Category Archives: Family

Sunday morning hike

Sunday morning hike

hiking, Red Rock, Las Vegas, Nevada, Calico Basin, travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, exercise, outdoors

While we were back in Vegas, we returned to a cherished tradition: a weekend hike in Red Rock with friends and the bark babies. Sheryl is a fellow writer. She’s full of sass and sarcasm and funny as heck.



She’s also a dog lover, mama of a cream-colored girl named Akasha. Sheryl helped us find our little man Meeko at the adoption center after a hike last spring. She drove him home for us. On this warm, clear Sunday, the dogs roamed free while we got caught up, periodically stopping to admire the stunning backdrop we’d been away from for so long.


Christmas Morning in Downtown Vegas

Christmas Morning in Downtown Vegas

travel, photography, downtown Vegas, Christmas, Christmas morning, Hogs & Heifers, picture-in-a-picture

Christmas morning • outside the Downtown Grand • @Downtown3rd #Vegas • looking at the bar where Mike and I met

travel, photography, downtown Vegas, Christmas, Christmas morning, Hogs & Heifers, picture-in-a-picture

The beauty of staying at Main Street Station’s RV Park in Vegas is its proximity to the newly revamped downtown. After a relaxing brunch on Christmas morning, we wandered around a bit, checking out the new development and snapping pics. A perfect way to start the holiday!

Wogging on the Charles River

Wogging on the Charles River


“I thought this was one of those crazy mud things you’re always doing,” Mike said as I was picking up my bib from the tent near the river.  We were in Boston on a drizzly Sunday morning so I could do the Boston River Run along the Charles.

“If I’d known it was a regular run, I might have done it with you.”

I wrapped my arms around him, squeezing tight and grinning up at him as I said, “You still can! They have on-site registration!”

He sighed knowing he was beat and let me drag him over to the next table so he could sign up.

And that’s how we ended up wogging (walk-jogging) our first New England 5K together.  We walked most of it, sprinting for the photo opps and the finish line.  We held hands and laughed and took delightful detours – discovering graffiti aliens and wrecked crew boats – because we were too wrapped up in the moment to keep track of the other runners.   It wasn’t my fastest 5K, but it was definitely one of my best.










A country vet visit

A country vet visit


Tiny little drops of red on the white tile.  We thought he was eating something he shouldn’t until we saw the blood.  Meeko was licking his paw, trying to soothe a torn dewclaw that was hanging precariously off his foot.


Some quick Googling and a short phone call revealed that Stowe Veterinary Clinic was close by and open.  We followed a hunched elderly woman with pink sneakers – and her equally elderly sausage dog – into the building.  She told the receptionist that her husband didn’t like her to be out after dark.  The receptionist assured her that Fido would be ready for pick-up well before sundown.  We were next after Grandma Pink Sneakers, and Dr. Goodson took us into an exam room within minutes.  It had to be some kind of speed record because we’d never been seen that fast in Vegas or in Milwaukee where the last pet emergency had occurred.


It also turned out to be the cheapest vet visit ever.  Pulling Meeko’s bad claw, applying ointment and a bandage, and giving us a rainbow-striped leash and excellent advice about how to handle Meeko’s situational aggressiveness set us back a mere $47.  Part of it was that Meeko was thoughtful enough to hurt himself on a weekday.  Charlie’s raging ear infection, as evidenced by him repeatedly stumbling and restlessly roaming the RV while yowling continuously, came to a head on a  Sunday.  So we had emergency fees to pay along with extensive testing (could the oddly dilated pupils be a brain tumor?) and antibiotics.  Several hundred dollars later, Charlie was a new cat, and our bank account was wiped out.


No vet visit is complete without recovery treats.  We found some at the Cabot Annex Store in Waterbury.  Strange – considering it’s a cheese place, and these nibbles were entirely fromage-free.  They were just too cute to pass up, and of course, we had to get one for Sadie, too.  While Meeko was the patient, Sadie was suffering at home, worrying for her brother.  Or, at least, that’s what we told ourselves.  Treats were given out, heads were patted, bark babies were cooed over, and all was well with the world after our first visit to a country vet.


