Sunday, December 10, 2017

What Do You Do, When All Your Dreams Come True?" *** and *** “This Blog Is For Me, Too”

I found a cool blog a while ago titled Bren on the Road, read most of the posts and liked it so much I added it to my Blog Roll.  Even though the author isn't RVing, it is a travel blog.  Today I clicked on the sidebar link and went back to read some of the older posts that looked interesting.  I'd read most of them, but they looked like subjects I'd enjoy reading about again.

Bren is a young, single guy from Auckland, New Zealand traveling the world.  Really, the world, but so many of his stories and tips work for RVers, too.  And I really enjoy his writing style.  I've spent hours going back through all the posts with titles of interest to me today.

As I looked through the list of past blog posts, two of the them really spoke to me and I wanted to share them. 

The first post is kind of where I am right now, I pretty much have fulfilled all my dreams, wants and wishes.  What do I do now?  It was written December 6, 2017.

The second one I especially wanted to keep handy because it's been harder for me to find interesting topics to post about lately when I'm in a "no inspiration, no motivation" blogging mode. It seems like a lot of us who have been blogging for years sometimes go through these "lack of motivation" times.  Click the link below to be taken to that post.

It was written October 9, 2014.  When I was reading this post, it emphasized to me how fortunate we RVers really are, those of us who are lucky enough to be able to leave home and travel.  Whether it's to all the State Parks in New Mexico year after year, or camping in all the National Parks in the USA, or visiting each of the 50 United States.  Some people have specific goals and bucket lists and some are just "on the road" like me.  I have no itinerary and no long term plan.  As long as I enjoy this lifestyle, I'll keep doing it, making it up as I go along.  When it stops being wonderful, I'll figure out something else.

This is the beginning of the part of his post that really got me:
"Us long term travelers are spoiled on the road. We forget what we’re looking at. We get lazy. Unappreciative. Another rural town with beautiful colonial buildings? Snore. Seen one of them before.
"But if we stop being such jaded, stuck-up snobs, we might remember what this new town really represents; a new adventure. You might meet your next best friend here. You might hear a song that you would never hear anywhere else. You might fall in love with the girl who sits beside you at the coffee shop. You might eat a mandarin pie that is so perfect it will be seared into your taste-bud memory for life.
"But we forget that. All of us do.
"And that’s when I realised, this blog isn’t just for you. It’s for me, too."

I don't think we are all spoiled, unappreciative or lazy, and the people I meet are definitely not snobs.  But he's traveling as a single man in other countries, and we are in RVs in the US.  Different kinds of travel - that might make the difference.  But his concept, I think, is correct.  He goes on from that point explaining... well, you can read the rest on his blog.

Sometimes what Bren writes is so true! I use my blog for so many different things, sometimes I use the Search Box to find information I need, and when I get to that particular post, I end up reading it, and then some of the other posts around the same time, or in the same place.  That always gets the creative juices going again and reminds me how much I love reading my old posts and remembering where I've been, people I've met, new birds I've photographed; great times, stressful situations, wins and losses - all the different crazy and wonderful experiences that happen when you live on the road.  

Could I possibly ever forget how lucky I am? And continue looking for the unusual, exotic and funny things I can write a new blog post about to keep those memories safe and available at the click of a Search button?  Luckily I have my blog to look back and remind me.

Even though Bren is traveling the world and is much younger than I, the concept is still the same and most of his blog posts have something in them that give me ideas or make me smile and nod my head.

Hummm, I didn't mean to make this a review of Bren on the Road, but I do recommend it for current or future travelers.  His posts are interesting and I especially liked the ones I've linked to.  Who knows, you might get some good ideas, learn something new or just have an enjoyable read.

I've never met Bren, but felt like I knew him when I first found his blog and read through his posts.  After spending an entire afternoon re-reading some of his past blog posts, I feel like I've met him all over again.  If you get a chance, check him out.

