Makena Meets Her Texas Cousins

Hello everyone!  It’s me, Makena, and I’m back after resting up for a few months!  For those new to the blog, I’m a soon-to-be 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier that likes to post the views of the traveling dog.


makena blogging 2-09-2014

Keeping my peeps informed!


Before we left Florida, I did get a few days to visit my buddy (in his mind), Mr. Finn.  My parents went with their friends Tom and Ellen to watch a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Winter Park. Ellen, Mr. Finn’s mom, made him wear some crazy clothes and took him along to the parade.  I heard that he was quite popular, and many people stopped to take his picture.  Hmmm….I guess I wouldn’t mind all that attention from humans.  But my head is too small for that big green hat he was wearing!



Mr. Finnigan

Mr. Finn went to watch his big sister Annabelle dance after the parade.  She does Irish dancing, and her school, Watters School of Irish Dancing, put on a free performance after the parade.  My parents said they really enjoyed the performance, but my mom has no coordination to dance like Annabelle.  Annabelle is the shorter girl in front, and her proud grandma, Ellen, is the lady wearing the shamrock headpiece in the front row!


After that, we packed up our house, and I spent the next several days in travel mode, riding in my crate in the back seat of the truck.  There’s nothing better than finding new places to pee!  I like leaving my mark all over the country. I was getting a bit confused with my schedule during this traveling time.  My mom is normally up at 6am, and takes me out to go to the bathroom.  As with humans, you get used to doing your business at a certain time, if you know what I mean.  And I always have my canned food dinner at 5:00 pm!  But while we were traveling, my mom kept telling me we are now on Central Time, and I had to wait.  I didn’t understand, and just as I adjusted to the new time schedule my mom started feeding me early again.  Apparently we switched to Daylight Savings Time?  I just don’t get these humans and their time changes.  When my belly alarm goes off, I need food.  Not a difficult concept for us dogs.

We arrived in Texas and I was excited to see my Aunt LuAnn, Uncle John and cousin Alicia.  But then I discovered those “other cousins,” the four-legged kind.  They gave me a big “Texas welcome,” which I was less than enthused about.



Seriously? Both ends?

Toffee decided to sniff my head, and Karamel got the other end.  Then they switched positions.  I think my mom needs to stop using the lavender-scented shampoo.  After that greeting, I discovered two more cousins waiting to greet me, Athena and Artemous.

After that traumatic episode, my parents took me outside, without a leash (yay!) since they have a fenced in backyard.  It was then that I discovered even more cousins (must be a Texas thing), but they were chickens!  Hmmm, I like chickens, but they wouldn’t let me in the pen meet them.  I just had to watch from a distance.


Needless to say, I was quite exhausted by all this activity, and decided it would be best to hide under my aunt and uncle’s bed.  I felt this would make a good “safe zone” away from those big poodles.  Unfortunately, the cat’s also use this area for their safe zone as well.  They were not amused that I was in their space, and promptly cornered me.  My parents were unaware of this cat bullying, until they kept calling my name, and wondered why I was not responding.  Then they found me and rescued me. Whew!

B3384415-1C33-41B6-B2F3-5192C0F988EB I slept well that first night back in the RV!

The next day we went back to visit, and I was not prepared to discover that I had even MORE cousins!  Yes, they adopted another standard poodle, Café Noir, who is eight weeks old.  My parents found her adorable, me, not so much.



Cousins Café Noir and Alicia

Apparently the big dogs have taught the little dogs how to butt sniff.  I’m doing my best to keep it away from all of them.

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My parents did bring my crate along, so I would not infringe upon the cat’s safe place.  Unfortunately, my new cousin hasn’t learned her boundaries yet, and tried to sneak in with me.  Now I know how the cats felt when I invaded their safe zone.

