Big, Big News in the Middle of This Blog

(Written about a week ago)

Oh, wow, what a jam-packed, exciting and wonderful three weeks this has been.

Godo drove me to the San Francisco Airport the night before Thanksgiving in order to make a 5 a.m. flight to Cleveland the next morning.  5 a.m. — don’t ask — long story — for the record, sleeping in airports is not the most fun!!!  But worth it! Spent three wonderful days in Cleveland with Johnny, Dil, Caroline, Madeline, Jillian and Hanna.  It was so nice to just relax, play cards (a new game that Shirley taught me in Turlock called “Four” that everyone loved), eat and drink and of course a trip to Chagrin Falls for Hanna to meet Santa for the first time.


After returning to Corte Madera, spent one more day with Godo and Janice, hitched up the trailer (with the help of Enrique — the trailer was a couple inches higher than the driveway and I could  never have hitched it myself) and headed south.

Had always wanted to visit San Diego so reserved a spot for two nights at a park that had been suggested on Mission Bay.  It was just beautiful. 

mission baysan diego

Balboa Park had been highly recommended so took Uber (my first Uber experience – it was great!!!)  there and spent the day.  It’s a great place with loads of museums, performances, food, etc.  And the day was perfect:  70’s and sunny.  Would have liked to stay longer but was anxious to get to Scottsdale to connect with Patty.

In the middle of my travels, I saw a post on Workers on Wheels for a summer work-camp position in Bucyrus, OH.  I sent in an application and after a 45-minute phone interview, it was decided on both sides that it would be a good fit.  This is really exciting — Bucyrus is two hours from Cleveland.  I have to be there on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so will have four days to be able to travel to Cleveland to see family and friends.  Sunset Springs ( sits on 50 acres, has a private beach for guests but is also open to the public for a fee.  I will be taking payment for entry and providing guests with wrist bands.  Will also possibly teach Zentangle and art classes to guests.  In return, will have an RV site for the summer with water, electricity and a wagon to come weekly to pump out my tanks.

So . . . back to the road and here comes the big, big news:

Patty had checked ahead and found I could park at Casino Arizona for three nights.  They have a huge parking lot and there is a special section for trucks and RV’s.  It was perfect, about 5-10 minutes from Patty’s condo. 

I had told her that since I had a work-camp job lined up for the summer, I should probably start looking for my dog so there would be time for us to get acquainted and for the dog to be comfortable in the RV. But I didn’t want to get a dog before going to NY for Christmas and before going to an RV gathering in Sedona. Yeah, right!  :-)

Patty jumped right on it. I had some possibilities as well from all the sites I had been registered with, so the night I arrived, we started researching and listed some places where we could start the search the next day.  The plan was to NOT pick the first dog.  Well, you’ve heard of the “best laid plans . . . “  We went to Maricopa Animal Control in Scottsdale, walked down this long aisle of barking, jumping dogs and there just hangin’ out in a cage with the sweetest face ever, was a dog they had been calling Precious.  Well, precious she was.  We spent about an hour or so with her outside, talking with the guy who was one of her main caregivers at the center.  Decided I definitely wanted her but wondered if they could hold her until Monday because of the Sedona trip I had planned.  They could for $31/night.  I said I would think about it.  Thinking about it took all of about an hour, decided: heck with the RV gathering in Sedona, we went back to Maricopa and did the paper work.  Adopted one-year-old “Rainey Blue,” a blue pit bull on December 8th. Day we picked up RBShe had to be spayed and I could not get her until the 9th after 2:30 p.m., so Patti and I did some PetSmart shopping for a harness, treats, kong, a bed, etc. So much fun!

We picked up poor Rainey the next afternoon and she was not a happy camper (no pun intended!).  Still very groggy from the anesthesia and very lethargic.  Fortunately I had already made an appointment with a vet for 3:00 the next day because the next day, she was still not doing so well. 

* Here’s one of those extra stories that if you don’t like to read a lot of detail, you can just skip.

