She’s On the Move

If you’ve known me for more than 10 minutes, it’s no secret I thoroughly dislike Texas. The time we’ve spent in Denison, however, has softened me a bit. Sure, their history textbooks are complete fabrications, they are thoroughly obsessed with guns and gun rights, and did I ever mention the horrific experience of stopping at a rest area to pee? (I believe I have, so enough of that.) But for the most part, we’ve enjoyed the friendliness of its people and the security of our slip at the marina. But the day finally came when the trucking company was loading up Nautical Dreamer to drop it into the Arkansas River. It’s fairly nerve-wracking to watch your home get yanked out of the water (akin to pulling your house from its foundation), and plunked onto a truck. Once it was on the truck and several straps were secured, the trucker had to move the truck up the hill so another truck could get in place to receive its boat. So it was secure on the truck but not SECURE on the truck. I gave it a WIDE berth in case it came tumbling down.

I wasn’t prepared for how time-consuming it was going to be. We waited hours in the extreme heat and humidity. I don’t think I’ve sweated that much in my entire life. My eyes stung from the drips drizzling in. All my clothes (and I mean underwear and all) were soaking wet. And all I did was watch. I can’t imagine what the guys were feeling. How they wear pants rather than shorts is beyond me and many of them with their beards, mustaches and looong hair.

Communication wasn’t the best at the marina so we were caught slightly off guard when they called looking for us. We dropped everything and headed over to the haul out area. But we hadn’t finished securing everything. So when the trucker and his spotters headed out to lunch, Rick climbed up and finished securing everything. Then we said goodbye to Nautical Dreamer and thought, fingers crossed, we’d see it on the other end.

We decided we didn’t want to follow the truck figuring it would be interesting for the first 20 minutes or so and then be a giant drag. Or we’d be worried it would topple any minute and we’d spend the entire trip with stomach issues from worry. So we headed out on the four-hour (give or take) drive to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, to wait.

We ended up waiting five days (yes, you read that right). Many factors led to this. The guys had bad weather that caused a delay in taking off the fly bridge. (Nautical Dreamer was too high for the electric wires. In fact, we were told if we’d been an inch taller, it would have had to travel with an electric bucket truck and crew to lift the wires, which would have tripled the cost. So we had to take off the top.) The state tells the trucking company the route it is allowed to take based on the height of the boat. The route was a winding hilly road, sans guardrails, that the truck and its two escorts (one in front, one in back) had to move quite slowly on over the course of a couple days. Once they arrived at Applegate Cove Marina in Sallisaw, Arkansas, it took several days to reinstall the fly bridge (again weather played a factor—the temperature was way too high to work in the afternoons).

I have never spent so much time in a hotel as I had waiting to be permanently left alone on our boat. If we’d known, we could have used that time to vacation and enjoyed hoteling it. But this was every day getting up and wondering if today was the day, then finding out it wasn’t.

As an aside, we stayed in a Residence Inn with a great rate from Hotwire.com. The rooms are basically a studio apartment and if you’d like you can leave a grocery list and they will pick up and deliver to your room at no additional charge beyond the groceries. How cool is that?

Any hoo, finally, the day came. The crane was in use and after waiting around, the trucking staff decided to “float” it off the truck. If you’ve ever been in a smaller speed boat you’ve done this. Back the car down the ramp until the boat floats, then pull away. A little more complex given the size of the boat, but it was basically the same thing. With many trees in our way (again due to our height), one of the guys sat on the fly bridge with a saw and hacked off limbs as the boat was slowly driven into the water.

Then Rick got in to take it across to our slip. I had to drive over to the slip and get ready to grab lines. I was practically peeing my pants worrying about my job. The last thing we needed was to pull a Rodney Dangerfield in “Caddyshack”. If I didn’t catch the lines, then what? Relief came as not only did the trucking guys come over, but the marina emptied into our slip to help. Now Rick just had to slide it in. But as he got closer he realized there was no way we would fit—too high.

Discussions ensued as Nautical Dreamer treaded water. There was a spot on the end, not covered but with water and electric hookup that we could use. We all tramped down to that end of the marina and the guys proceeded to “catch” the boat while I watched and worried (which seems to currently be about all I’m good for). Given where our hookups were the boat needed to be backed into the space. The width of the slip was generous but Rick had to be cautious he didn’t hit a post at the back end with the swim platform. Made it in without much muscle from the crew, set everything and hooked up…well, the water anyway. The electric receptacle was for 30 amp and we had 50. One of the guys found the mechanic who jerry-rigged it and then ordered some part.

