And it Started Out So Good

I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it. -Jack Handy

Kylee and I got a late breakfast and then went to the Lowell Observatory. Lowell is home to many astronomical discoveries, from the discovery of Pluto to the first observations of the red shift in all distant galaxies – evidence that the universe is expanding (that was Vesto Slipher, not Hubble; Hubble observed much later that the farthest galaxies are moving faster – the expansion is accelerating). I’d highly recommend a tour.

Home of the original telescope at Lowell Observatory
Home of the original telescope at Lowell Observatory
Mausoleum of Percival Lowell on the grounds of the Lowell Observatory.
Mausoleum of Percival Lowell on the grounds of the Lowell Observatory.

But sometimes a good day turns around and bites you

When we got back to the RV, Keira had, well I’ll spare you the grossest details, but it sure looked like the shit hit the fan. After a couple of hours of clean up things were mostly restored. Then I went to the grocery – and the downhill run picked up some steam.

When I’m having a bad day I just decide … oh who am I kidding? I just go ahead and have the bad day. – Murr

Back at the campground, I was just putting the side stand down. The ground under the gravel drive was saturated from yesterday’s rain and melted snow. My right foot had no traction as the gravel just slid away and down I went. Yes, I dropped the bike from a dead stop.

Not sure if the pain is in my heart or wallet.
Not sure if the pain is in my heart or wallet.

Catch Up

This stop in Phoenix was a lot of catch up. Great lunch with Bob and Ray. Got to the dentist, the doctor, and the bank.  Got my RV registration renewed. Had Palacios give me an estimate on refurbishing the dog related damages (about $5k).

Speaking of the dog, Keira has been doing better. She travels much better, relaxing in her hutch while we’re rolling down the road. For a while, about a month or so, she was basically perfect when I left her alone in the RV. Lately, however, she’s reverted – we’re back to panic barking, dash surfing and soiling when she’s left alone.  Back to remedial dog training.

I’ll be spending the next few days in Flagstaff visiting Kylee at NAU, but may be back to Phoenix soon to have at least some of the refurb done.


Hmmm, Tactical Flaw

Sunrise at Western Lake
Sunrise at Western Lake

Glad this was the one pic of twenty that came out good today. Not a day to have soup.

I seem to have made an 1800+ mile tactical error. The registration for Roamward Bound is up in January and an emissions test is required. The closest station seems to be about a nine day drive and $700 in fuel away.

Meanwhile, when I returned from the beach I found a park ranger warning on the door for dog noise (dogs are not allowed on the beach). I could say the neighbors were cranky, but actually I could here her a 100 yards away.

Old Dog, New Tricks

I’ve spent the last two weeks in Tucson working with Keira and our new training aid, the Treat & Train.

The Treat & Train (formerly Manners Minder) allows you to dispense a treat by remote control from up to 100 feet away. The idea is that eventually I’ll be able to reward her for lying down calmly inside the RV while I’m outside and condition her that my leaving is good.

Of course it didn’t start off smooth. It took 3 days before she would take a treat that I put in the machine’s bowl by hand. Then, the first time I had the machine dispense a treat (there’s a little motor noise) she bolted and hid in her crate, shaking, for 30 minutes. It didn’t get any better over the next two days.

Not wanting to give up I started a counter conditioning program. Basically, starting with the machine as far away as possible and sitting with Keira on a leash, I remotely triggered the Treat & Train while putting a treat directly in her mouth (here is a video of someone who actually knows what she is doing counter conditioning an aggressive dog – Dr. Sophia Yin Counter Conditioning ). Each session we got closer to the TnT. After 18 one minute sessions over three days Keira now loves the TnT.

I’m working through all the basic skills training that comes in the excellent manual and DVD first to give Keira a good foundation and she’s doing very well. She especially loves to “target.”  So, you can teach an old dog new tricks. After that I’ll work on counter conditioning all her departure triggers (keys, shoes, door, motorcycle starting, riding away). It’ll be a long term project, but I think it will work and the payoff is big.

Time to head east.

Hound of the Bakersfields

Still chillin’ here in Bakersfield.  Latest word on the leveling jack is that it should arrive at Camping World Friday or Monday.  Still a while before I can run.


Camping World gave me a check for SOA.  I’ve been to all of the motorcycle dealers in town (both of ’em) and followed up on  all the Craigslist adds (one).  I rode a BMW C650GT and a Honda Gold Wing GL1800, both good rides, but the colors (bright red and Mountain Dew yellow, respectively), well I just couldn’t.

At this point I’m still getting around in the Chevy Spark I rented from Enterprise.  It appears to have a top speed of 60 MPH, maybe a safety feature.

CW is still working on the trailer (bent axle, bent wheel chock), and is waiting for the replacement ladder to come in to finish up the  body work on the RV.

Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog, Cryin’ all the Time

Many thanks to those with suggestions for Keira’s separation anxiety, but so far there is no effect.  I’ve tried the Thundershirt, Remedy, Quiet Moments biscuits, benedryl, distracting food toys (e.g. kong).  Keira still goes into full alarm mode within seconds of me stepping outside and keeps it up no matter how long it takes.

