Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegas on a Shoestring Budget

Bill finished his last two Sports Authority stores in Vegas on Sunday the 14th. We were still in limbo as to what job and where we were headed next. We decided not to take the Christmas tree lot position in the Santa Barbara area as we had gotten an email from the company saying our job position had changed and that we would be assistant and relief lot managers instead of lot managers.  The issue wasn't that we wouldn't be in charge, the issue was that we would have to travel to the other two lots one of which was 40 miles away. Seeing as the lots are open from 9am to 9pm we then would have to leave Dozey in the rig for the better part of 14 hours. One of the bonuses for us was the fact that we would be staying on site. So we decided to pass and see what else came up, spending a little time in Vegas although we don't have much spare cash right now.

I have been reading Jean Scott's Frugal Gambler books ever since leaving Wisconsin. One of the best things we had going was the extra money from visiting Mole Lake Casino a few times a week. We would go on the "special" days like Monday Zip Code Day, Tuesday Ladies Day, Wednesday 50+, Thursday Mens Day and then on the weekend we will fill up the vehicles and get $1 per gallon up to 50 gallons. We figure we walked away each week with at last $50 extra, normally more. Jean's books detail how to get comps, find and use coupons and get the most for your video poker playing.  Earlier in the year we had purchased the American Casino Guide which give information on casinos in the entire US and has a huge section in back with Buy 1 Get 1 coupons as well as match play and other coupons.

We arrived on Saturday and saw from Casino Camper that the Gold Coast Casino allowed overnight RV parking. It is on Flamingo Drive west of the strip so we would be centrally located.  We pulled in on Saturday and parked next to the 3 semis that were already there, a couple of them with their engines running. On Sunday morning a security guard comes over and asks what we are doing as there were a ton of people parking all around us. He said that we could stay there but asked that we move our rig to another spot in the lot as to keep some space open for the truckers. So we leave and do some shopping. We come back around 4pm and there is a note on the rig and a security guard stops immediately telling us that the police have been notified and the rig will be towed if we don't move it....HUH??? Just that morning we had been told it was ok and even TOLD were to park! I ask security why it was ok for the semis but not for RVers and he said all the truckers had rooms at the hotel.  Oh, so they have rooms at the hotel but leave their truck running all night? I don't think so! So we decided to leave to find a spot that wanted our money, however limited it was. We even had a problem with the players card representative as we had torn the match play coupon out of the American Casino Guide. She said we had to carry the entire book around with us although nowhere in the book nor on the coupon did it say that we had to leave it in for her to tear out.....this is one casino that we will NOT be visiting again ever.

We drove back east on Flamingo Drive as I had found that you could park behind Bally's and that it was a "don't ask don't tell" type of situation. We pulled in with a few other rigs and trucks and there we stayed until leaving town on Wednesday. During our entire 3 day visit we were not bothered nor approached by security so needless to say we will be spending money in the future at Bally's.

So on Monday we plotted out a route around some merchandising audits at CVS stores that I had picked up. We could not do mystery shopping as in the State of Nevada you have to be a licensed private investigator or work for a company that is licensed.  I did find a company that I can get hired on with but it does up to $125 for a I don't want to spend if we are not going back there for the winter.

Sunday night we used a 2 for 1 coupon on the buffet at the Rio. Good thing we did as the buffet was $25 a person! It did have some unique items like Cajun blackened catfish, sushi and my favorite coconut gelato. But I would not have been happy spending full price on it.

On Monday we first visited Terrible's Casino east of the strip as they have a daily free slot tournament and then headed to the Cannery on the north side of town for a 2 for 1 buffet. After finishing the merchandising we went to the Stratosphere and used the Buy 1 Get 1 coupon to go up to the tower. I guess it was worth the $15 for both of us to go up there just to say we did. Again $30 would have been way overpaying in my opinion. I really thought Bill would go on one of the 3 rides they have there , but he surprised me and didn't want to. I didn't think he would do the bungee jumping but I though for sure he would want to try the Insanity, the X Scream or the Big Shot. Now those would have been well worth the money!

On Tuesday night we walked over to the Bellagio to see the fountains at night as we had only seen them during the day on the last trip. Then we walked to Ellis Island which was visible from our home behind Bally's. They offer 6x points on their video poker machines on Tuesday as well as having a coupon in the casino guide for 4 free drinks at the bar and a 2 for 1 entree in their restaurant. Bill also got some freebies for being 50+ so all in all we had a nice night out, played some VP and spent a grand total of $11! Ellis is a smaller "locals" type of casino and they use their good food and promotions to draw people in.....more of a local bar rather than a club....more our type of place rather than the big casinos on the strip.