We appreciate Applegate Cove Marina for its friendliness and cost ($250/mo. including water, sewage pump out, and wifi–even if the wifi sucks). Several boats are doing the same trip we are, starting in October. We think we will delay and see if we can tag along. They’ve done the trek before so it would be good to have “experts” to draw on and nice to have others around. Plus, maybe we can get all our projects done. Hey—a girl can dream, can’t she?

I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with My Sewing Machine (And Other Surprises)

With August 8th looming, we’ve been crazy busy. On the 8th, Nautical Dreamer will be prepped for its move from a land-locked lake to the Arkansas River. Once there, we will head toward the Mississippi and down to the Gulf. But first, we have a lot to accomplish while we have the ability to access stores and solid land.

I may have written about clogging the master head. All I did was pee. Honest. I used very little TP, but someone (not me–and there’s only two of us on board) selected the wrong TP. After asking around how to clear it (you can’t plunge), we heard enough people say they hire a guy. We started a list of things for the marina guys to do and that was at the top of it. As we learned in our first home, a ranch built in the 50’s, nothing is as easy as you think it will be when dealing with something that is older. The prognosis was a need to replace the pipes.

We are also waiting for the guys to clean out the air conditioning system and take a look at the washer/dryer combo.

Even though most of our things are in storage, we purchased new furniture for the aft deck and some chairs for the main salon. The floors aren’t finished so we haven’t moved the furniture onto the boat. Until that happens, we have a choice in the evening of sitting in a folding camping chair or the bed. It’s getting old. Rick’s been working on the floors, but as with everything on this boat, it’s one step forward and two steps back. Once the carpet was out he decided he needed to scrub down the sub-floor with a bleach solution and then use paint with a mold inhibitor (given our plans for tropical locales). Today was the start of laying the floor on the aft deck.

Laying new flooring in the aft deck. We will use this flooring in every room but the heads.
Laying new flooring in the aft deck. We will use this flooring in every room but the heads.

He started in the aft deck since it has the least number of hatches, so it will go in quickly. Each hatch needs to be framed out with the flooring inside the frame so that we still have access to the hatches. With the engine room under the floors, the hatches, though not a necessity (the carpet was over all of them), makes access so much easier that it will be worth the effort to frame out. (I say this with full knowledge that I don’t have to do the work—he, he.) He also tore the built in, hideous, dining settee out in preparation of installation/building storage and a breakfast bar.

Pulling up the built in seats/drawers.
Pulling up the built in seats/drawers.
Removing the back of the built-in seats.
Removing the back of the built-in seats.

I tore apart the day bed in the office and made a new baseboard covering, headboard covering and cushion. It looks fairly good, but what a pain in the butt! There was one point where my machine just decided to rebel. It was pulling material into the area where the bobbin is located and then jamming the machine. Over and over again. I tried re-threading the bobbin, re-threading the top thread, switching out a new bobbin, and shutting the machine off. Finally, close to tears, I tried different thread (not as heavy) and it started working. I texted my sister, Cheryl, master of the sewing machine. She is amazing! She has created men’s suits. Who does that? Anyway, now I know about careful selection of the needle to go along with the material and thread weight. Now we need pillows to finish off the look.

Old covering. It smelled BAD!
Old covering. It smelled BAD!
Recovered with a new print and new foam. The base hasn't yet been screwed in and we need pillows. Above it is a murphy bed type second bed for this room.
Recovered with a new print and new foam. The base hasn’t yet been screwed in and we need pillows. Above it is a murphy bed type second bed for this room.

As I said, all the furniture we bought, along with a new bathroom vanity, are all on the dock area behind our boat. We need to move it all on board before Monday, but several pieces are too big to fit through the door by the gangplank or the door leading to the swim platform. So we will have to take out a window and then lift the stuff up and through the back window. Then the window will have to be resealed into place. How all that will work, I don’t know. Rick says, “No problem.”

We also need to practice using the anchor and exiting/entering the slip. We did successfully dock to pump out the wastewater on Sunday, maneuvering around a small fishing boat to get to the dock. (I say “we” when it really is all Rick. My job is to throw the line to the dock dude.) Coming back was a little iffy getting into the covered shelter. After cracking two of the 2 x 4’s fixed to the pier metalwork (it’s OK, that’s what they are there for), our neighbor saw us and offered to go out with us to give us some pointers. We pulled in and out of the slip three or four times to get the hang of it while he walked us through. So very helpful!

