Archive for the ‘OCTOBER 2009’ Category

Last weekend, Robin’s dad and wife Pat, tragically and unexpectedly lost their beautiful dog “Miss Shelby Montana.”


Though we all love our pets, Shelby was not your “average dog.” Shelby came into Jon and Pat’s life while they were grieving the loss of their other dog, Tasha, a few years ago. Tasha had been in their lives since she was a puppy and lived a long, full life into her teens…the grief of having to put Tasha to rest was overwhelming. Knowing no pet could replace their Tasha and not ready to start again with a puppy, Jon and Pat browsed animal shelters, to see if there might be a dog in need of a home that would help fill the void they were feeling over their recent loss of  Tasha. Suddenly, there she was…a beautiful dog named “Shelby.”

Shelby was a “senior citizen” (I believe they thought she was 13 at the time but no one could ever confirm her age). She was in a nice, small animal shelter and was loved by everyone there…but it was still a shelter and Shelby’s life was spent in a kennel. No one at the shelter ever thought Shelby would be adopted because of her age. Jon and Pat arranged a time to meet Shelby and it didn’t take long to see she would be coming home with them, up into the mountains, overlooking Glacier Park Montana.

jon, pat & shelby

This was the miracle of their mutual relationship and why Shelby was much different than “your average dog.” With her warm spirit and new found freedom in the open air (no more cages!!), Shelby acted like a puppy. Jon and Pat gave Shelby a new lease on life – a beautiful home in the mountains, freedom in the open air and constant pampering and attention. In return, Shelby gave them the gift of helping them through their loss of Tasha, making them smile again. Shelby was the most gentle, loving girl you could ever meet. She actually had a basket of “babies” (stuffed animal toys) and would take a different one to bed with her each night. You couldn’t look at Shelby without smiling…it was impossible.

So, Shelby…thank you for giving us so much hope and happiness…you were truly an angel and a gift to us all.

Dad and Pat…you extended Shelby’s life by years, taking her from that shelter. We all were amazed how young and spunky Shelby acted, once out of a kennel…you even had to put fencing up on the porch so she wouldn’t  jump down (thanks to our dog, Hannah, for teaching her that trick)!! The magical “North Fork of Montana air” up there on your property, coupled with your love and devotion to Shelby, gave her happiness she had never experienced…and would never had experienced…

For all of us out there with a lump in our throats, this is a reminder that our pets, that we too often quickly pass by on our way out the door each day, are the only pure source of unconditional love you can find in today’s fast-paced, materialistic and often, cold world. There is a little Shelby in all of them, waiting for your love and attention so they can return the gift and bring you joy and happiness. Thanks for reminding us, Shelby.


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Yep…it has been a fun week in Wardville…

Now my owners say they wouldn’t trade these experiences at the cost of losing freedom on the open road…but it takes time to adjust to this new life. What used to be “normal stressors” of conventional life…has now been traded for freaky stressors of the outdoor life. My owners are still having fun and actually have really figured me out quite well now…no major problems like showers, toilets, electricity…I think some of their laughter might be MANIACAL laughter, but they do seem to be truly enjoying themselves…though every day is a new adventure and they keep wondering when the time will come when they can read those books they insisted on loading me down with! Owner Robin brought every grizzly bear book she has collected (about 14 in all) with her, determined that she will read each one on this journey…but so far she is about halfway through the Timothy Treadwell story, “Death in the Grizzly Maze.” Owner Jim, as is typical, is reading about three books at the same time…Kurt Cobain biography, Rolling Stones inside story and some other biography…I don’t know the guy…along with our latest edition of  “Trailer Life” magazine, a gift from Orion, Ellen and baby Beatrice.

So let me tell you about my week…

Monday, owner Robin was stung in the hand by a black wasp. Robin was bummed and, yes…said more curse words…but figured it would pass in time. Within two days, her hand swelled up like a balloon and she thought she might have to have her ring cut off! Even today, her hand looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s hand, but she has five fingers, of course.

