Monday, May 24, 2021

May 2021 Heading from Florida to NY

 I had mixed feelings about composing this post, but since we stayed at the most fabulous campground thus far, it warranted a documentation.

We encountered nice weather the whole journey, but would have loved to have had sunshine and warmer temps for our first stop, Beverly Beach, located in Flagler County and right on the Atlantic Ocean. Although sites were VERY close together, the view obliterated any complaint on that fact. We were booked for two days, but I sure wish it could have been longer. For me, it was the most relaxing place I've ever stayed and it brought back happy memories of my days spent in Seaside Heights with my mother and brother.

The remainder of the trip was pretty much down hill, uneventful and mostly tiring. I was well prepared with meals for the entire trip, making our stops less stressful for me to get a decent meal on the table after hours sitting in the passenger seat. I need to remember to do that all the time. 

Stella at a rest stop.


Stella made tremendous strides in her traveling routine on this trip. It took patience and my past experience with Lucy to create just the right "safe" spot for her to comfortably hide while traveling. I place two folded, fluffy blankets under a dining room chair and place another blanket over the chair, creating a "cave." One little slit is provided for her to peek out or me to peek in. Unlike Lucy, she never ventures out to see us or use her litter box. Perhaps in time, that too will come to pass. 


So, the uneventful trip (except for Beverly Beach) has been formally placed in the blog for posterity. I'll end it with some photos of the journey and our stay here thus far. Nothing is in order, due to the poor blog program I am utilizing. I need to upgrade to a better platform eventually.

Lumberton KOA

Stella breathing the air in NC, like she did in EVERY state.

Cute cabins at Williamsport KOA

Stella checking out a rest stop

Savannah Oaks NC

Savannah Oaks

Big Bertha above the sand at Beverly Beach.

Had to capture a selfie.

Stella NO LIKE waves!

Walking the beach



Bertha facing the ocean

Packing up to leave. See how close the site next to us is?
 No one was there during our stay.
See if you can locate the sand crane -  look closely.

One of the best things about staying at Croton Point Park:
the multitude of birds, flora and fauna.

The second best thing about staying at Croton Point Park: 
puppy-sitting our favorite snow-bird camping dog, Georgia!

Quote of the day: They say "It's not so much the destination as the journey," but, we sure did enjoy Beverly Beach a whole lot more than the rest of the trip.  This journey taught us that it is now George's job to plan the campgrounds since I picked epic fails. ~vc

Friday, October 16, 2020

BIG BERTHA

Like most people, George and I had been discussing future plans on and off forever. We had thoughts of eventually buying a home somewhere, but that "somewhere" could not be decided upon. We each had our preferences, but, like a jury after a difficult trial, we were hopelessly deadlocked. 

Living in Little Miss, our 37 foot Tiffin Allegro Open Road, had been heaven, but being stuck inside her with my long recuperation time from bunion surgery and then remaining inside due to 100 degree temperatures in Florida during CoVid, the walls started to close in on us. Besides that, our two air conditioners could not keep the RV cooled below 80 degrees on most days.

George did his due diligence in searching and researching for a solution to our dilemma and it eventually led him to his long-wished-for and favorite RV. His dream-come-true was discovered sitting at Dylan's RV Center in Sewell, NJ.  I had to admit, she was a beauty. I had always told people that the only two things I truly missed living in an RV were not having a dishwasher and a bathtub. Well, he was able to find one with a dishwasher and that made me a happy camper.

On September 11th of 2020, we picked up Big Bertha, a 2019 Tiffin, Phaeton 40IH. She earns her name with her over 40 foot length, four slides, three roof air conditioners, polished tile-heated floors, washer, dryer, king-sized bed, keyless entry, power glide chassis, double-pane windows, huge shower and a large kitchen with a dishwasher! We got the layout we had preferred, one with the kitchen on the driver's side and dinette on the passenger side. 














My grandmother used to tell me of an old-wives tale, "New home, new baby." Well, we did it the opposite, new baby (Stella) new home (Bertha).

I always knew that George would find a way to get a Phaeton and I had the Big Bertha name picked out way back when we bought our first RV, Gracie. 

Stella was a little confused and unhappy for the first couple of hours, but she finally found her hiding spots and sunny nap locations and adjusted much more quickly than we did. We are still opening closet after closet and drawer after drawer unable to find what we are looking for. 

We are getting used to living life a bit fancier and a lot “larger.” There are so many buttons to operate the lights, that it took us almost the whole day to figure them all out. We have ceiling lights, sconce lighting, ceiling accent lighting, entry lights, exterior lights and baseboard courtesy lighting.  Then there are buttons to cover the entry steps, turn on the hot water heater and raise and lower the kitchen shade and TV. 

