Friday, July 17, 2015

Camper Life with Dogs II

I've been here for two full months now. I still wish I had a doggie door and yard for the pups, but I'm getting used to not having those things. I do have an arsenal of things I use to make camper life with dogs better, so I thought I'd share. 

1. Good Leashes
Good leashes that don't fray (ahem, I'm looking at you Martha Stewart leash that cost the most and is already frayed) are a must. Also, having leashes that are each a different color is really important so that when they inevitably get tangled, you can know which one to let go for a split second while you do the untangling. 

2. Gentle Leader
I cannot walk Clyde without this. He is so strong and this reins him in gently and painlessly. 

3. Barking Spray
Nugget is a serious and bad barker. This stuff was recommended to me by her trainer and it's pretty effective. It's just air and some calming pheromones and I only use it when she's really getting her bark on (not for whining or growling or anything). You just spray it in the dog's direction and it interrupts their barking because it's loud and has a smell. It's probably technically negative reinforcement, but it's completely non-violent and sometimes it's really necessary. The other people around us don't want to hear her maniacally shrieking and stroking out because she doesn't like the look of the gentle pit bull walking by and cowering, terrified of the tiny canine sociopath screaming at him. She's a hot mess, in case you haven't figured that out yet. 

4. Barking Controller
Speaking of barking: we got this bark control sensor for inside the camper. When one of them barks, it emits a high-pitched sound that the dogs don't like. It does stop out-of-control barking, but we don't use it very often because it has two major drawbacks. The first is that all the dogs have to hear that uncomfortable noise when only one dog is barking (Nugget...). Also, the sensor misinterprets thunder as barking and so the dogs have to hear the bad sound when they're already stressed about the storm. So, I only put the battery in when I'm there and can control it. It's good for when we're sitting outside for a while and we might need it for Nugget barking at dogs walking by. 

5. Head Lamp
We do our morning walks when it's still dark and picking up poop is not easy when you can't see it. This head lamp is essential (well, this is the one I use, but any head lamp would do the trick except those really cheap ones that stretch out and don't stay put). It has a dim red light and also a couple levels of bright white light. 

6. Toys
My doggies love love LOVE Nylabones and squeaky Kong balls. We keep a bin of these in the "living room" and Custer manages to take almost every single one out every day so that I'm stepping on half-chewed Nylabones all the time. I actually thinks it's super adorable when he goes digging through his toy box, so I can't get too annoyed. 

7. Poop Bags
Grocery bags will do in a pinch, but they have a tendency to have small holes in the bottom that are dangerous. Dollar Tree sells three-packs of poop bags that fit in those little bone-shaped dispensers that clip on your belt (not pictured). The bags are surprisingly good quality for being from a dollar store and they are 60 for $1. Pretty good deal. Also 60 for $1 are the small blue trash bags in the roll in the photo. They're really too small for trash bags but they get the poop-picking-up job done (they don't fit in the bone dispenser though). 

8. Stake and Leads
For sitting in the "yard," we have to have leads for the pups. I don't have them pictured, but I got this and three of these

9. Waterproof Dog Bed
For comfy lounging while we're hanging out outside (and inside), this is the best bed. They sell this waterproof liner that makes it perfect for outdoor use (or geriatric pups that wet the bed....). 

Monday, July 13, 2015

San Antonio Sights: Guadalupe River State Park

On Saturday, we went to Guadalupe River State Park, about 30 minutes from Boerne. We sat our chairs in the river and just drank beer and stared at the amazing cliff walls and water running by and kiddos jumping off the rocks. It was so relaxing and fun. I wish every day was Saturday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Camper Life with the Dogs

Full-timing in the camper has been a difficult transition, much more difficult than I anticipated. No question, the worst part is the change in routine with our dogs.

In our house in East Texas, we have a big, shaded fenced-in yard and we have a doggie door. The dogs had complete access to the backyard at all times of the day and night.

What?! This place has no doggie door?!?
 In the camper, we have no fenced-in yard and dogs have to be leashed at all times. For potty time, we have two options: walks or leads. For early morning and late at night, I use the leads because they're just going out there for a short while. I also use the leads when we're sitting outside hanging out (they are never tied out when we're not with them).

Yeah, no. I don't do grass, Custer. 

Just take the lead off, Mama. I promise I won't go anywhere. Promise ;-)

But walking several times a day is really important for them. First of all, it's stimulating. Being in the camper or sitting out on their leads in the "yard" has to be really boring for them. Walks let them sniff and smell and pee on every other vertical object they come across. Also, the exercise is really good for them. Even though they're all older and less active than they used to be, keeping their weight in check and keeping their joints mobile is really important to me. I think they actually probably walk more now that we're here because we schedule at least three walks each day. At home, I think they got a little lazy and really went outside only to do their bidness.

Camper life with dogs is not optimal at all, but we're all making the best of it. These doggies are handling it so, so well. Much better than I am. They're just such wonderful little souls. I'm so lucky to have them in my life.

Monday, June 8, 2015

5 Crappy Things About Camper Living - Initial Reactions

After I wrote this post, I read through it and it sounds so whiny. I stand by the first two complaints, but the last three (and my bonus sixth; you're welcome) are pretty big one-percenter problems.

This is the number one worst. I hate it. I feel so guilty for taking the doggies away from their big yard and their doggie door. I'm trying to make the best of it and make them feel as comfortable and normal as possible. I got some leads and a stake and we can sit outside in our "yard" together. On the weekends we can go to the dog park. We gets lots of walks in, at least three each day. Most importantly, I know they're happy being with their humans and I'm happy having them with me.

