Sammy Scare But Back On The Move



Arches National Park

March-April 2017

If you have never smelled the South or Southwest when grapefruits, lemons, limes and oranges are blooming, you are in for a treat. The smell is fragrant, sweet and a bit intoxicating. It’s another reason we love the Southwest, especially because the blooming happens while the rest of the country is still experience arctic blasts.

We left the blossoms and Sam dog with the sitter while we flew back to Bentonville, Arkansas.

I had to delay my trip a bit because Sam was in bad shape. While we were in Tucson for the Escapees Rally, Sam started to act strangely. He couldn’t keep up with me on a simple walk around the RV Park. When we picked him up he would cry out in pain and he became lethargic.


Too tired to hold his head up 😦

He was holding up his left front paw and I found an enlarged lymph node on his left chest. We immediately started thinking the worst and scheduled a visit to the vet. It was such an odd feeling to have such a healthy dog who was still running up to 11-miles one day, but was so incapacitated the next.

I’m not going to lie. We thought his lymph node was a sign of cancer and we cried all the way to Phoenix on the way to the vet. We even stopped at his favorite canal trail and carried him to the ducks for one last chase. We were saying goodbye to the best boy we have ever had. We really thought we were going to be putting our beloved Sam down that day.

After blood work and an X-ray the vet assured us that Sam’s demeanor was NOT cancer, but more spinal related and he was prescribes pain killers, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. The vet then called a day later to let us know that the radiologist described two degenerated discs in his neck and what appeared to be bilateral ear infections. Antibiotics were added to his long list of meds.

This was all two days before we were supposed to fly to Arkansas. So I rescheduled my flight to later in the week so that Sam was more stable before taking him to the sitter.

It took a couple days, but Sam started to perk up day after day. By the time I left he still was not himself. All that medication made him loopy, shaky and sleepy. But at least his pain was finally under control and I felt OK enough to leave him in good hands.


You know Sam feels better when the squirrel gets it!

By the time we got back, Sam was more spunky…but completely deaf! After a follow-up visit to the vet he was taken off all pain meds, but left on antibiotics for his ears. Currently, he has regained only a minimal amount of hearing. He is back to short runs and longer walks and now charges the door when we put our running shoes on. A sure sign that he is back!

It’s been a hard 4 weeks for Sam. At 11-12 years old he is finally starting to act his age I guess. We are just so happy he is still with us for a little longer. He is going to be a hard one to replace when the time comes for sure!

I did make it to Arkansas in time for the Bentonville Half Marathon.

Jeff and I and his two sisters, brother-in-love and nephew had all been training since mid-December for this race. We had a lot of fun texting and emailing accountability to the training program and talking about pain points on our bodies. This would be the first time our sisters, nephew and brother-in-love ever did a half!


Mom so proud of her family of finishers!

In the end we all completed the race! It was a proud and emotional moment for all of us! This trip was about a family reunion, overcoming physical challenges and coming together to support their Mom who we had just moved into a local assisted living facility a couple week prior.

Jeff’s brother had their Mom at the finish line to cheer us all on. Though she has lost her ability to communicate, the pride of a mother over her kids was still evident on her face!


Sibling spin around the block…Jeff, Jerry, Jan & Jackie!

It was a special time for sure as we spent precious time with our families.

After checking on our lake cabin we flew back to Phoenix, picked up our dog and headed for Moab.

We split the drive into two days and stopped this time at Goulding Lodge and Campground at Monument Valley.

Wow. What a little gem of a campground! It is an RV Park so spacing is closer that a state park. But the sites are laid out very nicely so just about everyone has an amazing view of the monuments off in the distance. It is also on a hillside, so some sites are a little bit challenging to level. They have a nice short hiking trail from the park with perfect viewpoints for taking some awesome sunset pictures.


Impressive view from the Goulding Lodge and Campground

And if you want to schedule a hiking or jeeping tour, they will schedule your “Goulding” tour right from the campground. Or if you need groceries, stop at Goulding Market. Goulding has everything covered right from their grounds.

