Sunday, September 21, 2008


Helen, our fearless leader, on the float trip

We are on our way west again. Yesterday morning I drove into Jackson and picked up Breezy and Ransom from Happy Trails Pet Resort. They tackled me in the lobby hopping and wagging and talking to me. I hopped and cooed and hugged them. I'm not sure who was happier, me or them!

Jimmy, our resident comedian, on our float trip

It was raining yesterday morning. John, Jimmy and Helen decided to take one more ride so off to the hills they went with rain slickers in hand. I don't think they got a drop of rain while they were out. I took the dogs and returned to Mary where I unpacked the Camry and warmed Mary up. It felt good to be back with her and readying for our trip to Oregon. As I sorted laundry I thought about what a special week we spent with our friends at the ranch.

We stayed in "1st Cabin" named because it was the first cabin built on the ranch for guests. Jimmy, Helen and Corky stayed in a double cabin on the far end of our row. The ranch itself has been in the same family for 80 years. Between Helen and our wranglers and guides we were informed of the history of the ranch and how it became part of Grand Teton National Park. Anyway, 1st Cabin was the first in a row of cabins, made of logs and furnished with a double bed, a twin bed, a table and chair and a chest of drawers in a large dressing room. We left the windows open most of the time for fresh air but the logs were so insulating that we stayed warm every night. The lodge/dining room where we ate was about ten steps from our cabin. It was all log with picture windows lining the front to give us a perfect view of the Tetons. I took a hundred pictures of those mountains and no two really look the same due to the changes in the light and the weather. From the lodge you head downhill to the corral where they bring the horses in to saddle for rides.

1st Cabin

The horses are turned out every night to graze and rest and then the wranglers go out in the morning, gather them and bring them in for their day of work. They normally do two 2 hour rides per day. They break them up according to how well you ride and how much ground you want to cover. They have lesson rides for people who don't have a lot of experience. They have slow rides where you just walk and those mostly go up in the hills behind the ranch. There are medium rides where you walk, trot and lope some and they have fast rides where you walk trot and lope a lot so that you can see more country. Mostly those go down by the Snake River. Those were our favorites.
We had a guide, Randy who was really fun to go with. I rode with him for the first time on Thursday when we went to the river for our dash and splash ride. What a great time! He is from Mississippi and obviously loves the outdoors. When we would get ready to move from a walk to a trot or to a lope he would put his hand up and holler, "REGULATORS! Proceed at the (trot or lope)!" The second he put his hand up the horses all popped their heads up and readied themselves to pick up the pace. It made me laugh every time. He was full of funny stories and interesting information and I think he appreciated that we could all ride well. During the entire ride we were cutting up and laughing and he kept saying, "You people really need to cheer up!". He was my favorite guide. We had Stephanie and Ashely who were both good and T.J. who is the head wrangler there took us on our all day ride. He has been with Triangle X for ten years, is just 33 years old and had never had much of an interest in horses before he arrived at the ranch from Nebraska. Now he manages the entire herd and all of the wranglers. He also goes out to find new trails for all day rides and he and Ashely are engaged to be married some time next year. It feels like a family when you are there probably because a lot of the people who work there (between 60 and 70 during the season) have been there for years. We also met some people who took sabbaticals from their life long jobs to come out and work for the summer. There is no television or radio so you are liberated from all of the garbage going on in the world. I found out about the financial crisis on the Internet which I have found is a much less emotional way to get the news. Many, many of the guests had been there many times before. We actually met several people from Kentucky and some people who have Saddlebreds in Missouri. It is a small world. And Triangle X is quite a place.

Randy, our guide telling us a story

Carter Ragsdale sent John a song via his cell phone. He has had this song on his phone for some time. The song is a spoof on the Brokeback Mountain movie. It is set to a catchy country tune and the chorus goes, "I aint goin' down on Brokeback Mountain. I aint goin' down on Brokeback Mountain. That shit aint right, that shit aint right." John played that song for nearly everyone on the ranch. So by the middle of the week people were walking around smiling and saying "That shit aint right...". It was pretty funny. I heard it so many times during the week that I went to sleep with the tune playing in my head. If you see him at a horse show ask him to play it. He will do it happily!

You will never be hungry at Triangle X either. They serve three huge meals a day, mostly beef based. We had fillet, sirloin, prime rib, hamburgers, corned beef sandwiches and hot dogs (probably all beef!). On Friday we had salmon and it was delicious! In the morning they had all kinds of cereal, yogurt, eggs, waffles, pancakes, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy...hearty breakfasts every morning. On our all day ride they packed us a lunch of turkey and cheese croissant sandwiches, potato chips, a Hershey bar and an apple...for our horses. The night of our hike/float day we went into Jackson and ate at the Cadillac Cafe (next to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar) and had the best ever hamburgers and fries. As much as I rode and walked on this trip I know I didn't lose an ounce but I'm certainly more fit than when I showed up!

As I was groaning from sore muscles and as I was hauling my ass out of bed every morning John was jumping around the cabin and saying things like, "I'm not sore at all!" and "I think I'm losing weight!" I listened to this several mornings in a row and finally on Saturday morning, after our all day ride when I was getting up with my bones creaking and my muscles binding into knots he jumps up and says, "I feel pretty good this morning, how about you?" I looked at him and said, "Go to hell," fell back in bed and pulled the covers over my head. He howled with laughter and he bounced into the shower.

It wasn't that he didn't whine at all. He did his fair share of that. For our hike we bought a little nap sack to carry our lunches in and some extra water. He is fond of telling me that he is the pack mule and to let him carry things. I really appreciate that about him. He is always looking out for my well being. He is a wonderful person. So when we took off on our hike he probably had ten pounds or so of food and water in his nap sack (worn like a back pack). Helen was carrying 15 to 20 pounds in her back pack. To be fair she works out with a trainer who makes her run two miles and walk two miles in intervals with 20 pounds on her back so she was fit as an antelope for the mountain hike and the rest of us were...pretty pathetic in comparison! So half way through the day John started telling Helen, "I'm going to tell everyone that you made me walk 25 miles with fifty pounds on my back." I think he repeated that at least 20 times and each time the distance and weight got larger. She retaliated by repeating his complaint about buying a walking stick, "Stiiiiickkkk! Why do we need a stiiiiccckkkkk???" Needless to say we laughed a lot on this trip.