Note:  We all know that an emergency fund for rig issues is important.  But if you have pets, it’s a good idea to set aside some extra money for emergencies for them, too.  Pet insurance may also be a good option, although I don’t know if it’s accepted everywhere and in every circumstance.

Talking about Living the RV Life

Talking about Living the RV Life


We’re famous!

Well, not really.  smile emoticon

But we are very honored that we got to tell our story to Bobby & Sue of the Living the RV Life podcast and share it with all of their listeners.

It was such a treat, chatting with them about their plans to head out on the road, dishing on our experiences over the first four months of our motorhoming escapade.  Thanks, Bobby & Sue!

You can listen here:

And be sure to subscribe to their podcast to get all the latest info about living the RV life.

Cannonsburgh Village

Cannonsburgh Village


If you have ever been curious about what it was like to live in Tennessee in pioneering days, a walk through Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro will scratch that itch.  The charming village encapsulates southern life from the 1830s to the 1930s.  A free self-guided tour of the six-acre area takes you by a gristmill, a school house, telephone operator’s house, the University House, the Leeman House, a museum, a caboose, the wedding chapel, a doctor’s office, a general store, a blacksmith’s shop, a well, and more.



We were there after-hours, so we couldn’t go inside the buildings.  Just wandering among the rustic structures was entertaining.  And I bet the interiors are even cooler than the exteriors!



Mike’s favorite part of the village was the tractor shed in back.  It showcases tractors used in Middle Tennessee between 1920 and 1950.  Mike was surprised to discover that one of the tractors was a Porsche.  Come to find out, Porsche’s first diesel model was the tractor.  There’s even a whole website devoted to these vintage farm vehicles!


Cannonsburgh Village is a nifty stop any time, but I imagine that it’d really come alive during Pioneer Days in April, when there’s storytelling, hayrides, cloggers and dancing, bluegrass music, an antique auto show, blacksmith demos, a craft fair and food vendors.  

Hazen’s Brigade Monument

Hazen’s Brigade Monument


The timing of our stop in D.C. was fortuitous.  We were there right before the government shutdown, so everything was open.  We weren’t so lucky when Stevi took us to Murfreesboro to check out some Civil War sites.  But we didn’t let that deter us, and we drove around until we found places we could still visit.  One of them was Hazen’s Brigade Monument.



Hazen’s Brigade Monument is a large stone structure built from thick limestone blocks that stands on the grounds of the Stones River Battlefield National Cemetery.  It was completed in May, 1863, four months after the Battle of Stones River. The monument is the oldest intact Civil War Memorial and was dedicated to the memory of the soldiers who perished during the battle.



The downside of the visitor center being shuttered (because of the shutdown) was that we missed the opportunity to check out the “time capsule” objects.  They were found in 1985 when the monument was being repaired.   Nine battle-related items were found, including symbolically arranged artillery shells and musket barrels.



There are two graves that lie outside the walls of the Hazen’s Brigade Monument.  William Holland and his grandson William Harlan were both U.S. military veterans.  William Holland lived long enough – 70 years – to go from being a slave, basically a piece of property, at the beginning of his life, to ending his life as a property owner and an American citizen.

Most monuments are built 30 years or more after the event by contractors.  Hazen’s Brigade Monument is unique in that it was built by comrades of the men buried there, mere months after they’d died.  How extraordinary that our modern fingers can touch those very same stones that Civil War soldiers assembled in loving tribute to their fallen brothers in arms!


Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort (Nashville, TN)

Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort (Nashville, TN)


It was happy news when the GPS routed us through Nashville on our way to Mike’s next gig in Sioux Falls.  Nashville is close to where Mike’s oldest daughter, Stevi, lives in Smyrna.  Since we had a few days to kill, why not spend them with Stevi, catching up with her and delving into the history of the area?



