Trouble in Paradise

The Suncoast

To me, one of the most beautiful things about Florida is the sky. The location on this long sandbar south of mainland America seems to limit the haze that tends to dim the sky in the south and mid-Atlantic states in summer. Here, the cumulonimbus clouds are vivid against the blue sky.

About two-thirds of the way down the state is the Sarasota/Bradenton region, also known as The Suncoast. I often wondered about the nickname and, after living here for twenty years or so, it’s clear why. Contrary to popular belief that it rains everyday at 3:00, there is not much rain along this part of the Gulf coast most of the year. (My Florida friends already know this, so I apologize to them in advance.)

A few unscientific observations:  I’ve noticed that the weather patterns here in Florida are different. It seems to me that in most of America, fronts generally move from west to east. If there is a line of thunderstorms approaching, you’re probably going to get wet. But here in Florida most storms are localized. It can sometimes rain across the street yet your yard stays dry. You’ll watch threatening clouds build over your head but before you know it, they’ve moved on without a drop on you.

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In the summer, onshore breezes blow moisture from the Gulf eastward across the land baking in the sun. At the point where conditions are right, like in the photo above, thunderstorms form and the sky opens up with rain. Normally, that happens 10+ miles inland and the storms usually move east. But in the last few hours before sunset, the Gulf breeze sometimes weakens and the storms start to drift back toward the coast. But they often fizzle out as the sun goes down. Hence, The Suncoast.

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Last week I camped at Oscar Scherer State Park, located about a mile from the Gulf. This is one of my favorite parks for its beauty and very convenient location on Tamiami Trail between Sarasota and Venice. Unfortunately, on my first morning there I awoke to the smell of dead fish. Sadly, the news reported we were experiencing another bout of…

Red Tide

I had never heard of red tide before moving to Florida. Apparently, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon reported as far back as the 1840s. What is it? Apparently, it is overly-fertilized Karenia brevis algae that bloom in bays and in the Gulf, reducing the oxygen in the water and killing marine life. It can also cause breathing problems for people. And we humans seem to be making it worse.

The Everglades is an enormous natural marsh that filters water flowing southward from Lake Okeechobee. At some point, people thought it would be a good idea to build a dike around the southern end of this huge lake to turn the swamp into dry land for sugarcane farming. The sugarcane farms create a lot of pollution. In addition, just north of Lake Okeechobee there is open pit mining of phosphate (an ingredient in fertilizer).

Lake Okeechobee is an area where the conditions are nearly perfect for torrential summer thunderstorms. When the rains come, the water in the lake rises along with runoff from the surrounding industries. The dike blocks the Everglades from receiving the water and from serving as a filter for the pollutants. The east and west gates are opened to release great quantities of polluted water into the streams and rivers that flow to the Gulf and the Atlantic.

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Before it mixes with the salt water of the Gulf, the water looks green. Once it reaches the more saline bays and gulf, it turns the water a murky reddish brown. This current red tide bloom seems to have emanated from Charlotte Harbor and has spread south to Naples and north to Sarasota and Anna Maria Island – about 125 miles of prime beaches including Siesta Key Beach, the #1 Beach in America. Not only are fish being killed, but manatees, sharks, dolphins, and sea turtles are also dying. This disaster to our marine life and our tourist economy is being reported on national news and locals say they have never seen it this bad.

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A few of our Florida politicians have received big campaign donations to see to it that regulations are minimized for the phosphate and sugarcane industries. We are seeing the real world results of that. This preventable situation is just another example of why we need common sense regulations to keep our planet from being ruined by greed.

After all, as Little Binski, says “If we’re going to go camping we need a safe and clean environment!” And he has a point.

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Florida Camping

The State Parks

Most of our doggy adventures are in Florida’s state parks. And we are lucky to have so many of them to sniff around in. According to tripsavvy.com 50 of Florida’s 161 state parks offer camping facilities.

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Lake Manatee State Park – I could swear I saw a squirrel!!!

During the warm months, June through October, sites are generally available. However, during “season” which is December through early April, when the “snowbirds” are here, it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation. Like everyone else, I have to book sites 11 months in advance, and be one of the first on the ReserveAmerica website to get them!

In the parks in winter, we see as many license plates fom the northern states as from Florida. Lots of folks visit us from Canada, some of whom are tenting in temperatures in the 30s. Of course, we’re freezing but I assume it’s relatively cozy for them compared to where they live.

God Bless A/C – Camping in the Florida Heat

If you camp in Florida in the summer, try to book a shaded site if you have pets, just in case the a/c goes off for some reason. The summer sun here is brutal and the inside temperature can escalate in minutes.

If you’re not hooked up to shore power, be sure your generator is in excellent working order to power your a/c. In fact, in the summer the a/c is my biggest worry since I do have to leave the dogs alone from time to time. When it’s hot I try not to be away for more than a few hours at a time. It’s a bummer, but their safety comes first.