That was Monday…Tuesday and Wednesday were the SCARIEST days in my life…I would rather be covered in honey and huckleberries, placed in the middle of Glacier National Park, Montana, than to live through what I have. I’ll sum it up in one or two words: ladybugs or lady bugs? I don’t know which is proper but it doesn’t matter because they are FREAKY LITTLE CREATURES! Oh…they’re so CUUUUTTTTTEEEE , people say. Oh, they’re “good luck” other uninformed people say. Bull. They are freaky little creatures.

Let me clarify…first, these bugs look JUST LIKE ladybugs but are paler in color. Up until Tuesday, we always called them ladybugs but, after they overtook our home and swarmed our village, research turned up that normal USA ladybugs don’t do this…these are Multi-colored lady asian beetles. Now, if you do an image search, you will see they are exactly like ladybugs. I think they are tiny aliens in ladybug suits…but who am I to say…I’m just a travel trailer.

Anyway…we noticed them flying around…not just in the woodsy area where I am parked…but in town, too. Just seemed to be a damn awful lot of them around…I thought, if they bring good luck, we’re in great shape…but then, back at our home base, they stopped being so “cute.” There were more and more and more and more of them…all over me! All through the air! My owners would step outside and come in with a dozen on their clothes in a matter of seconds…we were being invaded by aliens in ladybug suits! They COVERED me on the outside and my owner would have got a photo except she was so freaked out by the whole thing she was afraid to go outside.

My owners decided to just “get outta here” and left me all alone…for hours!!!! Now I don’t know if my owners expected to return to them being gone…but it was WORSE…poor me…I looked like a polka-dotted trailer…like some circus act reject. They ran inside of me for protection, covered in these creatures just from running from the truck to the door, only to open it and find about 100 INSIDE OF ME! My owners lost it…there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. They looked so funny because they were half laughing, half losing it. Owner Jim, the creative one, developed a paper cup system. Nothing like the satisfying “click” of hearing their little shells hit the inside of a styrofoam cup with one little flick from the ceiling. What took owner Jim sometime to figure out was that when he’d open the door to toss it out, more would come in…so they had to take action and fight the little aliens…so in came the dishpan and soapy water…which was grotesquely filled by the end of the four hour battle. By nightfall, they all just “disappeared” and a deafening silence came over our home. I was once again white…there were no more inside of me…so my owners did research on how to prepare for tomorrow’s battle.

They learned they don’t like temperatures under 55 degrees…tomorrow was to be sunny and 70! They had little time to prepare! They sprayed my shell in pesticide used for livestock/horses…supposedly safe and recommended, though I worried they’d discolor my outsides! The other trick was the almighty vacuum hose…now WHY didn’t they think of this in the first place? So the next day, when the battle resumed (and it is creepy…there are none in the morning…then a few…then a dozen…then 50….) they were prepared to fight…sucked those little critters right up! Of course, they still clung to me outside…

In between the two ladybug days, while owner Robin’s hand continued to grow to grotesque proportions, the black water tank informed us it was “full.” So we had known that they did not plan to drag me to a dump station and got ideas from the local RV guy on how you can move black water in a portable form. We are fortunate there is a septic tank on this land, next to the old house…just had to get it from me to it…while being eaten alive by little ladybugs.

This challenge was no match for owner Jim…he could FINALLY put that PhD to use! He designed a high tech plan that involved a large bucket, a snap on lid and a gigantic plastic, orange traffic cone, cut precisely to size to fit down the septic spout…I’ll just let you use your imagination from there.

Actually, my owners felt victorious when the black water tank was completely emptied without incident…

So friends…it has been quite a week.

I am looking forward to this weekend because owner Robin’s mom and George are coming to visit this weekend along with Orion and baby Beatrice. Jim is performing in his brother’s band Friday night…and everyone is going to the show….everyone except me and baby Bea…maybe they’ll let me babysit her while they go out?

Hope your life is as interesting as mine has been this week…and remember, when you see a cute ladybug, it is an alien in a ladybug suit…grab your vacuum!!

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Good Morning, Everybody…Ward Layton, here! I am in a GREAT mood today, even though there is actual frost on my windows…want to know why???