"If you’ve forgotten why you travel... Try to remember the reason you fell in love with the road."  --Bren on the Road

From me and Katie, have a great day, everyone!  😊

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Check out my new Blog

The news I was talking about at the end of the last post is - Ta-DA!  I've started another blog, My Art Bag, not a replacement for this one, but in addition to Me and My Dog ...and My RV.

I was going to keep it private.  I wanted a place to keep links, photos, copies of artwork I might do to keep track of my progress, etc., and who would be interested in THAT except me?

But then my friend, Kim, previously of Kimbopolo and now her second blog, The Empty Attic, told me about Art Challenges she does.  I thought that was pretty cool and loved her work, checked the links on The Empty Attic to see what the other people were doing, and decided I wanted to participate.  To do that I needed to have the blog public so the hosts for the week can see the piece to do their judging for that week's challenge.  Thank You Kim - you've set me off on a new creative path.  And it's sure keeping me busy!

This week I've entered two of my graphic art collage pieces. These sites are open to anyone, to submit any kind/style of art.  I want to explore different ways of putting together my digital graphics into other styles.  I love what I'm doing, but I want to grow into other areas and seeing the work of the other participants will give me ideas that I might like to try.

If I ever get good enough to sketch or draw or paint a piece free-hand that is worthy of a submission I'll enter it, but that's way down the road.  I literally can't draw a straight line or a circle freehand and my brain isn't pointed that way so I never have any good ideas.  Of course, these challenges might help with that.

I took the photo on the small easel below of a Black-necked Stilt in May of 2013 when I was at  Caballo Lake State Park, Riverside Campground in New Mexico. I put it through a program to make it look like a painting, then added it to five digital graphics to create a digital signature sign-off for The Art Bag posts.
This is Digital Art Collage.  And it's addicting! I remember the day I took that photo, so exciting - I'd never heard of this bird before and they were so fun to watch as they waded in the Rio Grande.

I'm a total beginner making art with my hands, drawing, sketching, oils, acrylics, water paints.  Those are the classes I purchased on during their Black Friday sale, which was awesome.  (Thank You to Don Stier for telling me about the super prices on!) When I get started with those on-line classes I'll post finished products as I go along. They wont be pretty!  Total, total beginner with that stuff.  But I've wanted to create art my entire life, and I'm taking baby steps.  Hopefully if I enjoy it I'll get better and better.

I'm getting my feet wet with the digital art piece challenges.  It's been a while since I've played with digital graphics and I'll continue to submit those to the Art Challenge websites. I purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018 and an instruction class to learn about it as well as a book Kim recommended.  I have lots of apps and a couple of programs similar but much smaller and easier to use than Elements, so my learning curve isn't starting from a flat place.  But I still have a LOT to learn.  Elements contains all the things I use my other apps/programs for - but in one place.  Now I move my pieces from app to app transforming them as I go along.  It would be nice to have it all in one program.

They say as we get older, and especially when we're retired, it's a good idea to learn a new language, start a new hobby, participate in a new sport, etc.  This will stimulate the production of new synapses in our brains, keeping us happier and younger and helping with brain growth.  So for now this is what I'm doing.  And I'm having a BLAST!

If you click the link to the new blog - My Art Bag - click on the photos of my Art Challenge pieces; you'll see more detail. My entries have some pretty small graphics.

I'm working on two others now, and will post them as soon as I get them done.  I'm waking up every morning excited to get started and heading off to bed near midnight.  (Not JUST doing these things, but once I get started in the afternoon it's hard to stop until my eyes hurt and I can hardly stay awake.)

From Me and My Dog, have a great day everyone!  :)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Busy, busy, busy

I'm starting to get comments and e-mails asking if Katie and I are okay - has it been that long since my last post?  YES, it has.  I went back to the last one and checked where we were, and realized my last post ended with a comment about heading to San Diego for medical appointments and then I didn't post for over a month.  Sorry, everyone, the tests were all good and I'm on the road for another year.

Last week I went across the border to visit my dentist, Dr. Rafael at Rubio Dental Clinic for my annual exam, x-rays and cleaning.  Everything was good there, too.  It's always a relief to get those things done for another year.