Jeff and I took a 5-mile sunrise trail run before we left and it did not disappoint. The red glow of the morning sun set the red rock formations on fire. We followed a horse path up the side of a mountain and hugged a fairly level trail once we got to it. We jumped on a jeep trail and looped us back around to the RV Park through sand dunes. We were chased by a few dogs in the distance on this run. But they quickly gave up the effort and retreated to their respected porches.


A sunrise to remember! I love this picture!


Glowing red rocks


Sand dunes aid station

On day two we made it to Moab by lunch time.

We were at Moab again this year for the for the Easter Jeep Safari (EJS).

From the EJS website…

“The Jeep Safari was started in 1967 by the Moab Chamber of Commerce. The very 1st trail was “Behind the Rocks Trail” (according to what has been told to the club President, the road was made or improved with a BLM employee and equipment.) The “Moab Rim” was then added the next year. In those days, individual ice cream packages were dropped by airplane to the trails at lunch. All the leaders were Chamber members, there was no charge or entry fee, and only a Saturday trail. To register you showed up Saturday morning and signed up for the trail you wanted. The Safari was run this way through 1982 at which point the BLM required a permit and insurance. The Chamber was no longer able to run the safari and approached the club to run this event.

The Jeep Safari itself, and participation in the event has grown since the club officially formed in the early 80s. Once the event was coordinated by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, the registration moved from the Chamber building north of town, to Lion’s Park, and on to what was called “the Barn” which is where McStiff’s is currently located near Center and Main. Over the years the increase in participation grew to expand the trail riding to more days until it finally reached a nine day event. “Big Saturday” still remains the culmination of the event on the Saturday of Easter weekend. With the increase in numbers, the registration was moved to the Spanish Trail Arena where it is located today four miles south of the city of Moab on highway 191. This also became the location for the gigantic safari raffle, Boy Scout BBQ dinner, and a vendor exposition featuring over 130 national 4×4 manufacturers”.


When we were in Moab last year  I have to say that I was not that overly impressed with the area. The views are beautiful, but the area felt worn and a bit junky. I suspect my view of the area was a bit tarnished by the overwhelming amount of ATV’s, motorcycles, Razors and Jeeps that were streaming by our campsite at all hours of the day and night.

But this visit was different.


Our Forrest Gump Moment


Scenes on the road to Moab

Last year we arrived a couple of weeks early to get a campsite at Slick Rock, which is a first come first serve campground…right in the middle of all the action.

This year we stayed at the KOA just a block away from the EJS expo, thanks to some creative finagling by fellow Xscapers who work camp here. We didn’t have a reservation anywhere in Moab! (NEVER come to Moab during Jeep week without a reservation!). This KOA is one of the nicer, well laid out KOA’s that we have been to. And compared to last year, made for a quiet relaxed location to enjoy the Moab Brewery and Quesadilla Mobilia Food Truck in town.

Trail running near the KOA is not nearly as convenient as Slick Rock, so we had to be a bit more strategic to get our runs in. My favorite is the greenway that runs through Moab, within a block of the Laundromat. I put in a wash load while I ran two miles. Then put it in the dryer for three more miles. How is that for multitasking!

Jeff and I worked the 2-day EJS expo. Our fellow Xscaper friends Finding Marshall, RV Chickadee and Mamasaysnamaste stopped by to say hello! They were all staying on BLM just north of Moab at Willow Springs.

Willow Springs is a very popular boondocking area, especially during jeep week. Jeff decided to do his long run from our KOA site 25-miles to Willow Springs. His route took him through The Arches National Park. He didn’t exactly take a trail, but a wash that turned into some bushwhacking and creek crossings. I picked him up at Willow Springs where I was visiting our friends.

Before we left on Sunday we attended the Easter sunrise service at Arches. We started with a short 2-mile hike on the Park Avenue Trail by moonlight and finished at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, where there has been an Easter church service for more than 30 years.


We definitely had a much better experience with Moab this time. It is a stunning town with plenty of outdoor activities to last a lifetime. I look forward to coming back again.

After church we packed up the RV and headed to Salt Lake City. Sam and I are currently staying at the KOA while Jeff travels to Elkhart Indiana for meetings. Our next big show is the National Hardware Show in Vegas in about 3 weeks.

Until then, we are going to bounce around Utah and hit up some beautiful BLM sites to continue our training for the Bryce 100 (Jeff) and Half Marathon (Deb) trail run scheduled for June.