There are a couple of quirky little items that need to be fixed and George has been able to solve most of them. Whatever he can’t get done, we know certain people who can help out with the expert knowledge and/or tool for the job. Tony, Ray and Craig, are your ears ringing?

Here is our big, bad, beautiful, bodacious, behemoth Bertha, not meaning to, but showing up all the other RV's at Croton Point Park. 


All of my blog entries will include comments or updates on our sweet Stella Bella. She had major oral surgery a week ago and is healing nicely. Although getting her had been my idea, apparently, she is unaware of that fact. Her best bud is her dad - and, for that matter, ANY male who enters Big Bertha. She sidles up next to them and before you know it, she's up on their laps, purring and placing her head under their hands to be petted. I believe it might be that she associates me more with discipline and her after-care causing me to get the cold shoulder. Time will tell.  Fingers crossed that she begins to like me again, I will continue to love her, regardless. For now, the photo below depicts her recent attitude towards me.  :(

 

Awww.  Baby, you're breakin' my heart.


Deep thought for the day:  Bigger is not always better.....but Bertha is!  ~ vc


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Life, as we knew it...

I had begun this post way back in May, but never posted it. I decided to update it and include it in my blog to document our life's journey - whether good or bad. So, while a bit out of order, here is my long-saved and updated post of "Life, as we knew it..." You don't need to feel obligated to read it, unless you suffer from CoVid boredom.

Life was a routine that we followed with our eyes closed. We enjoyed, loved, hated, looked forward to or dreaded days, but never paid much attention to the minutia in our daily lives - like toilet paper. 

COVID-19 taught us much about life through the poor souls it claimed and by the extreme political battle that ensued. 

All of a sudden, we needed to disengage "auto pilot" and fly on our own. Our thoughts, behaviors and feelings changed. Fear was felt and, defiance was exhibited.

The best and worst were brought out in people and it was rewarding to witness selfless generosity and bravery, but disappointing to see it met with selfish disregard by more people than I had dreamed possible. Behaviors, such as hoarding sanitizing products, food, and even firearms, along with proclamations of one's civil rights to not wear a mask, became the daily stressors blasted on the news endlessly.

When the virus hit the plains states, meat factories were slowing or shutting down due to employees contracting the virus. Tons of food were destroyed due to not having the means to prepare it for shipping, or to get a trucker to move it cross-country. 

It was interesting that the most "essential" workers, besides those in the medical and First Responder fields, were our farmers and the lower wage earners at Home Depot, Lowe's, grocery stores and pharmacies. When we do get out into the world to shop, we should thank all those who risked their health and safety because their store didn't close or they had no choice but to work. 

People mark certain events in their lives by the major catastrophes they've lived through. I have several: I have the "time before or after" my mom passed away, the "time before or after" the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations, the Viet Nam War, my diagnosis of Type I Diabetes, the World Trade disaster, Pentagon attack and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, and the time before and after my first marriage. 

Sounds, the texture of a fabric, a mention of the date, or songs can ricochet me back in time and I can feel the hurt or pain as if it had immediately happened.  A new "time before or after" is in the works as we travel through the Twilight Zone of "The Wuhan, China Virus," the Corona Virus, the Sars-2 Virus, CoVid, CoVid-19 and the last moniker assigned - the "Novel Corona Virus."

Many young people today have only vague memories of 9/11 or of the other events I listed above, including, but not limited to World War I, the Spanish Flu of 1919-20, the 1920 Stock Market Crash, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, World War II or the Cuban Missal Crisis. CoVid-19 might just be their first "before and after."


Surreal - Grand Central Station in March 2020


Sight along I-95 in New Jersey

Pick a mask, any mask.


Photo Courtesy Aleta Weyrick, Smokey Sky in Central-costal Oregon
 from California, Oregon and Washington State Fires. Taken before sunset.


Depending upon your source for news, that's where you will obtain your collection of lies and half-truths as it relates to the true origination, accurate cause and effect, and treatment options of CoVid. There are also mega amounts of data being manipulated in different ways by different States, doctors, citizens and neighbors. I have decided to believe NO news station that is owned by a conglomerate, where the news is "directed and written by" the people who will make the most money from viewers that tune in to watch. For example, CBS/Viacom is owned by National Amusements, an entertainment and movie theater industry that owns Paramount Pictures, CBS News, CBS Radio. Guess who is telling your news anchors what to wear, what to say, and how to say it?  ABC is owned by Disney, and they inflict their skew on the news. Since everything in Disney Land and Disney World is an illusion of what the "Imagineers" want you to believe, so is the news they are doling out.  The news we receive is the result of the movie industry and Disney's head CEO. Why do you think so many actors and actresses spout their political opinions? I 'm still waiting for Goofy and Dopey to be interviewed on the 10 pm news. 




