June 21, 2018 Samantha ( Sam )

Sam in Colorado
Sam in Colorado

Samantha

At the relatively young age of just twelve years and ten months, Sam has left Pearl and I on our own to continue on this trip. After a week of being in obvious pain, two trips to the vet to try and find a solution for that pain, I made the decision to let her her go, to suffer no more.

Sam
Sam

Though I have been through this nine times in the past, most recently with Jenny, just a little less than two years ago, it doesn’t get any easier with experience. Sam has had breast tumors, fatty or cancerous undetermined, for the past couple of years and has also experienced back problems a couple of times in the past.

A week ago, she acted like her back was out again, not wanting to move, and in obvious pain. Medications would help and bring her out of it for a few hours each day, but the majority of her time was spent hunched up and unwilling to move. Trying to get pills down her her throat would often get her screaming in pain when forcing her mouth open. After several days of hoping to see some progress in coming out of this as she usually would do when her back went out, it became evident that this was most likely not just her back being thrown out, and perhaps was a matter of cancer spreading through her body.

I always feel guilty about these decisions, trying to determine what is best for the dog, continuing to search for a possible way to extend life, and forcing her to deal with more pain, or ending her suffering when perhaps there could be a solution to the problem. Whichever way I go, I am always afraid I may have made the wrong choice.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

Sam and Jenny were buddies for eleven years and seemed to very much enjoy the move from the house in New Hampshire to our mobile dwelling over five years ago.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

The two were all but inseparable and truly enjoyed exploring new sights, sounds, and smells along the road.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

Really not a terrible life for a dog that enjoys being with their owner pretty much 24 hours a day, every day of their life.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

Sam never knew what a dog collar or leash felt like as she was perfectly trained by Jenny ( and a little by myself ) to always obey voice or hand commands, would always walk right on my heel when we were in parking lots or truck stops and would never think to get out of the car or RV without being told it was OK to do so. She was a very intelligent dog. My only complaint was that she left Pearl on her own a little too soon, she didn’t get to finish her training of the now Six month old pup, leaving the rest up to me, I suppose.

Sam on Hummingbird Patrol
Sam on Hummingbird Patrol

Sam only had about 18 months of being top dog, actually only dog, after Jenny’s passing. With my own diagnosis of an incurable cancer last year, her presence meant a lot to me, as I went through chemo and had someone there to come back to after each session.

Sam and Merle
Sam and Merle

She was always a loyal and faithful little dog, with just one exception, when I volunteered at a Fish and Wildlife Birding Station in Salineno, Texas one winter. There, she developed an infatuation with Merle, leaving me the impression that she might choose to go live with him, until Merle and Lois adopted a large Labrador and Sam decided that Jenny and I would actually be a better home for her after all.

Sam and Pearl
Sam and Pearl

Just four short months ago, Pearl joined us while we were in Arkansas and Sam instantly adopted her as part of the family. Though at twelve definitely a senior citizen, Sam would rough house with her, watch over her, share anything but dog treats with her, and was slowly teaching her the ropes ( by example, of course ) of how to get along with their crotchety old owner.

Sam and Pearl
Sam and Pearl

A wonderful little dog that I believe did live a good life, but left way too soon. Both Pearl and I miss her terribly.

RIP, Sam.

May 16, 2018 Interior, South Dakota

Badlands Stormy Skies
Badlands Stormy Skies

A Couple Days Exploring Badlands National Park

Badlands Morning Color
Badlands Morning Color

I continue to rack up the miles in the poor old Prius driving the roads through the park.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

The sun rises very early here on the eastern edge of the Mountain Time Zone, so I am out the door by 6AM and head west through the park with the sun at my back.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

The colors are constantly changing depending on time of day and weather.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Sam Exploring the Badlands
Sam Exploring the Badlands

Sam is still active enough to want to accompany me out to spots to take photos, but is left in the dust by her new companion Pearl.

