birds that ran around near the ocean)

Everything was going fine until Tumbleweed was cleaning our room and found a crack in the back wall. She was going to blame us.  We just all looked dumb as though we didn’t know anything about it. “We did have a fantasy that if the crack opened up, we could all sneak out as she drove down the road. It could have been a high adventure.”

But then she went to check the outside of the back wall. I’ll let her tell you about it:

Tumbleweed speaking: I had bought the RV second hand. It was a great deal. The prior owners had added some good things to the original RV…most of them good adds. However, they had a special piece added on the back to carry their spare tire. The vertical bar attached to the back wall was not braced on the bumper and as we drove from New York to Georgia, the weight of the tire had started to pull the bar loose at the top and then push in at the bottom…thus the crack in the wall. Luckily we had good neighbors, Wayne and Eileen. Wayne had been a truck driver and had the strength and the right tools to remove the tire. (We carried it the rest of our journey in the cats’ room.) We spent an extra day to give the gel that I used to fill and cover the crack. It did work to keep it dry and lasted until the spring when we returned to New York. Below is the RV without the tire on the back.

Scan0001Sunny speaking: We enjoyed using the tire as a new scratching post. Luckily, it never had to be used as a replacement tire on the road.

Meeting Rocky

(Sunny continues his travel story)cats-sunny-2

Well. We hung around Maryland for a couple of weeks. While Tumbleweed and Jo were visiting and seeing the sights, we enjoyed playing in the RV. It was nice having the slider out. Some of us would run from the back of the RV up to the front end of the couch, jump up on the couch and then climb right up the wall where there was some material covering part of it. We could grab hold for a bit and then fall back to the couch. We had a great time while the humans were out.

Sometimes they took the dogs with them and it was really CAT TIME in the RV!

Then, we pulled everything in and brought the slider back into position. Time to move on! They mentioned Durham, North Carolina…I checked out the map. It was quite a drive. We went far enough West to avoid the traffic around Washington, DC.

We had a hard time finding Birchwood RV Park because it was actually inside Durham. It was near several hospitals, medical centers and Duke University. Many of the people in the park were patients waiting for or recovering from surgery especially for implants. The dogs told us about some of the people they met when out walking.

One day they came back excited because they met a chocolate lab that belonged to a man who lived and worked in the park. He was actually a sculptor originally from Columbus, Ohio. His little house was in the woods and I heard Tumbleweed and Jo talking about the wood and stone carvings that he had in his yard. The Lab was called Rocky and Harley (that’s the man’s name) thought it was a good joke that he had carved a statue of Rocky out of stone (instead of wood).

We were there for Thanksgiving and Tumbleweeds relatives went on to Florida to be with their family for Thanksgiving. Harley accepted an invitation to go to Cracker Barrel with Tumbleweed and Jo for turkey dinner. They came back smiling so I assume they had a good time.

Well, when we were ready to leave the park, Harley brought Rocky over to say goodbye. I think he had had a couple beers before coming to see us. He brought Rocky right into the RV and sat down to talk. We – both cats and dogs- went to the back room for safety. He was really big…even our dogs were too small to take him on … even though Peanut (our Chihuahua) challenged him a little. But she stopped when Jelly didn’t join in with the barking.peanut

Butter who is the craziest cat that I have ever known kept running out and challenging Rocky to play with him, and then when Rocky reached out his big paw, Butter would run to the back room. But before long he would come right back out again.butter

Harley finally was beginning to nod from his earlier drinks and he left taking Rocky home with him. A little later, there was a scratching at the door. Rocky wasn’t finished visiting. Tumbleweed opened the window and told him to “Go back home”.  He left. But a little while later he was scratching at the door again. Same routine! “Rocky, go home!”  After this happened several times, Harley came and got him and must have taken him inside because we never saw him again that night.

Campground in Maryland

(Sunny continues his travel stories)

Well we rode a long ways with stops at road side rests and the Flying J Truck stops. Finally we stopped for a couple weeks in Maryland. The Ramblin’ Pines Campground was very woodsy. The man from the park led us to the site and helped us back in between a lot of trees.

Rv park Md.jpgWhen the dogs went out for their walk, Tumbleweed kept telling Jelly to be careful where he put his nose. He kept nosing into the piles of fall leaves that were all over the park. Sure enough he came back with a big tick right on the top of his nose.

Tumbleweed had friends in the area so she and Jo went out to visit a lot. We were all trying to get turns sitting on the dash so that we could watch the squirrels in the park. At first we were scared when the pine cones dropped on top of the RV but we soon got used to it.

Ramblin Pines Md.jpgThat’s Truffles on the far left and Butter and Jelly next to each other.Above them, you can see our “mascot”: a turtle hanging with his parachute. We are like him…we travel with our home. It felt good to sit still for a while.