I read a lot of stuff on the interwebs about campers. Apparently, it's a truth universally acknowledged by all RVers that there is always something to be fixed.
Yay! Water pouring out of the bottom of the camper!
It's like owning a house, but stuff seems to break more frequently and repairs are practically as expensive as their real-house counterparts would be. Also, there seems to be only one person in the whole area who will repair your camper on site. He never answers his phone and his voicemail box is full, but it's ok cause he doesn't return texts. Oh, and when he does show up on a Friday night at 9 pm unannounced to fix what's broken, be prepared to offer up your first born, or the entire balance of your 401(k).

Having our own washer and dryer in our house right next to the kitchen was a massive luxury. There is a laundry room in the clubhouse, so we don't have to go anywhere to do it, but we do have to have quarters and lug everything up there and hope that there are machines open. Waaaaa! Waaaaa! Waaaaa!

I hate low, constant noises, like fans and air conditioners. This one never shuts off until you manually shut it off (in other words, you can't set it to go off once the ambient temperature reaches a certain level). And I think it's loud. I don't think it bothers Chris, so I guess we need a third party to weigh in on that.

Our real bed is a tempurpedic and it's king sized. This one is a pretty generic spring mattress and it's a full. My back hurts.


I'll see myself out now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

San Antonio Sights: Mission San Jose

San Antonio has five Missions that were established in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, with varying numbers of their original structures still remaining. These Missions, which include the famous Alamo, have been preserved and are now important cultural and tourist sites in the city.

On Sunday, Chris and I visited the largest one, Mission San Jose (Saint Joseph).

It is so, so cool. It was established in 1720 and there are so many of the original structures remaining. It is actually still an active Catholic Parish (except for the Alamo, they all are). We've made it our goal to see all five Missions. One down, four to go!

Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Great Things About Camper Living - Initial Reactions

Chris has been here for more than 5 months, but I've only been here for a couple weeks. Still, it seems like a good time to jot down my ideas about what I like and dislike about the camper lifestyle so far. I'll post soon about the stuff I dislike, but figured I'd start out positive and sunny with the things that are actually really cool.

It's probably been going on longer, but I just feel like minimalism became this TREND in 2015. All over my facebook and the blogosphere, I'm tripping over posts about capsule closets and downsizing the house and cleaning out the garage. I like this movement because I have a fear of becoming a hoarder, but I also think it's silly because it really is only a trend. Well, I'm here to tell you that if minimalism is cool, our camper is James Dean or whomever is actually cool in this century (obviously, I have no idea. I think Angela Lansbury is cool). You just can't have a lot of stuff in one of these babies. Actually, we really do have a bit too much stuff, like the dog bed that is too big, or the space heaters that we can't use now but are an absolute necessity in the winter. But, for the most part, we're doing pretty well living with less stuff.

Of course, we don't really have less stuff. It's just all 6 hours away in our house (and the storage unit that we rented to put our futon and Christmas decorations and elliptical machine in because, apparently, people don't want to see those things when looking to buy your house). But we don't have all of those things on a daily basis and it's a good learning experience. I can kind of see what I really miss (our bed!) versus what I definitely don't need (the ten bottles of Bath and Body Works body spray that I never used and cluttered up my bathroom counter).

Our pups are here with us (of course!), so we do several walks each day with them. This little campground is small but quite hilly, so we go up and down hills every time. There's also just more walking in general: our mail comes in down at the general store, the fancy spacious showers and the laundry are up at the clubhouse, you have to walk to the dumpster every day because there's no room for a full-sized trash can. Just more walking all around, and I love it.

I mean...the camper is 200 square feet. And that's really over-selling it since much of that area has stuff taking up the space, like a bed, a couch, the table, the kitchen. So cleaning is easy-peasy. And there's no yard work! Someone else mowed our little yard today and we didn't even need to ask!

Also, there is no room for me to store tools, wood, paint etc, so I can't get myself into any DIY projects. Which means fewer projects to:
1. Get really excited about
2. Start
3. Get bored with
4. Feel stuck and resentful towards because it's taking up all my time
5. Finally finish while swearing that I'm selling all the tools and never doing another DIY project
7. Go back to #1 and repeat over and over....

For trying to save money, this lifestyle can't be beat. Once our house sells, we will get to completely ditch the:

  • Mortgage (still gotta pay rent, but it's a relative drop in the bucket)
  • Property tax
  • Water/garbage/sewer bill
  • Homeowners' insurance (our camper is insured, but the cost is a small fraction of our HOI)
  • Termite insurance (I have an irrational fear of termites, so we had preventative insurance just in case we ever got them, which we didn't)
  • Cable (but we do maintain our Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts)

Of course, the downside of all this saving is that, as with any renting situation, we're not gaining any equity in anything. Well, except our camper :-)

Since there's so little cleaning and maintenance to distract me, and no DIY projects, I can guiltlessly do things I like better than all of those, like reading, working on my blog, watching Bones...

I've already read a book, finished a book I was working on, started two more (here and here), and put up three (now four!) blog posts. I really think this is my favorite part of being here. Once I'm home from work, I just feel like I don't have as many responsibilities and it lets me do more stuff I enjoy. Plus, doing enjoyable, relaxing things is a nice distraction from the worry about having a house on the market, planning for a new one, etc.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Home Sweet Home

This is our home-away-from-home right now. It's so stinkin' cute. It has a full kitchen and bathroom (shower, no tub), a full-sized bed in the back bedroom, a couch that converts to a bed that could sleep two, but really only one comfortably. Same thing for the dining table. We've got internets (obvi) and a little tv with our Roku set up, so we can get Netflix (phew!). We're bringing our grill down next time we go back to East Texas, so that will add more usefulness to the outdoor living space. 

No matter what, how can you complain when this is the view you look out at?!