Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011 In Central Florida

This is Christmas Eve and the early evening is simply beautiful here at our campground in Bushnell, Florida. Lexie and Ozzie have just finished their 6 pm walk during which we enjoyed a beautiful view of the first stars of the night.

Today was about as spectacular a day as we could have asked to have. Warm in the sun and cool in the shade.  We did nothing but relax. 

I did manage to snap a few pictures of Lexie and Ozzie in their 2011 Christmas shirts.  Let me share...

Being good

Did you say Santa is coming tonight?

Oh joy (jumping). I've been real good.

I'm always good and I give kisses.
My shirt says so.  "Meet Me Under The Mistletoe".

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dogs and Neighbors In Bushnell

I've met my match. Our neighbor here in Bushnell is as bad, or worse, than me about doting over his little dogs.  Joe and his wife, Pam are retired full-timers from Virginia. They have a Tibetan Spaniel named Izzy and Allie, a Maltese. Joe is a full-time papa to his girls and his devotion to his dogs very nearly surpasses my own to Lexie and Ozzie. Joe and I have shared dog stories.

On Monday, Joe decided to try his hand at grooming Allie. He and I set up a make-shift grooming table on our patio and he gave haircuts to his babies -- complete with regular kisses and baby-talk to all four dogs.  It was a great way to while away an afternoon. 

Working on Allie's paw pads. 

Izzie gets a full haircut. 

Lexie, Ozzie and Allie playing in while Izzy gets a haircut.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Photos of Lexie and Ozzie

Anyone who reads our blog or knows us knows how important our babies are to us.  This morning we awoke to another funny scene that can be attributed to Ozzie. Wayne left a new roll of bathroom tissue on the floor and Ozzie found it.  Most of the roll is strewn across the floor now.
Some of the toilet paper left by Ozzie.
Wonder how much of it he ate...

All is forgiven now as treats are being dispensed.

Ozzie, the troublemaker.

Lexie, the angel

Anticipating mealtime.

Dade Battlefield in Bushnell

In late December 1835, the United States, in an effort to remove a group of native Seminole Indians from their Florida homeland to a reservation somewhere out west, suffered a surprise attack here in Bushnell.  A group of 107 soldiers, led by Major Francis Dade, was moving from Fort Brooke (now Tampa) eastward to Fort King (now Ocala).  The weather was cold and so, after many days without sighting any Indians, Major Dunn's soldiers put coats over their guns.  They didn't realize that some 200 warriors, led by Micanopy, Jumper and Alligator, were hiding in the nearby palmetto brush. The attack left 103 of the 107 soldiers, including Major Dade, dead on the field here in Bushnell. This action would bring the United States into the costliest Indian war to that point in time.

Having lived in Florida (including Dade County) for so many years, one would think we would have heard something of this battle and the history of the name "Dade" -- but we didn't and all of this was new information to both Wayne and me.  

Our campground bears street names of this historical battle, including Dade, Micanopy and others. We learned of the existence of the battlefield, read up on the attack and took an afternoon to explore. 
Battlefield entrance

Sunlight through the trees entering the park

Palmetto like those in which the Seminole warriors hid prior to the attack.

Markers show the location of the battle and indicate where certain of the soldiers fell

The Live Oak trees in this area are beautiful.
According to records, most of these trees were here during the battle.

Of course, Lexie and Ozzie were with us and they seemed to enjoy their stroll through the beautiful setting of old Live Oak.

Lexie and Pop

Lexie and Ozzie are anxious to get out for a stroll through the park.

The babies and me.
Returning to the campground, we drove through the historical downtown area of Bushnell. The town is small and quaint.
The courthouse at Bushnell, Florida

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beginning Winter in Florida

Perhaps we stayed a little too long in Auburn this year, I'm not sure, but the weather seems volatile with more cold and/or rainy days than nice ones.  We didn't really have a choice as we had to wait for Lexie's dental procedure but we were both ready to head south. 

Yuma, Arizona was really nice last winter but in keeping with our usual camping behavior, we decided to move along to the next great adventure. This year that adventure would be in Florida. 

Our first night out of Auburn we got as far as Winter Springs, Florida, near Live Oak. We happened to choose Lee's Country Campground, about a mile off I-75.  The RV park reviews for the family operated campground looked inviting and we were pleased when we pulled in -- even though it was already dark.  We don't like waiting until dark to arrive at a campground but it couldn't be helped this time -- we just wanted to keep making progress into warmer weather.  Everything in this campground was as clean as a pin -- including the garbage cans. As a matter of fact, the only negative about the property was the intermittent grass/sand that caused some additional work for us walking Lexie and Ozzie in the late night and early morning dew.  The sand sticking to our feet was so troublesome, in fact, that our original plan to stay on through Saturday (to watch the SEC Championship Game) was altered and we would move on instead.

