More about me…

I thought I would add another entry giving you a little more background about myself. It’s a tough call on what to tell about yourself online…what do you say and what do you not say. I am the paranoid type always fearing or looking at the worst case scenarios in everything I do. You see my background education, training, life’s work, and 35 years experience with safety and occupational health programs is responsible, I believe, for my at times pessimistic outlook on life. Safety professionals are trained to look at the worst case scenarios when applied to possible hazards and risks for employees. Then to top it off, we are tasked to investigate accidents to determine what went wrong and why. Thirty five years in this profession has taught me to not take anything at face value, to always look behind the curtain, to dig deeper then what appears to be the reason for the accident. I am an inquisitive person, always questioning and analyzing what I see. Anyway, I digress. My point is my entries may at times be a questioning, cynical approach to a topic but only to express my stance and at times get a reaction from my readers.

One troubling topic of late is the never ending discussion on retirement. As I approach that point in my life I have researched to no end how other people deal with retirement. I have read many discussion boards and blogs where people have described their experiences with retirement. Surprisingly most of the concerns and complaints are not related to monetary issues. Most deal with the psychological impacts and pressures, isolation and depression, lack of life schedules and social interaction, and loss of purpose in life. Those of us still gainfully employed see retirement as an escape from the 9-5 life, commuting hassles, employee/employer relations, the treadmill of corporate advancement, and continuous requirement to impress the boss. We tend to look at impending retirement as the answer to all those woes – the promise of the good life, the mythical golden years. Well let me tell you from what I have read as well as learned talking with retirees, the golden years are a myth, regardless of how wealthy you might be in retirement. Money does not replace the human’s basic psychological needs.

I was considering retirement in a few years but have tentatively decided to remain gainfully employed for a while longer. You see I still enjoy my profession. I am fortunate to be able to work from home in my cozy home office, I am near the top rung in my career ladder so therefore don’t have the need or desire to progress further. However, I am the type person that needs to be challenged, able to use my creativity and still serve a purpose – at the moment I still feel I am a small part of a bigger machine or entity. Plus my employment still affords me the income and time to utilize our Class A RV for short re-energizing 2-3 day getaway trips in this part of the country. Upon return I am revitalized and ready to tackle another week’s worth of work, tethered to my phone and computer.

I’ll end this entry here to avoid getting too wordy in one setting. I have a mountain of thoughts and ideas to share with my readers. Hopefully I will trigger a response from you all. Be sure to write in your comments or thoughts for topics of discussion. Other wise I will continue to write about those things that impact my life, good or bad, and also include experiences with my three dogs or “girls” as I call them. Bye for now.

Today…What is this site all about?

First off I want to explain my blog title selection. You see…my wife and I have three dogs; a Morky, a Scottish Terrier, and a Labradoodle, all of them females. I was trying to think of a catchy title for a blog and .com site that folks would easily remember. I wracked my brain jotting down a variety of name combinations. I needed something unique for a .com site that had not been taken yet was diverse enough to encapsulate a variety of topics. As I sat in my office thinking, my three girls (dogs) lie on the floor nearby. My Labradoodle, Jazzy (short for Jasmine), turned her head to look at me. Hmmm I thought, my original idea was to write about our RV adventures with three dogs. So the title “Three Dog Journey” eventually jelled in my mind. The next step was to see if the internet .com was available. Lo and behold…it was, so I purchased the domain name and voila – I have my website “ThreeDogJourney.com”.

Those of you that visited this blog most likely have not been back as there hasn’t been any new content since early last summer. Can’t tell you why. I had intended to provide updates on my three dog journey but failed to do so. I guess life got in the way. However I am now anxious to revive this blog and add content on a regular basis.

I am going to use this blog, Three Dog Journey, to encompass all kinds of life’s adventures, trials and tribulations, emotions, experiences and thoughts of a 66 year old male, still gainfully employed, things about the pros and cons of retirement, who has a wonderful home, three wonderful dogs and a loving wife. The premise of the “Three Dog Journey” blog entries is they are snapshots in time, freeze frame captures of a moment or day in a life. No doubt one or all of my three dogs will play an active part in this blog but not necessarily so.

