Category Archives: Pets

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort (Foxboro, MA)

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort (Foxboro, MA)

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Normandy Farms is huge.  It’s probably the largest campground we’ve stayed at except for Cherry Hill just outside of D.C.  There’s so much to do at Normandy Farms, but we didn’t have much time to partake.  We spent most of our time traveling to Boston to visit with my dad and his lady love Sindy.

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The rates vary depending on the season and how many services you’re looking for.  They break it out nicely on their website so it was pretty clear to us.  They do give a discount if you’re a member of one of the big clubs.  The office is open late and well-stocked with RV supplies, gift items, and small groceries.  The roaring fire made me want to camp out on the sofa there instead of at our site!  Did I mention that it was 20 degrees during our visit?! NormandyFarms1

Surprisingly, we had a lot of company during our stay over Veterans Day weekend.   The place was overrun with kids dashing between playgrounds, families walking their dogs, and couples riding bicycles on the nature paths.  We took the bark babies to the dog park, the brisk air quickening our steps and theirs.  The dogs enthusiastically darted around, sniffing and plowing through the dead leaves.  The dog park is really cool – with a dog wash area, a separate enclosed run for small dogs, an agility course, and fenced-in “cabins” where you can leave your dog for a time.  The “cabins” and dog walking services are available for a fee.

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Normandy Farms closes for the season on November 30th.  They kept the water on through the long holiday weekend and then shut it off that Tuesday morning.  They advised us of that when we made our reservation and again when we checked in, so we were prepared.  It was obvious that most of our fellow campers were there just for the holiday because the place emptied out pretty quickly on Monday.

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Normandy Farms is the first “resort” RV park we’ve stayed at, and it lived up to its description.  There’s swimming, a recreation lodge, a creative arts enter, and business & information center, a fitness center, playgrounds, the dog park, a bike park and disc golf.  While we were there, they were hosting movie night and candy bar bingo.  That’s all in addition to plenty of pull-through, full hook-up sites with grassy strips and picnic tables.  This would be an awesome place for families, and we would’ve loved to stay when we could do all the nifty stuff they have to offer.  My dad wasn’t really up to making the 45-minute trek from Boston to hang out with us, so we were away almost more than we were there.

NormandyFarmsDogWelcomeBags I loved the doggie welcome bags that we received upon check-in.  There was a biscuit for each bark baby along with poop bags and notes on the rules and amenities for dogs.  My favorite part was the personalized tag for each dog that had their names on one side and our campsite on the other.  This is a b-i-g park.  How to smart to make sure that, if they got away, whomever found them would know who they were and where to return them.

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A country vet visit

A country vet visit

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:  http://livingthervlife.com/interview-with-adventures-in-a-hallway/

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

Tower Campground (Sioux Falls, SD)

Tower Campground (Sioux Falls, SD)

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Tower Campground is a year-round park in Sioux Falls that’s got easy access to all the stuff you want to see, like the U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial, Falls Park and the historic downtown.  Even better for our purposes, it was also a quick jaunt to Mike’s gig at J&L Harley, just four exits up the highway.  The proximity to the highway has led to some negative reviews of the campground because of the roadway roar.  Our rig is well insulated, so we didn’t really notice the noise inside.   Outside, yeah.  But, the trees buffer some of it.

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I don’t know if the staff was workcampers or owners, but they were super friendly and helpful.  While we were there, we had oodles of packages delivered, including two folding bikes.  They texted us when our multiple boxes arrived, and they helped me load those big boys into the Jeep.

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This was the perfect place to break in our new bikes because we were practically on top of the Big Sioux River Recreation Trail.   The nearly 26-mile route follows the Big Sioux River as it loops around the city.  In particular, we enjoyed the River Greenway, a paved bike trail that winds through scenic urban and wildlife areas.

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The park has full hook-ups and one pull-through spot, it looked like.  Of course, that was on our side, which I think was the newer side.  The other side looked packed, and I’m not sure if there were pull-throughs.

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Our one complaint about the campground was the Internet.  The Wi-Fi is free, but it’s very controlled.  If you hog bandwidth, they don’t just throttle you back; they cut you off completely.  Frustrating!  I spent my mornings at one of the Starbucks in town so that I could get my freelance work and blogging done.  Not a bad way to deal with the problem.

Despite our Wi-Fi woes, we enjoyed Tower Campground and would stay there again if we were back in the area.

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The one thing you MUST have for your RV

The one thing you MUST have for your RV

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane!  No, it’s the latest and greatest in must-have RV accessories.  It’s the Purr-alator!

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This cuddly contraption is a three-in-one motorhoming godsend.  It warms your seat as it quiets annoying road noise with a soft, steady purr – all while gently removing grime and grit with an exfoliating wash.  Don’t head out on the road until you have your very own Purr-alator!

Ours is the ‘Charlie’ model.  It was a highly successful, one-of-a-kind prototype that’s no longer available, but not to worry!  You can pick up an equally efficient version, in a range of color choices, at the local purveyor of repurposed pets.