We've been to a few different places, well I guess more than a few, since my last post.  Below are some photos of where we've been - then I'll be caught up again.

San Diego - I spent only a few days in San Diego.  Now that I'm getting eye and dental appointments taken care of in Mexico, I only have lab tests and a doctor appointment.  I had a nice visit with my family and was heading back over the mountains to Alpine for one night.  Then I drove on to...

Hot Springs, LTVA, Holtville, CA

I stop here every year on my way to or from San Diego.  This is the hot springs soaking area with two tubs and a shower:

Next to the soaking area is the pond:

It's so pretty, I've seen people swimming in it, but not often.  I just like to walk around it every year and enjoy the ambiance.

I had a really nice, very large campsite this time, that felt very private, like a real yard.

I bought another little Keurig coffee maker, so of course I had to re-arrange my kitchen counters again:

I love my kitchen, and it's fun changing it around from time to time.  There's not much I can change in The Palms, so usually the kitchen gets the honors.  😊

We were surrounded by trees and bushes except on the street side.  Since it was really like a "yard" I was able to let Katie off her leash and she wandered around inside our site.  It was nice for her.  I also got a long lead that I could loop around a tree branch when I wanted her to stay close. When we went for walks, I'd put the leash back on. But most of the time she was free as a bird.

Speaking of birds, there were Roadrunners here that wandered through our camp every day.  One day I threw a little piece of meatloaf out the window and this guy came running.

Isn't he a beauty?  Look at the detail in his feathers.

One morning this little guy came strolling through and hopped up on the branches of one of the trees in our camp, he continued climbing up and then just settled in.  (If you look up above to the photo with the red chair, you can see all the branches on these trees, some right on the ground.)

I'd look out the window, and he'd still be there.  He really blends into the tree branches.  Can you see him?

I've never seen a Roadrunner up in a tree before.

I met a bunch of really nice people here at Hot Springs this year, and look forward to seeing them again.

I was having a problem draining my grey tank and finally called a company that clears clogs and cleans grey and black tanks.  The only problem was that I needed to be camped where he would have access to a sewer and water.  So I got a reservation in Yuma for one night at Sunset Palms RV Park and drove there for an overnight.  I have to say it was really nice - full hook-ups, laundry next to my site, and clean showers, too.

The company is All Pro Water-Flow, owned by John Michel.  He arrived shortly after I got settled and started setting up.  Meanwhile I was parked right next to the laundry and made a few trips back and forth.  Sure is nice living next to a laundry for a day!  When I came back from checking on the washing machines, he said he had good news.  There was no clog - whatever the problem was, it was gone.  So he continued to clean and sanitize both tanks and it cost me a lot less.  He said clogs are one thing, but just cleaning tanks is quicker and less expensive.

John did a great job and I have to say, it's nice to know both my tanks are clean.  I won't have to worry about having any issues for a long time.  I would highly recommend All Pro Water-Flow if you are having any tank problems and need them cleared or cleaned out and sanitized.  His contact information is on the trailer pictured above. He works in and around Yuma, AZ.

The next morning I headed back to Hot Springs.

Don Stier stopped by to visit for a couple of days over Thanksgiving on his way west.  On Thursday morning we went to Los Algodones, Mexico for a little shopping and got some liquor to bring back to have a Tequila tasting with our snacks before dinner.  He already had a bottle, a different brand name, so we had three kinds to try.  They were three different prices, too and with Tequila, price matters.  The one in the center, the clear one, was the best and cost the most.  I'm developing a taste for Tequila, but after our tasting, I mixed mine with some water, honey and a little lemon juice.  It was really good!

Katie was pretty interested in what was going on above her on the table:  chips and shrimp with dips galore!  She's such a good girl, she never tries to get food that's not for her.

There were some gorgeous sunsets at Hot Springs:

Friday morning I drove to Imperial Dam LTVA and got a spot at Quail Hill, where I always camp.  The weather has been great here, quite windy today but until now it's been perfect.  I always like to get a site overlooking the dam and canals if I can, and again this year I was able to get one.