We arrived at Paradise Oak Campground in Bushnell by about 1:30 on Saturday with plenty of time to set up, walk the babies and enjoy the late afternoon game.  This campground is just beginning it's third season and we like it a lot. The only negative here is the nearby train tracks that are a major north-south corridor for freight trains and they lay down on the horns. After the first night, the train horns aren't even noticed.  We originally signed on to stay here two nights but decided to remain for at least another week.  Our neighbors are Pam (who we've not met), and Joe, with whom we enjoy casual visits.  They have two sweet dogs, Izzie and Allie (a Maltese) and we trade dog lover stories with Joe about the care and ownership of our babies.

We've committed ourselves to the Jan 11-15 Tampa RV Super Show, have already sent our registration fee, and I'm getting excited about it. If we decide to stay on here for the final remaining month, we'll be set to pull out of Paradise Oak in Bushnell the day we are set to arrive for the show.  We're looking forward to seeing Ray, Cindy, Dan and Shelia and maybe DJ and Tom, if they decide to come down.  After the show, we'll move south along the western (Gulf) side of the state , maybe take in the Annual Mullet Festival at Goodland and then return up the eastern (Atlantic) side in spring.   Because we lived so long in Florida and like it so much, it's like coming home.  Incidentally, the weather here is fine.

Entry to the Florida State Fairground in Tampa.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lexie's Dental

Wednesday, December 30, 2011 has been on our schedule for over a month. Lexie's dental cleaning is set for 7:30 a.m. and will take the better part of the day. Her periodontal disease includes gingivitis -- she will need to have her teeth cleaned and polished and her gums planed at a minimum. We arrived at Auburn University Small Animal Teaching Hospital a few minutes before appointment time. We've been dreading this morning as Lexie and Ozzie will not understand the change in schedule.  Lexie cannot eat before the procedure so we won't feed Ozzie either -- at least not until Lexie is admitted so she won't see him eat. 

A nice young woman named Ann Haggard came to the reception area to greet us. Lexie has already begun to tremble with fear -- the sixth sense a dog has about being in a vet clinic. Ann explained again what would be done today.  Heart and respiration monitors would be in place while she's under the anesthesia (Propofol) for the dental. A small area of her right front leg will be shaved for the intravenous fluids that will be given.  The back of her throat will be packed to keep the tarter and fluids from being swallowed.  I was a nervous wreck and Wayne wasn't much better. I think he was a little choked when he said "Take care of our little girl" when Ann finally took her from my arms. Ozzie was waiting in the car. To have both of them in our laps during this time of separation would be too much for us.

We returned home (Chewacla State Park Campground) to feed Ozzie and pace the floor. Before noon, Ann called to say that Lexie would need to have a total of 5 extractions -- this would include the already missing tooth, the broken one and three others.  We were not surprised but sad to think of the pain she would have afterward.  Wayne gave permission to proceed. Ann told him that she would call again  when Lexie came around.  Ozzie did very well considering he and Lexie have bonded so tightly and we managed the next two hours until Ann called again to tell us the dental work was complete and Lexie was coming out of the anesthesia.

At 2:30 we were back to retrieve our little girl.  Ozzie went in with us this time and he growled at a very old large dog with a huge growth on his abdomen.  We quieted Ozzie but he occasionally gave a muffled "buff" at the old dog who never even noticed us.  Finally Ann came to the lobby to escort us to the examining room where we would be reunited with Lexie. Ann spent a few minutes telling us all about the procedure and which teeth were removed.  Finally, they brought Lexie into the room and I could have cried. Her little eyes were glazed and looked almost bruised. This was from the blood that had splattered all over her face which had been wiped but the stain was still there. She was groggy and lethargic. It will take 36 hours for the effects of the anesthesia to go away but Lexie is able to take walks.  Wayne gave her a meal of all fresh beef Wilderness canned dog food and we saw a great improvement almost instantly.

Then we noticed during evening, throughout the night and all the next morning Lexie gurgled and coughed.  Around noon, I called the clinic to make an appointment for her to be checked. Wayne and I both feared she might be getting pneumonia.  She sounds like she is drowning.  We took her in just after lunch and as is so often the case, the gurgling stopped the moment we walked into the clinic.  Dr. Bellhorn and another of the fourth year students, Stacy, listened with stereoscopes but could not hear the gurgling.  To calm our fears, we were given prescriptions for antibiotics and inflammation. We planned to leave Auburn the next morning but would stay on if her condition didn't improve.