DSC04756 (2)And if that new dog wasn’t enough, they also had a guinea pig too.  It stays at school in LuAnn’s classroom, but she brought it home for spring break, so it would ‘stay alive.’  Again, I was not allowed in this cage.  I think I would have liked this cousin.  It would be too small to reach my butt to sniff!


Since my parents have been out playing tourist, I have spent several days inside my crate at my cousins.  I don’t get to sleep as much as I would like because I need to keep an eye out for my cousins.

I think I tweaked my back in Florida, and was not feeling well.  Even though I don’t like being locked up in my crate all day, I have started to feel better.  Hopefully I can continue to get stronger, as I really miss playing with my football.  Oh, the good old days…sigh.

Makena and footballWell thanks for following along with me on my adventures.  I’m sure my mom will be back soon posting, as they have kept themselves busy in Dallas.  Take care!

Quote for the day:  “I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.” – Rita Rudner

Family Time In Texas

We are all settled in Texas for about a week to visit with my sister, her husband John, and their daughter Alicia.  We spent four days driving from Florida to Texas, which seemed like an eternity for us.  Normally, we travel 300-400 miles a day, as we are more of a destination traveler (get from Point A to Point B).  Since we had four days to cover 1000 miles, we just broke it up.  No early morning departures, and we would arrive at the campground in the early afternoon  It was a bit odd for us.

One of our nightly stops was in Gulfport, Mississippi.  We drove all the way down the coast to Biloxi, to see how well the cities have recovered from the hurricane.  The casinos are back, as well as Waffle Houses….seriously.  We still have never eaten at one, but they have about a dozen of them lining the coast between Biloxi and Gulfport (which are 15 minutes apart).  There are lots of empty ocean front lots for sale.  And the houses that are currently under construction are built on stilts.


We arrived in Texas last Thursday, and went “back to school” on Friday to see my sister’s fifth grade robotics class.  The kids are very engaged during this time period, and two of the teams have qualified for a national competition.  I asked the kids if their robots had any flame throwers or razor blades, but they disappointedly said no, they were not allowed!

Here’s some photos of the robots.  In competition, they pick up the red, green and blue discs, and place them on posts.  They are scored by the number they place on the posts (double the points for each of the same color discs placed on the posts), as well as the number of discs moved behind the post line.  There are two robots in the “ring” at a time, but they do not compete against each other, they have to work together.  Dan really liked the idea they had to collaborate to get their best team score.

MAH04698 (3)Here are some of the other robots custom designed and made by the students.


DSC04690My sister LuAnn is watching over one of the teams as they build their robot.


I was amused by the signs posted in the bathrooms.  Perhaps these should be posted in “adult” bathrooms as well.  We can all learn from these students!


My brother-in-law John suffered a stroke last summer, so we are so grateful to have this time to visit with him.  He told us he is doing better, but still has problems with vision in one eye, and has times when he forgets what he is doing.  His doctors had given him some glasses that were supposed to help strengthen his eyes, but he did not think it was working out, but wants to try a new prescription.  He has no speech impairment, but has lost a lot of weight (not sure if it’s due to my sisters cooking!), and is trying to gain some weight back.  So I made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, and he did a lot of sampling!

My sister and Alicia have off this week for Spring Break, so we have a few “touristy” things planned in Dallas.  On Saturday we checked out a local craft brewery in Garland where they live, Lakewood Brewery.  The beers were very good, and the owner of the brewery actually gave the tour, which lasted about an hour, even though there are only two rooms.  He is very proud of the work they do at the brewery.


Wim Bens, President

The brewery has a wide variety of beers to sample in their taproom.  One of them, “All Call” a Kolsch style beer, is in honor of law enforcement and fire fighters.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of that beer is donated to the Guns and Hoses Foundation of North Texas, which helps with financial support to the families of fallen first responders.  They have patches from many departments across the country that have visited their brewery.


LuAnn and John enjoyed several of their beers.  Cheers!



While we are off playing tourist this week, I think Makena will have a few things to say, so stay tuned!