Yes, me. I GOT A PRESENT from my Uncle Kerry and Aunt Sharon…it is a DVD called “RV Education 101.” I LOVE my Uncle Kerry and Aunt Sharon!! This greatly improves my odds of survival because my owners will know what I need vs. their current method of flipping a coin when it comes to decisions regarding my care. So thank you, thank you!!!

My owners performed at JOE SIPPERS in Effingham last night…and my Uncle Ron, Aunt Julie and cousin Sheena came to the show. I couldn’t go, of course, but my owners brought home a few photos…so be sure to check them out!

Jim & Robin at Joe Sippers

Jim & Robin at Joe Sippers

Jim's Brother Ron Joins In For A Song

Jim's Brother Ron Joins In For A Song

One Of Our New Bose Compacts

One Of Our New Bose Compacts

 A TOTO SANDWICH - Dog, Cat, Dog


Today is the first day in a long, long time that the forecast is for sun…so I look forward to a day of opening my windows and sunbathing…

Hope you have a nice, relaxing Sunday as well!

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Good Morning Everyone…Ward here…

I am SAD…no, not emotionally down…I am suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder and my owners are considering buying me gigantic, full spectrum lights…but guess you need a GENERATOR to operate those, huh?

My owners find this humorous but I don’t think it is…

They have discovered a weather link they like at intellicast.com. Everyday, since we’ve arrived, it has shown sun was coming in about 4 days. What they’ve noticed is that someone at intellicast must just SAY THAT to keep spirits high…why? Because everyday that they check the weather, the sun forecast remains 4 days away…it NEVER ACTUALLY ARRIVES. There has been ONE DAY OF SUN since we parked in Illinois…we would all get up in the morning, check the weather and say “oh, only 4 more days…only 4 more days.” It took some time to see that we were saying it every morning…hence, the weather conspiracy theory in Illinois. So now, they predict sun on Sunday…but I doubt it!

Due to the continual drizzle, dreary clouds, cool temps and gloom, I’ve developed SAD…my owners are looking for an RV therapist for me.

Enough about me…

As for my owners…when you last tuned in, their 2nd generator blew up. Knowing now that they will have to purchase a very expensive, rv specific generator by a reputable company such as Honda, they talked to the local RV dealer for ideas. In the end, due to how little electrical energy they use (no tv’s, etc) they just needed power to keep batteries charged…which led them to a $100 investment in, you guessed it, durable power cords to stretch 400 feet to Norbert’s garage!!

Unsure if this would work, my owners had few choices left…so they plugged in and it works! We’re on day 3 and though it is a weaker source (can’t plug in much) it keeps batteries charged…so problem solved for now until a new generator is purchased!

As for other news, except for my mental state of health, all is fine here. My owners are leaving me today to drive to Mattoon in search of a health food store so Robin can eat! Since she can’t have gluten, eggs or dairy (though I see her cheat on dairy), she depends on them in her daily diet. They were shocked that Effingham doesn’t have one…and their health section at the grocery store boasted of diabetic sugar wafers! Little Eureka, Montana had a GREAT health food store…got to find one comparable..so off they go!

My owners have their first “gig” in Illinois tomorrow, at Joe Sippers. It is a cute set up, with a little stage in a back room…wish I could go but I wouldn’t fit in the parking lot (or so my OWNERS SAY).

I know I’ve mentioned two loony doggies travel with me…they are living the high life and love to lay in the cool, on their mattress, under my canopy…they are doing very well and crazy Hannah (she is truly crazy…she spins and things like that) has calmed down 100% in this environment.

What I DIDN’T MENTION is that we are actually a traveling circus…at least we must be because we are going across the country with many animals. There are two cats as well: Toto and Spot.





These two just crack me up…Toto goes flying down my floors, which tickles sometimes…and Spot has the grumpiest meow you’ve ever heard…he is a true couch potato.

My owners have bought them an outdoor play yard, custom made harnesses with tie-outs…keeping my insides clean as much as possible…but with this rain the cats have been inside more…so out comes the vacuum everyday!