So this all needs to be done in T minus five days. Then we will worry about the kitchen, breakfast bar, head remodels, changing the lettering to reflect the new name, and exterior waxing at some point. *Sigh.* On the bright side, I don’t think we will get bored in retirement.

The “Incident”

CRACK!

“Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!” Rick comes flying up the stairs from the second cabin and then on up through the aft deck, out the door. All I heard after the “sh*ts” was “floor split” and “water.”

Holy crap! In my mind we are sinking and I’m going to drown! But I don’t see any water, so it must be a slow sinking. I creep down the stairs to see how fast the water is coming in. I peer around the door jamb. The carpet was pulled up yesterday so all that remains is the subfloor and sure enough, screws have popped and one board is inches higher than the other. Thankfully no water.

The popped board.
The popped board.

Not too long before the “incident” as I will call it, we had bought the products to stabilize the water in our holding tank. Up until now we had been hooked up to water from the marina but we were preparing for leaving soon and wanted to get the tank ready to go. It’s located under the second cabin. When Rick flew off the boat, he wasn’t saving himself, leaving me behind. (Kidding, he would never do that. He has strict rules to save me first and the boat second.) He was turning off the water feeding into the tank.

On our first day, I had wanted to scrub the kitchen sink and there was no water. We assumed from this that the holding tank had no water in it and we hooked up to the marina water. Rick surmised from the “incident” that the tank did already have water. It is not a rigid tank, but a bladder that expands and contracts as water is added or used. So we were trying to add water to an already pretty full tank. It continued to expand out (thank goodness it didn’t burst) and the area under the wood floor couldn’t hold it anymore. Thus the pressure on the floor and the popped boards.

Rick yanked up the stairs in the hall leading to the room and investigated. If the tank was already full why couldn’t we get any water at the sinks? He had me turn on the water. Nothing. He had me flip the pump switch off and on again, then check the water. Nothing. After kanoodling around for a while, he finally found the culprit. The pump hose was kinked; so it couldn’t do its job to pump the water through to the spigots. But it was full. He unkinked it and I ran the water in all the sinks to get rid of some of the excess.

The floor is no longer split, thank goodness, and we learned another lesson. Every day is something new. Even though I made fun of him for reading all those boat repair manuals when we didn’t have boat yet, I am so glad he did. Helps with the troubleshooting. We’ve been on the boat a week and it’s been one “incident” after another. We haven’t even left the dock yet. That’s for tomorrow. Yep, we get out first and only lesson tomorrow. Fingers crossed I don’t drown. :/

What’s That Smell? And Other Worrying Issues

Before I explain the horrors of a 30-year-old boat, I just wanted to lay out a view for you and say “this is why.”

View of Lake Texoma. Our home for the next few weeks.
View of Lake Texoma. Our home for the next few weeks.

As we were moving things in we noticed the smell saturating the main salon, master cabin and second cabin. What is that smell? Rick thinks it is a little like cleaning products or fuel. I think it is sort of mildewy but not quite. With the air running full blast throughout, the smell dissipated but was still lingering. When the guys came for the furniture, we asked them. “No, it’s not fuel. Not any engine smells.” That was a relief, but what was it?

I set about cleaning by starting on the kitchen sink with the idea of wiping down the refrigerator which the previous owners had left a mess. Turned on the water. It came out full force, then dwindled, then sputtered to a stop. “Rick! No water!”

He assumed the tanks were empty and hooked up the hoses from the shore. I waited. He washed his hands and the same problem came about. Great. No water. Can’t clean. Can’t shower.

We both went to bed with things on our minds and by 11, Rick was still reading and I sat up. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Can’t sleep. I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep.”

“That’s why I’m reading.”

We both alternated between dozing and wide awake. Around 4:30 I felt Rick get up. I heard him above me and then the CRACK of thunder. I joined him on the aft deck. We watched the fireworks in silence and listened to the rumbles until the rain came. It was a downpour. Rain hitting a tin roof is absolutely deafening. It’s a sound like no other and it surrounds you with its power.  We listened until it died down.

“I think I know what the smell is.” He said. “The stairs to the master cabin area are damp. I think something major was spilled and with no one on the boat, the air wasn’t running. Given the humidity, I’m guessing it just never dried.”

“Guess we’re ripping up the carpet today instead of next week.”

“Yep.”