Quote for the day:  “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey


Change in plans

One of the benefits of the full-time RV lifestyle is the flexibility that it offers.  Originally, we had planned on staying in Florida until the end of March, but we have departed and are currently heading west to Texas to visit with my sister LuAnn and her family.  We are looking forward to spending some time with them, and seeing a new part of the country prior to returning to Wisconsin about a month sooner than expected.

At the end of January and the beginning of February Dan flew back to Wisconsin for a couple of weeks. Originally, he was going to stay in Milwaukee and help his friend Mike with more remodeling work on his new bar and grill.  However, Dan’s plans changed a little as his father was recently diagnosed with stage 3 bladder cancer. Along with being able to help his friend with more of the remodeling work, Dan was able to drive his parents to Green Bay so they could all attend several doctor appointments and his Dad’s first chemotherapy treatment. His Dad will be doing six rounds of chemo followed by surgery at a later date to remove the bladder and prostate.  To date Dan’s Dad has finished 3 out of his 6 chemo treatments with round four coming tomorrow and the good news – none of the usual chemo side effects have shown up. He is still lifting weights three days a week and walking two miles a day. He plans on swinging a golf club as soon as the weather in Wisconsin cooperates and he will turn a young 81 in a couple of weeks. We are all praying for a complete and speedy recovery!

We did manage a bit of fun while we were here in Florida.  Dan’s brother Gary and his wife Julia flew down, and we spent several days with them in Cocoa Beach where they were staying.  At the same time, one of Dan’s good friends from high school, Kevin, was down at Disney with his wife Kathy for a conference.  We have not seen them for several years, and they live in New Jersey (Kathy is a huuuuge Eagles fan, so we cheered for them in the Super Bowl!).  All of us had an enjoyable afternoon together at Disney Springs, on one of the rare cooler days in Florida.


Dan, Buzz (ole?) and Kevin


Me, Dan, Gary, Julia, Kevin & Kathy

I was quite fascinated by the Lego display at Disney Springs.  Getting paid to build Lego sculptures would be a fun job!




While Dan was away in Wisconsin, I went down to Titusville with another couple from the campground, and we waited about five hours, to witness an amazing launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket.  It kept getting delayed due to high atmospheric winds, and the launch window was coming to a close when it finally went off!  It was totally worth the sunburn!!  We found a spot due west of the Space Center, about 8 miles as the crow flies, to witness history!  This was our view from across the water.


Falcon Heavy liftoff

About 10 minutes later, we were able to watch two of the rocket boosters return accompanied by their loud sonic booms.  They looked like 2 shiny UFO’s!


2 rockets returning

I’d like to see SpaceX do a night launch with this rocket.  It would be spectacular!

Makena Update

With all this traveling we will be doing,  Makena will be spending a lot of time in her crate in the back seat of the truck. This will be a good thing. The mosquitos have been very active in Florida, and I think she has a few bites, which has caused her to scratch a lot.  With all the scratching, she has been walking a little more gingerly. I think she may have tweaked her back.  Hopefully this won’t be too much of a setback on her healing.   I did make an appointment for her in Wisconsin to see the veterinarian, so we’ll know more at that time.

I know it’s been a long time since I have blogged, but we have not really been up to too much.  Over these next few weeks, we will be seeing some new areas, so I will have more to write about soon.

Quote for the day:  “There is nothing permanent, except change.”  – Heraclitus

From The Frozen Tundra To The Sunshine State

We have arrived in hot and humid Florida!  Although the weatherman was talking about a “cold front” arriving for Christmas, with an expected high temperature of “only” 68 degrees.  The weatherman recommended wearing a jacket if you would be going out on Christmas!  We both had a good laugh at that!

We are currently staying in Clermont, until Thursday, and then will head over to the “east coast” of Florida, and stay until the end of March.  We are pondering doing some different things for 2018, although we will be back at Luton’s Teton Cabins for the summer, by Grand Teton National Park.

