(The following blog was written by Cathie Johnson)
Well we made it to Shaver Lake, Calif on our maiden voyage with our Forest River Rockwood Mini Lite. We didn't know what to expect traveling with our 15 year old cat, Shadow, but knew we had to give it a try. Our good friends, Carl and Dana have been great tending to him twice a day while we go away so we wanted to give them a break and see if we could take Shadow with us on our trips hoping for a win/win situation for everyone.
We left home 30 minutes later than planned (11:30am). Who knew it would take us an hour to get hooked up and get Shadow and all his belongings packed. In preparation for traveling with Shadow we took him out on a few short drives. First time he did panic and cry a little, however he did better than I expected compared to our late cat, Jinxie, who pitched a huge fit every time he had to go to the vet. To his credit, vet visits are not fun. So we were pleased that Shadow laid back and took the hour drive to Shaver Lake in stride. He let out just a few low meows (no yowling at all). Along the way, I remembered I forgot the bread (only forgot a couple of items) so we stopped at Ken's Market and bought bread and some firewood. You have to purchase local wood instead of bringing from home. Once we got checked in and found our beautiful spot we began the chore of backing in, unhooking, and setting up of the RV. This is a lengthy process and all the while Shadow stayed in his nice comfy soft pet carrier outside watching it all. I was surprised how well he did in his carrier. He loves to be outdoors at home so I think he was just taking in all the smells and sounds. Once we got the inside cat- proofed I was able to get in the RV and let him out. He really liked it. I had to make a quick lunch as it was going on 2:30. Yes...he was in the cat carrier for 3 hours or more. It would be a much longer time when we go further away from home. I was thinking I didn't know how he would handle a longer trip.
Our 9 x 18 foot outdoor rug looked so inviting and Bruce set up our solar lights between two trees. By the time we got our space set up inside and out the way we liked it, it was already 4pm. Aaaahhhh...time to rest in our zero gravity chairs and have happy hour! We brought Shadow outside on his harness and leash as he loves to go out at that time of day at home. Right away he wanted to hide under the trailer but soon found Bruce's lap and he seemed to be comforted right away. Well, that lasted long enough to get a picture of them on my smart phone then it was back inside for Shadow and outside for us! Bruce hooked up some music and I made drinks and got some snacks. We were in heaven! This is what retirement and RVing is all about!
Our first dinner was grilled salmon, white rice and fresh zucchini from Dana and Carl's garden. What a beautiful sight...I had to take a picture. It was delicious! With dinner and dishes done Bruce started a warm fire in our fire pit. It was perfect. We chose Camp Edison with full hook ups for our first trip...just to make sure everything worked. Well since we had cable TV I thought I might want to watch the finale of Survivor. SO I went inside to check out the TV. We were supposed to have 35 cable channels, but we couldn't get it to work. Bruce worked on the auto scan for an hour and by then we were so tired we gave up and got the bed ready for a good night sleep. This RV model has a murphy bed and many places for our Shadow to crawl into the storage spaces so Bruce had rigged up some wood barriers to keep him out of those areas. They worked perfectly! So we got ready for bed, crawled in and began reading our IPads. We thought since Shadow was awake all day (he usually sleeps ALL day at home) he would be tuckered outand sleep all night. WRONG!!!! He began walking all over the RV and purring! He is a loud purrer anyway and he turned up the volume even more. We don't let him in our room at night at home and I think he was so happy that he got to have access to us at night than he couldn't calm down. He didn't meow much which surprised me but he purred all night and was all over us trying to find a way to get back behind the bed into the storage area that he found when we first brought the RV home. In his defense, cats are nocturnal creatures so he was up all night...we were too!
Once the birds started chirping he knew it was morning and he calmed down. I gave him some of his canned food that he looks forward to each morning. He gulped it down, got a drink of water, used the litter box and was ready for a long day of sleeping. We made breakfast of oatmeal and english muffins. We cooked them on a coleman toaster made for the gas stove. Unfortunately, the smoke from the cooked muffins triggered the smoke alarm that emitted several LOUD shrieks. Shadow freaked! He went for cover in a small cubby set up for his bed and faced the back wall for hours. Lesson learned...turn on the vent above the stove. Duh!!!