We chose Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort for a few reasons: good reviews, pretty lake views and an on-site adventure park.  The park has 84 RV sites, all with some sort of view of Percy Priest lake.   Rates range from $45 to $55 a night.  At this time of year, the adventure park is only open on the weekends.  Since we arrived late on a Saturday night and were leaving Tuesday morning, that left Sunday as my only day to do the zipline and ropes course.  Unfortunately, the weather was abominable on Sunday.  Although the course is open rain or shine, the heavy wet drops and cold winds were not conducive to a positive outdoor experience.  I chose to stay cozied up with Mike and the pet babies, getting stuff done in the RV and reading.



Nashville Shores has the best dog run of all the campgrounds we’ve visited so far.   The long enclosure is shaded by tall, leafy trees and has picnic tables where owners can sit comfortably while watching their bark babies cavort.  Meeko had room to run flat out, and Sadie delighted in dashing back and forth, barking vociferously at kids on bicycles on the other side of the fence.  (The KOA in Laramie, Wyoming, is a close second with its fenced-in doggie agility course.)


We enjoyed Nashville Shores in the fall, but it’d be even better in the summer when the water-based amenities are open and the adventure park is running every day.

  • Laundromat
  • Horseshoes, volleyball, basketball and shuffleboard
  • Pet-friendly with dog park
  • Waterpark with wave pool and lazy river, multiple water slides, pools, beach, lake cruises and much more – open seasonally
  • Treetop adventure park – open seasonally
  • 310-slip marina with fuel dock – open seasonally
  • Private access to Percy Priest Lake
  • Waterfront RV sites
  • Pull-through sites
  • Free cable
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • 50-amp full hook-ups
  • Fishing
  • Nature trails
  • Camp store
  • Bathhouse
  • Playground

Sadie meeting her “cousin”, a 15-year-old Boston named Samantha, who, like Sadie, is petite and tailless



A final goodbye at Arlington

A final goodbye at Arlington


Evelyn, Mike’s mum, passed away in early 2012.  She was in her 80s and had suffered from dementia for the entire six years I’d known her.

Despite her memory issues, she was a lovely, vibrant woman.  She had silvery hair, large, expressive eyes, and an easy, hearty laugh.  I occasionally caught glimpses of the woman she was before the disease gained its foothold.  She’d be feisty and funny, and I could picture her overseeing a household of boys and one adopted girl as well as the assorted cousins that would come over for Sunday dinner.

When I first started dating Mike, on the weekends, I would bring a big suitcase over to the house he shared with his mum and his brother Patrick.  Along with clothes and toiletries, I always packed several Z Bars for me and Evelyn.  She loved the chocolaty, kid-friendly nutrition bars as much as I did.  Maybe because we were both kids at heart.  I’d make us each a cup of tea and perch on the arm of her easy chair while we sipped and munched and shared stories.  I’d rub her back, and sometimes, if I’d had a bad day, she’d rub mine and tell me it’d be okay.

When Evelyn couldn’t be left alone anymore, Mike and Patrick were faced with how to watch her 24/7 when they both worked.  Unfortunately, she made too much money for assistance but too little to pay for the type of nursing home facility that can take care of dementia patients.  A godsend came in the form of one their cousins who lived in California.  Collette, a stay-at-home grandma, and her family were able to take Evelyn in, and they were close enough that we could still easily visit.  I would send Evelyn homemade cards with photos and news from our crazy life.  When Mike and I got married in 2009, one of Collette’s granddaughters brought Evelyn to Vegas so she could be there to celebrate with us.  One of my most treasured photos is of Evelyn with her own three granddaughters.  She’s in purple; the girls are wearing satin sheaths in varying jewel tones, and they’re all beautiful.