Work/bar updates

The weather in Wisconsin was chilly, but tolerable, while we were helping out with remodeling work at our friends bar.  We did leave a bit early, to get out before an expected snowstorm, which made its way across the country.  It was strange driving through Birmingham, Alabama, and seeing four inches of snow on the ground.  Dan continued doing electric, plumbing and whatever else was needed, and I continued staining and painting, as they continued putting up more walls.  My big project was refinishing 13 tables that will be used in the basement/party room of the bar.  I just turned it into an assembly line for staining.


Here’s a “before and after” photo of the progress.  The bar is done, the lighting is up, floor finished and the wall is closed off for the kitchen.

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There is still a lot more work that needs to be done, and Dan will be flying back to Wisconsin at the end of January, for a couple of weeks to help out again.

Wisconsin time updates

Thanksgiving was spent at Dan’s sisters, and we had a few dinners with friends as well.  It made us (almost) wish we were back at Amazon, so we could walk off all those calories!


I met up with a few of my former co-workers for coffee, and it was wonderful catching up with everyone!


Katie, Jodi, Candi, me, Gail and Kari

Dan’s parents had a few “to do” items for Dan when we visited with them, including installing a new kitchen faucet.  There was a lot of discussion going on during this, so I just tried to stay away.  He had plenty of helpers, and “helpful advice!”

DA38D863-9ED3-4B85-90E5-184EE9E310DEA Packer game was also on our agenda, and we did make it to Brett Hundley’s first start as the Packers quarterback.  The annual Jack Link’s tailgate party was also that day.  The Packers lost, but the tailgate was a lot of fun.  This year they had on display a truck they restored with the Lorissa’s Kitchen brand on it.  Lorissa is Jacks daughter-in-law, and she has her own line of grass-fed jerky products that are excellent.

Makena update

Makena continues to improve, and is happy that we are not working, so she doesn’t have to spend all day in her crate.  We are still putting her in the crate when we leave.  She is free to move about the fifth wheel, including going up the two steps inside to the bedroom while we are home.  We continue to carry her to go outside, and have taken her on very limited walks.  Her toys are still put away, which frustrates her, and she spends a lot of time staring at the drawer on the couch where they are stored.

A3072AC5-593A-4844-B025-BFAFE428724FFlorida updates

We stopped in Tallahassee on our way down to Florida to visit with Melissa, who worked with us last summer.  Her mom lives close by the RV park we stayed at, and they gave us a bunch of lemons and oranges from the trees in their backyard.  Fresh Florida fruit!

D793609C-82A5-4DD8-9328-FB5D4ECD969EThe park we are currently staying at offers many activities, and we have been learning how to play Pickleball.  Dan quickly picked up the game, which is a cross between tennis and ping-pong. It is played with a tennis ball sized whiffle ball, an oversized table tennis racquet, and it is a lot more challenging than I thought.  26B71BEC-9DEE-41AE-BFEA-4ACCE3F47B91I need to work on my hand/eye co-ordination!

Tom and Ellen, friends and co-workers from Amazon and Madison Crossing in West Yellowstone, are here for the winter.  We have had several get togethers with them, and ventured out to Lakeridge Winery, just down the street from us.  Tom and Ellen have seasonal jobs there by helping out when they have monthly festivals at the winery.  It’s a nice job with good perks.  We did a short tour, and tasting at the winery.  Our tour guide, Deb, did an excellent job.  Cheers!


We hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Quote for the day:  “I once wanted to be an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays.” – Henny Youngman



The A-Dog goes on the ‘DL’

Hello everyone, it’s me again!  For those new to the blog, I’m Makena, who occasionally takes over this blog.  Today I have a lot to write about, and it’s not good news for me…

makena blogging 2-09-2014

Keeping my peeps informed!

But before I get to the bad news, I will do a brief summer recap.  I again enjoyed my time out in Wyoming, with 100 acres to roam around, off leash!  What dog wouldn’t love this?