His other complaint was one that I knew he would have because everyone who rides a horse all day going up and especially down hills has it. You have to keep lots of weight in your stirrups going down hill not only for your balance and your horse's but to keep from rubbing sores on your horse's withers. After all of the uphill your legs get a little tired. The wranglers are great about stopping and letting us stretch our legs, find a private spot in the woods to relieve ourselves if necessary and to loosen the horse's cinches so they can breath, relax and get a few bites of grass. Then they tighten us all up and we all meander off to find a stump on which to launch ourselves back onto our horses (they call the mounting block in the corral "the dude launcher") and away we went again. By the time we were getting ready to stop for lunch John was starting to make noise about his knees aching. I smiled just a little. I wasn't being evil but after listening to him tell me that nothing had bothered him all week it was just a little heartening to hear him complain about aching knees. And I thought to myself, "Just wait until we start going down." As promised our guide took us up to around 9,000 feet on the ridge above a very deep canyon and we rode nearly the entire way back on the edge of this ridge. I thought my height issues might kick in but I actually didn't have any problems with it while I was sitting on Thunder. My left knee was singing to me pretty good but all I could hear behind me was moaning and groaning about knees from John and a bunch of other riders. Even T.J. who is only 33 was talking about his knees burning and aching. By the time we got to our next rest area we weren't sure that we would be able to get off of our horses much less get back on again. But five minutes walking eased the pain and we launched and went on down. It was a spectacular ride, the prettiest I've ever been on in my life and I've ridden quite a bit on the trail in different parts of the country. That night we all sat on our porch on first cabin enjoying a glass of wine with Jimmy, Helen and Corky and watching the sun set on the Grand Tetons. We were at peace with the world and our knees were serene.

Serious drinkers...John, Corky and Helen on the porch before dinner (I was behind the camera with a glass in my hand!)

Actually once I got up and rolling every day I was pretty sound except for the abrasions on the inside of my knees, the bruises on my contact points (butt and knees and one big weird one on my calf...clueless as to how I got that one). And the other strange thing that happened after my first day of riding was swelling on the inside of my thighs. I got up on Tuesday and they were swollen to where they actually touched when I stood with my feet a normal distance apart. I guess there is a first time for everything. I hiked the mountains like that. Jimmy was walking behind me and could see all of the colorful marks on my legs. He asked John if he had a good farrier. John said yes, that he did. Jimmy replied, "Well you need to get him to shoe her off of her knees!" and broke into his signature laugh. We love Jimmy and Helen. Great people and more fun than a barrel of monkeys to travel with.
Today we are traveling through Idaho. We will stop close to Boise in Mountain Home for the night. We left Jackson at 9:00 and headed up to Teton Pass. I'm still not sure what the elevation was up there but it was a 10% incline on the way up and on the way down. Mary handled it like a champ. Once I realized how high we were I made the dash to let the air out of the bed again. This time I caught it before it got to 100! It has been a beautiful drive today. Idaho is a pretty state. We are only one state away from my home state now. Tomorrow we will pass through Boise and into Ontario, Oregon on Highway 20 which will take us across the state. I don't get homesick at all but I always get excited when I know I'm going to visit. It is a spectacular state and there is still a lot of it that John hasn't seen.

That is it for me today. I'm ready to put my laptop down and cruise the rest of the way into Mountain Home. I hope you have had a great Sunday! My next post will probably be once we get settled in Springfield at the Arcuri's place...our Oregon retreat! They are some of our favorite people in the world and we can't wait to get there!
Here is the address for our last web album on Triangle X:

Bald Eagle on our float trip
PS. I haven't found the Yellowstone BUG yet but I know he managed to stow away in my luggage and is probably taken up residence in Mary somewhere. Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dude City

Us...the gruesome foursome, galloping through the water on our trusty steeds

Howdy from Jackson, Wyoming! We are just finishing up our week as dudes at Triangle X Ranch. Tomorrow is our all day ride up the mountain to 9,000 feet. It has been a wild week of adventure and fun with our friends Jimmy and Helen Robertson and Corky Robertson, (Jimmy and Helen's sister-in-law)...who happens to be a great story teller. "That's naaaaace."

Sculpture outside of the Wildlife Museum of Art

Jackson is lovely. It is something like a Western boutique. The town consists of 8,600 people and a whole lot of wonderful stores. You can shop till your credit card drops. There is a wildlife art museum (wonderful) which I visited yesterday while recovering from altitude sickness and exhaustion from five hours on a horse on Monday and an 8 mile hike to over 8,000 feet on Tuesday (none of which I regret). Wednesday was my day off to explore the museum and nap a lot. Today I rode on the afternoon ride on my mare (assigned to me all week) Thunder. She is cute, a palomino, small with a sweet face. And our hair matches! She is sure footed and patient, loves to run in the water and gallop down the trails. John is riding Traveler (like Robert E. Lee's Saddlebred mount) and he is a cool horse who loves his work. John has him racking already! Jimmy is riding Kale, a big guy with huge feet who loves to soak everyone in the water and who the wranglers always warn when we are going to do something that might allow a horse to be...a cheater. "He might duck out," or "He might try to dash out of the river," or "He might take the short cut back to the barn," but Jimmy has his number. No Kale antics on his watch. Helen is riding Windy, a black and white paint mare that she wants to buy and take back to Kentucky with her. Windy is her favorite horse ever since she has been coming to Triangle X...which has been a lot. Helen has been our fearless leader having been a guest of the Ranch several times in the last two years and she knows the area, including the hiking trails very well.

John and Karen on our horses (get a load of the hats!)

I'm hooked on hiking. I had no idea how much fun that was going to be until we did it. Helen didn't exactly tell us the whole truth about the hike because if she did we probably wouldn't have done it. She knew that. In her wisdom she mentioned that we would be hiking to Inspiration Point above Jenny Lake and when pressed mentioned that it was only about two and a half miles up there. Then she told us that if we felt up to it we would take Horse Trail back. We didn't ask much about Horse Trail. Inspiration Point is at 7,300 feet. The idea of the altitude keep our minds off of Horse Trail. It took us about 2 hours to hike up there (the Ranch is about 6,800 feet). We hiked around the Lake and then started the ascent to the Point. At one point I realized that my fear of heights was going to be tested. It was in the last three switch backs where we were on a very narrow and rocky trail that had a steep drop off on the right side. I practiced some serious self-discipline and kept my eyes on my feet until we reached the top.

