Tag Archives: camping

A Visit to the Dog Pond


Good morning Everyone!

I would like to say that my long absence this year from blogging was due to something remarkable, such as participating in a medical mission trip in the Amazon basin, but alas, I have no such excuse – just a miserable bout with bronchitis that lasted for over two months and then another month or two to recover from it completely and help Mark get over his bronchitis also. Hopefully we have seen the last of it though!

Last week was Spring Break week for our school system, so we took advantage of Kayla’s days off to pay a visit to Alabama’s Gulf Shores State Park Campground for a few days.   The entire Alabama State Park system is a hidden gem that more campers throughout the United States should take advantage of, and the Gulf Shores State Park is no exception.  Among the newest attractions at the state park is something called “The Dog Pond.”  The powers that be have created a dog park on the shores of Lake Shelby, a lake which is literally across the street from the Gulf of Mexico.

My dogs had never been to a public dog park before, so I approached the visit cautiously.  Kayla, however, was quite ready to count it all joy, and fortunately had her phone in hand for video footage of the dogs.

Darwin I never really worried about; he has always gotten on well with other dogs at places where we have boarded him. Mandy, on the other hand, doesn’t always play well with others.  She wants to play, until she doesn’t, and not every dog can read her signals.

When we got to the park, there were two areas – one large area for large dogs, and a second, slightly smaller area for dogs under 30 or so pounds.  The smaller dogs can go into the large dog area at their own risk if the owners choose.

There was only one other dog in the park at that moment – a one year old Golden Retriever mix named Casey.  We let Darwin off leash immediately, and he made a bee line for Casey, whose owners were training her to retrieve an orange float from the water.

Casey wanted to play, but when it was time for her to go back to the water, we had a problem – Darwin has never been around water like that before.  After a great deal of coaxing, he finally was brave enough to try it, and of course he liked it.  (In one of those helpful 15-year-old moments, Kayla neglected to tell me until after we were headed back from the dog pond that Mark had asked us to keep the dogs out of the water.)

And what was Mandy doing during this time? At first, she was restrained on the leash – when Casey first came over to introduce herself, Mandy wasn’t exactly welcoming, and I wanted to be sure everything would be okay. After about 20 minutes, though, I was ready to let her try again – and Mandy came through with flying colors! She had absolutely no aversion to the water; my only concern with her was to keep her from going so deep that Bear or I would have to wade in after her to keep her from sinking. (When she was younger and we had Tyra as well as Mandy and Darwin, there were a couple of warm summer days we left them outside. I would always carefully fill a HUGE water bowl to the brim with ice and water to be sure they had something to keep them cool. We’d come home, and the water bowl would be completely empty. I finally figured out why – as soon as she got hot, Mandy would plop herself smack dab in the center of the water bowl, spreading water and ice everywhere on the patio, but keeping herself quite cool. We stopped trying to keep them outside for even a little while when we were gone after that.)

Both dogs had a wonderful time, but when we were joined by another three dogs, I finally decided it was time for them to go, so we carefully bundled them back into our Hyundai Veloster and drove back to the campground with the car windows open, breathing in the strange combination of sea air and “eau de wet dog parfum.”

And of course, every wet dog knows that nothing tops off the whole lake experience like a good roll in the grass!

Have a great day!

Nancy

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Serenity


Good morning Everyone!

I thought I’d share a clip with you of a small snippet of a Saturday morning at a local campground. This is one of the many reasons I like camping.

The gray, white and pink pajama fabric at the end is just a bonus!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Mark and Nancy’s Great Camping Adventure


Good morning Everyone!

A conversation with Kristina over at Family.Work.Life about whether camping in a trailer or motor home as opposed to a tent is  “real” camping reminded me of a story from early on my married life.

When we moved back to Alabama from North Carolina in 1991, we ended up living in Alexander City, a town at the north end of Lake Martin, which is a huge man-made lake that powers three dams for the Alabama Power Company.  We decided to fulfill a dream of Mark’s, and bought a brand-new boat 1989 Bayliner.   Because it had been in the local boat shop’s inventory for almost three years, we managed to get quite a good deal on it.

One of the best places to enjoy Lake Martin is at Wind Creek, a state park with hundreds of camp sites, very nice boat launch facilities and just about anything else you could ever want from a state park on a lake.

Our family at that time consisted of three:  Mark, me and our first dog, Shadow.  Shadow loved riding in the boat. Mark and I decided one weekend in March that we would go camping at Wind Creek in the new four person tent we had bought, and bring the boat along with us.

It sounded like a great idea, but it wasn’t.  Wind Creek’s name, at least in March, is not meant to be aesthetically pleasing but rather descriptive, and with the prime camping spot we rented at the tip of the point, we had no shelter at all from the apparently gale force winds.

After a great deal of difficulty, we managed to get the tent put up and myself and Shadow deposited inside it to keep it from blowing away (yes, Shadow would have been enough but there was no way that dog was going to stay inside the tent by herself in that kind of wind.).  Mark then started to light the barbecue grill outside the tent while I talked to him through the door, but the wind was so strong we couldn’t keep a flame lit.  He finally gave up and took off into town to bring us back a pizza.

While he was gone, I shivered in the tent and listened to the wind roar through the pine trees and pull at our tent.  Once I had to slip outside to rescue various substantial camping paraphernalia that the wind had decided to play catch with, but fortunately the tent didn’t fly away too.  The entire time, Shadow was by my side, looking at me with sad eyes that plainly said,” We have a perfectly good house only miles from here; why on earth are we sitting out here in the wilderness fighting the wind?”  The best answer I could give her was that we were waiting for pizza.