My parents were excited about the Eclipse, and I was prepared with my glasses.  But I ended up staying in the 5th wheel….no dogs allowed by the cabins…sigh.

IMG_1035 (1)I spent the summer doing a lot of playing with my football….maybe too much playing, which I will get to later.  The weather was good all summer, until the end.  My parents promised me when we ventured out on this crazy journey that we would always have warm weather.  But once again, we ended up with quite a bit of snow.  But I didn’t let it stop me.  I made my mom put on her boots and winter coat (had to dust it off!) and get out and play with me.  October in Wyoming!


Hurry Up! I’m ready!

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And away I go in the snow!


We made a quick stop in Minnesota on the way home, so I could see how my cousin Simon was doing.  He is now 6 months old, and has grown a lot since I last saw him.  Compare the photos from May (bottom) and October:


He still can’t throw a football, and he’s not eating solid food, so I’m still not that interested in him yet.  I did try to teach him how to rub my belly.  But apparently, Grandpa Gary has been teaching Simon the “pull my finger,” trick,  as he was only interested in “pulling my paw!”



When we got back to Wisconsin, my parents dropped me off at my grandparents house, so I would be well taken care of while they helped out remodel their friends business.  However, after two weeks, they picked me up and took me in to see the doctor.  And that’s where we get to the bad news.  For the last few weeks, I have been unable to jump up on the couch or the bed at night.  I still wanted to play and play, and my parents didn’t think too much of this at first.  But I wasn’t getting any better, and was having trouble going up steps.  So they decided to have me checked out.

My doctor in Wisconsin retired, so they tried out a new clinic, Kuenzi Family Pet Hospital, and were happy with the visit.  I was not.  They were concerned I may have torn a ligament in my knee, but they could never figure out which leg I was favoring.  Dr. Alex did a thorough examination, and put me through a lot of range of motion tests, and said my legs and neck were fine, (that’s the good news) but he was concerned about my back, and took me in another room for x-rays.

The bad news:  I ruptured a disc in my spine, and the two vertebrae are now just “bone on bone.”  Dr. Alex said in humans, this would be an extremely painful injury.  But I’m one tough dog, and haven’t displayed much pain.  Here are two of my x-rays:


Yes, I’m a lean, mean, machine!


Now for those reading this that are not Radiologic Technologists (Happy Rad Tech week, by the way!), here is the above  image blown up, and I have added some markings.  The arrow on the top left points to the microchip that was inserted in me when I was a puppy.  The other 3 arrows point to the disc spaces in between my vertebrae.  This is how they should look.  The circle shows the two vertebrae that are rubbing together.  The disc is gone.  And there is narrowing at the disc space below that level.


So this is where “the ugly” comes into play.  Since the vertebrae appear to be starting to fuse together, Dr. Alex said wants to hold off on considering surgery.  However, for the next 6 weeks, I have to be completely non-weight bearing!  In other words, I have to stay in my crate….ugh!  No playing, no jumping, no walking.  My parents carry me out to go potty, and then carry me back in.

I’m not happy, and I don’t understand why I’ve been put “in jail.”

My parents friends, Dave and Angie, let them borrow a bigger crate that I can stay in during the day (at night I’m back in the little crate in the bedroom).  They call it “The Taj Mahal.”

IMG_1213I call it “a bigger jail.”  But I am happy they put my dog bed in it, and set it in front of the electric fireplace.  I’m on pain meds and anti-inflammatory pills, which are making me feel better.  I have learned that they will let me out, “on good behavior,” for an hour or two at night, as long as I don’t run around.  I heard the word “NO” for several days, before I complied with their rules, and just laid down on a blanket outside the crate.



The worst part of all of this, even worse than being stuck in a crate for 6 weeks, is that I am not allowed to play football, until February, at the earliest.  It’s going to be a long winter for me….

Quote for the Day:  “Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation, and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” – Dean Koontz