Helen told us that we could not go on this hike unless we had walking sticks. That seemed a little strange to me and John protested, "Sticks? Why do we need walking sticks?" Helen just said, "You will need the sticks. Buy them." So we did as we were told and by the time we were half way through the day we were in love with our sticks. We wanted to kiss our sticks. Our sticks possibly saved our butts. We managed to make it to Inspiration Point without incident and enjoyed some of the most gorgeous scenery you can imagine (I'll post photos in the web album). Then we started our descent. We made our way down the trail to the point where Horse Trail takes off to our right. At that point Corky (smart) who had been skeptical about the entire outing decided to continue her descent to the ferry that would take her across Jenny Lake and cut three miles off of the return trip. Would we go with her? Nope. We were challenged. We had to live up to the challenge. So John commandeered a park ranger to escort Corky to the ferry and we began another ascent.

View of Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point

Helen told me that I may learn to hate her before we finished walking Horse Trail. I was warned. I didn't hate her when it was over but at the point where we had done a half mile of uphill hiking (fell in love with my walking stick right there) and were nearly to 8,000 feet I was getting close to it...not really. Helen is the sweetest person I think I've ever met. And I loved the hike no matter how much my thighs screamed and my lungs heaved. We all followed her like soldiers up that hill until we were well over 8,000 feet and looking at a view that was almost overwhelming.

We had stopped to eat our lunch and carefully repackaged all of the leftovers in case we encountered any bears. As it was we decided to forgo any cosmetics that had fragrance (that left out my deodorant...eeeekkkk!) to keep from attracting bears. They say up here "A fed bear is a dead bear" and we didn't want to contribute to any dead bears...nor did we want to end up being bear snacks. Helen had a bear bell on her back pack so after lunch she pulled the magnet off of it and the bell rang as we trooped up the trail. At one point we stepped over some scat (bear poop). Jimmy asked what kind of poop it was and Helen informed us that it was bear poop. Now Jimmy was with us all day long and had barely said three words. Like us he was too winded to talk! He examined the excrement on the trail thoughtfully and said calmly, "Keep up with the bell please," as we moved on. We all died laughing, nearly passing out from lack of oxygen! The bell worked, warning the bears and other animals that there were crazy humans on the trail and we managed to avoid any critter encounters.

So yesterday I woke up and could hardly drag myself out of bed. I have been in better shape in my life and undertook five hours of riding on Monday (was really fun while I was doing it!) and an eight mile hike (yes, it ended up being eight total miles) and a ten mile float down the Snake River about an hour after we got back from hiking. I was due to participate in the "Lunch Ride" on horseback that would leave from the Ranch at 10:00 and return at around 3:30 with a cookout on the trail. The only ride I was taking was back to the cabin for a nap, a ride into town for a few groceries and a trip to the art museum and back to the cabin for another nap. It did mend me and I was able to pick up and enjoy my day today immensely! Thunder and I trotted and galloped our way through a two and a half hour ride this afternoon and we all ended up eating (too much) pizza at a cool hang out called Dornan's in Moose Junction, about ten miles from the ranch.

Update on THE BUG. It traveled from Yellowstone Park where I deposited it out the window of the car, to our porch at Triangle X. It was determined to get into my shoe as I sat relaxing on the porch. It is stalking me...

There he is trying to get into my shoe. Sneaky little booger!


We are back from the all day ride. Initially I decided to forgo the all day ride due to the fact that I haven't ridden much in the last few years. Back in the olden days of my life I used to help gather cattle on occasion and I have vivid memories of sore, tired muscles from being on a horse all day. And I was in good shape back then! First they scheduled the all day ride for Tuesday. Then it changed to Thursday. On Thursday morning it was moved to Friday. All of that was good because on Thursday we went to the river and had a great afternoon ride galloping in the water and enjoying a great time with our guide Randy. I realized that my day off on Wednesday had given me a new lease on riding and that I was up to the all day ride on Friday. Thank goodness because it was so great. My little half-mountain-goat mare Thunder just tackled the entire day with gusto. We ended up riding along a mountain ridge for miles on the second half of our ride and the views were spectacular. Jimmy, Helen, John and I had a wonderful time and experienced a day that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. And I am sore and tired but I don't care. It was great!

John right behind me and Jimmy right behind him. There were 14 of us.

Tomorrow I am going to pick up our dogs at the kennel in the morning so I had to say goodbye to Thunder tonight. They gave us apples in our lunches so I saved mine and gave it to her before they loaded her in the trailer for the trip back to the ranch. She is quite a little trail horse. Just as we were finishing up our long day we had to go down a steep hill that was full of river rock, round stones, in a deep sandy surface. She stepped into the deep sand and it gave way. She went to her knees but fought her way right back to her feet. The British woman following behind me said, "That was quite spectacular really!" I laughed and patted the mare and away we went again, with Thunder unfazed. Tonight Thunder is turned out with her friends in a huge field munching grass and enjoying a beautiful cool evening of rest. Maybe she will get a well deserved day off tomorrow.

I'll get the web album together for the next post. I hope your weekend is going well. We will be on our way to Oregon on Sunday. First stop is Mountain Home, Idaho just south of Boise. I'll be writing more about our adventures at the Triangle X in my next installment.

Beautiful Tetons from our front porch on Friday evening

Friday, September 12, 2008

You Can't Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd

Bison in the Park

Thank you Ulysses S. Grant for setting aside 2.2 million acres named Yellowstone for the enjoyment of the people. We have had a magical two days exploring Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Both are breathtaking. I was trying to think of adjectives to describe what we have seen but there aren't words that would do it justice. I've taken about four million photos and am busy uploading them as I type. I'm planning (and you know how these things go) to put the address of the web album in this post before it goes up. We have seen a bear, some elk, coyotes, tons and tons and tons of bison and a huge raven...several of them actually. I'm like a kid in a candy store when we have wildlife sightings. "Oooo, oooo, wait, wait, I have to get one more picture!" while traffic piles up behind us. We have seen Old Faithful and several other geysers (very cool) and gobs and gobs of sights that just left us speechless. "Oh wow," and "Incredible," and "Holy sh*t," were the words all day long for two full days. It was just...incredible! Old Faithful Inn and Fishing Bridge Inn are both very old (early 1900's) structures, well maintained and beautiful in their design. We only explored from the south entrance to the west, through the central portion of the park to the east and back to the south in the loop. Next time we come through this way we will take in the northern part of the park. I...the person who is always writing War and Peace length descriptions of our experiences am having trouble coming up with descriptions of what we have seen.