This video is just a small compilation of some of the sights of Vegas. The opening parts are shot from the top of the Stratosphere Tower and you can see a guy working on the bungee jumping apparatus. How much life insurance do you need for a job like that? You can also see a bit of the X Scream and Big Shot rides. All in all, we would like to return and possibly spend the winter if I can get hired by the private investigator company. We would like to see how frugal we can be by using all the comps, coupons and promotions possible! We are also checking into making Nevada our domicile as it has no state income tax either, just like Texas, South Dakota and Florida.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

San Diego

For once I was very happy that there was a mix up and delay in starting the Sports Authority jobs. The company who makes the fixtures shipped out the parts UPS ground from Rhode Island on Wednesday, October 27. Originally we had been told they would be at the UPS Distribution Center in Chula Vista on Saturday the 30th so we could start right away. Well, I guess they didn't tell them that there is no way a ground shipment will go across the entire country in two days. The delivery was not expected to arrive to Chula Vista until Tuesday, November 2 which then gave us two whole days to do some sightseeing.  We decided to move to a campground as it would have been a bit difficult to boondock at the same Walmart for 4 nights in a row. We debated going to Silver Strand State Beach on Coronado Island but after stopping there we found out it was $50 just to PARK overnight next to the beach with no hookups and $35 just to park in the middle of the lot. Plus dogs could not be on the beach at all. Granted it would have been great being on the Pacific like that but part of it is getting Dozey to run and exercise and go swimming.

So we went farther north to the Mission Bay RV Park which ended up being only about $35 per night with full hookups and Dozey was able to swim in the bay.

On Monday we decided to visit the San Diego Zoo which has been on my bucket list for many years now.  I was definitely not disappointed. The zoo is known as one of the top three zoos in the country as well as in the world. It participates in conservation efforts for many species including the giant panda.  Unfortunately, that was the one exhibit that we were very disappointed in as both pandas were sleeping in their tree during our visit! I did get to see some of my favorites though including the koala and the meerkats, as well as some species unknown before like the Secretary bird.

Here are a few clips of some of the more than 4,000 animals of 800 species at the zoo. Towards the end of the video when you see the male lion making a fuss and lunging at the fence, it is the real thing. He is the biggest cat at the zoo and sometimes he gets a bit crabby when his beef hearts are forthcoming!

All in all I personally am loving Southern California except for the traffic.....there must have been a reason that I never visited here before as I probably would have never come back to Wisconsin. Bill and I have said that we want water, mountains and warm weather. Well, the San Diego area has all that. The temperatures are pretty temperate too with average highs all year in the 60s and 70s and average lows in the 50s and 60s. If, as they say, snowbirds are chasing the elusive 70 degree mark then this here is it year around. I could see us spending winters here after we have checked out the rest of the country. To me it has a different feel than Phoenix, maybe because subconsciously I know water is nearby. Bill is not so convinced due to the traffic but once you don't have to work or you work at a campground, you don't have to deal with the traffic so much! We are debating returning to California after the two stores in Las Vegas are done and spend the time exploring until Bill starts work again. There are tons of my work in this area just like there was in Phoenix. I didn't think I would like this area as much as I do, which is both good and bad.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Arizona in October?

If you are wondering what we are doing in Arizona in October, it is because our next stop on Bill's work schedule is a string of sporting good store fixture work starting in San Diego, California, heading north through Los Angeles and finally up to San Luis Obispo. Then it is over to Las Vegas for two stores. The project will be over on November 12 and then we are not sure if there will be more work for Prime until after the New Year. This is where being on salary will definitely be nice!

We have applied and are waiting to hear back from two different Christmas tree companies -- one that has lot work open in three cities north of LA and the other which has potential openings in the Phoenix area. The work would run from the week of Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve and would pay out approximately $5000 for the two of us. Not bad for a month's work. The rig would be parked on the tree lot and have at least electric and water which would be far nicer than boondocking with the generator. It is possible too that the companies would provide a Porta Potty which would save us from buying and having to find a place to dump a Blue Boy septic tote.

We have decided that because Bill has work on the West Coast until the middle of November it does not pay for us to try to get to Amazon in Kansas much less Kentucky. Plans for where we will be spending the rest of the time off during the winter are still up in the air.

