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Archive for September 9th, 2010

Dear RV manufacturer …

As our layover continues in Baltimore, we’re plotting the next leg of our journey, in which Ace and I plan to go to the tippy top of Maine, then proceed westwardly once again.

A review of last month’s budget shows — gasp! — we way overspent; so we need to avoid motels as much as possible in the months ahead.

The hope is to somehow secure, for the next several months, something like this:

More likely, if we succeed at all, it will be something like this:

Nevertheless, in pursuit of a motorhome — more specifically, the free use of one for a month or two or three — we are headed up to Hershey, Pennsylvania next week for what’s billed as the country’s largest RV show.

If nothing else, we will at least become a little more familiar with the RV world — just how much, when it comes to traveling America’s roads, things have changed since the days John Steinbeck, and countless others, threw custom made, and later factory made, camper shells atop their pickups and hit the road.

Today’s motorhomes come equipped with GPS, flat screen TVs, DVD players. They can Tweet, text and drive themselves at the same time (OK, I made the last three up, I think). I — being one who am still dazzled by the cupholder — will surely swoon over the technology of today’s modern RV’s, or at least get confused by it.

Despite all the high tech improvements, though, what RV manufacturers are missing out on is the dog-friendly craze. Not a single one, as far as I could find, has designed and marketed a motorhome as dog-friendly, much like Subaru does with its Forester, and Honda does with its Element. That’s odd because many of those tooling around the nation in RVs today, I’d bet, opted for them to end the ongoing headache of finding dog friendly and affordable lodging.

So I — assuming the RV show itself lets dogs in — will explain to them that 14 million of the 75 million dogs in America today regularly with their owners, and I’ll point out how, if I may mix my metaphors, their industry seems to be missing the boat. Then I will explain how, by loaning me an RV — but not a huge one — to serve as temporary ohmidog! headquarters for the next three months, a savvy manufacturer could heighten their dog-friendly profile.

My hope is that if I describe what I’m doing, and offer some advertising on the website, an RV manufacturer will take pity on me and my poor, cramped dog and offer up a state of the art motorhome for a three month test spin.

Speaking of websites, we’re building a new one — one designed specifically for our posts about our continuing trip. It will focus specifically on my travels with my dog, and your travel with your’s. TravelsWithAce.com is coming soon. You’ll still be able to read about our trip here on ohmidog!, but our travel posts will be carried in their entirety, along with other features, on our new site.

Two other websites are in my future as well, in connection with my new book — dogincthebook.com and johnwoestendiek.com (my requisite author page) are coming soon. The book, “Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” is being released in late December.

In connection with all that, our stay in Baltimore will probably last another week as I go about more housekeeping — housekeeping being all the more difficult when you don’t have a house.

At the outset of our journey, we set a goal of spending about what we normally spent a month  for rent and utilities. The first two months, we met or at least came close to that goal. This past month, we went way over the limit.

While we spent nearly half the month in various Motel 6’s, and finagled eight days staying in the homes of friends, we also ended up paying some heftier room rates in August. Though we try to stay under $40 a night, we ended up paying $60, $70, even $80 a night for dog-friendly lodging. August saw us go over the $1,000 mark for motels alone, while spending $430 for food and $530 for gas.

Three months and 10,000 miles ago, we started out under the theory that one (and one’s dog)  can explore America as cheaply as one can settle down and live in it.

Now we need to put our lack of money where our mouth is, to start cutting back, tighten the belt and — assuming no one comes through with a loaner RV — begin using that tent that’s been riding atop my Jeep Liberty, unused, for three months.

Addendum: Pets are not allowed at the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show.  That deals a severe blow to my plan to charm an RV manufacturer out of an RV, because, of the two of us, Ace is the one with the charm. And while my lack of charm is a handicap, that doesn’t make him a service dog. Those, of course, are allowed at the show.

(Show officials say they have made special arrangements with Hersheypark and Dad’s Pet Care Barking Lot, a kennel located just outside the park. Pet owners can drop their dogs there for a daily fee of $10.)

N.C. restaurants get ok for outdoor dogs

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has ruled that restaurants may decide on their own whether to allow dogs in outdoor areas.

The new rule requires dogs to be restrained and prohibits them from entering indoor seating areas. It also makes a point of saying they can’t come in contact with food or servers.

But it’s a giant leap from the old rule, which assessed as much as a two-point health-inspection deduction for restaurants that allowed pets in outdoor eating areas.

The rule change became effective earlier this month.