“I hope the water tanks are full. Otherwise we’re driving to a truck stop and paying for a shower. I NEED a shower.”

“Yep.”

Since then we have determined we also need someone to clean the air ducts because there is a smell with the air on in certain parts of the boat. It was a trial finding all the light switches but we prevailed. But there are other things that are bothersome. Our washer/dryer doesn’t seem to work so that’s another issue and last but not least someone (me) clogged the toilet because the TP we bought (Rick) was the wrong type. Although it said on the package it was good for septic tanks, we apparently can use only marine TP. We asked at West Marine what we do about that plug (can we use a plunger?). He said he calls a guy to do a messy job like that. So we will let the marina dudes work their magic.

And I was worried we’d be bored. Huhn.

 

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Around 3:00, the marina guys showed up to take away the things the previous owners left behind. There were three guys: Lloyd, Kevin and Antonio. Lloyd seemed to be in charge; he made introductions all around. When I looked at Kevin the theme from Grizzly Adams ran through my head. He was a dirtier spitting image. Antonio didn’t say much; must be the artist in him. Apparently Antonio’s real job is a boat painter. We heard a story about his excellent painting skills. Some yahoo with more money than sense rammed into a dock and dented his yacht. When he brought it in, the boat was exceptionally dirty so the guys suggested they would wash it first. He replied, “No, just match the color.” So Antonio expertly matched the paint to the dirty hull.

Anyway, the guys showed up on a little putt-putt boat. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” I suggested. Although my movie reference seemed to fly over their heads, they were amiable guys and we welcomed them aboard. We pointed out that we probably needed some tools to take out a ladder leading to the fly bridge, to get the four-person couch out the back door. It was too large to go out any other door and wouldn’t fit through any openable window.

The couch is on its side here in the foreground. The door it needs to fit through is that tiny one on the left in the background. The big window next to the door doesn't open.
The couch is on its side here in the foreground. The door it needs to fit through is that tiny one on the left in the background. The big window next to the door doesn’t open.

Then we showed them the rest of the furniture and the pile of junk on the landing outside the boat. They looked at it all and left to go get a barge.

It took little time to get the crap onto the barge with all those guys and they didn’t have much trouble with the chairs or mattress, but that couch. Man. That couch. They removed the ladder but it still didn’t fit through anything. Rick joked, “If we had a saws all we could cut it up and remove the pieces.”

But it’s not our stuff. A call went out to the general manager of the marina. He tried the owners. No luck. He made an executive decision. Cut it up.

 

Sawing up the couch.
Sawing up the couch.

Lloyd sawed away while Kevin and Rick kept pressure on the back to crack it as quickly as possible. Once broken up it still needed to go out the swimming platform door. This meant one guy had to ease the couch out the door and angle it down a flight to a guy waiting on the dock below without dropping it in the lake. I chuckled as I watched and made sure I stayed out of the way.  The barge was completely full by the time they headed out.

 

 

Taking it out the door.
Taking it out the door.
Sayonara ugly couch!
Sayonara ugly couch!
With a full barge, the guys headed out.
With a full barge, the guys headed out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the aft deck cleared, we needed to start pulling up carpet. But that’s for another day. Once the barge left, we just sat out on the forward deck while the sun lowered in the sky. Once the darkness enveloped us, we listened to the crickets song surrounding us. We were finally home.

We Live In a Marine Shanty Town

We were awake early. Too excited at the prospect that, surely today would be the day we’d get our home. We had to wait until 8:30 for the marina office to open so we could get the keys. Heading down to our part of the marina, we were like two year olds on Christmas morning. Chattering and giggling. We each grabbed a few things and walked down to our slip. Number 23-1. Our boat. Ours. Opening the door was a little surreal as I harbored worries we would never really get this far. We stepped in to… furniture and junk. They didn’t remove everything! The general manager had said if things were left he would have some of the guys take it away. One phone call confirmed that but it was so disappointing. While we waited, we brought in our things. Our bed unfurled nicely. We didn’t yet have the balance of our possessions which were still in storage, so we bought an extra set of sheets to use until then. The bed is high. REALLY high. I’m gonna need a step stool, which does not bode well for my nightly bathroom visits.

As we made the trek back and forth between the car and boat, I started looking at our neighbor’s slips. Many had built elaborate dock space that was like a little apartment. (Why you need that when you have a big ass boat, I don’t know.) I came to the realization that we were living in a shanty town. Notice how the electrical lines hang on the building’s girders.