(*Extra Story #1)

First night in the camper in the casino parking lot with Rainey.  Woke up in the middle of the night FREEZING.  Checked the furnace and it wasn’t working. Immediately thought I had run out of propane but then tried to turn on a light and the lights weren’t working. Fortunately, in another one of those states of major grogginess, I wondered if possibly Rainey had hit the main power switch for the batteries.  The switch is under the dinette, in the corner, beneath one of the seats.  It’s difficult to get back there in the best of times.  But I maneuvered my stiff and groggy body back there and sure enough, it had been turned off by Rainey.  HUGE relief!!!  As you will read later in this blog, this will no longer be an issue to worry about!

We drove Patty to the airport in the morning to fly to Cleveland and Rainey and I spent the afternoon in a park in Scottsdale.  She just wasn’t feeling better and I was just counting the minutes until I could get her to the vet.  Turns out she had an extremely high white blood cell count and a very bad infection.  So after a shot of antibiotics and a shot of pain killer, we left with three different medications.  She had not urinated since the surgery and the vet said her bladder was full; she wasn’t urinating because it hurt her when she tried to use the muscles necessary.  I was just so worried about her.  It is now three days since the surgery and she is all back to normal. Thank goodness!  Those were a few scary and stressful days — it is soooo difficult to see an animal suffering! 

I have to say that the universe gifted me with the most perfect dog ever!  And NOT because she’s mine.  She’s mellow, housebroken, walks great on a leash, rides great in the car, doesn’t bark, is lovable but not needy, and wow, is she beautiful!!!

. . . and likes Patty’s blanket more than she likes her new bed: rainey on blanket and not bed

Decided to go to Sedona after all so Rainey and I left after the vet appointment and spent the night in some deserted lot on Route 17.  Made it to Rancho Sedona RV Park at noon the next day for a two-day RV gathering called Scamp Camp.  Really nice place but was very chilly — in the 40’s. I got to meet some people I had “known” from the Escape Trailer Forum.  Greg was in charge of Scamp Camp and was just as nice in person as he was on the Forum.  His daughter baked cookies for everyone and I downed the entire package at one sitting. 

(*Extra Story #2)

That night it started to rain and Rainey was spooked by the sound of the raindrops on the roof of the trailer.  We sat together on the floor and I comforted her until the rain stopped.  We went to bed, I in my “cocoon” and Rainey in her bed.  About an hour later, it started to pour.  I looked up and there was this sweet little scared face staring at me.  What could I do?  Here is this terrified little pup who is still recovering from surgery.  I HAD to let her up on the bed, right? — where she slept contentedly the rest of the night.  Problem is: she now thinks this is her bed.  rainey in the cocoon

So several people reading this blog have asked to see the inside of my trailer.  I am showing some photos below.  Must say that this turned out to be the most perfect size for me (17’).  Small enough to pull and large enough to live in.  It IS a bit different now with Rainey and her toys but we’ll get it figured out.

The dinette:                                           The kitchen:

dinette        kitchen

The “cocoon”:                                       The bathroom

cocoon)  bathroom

The art studio   :-)                                     The office  😛

art room   office

Leaving the RV gathering tomorrow morning and heading to visit Pat, an old friend who has been raising Arabians for years. She moved from southern Ohio to Arizona a few years ago and recently bought some horse property.  I’ve been watching the building process of her home on Facebook.  It is gorgeous.

After Sunday, things are kind of up in the air.  Meaning: I have no idea where I will be staying until I fly to New York on December 22nd to spend Christmas with Pepper, Noe and Jai.  Patty, her son, Jason and granddaughter, Sophia, have offered to babysit Rainey.  It’s going to be so hard to leave her.  I really was going to wait until after Christmas to start looking for a dog but glad I didn’t – would never have found Rainey Blue, the dream dog!

day we picked up rainey

(*More Extra Stories)

December 15th, 2015

Because of no wi-fi access, I was unable to post this when it was finished.  A few updates:

• Rainey developed kennel cough.  I called Pat (the friend in Sedona) because I knew she had dogs and we both agreed it would be better to visit another time.  Most likely, Patty and I will drive up after the holidays.

