Friday, October 31, 2008

Hotel'n it with Dog

I am currently out on a jaunt without my RV, which means I have to hotel it  .. with the wonder dog.  How motels handle pets never ceases to amaze me.

Motel 6's always take dogs no extra charge.  Thank God for Motel 6.   Other low-end no frills hotels charge anywhere from $10 to $50 for a pet!  As I found out this evening a lot of the mid range hotels take no dogs and then on the higher end .. if they take them they charge up to $100 a night.  

Then there is Loews Hotels, high end and pet-friendly.  Wonder dog & I stayed at Loews in New Orleans when the conference hotel (The Sheraton) said I could have a pet but it couldn't stay in a room by itself .. I couldn't take the dog to the conference or out to eat either and it would cost extra.  So basically you can just stay in your room with your dog?  Loews did not charge extra for the dog, gave us a pet welcome kit along with a room service menu and bowls.  The concierge kept dog cookies which Dog picked up on pretty quickly.   Fast forward to this week, when the conference I was at happened to be at a Loews at Coronado, CA .. beautiful hotel and same treatment for the dog.  They even printed up directions for us t get to the dog beach.  Now obviously, if I could travel without my pet that would be my preference but since I can't always do that the chains that don't freak out & charge you out the wazoo because you have a pet will get my business whether Dog is with me or not.

My dog is pretty easy going .. we get to the hotel/motel, she gets a drink of water, lays down and doesn't move till morning.  She is no more of a risk to trashing a hotel than I am so why pay $25 more?  One place told me that it was to vacuum their hair up ...  aren't they vacuuming anyway?  They aren't paying anyone $25 to make 1 extra swipe with the vacuum they are just charging more because they think they can get away with it.  Kids are more apt to cause damage, write on walls, spill things, etc yet they don't charge extra for them??   I stayed in a chain hotel in Kansas this summer & they charged $25 in cash for the dog for the night and then gave you back $10 in the morning without even looking at your room .. huh??  Tonight we had to stop along the highway for a motel .. 6 motels before we could find one that would take dog for a reasonable price.  Ridiculous!  

Looking for a place to overnight .. try Motel 6.  Looking for a destination resort... consider a Loews .. they get people and pets.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Critters!! Again? .. Oh My..

Scratch,  scratch .. what's that?  The dog dreaming again?  Nope, dog is here. Then what's that noise?  Scratch, scratch, claw,claw!    Of course, it is after midnight, so I can't scream loudly and hope the neighbor will come save me.  Wonder dog is sleeping soundly so I poke her and she jumps into action.  I point to where I heard the sound and she dutifully does her best police dog impression and sniffs every edge and every corner, then looks at me like I am crazy and lays back down.  Nice!  So much for my guard dog.  I didn't hear 'the noise' anymore so I settled back into my book but my thoughts drifted back to my harrowing experience with critters last winter.  Ahh, the Winter of 07,  I remember it all too well.  Here is a page from my journal.

Adventures of a Winter Texan '07

I have heard that all over the valley this year the rodent population is booming. I don’t know if that is true or not, but in my park it certainly is the case. They are everywhere, scampering in the bushes, running across the roads and trying to nest under wheel covers. I have caught my share of them heading out from behind a wheel cover and had been pretty successful at keeping them outside my rig. That is until that nice cold front came through last week. Now being smarter than your average bear, I knew the cold weather would tempt the critters to come inside and snuggle. So I prepared! I turned off my furnace and water heater and put my electric blanket on the bed and turned it all the way up. I figured my four-legged companion had plenty of hair and could tough out the night curled up in a ball on her bedding. The important thing was not to attract any rodents. I snuggled all safely in my bed and dozed off with a smile, thinking I was clever.

Clang, crash, crunch .. what the hey!! I flipped on the lights to my Shepherd mix knocking over by bathroom trash and trying desperately to get to something behind the toilet! I looked at the clock.. it was 2 am. Fear shot through my body.. it was 2 am, there was something in my bathroom and no one awake to run to for help. My dog turned around to give me the ‘aren’t you go to do something’ look. I swallowed hard and thought maybe I should go look. I hadn’t actually seen anything, maybe it was a moth or a fly she was trying to catch.

So I got up slowly, thinking the best thing to do would be to turn on lights. So I did. Then I remembered that the drapes on the front of my motor home where at the cleaners and people, people who might be out at 2 am, might see me walking around in my pajamas. Hmmm, I quickly decided this was serious and I couldn’t worry about that at the moment. So I went and bravely grabbed my dog by her collar and pulled her back from the toilet so I could see the problem. As I did, I saw something small and furry run to where the pipes come in behind the toilet. I let out a blood curling scream and started to jump up and down! It was a mouse! I was terrified. I retreated to my bed to think about what I should do. I picked up my phone, it was now 2:14 am, hmmm I contemplated calling a friend on the other side of my park that might come and help me out. Then again it was 2 in the morning and the coldest night of the year so far, they probably wouldn’t be thrilled if I called them about a mouse. I looked out windows on both sides of my rig, thinking my blood curling scream probably woke someone up .. no light on .. no luck. I thought about going to a motel in town. That would give the little bugger free reign in my house. It would probably be drawn to my nice warm bed .. no better to stay and defend the bed.

