Saturday, February 25, 2017

Christmas in Raleigh

Post covers Dec 23, 2016 to Jan 3, 2017.

After all the trials of making it to Raleigh, we were relieved to settle in to the Raleigh Oaks RV Resort. The staff was helpful as we checked in and the spot we got was towards the front but traffic noise on the county road in front of the park wasn't an issue. There is a train nearby but for us it wasn't close enough to be a noise issue. The only loud noise we experienced the whole time there was from a couple of Air Force cargo planes that must have been doing a low approach (made Alan recall some of his Air Force time). The park is a mix of permanent residents and travelers. All of the residents kept their spaces nice and tidy and there was none of the trashy look that some parks allow permanent residents to have. There are two fenced in dog areas and plenty of room to walk the babies. We had no issues with anyone else's dogs as everyone was respectful and kept their babies leashed when not in the dog areas. We were surprised to find that the resort had a small workout room with a couple of ellipticals, treadmills, stationary bikes and some free weights. We took advantage of this as Alan started working on some more back rehab. Also a nice laundry room and while we didn't use them, the showers / bathrooms looked nice and clean. There was also a nice looking pool, small mini-golf area and pickle ball court.

The resort is about 40 minutes from downtown Raleigh but was only about 20 minutes to our daughter and son-in-law's home. We looked at some other parks as we drove around the area and decided we made the right choice of where to stay especially to be close to family. When back in the area in the future we will probably stay here again. We had great Verizon and AT&T signals, the wifi was slow most of the time and we used our hotspot most of the time.
Yes, this big house is the office!

While in Raleigh, we not only got to spend a lot of time with Ally and Justin (daughter and son-in-law) and have Christmas with them, we also got to visit with Alan's nephew and wife. They had moved to the Raleigh area about a year ago so it was great to get so see them several times while in the area. We learned they are craft beer connoisseurs and went to a couple of fun breweries with them, our favorite being Deep River Brewing Company.

Raleigh is definitely a growing area and traffic is an issue depending on which way you are going at certain times of the day but got it figured out and other than trying to go to a mall right after Christmas managed to avoid most of the traffic.

The babies got to visit with their weenie cousin Copper while there. Copper grew up with our babies so they are all great friends and always remember each other every-time they see each other.
Prada & Copper sharing the couch
We spent Christmas eve and day at Ally and Justin's house with Kim & Ally having fun baking and such. Ally had just come back from basic training so was ready for real food and sleep! Christmas was a nice time with way too much food and presents for all.

The week after Christmas we took one day to drive to Wilmington and visit the beach. It was a gorgeous day, nice warm and sunny. We got in a good beach walk and Vinnie got to ride around the beach.Vinnie is starting to be able to support a little bit of his weight with his back legs but can't stand up by himself or walk without having a sling to support him. We knew this would be a long process but seeing that he is still happy and not in pain, we are glad that we didn't put him through surgery again.

The rest of the day in Wilmington we looked through some shops and had a nice lunch before heading back.

The rest of the time in Raleigh was visiting with both Ally & Justin and Chris & Jessica (Alan's nephew and his wife). We had a New Year's eve dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse and then went to spend midnight with the babies while the youngsters went out for midnight. Kim got to spend more time with Ally before Ally had to head back to Oklahoma to finish her basic training.

We got Vinnie in for the last of his laser treatments right before leaving and also for a follow up visit with the vet. She was happy with his progress but we know it will be a slow course for him and he may not get back to being able to get around on his own.

On Jan 3 we left Raleigh headed for Brunswick, GA.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Reno to Raleigh, Part 2

We left Columbus, Tx on Dec 20th for Fontainebleau State Park. We knew this would be another long day of driving but decided that if we liked it there we would spend another couple days at one campground. While driving there, Vinnie began to whine as if something was hurting him and Kim noticed that he was having difficulty using his back legs. Vinnie has had back problems before and has had two surgeries for disc issues and had some residual weakness in his back legs. As we got closer to Mandeville, LA, it was obvious that Vinnie wasn't doing well with his back legs and was hurting. Kim found an emergency veterinarian and made sure they were open. As soon as we got into Mandeville, we got the toad unhooked and Kim took Vinnie to be seen. Alan took the two girls and went to get settled at the state park. It was dark and the office was closed by the time Alan got there so it took a bit to find our reserved space. At the vet, Kim had them check Vinnie over and their best assessment was that he had another disc issue going on. He was started on some pain medication and steroids and had a follow up the next morning. We kept him resting all night. Unfortunately with the problems with Vinnie we didn't get any pictures of the state park or to explore the area which looked nice and we have read good reviews on.

The next morning, Vinnie was about the same. During the night we had decided that for all his other treatment needs Kim would head to Raleigh with our car and get him seen by the vet that her daughter had worked for before going to basic training. Kim did take him in for his follow up and their suggestion was that he needed back surgery again. While Kim got started for Raleigh, Alan got the motorhome packed up and the girls ready for the drive. The motorhome was also at the point that it needed it's first oil change. Luckily, I was able to find an oil change center close by that also specialized in RVs. Alan was able to get in right away and get the service taken care. The center, Easy Lube & Oil in Slidell was professional and had us taken care quickly so Alan was able to get on the way.