Our little town for the next few weeks.
Our little town for the next few weeks.

It reminds me of the stolen electricity in the slums of Jamaica.

If you look closely you can see bed frames up top. Craziness!
If you look closely you can see bed frames up top. Craziness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well it’s only for a few weeks and it does have its charms. It holds our boat.

Master Packer Strikes Again!

We got news that all the paperwork was in. We were just waiting for the previous owners to get all their personal belongings off the boat (including the furniture and the mattress in the master cabin). We checked out of the hotel in the morning so everything we had accumulated over the last three weeks had to fit in the Prius. We added a few things as we were sitting around waiting for this day including two big ticket items—A new queen mattress (one of those foam mattresses that is so good for support) and two bar stools. So we had three big boxes (the mattress comes compressed and rolled up) along with our suitcases, backpacks, computer, printer, snacks, plants, books, and odds and ends. No way were we getting that all in our tiny car. No way. Rick said, “No problem.” Sure and shit (how did that expression come about?), the Master Packer as he is known, got it all in without having to put anything on the roof and I had to eat crow.

 

Because we were waiting for the former owners to get their stuff out, we had to find a way to waste most of the day. We went to breakfast. We went shopping and added a few more bags to the car. We ate lunch. We sat in the restaurant fretting about a puppy that had no collar or leash but was very patiently sitting outside the doors to the restaurant looking in, waiting for his master. When we left, we watched the old guy (who looked like a Willie Nelson in grunge mode) gather his pup, put him on the back of a bicycle and pedal away. He had a sign that said they were traveling cross country to bring awareness to homeless pets and although we were sure he was collecting money to live rather than donate, that was a good reason to pull up and contribute. We were in a right turn only lane and a surly trucker honked his horn at me as I scurried out of the car and made my way to the man and his pup.

Finally, as it headed into mid-afternoon we decided to go to the Pioneer Village in Denison. A whole village of cabins and the like from early homesteading time laid out as a little village. It cost us a whole three bucks per person to get in so we weren’t expecting much. It was actually fascinating. There was a one room cabin that had housed a couple and their 14 children. Now, how they were able to raise 14 children in one room (let along conceive 14 children in one room) is unfathomable to me. The village also had a wealthy landowner with a huge mansion, a dentist, a country store, a church, a jail and courthouse. It also had a VERY rare find—a women’s bathroom that was dirtier than the men’s. Cockroaches in the toilet and when I opened the door so much dust flew in my face that I ended up with a sinus headache. I confess I used the men’s.

Right before dinner we stopped into the marina office to see the progress. They were still working on gathering their stuff. We had to hotel it one more night.  *Sigh.*

The Waiting Game or What to Do While You’re Homeless

Still sitting in the hotel room waiting for the paperwork to be completed on the purchase of Nautical Dreamer. I think this has taken longer than any of the times we bought a house. Maybe it just seems that way. We both have heavy-duty wanderlust at this point and are longing for the open water and some new experiences.

Yesterday was the 4th of July so we decided to go to the festivities here in Denison, TX. There was a band covering the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band, with a few John Mellencamp, Springsteen and The Who thrown in for good measure. The singer wasn’t the best but was fine for the venue. I was having flashbacks to North Carolina when we got there. Everything was being held at the high school football stadium and attached park. That is not to say it was AT the high school. Just like in my first teaching position, the stadium was multi-purpose for the town and built at the center of it all. Just like in Wallace, NC, it was a beautiful stadium built by the school, the city, and private company contributions.

Munson Stadium is grand. We sat on the home side so we could use the stadium seats (with BACKS—yahoo!). Well, here, just look.

Munson Stadium, Denison, TX.
Munson Stadium, Denison, TX.

And check out this press box.

Munson Stadium press box.
Munson Stadium press box.

Yes, that dweeb is me in the middle of the photo.

I started to think about how lucky these teenagers were to have this type of facility and wondering if they appreciated it. As time went by and people started to fill in the areas around us, we saw a remarkable sight. Families spending time together. Dads and kids tossing the ‘ole ball around. Moms chasing little kids around the field, laughing. As a former teacher, I heard stories that would curl your hair and some that were just sad. Kids eating ramen noodles every night for dinner while they sit in their rooms on the computer because their parents are working. So many things wrong with this. Why do the parents have to work so hard to pay their bills?