• I had planned on parking the trailer at Pat’s Sunday night but because of the change of plans, had no spot in mind to park for the night.  The casino had a maximum allowance of three nights, the WalMart I contacted did not allow overnight RV parking and just could not find anywhere to stay.  So . . . drove back up in the mountains and stayed in a rest area in Black Canyon (all Arizona rest areas allow overnight parking!). We woke to snow on the ground and freezing weather. Decided then that we had to find a spot for a month, at a LOWER elevation) in order to catch up on everything and also to have a safe spot to leave the trailer when I go to NYC on the 22nd.


This is the view from the Black Canyon rest area before the snows came.

• We wound up in Mesa, AZ at a park called Arizona Cowboy.  I feel we got lucky.  It’s not fancy but everything we need.  We have a cozy spot in a good location and have great wifi. It’s very quiet here and the owners and staff went out of their way to help me get set up.

• I developed a bladder infection that hit with a vengeance right after we arrived at Arizona Cowboy.  After getting the trailer hooked up, headed out to the Emergency Center and returned with antibiotics and pain killers.  Rainey and I both now take our antibiotics at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Getting them down her is a lot more difficult than getting them down me.

• T.M.I. WARNING!  Well, I had mentioned earlier than Rainey was back to normal.  Not so!  I “thought” she had been urinating but it was always at night where I could only see that she was squatting.  This morning, when it was light out, after she was squatting for about 15 seconds, realized that nothing had actually come out.  I freaked out: here was this poor puppy who had not peed since her surgery on December 9th!!!  I called the vet we had gone to originally and asked if he could catheterize her; he said no, it was extremely difficult to catheterize a female and he told me to bring her in. We went immediately back to Scottsdale.  The vet started doing “something,” — massaging her bladder, maybe? — and the flood gates opened!  Rainey practically flooded the exam room!  “You were right,” he said, “she hadn’t peed!” Evidently, as a result of the spay, there are still parts of her insides that are painful when she uses the muscles necessary to pee.  Anyway, it was a great relief to see the great flood!  They did a urine test and she does not have a bladder infection.  I will continue with the antibiotics and hopefully all will be well and she won’t need another bladder massage!!! (Or whatever the heck he did to her!)

Wow, this has been a long post.  If you have made it down this far, thanks for reading.  Have the happiest of holidays, no matter how you choose to celebrate!

Ellen and her co-pilot, Rainey Blue


11 thoughts on “Big, Big News in the Middle of This Blog

  1. Sher

    Merry Christmas Darb! Happy adventures! If you happen to be around Chicago, Lake Michigan, or Mill Creek please let me see your face! We have parking! Lol

  2. Bettina

    You and she both with bladder infections or something like —-co-dependent!!!

    Renji, I am totally moved to tears by your postings. What a wonderful and beautiful adventure. You are a lucky woman, but do get those electronic thingys for finding keys. I’ll feel much better if you do. xoooooxo

    P.S. Rainy Blue makes me feel like getting a dog too…it would have to be a Japanese Shiba Inu. And I would call her/him Shiba!

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Oh Chika B, would be wonderful if you get a Shiba Inu!!! Rainey and I would come to visit or we could meet half way!!!
      Thanks for your kind words — yes, am definitely a lucky woman.
      Yes, yes, have to get the thingy for the keys!!! :)
      Have the most beautiful holiday!!! <3

  3. Adam Z

    Aw so glad you got your travel companion! Always great to see people adopting pits; they get such a bad rap, but are really the most in need of love and good homes. Have a happy holiday and stay warm! (Somehow we’re doing just fine in Cleveland…rode my bike in shorts on Xmas Eve…not complaining)

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Awww, thanks Adam! So nice of you to post! Yeah, weird the Cleveland weather!Miss seeing you at WFM. Hope all is well and you’re doing lots of art. Take good care!!! ellen

  4. Dilbert

    Looking forward to reading more blogs! Can’t believe that it is the new year already. Thought of you on New Year’s day since you often have come over and chilled for the new year. Have fun and be safe and enjoy your doggie!


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