Once Mark got back with the pizza, we ate it, sharing the obligatory portion with Shadow, who was somewhat mollified by our peace offering until the wind managed to rip out one of the tent stakes even with three of us in the tent.   It tickled me so much that I started laughing non-stop.  I was pretty useless from that point forward in any attempt to set the tent back to rights.

We finally conceded defeat about ten p.m., loaded everything back up into our pick-up truck and boat, and headed back into town, with a very relieved dog sitting in my lap.

I don’t remember us ever trying to camp again until we bought our first trailer.  I don’t even remember myself wanting to try camping again until I had a trailer, although I’m sure I mentioned it at least once or twice.

And that, my friends, is “Mark and Nancy’s Great Camping Adventure!”

Have a great day!

Nancy

Da Dogs


Good morning Everyone!

It’s been a while since I devoted a post exclusively to our three dogs, so today’s the day.

Regular readers to this blog will recall that we have three beautiful and unique dogs as pets:  Tyra, who is now 14, Mandy, who is 8 – 9 in August – (which is very hard to believe!) and Darwin, who is 5 (that’s another one that’s hard to understand.)  All three of them are pound puppies; we are forever grateful to the Montgomery Humane Society for Tyra and Mandy and to the Lake Martin Humane Shelter for Darwin.

Tyra is completely blind; we have suspicions that she might be losing some hearing also.  (To get her to hear where you are going/want her to go, you have to stomp like a dinosaur tap dancing – that is known as a clue!)  She is the sweetest dog we have ever had, although she has become a bit demanding when it comes to her nightly snuggle time with Mark.  She has always viewed herself as Mark’s dog, although she loves the rest of us too.  We suspect she is an Australian Shepherd mix.

Australian Shepherd Mix

Tyra

Mandy is a free and independent basset hound/husky mix with excellent self-esteem.  She loves all of us, and she is particularly my dog (when we first got her, Woof was still alive.  Woof was my kitchen dog, as I called her – she wouldn’t leave me to myself no matter how bad she wanted to be in a room with everyone else.  She trained Mandy for the same position.)  She is the only dog we’ve ever had whose response to being scolded and told “bad dog” is to stare at you thoughtfully, let you know that she feels your point of view is interesting but not particularly upsetting, and then walk away to plot how to continue whatever it was she was trying to do in the first place.  While she is absolutely unique, I have been surprised at how many people are interested in or have basset hound/husky mixes.  Over 400 of them have looked at my post about Mandy as a basset hound/husky  mix, and I’ve had a good 8 to 10 people at least send me messages about the buskeys (a good handy nickname) that they own.

Basset Hound, Husky Mix

Mandy

Darwin is the biggest dog we have ever owned.  He is either a black german short-haired pointer, in which case he is not recognized as a short-haired pointer in America although he is in Europe, or a Lab/Great Dane mix.  He is incredibly eager to please his people and surprisingly affectionate for a male dog.  He’s not entirely sold on the idea of being Kayla’s dog (he has an application in for the position of Mark’s dog which is never going to be granted while Tyra is alive), but is beginning to reconcile himself to that position now that we allow him to go to bed with her at night, which means he ends up sleeping on her bed with her during the night, a much better deal than he’d get in our room.

Lab/Great Dane Mix

Darwin

The three dogs care about each other, and their interactions are fun to watch.  Darwin and Mandy play together a lot, which has kept Mandy young.  They like to chase each other around the yard, and while you’d think the larger Darwin would have the advantage, he doesn’t – Mandy is the fastest dog I have ever seen, and can hold her own against him.  Darwin wants to play with Tyra, but she can’t see him “play bow” to know that he is just playing, so things can get a little tense.  I did get to see the two of them figure out how to play one day, and it was ingenious – neither one moved their legs, while they kept moving their heads around playing “tag” with their heads – apparently you somehow scored a point if you touched the other dog with your head.  Tyra doesn’t believe that play is play unless barking is included, so the din was pretty astonishing.

Australian Shepherd Mix Camping

Tyra Camping

Husky Basset Hound mix camping

Mandy Camping

Lab/Great Dane Mix Camping

Darwin Camping

The three dogs like to camping with us in our (gracefully aged) motor home, but they each have different attitudes about it.  Boo is happy to be with us, but her level of happiness is the same as if she was going for a ride in the car or with us for a walk.  Tyra has always loved camping, and the motor home is no exception.  She likes to come to the front while we’re driving, flip up the arm rest on the driver and passenger seats and get her ears rubbed.  Continually.  For the entire duration of the trip, whether it is a five-minute drive to the nearby state park or a six to eight hour drive to the Smoky Mountains.   Darwin is ecstatic to be camping, and shows it with all his might.  Mandy and Darwin both like to sit on the dashboard of the motor home while we are gone and just watch the world go by until we come home.  I have been astonished at how little they bark at anything outside, including other dogs, when they do that.

Two dogs

Boo and Darwin Together Camping

Two Dogs in Motor Home

Tyra and Mandy Together

So there are our three canine family members.  Each well-loved and loving well in return, each unique and each one indispensable to who we are as a family.

Two Dogs on Bed

Tyra and Mandy Share a Bed

I hope your pets are every bit as interesting!  Tell me about them in the comments section if you have time.  I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great day and weekend everyone!

Nancy