Badlands Stormy Skies
Badlands Stormy Skies

Stormy skies to the west change the feel of the landscape. Daytime temperatures have been in the high 80’s but the evenings cool down fast for comfortable sleeping.

Clouds Over the Badlands
Clouds Over the Badlands

Gorgeous cumulus clouds cast shadows on the landscape

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep

I encounter a small group of Bighorn Rams each morning …

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep

… and again as I return back to camp in the afternoon.

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dogs

There are numerous Prairie Dog communities throughout the park and the surrounding  cattle grazing land.

Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dog Lookout
Badlands Prairie Dog Lookout

Some of these communities must contain hundreds if not thousands of individuals.

Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

If you scan these Prairie Dog “Towns” carefully with some binoculars, often you can spot a Burrowing Owl or two.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

Shaky images taken at a very long distance.

Bison
A Formidable Obstacle in the Road

I have encountered a few Bison bulls, but have not seen any cows and calves.

Scratching Post
Scratching Post
Bison Portrait
Bison Portrait

I had hoped to do some boon docking at the site just south of the town of Wall when I leave here Friday, but the weather is calling for some nasty weather ( possibility of large hail with violent thunderstorms ) and the road accessing those sites can get too sloppy for my rig after heavy rains, so I will continue to head west to Yellowstone and hope I can find a place to stay.

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April 14, 2018 Marion, Kansas

Endless Prairie
Endless Prairie

The Strange Weather Continues

As I write this, I am staring out the motorhome window at swirling snow and swaying trees as the winds howl out of the north and the temperatures continue dropping, now at 30 degrees and supposed to continue falling to around 22 degrees tonight. Springtime in Kansas!

Endless Prairie
Endless Prairie

Yesterday, however, it was a balmy 50 degrees with the wind howling out of the south with gusts up to 45 mph. The heavy clouds with intermittent sun made for some nice opportunities to shoot prairie landscapes, though it was no simple task to keep the camera from shaking.

Abandoned Farmhouse
Abandoned Farmhouse
Abandoned Stone Farmhouse
Abandoned Stone Farmhouse
Abandoned Farmhouse
Abandoned Farmhouse

Lots of abandoned farmhouses and barns in this part of the state, though most of the wooden barns I have come across have long ago given way to the elements.

Stone Barn
Stone Barn

This barn, built in the 1880’s, with stone walls 18″ thick, most likely will be standing for quite a while yet.

Bison Herd
Bison Herd

A shot of one of the bison herds that have been reestablished in the state of Kansas, this one at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.

Maltese
Growing Up Fast

Pearl is growing up fast! Big enough now to really give poor old Sam fits, just harasses the living daylights out of her.

Maltese
Windblown

This shot gives you an idea of just how hard the wind is blowing out here. As with everything else, the howling winds and blowing snow do not faze Pearl in the least, outside playtime is enjoyed whatever the conditions may be.

Her bold nature almost did her in two days ago as a large, rangy bobcat sauntered into our campsite around 7AM while I was outside with the two dogs for them to do their morning business. The cat eyed Pearl, then me, then Pearl, as if trying to decide if I was enough of a deterrent to her being able to grab an expensive breakfast. Just as the cat decided to give up that idea, Pearl spotted the cat and started to run her way. Thankfully, she responded when I bellowed her name, and stopped before she got close enough for the bobcat to react. Since Pearl is about the size of a very small rabbit, I have no doubt the bobcat was eyeing her as prey. I have always been on the watch for coyotes anywhere I camp, but I have to admit, it never occurred to me that a bobcat would be this bold, especially in broad daylight. Needless to say, I am now even more vigilant than before and try to make sure that Pearl doesn’t get very far from me no matter what time of day we are outside.