Kim had thought about driving all the way to Raleigh but as it got later in the evening made the wise decision to find a place to stay. She was able to find a hotel to stay at in Lumberton, NC for the night that was dog-friendly and had rooms. The area didn't have a lot of open rooms as many people are still living in hotels as their homes are still be repaired from the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. She was also close enough to Raleigh to not have an issue making it to Vinnie's next appointment with the vet in Raleigh. Our daughter, Ally, was able to get Vinnie in right away with the vet practice she used to work at so it was important that Kim was close enough to make it to the appointment in the morning.

In the meantime, Alan had decided to see how far he could drive safely. My thoughts were initially that I could make it to about the South Caroline border. As the day progressed that didn't seem to be feasible and once coming into Atlanta on I85 and getting on I285 and hitting rush hour traffic it was obvious this wasn't going to work out. I was able to look up some Walmarts and find that the one in Madison did allow overnight RV parking. Alan and the girls pulled in and got settled for the night as best as possible. We aren't big into this kind of stops but there is an advantage to Walmarts when in a hurry to get somewhere. The only problem with this stop was that a semi pulled into the parking lot during the middle of the night and kept it's generator going all night.

The next morning Kim, with Vinnie and in the car, and Alan, with the girls and motorhome, both got up early and each headed toward Raleigh. Kim got Vinnie to his morning appointment at Hemlock Bluffs Animal Hospital and he was well taken care of by the staff. We had discussed ahead of time what we wanted to do for him and had decided that surgery wasn't something we wanted to put him through again. He did great recovering the first time but was slower to recover the second time. Now that he was 13, we didn't want to chance how he would do with surgery unless absolutely necessary. After having him seen by Dr. Parker and discussing options, we decided to do laser therapy and physical therapy for him rather than surgery. We will keep the blog updated on how he is doing with his recovery as we go along.

Alan made the drive to Raleigh without any issue and went straight to the RV campground we had decided to stay at. We were looking for one as close as possible to Kim's daughter and found Raleigh Oaks RV Resort in Four Oaks. As it turned out this was a good choice as the campground was dog-friendly and well kept. There were a bunch of long term residents there but everyone kept their sites clean and picked up. It really looked no different than any other private RV campground. They had no issues with the fencing for the babies and we saw a few others with similar fencing.

Now that we were settled for a couple of weeks, it was time to work on Vinnie's rehab, enjoy Christmas with family and explore the area. More on that and more about the Raleigh Oaks Park in the next post.

Reno to Raleigh, Part 1

Post covers Dec 13 to Dec 22, 2016.

After spending the night at the casino parking lot in Beatty we headed off for Las Vegas. We decided this would be a shorter driving day after having a long day the day before with the doctor's appointment and then driving to Beatty to beat the snowstorm. We decided to use our new Thousand Trails membership for the stay in Las Vegas. We got there early in the afternoon and got checked in right a way. We found that the Thousand Trails in Las Vegas is a tight campground but since we were only staying one night, it wasn't a big issue. So far all the Thousand Trails we have been to don't have an issue with the babies or our fencing, so we do like that about them. The babies enjoyed being back in warmer weather and sat out for bit in the sun. We made it an early night as it was time to catch up on some rest so no casinos this time in Vegas.

For the second full day of our cross county jaunt, we headed to Picacho, AZ for an overnight stay at the KOA there. It is about half-way between Phoenix and Tucson and was mostly a nice drive from Las Vegas (excluding Phoenix area). We took about 6-1/2 hours to get there, a little longer than we like but worth it to get a jump on our travels. When we pulled in, we found a friendly staff and spots with a decent amount of space. It is the desert of Arizona, so of course it was all sandy dirt there.

As with all the KOAs we have been to, they are exceedingly dog friendly and we set up the pen for us all to sit in and enjoy some more warm weather and a gorgeous sunset. The babies also got a nice outing to their dog park and got to choose which hydrant they liked best :)

We decided to partake of the restaurant they have on site, Frankie's Chuckwagon, and had a nice home cooked style meal and fun conversation with the staff. All the wait staff are volunteers from the park, so it made for a nice evening.

The next morning we headed out for the outskirts of El Paso. This would be five hour drive today and we again had nice weather for the drive. Now that we've gotten to do several days of driving in the new motorhome, we have come to enjoy it much more than the Super C. The ride is nicer and having a larger view out the windshield makes for more fun. The babies have come to like it as well with Prada and Vinnie spending most of the time on the dashboard and Spella curls up on the hump between seats or on the floor at Kim's feet.

We found a KOA in Anthony, just west of El Paso that is brand new. As with yesterday's KOA, they were dog friendly and had a great new dog park to play. We also found the spaces to be large for a KOA and had plenty of room to set up the babies' pens. The sunset was great looking from the park as it set up a little bit above the area.