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States were slowly lifting their bans on businesses, and while I feel the news has over-inflated the entire pandemic, I know it is a reality, and the economic, social, physical and emotional toll has been devastating. As we approach the fall and winter of 2020, a vaccine is supposedly becoming available, but so too is the flu season. As of the update to this blog entry, states are now enforcing bans again due to the rise in CoVid cases. Houses of worship and schools are the main culprit due to people beginning to return to their "old normal," but, they are in denial that their "old normal" is no longer.

News has skewed this virus into a political joke, hoax, pharmaceutical exaggeration and a divisive tool being used against the citizens of this country. I no longer know who or what to believe. I don't believe in the number of deaths that hospitals reported, because they received money for every Covid death, even if a person died from being hit by a bus, but tested positive for CoVid.  I believe it was intentionally created and spread by China as a passive/aggressive means of warfare. I believe that washing your hands often, avoiding crowds and wearing masks is the way to go for now. 

Each person who reads this blog today is a participant in a historic era. I wanted to document what I observed and experienced. It will be interesting to see if even one child kept a diary of how this tragedy unfolded and how it effected their lives. I don't think many really understand the enormity of it all, because it hasn't even fully played out yet.  

Generations to follow will hear stories about living before and after these times. Historic moments spun together in a wild tapestry made up of pieces of CoVid, a super hurricane season, BLM, worst West Coast fires ever, the first hospitalization of a sitting president, a contentious presidential election, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes happening in areas not inclined to have them, about those who did and did not survive, the sacrifices made by ordinary heroes.

The grandmother who raised me is frequently on my mind and I can hear her words and know how she would act if faced with this hardship.  She survived the Great Depression and told me many stories of what she had to do to overcome the many obstacles she faced, like the food rations and shortages, having to pawn her wedding bands and engagement ring, my grandfather working away from home, and having to eventually go on "Welfare," something she found degrading and embarrassing. Fortunate for me, I listened.

We, like everyone else, stocked up the necessities and adjusted our calendars and ways of approaching little things like: 
  • Cancelling hair and nail appointments. 
  • Cutting napkins in half.
  • Being more aware of how many toilet tissue sheets I actually needed. Gee, I began to think: "I can do this in four sheets, no...I can do it in three sheets."
  • Water was added to my shampoo and dish soap.
  • Paper towels were used sparingly and sometimes left to dry and reuse.
  • Sanitizer and masks are in each car, purse and pocket.
  • I learned how to cut George's hair.
  • Soap was stocked up and used constantly.
  • Hand cream is near every sink to sooth the chapped hands from the sanitizer and hand washing.
  • A big order had been sent off to Chewy.com so Lucy was fully stocked with food, treats and litter.
  • Baby wipes were purchased and stored for good measure.
  • The freezer was filled.
  • Canned beans and rice were stocked in the closet.
  • Bottled water was stored along with toilet paper and paper towel.
  • Sinks are washed more often, towels are changed out more frequently. 
  • Electronics, door knobs and pulls are wiped down every night.

During all of this, the world did not stop turning and things did not stop happening, The "new" normal played out and some handled it better than others. 

I shall end this on a positive note. I feel fortunate to be where I am and who I am with. I thank God for the timing of certain things. I pray that the world will emerge from this better than before. That time spent with family will again be important. The well-being of our friends will be more in the forefront of our minds. Life will be considered precious and lived more to the fullest - for all.

Deep thought for the day:  Find joy in every day. It is something easy to do when things are going well, but when times get challenging, we need to find strength and joy from within ourselves or in the little things.  ~vc~

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Meet Stella, the cat formally known as Taylor.

My last blog entry was dedicated to the memory of my beautiful Lucy Lu. There were many things I thought of afterward that I forgot to mention, like her gorgeous green eyes and how she loved to watch bird videos and TV. Among her favorite movies were Ice Age, Happy Feet, Toy Story and Life of Pi. She loved the Animal Planet as well as any TV commercial that included a cat. 

As I tried to convince myself that I didn’t think I could ever have a cat that I could train to be an RV warrior, I kept finding myself on animal shelter and rescue sites every night. I would tear up, looking at the sad faces of the older cats and then smile at the kittens who I knew would be adopted in a heartbeat. So, each night as I shut down my iPad, I said, “No. Nope. No way. No how. No cat.” 

For weeks, I watched You Tube videos about cats. All kinds of videos about funny cats, cat tricks, cat training, abandoned cats, shelter cats and old cats waiting to die in a cage because they are the most difficult to re-home. I knew I’d never get a kitten, because I wouldn’t want to worry about it outliving us. Lucy lived to 18, so I figured that an older cat would be perfect – already litterbox trained and in need of a warm lap, but I was not going to get a cat. 

