Tag Archive | family

10 Things I Hate About Camping

Followers of Midwestern Plants are probably scratching their beans wondering why I would write a post like this… Well, there is a dark side to camping and I need to share my experience so YOU won’t be duped.

During my childhood, ‘camping’ to my family, was staying at a Super 8 😉 I started my camping adventures tent camping at 18. Finally, after many years of sleeping on the ground, my husband and I bought a travel trailer (TT). The ‘normal’ progression of a tenter is usually to buy a pop-up. We thought pop-ups were just as annoying as tents. They take as long to set-up and pack-up as a tent, along with the fact you still don’t have your own bathroom.

Our first TT was 27′ long and was perfect for our family of two. We now have a 37′ Toy Hauler (it has a garage for our motorcycle). We love this new trailer. It has everything we need and more.

Without further adieu, here is my list of things I hate about camping, in no particular order:

#10 – Weather

Bad weather camping is pretty bad in a tent, however it’s not so bad in a TT. At least we have DVD’s, books and other things to keep us occupied. Sadly, it still means no campfires, kayaking or dog walks. Bad weather is also inherently attracted to trailer homes. We’ve rode out a few bad tornado warnings, knowing we could hit the well built shit houses. We don’t go there early, as they usually don’t want dogs in there and I’m not leaving my dogs in an unsafe location.

I can’t wait until we can control the weather and only have it rain on weekdays 😉 I was hesitant to toss this one in as no one has control over it… yet.

#9 – Campground Reviews

I wish folks could put aside their feeling when writing reviews and just stick to the facts. Many times I can read past what folks whine about and glean the pertinent information that works for me, for example:

“The kids were bored as there were no activities…” = Super, no screaming children!

“The site was very uneven…” = You don’t know how to level your trailer.

“The campers next to us were loud…” – If they weren’t permanent, who cares, we won’t see them.

When reviewing a campground or anything else for that matter, state the facts only please.

#8 – Unleashed Dogs

I can’t begin to tell you how many times we encounter unleashed dogs of all sizes. After Breck was attacked in our own yard, we are quick to take notice of any situation that might harm our boys. Dog’s are funny when one is on-leash and the other isn’t. Unless your dog is 100% trained to stay at your side, leash them!!

#7 – Loosing Your Site to a Seasonal

If you’ve booked at a private campground, most likely you’ve seen the verbiage ‘you will be moved if a seasonal wants your site.’ Sadly, this has happened us a few times. Although we tell the campground the size of our TT, they inevitably move us to a site too small for us…. and it’s the last site available. There’s no real protection from this happening, unless you book at a state campground, which only allow a maximum stay of 2 weeks.

#6 – Full Hook-Up is Not Really Full Hook-Up

Full Hook-Up means: there is electricity, water and sewer AT THE SITE. Welp. Some campgrounds will tell you they are full hook-up, but what they really mean is that there is electricity and water AT THE SITE and they have a dump station or pumping services for sewer service. Clearly, it’s very inconvenient to pack-up and bring your camper to the dump in the middle of our stay, thus you then must pay for your tanks to be pumped.

 

#5 – Meeting Scary People

For the most part, campers are good folk. I’ll actually say there are 100% good folk, as the one scary person we came across in the campground was not really a camper. All I’m saying is to be aware, especially if you’re remote camping.

There was a trail that went through the county campground we were staying at. A man walked by with a beer, telling us our dogs were cute and if he could say hello to them.  Hmm, it was daylight, other campers around, so no alarms went off. We started chatting about border collies and camping… Husband offered him another beer and a chair as the sun went down. When the topic of his site and type of trailer came up, he then informed us he was just ‘passing through’ the area on foot. OK, I’ve met many homeless folks that were really nice. However, all of a sudden, things got weird. He started discussing female genitalia and things he liked about it. I gave my hubby the ‘I’m-uncomfortable-look’ and excused myself, saying I needed the loo. Hubby gave me our code word for get the protection at the ready, our loaded 45. When my husband knew I was safely inside and packing heat, I listened out the window to my husband tell this man that his topics were not welcome and he had better take his leave. He left without incident, thank goodness.

#4 – Campground Up Charges

Owning a campground isn’t exactly a get rich lifestyle. Many times camp owners are left to deal with rotten situations their guests put them in. Whether it be acts of bad driving (running over signs, pipes or trees), flushing large, unknown items down the toilet or even just littering, camp owners get creative about adding on fees to your daily, rental fee. Here are just a few we’ve seen:

$10 fee per dog – The campground felt the need to charge this to cover the doo-doo removal service.

