Category: camping with your dog

Camping among Giants

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This photo was taken at Nisene Marks State Park just south of Santa Cruz in Aptos on a hike with Jerry and Bess. I’m wearing four light-weight layers because the trail we used is quite flat and the day was overcast and in high-fifties only. The Sequoias are loving this cool, damp weather, and I’m loving their deeply-grooved bark, their lofty heights, the green of their needles on the branches, and red of the ones that have fallen at their base to cover the forest floor.

We camped for a week in Big Basin Redwood State Park in the hills outside of Santa Cruz, then moved to a private campground in Felton, CA, among the redwoods for another four nights. Two of those days were rainy, so we got to appreciate days when the sunlight does eventually filter through the crowns of the giants to where we are far below. The young redwoods are a mere 150 feet tall, the elders 300 or so. Those who stay and live among these trees clearly love them and the micro-climate they create for other plants and animals.

Welcome Rattlesnakes

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This warning is posted on the office counter at Country Cactus RV Park in Tucson. I read it carefully, twice, and did use a flashlight at night. Did not want to step on a rattler enjoying the warmth of the asphalt after the sun went down or one just passing through. I felt sure I’d survive a bite, but not sure my forty-pound dog Bess would. I did not come across any snakes the week we stayed there.

Better than a Mother’s Scolding

Part of living in Wren has been learning to close each cabinet drawer, no matter how small, immediately. Because quarters are so tight, one is sure to bang forehead, elbow, or temple on the corner of the heavy-duty cabinet door.  Those hinges do not give when struck by part of the human body. Although I still catch myself occasionally, the pain of impact has improved my ratio of closed to left-open dramatically. Did mom ever succeed in getting the kids to shut the drawers and doors after they found what was wanted?

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Fungi Fungi Everywhere

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This member of the Amanita family, Concorra, was seen in abundance on the weekly walk at Big Basin Redwoods State Park outside of Santa Cruz, CA., the week before Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to be camping there that day and on a small group hike of seven hours with three docents from the area. We had the joy of spying so many fungi up after a recent and unusual rain in the coastal redwoods. Sometimes on the road you just hit it right.

Simple Joy of a Camper Kitchen

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A tasty sandwich like this with snappy pretzels and real mayonnaise is whipped up in a few minutes without the hassle of cruising for a place to eat, a menu selection and the down time between decision and delivery. Bonus: price is about $2.00 a plate with fresh greens and a pickle. This is liberating!

Getting into Wren

It took me a few thousand miles perhaps to figure out how to remember which foot to step up first when entering from driver’s side or from navigator’s side of the van. Great relief to discover that all it takes is putting the foot closer to the van up first, then the other foot naturally goes on second step and one’s feet do not wind up entangled and the rest of me unbalanced when I try to sit down. Who knew?

Elk, Elk, where are you?

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO

Overheard in the pool

“The elk are out there. Saw a bull elk today grazing by the fence along the highway. On private property though. It’s said that the elk are staying at higher elevations this fall. They think it’s September.”

While this may not be literally true, it says something about the change in the way things used to be climate-wise.

Notes on the Midwest

From the pov of an easterner visiting the Midwest, a few things stood out. Drivers seem content to travel at the speed limit and will stay behind our big van from Vermont, with a driver clearly unfamiliar with the territory, for miles and miles even though the van is going the speed limit or less. My experience traveling up and down the east coast in a Prius with VT plates was that every car and truck was eager to pass me with or without the broken center line. Nice change.

To my surprise, the yards, porches and doors of houses and apartments along our way were not overloaded with Halloween decorations. I would see just an occasional gesture, one much more like decades ago, before the blow-up ghouls and witches were available. A pumpkin or two and bunches of Indian corn could be seen occasionally. A friend in CO confirmed that the craze has not reached her yet. I don’t

Earlier travelers in the Midwest mostly passed through this land.

Earlier travelers in the Midwest mostly passed through this land.

miss the shrubbery strewn with fake cobwebs or the lawn that includes a rep from every conceivable Halloween theme.

It’s All About the Sky

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Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The day we arrived, the sky was blue with puffy Georgia-O’keeffe clouds floating about. This photo is from the next morning from Wren. Is that rain? Skies cleared on our way from there west 40 miles to The Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. The day delivered sunshine, snow, rain, cloud cover and finally a red sunset as we headed back to Cedar Pass Campground where 4 sites remained open after official closing. It had poured there and was pitch dark when we arrived. First thing we did was step out and into sloppy, sticky mud. The sandstone Badlands are eroding rapidly due to rain, wind, snow, and visitors’ footsteps. No one had to convince us after we could see the sediment in every puddle under clear skies.

It was a beautiful place to stay. While I was told camping would be dry this late in the year, the restrooms were open, and heated, as were the showers.  Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails or boardwalks.

Simplicity in a Swish

A simple daily joy of living out of a camper van as we travel across the country is how little time is spent cleaning up. For example, doing the dinner dishes takes about ten minutes from start to finish with everything is back in its place snug and tight for the next push down the road.

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Part of that is that no steps are involved, just a bit of pivoting. It’s even better when Wren is plugged in, and someone remembered to turn on the hot water heater.