Tuesday, May 27, 2014

NOTES FROM THE GEORGIAN WOODS

The Navigator and I are currently encamped in the north Georgia woods at Fort Mountain State Park for the Memorial Day Weekend. This is our first trip in close to two years. There are a number of firsts on this trip.

One of the more notable firsts is that we are on our first camping trip without …

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(Orla – the golden girl!)

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(Zeke – the “old man”)

consummate camping partners, Zeke and Orla.  Our two Labrador Retrievers loved being in the woods as much or more than we do. Unlike Rosie the cat, who tends to go into a funk when she realizes we are packing, Zeke and Orla would get excited at the thought of jumping into the truck as we hooked up the Keystone Hobbi toy hauler. We lost both Zeke and Orla in 2013 and I’m acutely aware today of their absence on this trip, which leads me to another first.

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Beau’s selfie – shouldn’t have gotten him that camera…

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Dilly on alert – for food or petting…

This is the first camping trip for our 5 month old puppies Dilly and Beau. Keeping in mind that these dogs are still pups and behave in the way of pups, camping with them has been 180 degrees different so far. Dilly, the Giant Schnauzer, is a more protective breed than the Labs and that trait has been quite observable. Especially in the darkening of night, her “alert” instincts come to the fore and she sounds her warning signs. That’s not to say she doesn’t sound those warnings during the day, they are just more noticeable at night. Despite our hyper vigilance, she still announces her presence. We’re working on discriminating threat vs. non-threat… along with not pulling on a leash, etc., etc., etc. (Can you say puppy?)

Dilly on night alert!

(Dilly sees you but you don’t see her…)

Beau, the Border Collie mixed with something big, really suffers during trips. He gets sick with the motion of the vehicle, which is typically made worse by the presence of a camper. A consultation with our veterinarian resulted in a medication, which helped stave off the more unpleasant aspects of his car sickness but did nothing to reduce what I’m guessing is anxiety. One particular stretch of GA 515 for about 12 miles was miserable to all of us. The poured concrete highway made bouncing about an even worse experience than normal. By experimentation, I discovered that driving between 49 mph and 51 mph avoided setting up the regular bouncing pattern caused by the seams in the concrete pours.  Once grounded young Beau settled back into his normal laid back pattern of existence.

2014 Heartland Wilderness Travel Trailer

Speaking of firsts, we are in our new 2014 Heartland Wilderness camper on this trip. Our lifestyle has changed and the need for the Toy Hauler function of the Keystone Hobbi just wasn’t needed anymore and the compromises made to carry the “toys” had some serious cutbacks on what are now more important aspects of our camper. Back in 2007, our initial intent had been to put our Harley into the Hobbi and travel. Life has a way of interrupting plans though and that never came to be. The Harley was driven into the Hobbi exactly once in the 6 years we owned it. That moment only occurred because I wanted to see what the Harley looked like inside the Hobbi.

Thus far, the trade for the Wilderness has been a success. With 8’ more room and a better layout, the Navigator no longer has to sleep “caddy cornered” in the bed as she had to do in the Hobbi. The Hobbi bed was cut off at an angle so the bathroom door would open. As I said, there were compromises made. She fully enjoys her RV Queen sized bed now! The Hobbi had surprisingly more storage room in it. I guess that space intended for the “toys” allowed us to pack more than we needed. Much as we did when we downsized homes in 2013, we’ve downsized our materials in the new camper. I haven’t missed anything as yet.

One thing not packed on this trip was the Fargo Salsa and the Navigator’s bike. We correctly, as it turns out, determined having the puppies along would be about as much exercise as we could take. So, the bikes remained at home with Rosie the cat. I’ll be trying out that new hitch I installed on the front of the truck to carry bikes later.

Memories of my Dad

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(Oliver “Babe” Yount)

While certainly not a first, I was blindsided during my coffee ritual this morning by emotional recall of my father, who died in 1995 due to colon cancer. The Navigator and I were enjoying the early morning quietness of the campground as we imbibed our second or third cups of java. She was reading a story about the details of singer Glen Campbell’s life and battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

For some reason, I was flooded this morning with memories of a Sunday dinner when Bro Dave was home from the Left Coast just prior to Dad’s passing. All the family was present for Sunday lunch on a pretty day. Dad was quite ill and in pain so he had not joined us at that point. I remember being in the bedroom with him to see if I could do anything to help. His time was coming to an end. He knew it and I knew it. I took the opportunity to inquire of him if there was anything I needed to know or do after he was gone. I remember he looked at me and said, “No, you’ll do what is needed and I know that.” It was a simple statement and so reflective of my Dad’s pragmatic way of living.

I recall leaving the room and going outside to the deck because my sadness at losing my Dad was becoming unbearable for that moment. I vividly remember the clear blue skies and holding onto the decking rail as tears ran down my cheeks. I also vividly remember the loving arms of my wife as she wrapped me up and just let me cry for a moment.

Remembering Dad on this day before Memorial Day is actually quite appropriate. My Dad was a WWII and Korean War veteran followed by years of service to our country in the Navy Reserves. Dad was on the first destroyer into Normandy on D-Day and, as is so typical of the WWII Vets, he rarely spoke of it until the last couple of years of his life. I regret that he didn’t live long enough to make the trip to Washington to see the WWII Memorial. I was lucky enough to make 3 trips with Honor Air as a Guardian. Part of my motivation was to honor my Dad’s memory by helping other Vets get to their Memorial.

As I have no internet access here in the Georgian woods, I’ll have to belatedly post this with my THANKS TO MY DAD and all the other Vets yesterday and today who serve our country.

It is time to close as Dilly appears to have discovered yet another threat to our well being here in the hardwoods of Fort Mountain State Park.

Until later,

-Zeke

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