Charging $10 per day, per camper for campground amenities and not allowing an opt out.

We have WIFI! (for $2 a day… and its only available near the office… with 2G download speeds…)

$5 a day charge for air conditioners.

 

#3 – Site Trespassing

It’s rare that we find a campground that has large sites. However, the larger the site, the more likely you’ll have folks walk right through the middle of it. We put our boys on 20′ feet leads when we’re at our site. Of course, we size them shorter if our site is smaller. One long weekend of camping had us on a site what was about 40′ feet by 40′ feet. That is huuuuge compared to most campgrounds, we were able to add on to the boys leashes to give them 30′ to play. One day, while we sat near our campfire, a family of 6 rode their bikes right into our campsite and was freaked out when our boys ran after them! The one kid was so terrified he dropped his bike and ran. We asked his parents why they thought it was OK to trespass right through our site. They played the ‘no speaka da English’ game. I then translated my distaste for their actions in an international language way…. We didn’t see them the rest of the trip.

#2 – Not Using Fog Lights at Night

One of my husband’s biggest pet-peeves is drivers in campgrounds using their headlights at night. At best, the speed limit in a campground is 5 mph. At these speeds, the chances of having an accident are slim. Since many campers don’t have their own toilets, driving to the loo becomes an hourly occurrence, especially when there is liquor involved. Camping is about reconnecting with nature, and seeing stars is a part of it. Constantly being flashed in the eyes with headlights is no fun.

#1 No Outside Firewood

As an arborist, I understand the dangers of transporting firewood. All kinds of pest issues are caused by folks moving around contaminated wood. By law, you cannot move firewood outside of 50 miles or over state lines. If you’re within those parameters, no problem. Clearly, campgrounds again, in the never ending search to make money, try to have you buy a 4 piece bundle of wood for $10.  We buy one bundle from the campground and then find someone selling it nearby for 1/64 of the price.

Yes, I have also watched folks drive to a campsite where someone had just left to see if they left any firewood behind.

 

 

 

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Doggy CCL Knee Surgery and Recovery Time Activities

One Sunday, a few weeks ago, we noticed Breck was limping. The first thing we thought was that he had gotten stung in the foot by a drunk wasp that had been dining on the fallen apples near my back door. Nope, no sting locations. We felt if he had any broken bones, nope. No dog squeaks after pulling it out and bending. We figured we’d get him into the veterinarian that next Monday.

Our appointment was at 10 AM, and in less than 3 minutes, he was diagnosed with a cruciate ligament tear in his right, rear knee. A CCL is the same as an ACL in humans. In a nutshell, its the tendon that holds the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (calf bone) and prevents the femur from sliding forward off the tibia. Clearly, dogs are made a bit different. All the vet needed to do was to push his femur back from his tibia and note the amount of ‘shift’ it made. Too much shift for it to still be attached.

Breck in the doughnut-of-shame

She offered up three options, do nothing, or two types of surgery. The first type was called the ‘Fishing Line’ or ‘Old School’ technique. The vet would basically recreate the tendon with fishing line between the two bones. Vets have been doing this surgery for years and it has worked well for dogs Brecks size for decades. The other surgery sounded a bit more intense, as the tibia would be cut and reattached backwards, to create a ledge. (Read the link for more details on the surgeries).

After the vet briefly described the surgeries, she then asked me to sit for the prices… The fishing line surgery was about $3,500 and the tibia cut surgery, would be about $4,500. Good thing she had smelling salts handy 😉 I clearly had to go home and discuss this with my hubby.

There was no doubt we were going to have to go with one of the surgeries. Unless we wanted him in a brace for the rest of his life… Nope!! He’s only 10 years old. We started getting educated about the surgery and reached out to my Mother-in-Law, as her dog just had CCL surgery done at 15 years old and recovered fabulously. Her vet only charged her $1,400! Say what?!? That is more than half the dough my vet wanted! Gimmie his number!

I wasn’t that happy with my current vet anyway.. I wondered if she even liked animals. She wouldn’t get on the floor and pet them, or give them treats before the business time of the appointment. Just the facts, ma’am.

Breck at work with me.

We got an appointment two hours after I called M-I-L’s vet. The first thing he did was to pay attention to Breck and make both of us feel comfortable. He examined his leg (on the floor) and quickly agreed with the other vet. His CCL was torn. Dr. H told me that Breck looked healthy, not overweight and the fishing line surgery would be a great surgery for him. He showed me models of dog knees and how the surgery/recovery process would go. We scheduled surgery for the next Monday.

