Who’s the Blogger?

Before we go further, you might want to know a little bit about the guy who is writing this blog…

Houses on wheels have been my curse and my comfort. I grew up in a trailer park and was teased about it as a kid. We lived in a series of trailers, 18-ft, 27-ft, and 45-ft. Why do I remember the dimensions? Well, because when you live tiny, every additional bit of room is a cause for celebration. And I’m here to tell you:  Bigger IS better. At least in trailers!

My top bunk was just a few feet below the ceiling and being lulled to sleep by the patter of rain on the roof is still one of my favorite childhood memories. As crazy as it sounds, 60 years later when I’m out camping in my RV, I look forward to a shower or two just to relive that memory.

Geo LTP

Where was HGTV when we needed it???

My parents worked hard to provide a good life for us. As humble as it was, the trailer was home and filled with love. My mom was a wonder. In addition to creating the most amazing pies and cakes in that little kitchen, she kept everything neat and clean. Living in a trailer meant that everything had a place and we learned to put things back where they belonged. It was pretty cozy at times.

Two Violins

Violin lessons in the living room

Jumping forward a few years, I left trailer living for college. Over the years, I worked as a singer, choral director, and teacher. And, 43-years later, I retired as a guidance counselor in Venice, Florida.

During my last years of work, spending weekends in Florida’s state parks with my dogs was a great way to relax, clear my mind, and reminisce. Now that I’ve had a chance to look back, I see I’ve come almost full circle. Although I pushed trailer living to the back of my mind for most of my life, I find I’m still fascinated by these amazing little houses on wheels where, as the saying goes, we spend a fortune to live like we’re homeless.

Anyway, thanks for reading. We hope you’ll enjoy our stories.

Pippin (4)

 

 

Florida Critters 1

Little Florida Critters

When we moved from Maryland to the Gulf Coast of Florida in 1996, we were surprised to find that we sometimes go for months without rain. So, the mosquitoes aren’t too bad most of the year. But a day or two of showers provide the conditions for an explosion of the critters. Camping near a swampy area after a rain can be a real no-no, especially in the summer. Rainy season (usually thunderstorms) is June through early October. The sign below could be us at Paynes Prairie State Park a few summers ago.

Mosquito

Other annoying insects are the “no see ‘ums” that you don’t see until they bite you. Dawn and dusk are the worst times. I’ve also been dive-bombed by some deer flies. Larger than a house fly, their bite feels like it’s taking a chunk of flesh. I feel bad for the deer! Luckily, they move slowly enough for your to swat them to death in retaliation.

Some of the worst pests have migrated up from Central America and, apparently, are still marching northwards. (Tomorrow could be your lucky day!) One of my first mistakes in Florida was absent-mindedly stepping on a fire ant hill. These little red-colored critters seem to have organized armies. Just touch a fire ant hill and watch them go crazy! And do they sting!!! Believe me, there is a reason they are called “fire” ants.

Fire ant

Medium Florida Critters

While the insects are bothersome, there are some Florida critters that can kill you.

Binski and I were taking a walk through the campground at Alafia River State Park, a beautiful state park slightly off the beaten track and a favorite for trail biking. I was admiring one of the RVs, not paying much attention because we were in a well mowed area of the park. Then, I felt a tug on the leash. Something had caught Binski’s interest and he was on his way over to take a look.

Rattler

As you can see, what caught his attention was a 6 to 7 foot diamondback that was moving from a pond and across the campsite where a camper had tethered his dog just a few hours before. The snake slowly slithered under the RV and into an open field beyond.

Prior to that day I usually walked two dogs at a time, each pulling in a different direction. Since then I almost never take more than one so I can keep a close eye. Luckily, this rattlesnake was in the open where it could be easily seen. But it was an important lesson about becoming complacent.

If your dogs are like mine when walking on trails, they like to go to the edge near the brush, a potentially dangerous place. I’m now wary now of letting them do that. And, although I love retractible leashes, I keep the leash short when I take them on trails.

I saw a bobcat a few weeks ago at Oscar Scherer State Park, just moseying through the campsites looking for chihuahuas. (Hopefully just kidding.) Anyway, it was the first one I’ve seen in the wild.

There are lots of armadillos and big turtles, squirrels and rabbits. And, for those unfamiliar with Florida, we have zillions of little lizards. But they are cute.

Big Florida Critters

Florida is beautiful but it can be a wild place. And developments are often located right next to the habitats of some of the big critters. Shamrock Park in Venice, Florida borders a community where many of my students lived. It’s located on the aptly-named Alligator Creek. When some neighborhood dogs went missing recently, animal control was called, and this is the big boy they found. From the looks of that gator’s belly, he has sure been chowing down on something. There are tales of finding dog collars in the stomachs of nuisance gators.