I will sign off here…hope you all are enjoying yourselves and that there is sunshine wherever you are!

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Greetings to all-

Well, it has been one heck of a hilarious time since we arrived…haven’t had time to write, so this diary entry will be a summary of the last six days…which all revolved around me…and my owners who learned the hard way how difficult boondocking can be when you neglected to purchase the “RV For Dummies” book before embarking on this journey…

Where We Currently Are Camping In Effingham

Where We Currently Are Camping In Effingham

So the story goes a little something like this…


Pouring, pouring rain…my furnace worked (for now)…but nothing else. My owners relied on a little porta-potty and the generosity of his friend, Norbert, who let us shower in his home. Unfortunately, due to the rain, we accomplished zippo. There is an old, abandoned house where we are set up and my owners put some items in there so they could walk on my floors…but that was about it.

Owner #1 - Robin

Owner #1 - Robin

Owner #2 - Jim

Owner #2 - Jim


Pouring rain still…Drove by the Little Wabash River that looked to be in flood stage…we had a little lake of our own building around me. Another day of porta-potty and showering at Norbert’s house…and my battery was starting to drain…I felt kinda weak and dizzy…

My owners visited Ron and Julie for a bit and came back home to sleep…but their sleep was interrupted from the discomfort of their body parts freezing during the night when my battery finally gave out.

Jim backed up the truck (her name is June, by the way…Ward and June…cute!) so that he could give my battery juice by plugging me into the truck for power…however, my owners, being complete idiots at times, had neglected to put gas in the car…so they couldn’t run it long. More curse words….

Hannah & Clementine

Hannah & Clementine

OCTOBER 10, 2009

Woke up to sunshine…finally!

A neighbor had offered to loan my owners a brand new, Coleman generator…so they thought they didn’t need to purchase one for now…but as they did an online search prior to hooking up, they read “don’t even bother! breaks in two days! junk!”…my owners now recognized that they were going to use a $500 brand new generator that would probably die, and they’d be responsible!!!!

Plan for the day had changed…go buy a generator after showering at Ron and Julie’s house…on the road to self-containment…true “boondockers.”

My owners brought the new shiny generator home, set it up and voila! It worked…they had power and danced with glee! They still had to manually carry 5 gallon water tanks to fill my water supply…but they knew tomorrow morning would bring their first shower in their new home.

That night, the pets and I stayed here while Jim and Robin left because Jim was playing in his brother’s band that evening…

An Inside View Of Me!!

An Inside View Of Me!!

Another View of Me!!

Another View of Me!!

OCTOBER 11, 2009

Anxiously awaiting their new shower with their new generator, Jim went to start up the generator with excitement and vigor. Unfortunately, the pull wouldn’t pull…as if it had frozen up. Owner Jim pulled so hard that the knot came through the handle, eventually disappearing into the engine. My owners were very unhappy with this and cursed some more.

Luckily, Craig at Menard’s gave my owners a new generator, which they set up when they got home and it worked beautifully. By the way…my owners never showered that day!

OCTOBER 12, 2009

Energetic Jim, excited to try the shower, manually filled, lifted, carried and poured six, five gallon jugs of water. The generator, though my owners were afraid to try, started up with no effort…purring like a kitten.

Jim had turned on the water heater for 20 minutes and was the first to dive in. After his shower, Jim boasted he still had hot water left and it was Robin’s turn to go in…unfortunately for Robin, the hot water ran out when her hair was covered in conditioner…about 2 minutes into her first shower. Robin cursed…Jim boiled water and mixed it with cool while Robin stood in the shower, freezing…awaiting her 32 oz. rinsing cup…then she stood there waiting for more…

Actually, the rest of the day went rather well…generator worked great in the evening for its nighttime run…all is good with the world…

OCTOBER 13, 2009

Owners both had nice, HOT showers without problem…generator ran perfectly…owners ran errands and bought 100 feet of hose, that they connected to Norbert’s outside water spigot (Norb’s idea, to run 200 feet of hose to fill water tanks so no more carrying 5 gallon tanks!!). It worked! Jim could now fill the water tank with a squeeze of the handle…things are looking up! Power, water, toilets, showers…my owners felt great!