At any rate, we thoroughly enjoyed people watching. Right before the fireworks were to start, the mayor went to the microphone and did his thing. Throughout the time we were there, a smattering of people were listening to the music and the mayor, while others continued with what they had been doing. Then, an astonishing thing. The mayor introduced a local pastor for the prayer (yes, we are back in the South), followed by the pledge and the National Anthem. Silence fell across the field, in the stands, and the outskirts of the park for the entire time. ALL the hats came off.  There was an expectation in this town, passed down from generation to generation. Whether you go to church or not, you are respectful. You remove your hat and shut your mouth. Period. Now I would argue it is easier to do this in a small southern town where everyone is either a Southern Baptist or a Catholic and I can see some of my friends cringing at my advocating for this; but it really is simply being respectful.

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of organized religion (although I do believe in God) and I’m not here to argue whether there should be prayer at a public event. I’m simply advocating for public civility. I’m old enough to remember when it was a requirement to remove your hat indoors and during the National Anthem. And for heaven’s sake, wait until the song is complete before clapping and shouting. It really irritates me when the singer hits that high note and the audience thinks that’s their cue to shout, whistle and clap. Apparently, it is too difficult to hold it in for a few more seconds. Well, I think its rude and I’m usually laughed at for that opinion; but I’ve moved into old age. I learned from my grandma that the older you get, the more you can speak your mind. There was not shouting and clapping until the song was finished AND they actually sang along (another of my pet peeves).

Anyway, going hand in hand with this is my feeling that the kids DO know how lucky they are to have such a grand stadium. In the same way that they will eventually realize that the manners they learned as a child will be a benefit to their future.

Enough of that—geeze, for someone who doesn’t believe in organized religion, I sure know how to preach. The best part of the night was using the 3-D glasses, given to us when we entered, to view the fireworks. We placed them over the phone lense to capture these.

IMG_0716 IMG_0730 IMG_0732

A local radio station was blasted during the show with a compilation of songs. I never thought I’d hear Neal Diamond and AC/DC in the same mix. Also, I didn’t get where “Pink Houses” with its condemnation of America (and for that matter “Born in the USA”) would fit in a celebration of America. That aside, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Yes, we are anxious to leave here, but everyone is so nice so we have enjoyed our time here. Stay tuned for the move onto the boat and the upfit (please, soon).

We are Nomads Now

Indiana’s license plate used to say “Wander” above the plate number. I had a friend who attended college there during that time. She wanted to get a car and personalize her plate to read AMLESLY. I thought of this as we headed away from our house to start the next segment of our lives. We weren’t really wandering aimlessly, but it sure felt like it. We were heading to Texas by way of Iowa and Illinois.

The boat was not yet ours but the paperwork was in the works so we were confident and slightly giddy as we headed towards it in preparation. I was dreading sitting in a vehicle for days; arthritis in the hips and knees makes long trips rugged. I also didn’t relish all that time with the “damned dog”. He wasn’t a really great traveler either. Rick, sweet man that he is, tried to get a rental RV that would allow movement for Bert and me. The company didn’t have a one way for us so we rented a U-Haul instead. Anyone who has had the self move experience knows those trucks are slightly less than plush. We were just glad we had air conditioning in this one (we didn’t on the move TO Arizona nine years ago).

Setting out in the moving truck. Bert looks comfy.
Setting out in the moving truck. Bert looks comfy.

We were sitting three across an Bert got the window seat for fear he might cause an accident next to the driver. I got the “hump”. Story of my life. As a child, during all our family road trips, us three girls got the backseat. As the youngest, I always got the middle seat where the floorboard had a giant hump back in the day (regardless of make or model, it seemed). I got them all back one summer by throwing up over everything after eating an entire bag of Funyuns. Bwahahahahaha!!!!

The truck had no hump, but the engine compartment jutted into the cab at my legs. Strattling that, I settled in for the long haul while the pup curled up for a nap. Rick thought I was crazy for giving Bert the window seat and it didn’t take long (the first potty stop, I believe) to swap seats. My body couldn’t take it and the engine hump was not an issue for him.

As we traveled, Bert got restless. As he got restless, he became more clumsy and erratic. Totally understandable, but so exhausting. There was a gap between each of the seats. So as he would adjust his position, a leg would be lost to the crack and his head would land hard on a lap, a seat cushion, or occasionally against the engine compartment. He would just lay like that for awhile, even when I tried to coax him out. When he could no longer stand it, he’d jockey to get out (generally with my assistance) and readjust again. One day he slept on Rick’s lap the whole day. It was an uneventful day for me but Rick could barely move by the end. Cramps in his feet and legs set in and he had a miserable night.