Imperial Dam - you can see the water flowing and on calm, clear nights I can hear it.

A White Egret wading in one of the canals:

Sunset out the window the other night:

Dale Lafferty was camping here, too, and was going over to Los Algodones last week, so I made my dental appointment for Thursday morning and went with him.  We drove our rigs to the Quechan Casino near the border and overnighted there and walked across the border the next morning.   I had my annual dental check-up, x-rays and cleaning - everything was GREAT! - (thank goodness, after last year) - and we had breakfast and did a little shopping then back across the border to the Good Ole USA!

That's about it in a nutshell.  We're up to date.  I've gotten involved in some new things and I started another blog, I'll tell you about those next time.

From me and Katie, have a great week, everyone!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Leaving New Mexico - Final pics of critters and sunsets

Katie and I sure did enjoy our stay in New Mexico - probably more this year than ever before.  The weather was good, the lakes were high, we met some nice people, and for part of the time we camped with friends.  We snagged some of the best sites, and...  there weren't any bugs!  This has got to be the first time we've camped here and not had mosquitoes.  I don't know where they went, but it sure wasn't here.  Really nice!  Of course, there were SOME bugs, but none that really bothered us.

Two days ago we left Elephant Butte Lake State Park, heading west to San Diego for a family visit and annual medical appointments.  So these are the final photos - not many, but a few...

I saw this little bug again, I've seen these guys before and they always fascinate me.  Little blue dimpled bugs, dimpled like tiny blue half golf balls.  It's a Desert "blue-ball" blister beetle (Cysteodemus wislizeni, Meloidae) - Thanks, heyduke50!  So interesting looking:

Now that I know what he's called, I looked him up on-line, but I couldn't find anything about him other than a photo and the name.  I'm assuming from heyduke50's comment that they bite or sting or something, but I couldn't find any info. 

I don't know if I've posted any photos of Gambel's Quail - I think they are one of the prettiest birds I've seen and they are all over the desert in this area.  You can hear them talking to each other all day long.  This is the male:

And this is the female:

When I was camping here at EBLSP a few weeks ago with Don, we were out walking and saw this snake - Don said he thought it was a Sidewinder and it was definitely winding along going from side to side:

Here are the footprints he left - or should I say, body prints?  Thanks for the pictures, Don!

Then the other day I was back at the park again and when I was walking, I saw this little guy:

Neither snake had rattles, which was the main thing for me, but they seem to be as afraid of me as I was of them.  They really move away fast when they feel our feet on the ground, or see us.  Don't know which come first, but they must feel us coming.  And they scoot!

I haven't put up Katie's fence for a long time.  She doesn't like it and doesn't seem comfortable inside, but she wanted to be outside a lot at Elephant Butte Lake, so I put it up.  She laid down and relaxed and enjoyed looking around the area.  Even the birds walking past didn't bother her.  I could watch her from the dinette window and she could see me, so we were both happy.

Here she is laying in a patch of sun in the doorway:

Last sunset shot I took - isn't it beautiful?  Like a pastel watercolor.

On our last morning I filled the water tank, cleaned the floors, vacuumed the carpet and defrosted the fridge and freezer.  We left the park around 2:00 and stopped at the dump station to empty the tanks.  Then we drove down through Hatch and Lordsburg and stopped at Benson, AZ.  We spent one night at the Benson WalMart, then headed off early in the morning.  As we were driving along traffic suddenly slowed, and this is what we saw:

We slowed, but were still moving.  The east bound lane, however, was backed up for a long distance.  One car was upside down on the center concrete divider and the other car was totally smashed in the front end and also got rear-ended.  Thank goodness for the dividers!  It was a bad accident, but if the cars had come over into the westbound lanes it would have been far worse.  Always sobering to pass something like this.