Breck in his onsie… Hey, don’t knock it until you try it 😉

His surgery went well and according to his x-rays, it was a freak accident. He had no predisposition for this injury, nor did he have any arthritis anywhere. In my opinion, his injury was from his little, evil brother, Oreo. He likes to ‘check’ other dogs and hoomans. ‘Checking’ is a hockey term for running into another player really hard. Surely, this is what happened.

Since I knew the 8 week recovery time was going to be hell on everyone in this house, I started perusing Amazon for any products I could find to make Breck as comfortable as possible, keep him safe and help keep the hoomans sane.

Yes, we do have a real cage, however, this is not the route we wanted to take. With a cone or ‘doughnut’ on, he would not be able to turn very well in the cage. We bought a large cage enclosure to keep him in while we’re home. I am also able to take him to work with me, so he’ll basically be under surveillance 24/7. Well, except for when we slept.

We soon learned cones-of-shame were Breck’s most hated thing in the world. After cone attachment, he’d pant, shake, squirm, cry and paw at it, trying to achieve removal. We tried to be patient, however he was not having it. We next tried the doughnut. He is accepting of it while I am around him, however the minute I turn my back, its off. We tied it as tight as we thought reasonable. His neck to head ratio is nonexistent, along with his silky fur, allows for easy removal of anything around his neck. The hoomans needed to be smarter… Bandages wouldn’t help. We even tried to put a pair of daddy’s boxer underwear on him… Placing his tail through the hole. (heehee…) I won’t humiliate either of them with a photo. 😉

I finally happened upon these doggy-after-surgery onsies. I ordered a large, however I feel it was too small and now ordered an XL. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!! Now I’ve only had it on him for a day (and it’s a bit small), but so far, I am sold! He doesn’t mind having it on and he can still lick some places, just not where his stitches are. I will have to report if this works, as he has already got one stitch out. (Overnight and into the second day, the stitches have been un-licked!)

So, now that we’ve been able to keep him from bothering his stitches, keeping his brain entertained was the next step. If you believe Cesar Millan, dogs don’t have emotions, thus do not get depressed. Really? I used to respect that man….Sigh.. Anyway. Since I believe dogs do have basic emotions, including depression, I felt I needed to figure out some activities for him to pass the time. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Long-lasting chew toys. I found these Himalayan Cheese blocks! I did not follow the directions on the package, but gave one to him right out of the package. He loves them and they take about a day or two to get through.
  • He likes to be brushed, so he’s gotten brushed daily. He also loves his face and nose rubbed with something fuzzy. He really likes massages, also.
  • Gentle tug of war. Very gentle!
  • Which cup is the treat under game. He’s too good, we’ve had to go to 4 cups.
  • Breck loves being talked to. I’m not sure how much he understands, however he is absorbed in every word I speak.
  • I normally don’t let him ‘defuzz’ a tennis ball, however he really likes doing it and it takes an hour or two to do the job.
  • He loves just sitting outside. Since we’ve been having some beautiful days lately, I’ve been enjoying the weather with him, sitting in the cool grass and relaxing.
  • He loves coconut oil. I put it on his front feet to lick off.
  • We had gotten him a few ‘Brain Games’. Basically, hide the treat type games. He’s too darn smart for these, though. Once he’s figured it out, it takes less than a minute to do it again.
  • I’ve read about others buying dog buggies to take their pooches on walks rides in. Well, I’m not going to blow a bunch of bucks on a specialized one, however I remembered the gardening cart I used when I had my own biz. He loves it!! I wheeled him through the neighborhood and he just sniffed the air. I take him out occasionally to write P-Mails on posts and mailboxes 🙂

Wanna go for a roll??

There is very little I’ll not do for my fur kids.

© Ilex ~Midwestern Plant Girl

Mom! Mom! Mom!

It’s BABY BIRD time again! Nothing screams Spring like seeing all the little critters coming out. The first chicks I’ve seen this year are these three Common Starlings. They sure were a squawky bunch of kids. I heard them before I looked out the window to see them.  They are sitting on the yew that is right below the suet cage. These guys weren’t hip to landing on the swinging cage. I can’t imagine they have many hours on their pilots licenses yet, as their landings were a bit rough, especially when the branch bounces as each one lands.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

My Mom’s Favorite Thing…

imageI’ve been doing a lot of de-cluttering. I have had some stuff since I don’t know when. Time to cut some ties. If I ever intend on becoming a full-time RV-er, the load must be lightened.