The next day was another longer drive to get to what we thought would be a nice place to stay. We found a park in Junction, TX on the river. South Llano River RV Resort turned out to be a small place but was easy to get to from I10 but in a quiet area. We got there late so the office was closed but we had called ahead and they had a packet waiting for us outside the office. The spaces were a bit tight but for an overnight stay it was adequate, and having a pull-through space made it nice so we didn't have to unhook our toad. We didn't get a chance to go into town as we were tired from the day of driving. This was the only campground on the whole trip across country that we didn't have any AT&T reception for our hotspot but we were able to tether to our Verizon cell phones which had decent LTE signals. I didn't take the time to set up our cell booster to see if it would help with the AT&T signal since we were leaving first thing in the morning.

We left early the next morning and only had a 4 hour drive to our next stop. We decided to stay at another Thousand Trails park, this one outside Columbus. As with most Thousand Trails, we got to pick out our site and Kim picked out a nice one right on the Colorado River. The space had no-one on the right side of us and a large amount of green space between us and our neighbor on the left. We had decided that we needed to stay somewhere for a couple nights after the last several days for driving so had picked this for the stay. It turned out to be a great choice. The park is dog-friendly and we had a nice large area to set up the pens and let the babies run around in. The park has lots of green space and a herd of deer that live there, so that gave the babies room to go for a walk in and something to look at.

We spent time exploring the area and found a small winery, Rosemary's Vineyard and Winery. The place was great to visit and when we stopped by we were the only ones there so got a nice tasting and learned the story behind the vineyard and the couple running it. We also had a chance to catch up on laundry while there and Alan got caught up on some of his consulting work. This is one of the campgrounds we are already wanting to return to when in this part of Texas.

Part 2 will complete our trip to Raleigh for Christmas with Kim's daughter.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Back to Reno

Post covers Nov 25 to Dec 12, 2016.

The day after Thanksgiving Alan left for Reno with the new coach since there was a winter storm predicted to come in to the Reno on Saturday night. Kim was able to spend a couple more days in San Diego with her daughter before heading to Reno. However, on Thanksgiving morning we found the hot water heater wasn't working. Luckily, we were able to hear back from our sales-person Thanksgiving afternoon and he got us hooked up with the the service department of Holland RV in Santee. After showing up there right at 8, they found that it was a relay within a few minutes of looking at the heater. Unfortunately they didn't have one there but their shop in San Marcos had them in stock. Since the way back to Reno went by San Marcos, I just drove up to the dealership and had the part replaced. The repair with paperwork only took about an hour, so was on the road to Reno by about 11:30. I decided the easiest route was going to be out I10 and then cut through Death Valley to Beatty, NV and spend the night there. I decided to do this instead of going up 395 as the weather forecast was for high winds on 395. The problem I had was that everyone decided to go out I10 and there was lots of stop and go traffic all the way to the turn off to Death Valley. It probably took 3 or so hours longer for the drive. Finally got into Beatty well after dark and found a spot at the Death Valley Inn & RV Park. It turned out to be bit pricey for a spot ($38) but at least Alan and the babies had a place to stay with full hook ups.

Up the next morning (Saturday) and off for Reno. As it turned out the high winds decided to come over to highway 95 as well, so for about 100 miles it was slow going. The good thing was that the winter storm was cooperating and didn't come in early, so made it to Reno without any other issues. We decided to stay at Gold Ranch RV again since the staff and other campers have been friendly every time and they are very dog (and pig!) friendly. Kim left San Diego Saturday and made it to Reno that evening (she had good fortune and didn't hit any winds coming up 395), of course driving just the CR-V is a little quicker. But the winter storm did come in and this was what we woke up to Sunday morning:

There was actually a good deal more snow at first with the roads all covered but it melted off the roads quickly.

So the whole reason for being back in Reno was that Alan was schedule to have his back surgery on Monday morning (11/28). We had to show up at the hospital at 5:45 that morning but that meant Alan was the first surgery of the morning. To make a short story of all the events, the surgery went fine and the tumors were benign. Alan sent two days in the hospital then back to the coach for some rest for the next couple of weeks, mixed with physical therapy. Kim was able to visit family some more and registered for a Christmas craft show. She launched her new business, Rescue Me Dog Treats, did exceedingly well at the show and was able to donate several hundred dollars worth of items to the local SPCA.

Alan's follow up appointment was on Monday, Dec 12th and of course there was another winter storm predicted for the next morning. We decided not to chance getting stuck in Reno any longer than necessary so right after the appointment (about 5pm) we left Reno with the intention of making it to Hawthorne for the night since the storm was predicted to stay north of that area. We needed to get out of Reno and not be stuck there for the week as we had already promised Kim's younger daughter that we would be spending Christmas with her and her husband in Raleigh, NC so we didn't have much leeway in our travel plans.

We made it to Hawthorne and parked at the El Capitan Casino for the night. They allow RV and truck parking in their back lot so we just dry camped for the night. This worked out well and in the morning we found a small park in the town to walk the babies at before heading off for Las Vegas. The rest of the trip to North Carolina will be coming up in the next couple of posts.