My dog was still stationed at the throne, so I knew that the little terror was still in there and I devised a plan. I decided that I should close the bathroom door and shove dirty clothes under the door so it wouldn’t escape. Then in the morning I could call my friend to come and extract it from the bathroom. But what if nature called before morning?? The dog had kept her position but laid down now. I thought maybe it had escaped along the water pipes and was no longer there. I got a flashlight and very cautiously looked all around behind the throne and saw nothing this time. I wanted to use the throne quickly to be sure I would make it till morning but was afraid maybe it hid in there. I lifted the lid and the seat .. no mouse. Still being a little tentative, I thought it best to assume the Public Potty position, the kind of balance and squat but don’t actually sit down stance. Well as soon as I did this, the mouse shot past my foot and the dog made chase. I quickly retained my balance gathered myself together and went to grab the dog. She had the little guy cornered and was batting, chasing and then she tried to grab it with her mouth. I swear the thing was doing acrobats trying to get away. In any case, when the dog almost grabbed it, I let out another screech of horror as I again thought ‘what would I do with a mouse in the dogs mouth at 2am!’. My scream scared the dog who jumped back and the mouse ran under the door to the front of the RV! I quickly gathered clothes and stuffed them under the door and barricaded us in the back. Whew, what a horrid experience! I again checked out the windows to see if maybe a neighbor had awoken this time and I could open my window and plead for help. No such luck, so I crawled back under the covers after doing a through check that nothing else was in it. The dog stationed herself at the edge my barricade. I left the lights on pulled the covers close under my chin. I watched as my dog eventually faded off on her guard duties. I encouraged her to keep the faith a time or too, but then she was just done. I lay there thinking about my 4 year old niece and how I would have to explain to her that her aunt barricaded herself in the bedroom because of a mouse. She has a Rat as a pet. Her’s is a fancy rat, there was nothing fancy about Mickey’s wicked step brother that was now doing who knows what in the front of my rig. I went in and out of sleep until daylight struck and I heard people outside. I called my friends from my bed to see if they could come and help me, but they had their phone off. I decided to get dressed and grab the dog and run straight outside. We did. I found two neighbors, one came with a broom and one bravely entered with just his two bare hands. The searched high and low for that mouse and never found it. They placed traps but I have never seen hide nor hair of the little fella since then. I think maybe we scared it as much as it scared me. That is just fine.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Antelope Canyon


Antelope Canyon was on my Bucket List before Bucket Lists were cool. I saw a postcard of the canyon about 8 years ago,bought it and used it as a bookmark. I thought it was beautiful and wanted to go there 'some day'. Well 'some day' came this month as mom and I emerged from our aborted Southeast Utah intervention (see blog post Mom's coming and she's a crackpot.. for that story).

We made a quick jot up to Page, Arizona on our way to Sedona to try and catch a glimpse of the famed slot canyon. After reading many reviews, we opted to take the Chief Tsosie tour. The canyon is on Navajo land and you can only enter with a Navajo guide. The price for the tour was about $8 higher than going to the parking lot and picking up a guide there. Chief Tsosie's picked us up at our campground, wisked us pass the security gate at the parking entrance that had a line of cars and unto what appeared to be a sandy creek bed road that led down to the canyon entrance. From the parking area to the canyon entrance was a very bumpy, fishtailing 10 - 15 minute drive.

Our guides name was Terri, a Native American and a school teacher. She came off a bit brisk at first when one of the touries asked a kind of 'you people' question, but then she made her point and moved on. She was actually fabulous and spent a lot of time explaining the features of the canyon, as well as, answering all of our questions regarding Native American culture. I found that just as interesting as the canyon itself. She was quite open and patient with us to the point that our tour ran late. That turned out to be a blessing. We were told before we went into the canyon that it was not likely that we would see any light beams hitting the valley floor because of the time of day and time of the year. Our delay kept us later and because I was lagging behind clicking away on our way back through I got to see 2 light beams almost hitting the floor! Bonus! It really made my day. It was a very neat sight.

We went through the canyon, out the other side, talked and then back through again. I saw several folks with some of the guides from the parking lot that were in and out way quicker than we were and they didn't appear to be getting the info that we were. We were on a 10:30 tour. When we went in the canyon it was not very crowded but on our way back out .. after noon it was packed. It is a slot canyon, which means it is very narrow so there was a single file line going each way. It had to be extremely hard for the new folks coming in to get pictures without people in them. I am happy we chose the tour company and time that we did.