Look forward to seeing ya’ll down the road!







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  1. #1 by RvChickadee on April 18, 2017 - 8:07 pm

    I was so happy to hear Sammy was OK!! Ugh, losing a pet is the TOUGHEST! Happy, happy, happy ending! Was great seeing you guys! : ) Hopefully we will bump along sometime again soon.


    • #2 by Deb on April 18, 2017 - 8:52 pm

      We get so attached to these darn pets! So glad we got to see you last week. Look forward to running into you again down the road.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. #3 by Marshall on April 19, 2017 - 3:19 pm

    Great seeing y’all! Too short of a visit, but such is life sometimes. Enjoy your time in SLC and see you down the road!

    Liked by 1 person

    • #4 by Deb on April 25, 2017 - 6:23 pm

      It was too short but glad to get to say hi! We tried going to Capitol Reef after SLC but connectivity was really bad. So we landed in Leeds UT near Zion. May/June we will be all over the Grand Circle (not to be confused with the magic circle). 😜

      Liked by 1 person

      • #5 by Marshall on April 25, 2017 - 7:15 pm

        I had no idea it was called the Grand Circle! I think we are going to pass on most of the other parks here because of connectivity and don’t have time to be tourist issues. Then again I don’t have a clue where we’re going. Maybe we will run into you!


  3. #6 by Brigitte on April 25, 2017 - 4:13 pm

    So glad your puppy is mending. Just wanted to let you know we picked up our Domani and had our lessons this weekend. We feel so good about driving the rig, I don’t think anywhere will be daunting for us. Have a couple of Domani specific questions for you, the screen door screens are in great shape, unfortunately not so much for the slide and the other piece in the middle. Do you have any idea which replacement fits the Domani door the best? Also, our unit no longer has the Polk Entertainment Center that came with it – do you use it? I found one second hand (no guarantee it actually works, but should I try to find one or use something else? Glad to hear you are all well. Thanks for providing the info on your favorite things. I had been eyeballing the vinyl flooring, funny that you used it too. Still trying to decide between that and the vinyl planks. Safe travels!


    • #7 by Deb on April 25, 2017 - 6:20 pm

      Hi Brigitt. So excited for your new purchase! I would check for the parts you are looking for. They have a great website with lots of pictures. And if you can’t find something give them a call. They ship all over the country!

      Which Model of Domani did you get? Happy trails!


  4. #8 by Brigitte McAuliffe on April 25, 2017 - 11:21 pm

    Thanks, I will call them. We got the rear kitchen model the DF302, a little less counter space, but I don’t have to worry about the dogs being underfoot either. We are excited to start camping but have a bit of work to do first. My guess is I will have a few questions for you now and again!


    • #9 by Deb on April 26, 2017 - 3:22 am

      Be glad to help where we can!


  5. #10 by Brigitte McAuliffe on May 7, 2017 - 1:52 am

    Hi Deb, hope this finds you well. I have a few questions for you. What brand slide toppers did you have installed? I ordered a new screen door slide and stationary piece, but I don’t think they fit together correctly as there is a gap between them. It is making me wonder if I am missing a center support? And last but not least, our slide seals are nearing the end of their useful life, any chance you replaced yours? If so, what seals did you use? Were you able to find seals like the originals? Where did you get them from? As always, any info is appreciated.


  6. #11 by Deb on May 7, 2017 - 1:17 pm

    Hi Brigitte. We have Dometic slide toppers, awnings & a window awning over the double living room windows. I’m so glad we added the window awning as well! I would look for an RV Awning Installer who can measure, order and install for you. Call a local RV Resort and see who frequents the resort doing installs. “Living The RV Dream” Facebook page is great resource to post the question for installer.

    We have not replaced our slide seals. They seem to still be in good shape. We do use Aerospace 303 (Amazon) on them. Again, I would try to purchase OR take a piece of it to an RV Shop/Camping World and see if they can order it or give you a part # (to order elsewhere).

    We do not have a center support on screen door slide either and there is about a 1/4-1/2″ gap as well. Ours has a little foam gasket to narrow the gap. You can add some to both pieces to create a better seal. You can find that at Lowes or Home Depot.

    Hope that helps!


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