As we were nearing Viejas Casino in Alpine, CA, the sun was just setting.  We always seem to get here this time of day, I remember snapping similar sunsets on previous trips to San Diego.

Viejas allows people to park in their big rig/RV parking lot for three nights each month.  I always seem to be coming through Alpine the end of a month.  Since the weather is always cooler up here, I stop off for three days on my way to San Diego.  Visit my son and daughter-in-law and grand kids, take care of annual medical appointments, and then sometimes stop again on my way back to Quartzsite.  Since it's then the beginning of a new month, I can stop for another three days in the cooler temps and nice breezes, before going down to the desert again.

So... this always feels like the beginning of the new year to me.  Summer and lakeside camping are done and dry desert camping begins.  All of you RVers out there know the feeling of anticipation I feel when the seasons change and I begin the planning and then start the engine for a new location. Fingers crossed that the medical stuff will be easy and quick with good outcomes, and I'll be on the road again soon.

From me and Katie, have a great weekend, everyone.  😎

Monday, October 16, 2017

Caballo Lake State Park, NM - quick update

We're still in the Elephant Butte, TorC, Caballo Lake area.  It's so pretty here, so easy to camp and find a great campsite, nice people, great walking, beautiful lakes, super weather.  Why would we want to leave?

I've been camping with my friend, Don, for a while.  We spent some time at Caballo Lake after leaving Elephant Butte Lake in NM.  Caballo has lots of places to camp - right on the lake, on the Rio Grande, overlooking the lake, in developed campsites, and electric/water sites.  Some of the camping areas are pretty stark, some are lush, and some are overgrown looking.  We drove through the area the day before we moved to Caballo, checking for empty campsites, and deciding where we would head next.

We decided on the Appaloosa Campground, it has no-reservation electric campsites and the temps were still high enough to want air conditioning from time to time.  Then one day when we were on our usual morning walk we noticed the gate at one of the reserved camping areas, the Stallion Campground which had been closed, was OPEN.  So we walked over to the Visitor's Center and asked if that campground was now open to anyone.  I guess it's been so crowded, they decided to open up that one, and since it was October, no reservations were required.

We hustled back to our campsites, packed up and drove to the Stallion Campground.  There was no one there and we got the pick of the sites. We had great sites!  Quiet, private, lots of trees and bushes and I even had a view of the lake.  I've been so lucky with campsites this year in NM state parks.

Look how big this site is, and my only neighbor is Don, next door on the other side of The Palms:

Beautiful view of the mountains, and see my little lake view through the trees?

Most mornings we walked down to the lake and all around the campgrounds near us.  We got some great exercise.  I'm trying to walk a target number of steps each day, and am going about a mile or more over my goal most of the time. :)

This might sound dumb to some of you, but I've been walking so much I've discovered a new muscle in my legs that I've never felt before.  I was talking to my son on the phone and reached down to rub my leg.  What's that???  I realized it was a muscle that was obviously getting more developed so that I noticed it. I looked it up to see what it's called:

"The large calf muscle, or gastrocnemius, has two parts or heads -- medial and lateral -- which extend from your knee joint to your heel bone. While the medial head is positioned on the inside of your lower leg, the lateral head runs along the outside. The two parts work together to extend your ankle downward."   Pretty cool to notice new muscles at my age!  🙃

Now if I could just stop eating chips and dip and chocolate covered almonds, LOL.

View of the site from my dinette window:

I think Don's site was even bigger.  One day he was gone in his car for a while, and some people drove up, looked at his site, parked and walked over to his empty casita.  They looked pretty happy.  I'm watching them through my window, wondering, what the heck?  Another car, part of their group, drove up on the other side of the site and parked.  He was getting out when I went outside to see what was up.  I couldn't believe they were planning to use the site.  The half with the casita.  Ummm, no.  "This is part of the campsite belonging to that motor home over there.  Sorry."  They were embarrassed and apologized, got back in their cars and drove away.  It would have been funny if I wasn't there to see them, and Don got back later with half of his campsite occupied by strangers.  I don't know if they were there for the day or planning to put up tents, but...  I've never seen that happen before. 🤔