Friday morning, Lexie was much improved, the gurgling was still there, but less troublesome. We did not start her on the antibiotic but the anti-inflammatory was added to her food.  She continued to sound better but the gurgling and coughing did remain for a few days.

2011 Iron Bowl Weekend

On Thanksgiving Day 2011 we left Chewacla State Park and moved onto campus for the Iron Bowl game to be played Saturday afternoon.  Our usual place in the Fish Biodiversity Lab hayfield was already almost full and we were unable to find a suitable space. We pulled Mona onto a grassy, flat spot on Devall Street. Another motorhome and a camping trailer were nearby and across the street, in a vacant field, several others had already set up for the game.
Bad news: We a bit farther away from tailgating activities.
Good news: Plenty of good concrete sidewalks for dog walking.
The sun was bright and temperatures were nice. We went about setting up an outside patio area, taking Ozzie and Lexie for long walks and generally enjoyed being on campus.  Rain is predicted for Saturday, probably beginning around gametime and lasting through Sunday night at least with cool weather following.

Lynn and Helen came down from Birmingham Friday and Lindsey was returning too, to work her stadium boxes for the game Saturday.  We met them at Lindsey's dorm so Wayne could help take a small TV table upstairs for Lindsey.  After, we drove home and waited for them to come out to see us and watch the Arkansas-LSU game.  Wayne bought two game tickets for Cam and Amy from the neighbor in the camping trailer down the street. The afternoon was great fun and we enjoyed good eats. Cam called to say they would stop at a motel for the night and planned to arrive early Saturday morning to avoid gameday rush. Lynn, Lindsey and Helen were gone by early evening and we settled in for the evening.
Helen and Lindsey (the photo crasher)
Helen, Lynn, Wayne (with mouth open) and Lindsey.
We're watching the Arkansas-LSU game.

Cam and Amy arrived later than expected Saturday and we enjoyed a good visit with them before they walked to the stadium for 2:30 kickoff.
Wayne and Cam
Alabama's team was just better this year than Auburn and won the game handily. Cam and Amy stayed only until halftime and watched the second half on tv with us. Before dark they were on their way back home in hopes of getting a day of rest Sunday before returning to work Monday. Their long Thanksgiving weekend was spread across hundreds of miles and I'm sure they were very tired.

The expected rain had not arrived even by Sunday morning. The temperatures were mild and the sky was overcast when we took a drive around campus to see the remains of gameday.  Surprisingly, cleanup crews had made great progress and trash was being managed with efficiency.
Day after. Remarkably clean.

There's a great deal of good organization in the cleanup process.
They have lots of experience.

Where "it all happens"... Jordan Hare Stadium.
Some of our usual favorite spots were visited and we took a few pictures again this year..
The oak trees that were poisoned by a crazy Alabama fan last year.
The trees are expected to die.  Here they are protected from the crowds by a barricade.

Toomer's Corner is a "must" for every Auburn fan and visitor.
Samford Hall and the famous clock tower.

By noon we had pulled away from our site on Devall Street and were on our way back to Chewacla for a few more days.   Lexie's dental appointment at the University Small Animal Clinic will take all day on Wednesday, November 30.  We'll leave Auburn after that.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dog Attack!

After just three days at Whitetail Ridge Campground on West Point Lake near LaGrange, Georgia, we pulled up stakes and returned to Auburn. The campground was expected to fill completely for the long Veterans Day Weekend and no site that might have good satellite signal was available to us.  Departure day was overcast and cool and I would miss having a nice campfire in our fire pit there on the lake shore.  Nevertheless, a return to Chewacla State Park at Auburn was a welcome thought too as it has a certain comfortable, familiar feel to me.

Two campsites were available for us at Chewacla and we chose the one in McVay Loop, where we've never stayed.  Our site has a sunny southern curbside should be warm enough on cool days.  As Veterans Day on Friday approaches, the campground fills to near capacity and there are several lesbian couples around the loop.  I point out the sexual orientation of these neighbors simply because they seemed anxious to let everyone know it.  Still more memorable about these neighbors was their dogs -- and they had several -- all large and most loud.