Bryce National Park Utah

We left the Salt Lake City area and headed south towards Bryce Canyon National Park. There are so many national parks, national forests, national monuments, state parks and so forth in Southern Utah that it would take a whole summer just to visit them all and do justice to the visit. So we picked the one that was the most on our route and decided to explore just Bryce Canyon during out first visit to that area.

We took Hwy 89 south for the majority of the route and it was very scenic....
small ranches and farms, lots of twisting, turning creeks and, of course, beautiful mountains.

The day we picked to visit the Canyon had to be the first rainy day we had seen in over a month. Unfortunately the colors were not as bright or intense as the would have been on a sunny day but they were still breathtaking.  The park itself is rather small with only 56.2 square miles and one road going the length of the park and back. The spires in the canyon are know as "hoodoos" and are formed when snow and ice wear down the soft limestone. The park experiences over 200 days a year below freezing which contributes to wearing down of the rock.

The park transcends 2000 feet in elevation and as such contains three different climate zones.  Due to that fact there is a high amount of biodiversity and over 100 species of birds including the Stellar's Jay and mule deer.

Bill was quite happy to follow this buck mule deer quite a ways along the side of the road and the buck did not seem to mind one bit.

And who would have thought that the National Park Service has a quirky sense of humor!
We have decided that the South Eastern part of Utah would definitely be one area we would like to explore more of, possibly basing ourselves near Lake Powell and exploring outward in all directions.

Here is a bit of a visual travelogue driving the Bryce Canyon road south ascending to 9105 feet above sea level and then driving north back down to about 7000 feet. We decided to leave the area sooner than planned as it is starting to get a bit chilly at such high altitudes and snow was predicted within the next week or so. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Antelope Island Utah

One day when we were still down in Salt Lake we took a trip over to Antelope Island. Antelope Island is a state park and is the largest island of the nine islands in the Great Salt Lake. The island is accessed by a 7 mile causeway from Syracuse, north of Salt Lake City and is 42 square miles in size. The island is home to the oldest Anglo built house in Utah called the Fielding Garr Ranch. The island is home to a herd of over 600 American bison as well as many other types of wildlife. The annual roundup of the herd is in late October but during our visit we were able to see some of them in the corrals as they had been rounded up for viewing by handicapped kids. We were allowed to walk around the corrals but were asked to do so quietly and carefully as the bison had just been put into the pens and many were very skittish. One park worker told us that when frightened they would charge the fencing so hard they would break their noses!

In the video you can see many areas where the Great Salt Lake is very low and dried up quite a distance from shore. We were told that it was because it was at the end of a long summer and Utah is notoriously dry. We think quite a bit has to do with the fact that everyone, and I mean everyone, waters their lawn constantly! Hello xeriscaping? Across the lake you are looking at the city of Salt Lake as well as the neighboring northern suburbs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Sight in Kanab

After stopping at Best Friends and then heading into Kanab for some lunch, we came upon an awesome sight. I had heard about carts or wheels or whatever you may call them for paralyzed pets but I had never seen one live in action. We had the absolute pleasure of meeting Cha Cha who was walking her human while in her Eddie's Wheels. You would have been amazed at the life in her! She was happy, bright eyed and raring to go. I am so grateful and happy that there is an organization like Healing Heart Sanctuary in Kanab that spends the time and reality tells us, the money, to make sure pets like Cha Cha who have so much more to give are able to do so!

This is a condition near and dear to our hearts as our Pumpkin, the Bionic Cat, could have ended up in the same situation except for the expertise of Dr. Bruce at the Animal Referral Center in Appleton. Take a look at Cha Cha and know that she does not consider herself disabled one bit!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Logan Back to Salt Lake City

When Bill finished the Logan store we decided to head over to Jackpot Nevada for a few days and then south to the Bonneville Salt Flats before going back to the Salt Lake City area. Jackpot was a small little town with a total of 5 casinos. We were able to stay at the RV park next to Cactus Pete's casino. The only good deal in all 5 casinos was getting a Buy 1 Get 1 Free buffet from Cactus Pete's.