So while Shadow slept all day Bruce and I took a walk around our loop campsite hunting. Along the way we met Fran, our camp host and I asked her about the cable TV. She said she'd come over and take a look at our hookup. Well we still couldn't make it work and decided to take a picnic lunch to the beach area. What a difference sitting on the beach with no boat traffic or many people around...in the middle of the week! After lunch we came back and Fran came over to suggest hooking up the cable cord directly to our tv instead of to the outside of the unit which Bruce immediately did and found it worked! Overhearing our issue our neighbors, Karen and Jim, told us of a little black button located behind the TV that needed to be switched ON. Eagerly we rushed in to find the magic button and lo and behold...there it was!!! Bruce turned it on and it also worked! I yelled out the door to Jim..."I found the magic button!" Bruce cracked up thinking back on what I yelled out our door to Jim. Little things like that can really mess up a good time. I was elated to have cable channels and took home grown lemons to both Fran and Karen thanking them for their successful suggestions.
Using our campsite map we took a hike on a trail around the lake and found some good photo opportunities. After a mile or more we spotted a beautiful private sandy beach on the lake! It was just downhill from two great group campsites...our own private beach!! So we circled those campsite numbers in hopes of reserving them for future trips with family and friends. We referred to our map to find our way back. Turns out after an uphill climb on the road we walked through a campground loop and down a hill that lead us right to our campsite! Nice hike and we didn't have to back track to get home.
Happy hour for day 2 and more relaxing in our recliners with drinks, snacks and music. Inside we found Shadow still asleep in the same cubby hole we left him in. Lucky cat we grumbled to ourselves but were happy he was adjusting so well to his new environment. I made some guacamole for some chips and dinner was grilled burgers and corn on the cob. Bruce started a fire in the fire pit and we ate outside by a nice warm fire.
We were so tired by the time dinner dishes were done that we were ready to recline in bed with the TV on. It was going to be in the 30's the next morning so Bruce connected our heated mattress that came with the unit. We expected to be warm enough with that and closed all the vents. Shadow was sleeping on his perch surprisingly and Bruce fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. As for me, I watched some tv shows and the news and soon turned the tv off. We thought Shadow would be calmer the second night then the night took a turn for the worse. Shadow began walking all over us and the entire RV. Up on the counters, the table, the dinette seats, the bathroom counter, the bed ...every surface he could find taking turns lying on each of us purring inches from our faces. He likes to look outside during the night and he couldn't see out a window. This night he decided to cry constantly! He was relentless. I was worried that the neighbors could hear him meowing. The last straw was when Shadow crawled behind our pull down shades by the dinette and was stuck! We quickly raced up to get him unlodged so he wouldn't tear up our curtain. It was 3:30am and we were at our wits end. Bruce finally locked him in the bathroom with his food, water and his pedestal bed. He put pillows on the floor outside the door to muffle his cries. After an hour of listening to his manic efforts trying to escape the locked door Bruce let him out. His raced to his safe little cubby and never made another sound! It was 4:30am and Bruce said "I'm taking him home!" If it wasn't so early he would have left then. But we actually got another 3 hours of sleep before getting up at 8. In our state of sleep deprivation, I made coffee and Bruce made pancakes for breakfast. Afterwards I quickly gathered all of Shadows belongings and Bruce put Shadow in his safe little pet carrier and they were off down the hill to Fresno to unload this monster! I stayed to do dishes, take a shower, clean up the RV and write this blog. By the way, the shower worked great. Love the new shower head Bruce installed and our large bathroom!!
Bruce returned about 1:30 and we had grilled hotdogs for lunch then took a short walk around the loop. It as a chilly day but no rain clouds in sight. We decided it was cold enough for an early fire as others had already started theirs. We had wine and apps by the fire...it was so nice and relaxing...but cold. Our last night I made a pasta bake with Costco's cauliflower and cream sauce and a salad. It was delicious! We used every appliance in our trailer since we had full hookups: the stove, oven, microwave, smoke alarm, shower, toilet, TV, radio, mattress warmer, solar lights, outside grill attached to the trailer. Bruce packed up the outdoor rug and a few things as we thought it may rain and flushed the black tank earlier in then day. This night bedtime came early as we were so sleep deprived. Bed by 8pm. Turned up the mattress heater to #4. I watched more TV and Bruce read til he passed out. Cold night... Good night!!!
Got to actually sleep last night. Yay!! No rain. Got up at 7am and made coffee. Breakfast was going to be eggs and ham but Bruce wanted to just eat cereal for less clean up. Check out time is 11am and we actually pulled out at 10:30. Packing it up inside was easy and Bruce is getting so good at loading the outside. We, as a team, can get it hitched up in no time with our walkie talkies and much practice at home. Before you knew it we were home in Fresno by a little after 12 noon to find Shadow greeting us at the door...a happy cat! Hmmmm...where to next? Without the cat!