Old Faithful

You can always tell when there is a wildlife sighting. You will be driving along and then all of the sudden you will see a group of cars parked along side of the road. About the third or fourth time that happened today we pulled over so that I could get a few shots of some buffalo that were grazing across the road in a large meadow. We pulled into a small camping area and parked the car in the shade (we had Breezy and Ransom with us today). I was busy snapping photos when John pointed at the outhouse in the campground and said that he was going to make a quick stop before we moved on. "Okay," I said as I kept my camera busy. After a minute or so I heard him behind me. "Karen!" he said in a loud whisper. I turned and saw him pointing to the left of the outhouse. I said, "It's to the right," pointing at the outhouse. He pointed to the left again and said, "No!" in a loud whisper. I was wondering why he was whispering and now he was jumping up and down pointing to the left of the outhouse. "He can't see the darn thing," I thought to myself. "Better make an appointment with the eye doctor." Then what he was trying to tell me came to my attention. There was a HUGE bull buffalo wandering through the campground to the LEFT of the outhouse. "Oh shit!" I said as I jetted over to the car where John was standing. I started taking pictures of the buffalo and then looked at John. "I'll wait," he said. "Probably smart," I said. They warn you to stay 100 feet from the buffalo in the park. When I heard them growling and grumbling in a herd it made me think of Jurasic Park. It's kinda creepy but really cool at the same time. So I took a few more photos and then we got in the car and went on our way.

BUG Falls
A little later we happened upon a pretty falls so we pulled over and I got my camera out. We got a good look at it, stretched our legs a bit and then continued on our way to the next stop, which was to find a place to take the dogs for a little walk. John was driving and I was busy looking out the window when something caught my eye on the console of the car. Right by the hand brake there was a bug. It wasn't just a bug though. It was a monster bug with inch long antenna and hairy long legs. I'm not normally weird about bugs (mice and lizards are another story all together) and spiders but this one made me jump. "What the hell is that?!" I yelled and pointed. John looked down and said, "It's a bug." No kidding... I guess I was looking for him to tell me what kind of bug it was. "Just put it outside," he says. Not wanting to look too much like a "girl" about the whole thing I took a deep breath, grabbed a paper towel, folded it in half and reached to pick up the bug so I could put it outside. Well there is a rubber slot that the hand brake sits in. What is under the slot I've never known. I just clean around it when I'm tidying up the Camry. I've always suspected that there under that rubber slot is a lot of dust and dog hair and bits of food and things that have collected over the nine years that I've been driving the car. Anyway, I gently pushed the paper towel over the bug (with goosebumps running up my arms) and when I went to close my fingers around the thing it disappeared into the slot with what ever else lives down there. I picked up the paper towel and looked at it. "Did you get it?" John asks. "" I said. "Where is it?" he asks. "I think it's under the hand brake in the console." As I said I'm not normally goofy about this kind of thing but I had developed a serious case of the creeps and glanced down at that slot about every 20 seconds. That sent John into a fit of laughter every time. It was several minutes of hilarity before another sight caught my attention. We got out of the car, took the dogs for a walk and decided it was time to head back to Mary for the night. So thirty minutes later we are driving along past Jackson Lake enjoying the beautiful scenery when out of the corner of my eye I see THE BUG crawling down the lapel of my vest. Stop heart. Bug eyes. Gasp for air. Grab the paper towel and mug the bug. John bursts out laughing as I hit the window button, roll down the window and toss the bug out the window, wildly shaking the paper towel to be sure that he is gone before I roll the window up again. I sunk back in the seat to allow my heart to return to a normal speed. John was still laughing. "Why do they like me?" I asked. He just laughed harder. After a few minutes sense of relief washed over me and then the thought struck me...what if when I shook the paper towel out the window he flew off and got sucked back in the window to the back seat? I looked back a Breezy and Ransom. They were both sacked out in the back seat. Ransom is my bug dog. He is wild about bugs and flies and anything that will run or fly that he can chase. He was unfazed by anything that had happened in the last few minutes so I assumed that I was successful in ridding the car of the bug. Time will tell I guess.

That night, after dark we arrived back to Mary. We got some dinner and settled in for the night. Tomorrow we meet Jimmy and Helen at the airport in Jackson and we will begin our adventure as dudes. This ought to be a riot!

Here is the address for the web album that takes us from Indianapolis to Moran Junction in Wyoming:
Next time I'll have a Yellowstone and dude ranch web album!

Peaceful Tetons

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Murphy Returns

We found the mountains!

At the moment I'm sitting in my computer spot, the dining table. We are parked at Grand Teton RV Park just outside of Grand Teton National Park. And it's sprinkling. It is still beautiful here though.

I have a request from The Pilot. He asked me to tell you that he actually fixed the windshield wiper and the hair band and paper clip have been retired. After the sun finally came out he went out and figured out how to adjust the blade and now it is working perfectly. Thank goodness because where we go rain follows...or precedes us.

Heading toward the pass

Yesterday our plan was to make a two day trip across Wyoming to our current destination. We stuck to our plan stopping in Riverton, Wyoming last night. I didn't take any pictures of Riverton or the RV Park. There really wasn't anything to photograph. We left the wonderful KOA park by Mt. Rushmore and headed out of South Dakota on Highway 18. Winding down out of the hills was beautiful. Then we hit the grasslands of eastern Wyoming. It is a vast space full of grass, fences, cattle guards, cattle and an occasional wide spot in the road where neat and tidy little towns flourish for the people who live out in cattle country. There was one town...well not quite a town...called Lost Springs had a sign that said, "Lost Springs" and under that, "Population 1". We passed through in less than a minute so I didn't have time to grab my camera and get a photo. We drove and drove and drove picking up bugs on the windshield and flies in the coach. Must be all of the cattle. Ransom is a bug dog. He loves to chase the bugs and flies. I don't have a fly swatter for the coach so bug hunting has become his job along with entertaining Breezy. I can tell that he has played with a lot of dogs bigger than him because his technique is to attack from down low. He ducks under her immediately putting her at a disadvantage. It is hilarious to watch. She tries everything she can think of to dislodge him but he just hangs in pulling on her tail and legs. Eventually she rolls over and he is exposed changing the balance of power until she stands up again and he ducks under her again. They can go on like that for quite some time before they both wear out.