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April 3, 2018 Twin Points COE Campground, Oklahoma

 

Maltese
Pearl

Still Waiting Out Weather

Twin Points COE Campground

This morning I took this shot of my campsite here at Twin Points COE Campground on Skiatook Lake in Oklahoma. Don’t let the blue sky fool you, the rough weather continues, unabated. The howling wind out of the south woke me this morning, actually shaking the motorhome. Around 10 AM the wind started to turn around to the west, then the north, and this blue sky lasted about ten minutes as the wind changed. Temperatures Sunday night dropped into the 20’s, warmed to the low 40’s Monday, up to the 60’s today and predicted to dip back into the mid 20’s tonight with winds up to 35 mph. And of course, rain and possibly ice and/or snow.

Twin Points COE Campground is yet another very nice Corps of Engineers campground. Almost all the sites are located amongst the oaks, all are paved and most can handle a large rig, though a lot of them are sloped enough to make leveling your unit difficult. There is 50 amp electric at all sites and water spigots are located throughout the park. When I arrived there were only three or four others camped here and I snagged this great site on the water, though, as is way too often the case, I will have to move to another site as this one is reserved for the upcoming weekend.

Maltese
Constant Motion

Warning: Nothing but puppy shots from here on!

If you aren’t into cute little puppy shots, no need to read any farther. Though I have been making several road trips out into the surrounding country, I just haven’t yet found much of anything to shoot and the gray rainy weather has not been conducive to landscape photography.

Maltese
Pearl

Pearl is now at thirteen weeks and is growing rapidly, fortunately, also learning rapidly. Full of energy and developing her muscles with a lot of playful, exuberant exercise.

Maltese
Showoff

Constantly tormenting thirteen year old Sam running circles around her and attacking from all angles.

Maltese
Do I have to put up with this little twerp?

Sam dutifully puts up with her for the most part, but quite often looks at me to please get Pearl to leave her alone.

Maltese
Sight, Scent, Taste

Every trip outside, and there are a lot of them, about every hour and a half to encourage her house breaking habits, is an opportunity to explore as well as play.

Maltese
Takeout

She almost never comes to the door to be let back in without hauling something out the woods to take in with her.

Maltese
Diving In !

The drainage ditch along the driveway at this site is chock full of this winter’s oak leaves, about a foot deep, and this ditch has become Pearl’s favorite play station.

Maltese
Digging Down

Dives in …

Maltese
Pearl

… digs down ….

Maltese
Got One !

… and comes up with something …

Maltese
Digging In

… then repeat, repeat, repeat.

Maltese
Digging Deep
Maltese
Pearl
Maltese
Got One !
Maltese
The End Result

The end result, remember I told you the weather has been less than wonderful, a formerly white pup, needing a bath …

Maltese
The End Result

… but enjoying every minute of her time outside.

She still amazes me with her bold, shy away from nothing personality. She now has encountered several large dogs, many admiring people, hyper active kids, a pair of mallards, squirrels, heavy winds and rain, as well as cold weather, and nothing fazes her. Tail curled up ALWAYS and throwing caution to the wind, probably a little too bold for her own good. As a result, I am on constant alert trying to anticipate her next move, to make sure she doesn’t bite off more than she can chew.

She already is well aware of her name and comes when called … unless she is into something interesting, then she lifts her head to acknowledge hearing me, but then resumes pursuing whatever has her interest at that particular time. She always does eventually come back to the motorhome steps and bounds up them with ease now. Just three weeks with us and only 13 weeks old and yesterday we had our first 24 hour period with no accidents in the motorhome, not bad for a pup that age. Not saying she is housebroken yet, but she sure is getting the hang of it. Goes to the door and whines to go out when she feels the need and as long as I am paying attention, we’re OK. Quite smart, very bold, and fiercely independent. She is going to be a lot of fun to have around, but I think she is going to challenge me all along the way.

I originally planned to only stay here through Thursday and then head a bit farther north to another COE campground but the weather forecast once again calls for cold weather with possible freezing rain, so I am going to hunker down here through the weekend, still waiting for warmer springtime weather to make it’s appearance.¬†Guess I can always watch the Masters on TV, it must be springtime in Augusta.

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