Miss Bea (2006 - 2012)
Lucy (2013 - )
We travel the backroads in our 2006 Suncruiser 33V—first with our little poodle, Miss Bea, and now our new (to us) Shih Tzu, Lucy, acting as our companion and guardian. Staying off the Interstate highways and cruising the lesser traveled roads of our country, we pass through some wonderful scenery and many little towns that are full of history, interesting achitecture, and sometimes funky little businesses (and we occasionally find a great little Mom & Pop restaurant).
We are, in the RV world, known as Extended Timers—we travel for extended periods of time in our RV, usually somewhere between two and three months at a time, but we have roots and a permanent home to which we return.
When we are home, in northern California, we catch up on all the usual chores, and suffer from our nagging consciences telling us that we should rake the leaves, cut the grass, clean up the garage, etc. When we seem to get our fill of guilt, we get a bad case of what we call "Itchy Wheels", and we are anxious to again get on the road and explore new territory or revisit some of our favorite places from past travels.
In the beginning we were a widower and a widow, each with our own motorhome. Until we met, we didn't know that we lived less than 20 miles apart!
People are always asking how we happened to meet each other. Surprisingly, we are one of the success stories on finding a partner via the Internet. Mike had listed his profile on American Singles, but Linda only reluctantly signed onto the site as a dare from a friend. After much email correspondence, we finally decided to meet face-to-face for lunch—and the rest is very pleasant history.
Linda had a lovely 1995 Airex 32-foot Class A on a Ford V-8 chassis.
Mike had a 1998 Itasca Suncruiser 32-foot Class A on the newer '99 Ford V-10 chassis.
Both motorhomes were laid out almost exactly the same, except that the wardrobes and bathrooms were reversed—no problem unless you got confused in a middle-of-the-night trip to the potty! We were snug and comfortable in our motorhomes, usually taking Linda's motorhome on the shorter trips and especially into the mountains for fishing. We usually took Mike's motorhome on the longer trips, since it had bigger tires, a bigger engine, and more carrying capacity. Several of our motorhome friends used to enjoy teasing us about being "the couple that had his and her motorhomes."
We outfitted both Linda's Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mike's Dodge Dakota pickup to be towed by either motorhome. We towed the Jeep when we knew that we would be visiting family and needing to take others for a ride. Most of the time, though, we simply took Mike's pickup, since it had a covered, weatherproof, and lockable bed cover, and the truck could carry more rocks and "stuff" that we found along the way. Linda, by the way, is an avid rock hound—but Mike has a lot of learning yet to do.
We used the same tow bar and, of course, an auxiliary braking system for the "toad" (towed vehicle). Like many RVers, we chose to use the very reliable Brake Buddy system, which allowed us to easily put it in either vehicle.
Linda and Mike have developed a teamwork system when hooking up or disconnecting the toad—Linda does the inside work disconnecting and removing the Brake Buddy, and Mike does the outside work, disconnecting the safety cables, the breakaway cable, the cable for the lights, and disconnecting the tow bar from the motorhome. Together the task takes us less than five minutes.
Linda's favorite fishing place is Sardine Lake, situated in the Sierra not far from Sierraville just off Highway 49. The small lake is surrounded by high peaks that make for a wonderful view as we troll up and down the lake waiting for the Rainbow trout to strike our lures. We usually have a yearly gathering with several families; it is a great time of fishing, fellowship, and fun.
After almost six years of traveling around the western United States, and even a little bit of northern Mexico near the shores of the Sea of Cortez, we decided that we needed a newer motorhome for just the two of us. The idea was to get rid of "hers" and "his" and buy "ours."
The long saga of how, when, and why we finally bought our 2006 Itasca Suncruiser 33V is well covered in the section about "Our Toys," so I won't repeat the details here. Suffice it to say, that we are very satisfied with our Winnebago manufactured motorhome. Of course we have added lots of tweaks and changes, but we find the rig to be "just right" for the two of us. It is a comforting feeling to realize that we are not attracted to the rigs that have come on the market since we first bought our Suncruiser.
We are always being asked how we "found" such a cute little Apricot Poodle, our Miss Bea. Miss Bea came from Utah, where her 87-year old owner passed away, and left Miss Bea with no place to go. Fortune was on our side, since friends of friends in our car club brought Miss Bea to California, and our friends knew that we "just might" be interested in getting another dog.
Neither of us was really interested in getting another dog, but we agreed to meet Miss Bea. Of course, as soon as Miss Bea was in Linda's arms (and put her head on Linda's shoulder and snuggled in), we both knew that we had just fallen in love with another dog—and it had taken Miss Bea less than 30-seconds to win us over.