Owners had relaxing evening and decided to get this blog written (finally)…so that is what they are doing right now…



Seriously, right before this conclusion with this blog…just when I was saying all is calm here…my owners jumped a foot with a big POP outside…then silence…the generator just blew up…

Owner Robin Praying 3rd Generator Might Work?

Owner Robin Praying 3rd Generator Might Work?

So it looks like tomorrow will be a VERY BUSY DAY for my owners…

I don’t get it…they are actually smiling and laughing about this…

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10/6/09 – 10/7/09

If you liked the story of where we stayed last night, you’ll LOVE where we stayed today…

The Interstate drive from Minnesota to Lodi, Wisconsin was the same…it poured sheets of rain all day, and the snow was always right behind us!

Robin did her usual computer search as darkness came, and picked a place called Smokey Hollow campground in Lodi. Due to the incessant rain, no pictures could be taken…but you HAVE to go to their website at smokeyhollowcampground.com and take their visual tour…

Robin put it best when she said “I feel like we’re camping in the middle of a miniature golf course!”

It was hilarious…though this place is obviously rocking in the summer (they have ponds, swimming, gigantic cartoon-like creatures everywhere, treasure hunts…and yes, even a gigantic motorized shopping cart that drives the kids around the campground) it was deserted in October…we drove into a dark, scary, deserted scene from Alice In Wonderland…we expected to see little gnomes run across the lawn…we were more scared camping here than in grizzly bear country!

Anyway, we pulled in and a sign on the office said “office closed, register here.” But it is dark…and the little slips had no instructions…so we picked a site (there are 100 to choose from and no one was around) and “set up.” My owners, first and foremost, made sure the bathroom and showers weren’t locked, after last night’s fiasco…to their pleasure, this place put bathrooms higher on their priority list than a fish house.

It was incredibly windy, which only added to the eerie feel of the creepy campground. The rain had stopped so Robin walked the dogs around in the dark…if anyone has seen the movie Dirty Dancing, it had that type of feel…you could just picture what it is like in the summer…the sounds, the events, the megaphones announcing “ballroom dancing lessons at 5pm” and “hey kids, jump aboard our giant shopping cart at noon today.” Creepy.

So everyone slept a little uneasy that night…and in the morning we all knew we would be at our destination in Effingham, Illinois today…so my owners hurried to the showers…but guess what???

They were PAY SHOWERS! My owners, overjoyed that the bathrooms weren’t locked, neglected to notice the coin machine next to the showers….luckily, they did have enough quarters to shower…which is a relief, because no change machines were in sight.

Clean, with the sun shining outside, my owners hit the road…

They arrived in Effingham, Illinois around 530pm, with not much daylight left. They had LOTS to do before dark.

We met up with Jim’s old friend who is letting us stay on his 50 acres…about 5 miles outside of Effingham, in a beautiful wooded area…very quiet and private, just what Jim and Robin love.

Let me backtrack a bit…I don’t think I have told you their plan…

My owners and I LOVE MONTANA and plan to live there from spring to fall but took this time to visit family that they haven’t been able to spend time with for so long and to have time with Cheyenne, since moving to Monticello…so my owners plan to stay in Effingham until the weather chases them out…then they are off to North Carolina to visit Amelia, Nate and Daniel…then hopefully back through Illinois where they’ll stay until they can safely drive to Montana (when the snow is melted).

Back to the evening we arrived…

So Jim and Robin were thrilled to see the private location they would be setting up camp…but they didn’t have much time until the sun would set. All of their outdoor gear (screen tent, tables, chairs…on and on) was in the living room during the drive…but there was just no time to do it all and they were exhausted…

That’s too bad…because they awoke to rain…one of the hardest rains that has fallen in years…48 solid hours of rain…the river was at its banks…everyone was stuck inside, tripping over gear…my rugs were muddy…

And that might not seem so bad except for one important point…my owners are doing what is called “boondocking.” They have NO POWER SOURCE and NO WATER SOURCE…so to be completely self-contained, they needed to get a generator, hoses and other items so that they could use the toilet, shower and recharge my battery so they could run the furnace, lights, etc…

So they had nothing but the sound of rain and just a little room to move around…even the canopy hadn’t been put up yet…

Yep…they’d arrived!!!