I have been journaling for years, that is writing down my thoughts, experiences and emotions, in a journal, in my case a digital journal on a dedicated laptop. I try to write daily but not always so. Some days I’ll write 2000 words in one setting, some days 250 words. It all depends on what is going on, or has been going on, in my life. Most entries are entirely personal. However I wish to utilize this blog to share some of the non-personal thoughts and experiences with you all, particularly those of you who are approaching retirement or are retired. God knows we have our share of things to write about.

So…I plan to diversify this blog as described above and include facets of my “Three Dog Journey”, a journey through senior life. Hope you enjoy. Please let me know your thoughts on what you read. Thanks all.

 

The Maiden Voyage…Part Two

As you recall from the end of “Maiden Voyage…Part One”, I was standing in the RV Resort registration building waiting to register. I had completed most of the process online when I had made the reservation but still had to check in and get our camp site assignment much like getting a hotel room. I have never been known for my patience so I fidgeted restlessly as two older couples stood with the two available attendants chatting endlessly about something. I could see one attendant wasn’t the least bit interested but was being polite feigning paying attention to them. Finally the other couple left the counter and I approached. Within minutes, after signing a 5-page waiver and disclaimer statement, I was given my camp site assignment, entry code, and a campground map. The attendant highlighted the path I should follow through the maze of campground roads with a yellow highlighter, handed it to me, bid me a good day and left. I stared at the map as I mentally plotted my path through the campground to the section near the river. Meanwhile, another couple waited impatiently behind me for their turn at the counter. I understood their impatience and quickly left the registration building. Back at the coach the girls saw me come out of the building and barked a few times as they saw their master coming towards them.

I slipped into my captain’s chair in the coach and then studied the campground map once again. I knew I had to get to the site the first time as I would not be able to do much backing. Although I did noticed all of the roads in the campground circled the property so sooner or later I would end up back at my starting point. I started the engine and inched the coach closer to the campground entry gate. The attendant had scribbled a numeric code on my paperwork that I would have to punch into the gate number pad to gain entry. I inched closer to the gate with the intention of leaning out my side window to punch in the code. But the coach sat to high and I could not reach the pad. I put the shift lever in PARK and exited the coach to tap in the code. The gate opened and I quickly got back inside before it closed again and inched the coach through the entry gate. Voila! We had gained entry into the campground.

I stopped the coach for a moment to once again get my bearings before negotiating the maze of “streets” within the campground. There were a multitude of intersections and “zones” to maneuver through. I slowly inched the coach down the map’s highlighted path being sure to not make a wrong turn while being extra careful to not run over kids riding bikes, allowing room for people walking dogs and avoiding vehicles not fully parked in their campsites. Additionally I watched the sides of the coach in my side mirrors to allow ample turning radius to avoid brushing up against “street” signs and site markers. My wife acted as my co-pilot and navigator reading the confusing sign posts as we inched closer to our destination…campsite P55. Meanwhile the girls perched on the couch behind me gazed out the large side window quietly taking in the new world around us.

Our destination, Site P55, finally appeared to my right, a level back-in campsite with trees on both sides, a nice shady private lot I thought. However I would have to back the coach in without rubbing up against the trees and possibly scratching the sidewalls. After several attempts at backing in, stopping and getting out to check clearances, moving forward and backing again, I felt comfortable with my final location.  I have to say that I am obsessed with everything being perfect to include parking the coach in the absolute perfect spot. My obsession drives my wife crazy as she questioned what was wrong with the last spot. Truth is I ended up parked inches from my previous attempt. No matter, all was well now. I turned off the engine and breathed a sigh of relief that we had finally landed.