Nighttime walk, the evenings were beautiful:

I've been pretty busy and haven't taken many photos - almost none while at Caballo Lake.  That's unusual for me, but campsite pics will have to do for this location.  We've moved on, and I'll post from another location next time.  :)

From me and Katie, have a great week, everyone!   😁😎🙃

Friday, October 6, 2017

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted! (Again)

Katie and I have been at Elephant Butte Lake State Park in Truth or Consequences for a little over a month, and have now moved to Caballo Lake State Park.  I've been busy and not particularly in the mood to sit down and go through all my photos, you Bloggers know how THAT is!  Tonight the mood hit, and here I am.  Finally.

We really enjoyed our stay at Elephant Butte.  Did lots of walking, lots of visiting, some lunches in town, walked around TorC a little, and did some sightseeing.  All in all great weather and an enjoyable stay.  I'd have to say the same for our time at Caballo Lake, too, so far.

Below are some of the photos I've taken in the last month.  Most of my favorites were Roadrunner shots, but I've taken a few of other critters, some campsite pictures, a rainbow and some sunsets, the usual.   Sometimes I think I'm re-taking the same photos as I'm staying again and again in my favorite campgrounds, but I still can't resist.  And trust me, I'm sparing you all the lizard shots, I'd swear it's the same lizard as last year, the moon photos that look exactly like every other full moon I've posted,  and the endless birds that live in this area.  Etc., etc., etc. 

Here's one of the sites we stayed in overlooking the lake:

Elephant Butte State Park has these really pretty trees, and when they're in bloom they are just beautiful.  I love these little flowers, in fact I'm using the photo below as my screen saver right now.

The third and fourth weeks we were at the lake, we were lucky to get the end campsite with a great view.  After one of the rainstorms there was a rainbow going completely over the lake:

Lots of Mourning Doves - I knew they had blue rings of featherless skin around their eyes, but didn't know until I saw the photo below, while he was blinking, that their whole eyelid was blue.  Interesting. 

See his blue eyelid?

Of course, I had to post a couple of bunny photos.  They are running all over the place here, these cottontails and also jackrabbits.   They're so cute - the jackrabbits run when they see us, but these little guys think that if they stop and stay still, we won't see them.  (?)  I guess that's what they're doing, sorry little guy, I can see you!  

On one of the especially hot days, the rabbit below hopped into the shade, fashioned himself a nice cool depression in the sand, and laid down in it.

This large grasshopper Preying Mantis (Thanks to Anonymous and ndenim for the correction) was on my tire when we were moving to a new campground, and I had to flick him off the tire.  I was afraid I'd run right over him.   Pretty small wings for a big insect - they look like a skirt, don't they? 

And my Roadrunners.  They've kept me entertained.  Twice in two different campsites I've looked up and there was a Roadrunner on my truck hood, looking at me through the window.

They have so many different poses, it's fun taking pictures of them.

Do you remember when Mello Mike had his Annual Roadrunner Photo Contest a few years ago?  I ended up winning First Place the first year.  I haven't seen a post from Mike in two years now, but every time I take a Roadrunner shot that I especially like, I always think, "This could have been a winner this year."  These are two of those shots:

There were three Roadrunners seeming to fight over a piece of food, and the two on the left were jockeying for position to grab it while the roadrunner on the right and the rabbit behind him in the photo looked on.  Later I thought maybe the center bird was the mom and the one with the open beak was her baby.

After the center bird finally chased the bird on the left away, she went over to the food and picked it up and offered it to the other bird.  It doesn't look much smaller than the others, though, so...  I don't know what was going on, really, but it was very entertaining to watch. 

Below is a sunset photo from Elephant Butte - the sky was so red around the setting sun:

I just scheduled my annual medical appointments in San Diego and will be heading west soon.  I'm sure going to miss New Mexico, but it's always nice to get those appointments out of the way for another year!

From me and Katie, have a great weekend, everyone! ❤❤