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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.)

Comments

Comment from Anonymous
Time September 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Propose to a dog food company to purchase the RV and
paint it with their advertising and let you drive it around the country. Ohmidog! sponsored by …………..(Purina One?
Science Diet? fill in the blank) It would cost less than
some of their advertising and possibly get more attention!
Just saw one yesterday decked out with advertising for a
product called “Muscle Milk.” Remember the Oscar Meyer
wiener car???

Comment from Miss Jan
Time September 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I can speak to this issue as I live in the center of the known universe for RV manufacturing. First, people who (gasp) buy these (poorly engineered monstrosities – dangerously so – and gi-NOR-mously overpriced obscenities) request dog-friendly accoutrements when they order their toy on wheels. Second, a high percentage of RV buyers actually make their purchase because they are sick and tired of obscenely overpriced and often dirty hotel/motel accommodations (google bedbugs and you’ll see ‘ats what I’m talkin’ ’bout fur example). So. How to acquire: first, go to Craigslist (not for you-know-what) because that is where the most affordable used RVs will be. Because it is just you and your wonderful pooch that want to go a-roaming, might I suggest what is called a “van conversion”. The newer ones are quite nice and you don’t have to worry so much about the 42-foot rule on many highways and godawful access problems in small, smaller, smallest parking spaces in parks, rest areas, surface streets in town, etc. It is a LOT of work guiding around a behemoth. That is why you see so many towing small cars. Park the RV, use the car because driving the RV around is a colossally expensive hassle. But you don’t want to have management issues with your transportation, I’m guessing, so a van conversion might be the ticket. The newer ones even have showers! Then get yourself a membership in “Good Sam Club” which is a heckuvalot cheaper than the much-touted “Family RV” club. For that affordable membership you will be amazed at the benefits, discounts, coupons, etc. Don’t even think about renting an RV, there are such severe mileage restrictions and restrictions on crossing state lines, etc., huge deposits for everything under the sun – really, you are better off trying to buy a used one. It’s worth checking into the pre-owned market because the new RV dealers haven’t gotten the memo about the fact there is a second great depression in full swing – our local RV show featuring the largest dealers in USA had dealers on the nightly news claiming this will be “the biggest year EVER for sales” and they “see no drop in prices at ALL.” Shilling for the local manufacturers, three of four of which shut up shop as they were bankrupt….you get the idea!

Comment from Midiana
Time September 9, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Hey! If you make it up to Maine you can camp at our dog friendly campground at Mattawamkeag Wilderness Park.

Comment from Sue
Time September 10, 2010 at 7:04 am

WOOF! (You know I’m with you two on this) You know the Facebook campaign to get Betty White as host of SNL? Do you know how to start that sort of thing to get you and Ace a sponsored RV? (I don’t or I’d start one…) Any Facebook-savy OMD readers out here?

Comment from Ann
Time September 12, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree with you trying to finagle an RV out of a dealer or manufacturer for free. We worked long and hard to be able to afford our RV and afford our trips, and you just want one handed to you because you started a website and blog about traveling with your dog? That just rubs me the wrong way. In my opinion, if you can’t afford to buy your own RV, then you should start out the same way we did, with our car, our dog and a tent.

Comment from Karen Brucoli Anesi
Time September 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Hey, if you’re heading westward,stop at Lock 30 Woodlands RV campground and meet their one-eyed, black lab rescue (“Blackjack”) who serves as the ambassador for all dogs at this resort. No charge for dogs. No restrictions on numbers, breeds or weight of dogs–and they are permitted in the furnished condos. A free dog wash and off leash 20 acre area along the river awaits all canines. Too dog-gone friendly! Karen Brucoli Anesi, Lock 30 woodlands, Lisbon, OH

Comment from Anne’n'Spencer
Time September 13, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I dunno, Ann. My husband and I worked long and hard to earn our tent, car, and dog, and we enjoy our trips, too. Seems to me that this blog’s author has worked long and hard at the art and craft of writing. And he’s become more than tolerably good at it. You might think that being a good writer isn’t such a big deal, but you’d be wrong about that. One look around at the junk that passes for Web content these days should convince any educated person that good tales well told are to be treasured. It used to be that if we wanted to learn a bit more about the world around us, all we had to do was buy a newspaper on our way to work. Those days seem to be vanishing pretty quickly. I think lots of people believe that there’s a good and valuable story to be told and heard on the pages of this blog. If something tangible like an RV helps that happen, then I suspect a lot of us are all for it.

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