One day in Jackpot we took a day trip up into Idaho with a stop at Miracle Hot Springs in Buhl.
They have either a communal pool or you can rent private spa rooms. Because we were there before 6pm we got a private space room for only $8 per hour per person. I sure miss my hot tub back home!
After leaving the Jackpot area we stopped for the night in West Wendover Nevada which basically connects right to Wendover Utah....gambling in one city, no gambling and probably other fun things in the other. Wendover is the closest city to the Bonneville Salt Flats which were to have a huge race weekend the following weekend.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are part of ancient Lake Bonneville that was once the size of Lake Michigan. The salt flats were first encountered by white people when Jim Bridger, Kit Carson and other mountain men explored it starting in 1824. The infamous Donner party was warned not to try and cross the salt flats but decided to do so anyway. The result was one of the most horrific tragedies of migration to the Western United States when surviving members of the doomed wagon train resorted to cannibalism to stay alive.

As you can see although it may look like a frozen lake - that is the closest to a frozen lake I ever want to come to again - it is all salt. Dozey had a good time running around but we committed an unpardonable sin and forgot his Chuck it and tennis ball!

Behind on the Blog

I have been a bit lax on keeping up with the blog in the last month. The reason being is that I have gotten rather heavily involved in shelter rescue online. It is amazing but you really, really can make a difference just by networking with other like minded people and rescues! It is so sad and a real negative statement about our society that we would rather euthanized over 5 million cats and dogs annually rather than put our hearts and heads together and come up with better solutions!

One big solution obviously is to get your cats and dogs spayed and neutered. If you can't afford it all you need to do is search online for reduced or free programs or even just reach out online and help will be found for you. Another solution is to not buy your dogs from puppy mill breeders or chic, little pet stores in the mall who buy from puppy mills themselves. Vancouver just outlawed pet stores so maybe we need to follow our Canadian neighbors more. It is said that there will be 73 million people who will adopt a pet this year alone. When you factor in that 5 to 6 million animals are needlessly euthanized that means that there are people fighting over shelter pets! Please, please consider a shelter or rescue pet! You would give me back my mornings as well as save me a boatload of tears each and every day!

Friday, October 1, 2010

World Vegetarian Day

Today is World Vegetarian Day. Now I admit that up until the last couple of years ago I was a real meat person.....give me the choice between candy and a nice, juicy burger and I would pick the nice, juicy burger hands down. Then unfortunately I started becoming educated on what really happens on factory farms and as I consider myself an animal activist I began to feel guilty eating regular meat as in my mind it is hypocritical. I have decided I need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Last year I started eating what I call "seafoodtarian". Unfortunately, especially in Northern Wisconsin restaurants, "seafood" means fried in as much oil as possible so there is absolutely no taste left whatsoever while adding as many fat calories as possible. But I did go quite a while eating fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and seafood. Then I had reached a point where not only my chiropractor in Pickerel but one in Mexico told me that it was possible I had a wheat intolerance or "leaky gut" and that could be contributing to my fibromyalgia. So I became angry and frustrated....if I couldn't eat anything with wheat, didn't WANT to eat meat, didn't LIKE beans, what in the HELL was I going to eat? So I allowed myself to eat meat again although I had to forcibly remove guilt from my mind when I did so.

Then last week I saw an interview that Wolf Blitzer did with Former President Clinton. Now I remember when Clinton was in office and he was constantly jogging and still was pudgy and fighting with his weight. Today he is absolutely thin. Granted he is 10 or so years older and that can happen to older adults but he credits his weight loss to eating a plant based diet and from reading several books including The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. The China Study examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products and illnesses such as cancers of the breast, prostate, and large bowel, diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, degenerative brain disease, and macular degeneration. And who's to say it doesn't contribut to fibromyalgia?

So I am going to try again but this time it seems easier as I have been there before. There are many good reasons to try eating a more plant based diet besides health reasons and they include the fact that we can use less resources and water to raise plants instead of animals and an animal-friendly diet allows you to stop contributing to the cruelty of factory farms and the unnecessary death of innocent animals. I will probably still eat meat that is certified as being humanely raised -- not just where the chicken sees the light of day through cracks in the roof.  I have seen many herds of cattle on miles and miles of pasture land here in Utah. That, I believe, is humane. What isn't humane is when they then send the same cattle to the feed lots for months to finish them off on garbage, antibiotics and who knows what else. Why can't the same cattle stay out on the range being grass fed until an acceptable age? Maybe the price of a T Bone would go up but look at the difference in the product that you are receiving. Unfortunately it is difficult enough finding humanely raised meat in grocery stores much less in restaurants most places in the country.

I also have never been a fan of dried beans in any form but am making a huge effort as they are full of protein, fiber and other nutrients and are better for you than meat. I have found a white bean that I can tolerate with salsa and hot sauce added to take away the "bean" taste. The only remaining problem is the fact that most canned beans are very high in sodium and bags of beans take time to soak, boil and then refrigerator room to store them, something we don't have much of in the rig. Last week I did find a canned white bean that is 50% less sodium than the regular style. So I am really making an effort to like beans. I told Bill that if I could try to like beans he could do the same with deal.