Unwittingly (?), my next few weeks were filled with searching the NY area for cats and didn’t see any that tugged at my heart, so I began to search the FL shelters and came across a website called PetFinder. Well, if you are ever looking for a pet and could not find one on that site, I’d be shocked. 

During the holidays, PetSmart hosts a "Photo Op With Santa" fundraiser where any pet can be photographed sitting on Santa's lap. Some of the adoptable animals are photographed as well to help in their adoption process and Taylor was one of them. Fate was about to twist for Taylor once her photo was uploaded to the PetFinder site around Christmas 2019.

I had my search narrowed down to include only short-haired, adult or senior females. Not many popped up, but as I clicked on one after the other, I came across the photo of Taylor sitting on Santa’s lap. I continued looking through the short search, yet I returned several times to the photo of the cat with Santa and as I looked into her eyes, I could just imagine, if she were human, her wish. 

I inquired about Taylor and came to learn that she never had a “furever” home. She was a Manx/Tabby stray someone either trapped or turned into the Humane Society in Gadsden, Alabama in 2011 when she was about two-years old. She hadn’t been altered so the chances that she had already had a litter or two by that time are quite probable. Manx cats originated on the Isle of Mann, which is located off the coast of Scotland. The species genetically altered over hundreds of years to have no tail, or just a stub. They are shaped more like a rabbit when crouched and they tend to hop more than run. I can attest to the fact that Manx jump VERY high and run VERY fast. 

Her two other photos on Pet Finder above and below.



I’m not sure how she made it to a non-profit called, Aristocats, in Orange City, Florida, but she had been in a no-kill shelter and caged for about five years. Lucky for Taylor, in April of 2019, she found her way to the foster home of a nice woman named Jennifer. At her home, she was free to roam, but she chose to keep to herself. She didn’t care to pal around with the other cats or dogs, but if kittens arrived, she would take on a motherly role and hang out with them until, one by one, they became adopted or transferred to other foster homes. 

I give kudos to people like Jennifer who dedicate a tremendous amount of time, effort, and love to cats without homes. In addition to the everyday feeding and care of her fosters, she would bring a group of animals to PetSmart on Adoption Days and have the cages stacked. Of course, kittens went faster than older cats, so Taylor traveled back home with Jennifer each time. Jennifer told me that she had come to accept the fact that Taylor would never be adopted, and she had no problem with keeping her forever, but she would be just as happy if she could find her furever home.  

A few calls and several texts were exchanged between Jennifer and me, and plans were quickly put into place to meet. I placed a curb-side pick-up for essential items from the PetSmart where we were to make the exchange. We were all ready for a cat! Litter pan, scoop, litter, travel bag, bed, scratch boxes and a blanket filled the trunk. Jennifer snapped a photo of Taylor after loading her into the front seat of her truck. Taylor’s life was about to change - and so was ours. 

Last time in a cage! 

Jennifer said her goodbye to Taylor and I'm sure the moment was bittersweet. They had bonded, but Jennifer knew the best thing for Taylor was to go with us. 

Taylor did not like being in the carry bag at all during the ride back to the RV and once there, she was frightened of the new environment. She kept searching for a place to hide and, although the new place was strange, it did contain several great hiding spots. 

I knew from the start that the name Taylor would not survive the relationship. I had a couple of names picked out – Gracie and Rosie, but those were names I had considered for Lucy. Taylor deserved a name meant just for her. I texted a photo of her to several people, including my brother, Steve, and he asked me what I named her? I said I hadn’t decided, and he suggested, Stella. Right then and there, I knew she was a “Stella.” She is really a “Stella Bella,” which is Italian for “Beautiful Star.” 

In August, Stella made her first RV trip from Clermont, FL to Tampa, FL; which is about a two-hour ride. She didn’t like it at all. After a month, she took her next journey to New York that was close to 2,000 miles. By the last day of the four-plus-day trip, she had the routine down pat. We will be taking a three-hour trip soon to New Jersey and I hope she remembers these routines. 

Check out the photos below to see how we are all adjusting. Trust and love have sprouted and continue to grow stronger every day. Future entries about Stella adapting to life on the road will follow. 

I know cats don't have human thoughts and feelings, but I did come to realize what that cat sitting on Santa’s lap had wished for all her life – it was to be named Stella. 

Straight out of the bag into the RV for the first time.

Her favorite spot right from the start.

First day out on a leash. We like this treat.

I could have named her "Nosy Nellie!"

Not much goes on without her checking it out.

Allowing Dad to touch her! Major step. See, she's tailless.

The bond has solidified, and I think she has a preferred lap.

Just being bella

Ahhh. My favorite photo. Pure contentment.


Deep thought for the day: To be content doesn't mean you don't desire more, it means you're thankful for what you have and patient for what's to come." ~ Tony Gaskins