We are having a problem adjusting to the time change again. This time I decided to change the clock on my computer and my watch so I actually know what time it is. The problem is that we are asleep by 8:30 and awake at 4:30 in the morning...too early to get up. Last night we went to sleep but were awakened two hours later by something that we have yet to identify. It sounded like someone driving by the coach on a loud lawnmower. It drove by once. Two minutes later it went by again. Two minutes after that it drove by again. This repeated itself until we both sat up and said, "What the HELL is that?" Then I got a whiff of something that smelled like sulfur. It was gross! It went away and I finally went to sleep having nightmares about dying in my sleep from asphyxiation...gassed by some noxious fumes from a homicidal maniac on a hopped up lawnmower. Not a restful night. This morning we were actually sleeping past 4:30. We were both sacked out, sleeping hard when all of the sudden Ransom barked and sent me straight up in the bed. "Ransom shhhhhhh!" I said. He barked again. Then I listened carefully to what had his ire. The guy next to us was getting ready to pull out. The parking surface in the RV park was gravel so his foot steps were quite loud. It was 4:45 and he was hooking up his truck and trailer (which in my estimation should have been done the night before so as not to disturb all of his neighbors at an ungodly hour). He started the truck and let it run. And run and run and run. It was right under our bedroom windows and they were both open. He crunched around the thing for ten minutes, slamming the door to his trailer ten times before he shut the motor off. Then he crunched around for another five minutes before he started the truck and pulled out. We were relieved and both of us actually dozed off again. At 5:15 the next rig pulled out. They pulled out, driving by us on the gravel road at the rate of about one every ten minutes, just long enough for us to start to relax and go back to sleep. Finally at 6:00 I gave up and got up. Ransom and Breezy were thrilled. I felt like I had just crawled out from under a rock...or maybe gravel. I think Murphy has returned.

"We're not in Kentucky anymore..."

Once we got showers, dog walks and breakfast we hit the road. We didn't have far to go, just about 120 miles to our destination so we weren't in a hurry. I checked the weather report. Rain in Jackson and surrounding areas for the next three days. Go figure. Once we left Riverton and started to get closer to the mountains the terrain changed from wide open to greener hills and rivers and then bigger hills and lots of trees and then huge mountains. It was gorgeous. We wound up the side of the mountains, John piloting Mary, the dogs wrestling in the back of the coach and me snapping photos through a bugged up windshield (I forgot to clean it before we left this morning). The closer we got to the mountains the darker the sky got. It finally started to sprinkle and then rain. The road got really steep and narrow (and bumpy) and I said, "I wonder how high the pass is here?" John said he wasn't sure so I grabbed the road atlas and started looking for a number. While I was studying the atlas John spotted the sign. He said, "It's nine thousand six hundred and..." I yelled, "Shit! The air mattress!" and darted toward the bedroom. I heard John laughing as I worked on letting the air out of the Sleep Number bed. Neither of us would have thought it was funny if either chamber burst. We would have been sleeping on the pullout bed in the living room until we could replace it. When I hit the button on my side it read "100" firm as it can get. The other side was the same way. So I let the air out to "5" on both sides and started toward the front of the coach. "Whoa Nelly," I said as I looked out the window, getting tossed from one side of the coach to the other. The road, which was bad when I dashed to save the bed, had deteriorated to terrible and it was now raining hard. John said that we just passed a sign that said, "The views won't get any better but the road will." Not before it got worse...way worse. They are rebuilding a huge section of Highway 26. Much of it is one lane and you have to be escorted by a pilot car for seemed like hundreds of miles to John. It went from pavement to gravel to mud and muck. At one point I could feel Mary sliding in the mud as John eased her along behind the pilot car and a few others in front of us. It kept raining and the road kept getting worse. Finally we pulled out of the mess and back on to the paved road where, relieved, we made our way down here to the RV park and pulled in.

Coming out of the muck to pavement on the mountain
Of course the first thing we did was to check and see if we had a satellite signal (have to keep up with the mud slinging, spit ball blowing, low down and dirty crap going on with the election) and then I looked at John and said, "I'll bet the Camry is a mess." He looked at me and smiled. "Let me clean it up before you look at it." I said, "No, I can take it." He said, "You should wait." Well that was enough for me to head out the door to see the car. My first shock was Mary. Our beautiful shiny coach is mucked. MUCKED. Then I stepped behind her. My mouth fell open. Only a photo will work for this one. Be sure to click on it to get the full effect.

Looks like a mud bog machine

I got my camera and took photos, shaking my head and wondering how we would get it clean enough to drive around in and then came back in to get things set up and take the dogs for a walk. Then I went to work on the last blog post. John was busying himself in and out of the coach and then he disappeared for a little while. I thought he was visiting with other coach owners in the park or something. Then he came in and told me to go and look at the Camry. Again, only a photo will do this justice.


The Pilot is my hero! Camry is clean and we have a car to tour around in tomorrow. He's snoozing at the moment and Ransom is sacked out. Breezy is lobbying me for her dinner. She hasn't adjusted to the time change yet either. At 2:00 she starts. She thinks she is starving. She gives me the big sad brown eyes and I tell her that its too early. She sighs and wanders away for ten or fifteen minutes and then comes back. This repeats until she breaks down my will. She's just accomplished that for today so I'm going to go and feed her. Besides, the wind has picked up (like REALLY picked up) and is rattling Mary. I heard something go clank so its time to check out what got blown off or away. More later.

We've had dinner and had the dogs out for some exercise. It is cool and breezy out now and just spitting rain. Tomorrow we are heading to Yellowstone with the dogs and then into Jackson for some groceries. Friday we will go up to Old Faithful. Jimmy and Helen Robertson will be here on Saturday and we will meet up with them then. Our doggies will have to go to the kennel for a week while we go to Triangle X Ranch for a week of fun. This time they will have each other to provide company and comfort. They have bonded well since we have been on the road so I'm not worried about them. But I'll miss them both a lot!

I'm going to go to work on a web album next. In my next post I should have it put together so you can see what we have been up to so far!

Thanks to Kelly for the nice message!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Rainmakers

Communing with a buffalo in Custer State Park

If you are having a drought in your area just give us a call. We'll come by and bring a bunch of rain with us. Things went well from Sioux Falls until we turned off of I-90 toward Mt. Rushmore. Then it started raining. Again. It hasn't let up since.

We are in Hill City about five miles from Mt. Rushmore. This is the coolest KOA ever. It stretches over acres and acres of pine forest. The spaces are large so you don't have to listen to your neighbors do anything and this time of year it is very quiet in here. They also have a restaurant which we at at last night. We went in and found that they had a decent wine list. Without asking if they had a cork law (giving one the ability to cork the bottle and take it home) we ordered a bottle of Cab intending to cork it after we each had a small glass. We sipped a glass of wine while we ate our dinner and that ended up being enough for both of us. When we mentioned to our server that we were going to take the bottle back to the coach he informed us that the liquor laws in South Dakota don't allow us to do that. We both looked at a bottle of wine 3/4 full. What to do? Why drink it of course. We sat there for over an hour and sipped wine and had fun conversation about growing up and some of the silly things that we did. We wandered back to the coach and found our two cute dogs thrilled to see their two tipsy pack leaders giggling and stumbling up the stairs into Mary. I'm sure she rolled her eyes.