October - National Adopt A Dog Month

The more I work with the rescue groups, the more I am seeing the need to adopt from a shelter. Over 12,000 dogs and cats are euthanized A DAY in the US.  Please, please consider a shelter dog for your next pet! Although we love Dozer to pieces, we have made the committment that our next addition will definitely be from a shelter.

Adopt-A-Dog Month®

October is American Humane Association's Adopt-A-Dog Month

What Can an Adopted Dog Bring to Your Life?

There are as many responses to that question as there are dogs in this world! That’s why -- during American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month celebration in October -- we’re encouraging people to adopt a shelter dog and experience the joy of finding their own answers.
Are you looking for:

•an exercise buddy?
•a best friend and confidant for your child?
•a dog you can train with to learn animal-assisted therapy?
•a partner in agility competitions?
•a constant companion for your favorite senior citizen?
•a fuzzy face to greet you after a hard day at work?

An adopted dog can be all these things -- and so much more!

Your local shelter is the perfect place to find dogs of every type, size, age and personality -- all waiting for a loving home. Or, if you prefer a particular breed that isn’t currently available at a shelter, go online to find a breed-specific rescue group in need of adopters like you.

Find out what a shelter or rescue dog can bring to your life this October during Adopt-A-Dog Month.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ATVing the Uinta National Forest®ion_id=3011&resort_id=&city_id=&find_guide=Submit

One of the things that we really do miss from home is going ATVing so we found a perfect day in Park City and decided to head a bit south to Midway in the Heber Valley and take a guided tour of the Uinta National Forest. Our guide,  Michael, was really great when we explained that we really, really didn't want to get lost in the mountains and that is why we were using a guide and also when he realized that we both knew how to ride the machines well. He took us on a three hour trip instead of the normal two hours and it was worth every penny! So turn up your speakers and take an ATV trip through the Uinta National Forest with us and a little Brooks and Dunn.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olympic Bobsled

The first thing that Bill the speed demon wanted to do when we visited Park City is to go on the summer bobsled ride at the Olympic Park. Speed is not my thing....if I had a choice between a cabin cruiser or a race boat, give me the cabin cruiser every time. Bill said during the ride the G forces were so strong that he could hardly hold his head up but would do it again in a heartbeat!

You can also try out your ski jumping skills at the Olympic Park but he ran out of time to try that!

Park City,_Utah

We left the Provo area on Sunday, September 12 and decided to spend a few days in the Park City area. Salt Lake City was the host to the 2002 Winter Olympics and Park City was were the skiing and snowboarding events. The population of Park City is only 8,000 people but it receives over 3 million visitors a year. It is a very rich and ritzy type city with many affluent Europeans as well as Hollywood stars as home owners. We were talking with the waitress at the breakfast buffet and she said a few years ago her ranch style home that is in Kamas a few miles east of Park City -- as no one who works in Park City can afford to actually LIVE in Park City -- had risen in value to $475,000. She said that she thought of selling but she would have no where to live then. Park City is the hometown of serial killer Ted Bundy (I'll bet they are happy about that!), comedian Bill Engvall, basketball player Michael Jordan and news mogul George Hearst.

We decided to take the ride on the ski lift at Park City Mountain Resort just like we did at Sundance as the views are totally awesome. Unfortunately everything in the area seems to be closing for the summer and won't open again until ski season sometime in November. On the lift we were able to get a few shots of this doe and her two fawns totally oblivious to the people up above them.

Bill and I really, really liked the Park City and Heber Valley area. It is actually the one of the first places that we have been where we would be happy to return for a summer. The other was the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area of Tennessee.  So that tells you how great we think it is as we are very, very picky when it comes to choosing somewhere to return to when it has to compete with our woods in Pickerel.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sad Commentary On Today's Attitudes

The Sunday we left the Provo area we ran smack into the common attitude that is prevalent today. That being that "I can do what I want no matter who I bother, irritate or generally inconvience." I have seen this occur quite a bit in our travels but not quite as violent and in your face as yesterday.

