Just a note: I’ve written this post about 5 times now, and when I save it and attempt to edit it and add images, it has a wobble and all my work is lost – so if I post it now and there are no […]
The Vees Big Adventure is up in the air, free-falling, and we are devastated.
Due to circumstances beyond our control and unscrupulous RV dealers, the costs to repair the RV properly (despite us being told by the salesman AND the technician that it had a FULL check out and some “brand new” bits and pieces) are piling up at an alarming rate. The repairs could cost almost as much as the RV. The RV dealership basically told us to take a hike and read the documentation. Husband is reeling. We’re both reeling. Our savings is pretty much gone at this stage and we’re faced with some very difficult decisions.
I’m still struggling to find work, despite my certifications and practical experience. I’ve applied to more than 50 jobs and written at least 12 different entrance tests and been told: “we’ll get back to you.” The movers come to pack up our household goods tomorrow morning and remove it all the next day. We have to vacate the house within the week after that. Dogs still have to go to the vet for their annual checkups and vaccinations (always an expensive visit for all three). We still have to buy some things we really NEED for the RV in order for us to live in it and WORK in it, and these are NOT cheap.
We have nowhere to stay, no income, and no means of transporting the dogs and us across the country. The Jeep was going to be towed behind the RV because it still needs some work and we were going to do that in New Mexico, before heading to Oregon – we don’t know if it would make the trip being driven.
Husband has crunched numbers and no matter how he slices it we come out of it incredibly badly. Our hearts are broken.
This was going to be our big adventure – everything seemed so bright, so inviting, so promising. Husband could finally work on himself, instead of being at the whim of the military; I was going to finally be the breadwinner for a while and take some weight off his shoulders – I was looking FORWARD to it!
Everything just feels so soiled and broken thanks to these dishonest asshats at the dealership. Our dreams are crushed. There’s no more excitement, only a vague desperation to everything we now decide.
I take people at face value, and I’m the one who dealt with them right up until the day we drove the 4.5 hours to go fetch our Brave. We were SO excited. I give people the benefit of the doubt, always, and that’s my downfall, apparently. I treat people honestly, and I’m clearly under the misguided assumption that people would do the same for me. I am so wrong. I will never again trust anyone who has any kind of sway in my life when it comes to these kinds of things. My heart is crushed. I am so disappointed it makes my throat ache. I feel so responsible for the whole mess, which makes me feel quite sick.
I’m also angry. Seething, fuming, red-eyed, silent raging angry. (Unfortunately, when I get really angry I also tend to cry, which makes people take me less seriously and think I’m weak and pathetic. It’s infuriating.)
We have to get the RV repaired either way – whether we decide to try living in it and traveling up to Oregon and even if we want to sell it. So we’re screwed either way.
I’ve never been in such a hole of despair before. I’ve had moments close to it, but nothing like this where there’s just NO decision that leads to some sort of head-above-water for us both.
UNIVERSE, I NEED TO GET SOME WORK!
I don’t have to earn much for us to get by, but I have to get SOMETHING!
So, that’s our unfortunate tale – not even on the road yet and our adventure has hit major bumps and our lust for adventure is severely tarnished.
Finally, I can relax.
Over the last couple of days, I wrote my final exams for my medical course… it is finally at an end. It was a long, difficult, brain intensive course and I thoroughly enjoyed MOST of it. It had a few moments of boredom (if I had to type out another report about someone’s diarrhea….) and a few moments where I had no idea what I was doing… but the ending was clear, and I studied hard, and I now await the grading process completion.
I am trying not to think about it, trying not to obsess and fret about it – there is nothing I can do to change things now – and I am trying to enjoy the new (or back to the) freedom of my days! Only been one day, but man oh man I’ve accomplished a lot! All these little things I couldn’t get done because I had no time during the day to do anything but coursework and module tests and listen to reports and edit, edit, edit.
I’m not going to complain about it though – it was an experience and another part of the story of my life. I learned loads, and I have brand new shiny skills that I am quite keen to use.
I just hope the exams went as well as I FEEL they did! Hah!
Another ending that has occurred is that my stint as a Chloe&Isabel merchandiser has come to an end. Unfortunately, due to lack of sales for over 6 months, the company “lets you go” as a merchandiser. I tried my best, but I am not a networker and my efforts at selling online (Despite my best efforts and more money spent) did not pan out as well as I had hoped. I got support from only a small number of people, and I am grateful to them for it. Perhaps, when I am more stuck in to my work as a transcriptionist/editor, I can spend the money on marketing and give it another shot. Right now though, it’s just one more thing off my list. Sad, but it happens. Another thing I failed at. Yay, me.