Once Mike got his pilot’s license, we would fly from Vegas to California, pick Evelyn up and take her to the bookstore.  She loved Danielle Steel, so we’d buy her the author’s latest installment.  It didn’t matter if she’d already read it.  She wouldn’t remember, so it’d be new to her regardless.  After that, we’d take her to dinner and have those heartbreaking conversations where the same questions were asked over and over again.  When we would leave her to return home, she’d cry and beg to be taken home to be with her boys.  We would explain, but no words could take away the sadness in her eyes.  I felt so badly for Mike at those times.  It was crushing for him to see her like that and to have to leave her behind.

After Evelyn passed, we went through her things.  I found all the cards I’d sent her, all the gifts I’d given her like the picket fence picture frame and the box with the bold flower print that once contained lemony tea bags.  She had saved it all.  I bawled like a baby, and  I still do when I think about it.

Mike’s dad, for whom he’s named, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 2003, and it was Evelyn’s wish that we reunite her with her husband of over 50 years.  It took more than a year for Mike’s, Patrick’s and their older brother Raymond’s schedules to sync up, so we didn’t make it to Arlington until late September 2013.  Before the ceremony, we toured the cemetery.  We talked and walked and marveled at the history of the place.  The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns was particularly moving.

Finally, the moment came for us to bid Evelyn a final goodbye.  The chaplain’s ceremony was short and as heartfelt as he could make it for someone he didn’t know.  Raymond had brought along a picture and a small elephant to be buried with her.  Elephants were another thing Evelyn and I had in common.   She collected them, and I still do, although I’ve yet to find a place for all of them in the RV.

Before we left Evelyn for the last time, I touched both the photo and the trinket at the gravesite.  I am so grateful to have known this amazing, beautiful woman and so honored that she allowed me the privilege of loving her son.  Rest in peace, Evelyn.  You will always be in our hearts.












The Undy 5000

The Undy 5000


Because we were having such a wonderful time with Grant, Barbie and their daughter Catie in Virginia Beach, we didn’t make it to DC to do the Diva Dash.  Instead, I ended up doing the Undy 5000 a week later.  It wasn’t an obstacle race, but it was notable because it was my first event with a dog.  While Mike and Sadie cheered from the sidelines, our little athlete Meeko was my running buddy.  He did great.  At the halfway mark, I joked with the race volunteers that if Meeko was running by himself, we’d already have finished.



The Undy 5000 is a family-friendly, dog-friendly 5K run/walk that was created by the Colon Cancer Alliance as a fundraising event.  All through the course there are informational placards about colon cancer, and the finish area has a giant blow-up colon showing how malignant polyps and advanced cancer look.  Participants are encouraged to run in their “undies” to bring attention to the area affected by colon cancer.  We were so busy doing stuff in DC that I didn’t have a chance to go shopping for a top-notch costume.  So, the night before the race, I created an outfit with a polka-dotted tank top, lace-trimmed boxer shorts, and striped tights.  Not my best look, but it worked.  Meeko was the real star of the show anyway.



The race was held in Rock Creek Park.  Not only is the park stunning, but it also has quite a history.

For millennia, American Indians quarried rock outcroppings to make tools, fished the creek, and hunted wild game in the woodlands. In the 1600s and early 1700s, European Americans claimed title to the land. As tobacco farming and African American slavery became more widespread, Georgetown was chartered at the mouth of Rock Creek. In the late 1700s and into the 1800s, tobacco farming exhausted the soil, resulting in many farmers switching to wheat and corn production. Gristmills, the most successful being Peirce Mill, were constructed along Rock Creek to convert grain into flour.

The Rock Creek area was deforested during the U.S. Civil War. Logs and branches were felled and then laid out systematically throughout the soon-to-be park by Union soldiers to make a Confederate march through the valley impossible. Civil War fortifications in and around the valley bombarded General Jubal Early’s Confederate troops during the July, 1864 Battle of Fort Stevens.

In 1890, Rock Creek Park became one of the first federally managed parks. Since then, citizens seeking recreation and re-creation in nature have sought out this 1700 acre park.

Doing events like this is one of the many wonderful things about our nomadic lifestyle.  I am fortunate to run in lovely, historic places all around the country, places I’d normally never get to experience.