We were still at Utah Lake State Park and as usual a bunch of weekend warriors had show up, this weekend most of them had quite a few small children. They all were congregated near the front of the loop and we were towards the back so at first it wasn't such a problem. We realize that on weekends campgrounds, especially state parks, will not be as quiet and peaceful as during the week and normally we deal with it. On Sunday morning we are up having a cup of coffee before heading to Park City when we look outside the rig. There are four little kids from way on the other side of the bathrooms playing in the road next to our rig, throwing stones and yelling at each other. So I go outside and ask where their campsite is and if they think they should go back there. They continue to play in the road and throw stones around until finally Bill tells them to go back to their campsite.

Five minutes later the sterotypical skin head jerk wearing a wife beater shirt comes up to the door of the rig. He yells and asks if we told his kids to go home. We said that we did and started to explain exactly why but he gives us no chance to explain and starts flipping us the bird outside the door and tells Bill to come out and "get a piece of him". Well, I'm not going to put up with such bullshit so I grab my cell phone and start dialing 911. He sees me doing that and starts to leave yelling the whole while. I get the county dispatch who refers it to the Park security. Within a few minutes two Park Rangers pull up and want to know the story. They clearly see the pile of stones in the road, the fact that the kids were playing in the road, not to mention they were quite a distance from their campsite as young as they were. 

So basically it ended up that they were leaving as it was Sunday and so were we. When they pulled out of the loop in their mini van, his wife was driving of course, and he was leaning out yelling something as they passed by. What lesson was driven home here? That it seems like nowdays people do NOT want to take responsibility for either their own actions nor that of their kids. I know if that would have been my parents back in the day, we would have been in a world of hurt as the adults would have been right. Granted that is not always the truth but it seems that today the kids are never wrong. One of the reasons I got out of teaching!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saving America's Mustangs | Madeleine's Mustangs

In my previous post about visiting the facility here in Utah, I do believe I was too nice. Way, way, way too nice.....this is reprehensible and needs to be stopped!

Saving America's Mustangs Madeleine's Mustangs

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Where You?

What Can We Do Today To Make The World A Better Place?

Never Forget

Where were you nine years ago today? I was teaching in Wautoma Wisconsin and it was a turning point in my life. I remember logging on to and it was black. I had the TV on all day during classes and the students were laughing. They did not understand that their lives and this country had changed forever....moreover, they didn't care. I realized then that I needed to get out of teaching as I was not happy with the red tape, the bureaucracy, the impossibility of having to do it all in the classroom. I lived my younger years with a father that hated his job and I did not want to live my life that way.

To all heroes from 9-11-01....WE WILL NEVER FORGET

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This I Just Had to Share!


Last night, my kids and I were sitting in the living room and I said to them , 'I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.'

They got up, unplugged the Computer, and threw out my wine.

They are SO on my shit list ...

Thanks to our neighbor Dave Paider for passing this along!

Free ASPCA Pet Safety Pack

Here is a link to a free pet safety pack from the ASPCA that includes some neat items such as a Poison Control Center magnet so the number is always handy and also a pet rescue window decal where you can list the number and types of pets you have as well as your contact phone numbers. The decal is really handy especially for those of us with an RV who don't necessarily have neighbors who would know if there are pets inside in case of an emergency with the rig when we were out sightseeing or at work. We have ours filled out and stuck on the window behind the passenger seat.

Boulder Fire

Social it or hate it you have to admit that it has become a very reliable source of information, assistance and support during disasters such as the fire in Boulder Colorado that is going on even as I write this. It is raining right now in Boulder -- how did I know this? Well I guess I could have gone online to and seen the radar. But in reality I used two forms of social media - Facebook and Twitter - to keep me updated.

My focus, as usual, is on the animals. Not that I wish the humans any harm or don't think they are important, I just feel that there are many, many organizations and people who are ready and in place to assist humans during a disaster. It is the animals who are just now getting a voice and immediate assistance during such nightmares thanks to our experiences during Hurricane Katrina. We have learned that many, many people will NOT evacuate an area if they cannot take their beloved pets or livestock with them. So the natural course of events would then be to come up with solutions for evacuation that include the ability to take one's animals along.

A couple things going on in the social media about animals and the Boulder fire. One is the rancher near Boulder who was evacuating but did not have enough trailer room for his 14 horses. This was posted on Twitter and within an hour rescuers converged on the ranch and instead of him only being able to save one or two horses, he was able to get all 14 of them out safely. If you want to follow the Boulder fire type #boulderfire in the search box on Twitter.