The girls bounced around the coach anxious and excited to explore their new surroundings. I knew they probably had to pee as we had been on the road for nearly three hours. So first order of business was to install the dog halters we had brought with us. Additionally we had purchased bark collars for the two smaller girls as well in the event they opted to disappoint me in how good they had been to this point. My wife assisted me as we strapped on the halters, or walking harnesses as some people call them, installed the small bark collars on Peanut and Pipper, and attached their leashes. By this time I knew by the way they were prancing around that they needed to pee badly. I opened the coach door, the steps extended, and the girls bounded outside nearly knocking me off balance and dragging me down the steps. As is standard procedure, they all walked in circles sniffing the ground for the perfect spot and squatted.

Once this duty was completed I shepherded them back inside, against their wills, while I commenced to hook the coach up to a 30 AMP receptacle and a potable water spigot. There I thought…here we are. It’s a beautiful sunny day, a pleasant 75 degrees and we’re in a nice treed space on the back side of the campground away from the hubbub, yet within walking distance of; the 2 swimming pools, large store, bar and cafe, playgrounds, ball field, trolley stop, golf cart rental, and activities center. However as I further explored our space I observed we were parked a short distance from what was called the “Frog Pond” on the map, what appeared to be a large stagnant water pond covered with lilly pads, hidden croaking frogs, ripples on the pond surface from fish snatching bugs, and a small flock of geese floating lazily not too far away…no doubt a nice setting but perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Across the road from our space, within a 50 feet walk, was a small river…also a beautiful setting in itself but a possible bug breeding ground. I feared we were ill prepared for what was sure to be an onslaught of the mosquito feeding frenzy at dusk. I would have to make my way to the campground store and pick up mosquito defense gear if were to enjoy the outdoor setting later in the day. Fortunately we had brought Deep Woods Off spray we could use in the interim.

OK I thought, it was time to take the girls for their first walk through the campground to experience the sights and sounds of children, adults, dogs and wildlife. I dreaded the first walk knowing Pipper, the Morky, would bark at everything in sight. Peanut, the Terrier, generally was quiet until she decided to join Pipper in her barking. Jazzy usually would not bark with them unless she saw what she thought was a big bad boogey man or something, a person or object that was a threat to her masters.

Wearing baggy shorts, I opted to spray myself liberally with the bug spray before heading out with the girls. My wife detested the smell of the spray so she did not indulge. I warned she would be sorry but to no avail. We attached the leashes to the girls halters and walked out of the coach. They pulled relentlessly on the leashes as we stepped down, whining to get moving…but no barking as of yet. Fortunately the road adjacent to our campsite was sparsely traveled so we walked down the middle of the graveled path. The girls constantly moved back and forth in front and behind us, entangling the leashes, to the point where my wife and I had to walk some distance apart. To my  utter surprise the girls,  without a bark, eventually settled into a steady gait in front of us taking in the sounds and scenery.

As I walked my mind traveled back to the days when we had taken our boys on frequent camping trips…first utilizing a large tent, then moving up to a tent trailer, next a bumper hitch 20 foot self contained trailer, then a small 21 foot motorhome for the trip to Oregon, then a small fifth wheel and then another “pre-owned” motorhome. I smiled as I remembered the times we had allowed each of our boys to bring one friend along with us to a campground on the Sacramento River. More so I remember cooking a pound of bacon, one dozen eggs, and consuming a loaf of bread for toast for breakfast each day, feeding them and ourselves. I fondly recall one night when my wife and I were sleeping in a small fifth wheel camper and I awoke to an acrid disgusting odor wafting in through the open windows. The boys had stayed up chatting around the campfire and I had told them to put the fire out before they retired to their tents. As I rolled over to look outside, while the acrid smoke continued, I noticed them standing around the fire ring peeing in the fire…their answer to putting out the fire. Now that…I will never forget.

A loud bark from a large leashed Labrador Retriever at a campsite on the road we were walking snapped me out of my reverie. I fully expected our girls to counter with a barking tirade of their own but they did not. We kept on walking as I reached down to pet each one affirming their not barking as we kept on walking settling into a comfortable pace. Suddenly a trio of youngsters on their bikes zoomed up behind us and passed startling us all…the girls remained quiet staring forward as the bikes faded from sight. Once again I reached down and patted each on the back affirming their positive response to the event.