The countdown is beginning for the “We’re getting out!” thing. It’s a bit surreal still. I am sure it will become more real when we start sorting out the movers and cleaning the house for the inspection, and clearing his unit and things like that. What will make it serious will be when we decide on when we will be going, where we will be living, and what we will be doing when we get there.
We have options, we have ideas. We just have to narrow it down and make a good decision or two. It’s scary. We both feel a bit overwhelmed, but we will get through it together as we always do. The dogs are with us too! They are our anchors and one of the main factors in our decision-making process!
As I knew I would, I am trying to remain detached from people. I don’t want to make more friends-with-dogs and then have to leave them again in a few months time. My heart is still sore from saying goodbye to our little foxy friend and his mom.
I have met a few cool people, but I am keeping it to “doggy friends” and that’s it.
We met a proper Greyhound a few mornings ago! He (his name was Third!) and Odin actually got on STRAIGHT AWAY! It was awesome! He has all these mannerisms that Odin has too – I thought they were “Stray dog” things, but apparently they are Greyhound things! His mom, Sara, and I had a nice chat about their funny characters. She said she could see the Greyhound in Odin, and then she saw him poop in a bush and she said, “Yup, that’s a Greyhound thing!” We laughed.
We have also met up with a lovely young Husky called Apollo a few times now, in the cooler evenings, and he and Odin (and even Azzie and Gina) get along really well, surprisingly!
Georgia is rolling out her summer carpets and it’s been hot, humid, rainy, hot, humid, cool, rainy, VERY hot, VERY humid, and back to just plain hot again.
We had a nice cool evening a few nights ago, and a cool morning followed – this was after a massive storm. Azzie did so well, despite the thunder and lightning. No tornado watches for that one, thankfully.
The Cape (back home) has been in the grips of a terrible drought – the worst they’ve had in 100 years, they say – and then over the last few days (Tuesday to Thursday) there was a HECTIC storm with high seas and LOTS of rain, and now they are expecting snow as well. Hoping that will fill the dams a bit, as they were so low they were in the single digit percentages.
Unfortunately, there’s also been a terrible wild fire in one of the most beautiful places: Knysna. Homes destroyed, huges swaths of forest decimated. Utterly terrible.
Someone probably set it, as there have been a rash of fires in the area and further down in Cape Town and surrounds as well.
I don’t understand the mentality of someone who could do that – they must be deranged.
Chaos. Endings. Beginnings.
The world turns on.
To paraphrase Jane Goodall, “Mother Nature can save herself, she just needs us to give her a chance.”
I think She is angry and I cannot blame her.
To Find Your Trail
I am a firm believer in getting your dogs out in the area they are “living” (or even just staying for a short while) and getting to know it well, and finding good trails to follow. When a dog is stuck inside their home (or even if they have access to a yard) and never gets to go anywhere in their neighbourhood, they don’t know where they _are_ and if they ever get loose (and the chances of a dog escaping the confines of their prison – and it is a prison to a dog, as nice as it might be – at every opportunity are very high when they don’t get out at all) they get lost all the more quickly. If a dog knows where his or her home is, what all the landmarks and smells are around it, where the dogs are, where the roads are, they tend to be less panicked and fearful (sometimes it might take a little longer for them to calm down) and can find their way home on their own.
So, now wherever we live, I always get my dogs out into the area as soon as I can. We start small: Just a walk around the block, or around 2 blocks, or in different directions up and down the road we are on until we know the area very well. We then venture a little further, going 20 minutes in one direction and then turning back. We then look for loops and roads that return to ours. Big blocks, medium blocks, lots of small blocks.
Don’t be afraid to turn around and go back the way you came – dogs don’t care. If you cross the road, it means even MORE new things to sniff!
Once you have walked completely around your neighbourhood (as far as you can go safely, of course) and you know it very well, head to Google Maps…
I have found MANY wonderful trails and greenbelts by doing this. I’ve discovered secret lakes and ponds, wide open fields in the middle of a city, forest trails that start at the end of my street! Even if you find one and walk there and then discover there’s a fence in the way that you couldn’t see on the map – it’s ok! Follow the fence, or check the map later for places you can see a path emerging from the trees.