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Do hurricanes come to North Dakota?

I don’t think it is possible, but I thought my owners might need to be cashing in on that comprehensive insurance policy they have on me…because it poured and poured…some little ice balls kept hitting me on my head…and this went on all day!

My owners were soaking, the dogs were soaking…I was looking quite good, actually…cleaner than I have ever been!

Now my owners had been checking the weather when they left their home…but hadn’t tuned in for awhile…it looked like a gigantic weather system of rain and snow was heading our way…and I wasn’t the vehicle of choice to outrun a weather system like that! I am a little slow…at least I have my looks…

Now this is a good story…

We drove in the rain all day…nighttime came and we all set our sites on a place in Alexandria, Minnesota called the L Motel and Resort or something foofy like that.

The L Motel

The L Motel

My owners have wifi so as we were on the highway, Robin was looking up places to stay…the L Motel, from their website, looked like a really nice place…I mean, REALLY nice place! They even boasted of having a “fish house” on site to clean your fish…looked like a family vacation paradise…

Heh, heh…I still chuckle when I think of this…

So what they DON’T show on their website is that it is basically in a suburban area…they conveniently left the traffic light you could see through the trees out of their website photos. There was nothing “fancy” about it…at all…you could walk to a McDonalds if you wanted to.

Wait…it gets better…

So it is STILL POURING rain, and quite dark out…so we decide to stay at the RV park at the L Motel. Jim gets out, pays and we drive to our site and get set up. Still pouring, they both question if either of them have noticed the SHOWERS? the BATHROOM? You must keep in mind, though I am equipped to handle all of these things, it wasn’t convenient to fill me up with water on the road, etc…which is why we stayed in RV parks…so my owners could shower, use a bathroom…

So Robin puts on her raincoat and decides to wade through puddles and walk to the main office, to find where the bathrooms are located. She stands at the counter, shivering and soaked…like a wet weasel or something like that…and questions the woman who owns the “resort” about toilet locations…I wish I had a picture of Robin’s face when the woman replied “this is an RV PARK…there is no bathroom or shower.”

Robin, defeated with no energy left to argue, replied “you’re kidding, right?” The woman said no and Robin squished along the carpet, back up to me…Jim could see by the look on Robin’s face that this wasn’t good.

I believe the conversations went something like…”WE JUST PAID $27 TO PARK ON THEIR GRASS??” “They have a FISH HOUSE but not a BATHROOM? Maybe we should just USE THEIR FRICKING FISH HOUSE as a bathroom!” “Why would we need to stay here if we had everything working?” “What are we paying for exactly?” There were long intervals of maniacal laughter…then Jim decides to go talk to the owners again and he went out into the rain, Robin hearing the “squish, squish, squish” of his footsteps in the soaking grass.

Jim returned to me about 10 minutes later, with a devious grin on his face, and threw a key on the table with a big number 10 on it, without initially saying a word. Robin, of course, looked at Jim in confusion (and admired that he, too, looked like some type of wet rodent, standing in the living room). “That is a key to Room 10 at the motel…we can use their toilet and shower while we’re here.”

From what I overheard, the owner’s husband greeted Jim in the office and apologized stating that his wife should have told him there were no facilities PRIOR TO taking our money. He also stated to Jim that building a bathroom is on their “to do” list…I hope you are laughing as I am laughing…yes…these people actually felt building a FISH HOUSE should take priority on their list over putting in a bathroom…

The funny thing is that Room 10 turned out to be an uncleaned motel room…it still had unmade beds and towels on the floor!! They really go the extra mile at the L Motel…we decided L stood for many things…like Loser, Liar…Jim and Robin, nearly insane by now, also had fun calling it the HELL motel vs. the L motel…

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