As our walk continued my mind drifted back once again to a camping trip to the same campground mentioned previously except this time it was just our family. I had hauled the boy’s mountain bikes on this trip as there were a variety of trails they could ride on. As a precaution, I had cautioned each about riding the unfamiliar trails and to be on the lookout for bears as they had been seen in the campground a few nights before. Of course the boys took the advice…yeah right! They soon disappeared giving my wife and I some peace and quiet, a chance to relax a little. The boys were gone for several hours and I was beginning to worry about them. Soon after we heard noise coming up a trail behind our camp site. Our second oldest was pushing his bike with a wobbly front wheel and was bleeding profusely from his arms and face. My first question as a Dad was…”What the hell happen to you?” His younger brother quickly responded. Seems my son had sped down a hill not anticipating a sharp turn and proceeded head first into thick underbrush loaded with thorny, barbed plants. We spent the next hour pulling thorns from his skin, cleaning him up and patching his wounds. Fortunately I had had the forethought to bring along a large, well stocked first aid kit. Ah…the good old days!

My wife mentioned we were approaching the coach bringing me back to reality once again. The walk had been very refreshing and invigorating especially with the girls behaving as well as they did. I felt much better. I had anticipated having to deal with barking sprees, risking expulsion from the campground, as they experienced their first exposure to a new world.

I will end this part here once again to avoid a too long post. More to follow for sure. Please stay tuned for Part Three. Thanks again for reading.

 

The Maiden Voyage…Part One

As I promised in the Introduction, the following are the expectations and outcomes of our first trip with our “pre-owned” motorhome. Included in this journey are my wife and our three dogs; Jazzy, Peanut and Pipper. Jazzy is a mild, well mannered 7 year old full size champagne colored, female Labradoodle, my dearest companion, as she towers over the other two acting as their “older sister”. Peanut is a 1 year old pitch black with silver streaks female Scotty Terrier who is inquisitive and always getting herself into trouble and has a penchant to stick her long slender nose where it shouldn’t be. Pipper is a 4 year old Morky-Yorky mix, a small and dainty tri-colored female – we call her our little princess, and as anyone who owns that breed knows, they are incessant yappers.

This journey began on a sunny Friday morning as I continued to load up the “coach”, as Class A motorhomes are called in RVer lingo, with last minute items for the onboard fridge. The girls, as I will call the dogs in the future, paced anxiously not knowing exactly what was going on. I knew they sensed an adventure was in store as Jazzy followed me everywhere with that look of nervousness in her brown eyes. I comforted her with a pat on the back as I carried things to the coach. Peanut and Pipper eventually took up their usual positions on the back of the leather couch by the window that faced the coach and watched me closely as well.

I quickly scanned my pre-trip checklist I had put together over the last week to assure we didn’t forget something essential that would be expensive to buy at a campground store. I had checked off everything as I had loaded it onboard over the week. There had been a lot of things that I had loaded that would remain onboard for future trips that had not been included with the coach on purchase. So after this trip, loading time would be minimal comprising of clothing and food items. Satisfied I had loaded everything checked I informed my wife that we were ready for departure. She immediately smiled in her usual manner and commented that I needed to calm down and we would be OK. I admit I was quite anxious to get on the road knowing I would immediately recall the feeling of freedom and independence I always got when I had guided our last 10,000 pound of a beast Class A down the west coast’s Interstate 5…a total pleasure until we entered the vicinity of Los Angeles…then a monumental nightmare driving the 8 foot wide beast on a 6 lane freeway with cars and semis passing you at 70 miles an hour.

My wife vividly remembers when, on our first trip to see our sons in San Diego while on Interstate 5, I had asked her to go back to the coach bathroom while on the road and fetch me a wet wash cloth to wipe my face from sweat that dripped down as I struggled to keep the coach in my lane. I kid you not when I say I could of reached out my side window while traveling at 65 miles an hour and touched the sidewall of a semi in the neighboring lane…a harrowing experience.  However, thankfully this trip would entail rural 2-lane road travel until we got into northern New York state and then got on Interstate 87 south.