Easy to maintain with a high return on investment, no motorhome should be without one!  Take good care of your Purr-alator, and it will last for over two decades like ours has.  Pick up a Purr-alator today for a lifetime of whiskered wellbeing!

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Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort (Nashville, TN)

Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort (Nashville, TN)

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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?

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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.

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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.)

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

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Rutledge Lake RV Park (Fletcher, NC)

Rutledge Lake RV Park (Fletcher, NC)

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Mike got a last-minute job in Fletcher, North Carolina, so we headed there after our stay in the Washington, D.C., area.  Rutledge Lake RV Park was just minutes away from the place he was working, so it was very convenient.   It’s a fairly small park but picturesque.  We liked everything about it, especially the ease with which we extended our stay.  When Mike was asked to work an extra day, the staff initially wanted to move us to another spot.  That would have been, of course, a pain because we’d have had to unhook and rehook for just one day.  After we asked to keep our existing site, the staff quickly called the arriving campers to see if they’d be open to going to another spot.  They were, and we were able to stay put.

Rutledge Lake, like many of the other places we’ve stayed, has quite a bit to offer:

  • 50-amp full hookup sites
  • Lakefront RV sites as well as some pull-through RV sites
  • Easy big rig access
  • Tent camping sites and cabin rentals, too
  • Open year round
  • Gated community with a 24-hour on call person available to answer any questions
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Pet friendly but no designated dog run
  • Bathhouse and laundry facility
  • Heated pool open from Memorial Day to Labor Day
  • Recreation room that is available for gatherings, playing pool, table tennis or relaxing in front of the tv and fireplace
  • The lake is stocked, and catch and release fishing is allowed
  • Paddle boats and canoes are available for rent for $5 for 4 hours
  • Propane fill station
  • Walking trails along the creek
  • Easy access to Asheville

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Loved this mural in the laundry room!

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The Undy 5000

The Undy 5000

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Anvil Campground (Williamsburg, VA)

Anvil Campground (Williamsburg, VA)

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We stayed at Anvil Campground while we were visiting family in the area.  As a Passport America park, the rates were more than reasonable for the campground’s long and impressive list of amenities:
  • Williamsburg’s only campground with shuttle services
  • Free wi-fi
  • First-class utility pedestals in select sites
  • Laser leveling in select sites
  • Free cable in select sites
  • 50-amp electrical
  • Paved throughways in the campground
  • Pet friendly
  • Recycling bins next to trash cans
  • Rental cottages
  • Discounted attraction tickets
  • Free public access computer
  • General store with complimentary coffee
  • Swimming pool that’s handicap-accessible
  • Three playgrounds
  • Shower and laundry facilities
  • Arcade, basketball and horseshoes
  • Fire ring and picnic table at every site

Anvil has been in operation since 1954, owned by the same family for three generations.  Maybe that’s why the staff is so friendly.  They seem to truly love the business that’s been handed down over decades.  The park is small but picturesque, with a walking/biking/running trail very close by.  Easy access to a variety of restaurants and shopping means minimal driving, or you can take the free shuttle into town.

The park’s name comes from the family’s blacksmithing past.  Great Grandfather and Grandfather helped to make wrought iron locks, hinges, gates and more n Colonial Williamsburg from 1929 to 1935.  You can see samples of these items – including the original namesake anvil – in the park’s general store.

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Amana Colonies RV Park (Amana, Iowa)

Amana Colonies RV Park (Amana, Iowa)

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Our home during the iRV2 2013 National Rally was the Amana Colonies RV Park.  The campground sits on 60 acres near the scenic Lily Lake and Kolonieweg Recreation Trail.    There are 136 full hook-up sites, 278 water & electric sites, and 48 dry & tent camping sites with optional 20-amp electricity. Three buildings are available for meetings and events, totaling over 20,000 square feet of rental space, which made it a great location for the rally.

  • As you can tell from this aerial shot, taken with Mike’s quadcopter,  the sites are fairly level, gravel pull-throughs with grass on both sides.  Picnic tables are situated on most of the sites.
  • The park offers electrical, water, and sewer hook-ups as well as tent camping.  You have your choice of 20-, 30- or 50-amp electricity.
  • Pets are welcome.  There’s no designated pet area, so you’re free to walk your bark babies wherever you’d like as long as you clean up after them.
  • Dumpsters are placed at various intersections throughout the park, providing plenty of places to dispose of your trash.
  • The free wi-fi was pretty good, especially considering how many campers there were during the week of the event.
  • There’s a laundromat and a dump station, and liquid propane is available.
  • With the Old Creamery Theatre adjacent to the park, you can easily walk over to see a play.
  • Because most of the roads are gravel, some people felt it was dusty.  We found that if we drove the speed limit, dust was not an issue.

The campground hosts were very friendly.  We had several packages delivered while were there, and they brought one batch of boxes right to our rig.  Great service!

In addition to seeing a play, there’s plenty of stuff to do while you’re staying there: a walking tour, dining out, a bike ride. It’d be fun to come back for one of the craft shows, music festivals, and pet events that they regularly hold there.