You can also start looking further afield: I start in my ‘hood, but I always end up finding places and trails about 5 or 10 minutes drive away. I then look for places to park safely, and hopefully a shady spot if it’s spring/summer (especially here in Georgia) and the entrance to a trail. Also – find OTHER small neighbourhoods and go check those out. Park in a public area (a park, or a playground area) and head off around the ‘hood. Your dogs will LOVE the chance to sniff and piddle on these new hunting grounds. You can even take a drive around the new area first, with windows down, nice and slowly, so you can check it out before you start walking – check for loose dogs, bad fences, chained dogs, “no dogs” signs, glass on the sidewalk, thorny patches etc.
If you’re tired of the street, go check Google Maps for green areas, forests, parks. These are for daily walks, mostly.
If you have more time on a weekend, research places during the week and head off on a Saturday or Sunday morning, nice and early. We discovered a dam and a lake and a beautiful beach this way! You can also look up the local nature parks and hiking/biking trails – look at alltrails.com (you don’t have to get the pro version to find awesome places to walk, and they all come with comments and helpful information about water access, toilet access, and if dogs are allowed) or look for the State Parks website for your state.
Check out forums for local hikers/mountain bikers and you will find loads of information there too.
When I go walking anywhere new (street or forest or trail or farm) I carry a small backpack with the following necessities: Poop bags. A 2 liter water canteen and large collapsible water bowl for the dogs (winter or summer, they are thirsty fluffs). If it’s hot weather, I will bring a 500 ml bottle of water for myself. Wipes for paws/hands/etc. A small first aid kit. A toy – preferably squeaky, but that’s my dogs’ personal choice. A spare lead. Treats! Very important! I also carry my phone, a torch/headlamp, a tick twister, a whistle, and some para-cord. You never know. Might sound like a lot, but I like to be prepared, and you get used to the weight of it. We stop for a water break and a rest every 1 km when it’s hot, and maybe every 2 km when it’s nice and cold out – I go by the dogs and how they are feeling. Odin will ask for water if he wants it, and Azzie just flops down and won’t go any further if she is too tired or hot and wants water.
Do some research before you head out on a trail or forest walk: Know what snakes are in the area, and any predators you might encounter. Be aware and alert at all times, but try not to work yourself up into an anxious state, as this is a real downer to dogs because they spend the walk LOOKING for something to be scared of or react to. Simply be aware of your surroundings, learn what types of places to avoid (fallen trees – snakes love hiding under them) and never do anything too extreme if you are on your own (don’t climb down a ravine, unless you can see an appropriate exit path that you AND your dogs can get up without too much hassle). Be as quiet as you can – that way you can hear anything out of the ordinary, AND you get to enjoy the sounds of nature around you. Dogs also like silence, by the way – but the occasional recall for a treat and a “good dog” when they do, makes a world of difference to them as well. Be respectful – you are walking among living things: not just the trees, but animals call this their home. Don’t destroy things, or pick things that you shouldn’t. Leave tracks, not trash. If you can REACH the spot your dog pooped (especially on or next to the trail you are walking) please pick it up. I normally take my dogs to the dog park first, so they can poop etc, and I can pick up and throw it away and I don’t have to carry poop bags around for the entire walk. Sometimes, though, one or two of my dogs will go a second time if the walk is long enough to warrant it. If I can get to it easily, I will pick it up. If it’s in brambles, or thorn trees, or thick undergrowth (snakes!) then I tend to leave it. I do try, but I’m not getting my hand torn up by thorns, or bitten by a snake, or covered in poison ivy, just to pick up a poop that nobody is going to be going anywhere near anyway. Just being honest.
If you are someone like me who can sometimes get turned around if the trail has many offshoots or crossroads, then use your phone to take a photo at each junction, of the direction you came and the direction you are going. If you don’t want to use your phone, then find a few pieces of wood or sticks/branches, and make a double arrow – pointing the way you came, and the way you went. It’s saved me a few times when I thought I knew where I was, but ended up going in a circle… If there are no sticks around, find a pile of leaves and place those at the entrances to the path you are leaving and the path you are entering. That also works.
Main and final point: Get outside! Find adventure! Your dogs will love it – you bond so much more with your dogs if you walk together, and the longer the walk the better. Tired dogs are happy dogs. Dirty dogs are even happier 😀 Also – don’t be afraid to get dirty, wear good shoes that are appropriate to the ground you will be covering, and sunscreen if it’s hot, and lots of insect repellent. Pack a spare light jacket if you are walking in winter or if it’s undecided whether it will rain or not.