We gathered up the girls who were by now reluctant to board. We had brought them in several times during the week to let them acclimate to the interior of the coach. Once on board they flitted about checking every nook and cranny. I went outside to perform my pre-flight checklist – everything secure on the bike rack, water hose disconnected, shore power line disconnected and stowed in compartment, all exterior storage compartment doors closed and locked, TV antenna down and a general look at the tires…all hopefully inflated. Check list completed! I boarded, heard the whine of the automatic door step motor retracting the steps behind me and then bent down to flick the coach battery connect switch. I then walked around inside making sure anything loose was secure and there were no pop bottles or cans loose in the fridge to make noises on the road…very distracting to me. All was well and we were ready to go.

I made my way to the cockpit and slid into the driver’s captain’s chair, as they are called in RV lingo, a very comfortable high-backed, reclinable, swiveling seat with arm rests that fold back. As I got comfortable a vision of me sitting in the captain’s chair of the starship Enterprise quickly came to mind as I smiled to myself. My wife was busy fighting off the girls as they jockeyed for her attention knowing something scary was about to happen.  They had never traveled in a moving house before. Jazzy was trying to get under her captain’s chair to sneak into the small space at my wife’s feet. The other two were vying for the best spot in her lap. I confidently informed my wife, who was quite exasperated at this point, that they would find their own comfort positions once we got under way.

With engine now running I edged the coach forward up the driveway. One thing I had learned from my previous experience with our older coach was that I needed to plan every move and action in advance when driving this 30 foot long, 11 feet tall, 8 feet wide, 10,000 pound beast anywhere. I checked both sides for traffic before accelerating forward onto the road. The 325 horsepower, 420 pound feet of torque V-10 Ford engine easily moved the behemoth along. Soon we were making our way out of town cruising along at an effortless 50 miles per hour.

Maneuvering the coach along rural highways, which are typically narrower than interstate highway lanes, required my fullest attention. Roads with paved shoulders were OK but those without paved shoulders were a little hairy to say the least. The problem appeared when encountering large trucks and semis coming towards you typically at higher speeds. The wind pressure from the passing semi tended to push the coach towards the road shoulder requiring once again advance planning preparing to counter the off-road tendency by correcting with the steering wheel. After an hour of this I was quite comfortable driving the beast…like riding a bicycle – once you’ve done it, it’s second nature.

The girls finally found their preferred locations and settled down for the ride south. Jazzy snuggled into a comfortable spot on the couch behind me while Peanut and Pipper laid together on the barrel chair right behind my wife’s captain’s chair. Once on the interstate I set the cruise control at 60 miles an hour as the engine settled into lower RPMs while the transmission shifted to an overdrive gear and the rig appeared to float along…as my mind briefly flashed to an image of myself piloting the Enterprise into warp drive. Once up to cruising altitude I settled back, sipped on my Diet Mountain Dew and enjoyed the drive south through the beautiful Adirondack Mountains.

Within a few hours, 167 miles later, we arrived at the interstate exit to the RV Resort where I had reserved a camping site for several days. I maneuvered the coach on several rural roads once again with unpaved shoulders with drop offs were cars and truck had drifted off the pavement. Doing so with the coach could prove to be quite exciting if not down right dangerous so I proceeded slowly hogging some of the center space until a vehicle came along.

At the resort I parked the coach in one of three lanes near the registration building, retrieved my paperwork from the cabinet space behind me and exited the coach. I fully expected the girls, who had now gathered on the couch to watch me, to go into a barking tirade, but to my surprise they remained quiet. I smiled to myself – maybe this was going to be OK after all as this was their first experience to a campground where lots of children, adults and other dogs were everywhere. I entered the registration building and stood in line with others who were also checking in at this large extremely popular camping / RV destination a few miles from New York state’s infamous Lake George in the Adirondack mountains.