Our marriage has been peppered with regular travel. We love to travel! When we had little money we drove, camping or staying in reasonable hotels along the way. We starting using a booking app that got us great deals but you never knew the hotel until you booked and paid for it. Still, we had pretty good luck.

This trip started out well. We found a great hotel that even Bert liked. He claimed the sitting chair as his own.

Bert and his "TV Tray."
Bert and his “TV Tray.”

But there were others.

The hotel that added a bathtub liner to “update” it. Instead it allowed water between it and the actual tub making your shower a bizarre surfing experience. The two star hotel that needed a plaque with a veiled warning against taking their hideous bedspreads or cheap towels.

Seriously folks, have you seen the bedspread and towels?
Seriously folks, have you seen the bedspread and towels?

 

And then there was this.

I was afraid of what it might do to me.
I was afraid of what it might do to me.

Sigh. I left it alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While traveling we got the signed boat contract back from the seller with about half of it crossed out. He had a problem with having responsibility for the vessel while all the particulars were being completed. Apparently he felt once he signed the contract agreeing to the purchase it was up to us to insure and/or pay any damages that might arise prior to our actually owning it (can’t insure something you don’t own–oops). He also didn’t like the brokers’ ability to sue if we go behind their backs to skip paying them their fees. Once we arrived in Texas, we went to the seller’s broker to try to explain why we needed those parts signed, too. I, of course, spoke out and said, “I’m sure the contract he signed to buy the boat had the same info in it. He would be foolish not to have that.” The broker informed us that they didn’t do that in their paperwork. Its done differently in Texas. Yea–just like their rest stop bathrooms (see previous rants on Texas). In reality, the guy didn’t understand the contract either. So OUR broker had to explain page by page to THEIR broker so he could explain to the seller. Finally, it was signed and I could sleep at night. Whew! Now we wait. We wait for the survey and sea trial (like a home inspection) and those results. We wait for the title search. We wait for all the paperwork to be completed. We wait for the owners to clear out their stuff. Our broker said about a week more, but with this owner it could be years (ha, ha). In the meantime, we sit in a hotel room, the three of us. At least its been updated this century with fairly nice décor. Hmmmm…there’s no sign that says I can’t…(just kidding).

 

 

That Damned Dog!

Bert waiting expectantly in our hotel room in Denison, TX
Bert waiting expectantly in our hotel room in Denison, TX.

 

If you’ve read previously, you’ll know we’ve sold our house in order to live on a boat. Not the least of our worries is how Bert, our dog (nicknamed “that damned dog” by my husband), would react to it. It is definitely at the forefront of our minds. To know Bert is to love him, but he does have his issues.

We got him from the Humane Society shortly after moving to Arizona. I had done research and found that Wheaten Terriers were supposed to be non-shedders. I learned that’s not entirely true, but the hair balls up into “tumbleweeds” that roll across our kitchen and living room—generally at inopportune times when we have company. They are unsightly but easily picked up to throw away.

I saw on the Humane Society’s website that he was available and he was a pure-bred Wheaten about 3-years-old. We were second in line the next day when they opened. The couple before us went straight for him. I was heartbroken. Rick was probably relieved. After putting our Yorkie down the year before, he wasn’t too interested in another dog. (Although he did say if we got one he wanted a bigger dog. This says to me that he really did want one—or at least was willing to give in.)

A worker suggested we hang out since the matches don’t always go through. The other couple did decide against Bert because it was reported he was not good with kids. (We have since learned he is great with kids.) It was Christmas Eve and we took him immediately to my parent’s house. My mom wasn’t too pleased when I called and said we were bringing him, but everyone immediately fell in love with him and he was soooo well trained. We had beef for dinner. He showed no interest in the food whatsoever and sat quietly while we ate. What a good dog. He was sweet and charming around all these new people. What a good dog! We learned he stayed next to you during daily walks and never barked when the doorbell rang. What a good dog! He stayed off the furniture and never went on the beds. WHAT A GOOD BOY! A week later, our house was completed and we moved in. I didn’t even bother putting him on a leash. He sat quietly while we tramped in and out of the house with box after box. Why would anyone give up this perfect dog?

Then we both went back to work.

