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Archive for September 20th, 2010

RV having fun yet?

I took a first, tentative step into the RV world over the weekend, hitting what’s billed as the country’s largest RV show in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

I saw big ones, small ones, medium sized, elaborate ones and even more elaborate ones in what turned out to be a quick visit — mainly because the drop-your-dog-off kennel at HersheyPark wasn’t all I hoped it would be.

I had envisioned a grassy, fenced in area, with shade, perhaps some water features, perhaps some college students on hand to keep the dogs company as they frolicked. Instead it was a dingy little room, filled with stacked cages, located beneath the stadium.

Upon walking into what they call the Barking Lot Kennel, my first inclination was to walk out. While there was a good-sized ground level crate Ace would fit into, its floor lined with newspaper, I didn’t think he’d be happy there, between the cramped quarters and the constant barking of the other 10 or so dogs already there.

But then Ace tugged me inside, and happily went into the crate, so I paid the sole attendant the $10 boarding fee and promised — him, Ace and myself — to return in no more than two hours.

 My plan had been to schmooze with some dealers and manufacturers in an effort to procure an RV company as a sponsor for “Travels with Ace” — but time was too short, and, to be honest, I’m not big on schmoozing. Maybe I need something like “schmooze control,” where I could push an automatic pilot button and be personable for a specified stretch of time.

I’m also not big on huge gatherings of humans, of which this was one. I’ve never really understood the whole giant boat/dog/car/RV/home furnishings show phenomenon. It’s really my worst nightmare: packing way too many people in one place, restricting their movement with narrow aisles and dead ends, and getting bombarded with pamphlets and — oh, God — salesman.

That’s sort of what I would imagine hell is like.

I guess, in a way, the big shows makes sense — it’s an opportunity to see all there is to offer, all the latest technology, in one place. But, as for me, I’d prefer leisurely browsing through a catalog to trying to maneuver between slow walkers, fast walkers, baby strollers, and people on scooters.

As I walked down row after row of motorhomes, I noticed most dealers and manufacturers had them set up in such a way that, once you entered their area, it was difficult to exit — sort of a circle the wagons/trap the customers mentality.

I left empty handed — turning down all offered freebies because there is just no more room in my car, a 2005 Jeep Liberty that we shall continue the trip in, perhaps renting an RV down the road, partly to get a better taste of that world, partly because, when traveling with a dog, it’s the mode that seems to make the most sense.

I did see enough to get a bad case of RV envy, though — mainly for the compact versions, not much bigger than a van, but with beds, refrigerators, stoves, bathrooms and all the other comforts of home, all squeezed in nice and cozy-like.

I decided I would not turn down, if offered, an Itasca Navion, or a slightly-bigger-than-a-van number made by Pleasure-Way, or this one (left) from Coach House, to serve as the rolling home and office of “Travels with Ace.” But I won’t hold my breath.

I spent a little time looking at the laughably large ones  — equipped with just about everything you can imagine, including large flat screen TVs not just inside, but on the outside of the vehicle as well.

On the surface, it seems ludicrous.: Drive 1,000 miles to the Grand Canyon, set up some chairs, pull down the awning and turn on the old set. But I guess it, like the big RV show, makes a certain kind of sense. I can understand, after spending nearly four months now on the road, wanting a home away from home.

On the other hand, given a choice between viewing the Grand Canyon or “America’s Got Talent,” I’d have to go with the big hole in the ground.

As promised, I made it back to the Barking Lot a couple of hours later and retrieved Ace, who was none the worse for wear, though eager to leave.

I think we had both had enough of our species — me trying to navigate the rows of motor homes among too many humans, he trying to stay calm amid the rows of barking dogs.

He pulled hard on the leash, and made a beeline for the car.

We hightailed it out of there and headed east, sticking to backroads, avoiding the turnpike for a while and enjoying some of the quiet Pennsylvania countryside.

Built like a brick shithouse

I have heard the term “brick shithouse,” but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one — until Saturday, when I encountered something close: a toilet made of brick in a restroom made of cinderblock at a park well outside Harrisburg.

It — the term — is, at least when I’ve heard it, generally used to describe someone of sturdy frame, as in: “He (she) is built like a brick shithouse.”

Urban Dictionary offers these definitions: “…very muscled and tough; impervious, unassailable …  a stand alone toilet, constructed from brick.” (Is there a rural dictionary? There should be.)

I’m not sure of the phrase’s origin, but I’d guess, when outhouses were common, most were made of flimsy wood — until someone constructed a brick one, and word spread about how sturdy it was. I’m guessing people flocked to see it, making comments like, “Now, that’s a shithouse.” Somehow, from that point, the phrase began being used to describe large and sturdy people.

Ace and I were on our way to visit some puppies for sale by an Amish breeder (story to come) when we stopped at a municipal park to stretch our legs (to use a more polite euphemism). I stepped into the bathroom to see a toilet seat perched atop what appeared to be a chimney.

I’d imagine sitting on it — a purpose I did not require — would make one feel a little like Santa Claus.

Anyway, having seen a brick shithouse, or at least something close to it, we can cross it off our list and continue our travels, staying on the lookout for hell in a handbasket, a two-dollar whore, raining cats and dogs, and lipstick on a pig.

Guinness recognizes longest dog tongue

Puggy, a tiny 10-year-old Pekingese living in Texas, has been recognized by the 2011 edition of Guinness World Records for having the longest tongue of any dog.

Judges confirmed that Puggy’s tongue is 4.5 inches long, which, though a bit freakish for his size, doesn’t seem all that world record breaking to me.

Possibly they are just measuring that portion of tongue that protrudes from the mouth; or possibly they are looking at tongues in relation to a dog’s overall size. Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty big tongue.

According to The Telegraph, Puggy was abandoned by a breeder as a pup because of his looks, but then taken in by a Texas couple.

“‘People who meet Puggy for the first time do a lot of double takes; they are in total disbelief and are amused by his unique appearance,” said Becky Stanford, Puggy’s owner.

”It means a great deal to us that he has accomplished what he has. From being a stray dog, being dumped, to being a Guinness World Record Holder is just phenomenal. I just can’t believe it.”