I’ll stop here to avoid a too long of a post and return with Part Two of “The Maiden Voyage”.  More to follow…

Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcomed.

 

 

 

 

An Introduction…Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog! Hopefully I will keep you interested so you will come back again and again.

I am an old dog you might say at 66.5 years of age…however I feel, most of the time like I am in my 30s. But a recent check up with my local doc indicated that I have some developing medical problems, along with my old friend Diabetes II, that I now have to deal with. I have undergone the battery of tests to confirm or deny the existence of the problems. Well, as luck with have it, I do have some issues that are beginning to plaque my body although I generally feel quite well. After experiencing the anger and denial phase, then the acceptance phase, I am now dealing with my reality and deciding to live each day to the fullest, I have decided to pursue in earnest those few things remaining in my bucket list.

My bucket list is actually quite short in all honesty. My military career of 25 years, and more recently my 18 years as a federal employee, have enabled me to live a pretty full life having traveled all over the United States.  Additionally I have been married for over 47 years to a wonderful dedicated wife with three sons and 5 grandchildren to spoil. So you see the major lifetime societal expectations have been successfully accomplished…but yet something inside of me continues to haunt my daily life.

After much deep thought and mental mashing of this haunting feeling I realized that what remained was a deeply embedded wanderlust. I enlisted into the Air Force when I was 20 years old and soon discovered a military lifestyle of being ordered to different assignment locations. It was typical for a military family to be uprooted on the average of every 3-4 years and reassigned to another location, whether in the United States or abroad in a foreign country. As a result of the mandated moves military families became accustomed to the anticipation and excitement of being reassigned to a new location, basically starting over in a new community every 3-4 years. Additionally I traveled on many what are called TDYs, temporary duty assignments in military jargon, during my career which further expanded the number of locations I visited. This anticipation quickly became an addiction of sorts lasting for a lifetime. I know I acquired this affliction during my 25 years in the Air Force.

As a result of my wanderlust affliction, it has been difficult for me to put down roots anywhere for more than 5 consecutive years. I soon realized that duty in federal service also required frequent relocations if I wanted to progress upward in my career. So once again my family and I relocated a number of times in the recent 18 years to enable me to take advantage of career promotion opportunities. But now as I set here writing this in the waning years of my current federal employment career I find my wanderlust affliction rearing its head once again. What to do?

In light of my age, surfacing medical issues and my deeply embedded wanderlust I decided it was high time to fulfill the items in my bucket list – to find a means to fulfill the gnawing wanderlust by exploring New England and beyond on short 3-4 day excursions in a motorhome while maintaining our current home as a base. Additionally I have always had the extreme drive to merge my writing and photography skills into one activity thereby fulfilling three bucket list items in one activity – a win-win situation. Fortunately my wife also enjoys travel with a motorhome so we are good there. So here we are.

After much research on the wonderful internet I was able to locate and close a great deal on a pre-owned well maintained 30 foot motorhome. Isn’t it crazy how the use of common words in our language are manipulated to portray a different meaning – “pre-owned” as opposed to “used”.  I suppose “pre-owned” psychologically presents a more positive image to the buyer. Anyway, I digress. A long story short, we purchased this low mileage well maintained 2005 Class A motorhome and completed our “maiden voyage” last weekend with positive results. This brings me to the purpose of this blog.

Now I have the motorhome and one voyage under my belt. Owning the motorhome is not new to me as we owned a slightly smaller Class A while we lived on the West coast and I have missed the flexibility and freedom of travel with a motorhome since. So part of the bucket list items was to utilize my writing and photography to document our travels,  to include mobile life with our three dogs – good or bad, in a blog for others to read and hopefully enjoy…hence the blog name “Three Dog Journey”.

The blog will highlight the trials and tribulations of travel and exploration with the critters as well as the experiences of motorhome travel while visiting the multitude of campgrounds, towns and communities of New England.

Stay tuned and I hope you enjoy my observations, thoughts and general rambling. Please let me know by leaving comments on the blog space. Thanks everyone! More to follow.