It started when he locked us out of the house. We had a habit of coming and going through the garage so we left the door leading into the house from the garage unlocked. We never carried house keys. One Saturday, we went to a movie. Upon our return, we couldn’t get the door to the house opened. He had apparently jumped at the door when we left and must have locked the deadbolt. We were going to break a window, but every window we went to he went to. We didn’t want to risk cutting him. I suggested breaking the lock with a sledgehammer. When that didn’t work, Rick just started pounding on the door until it gave way. The cost of our pound puppy was starting to rise.

A regular pattern appeared when we left for work. That damned dog got on our bed and ate the pillows, comforter and sheets.  We closed our doors. So he ate away at the molding around the door. He started going potty in the upstairs hallway. He ate a box and all the books inside.

To combat this, we barricaded him in the kitchen with a gate. Came home from work and he was out. We put the gate up and moved two kitchen chairs against it with the backs facing him. Came home from work and he was out again. The wall separating the kitchen and living area had two large cut outs—one above the sink and counters and one in the hallway. He must have jumped through the space in the hallway. So we barricaded it with boxes. Came home from work and he was out! He must have jumped into the sink and then over. But the worst part was that he was becoming violent towards us as we left for work. He had bitten holes through clothes and we had taken to using a box to deflect him as we backed out the door. When we got home he loved us when we left he wanted to kill us.

We hired a personal trainer who told us we needed to crate him until he learned not to go potty in THIS house (even though he was totally trained already). He ate through the plastic crate and was out when we got home. We bought a metal one. He bent the wires and worked the door and got out. By this time, even though he obediently went into the crate, we knew he hated it. He was successfully moving the crate halfway across the room every day and getting out about half the time. The trainer said to cover the crate with a blanket to make it “cave like.” It would seem like more of a home to him then. We put a blanket under the crate so it wouldn’t scratch the floor and put a blanket over the crate per the trainer’s instructions. We came home to Bert and both blankets, shredded, inside the crate. Having seen the crate, the trainer suggested chicken wire to cover the gaping holes Bert created. I got home first that night. I walked in and he was in the crate as was the chicken wire. The scene was horrific. The crate was halfway across the kitchen floor. There was a streak of blood showing the path the crate had taken. There were blood splatters on the wall and his face and paws were covered in blood. I frantically called Rick home. He took Bert into the bath to clean him and determine where the blood came from, but I figured it out first. As I was cleaning the kitchen, I found his canine tooth. We called the vet and got in right away. She gave him pain medication and gave us the contact info for the doggie dentist (I didn’t know that was a thing, either) and the doggie psychiatrist (again—new to me). We took him into the dentist right away. He worked on the big cats at the zoo, so we felt we were in good hands. He needed two teeth pulled, one root canal and a titanium crown.  With our pockets $6,000 lighter, we took him home resolved to throw out the crate and the trainer (another $500 down the tubes). We had to wait a week before we could get into the psychiatrist, so in the meantime, we gave him run of the house and Bert-proofed as much as possible. We put thing up high, kept bedroom doors closed and used painter’s tarps for the hallway where he did his business. Every night I came home and washed the painter’s tarps.

A couple days prior to the doggie psychiatrist visit I came home and he greeted me at the door. I went upstairs to do my usual laundry of painter’s tarps. When I came downstairs, Bert was gleefully ripping up the couch cushions with fluff flying everywhere. I called Rick and told him to pick the dog up and take him back to the shelter. I was done. Rick had been wanting to on and off for weeks. Fortunately for Bert, when one of us said “get rid of him,” the other said, “we can work it out—they will put him down because he had attacked us.” This time, Rick said, “Its two days until the psych appointment. Let’s wait and see what she says. Besides, we just spent $6,000 on him. I want to get my money’s worth!”

What the vet said was “separation anxiety” and put him on 30 mg of Prozac. She was not surprised by anything we described and told us we can’t train him until he can concentrate on what we are teaching. Now, instead of attacking us, he followed us around the house panting. Huge improvement, but he was still so anxious; I felt so bad for him. We’ve had ups and downs with him since, but the medication remains. So from his perspective, it’s terrific we are retiring. The only question is how will he do on a boat? How will he adjust to peeing on the bow of the boat? It will be rare we won’t be there with him, but when we have to leave him will he tear up the place? Jump into the water to follow us as we head out in the dinghy to get groceries? He’s much older and slower now, so will that factor in? This last year about half the time he would be sleeping by the time we left for work. (We tend to time our “escapes” based on what he is doing when we are ready to leave.) Time will tell how things go (and so will I). We really do love that damned dog!