Another is the Facebook page of Stealth Volunteers, a rescue group formed in response to Katrina that continues to be ready to assist in the reuniting of pets and their humans in the event of any disaster or just in the course of everyday life. Stealth Volunteers posted a link to the blog of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, cutely named Walk the Blog, and a post written yesterday by Lisa Pederson the CEO. In it she lists the items that are desperately need by the Humane Society as they have taken in 40 cats, dogs and small mammals for people who have been evacuated from their homes. If you are in the Boulder area and can donate items, or if you are online and just want to help by donating money, it would definitely be appreciated at this time, not that they are not appreciated at any time!

I believe that social media is the ham radio of this generation only bigger and better. Instead of waiting for the government to "do" something and provide us with information, we now have the resources and the ability to help ourselves and our fellow citizens in a twinkling of an eye, or rather in a single keystroke. If you are not familiar with social media maybe it is time you jumped on the bandwagon. Who knows? Maybe some day it will be your life, your family's lives, or even the life of your fur kid, that will be at stake and during an emergency is no time to learn the ropes!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Wild Horse and Burro Center

On Tuesday we decided to take a drive to the west of Provo as all of our drives had been to the east up to now. I had found out about the Salt Lake Regional Wild Horse and Burro Center in Herriman so we decided to wind our way there. There has been great outcry, especially this year, after  wild horses died during the annual Bureau of Land Managment helicopter round up.  One of the arguments of the animal activist groups is that the BLM spends more resources on privately held livestock than it does the horses, which are federally protected.  Agri-business does not want the horses using up scarce western resources including water. The BLM is an agency within the Department of the Interior and current Secretary Ken Salazar is a long time rancher. He has publicly stated that wild horses do not belong on public lands. The BLM went as far as to bar public comment on the roundups which is something that is mandated by law.

Upon visiting the Center I decided to walk in with an open mind and ask questions. The employee there was very nice and even took Bill and I on a full scale tour of the facility, showing us how the horses are brought into the Center, how they are looked over and evaluated with most getting vaccinations, hooves trimmed and general check ups. He went as far as to show us the equipment that the horses are pinned in for the examinations. He emphasized the padding that is squeezed together so the horse does not hurt itself. He even tipped it sideways and showed how the hooves are trimmed as to cause the least injury to the animal and the human. I asked him why the horses were being rounded up and he stated because the carrying capacity of the land cannot take so many as they have no natural predators. He stated that there are 30,000 wild horses left in 10 western states and that 30,000 have been rounded up. He then added that contrary to public opinion these horses are not slaughtered for any reason but are put in holding pens or sold to the public for $125 per horse.  I asked why he got into this job and he said he has a degree in range managment and wildlife biology because he saw emaciated horses on the range many years ago and decided he wanted to "help".

Quite frankly, after investigating both sides of the issue I am torn. As an animal activist I want all animals to live long and health lives in their preferred habitat, which for the wild horses is the open range. I think giving precedence to ranching operations, which cost the taxpayers of this country millions of dollars a year, is absurd and needs to stop. But at the same time I do not want to see horses dying of thirst and starvation because there are too many for the land they are on to support. The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 says that wild horses can only be allowed to roam in the areas that they were roaming when the act was put into law. So unfortunately we cannot find some space in any of the eastern states unless someone wants to start a holding facility. I do not believe, however, that using helicopters is in the animals' best interests.  Surely a more humane way of conducting a roundup can be used.  I am not sure why the same methods that are used with feral cats cannot be used with wild horses.  Why can't we geld the males and then turn them loose again like we do with tom cats? This would surely cut down on the population while leaving the wild horse where it belongs -- on the range.

In my humble opinion it boils down to something more basic than the freedom of the wild horses. They are just the victims or the collateral damage just as the wildlife and sea life in the Gulf of Mexico are the victims and the collateral damage. My opinion is that it comes down to the basic philosophical differences between the school of thought that believes that this Earth and her natural resources are there for man to exploit and the future be damned and those of us who feel that we are just stewards of this planet and have no right to use more than our share nor cause undue damage and hardship to other creatures. Until these philosophical differences are somehow resolved there will continue to be wild horses that are chased down by helicopteres, wolf pups that are gassed in their dens, sea turtles that die covered by oil, mountaintops that are blown away for coal and the list goes on.

This is a heartbreaking problem with no easy answers. But I know that any Secretary of the Interior who was, and still is, a rancher, is not operating with the wild horses' best interests in mind. Ken Salazar needs to go.  I invite you to read the information found in the links posted above and learn more about this issue so you can form an educated opinion and then act! Email, call, write letters....just do something and make a difference.  Hopefully there is some sort of answer that allows these animals to live their lives in freedom while at the same time does not destroy the very ecosystem that they depend upon.