Now that Miss Bea has been with us for just over six years, we feel most fortunate to have such a wonderful little dog—well behaved, obedience trained (well at least when she feels like it), and she doesn't beg for food.
When we toured British Columbia in 2006, we discovered that Miss Bea has a sweet tooth. We had stopped in Pouce Coupe to enjoy a local small-town parade celebrating Canada Day (July 1st). We stopped for soft-serve ice cream cones after the parade. When Linda handed a cone through the window to Mike, without any hesitation, Miss Bea dove right in and started licking and eating the cone!
We have since discovered that, apparently, Miss Bea had regularly enjoyed soft-serve ice cream when she was in Utah. Recently, we stopped for soft-serve ice cream cones, and we indulged Miss Bea with what, we thought, was a few licks. We were both surprised when Miss Bea dove right in, this time biting the ice cream until it was down to the cone, and when she couldn't get her tongue any further down into the cone, she ate the cone. Needless, to say, we had to drive back through the drive-thru to buy another cone for Linda.
Miss Bea has now become a seasoned RV traveler, and enjoys seeing new places and enjoying new smells. We both feel very fortunate to have Miss Bea as our traveling companion, and we can't imagine life without her.
RIP, Miss Bea (October 2012). Much to our dismay and heartbreak, Miss Bea passed away in October of 2012 while we were away in Branson, MO. It has taken us a long time to get over not having our constant companion at our feet.
We both vowed at the time to remain dogless for awhile and to maybe even sneak away for a cruise or two (like the Panama Canal) that we had wanted to do for a long time.
However, our vow of a dogless existence lasted less than a year, when Lucy unexpectedly entered our lives.
Lucy is a tri-colored Shih Tzu who is about five years old. The story of how Lucy became part of our family is rather unusual (but not for a dog lover such as Linda).
In the evenings, Linda and Mike sit outside in the backyard—sitting back on loungers and enjoying an evening libation. During the past month, Linda was watching a BlueJay family nesting in the vines on the back of the house. Linda was aware that the mother bird would fly away for about 20 minutes and finally come back with a mouthful of bugs to feed her hungry brew of three little ones. This cycle was repeated throughout the evening, and Linda was beginning to feel sorry for the mother bird.
Soft hearted Linda decided to go to the local pet store and buy some meal worms to help the mother bird feed her growing brood. When Linda entered the store, the owner was holding a scroungy looking bundle of fur and trying to talk on the telephone. While trying to serve another customer, the owner, spoke to Linda and asked her to hold the small dog for a moment.
According to the owner, the dog had apparently been abandoned near the store, and had been running around the parking lot for a day. It had become obvious that the dog was abandoned, had no collar, and was rather scruffy with an unkempt and overgrown coat of fur.
Shortly after Linda was handed the dog (who immediately snugled into Linda's arms), the store owner noticed that Linda had tears running down both cheeks. She immediately asked Linda if something was wrong, and Linda tearily replied "I think I just adopted another needy dog."
Being good samaritans, Linda and Mike drove through the nearby mobil home park to see if anyone was missing a small dog. No one was missing a dog and there were no Lost signs in the area. There were no responses to Linda's Lost Dog ad in the local paper. Linda even went to her local vet to see if the dog had an implanted ID chip, but there was no ID chip implanted in the dog. The vet said, "Hmm, dog abandoned near a pet store, no collar, no chip. I think you have just acquired another dog."
Then, of couse, being the dog lovers that we are, we had to start all over again with doggy immunizations, a check up, etc. We also were informed that the dog had not been spayed—a task we have yet to have done. It is obvious that the dog has had at least one litter of pups.
Linda did a lot of Internet research on the Shih Tzu breed of dog. We have learned that the breed is Chinese and associated with royalty. The dogs are used to being pampered and are not good at accepting discipline.
When we first got the new dog, we attempted to try out a host of different likely names, in hopes that we might just accidentally stumble upon her former name. We had no such luck, so Linda decided to give the dog the Chinese name of Lucy Liu, but we just call her Lucy.
Lucy quickly adapted to having a new home and two people to shower her with much needed attention and affection. However, her adaptaton to a motorhome travel dog is yet to be fully tested. AS we write this, Lucy is on her first motorhome trip, and she seems rather cowed and afraid to enter the cramped confines of the bedroom area. Hopefully this will change as she gets used to traveling with us in our motorhome.
Both at home and while we are camping, Lucy seems to enjoy sitting outside and watching the happenings within her perview. It was amusing to see her first interaction with an inquisitive squirrel.
The left picture below shows the bedraggled and shaggy mutt that we first brought home; the picture on the right shows the same little dog after being groomed and cleaned up—what a difference. And Lucy felt the difference, too. She pranced around like a new puppy, enjoying her lighter and cooler coat.