The canyon itself was everything I had hoped .. light playing on the smooth curves and narrow, red walls of the sandstone canyon. Very cool indeed!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Take a Step to Stamp out Poverty for Blog Action Day

Yeah, Blog Action Day is here!  The purpose is to create discussions on poverty.  My purpose is to give you actions that you can take to address poverty in America .. and yes it does exist.  Yes, we are the richest country in the world but we still have poverty and homelessness.  We still have children that go to bed hungry, veterans sleeping on our sidewalks, families sleeping in abandoned vehicles and digging through trash for food.

The reasons that people find themselves in extreme poverty and homeless are varied.  Substance abuse and mental health issues do play a big part but I wouldn't say that is the only factors at play.  What I do know is that there are organizations that are working hard to impact poverty in their communities.  

Union Mission in Savannah, GA has been providing shelter for the homeless, helping them with housing assistance, providing healthcare, life skills training, job training and employment assistance for decades. I attended one of their culinary arts programs graduation ceremonies. The graduates were beeming.  They had a marketable skill, they were getting jobs and getting on their feet again.  Union Mission gave them a hand up and these folks turned their lives around.

Save Our Youth in Denver, Colorado is a youth mentoring agency.  They provide mentors to at-risk youth to help keep them in school, off drugs and making good life decisions. Many of them have parents who are incarcerated, are from single parent homes and live in areas where gangs, crime and being a drop out are the norm. The youth they serve are truly at-risk of ending up where Union Mission picks up.  While Union Mission is works to get people out of poverty, Save Our Youth is trying to prevent some of the situations that cause people to go into poverty.  Both are necessary.

So how does this relate to you?   Simple ..  you & I may not devote our daily lives to combatting or preventing poverty in America (or abroad) but we can help those that do by making a donation or volunteering.  Non-profit organizations rely on donated funds and volunteers to carry out their missions.  Your donation, no matter how small, does make a difference.  Make a donation to Union Mission, Save Our Youth or a quality agency near you that is working to stamp out poverty.  You can do something to impact poverty today... Consider eating-in today, donate what you would spend to a non-profit making a difference, it won't hurt your waistline or your wallet but it just might give some one the hand up they need to turn their life around.  If not that at least have a conversation with someone about poverty .  We won't be able to end poverty today but by each one of us taking a small step in the right direction we can make a dent.
 


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Family Politics

I had an interesting conversation today about how people tend to stick with the political party of the household they were raised in.  It seems that we are all pretty much wired at birth to lean to the right or left as we see politics through the lens of our parents.

My father was a very political guy.  We knew months out when an election was coming because he filled every inch of our corner lot with signs for every Democratic person running.  Didn't matter if it was an election for president or neighborhood council, he was doing what he could to support the democratic party.  Being a union guy we also had left over picket signs that I would have to dig through to find things that I lost in the depths of his garage.  

Though my dad was very political, I can't ever remember him having a discussion with any of us kids about politics.  Still he impacted my politics.  I am not a registered Democrat but an independent voter.  I have mixed views on unions.  I,  however, do find myself agreeing with the liberal camp more often than not.  I talk to my mother and two of my siblings about politics often because I know that I can commiserate on the current state of affairs at any given time without much debate or argument.  

The interesting thing though is that most people I know are pretty similar to my family. They stick with what they know.  I have a close friend who is way republican and listens to Rush Limbaugh's rhetoric all the time.  Her kids also ended up republican .. I am convinced that they were brainwashed by being exposed to some many Rush Ramblings that they couldn't help themselves.   

I have one friend who explained how she 'came out' to her parents four years ago as a democrat.  She was not tarred and feathered though I am sure her family is saying some extra prayers for her return to the fold.  It was a big deal for her to be the first left winger in her family.  She hid it till she was well into her thirties.  I think a lot of folks are like that, afraid to break away from the family norms.   I have another sibling that doesn't talk much about politics with his family.   I suspect he could be a closet Republican but I am not sure. I never have nor probably never will ask him.  If he ever admitted to going to the other side I would ask how he found a bridge to that mindset.   I think it would take a lot to cross over from the subliminal cues (sort of) that my father gave or my republican friend gave her kids to something new. 

Over the past two decades however, family dynamics have changed.   We have had more divorces, blended families, single parent families, more electronic diversions and less Ward and June sitting at the table with Wally and the Beav.  We have also had more and more people, especially young people (who will have families) breaking away from the influence of family and registering as Independents.  I think that family dynamics do effect our political views and  as the 'few' that break away from their family norms become 'many' we will see a true change in our political system.

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