You will notice a white horse in many of the doesn't show up in video but he has the bluest eyes! I have never seen that on a horse.....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why You Probably WON'T Find Your Lost Animal

Here is a really, really important article for those of us with fur kids and what to do if one becomes lost. Marilyn is a hero in my book. She started an online group (of which I am now a member) called Stealth Volunteers during Hurricane Katrina to help reunite pets with their owners. In the time since, she has worked tirelessly to set up evacuation plans that include pets and has been successful in getting formal evacuation plans in place that include pets. If you saw former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin on the Today show or other interviews you saw where he was asked what were his regrets. He stated that a regret was that people would not evacuate without their pets. Hopefully, with or without government assistance, we now have better programs in place.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Heber City and Sundance

First of all I would like to thank those of you who are leaving me comments and feedback! It sure is nice to know someone out there is reading and listening. To me blogging is part diary, part art, and part soap box! I will do my best to return the reading on your blogs after this week and the tax nightmare is done!

With a full day to explore on Sunday we decided to take Provo Canyon Limited ride on the Heber Valley Railroad. The train pulled out of the station at 11:00 am and took a 3 hour ride through Provo Canyon.  Turn up your speakers! (You can't do much better than Willie, Waylon, Kris and Johnny IMHO!!)

We then took a drive up to Sundance Resort which was acquired by actor Robert Redford in 1969 named it after his famous movie role. When I asked at the resort I was told that he acquired it and other surrounding land to stop a large scale planned development. When they say you can't stop progress I guess they are right as he obviously was not able to stop the large scale ski resorts that were developed only 30 miles away in Park City. From Sundance came the Sundance Film Festival which is mostly held in Park City today. The resort itself is small and cozy and the scenery is absolutely out of this world. I sure wish I would have taken a sweatshirt up the lift though as it was cold, and I mean cold, at the top. My fear of heights is sure being tested in this state!  Again turn up your speakers as I am practicing with my movie editing and take a little ride on the Sundance ski lift. 

All in all it was a pretty wonderful day.....Utah is definitely more our style!

Camp Katrina Heros

Thank God for the heros on this earth! There is a special place in heaven for all of you! I only wish I could have been there doing my part.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Provo Area Parks

We arrived at Utah Lake State Park around noon on Saturday and found an Ironman competition going on with the park being the ending point. After fighting our way to the campground we decided on a spot in the loop with the shower house as it is much nicer to shower using someone else's hot water and not our LP as well as having a decent amount of water pressure. What we didn't know at the time was that there are small gnats or midges, not unlike lakeflies, that are quite prolific near the marshes of Utah Lake. Bill opened the door to let Dozey out and a ton of them got in and are sitting on the ceiling. I got up on Saturday night to take some pain pills and I could hear them in a swarm sounding like angry bees.

We decided to take a drive back up Highway 189 through Provo Canyon which was the way we had gotten here. There were a ton, and I mean a ton, of state parks along the Deer Creek Reservoir between Heber City and Provo

The first side road we took was Squaw Peak Road that went up the mountain. There were many breathtaking views and a nice drop off on the passenger side on the way up which I was not too fond of.
At the top there was a scenic view of most of the city of Provo as well as Utah Lake as you can see by the video below.,_Utah

Some of Provo's more famous residents include, of course, the Osmond family and former quarterback and football great Steve Young. Another really interesting fact, for us Wisconsinites at least, is that there are only THREE bars in all of Provo. Very strange to us as it is a city of almost 120,000!

Our last stop on Saturday was at Bridal Veil Falls. That is the one in Provo Canyon, not to be confused with the famous Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite!

Near the top of the picture you can see why it is called "bridal veil". The two streams of water actually look like a bride in the middle with a long veil on either side.

The falls from top to bottom is 607 foot tall as seen by this picture looking up from the base.  There is a switchback trail which leads up to the left side of the falls that can be taken by people who want to hike to the base, which is where the water ends in this picture.

 But of course, as always in life, there are people who don't want to be normal and who want to climb up to the base of the falls via the swift downward flowing creek that you see here in the bottom middle of the picture.
So, of course, one of those not so normal people had to be Bill. He says he never would have been able to do the climb when he was smoking and during it wondered if he was going to have a heart attack! He forgot to take a camera with him but said he'd pass on the second climb in a day just to get pictures.