Dash surfing. Yes she's overheating, but not because she's locked in a hot RV. A/C is on and it's 72 inside. She's exhausted from running full out, whining and howling for the last 10 minutes.
Dash surfing. Yes she’s overheating, but not because she’s locked in a hot RV. A/C is on and it’s 72 inside, 79 outside. She’s exhausted from running full out, whining and howling for the last 10 minutes.

I’m pretty worried about her.  I don’t know how much stress she can take.  I’m seeing doggie xanax in her future.


On to San Francisco

I’ll be spending the next few days visiting San Francisco, staying nearby in Petaluma.

Keira, who’s now almost remastered going for a walk, is still freaked whenever I leave her in the RV and during travel.  She did not do that well on the 4 hour drive.

Pack Leader said not to barf in the hutch, but he's still mad.
Pack Leader said not to barf in the hutch, but he’s still mad.

She’ll be getting lots of special high intensity training this week.

Fortuna Apple Harvest Festival

A beautiful day here in Fortuna, California.  This weekend is the annual Apple Harvest Festival, so I thought I’d check it out, even though beaglemania is still in full force.

Apple Harvest Festival Street Fair. Not an apple in sight.
Apple Harvest Festival Street Fair. Not an apple in sight.

The thing about the street fair – no apples. No apples of any kind – no whole apples, candied apples, jams, butter, crisps, cider, toys, clothes, wood carvings – no apples.

Pets optional. This is a bad pic of a monitor lizard, on a leash, wearing a sweater.
Pets optional. This is a bad pic of a monitor lizard, on a leash, wearing a sweater.


Several live, local bands performed along the route.
Several live, local bands performed along the route.


You can take a hay ride from parking lots around town to the street fair.
You can take a hay ride from parking lots around town to the street fair.


Fortuna movie theater showing current flicks. I just love old theaters. Maybe I'll see Gravity tonight.
Fortuna movie theater showing current flicks. I just love old theaters. Maybe I’ll see Gravity tonight.

Keira was in full freak out mode when I got back, running full speed back and forth, jumping everywhere, howling, whining, barking. She stopped and returned to  the couch as soon as I was inside. I’ve been trying to recondition her, leaving for very short stretches and returning every hour for the past few days, but she hasn’t really gotten past 2 minutes yet.  Walks are not much improved either. Last week I’d have considered taking her out without a lead, I was barely carrying the leash. This week she’s not following at all, constantly trying to take off at full speed. She’s gone from Daisy Werthen to Sarah Connor in a day.





The trip from Brookings to Ferndale was Keira’s time to shine, as a beaglemaniac.

Despite stopping at every rest area for a 20 minute walk, she would not settle down while we were driving. I had to stop at Walmart for some food basics and when I came out half an hour later the security guard was at the RV wanting to know what was going on inside. The barking, howling and whining was so loud it could be heard throughout the parking lot. Inside, the dog was in a frenzy. Her tongue was hanging almost to the floor as she flew back and forth across the RV, jumping onto the dash and the kitchen counter. There was a rip in the leather couch, a bottle of Dawn from the kitchen counter on the carpet chewed to shreds like it was a rib eye, slobber and blue soapy dog prints everywhere. As soon as she recognized me she stopped and laid down on the couch.

It took over an hour to clean up, meanwhile the Walmart security came back twice to check when I was going leave.  Just as I was checking that everything was secured for travel, Keira yakked up a soapy mess right in front of the driver’s seat.

At the RV park in Fortuna/Ferndale, again she went ballistic while I was inside for five minutes to register.  I thought the clerk was going to tell me I couldn’t stay.

I spent most of the rest of the day cleaning carpet while Keira slept on the couch.  On her walks she’s suddenly decided she is the pack leader. I’ve explained to her that she is only pack follower second class to no avail.

This week is obviously going to feature a lot of dog work.

March On, March On

The march is on, in March.  There’s a new satellite TV receiver to install, a new cycle trailer to get, dog training, communications and a couple of shake down trips.

You may have seen my post about the swivel wheel trailer I bought.  Well the last trip got it – a huge pothole at freeway speed half a mile from home broke the wheel mount.  So, I’ll be in the market for a more conventional trailer. I’d really like a CruiserLift, but the weight at the rear of the coach would put me pretty close to the rear axle weight limit and could affect handling by taking weight off the front wheels.

Keira, my 11 year old beagle, has had a back yard and a dog door the last 7 years.  She’s also a head out the window car rider.  Neither of these will work that well in the RV.  So, this month I’ll be working on getting her used to living, sleeping and traveling in the RV.

Keira and Puff guarding the RV door.
Keira and Puff guarding the RV door.

A Damn Fine Coffee at 4:30am

I’ve had both Nesspresso and Tassimo coffee makers and they were good while they lasted, but I’m not too keen on using counter space for one of these.  The RV has a under counter coffee maker which works fine, but there’s no espresso and a pretty long brew time.  I was a bit skeptical when Lisa gave me a stove top espresso/coffee maker, but damn if it doesn’t make a great cup of espresso or coffee.


After walking the dog at 4:30am, you need a little warm up and in less than 2 minutes the GSI Outdoors 1 Cup Stainless Mini makes a hell of an espresso, directly into the cup and I’m a happy camper.


Later this month Keira and I will take a short jaunt to the Verde Valley, only about an hour away, to expose any canine or equipment issues. After that, it’s Imperial Beach for a week.