I did come across some things I totally forgot I had. Yup. The problems of a hoarder 😉

I did find one of my Mothers favorite things.

This it a ‘Round Tuit’. These are worth their weight in gold, and then some. These can move mountains, end wars or make a child clean their room…

Just in case it was only your first cup of coffee this morning, ‘Round Tuit’ is a play on words, re-interpreting the idiom to get around to it as get a round tuit. First used at the 1964 World’s Fair which was held in Queens (Flushing).

I bet you’ll put it on your Christmas list now, huh?!?

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Fried Turkey, Cranberries, Stuffin’ et all!

This is a reblog of my recipes for my cranberries and stuffing =-)

We’ve been frying our turkey for years now. I’m not going to get into all the rules for frying here, although there are some funny EPIC FAILS on this topic!

I will share my recipe for stuffing though. Many who have come over to my house for Turkey Fry Friday in the past have asked me for it.

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I am horrible about placing ‘amounts’ on ingredients, as I add more of what I like and less of what I don’t. With this recipe, there really is no wrong answer. However, have these thing for the base and add things you like including: pork sausage, celery, carrots, use cornbread instead of plain bread, cranberries, raisins, water chestnuts (nice crunch!) or even nuts.

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Melt a stick of butter in a large pot. Cut up and combine everything except the chicken broth and stuffing. Here you see: Onion, Mushrooms, Celery and Apples.

I’m not really cooking it, just getting it started. I then add my seasonings like: Onion powder, salt/pepper, garlic, rosemary and of course some thyme. After this, I add my chicken broth.

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I then put my stuffing into a large bowl.

**As my family celebrated Thanksgiving November 2nd this year, ironically, I could not find stuffing (dried bread quarters) to save my life. I used fresh bread this time and the stuffing turned out like a bread pudding. Actually, everyone liked it more than normal!

Back to the directions…

Pour the pot mix over the stuffing and mix. Depending on how you like your stuffing (dry or moist) add more chicken broth or more stuffing to compensate. At this point I take a taste to see what I came up with. I tend to make mine moist, however you will loose some moisture cooking, be aware.

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Smash either into your turkey or into a oven safe dish if you are frying. Remember, you CANNOT fry the turkey stuffed. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.

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Although you really don’t need to inject anything into the bird for moisture, we like to add some garlic butter for some zing.

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Although my family loves the jelly-type cranberry sauce, I find it quite disgusting. This year I made fresh cranberry sauce, something I never thought of doing. It was a big smack to the head as to how easy it is and why I’ve not been doing it over the years.

  • 12oz of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Other additions (after cooking): orange slices, raisins, cinnamon..

Boil all 3 ingredients while stirring until the berries ‘pop’. You will hear it. Then remove from heat, let cool and add other enhancements if wanted.

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Turkey Time!!

Most of the fails happen upon entry. Be sure your turkey is defrosted, dry (water will make it splatter) and you use the ‘2 person + pole’ method of dunking for safety.

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Almost down!

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It only takes 3 1/2 minutes per pound @ 350F. Pretty quick, IMO.

Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!!

Copyright – Ilex Farrell

Hummingbird Nest

While we were camping at Illinois State Beach, we noticed a hummingbird  coming and going into the tree above our camper. After a lot of searching, we finally noticed the nest above our camper, with one baby in it. The nest was well hidden and mom was smart and used two cones of the Scots pine for the base.

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Male hummingbirds don’t help the female build the nest (or helps at all, really) and she will spend several hours a day for week collecting materials to build her nest. The most common nesting materials found in hummingbird nests include:

  • Cotton fibers
  • Moss and lichen
  • Plant down from thistles, dandelions or cattails
  • Small bits of bark or leaves
  • Feathers
  • Fuzz, fur or hairs from leaves
  • Spider silk

These materials are intertwined into a dense cup that is decorated with moss, lichen and other local materials for camouflage. The edge of the cup is curved inward to protect the eggs and the spider silk gives the nest it elasticity to enlarge as the babies grow.

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Help hummers build heir nests by planting clematis, honeysuckle, milkweed (Asclepia) and blanket flower (Gaillardia). Pasque flowers offer both soft foliage with silken hairs and mid-spring flowers followed by fuzzy seedpods.

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Hummingbird eggs are no bigger than navy beans. Most females lay two eggs, which they will incubate for about 15 – 18 days. Juvenile hummingbirds will leave the nest about 18 to 27 days after hatching.

A neighbor of the hummingbird was a chipping sparrow, with one egg.

 


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl