"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Tips for taking your dog camping

by Donna Thacker guest author

For a lot of us dog lovers, taking poochie camping with us is as natural as taking our children. Doggy is a part of the family and we would never think of leaving him or her behind, or boarding them in a dog on a motorcycle with sunglasses - Saratoga Spr NY 2008kennel while we go off to enjoy ourselves. Our loving family pet deserves to go on a little vacation, and enjoy "family time" as well as we do.

Camping with your pet can be an enjoyable time so long as you are prepared for anything that comes along. First and most important, your family pet should be up to date on their shots and vet check ups. Don't take them camping if they aren't feeling well either. Sometimes dogs feel a little "under the weather" just like we do, and just want to lounge around at home.

If your dog is good and healthy and raring to go, that's great. [continued]

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Reprinted by permission from Donna Thacker. Read Donna's profile at Helum.com

Sometimes pedestrians DON'T have the right of way!

At least five people nearly died earlier this evening, because one driver decided to yield to pedestrians in a very dangerous way. You won't ever read about it in a newpaper because nothing horrible happened. My kids, however, can attest to my bad language under heavy stress.

traffic accident, stock photo courtesy of www.pbase.com 2008Do you drive through controlled intersections at full speed? Luckily, I usually don't. Tonight's incident occurred on a busy four-lane highway under a standing green light. I doubt I was going faster than about 45 mph (in a 55 zone) at the time. In addition to the four through-lanes, this highway has two dedicated left turn lanes, one from each direction. That way, you can be out of the way while you wait for the all-clear.

The offending driver, coming at me (northbound) from the opposing left-turn lane, was trying to beat me through the intersection. I was going straight, headed southbound in the right-hand lane, with my two boys in the other seats. He stopped directly in my path, perpendicular to my 6,000-pound truck. Why? Because the driver realized, well after committing to this ill-advised turning attempt, that the crosswalk contained two pedestrians: appeared to be a dad and daughter walking their bikes. Pedestrians "always" have the right-of-way, goes the common wisdom. So he stopped to wait for the walkers. Stopped right there in front of my moving vehicle. Brilliant.

Keep reading...

Why are you still reading this?

image from Write to Done blog What makes others read our blog ramblings? How can we attract and keep readers? A good friend sent me the link to a recent guest posting on Write to Done ("...articles on writing, twice weekly"). The author is Shilpan Patel of Success Soul, "whose meteoric rise in the blogging world has attracted much attention" [blog author].

Don't miss 7 Certain Ways to Crucify Your Content by Shilpan Patel. His words are short and direct, and his advice rings true.

Lake George weekend without the camper

south beach Lake George We thought of towing our camper to Lake George for our final summer weekend trip; but at ten MPG and four dollars a gallon it just didn't make sense. We chose instead to spend our money on an in-village room at a hotel with a pool.

The weather was perfect and Lake George was booming. We ended up settling for a suite and begged the manager to waive the two-night minimum. He did. We got an unexpected bonus, in addition to having a living room and kitchen: the hotel had an outdoor ping-pong table! The boys loved it, and spent a couple hours in fierce competition.

We walked the whole resort from north to south, saw a vintage boat show, ate a meal overlooking the lake, and visited the 100-mile view peak just west of the village. The kids enjoyed a surprisingly scary spook house tour, and we all played mini golf at the "site of the oldest miniature golf course in the USA." My oldest son won the round.

lake George village from summit I'll post a free plug for the resort hotel: we stayed at O'Sullivan's on the lake. It was an older venue with dated decor, but otherwise very nice. I'd stay there again without hesitation. The days of hauling our 19-foot Shasta on 500-mile trips may well be over. Then again, our camper offers neither pool nor ping-pong table. Any way we can get to Lake George for a vacation is fine with me.

What's in your Writer's Toolbox?

a writer's toolbox perhaps? by Amanda Sugden guest author

You want to be a real writer. Or maybe you just want better grades. But you don’t know where to start. It’s ok. I didn’t either. But I can tell you now one great way to start: build your toolbox.

Great writing doesn’t come naturally. It’s an art, a skill to be learned and refined. Every great writer has his own tools. Even if you just want to make it through college papers, you’ll need your own tools. You can pick up any of these cheaply at your nearest used bookstore, or at websites like half.com. Here are my suggestions:


Reprinted by permission from Amanda Sugden, author of My Writing Help

New kitchen floor: Our To-Do list got shorter!

creepy old linoleum floor
This was a very busy weekend, with work scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. Of course, that means that it turned into a Perfect Camping Weekend -- a distinctly rare and priceless commodity that is NEVER spent camping.

Since we had the boys for Sunday evening, my wife and I decided to just keep on working. (No, we're really not like that; that's just how it worked out.) My sweetie had found a great bargain on laminate flooring in the color and woodgrain we wanted, at Wal-Mart, of all places. Short version: we spent HALF what we'd figured, and that made the decision easy.

Few ordinary things in life feel quite as good as checking a major "to-do" off the big list. And so, despite the fact that I was still cutting new pieces of flooring out in the driveway at 11 pm last night, we were very happy and quite proud of ourselves. The picture shown above is "before," taken yesterday late afternoon. The picture below is "after," taken about three hours ago. Quite an improvement, wouldn't you say?
brand new laminate floor in cherry finish
PS: The title link goes right over to the original posting for this project, on my "business" blog, which will soon be edited to a new template like this one. I'll have Helium how-to articles, and job project updates posted there later this week.

Updating Perfect Camping Nights of 2008

I've talked a couple times about "perfect camping nights." (Just click the headline, above, to see the original post.) Tonight is another: still air, no rain, no wind, and at least sixty degrees. All of these facets used to matter very much when we were tent camping. I still keep track despite the fact that owning a camper (with a furnace!) makes perfection less important.

sun sets on a perfect camping nightWe joke in New York, as people do nearly everywhere, "if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes." This summer has been no exception to that quip. We've had remarkable hot weather in early April, and record-setting cooler days in August -- and everything in between.

Here's where we stand on PCN's, according to my white-board records:
  • April: 6 (!)
  • May: 15 (amazing)
  • June: 11 (not too shabby)
  • July: 12 (what??)
  • August, halfway: 11 (not bad)
We've had three trips so far. It's possible that one or two of those "perfect" nights occurred DURING those trips. Possible, but not very likely! Good thing our camper has an awning!

Not camping,but what a campfire we had tonight!

awesome summer campfire and friends

Tonight's campfire was a big one! We attended a Sweet 16 birthday party at a friend's house, and the weather was perfect! Barely a whisper of a breeze, and still seventy degrees after dark. A beautiful night.

Where in the world is our Camper??

our camper at Jellystone Java NY We got up early Saturday morning to hustle our aging camper down to the auto repair shop for its annual inspection. We were on a birthday party deadline, so time was of the essence. I knew the shop would be extra busy on a weekend morning, but that's the time we had.

I was a little worried, because we've had problems off and on (literally) with the left brake light. Lights are important with campers, since people love to tailgate you while you're towing, sometimes so close that you can't see them back there until they swing out to pass.

We got lucky. My mechanic, Steve, was eating a donut when we arrived. This was a good sign -- how busy can you be if you're munching a snack? No problem, Steve says. A few minutes later one of the other techs strolls out to "have a look." The past couple years this has been a formality. They check the lights, make sure your hitch is set-up right, and we prove out the electric brakes for the inspector. Grab my sticker and go. Not this time.

We need four new tires. Man, it would've been better if the brake-light failed! Who wants to shell out for a quartet of trailer tires? There goes the price of a whole vacation in one shot. The camper's still down there at the shop, by the way. They couldn't get the tires in time that day, so we left the camper there to await its new road rubber. I haven't had time to go back and pick it up since then. Nothing's ever as easy as you hope it'll be, is it?

Camping: Tents or RV's, which is better?

last camping trip of summer 2007 There are two distinct worlds of camping: tents and RV's. Each is as different from the other as Democrat and Republican. Emotions run strong in both camps, and proponents of one often disdain supporters of the other. "That's not camping!" the tenters say to the lazy, pampered residents of recreational vehicles. "But when it rains it pours," responds the RV lovers.

I've done both, and I'll take a roof over my head every time.

Purists will tell you it isn't camping if you aren't roughing it. Their ideal comes straight from a Coors Lite commercial: pure mountain stream, isolation, Jeep Wrangler in a clearing with a breeze wafting through the towering pines, and fresh-caught trout frying on a white-gas grill. Just you, your sweetheart, a playful Golden Retriever, and a couple thousand dollars worth of fancy gear from Adirondack Outfitters immersed in the pristine beauty of Nature, capital N.

copyright 2008 - all rights reserved

Adventure: A trail ride in Yosemite Valley

by Diane Quinn guest author

Is it fair to say that a "best experience" can be different for different people? Some automatically think that best means "most pleasant." When I thought about this title, I interpreted it to mean "most memorable." Keeping that in mind, this story remains a classic for my husband and me. We still talk about it with people, and the telling continues to elicit laughter.

horseback riding expedition - stock photo We arrived at the corral for our sunrise trail ride as the first rays of sun began to lighten the mountains in the Yosemite Valley. Part of our paperwork included signing documents freeing the trail ride company from any litigation should there be an accident. Since no one can completely control a horse, this seemed a reasonable request.

Read the rest of Diane's story at Helium.com...

reprinted by permission: Diane Quinn - Helium author. Read Diane's profile at Helium.com