Really our only problem is the weather. It is about 50 degrees and socked in raining. We just came from a long stretch of very hot weather in Kentucky so our blood is a little thin. But we bundled up this morning and headed up to Custer State Park and then to the Crazy Horse Memorial. The second stop was amazing. If you haven't seen it the monument is a work in progress and it is impressive. It started back in the 1940's at the request of a Lakota Sioux Chief. They chose an artist who ended up devoting the balance of his life to the project as well as raising ten children and teaching them his craft as he worked. They have since taken it over and are working on a beautiful rock carving of Crazy Horse (on a horse) that is over 600 feet wide, over 200 feet tall and when it is completed (they figure in about 50 years) will be a fully three dimensional stone monument. It will be beautiful and a wonderful tribute to a people whose way of life was stolen from them. It is all funded privately and by admissions to the park and sales of gift items. It is just awe inspiring. If you are interested check out the website: They even have a webcam that you can check on to see how they are progressing with the blasting and carving. How they do this is just mind boggling.

Sculpture in foreground is what it will look like when it is finished

Snug on a rug
We came back to the coach after that and exercised the dogs, a 30 minute walk in the rain that left us both wet, Breezy filthy and Ransom....well he never seems to get wet or dirty. It's miraculous! We have settled in for the rest of the evening. John, Breezy and Ransom are napping. I'm doing laundry and working on the blog. Our plans to race up to Glacier have changed again. We really want a good day to see Mt. Rushmore and that will probably be tomorrow so we decided to use the extra day that we squeezed out in between Indy and Sioux Falls to see it. Then we will head for Yellowstone and spend some good time out that way. I've never been to Yellowstone and John was there briefly last year so he really wants to spend more time there. We will be sure to see Glacier next time we come out west, probably in the spring.

The temperature has dropped to 43 degrees but the skies are starting to clear a little bit. The weather report tomorrow says 54 for a high but it will be sunny. I should get some great photos of Mt. Rushmore if it is sunny. Time to change the laundry and think about dinner.


We woke up to a spectacular morning. I took the dogs out for an early walk and it was sunny and brisk, really refreshing. We had breakfast and got things tidied up in the coach and away we went to Mt. Rushmore, camera in hand. We are only five miles from the monument so in no time we drove up to the entrance and when I looked out the driver's side windows there it was! It is the same monument that I have seen in photos and on television all of my life. But it surely was not the same experience. Until you see it with your own eyes you can't appreciate the sheer magnitude of the monument and the incredible amount of work that went into carving those highly recognizable faces in the granite. It is nothing less than awe inspiring to think that it started from one thought, an inspired thought to leave something for generations to come that would remind us of the courage and vision that created and shaped this country. Wonderful.

Mt. Rushmore

It was time to go back and check on the kids. When we arrived they were as ecstatic to see us as if we had been gone for a week. We ate some lunch and loaded them in the car for a drive up to the Needles Highway. John talked to someone staying at the KOA and they said it was a beautiful drive full of natural tunnels. Cool...we were off on another adventure with Breezy and Ransom in the back seat.

We turned off of the main highway onto the Needles Highway and immediately started climbing a steep grade. Breezy was looking out the side window and Ransom was looking in between the seats through the front window. The road began to switch back first with 15 mile per hour turns and then 10 mile per hour hairpin turns and then clear down to 5 mile per hour turns. The scenery was beautiful, pine trees and open meadows with grazing deer. There were lakes every so often and several trail heads. Then we came upon our first of several rock tunnels. There were motorcycle riders on the other side (see photo below) taking pictures as we passed through. We waved and drove on. "Cool!" we both said. We stopped at a view point and took some pictures and then got back in the car and moved on, Breezy still looking out the side window and Ransom looking over my shoulder at the road ahead. Down the road a few miles we drove up on a bunch of massive stones that formed a natural square, like a big four walled room. It was paved and there were several cars parked along one side. We got into the middle of this area and thought that somehow we had missed a turn and had come to a dead end. John was about to turn around when we saw a car emerge from in between two giant stones on the far left side of the stone area.

A car appearing from a natural tunnel

Motorcyclists on the other side of a natural tunnel

After watched several cars and a truck come through the crack in the rocks we passed through and resumed our windy drive along the Needles Highway. We finally passed out of Custer State Park and headed back for the KOA. We were enjoying the scenery when I heard Ransom behind my seat...heaving. He let out three big heaves and then barfed on the carpeting. "Ransom's barfing," I said. "You want me to pull over?" John asked. I glaced over my shoulder to see that he was back up on the seat next to Breezy looking somewhat relieved. "Nope," I said as I gazed out the window. "I'll clean it up when we get back." It has been a challenging two weeks of dog barfing....mostly Breezy consuming all that goes in her mouth. She knows the term "drop it" better than any other.

Ransom looking a little green around the gills...

Okay, I have been working like some sort of a possessed nut to get this blog post done but every time I think I've got a good enough internet signal to upload the pictures it fades and I go back to square one. I have most of the ones I wanted to put in this one and am going to wrap it up so I can start the next one. We just arrived (it is Wednesday) at the RV park near Grand Teton National Park (near Yellowstone) and I have lots more to tell you about our adventure so far. I will start a web album to share more of the photos that I've taken so far. I hope you all are having a great week!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

West To Rapid City

Queen Mary in Rock Island

We are on the road for real after two days in Indianapolis. It was a good stop but we are glad to be heading north to cooler weather and west to our adventures. We will attend the Fall Classic show in Oregon while we are there and the fall show in Scottsdale if all goes as planned. John is judging the American Royal and then we are done with shows for the year. Yay!

Mary has been just a tiny bit contrary since we got to Indianapolis. Two of the touch buttons that open and close the slides have developed a delay that is a little unnerving. When we got to Rock Island, Illinois I pushed the button to open the bedroom passenger side slide and nothing happened. I pushed it again. Nothing. Again. Still nothing. John came in as I was having my moment of panic/deflation/exasperation about how we were going to deal with it. He tapped the button three times and it worked. Next he got on the phone with someone on Monaco's 800 line and spent some time explaining that they were still working but only after twisting your tongue a certain way. The guy was nice and tried to be helpful but in the end we will probably have to live with it until we get to Oregon and can drop her off at the factory...provided that it doesn't quit working when the slide is extended. Then we are not going anywhere until they come to us. I have a developing list of little things for them to do when we get there.