I learned that a particular dog, Ginger, belonging to one of the lesbian couples, was vicious. Ginger is a big yellowish / light brown female short hair mix-breed  animal who nearly always was tethered at the campsite. I never heard her bark or growl.  My small pink pepper spray canister was close at hand but often I forgot to remove it from the leash and have my finger on the trigger.  That would be regrettable.

Lexie and Ozzie's Sunday early afternoon walk was interrupted by Wayne's return from Walmart with groceries. Wayne told me he would take everything inside from the car and that I should continue walking the babies. During this time almost all the long weekend campers were gone but the four lesbian couples were still there.  Walking past Ginger, I saw the yellow mongrel was in process of being transferred from her tie-out position into the truck. The babies and I were about 50 feet away when I heard one of the women yell out to the dog. I turned around to see the huge yellow mongrel running, crouched, directly toward Ozzie.   In less than a flash Ozzie was in Ginger's mouth being violently shaken the same way Ozzie shakes his stuffed squeaky shark.  In the next instant I was flat on the ground trying to pull the heathen off Ozzie, never even thinking about the pepper spray that's always on the leash.  My effort must have been successful as Ozzie lay on his back, in the leaves, yelping when two of the women reached Ginger and held her. As I grabbed Ozzie off the ground another of the women took Lexie and I remember seeing one of those women sitting astride Ginger's front quarter while the other held her by the tail. 

Getting Lexie and Ozzie back to our campsite, I sat down with them in their little playpen that was set up in our front yard. I could find no wounds on Ozzie; Lexie was terrified but uninjured.  I saw my pants were torn and I had a 1" scrape just under my right knee.  It was only then that Wayne stepped out of the coach to see us.  Both Lexie and Ozzie had evacuated during the attack and in picking them up, unknowingly, we had smeared them (and ourselves) with excrement.  We were a mess.  All of the women were profusely apologetic and tried to help with the cleanup. 

We watched Ozzie closely for signs of unusual behavior and would take him to the Auburn Vet Clinic's Emergency Room if needed, but he would return to his usual antics within 24 hours so we didn't have to do that.  We know we dodged a bullet in that attack.  Another few shakes from Ginger and Ozzie could have been killed and Lexie could have been next.  We now take our large steel pointed walking stick when we go for walks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Few Days At Columbus, West Point Lake and Warm Springs, Georgia

Here's the our latest damage report. We've found a crack in our panoramic windshield. Seems this might not be uncommon as the huge one-piece glass front is under tremendous stress, especially during times of leveling the coach.  We don't know what caused ours or exactly when it happened but it is there and will eventually lead to windshield replacement.  ... So we placed a few telephone calls, left Auburn and made our way to Columbus, Georgia to have a glass shop take a look. 
We enjoyed our time at Chewacla State Park and met some nice folks. Our neighbors are from Rochester, New York but have been residents of LaGrange, Georgia for time.  In meeting Trisha and Keith we learned they have just begun their new life of full-timing in their Pace Arrow motorhome.  They're parked in the site beside us and that's a good thing as they (like Lynn and Jay) love to cook and shared a lovely Asian Pork dish with us.  Yum.
Didn't get Keith in the picture.
This is Trisha with Samantha and Rugger the pee-pee prone feline.
Chewacla State Park has been beautiful this fall with a huge great range of colors and good weather for the most part.  All we can do is hope that we have more of it in our new location.
Ready to pull out of our site at Chewacla
At the glass shop in Columbus we were told our cracked windshield replacement should be done by a large motorhome specialty repair facility.  Seems the crack is not dangerous at this point and the windshield is not likely to collapse, they say. There are several large dealers along our route into central Florida so we'll have it done later.  I'm a little apprehensive about getting a lap (and face) full of windshield, but I'll take their word for the safety factor.

From there we drove to West Point Lake beyond LaGrange, Georgia.  One of the Corp of Engineers Campgrounds there, Whitetail Ridge, proved to be worth the effort of getting there through the seedy side of LaGrange. We were assigned a site along the lake edge that provided plenty of privacy, a beautiful view and lots of walking space for Ozzie and Lexie.  The only bad thing about being here is that our satellite signal was not strong so tv reception is limited.  Turns out that's a problem for the coming Saturday as Auburn will play Georgia and we'll certainly want to watch the game. Hummmm.
Site #19 at Whitetail Ridge COE Campground.
Curbside opens up to a huge gravel picnic area and the lake edge.