Venice Gator

There is a community just north of Venice where residents living along the ponds divide their back yards with a chain link fence. They give the gators a setback of 10 feet or so along the bank of the pond for lounging in the sun, which they seem to like to do in the winter when the water is cool and the sun is warm. The fences offer some barrier of protection for their pets. I’ve heard, however, that if a gator wants to get beyond a chain link fence, he’ll find a way. Kinda gives you chills, thinking about it. We owned one home here on a pond, but it’s not really a priority for us anymore…

The Moral of the Story

Most of the time, camping in Florida is calm and cozy. But, as you can see, it’s wise to keep your eyes open and anticipate dangers for your pets.

After reading through today’s blog, if you’re still interested in Florida camping, stay tuned to Doggystylerv.com. Have a great day!

George and the Kids

Florida Camping

The State Parks

Most of our doggy adventures are in Florida’s state parks. According to tripsavvy.com, 50 of Florida’s 161 state parks offer camping facilities. And nearly all of them have some great sniffing aromas – squirrel, rabbit, armadillo, bobcat, turtle… All kinds of good stuff!

Mana

I could swear I saw a squirrel!

 

Summer in Florida is off-season. Weird, huh? From June through October, RV sites are usually available. Even spur-of-the-moment. Just give the parks a call.

Look Out in Snowbird Season!

From December through early April, when it gets cold up north, everyone and his brother-in-law wants a spot in Florida state parks! Like everyone else, our dad has to book sites 11 months in advance and be one of the first people on the ReserveAmerica website to grab them before they’re gone.

In the winter, we see license plates from every cold place in the country and Canada. And we even see a few brave people staying in tents when the night-time temperatures dip into the 30s. Brrr!

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Camping in the Florida Heat

Summer camping in Florida is a totally different matter. The summer sun here is brutal and, if the air conditioning goes off for some reason, the inside temperature can escalate in minutes. So, take it from us. If you have pets, try to book a shaded site!

If we know we’re not going to be hooked up to shore power, we make sure our generator is in excellent working order to power the a/c. In fact, our dad’s biggest worry in the summer is the A/C since we have to stay alone from time to time. When it’s cool we let dad leave us for a good while, but when it’s hot we give him a 2-hour time limit. He whines about it, but our safety comes first. (If he’s gone longer than we like, we have been known to pee on something. Our dad’s not dumb. He gets it.)

God Bless Air Conditioning!

How we love our den in the RV! Especially since we negotiated some perks. We prefer a temperature of about 72 – not too cold and not too hot. We like to cuddle under our velour throws and peek out to guard the fort.

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Always at the ready to take the arm off an intruder…

Keeping the temperature right in the Florida heat can be tricky. We’ve seen the flickering lights and heard the gasping generator sound when something cycles on that draws extra power. In our current RV the generator has shut down when the refrigerator compressor cycled on. It even decided to shut down when we’ve put out a slide. So, we’ve decided to keep our refrigerator switched to propane. That way only the only draw on the generator is the air conditioner. That seems to be more dependable.

Well, that’s about all our doggystyle camping tips for the day. Time to curl up and rest. We’ll need our strength if a Florida critter walks by.

Mandy, Anya, Rico & Binski

Copilots 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Where is dinner

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.

https://www.petfinder.com/

 

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 Adventure Begins

 

Copilots 4

“Me first! No, ME first!”

  1. I’m Mandy, the cute toy fox terrier. Dad saved me from a shelter in Inverness, Florida. I may be little, but watch out. I’m aloof because I have a pedigree.
  2. I’m Anya, a chihuahua from the same shelter. I went home with Mandy to help her chill out. (She’s high strung.) I’m the sweet mommy in the group.
  3. I’m Rico, a rescue from Underdog in Bradenton. They call me the psychohuahua in the family. I find that a bit insulting. But I’m the boss, so it doesn’t matter. 
  4. I’m Binski, a “Teddy Roosevelt rat terrier” from a breeder in Brandon, Florida. I have a pedigree too but I’m not uppity like Mandy. Unfortunately, I developed glaucoma and had to have my eyeball removed. But I’m doing fine. And I think I look cute winking at you. Besides, I’m a real lover-boy.

We’ll be your guides to some of the best sniffing spots in Florida and surrounding states. And our dad will share some things he has learned about staying safe, comfortable, and making us feel like royalty when we’re on the road!