A whacky wiper

John put on his fix-it hat today. He increased his fix-it kit to include a hair band and a paper clip. Those join the duct tape, WD40, Elmer's Glue, three screw drivers and a pack of chewing gum. Yesterday, true to our travel karma we got caught up in the remnants of Gustov. When it started raining he turned on the windshield wipers. They worked just fine for about an hour. Then the one on the passenger side took on a strange angle. Instead of being in line with the arm like the drivers side it was kind of loose on the arm so it had a weird waving motion. He mentioned it and that he would look at it when we stopped to let the dogs out. It never stopped pouring so when we got them out Breezy did duties in record time and Ransom spent his time trying to seek shelter (while I got drenched). When I got back to the coach he told me that the wiper was broken and would need to be replaced. So we hit the road again with a waving wiper. I made a mental note: This will drive him mad. Fifteen minutes later he said, "This is going to drive me nuts," (true story). So the next time we stopped he started digging through our little junk drawer. I asked him what he was looking for. "A rubber band," he said. "Hmmm, I don't think we have one...but I have an elastic hair band." He said, "That'll work." So I dug one out and he went to work in the rain fixing the wiper. I went to get a snack and when I came back he was in the driver's seat, dripping rain, but ready to roll. The waving wiper blade was working much better. "I fixed it!" He grinned. He sure did. As I watched the wiper blade moving back and forth and noticed a little bit of something bright blue on the blade. "What's the blue thing?" I asked. "A paper clip!" he beamed. "Pretty inventive," I said and away we went.

The Fix (you are looking at a wiper blade, hair band and paper clip)

We went to Tremont, Illinois to see some colts. We nearly drowned before the end of the day due to Gustav. I really wanted to take some photos while we were out of the coach because the farm was so beautiful but I was afraid I would water log my camera. We drove in rain, we walked in rain and we set Mary up in Rock Island in the rain. We were parked under trees so we didn't have satellite or cable so we had an quiet evening without all of the political hubbub that was going on. It is the longest political season in the history of man. I'm worn out with all of it. We started following all of this as we were making our maiden voyage with Mary back in February! Sixty days and counting.


Corn fields in Iowa

We went to sleep early last at 8:30 so I woke up at 5:00 this morning with two dogs peering over the top of the mattress at me. All I could see was ears, eyes and noses. Time to go out. So I got up and threw on clothes and a jacket (it is really cool up here and it feels wonderful!) and snapped on two leashes, took two poop bags and away we went into the darkness. This KOA sits on a lake and is really big compared to some that we have stayed at. The dogs dragged me around in the dark, sniffing the grass and jumping to attention (which made me jump to attention) every time they heard something that they couldn't identify. We were out for ten minutes or so before we come back and started our morning...their breakfast which consists of Science Diet dry food (small bites for Ransom, regular bites for Breezy...regular adult food for Ransom, light food for Breezy...she is an easy keeper) and some Science Diet regular wet food, a little bit to mix in for both dogs. Breezy was kept on regular light dry food until Ransom came. He is a little guy who didn't have much interest in dry dog food so I started with a little bit of wet food to get him to eat. It worked. But I couldn't give it to him and not give it to Breezy. She has been a little ho-hum about her food in the past but she eats it. Now when it comes to meal time she is the first one to remind me of the time. She starts lobbying me about an hour or so before it is actually time to have dinner. Her head plops into my lap like a ton of lead and pleading brown eyes look up at me as though she has not eaten in a week. They both get two meals a day. Again, Ransom is taking his cues from her so now while she is sitting with her head in my lap giving me the, "Won't you take pity on a poor starving dog?" look Ransom is sitting right next to her giving me the same expression. More often than not they get dinner a little early.


Outside of Davenport, Iowa

We just pulled into the KOA at Sioux City, South Dakota. So much for taking our time (this rush to South Dakota is my doing). We had a nice discussion about how we were going to take our time and go 300 miles a day at most and just enjoy a leisurely trip across the country. I've been a little busy so I haven't totally counted days between the departure date and when we are due in Jackson, Wyoming, until yesterday. Part of our plan was to include a visit to Glacier National Park. We both loved the idea. It is the perfect time of year for a visit up there. Then I counted days. Then we decided that we couldn't do it. So this morning we got up and started out on our pre-planned route. This is where our blessed little GPS gets involved.

Garmin. Garmin replaced TomTom (which is now MY GPS unit...I'm not lying...its in the Camry!). Garmin in my opinion is a step up from TomTom. A small step up. I'm now convinced that the technology is in serious need of some upgrading in general. So every time I program the Garmin it takes us (or tries to take us) over hill and dale and through the woods to grandma's house to meet the three bears and Goldilocks and the three little pigs and the wolf who will huff and puff and... We are 52 feet long with the car attached, can't back up unless we unhook the car, twelve and a half feet tall and we cannot go everywhere that the Garmin wants to take us. I've programed it with "Bus" and "Truck" and it still tries to take us to gramma's house. So today I programed it to take us to La Crosse, Wisconsin from Rock Island, Illinois and it gave us a thousand different turns and intersections and finally I got exasperated and said, "Just stay on 61 and we will get to La Crosse. Make a hard left on 90 to Jackson." Then we started talking about not making the trip to Glacier. Then I started looking at the map and realized that if we went west from Dubuque we could cut off some time. It wouldn't be as scenic of a trip but it would be a little faster to a destination for the night. Okay. So I suggested that we do that and didn't get an argument so I reprogrammed Garmin for Fairmont, Minnesota (a possible night time destination). Garmin wanted to take us on some back roads to US 20. First I opposed the idea then I really looked at the route and said, "Why not?" We ended up on a beautiful route for awhile and then on a very narrow twisting road until we got to US 20. I checked the route to Fairmont. It wanted us to go north at Waterloo. I looked at the list of twists and turns and said, "Just take US 20 to I-35 and go north." Then I got to calculating how much time that would save. Then I calculated that if we made it to Sioux Falls tonight we could make it to Rapid City tomorrow night and we could see Mt. Rushmore and some other cool spots and possibly get to Glacier before we are due in Jackson. I ran it by the pilot and he said "Let's go for it," so we did.

We are in Sioux Falls at the KOA..logged in almost 500 miles today. The park is sandwiched in between I-90 (a half block from here) and the Sioux Falls airport. Thankfully it isn't O'Hare traffic-wise but when one of those jets takes off it drowns out the television...which is tuned to CNN listening to all of the hubbub of the election. What WILL we do when it is over!