Nice foliage and good walking conditions for Lexie (the blur) and Ozzie.
Our site is on a cul-de-sac with very little vehicle traffic.
Selecting the campground on West Point Lake, we didn't realize how close we'd be to Warm Springs Georgia and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Little White House.  I had forgotten that FDR was stricken with polio in 1921. He felt the natural warm springs were helpful to his condition and in 1927 he founded the hospital for rehabilitation here.
Entry to FDR's Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia
All except the Little White House property itself proved to be disappointing as it seemed run-down and virtually deserted.
This huge campus area appears well groomed in the photo but shows signs of neglect.

This concrete "head" of FDR is particularly ugly and the property is neglected as seen here.
It's just standing in an area between two streets and could be better presented for sure.

Today's weather was about as good as we could want and we enjoyed the ride to and back from Warm Springs. Lexie and Ozzie got to take several nice long walks through through the woods and around the entry building of the Little White House.  They were happy though, to get home and back into their windowsill perch.
A restful afternoon on the windowsill.

Wearing their new hooded sweatshirts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lexie and Ozzie Go To Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine

Ever since we first adopted Lexie we knew we would take her to Auburn's Vet School to have her teeth cleaned and the cyst on her hip removed.  On Monday. from our campsite at Chewacla State Park, Wayne made the appointment for 11 a.m. the same day.  She and Ozzie each had an overall examination, their vaccinations were updated and we got a new supply of heartworm meds and flea prevention for both. 

Both babies got a good overall report and they weigh within a few ounces of one another -- just over 7 pounds --a surprise since Ozzie looks larger than Lexie.  Wayne says Ozzie is a basketball player (lanky) and Lexie is a football player (stocky). We learned that Ozzie has a bit of tarter buildup but won't need a cleaning for another year. Lexie's teeth are worse, with one missing and another broken. She's scheduled to return in early December for a cleaning -- putting her to sleep makes me uneasy but it is necessary for her overall good health. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Auburn v Ole Miss with Family and Friends

War Eagle!  Our first trip to Auburn for 2011 tailgating would be the last weekend of October when Ole Miss came to town.  Thursday's ride from Alexander City was short and the weather was near perfect -- warm and sunny. We arrived and set up as we normally do in the hayfield across from Jules Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art on College Street. Afterward, we sat and watched others do the same.
Before setup we took the babies out for an introduction to the hayfield.
We finally found the perfect Auburn dog clothes at Anders Book Store.
A ruffled dress for Lexie and matching muscle shirt for Ozzie.
Lynn and Jay arrived after dark on Friday, getting away from work earlier than usual. They stopped at Lindsey's dorm to pick her up and we had a visit with the three of them for a little while that night. Jay slept on the sofa while Lynn "roughed it" on a foam mattress on the floor. The temperature plummeted and we worried they would freeze but they swear they didn't.  Next morning was downright cold but the sun was bright at least.
Lynn swears she's showing the AU logo but I think she was trying to hide it like the devoted Alabama fan she is.
By mid-morning Jay had taken his rightful place among the tons of food he and Lynn had brought. We started the day with bloody mary's and roasted peanuts.  Barbeque pork roast, greek coleslaw and some of the best baked beans I've ever tasked were ready by noon.  Yum.
Wayne devoured two plates of pork, slaw and beans.
This after two BM's and peanuts.  What cold weather?

We met our neighbors and shared the food bounty.
Debbie and Bobby

Feeling like royalty near the Auburn Throne.

Jay and Wayne were fat and sassy by mid- afternoon.
Just before gametime, Jay made grilled chicken / ciabatta sandwiches for supper.  He must have cooked 50 chicken breasts and we had all the trimmings. There were two delicious broccoli cheese casseroles that were devoured by us and all our neighbors.  What a great time we had.  The game was close and tense but Auburn pulled it off for another victory.  I think Jay and Lynn are coming 'round too. Jay even accepted an Auburn cap from Wayne. 

Lindsey works several stadium boxes on gamedays so didn't get to see her again until Sunday morning. Lynn and Jay took her out to lunch Sunday and after, we took these pictures. 
Lynn, Lindsey and Jay (in his Auburn cap) on Sunday morning.

Lynn and Lindsey

Beautiful Lindsey. War Eaglet.

Not uncommon to see Lynn talking and Lindsey's antics in the background.



Wayne, Lindsey, Jay and Lynn

Lindsey with yours truly.

By early afternoon, Lindsey was back at her dorm studying, Lynn and Jay were driving back to Pelham so Wayne and I finally left the hayfield to take a campsite at Chewacla State Park for a few days.  We were among the last few tailgaters to leave the hayfield.
Leaving the hayfield. For now.