We’ve all seen the flickering lights and heard that gasping generator sound when something cycles on that draws extra power. In my current RV my generator has shut down when my refrigerator compressor cycled on. It has even decided to shut down when I’ve put out a slide.

Yes, I know that in a perfect world my generator should easily be able to power my refrigerator and my a/c. But what I’ve decided to do is run only my a/c on the generator. I keep my refrigerator running on propane so there is no extra draw or cycling while I’m away that might cause that finicky generator to shut down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doggystylerv Disclaimer

We canines who have been RV-ing for awhile know that there are websites where people share mechanical tips and suggestions for repairs. Doggiestylerv.com is not one of them. Our dad is not a mechanic and can’t offer that kind of advice (even though likes to think he is pretty smart).

On the other hand, our dad has had seven RVs over the years, so he’s had his share of puzzles to work through. We know that each RV comes with its own little quirks that can drive you crazy as you try to figure out what the hell is going on. This is his latest rig and he’s had issues with it already! And, boy have we heard some interesting words as he tries to figure things out!

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Anyway, what we can offer are things that worked for us in resolving some of those little RV quirks, especially about traveling with pets. That is part of what we’ll be sharing with you on Doggystylerv.com.

We hope some our experiences will be helpful!

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The Family – Mandy and Anya

A few years after Diva passed away, we wanted another toy fox terrier. We found one on the Petfinder.com website and I drove all the way to the Humane Society in Inverness, FL to pick her up. She was as cute as could be.

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Where’s dinner?

As I was signing the paperwork, the lady pointed to another small dog and said, “She is bonded to this sweet little girl, Anya, and they have become quite a pair.” She told me that Anya had been at the shelter for 10 months. Apparently, no one wanted her because she wasn’t pretty – she had unusual coloring and one odd-looking eye. Of course, we decided to take her as well. As I started to leave, the lady looked at the dogs and said, “Come on girls, it’s your lucky day!” And, as you can see below, it was. They went from a cage at the pound to lounging in the sun.

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Neither dog knew how to walk on a leash, so the process began to train them for their upcoming RV trips.

Mandy and Anya have turned out to be sweet dogs, although little Mandy can be a bit spunky. She does not share her master well. Anya is an all-around well-balanced girl and she has assumed the role of mommy in the family.

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The Family – Rico the Psychohuahua

Rico is THE BOSS. After all, he is a chihuahua.

We got Rico from Underdog Rescue in Bradenton, Florida who rescued him from a high-kill shelter in Central Florida. He was found on the streets when he was about a year old. He must have been through a lot of trauma because he had night terrors for a year after we got him. Binski seemed to know his new friend was scared and he helped him feel at home.

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When we first got him, he was fussing with another dog. I decided to pick him up and put him in another room to show him who was boss. Big mistake. Needless to say, I learned quickly who was the boss.

Rico is the smartest dog we have. And he is very spoiled. When he eats, which is only once a day and never before mid-afternoon, he requires an audience. Every meal is a command performance; the other dogs have to be there to watch. He could be an ad executive because he knows how to advertise. When he has a treat, he perches it in the most conspicuous place. This one was just sticky enough to cling to the side of his bed.

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Rico has been a challenge but, after four years, he has calmed down and is learning to trust. He shows me he loves me by snuggling next to me and by running to me when he is scared. Rico “takes care of us” – at home he makes sure all of us are in the door before he will come in. And he goes from room to room to check on us. He has found his family.

Like any self-respecting chihuahua, Rico likes to lounge in the sun. He prefers a patch of dirt outside but a pillow near a sunny window will do in a pinch.

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It’s good being king!

 

 

The Family – Binski

Little Binski is the lover in the family. His real name is Dobbin but we call him Binski (long story). We got this little rat terrier as a puppy and spoiled him rotten.

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When he was a puppy he tormented Cody but they became inseparable.

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Binski is a cuddler and likes to sleep under the covers. Apparently, he was taken away from his mother too soon and he still nurses on his blanket. He is really a baby. When he is hungry (which is always) he stands on your feet to remind you it is time to toss him a treat.

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At about six years old, he developed glaucoma. We tried prescription eye drops but could not control the pressure. So, sadly, we had to have his eyeball removed. The surgeon did a great job. Even with just one eye, he has a great sense of direction and can almost always guide me back to the RV. And as you can see by that doggy smile, he loves those walks.

 

Doggystylerv.com – The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining us! We’re about to set out on another RV trip and we’ll have some fun adventures to share with you.

We’ll show you some of the best sniffing spots in Florida and neighboring states. And we’ll give you suggestions on ways to keep you and your pets safe, comfortable, and feeling like royalty when you’re on the road!

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