More tomorrow. I hope you all had a wonderful Friday and a terrific weekend ahead!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On The Road Again

Turning out of our driveway on Man O' War (click on any photo to enlarge)

We're off on our big trip to the West and I'm so excited! After a week in Louisville at the show and a week of madness in Lexington wrapping things up at home so that we could pack Mary and leave today I am worn out! It has been a great two weeks though. John's induction into the Hall of Fame on the 23rd was wonderful and he was so happy to have Jason and Jennifer there to share it with him. I'll have a photo of the presentation soon. Last week a good friend threw a dinner party in his honor, we attended a fun birthday party and we had a terrific time with friends at Azur and in between all of the fun we got lots of stuff done for the trip. And on Tuesday we picked up Ransom!

Passing by the Lexington Airport mural on the corner of Man O' War and Highway 60.

John brought Mary from the farm to the townhouse last night and we packed her up. I under estimated how long that process would be. Somehow I managed to get about half packed in every area (office, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen) so when it came time to haul the stuff to the coach I just didn't have anything ready. I have a thing about leaving the house very clean and things organized before we go for any length of time so as I'm packing I'm also cleaning and laundering and polishing and paying bills and doing accounting get the picture. Once Mary was parked outside of the house I realized just how much I had to do so I ramped it up and moved into fast forward perpetual motion. Breezy knows me well enough that when I get like that she just curls up in a safe place and watches. Ransom, our new dog (more about him in a minute) is new to my behaviors and since we have had him he has been on my heels where ever I go. He got a real work out following me around yesterday and this morning. Finally we got everything loaded, all errands done, the house buttoned up and on the road this morning at 10:00.

Ransom hanging out between the pilot and co-pilot's seats
Ransom is absolutely the happiest little dog ever! I can't think of a dog that I've been around that is any happier to just be alive than this one. As I'm typing this John is over at the show watching the All American Futurity, Breezy is sacked out on her bed and Ransom is sleeping right by my feet. As I mentioned in my last post he was a participant in the Death Row Dogs program in Greenville, Kentucky. The local Humane Society picked 20 dogs to participate. The dogs are assigned to inmates at the prison to train in basic obedience. The inmates are screened carefully to be sure that the dogs are not in any danger and the nice lady who runs the Humane Society in Muhlenburg County runs classes to teach the inmates how to train the dogs. Consequently we got a sweet, polite, happy little dog that knows how to do all of the basics including walking on a loose leash. Breezy hasn't mastered that one yet! And he passed the AKC Good Citizen's test to boot! They think he is a Chihuahua/Feist (type of Rat Terrier) cross. He looks like a very long legged Chihuahua with beautiful big brown eyes and the cutest face. He has one ear that lays over and one that stands up. We decided that if people ask what breed he is we will tell them that he is a very rare breed called an Uno Lop. He is just a great little guy and has adopted both of us and Breezy as his family.

You're probably wondering how Breezy is adjusting to having a new dog in the house. Well, we took her with us to pick him up and they were introduced at the shelter. She heard all the dogs barking and freaked out, probably thinking that we were going to leave her there so she didn't pay much attention. I picked Ransom up and put him in my lap to ride for awhile until he relaxed. She sat in the back seat eyeing him curiously. Once we got home they did their dog thing, checking each other's scents. Then for 24 hours they were great! She played with him, running and playing and rolling together on the living room floor. At about the 24 hour mark it must have set in that he wasn't just visiting. We started to get a little attitude from her...a little pouting and an occasional growl if he decided to play with a toy that she deemed as hers. I separated them at meal times so there were no food issues. Treat time is easy because they both know that they have to sit politely if they want treats. I get the very best manners at treat time. For the most part she has done really well. I see little dust ups now again but they have spent a great deal of time racing up and down the hallway, rolling around on the carpeting together and generally having a great time. When its time to go outside to take care of business I put them both on their leashes and they have been great about not getting too tangled up together but occasionally circling me and tying me up in a knot. We only had one mishap and that was yesterday when I was talking to my sister on the phone. They were playing under the desk as I talked. As they were playing Ransom got tangled in the little wires that go to the little speakers that are hooked to my laptop. I didn't notice until I saw both speakers moving toward the edge of the desk. One hit the floor and then the other and Ransom jumped pulling the desk lamp toward the edge of the desk. I could see his panic so I said, "Ransom stop!" He froze. I was shocked that he listened to me that well under the circumstances. I untangled him and he escaped with Breezy to the safety of the living room where he went back to romping and rolling with her.

We are on our way to Indianapolis to the Futurity show for two days. It is hot. No, hot doesn't quite describe it. It is miserable out. The lawn is crispy, the sun is scorching and there isn't a breath of air moving outside. We are both ready for some cool weather up in the northern part of the country. At the moment our plan is to go to visit a farm in Tremont, Illinois on Thursday, stop in Rock Island for the night, head north to La Crosse, Wisconsin and then hit I-90 to Sioux Falls, Rapid City and then on to Jackson, Wyoming. We really wanted to fit in a visit to Glacier National Park but we have been counting days and we're not sure if we can fit it in. Stay tuned.


We are at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. John squeezed Mary in between two coaches in the RV Park (a narrow strip of grass with hookups) and padlocked the bikes to the chain link fence...this isn't the nicest neighborhood in the world. We are so close that we can hear our neighbors fart (and fight). Ransom is adjusting to strange noises outside of the coach. At first he was a little alarmist about all of it but he is so smart that he learned to take cues from Breezy. Any time he does something that she knows is a no-no in our house she lies down and puts her chin between her front feet on the floor like, "Oh crap, he's gonna get in trouble for that one." Now keep in mind that we have never lifted a hand to her. We have barely ever raised our voices to her. But she is a Border Collie and where they seem really different from all other dogs is that they have a very strong...almost over the top sense of responsibility to do things the way that we want them done. She takes the rules of the house (which are not many) very seriously. It is very funny to watch her when he makes a boo boo. I gently say "Ransom no," or "Ransom get down," and he responds to my request...then so does she. She is being a patient wonderful big sister to him and they keep each other company when we are gone to the show. Nothing has been disturbed in the coach at all when we get back. But there is always one warm spot on the couch and one warm spot in the co-pilot's seat when we come in and two dogs sitting by the door to eagerly greet us. I won't tell if you don't...

That's all I have for the first post. Thankfully no mishaps with Mary or the car on this short trip. I'll write more once we get on the road for real!