Monday, September 15, 2014

Adventures in Rattlesnake Bites

On Thursday (9/11/14), Mike loaded up the kids while I was sleeping and went to visit a friend.  At 9:15PM, he woke me, told me to dress and informed me we were taking Elly to the vet.  I didn't ask, I could hear the panic in his voice and just dressed.

He came home and I knew without asking what happened.  She was bitten by a rattlesnake on the face.  The whole right side of her face was swelling and she yelped every time it was touched by something.  Into the car and up the interstate we went (because why would my town have a 24/7 emergency vet?). 

Mike never saw the offending rattlesnake, and to my understanding, it was never located.

I called Mandy and asked her where she took Meeka in July when she was bit.  1st Pet Veterinary it was. I called in advance to give them a 30 minute warning we were coming.  Mike carried her in and a tech came out and took her from him immediately.  We didn't even finish filling out the basic paperwork when the vet called us back.  Dr. Berko was fantastic, all of the staff was fantastic.  She laid everything out (including pricing) and gave us options.  We made our decisions, put our downpayment in and were led back to see her.  The place was immaculate and quiet. 

Elly already had IV fluids going and pain meds in her system.  She was upset but had a large pen for the night.  They would have to keep her to give fluids, anti-venom, and monitor her clotting.  I hated leaving her. The vet called us before we got home to tell us that her blood work looked good, considering, and that Elly had a great prognosis.

I did not get pictures of how swollen she was.  It didn't cross my mind.  The right side of her face was triple its normal size.  Fluid had built up in her neck and chest.  She looked terrible.

The next morning we called.  At 9AM they ran a final blood test and told us we could pick her up.  She was loopy on pain meds and still swollen.  She was sporting, what I affectionately called, a Mastiff face. (pictures just don't do it justice)

We were actually refunded some money.  The staff gave us pain meds and a course of home treatment: no activity and soft foods for 10 days.  She would be spoiled on raw frozen patties.  Poor kid.

After a good meal, Elly slept most of the day and night.  She was clearly in a lot of pain.  I hate to see my baby so sad.

By Saturday the swelling was subsiding.  We could only spot one actual puncture wound in her nose, so we're thinking she didn't get a full blast of venom.  She was still in some discomfort and slept most of the day.

Sunday was a lot of lazing. But she was becoming herself again.  By Monday morning, she was boring holes into my head (a silent technique she uses to beg/ask for a walk).  Apparently sunning in the backyard wasn't cutting it anymore.  Cabin fever set in and she needed to go explore.  I took them both out to the field for a short romp (don't tell the vet). 

She is still a little lopsided and there is still a bit of fluid in her neck, but she is bouncing back faster than I anticipated. My little trooper. Also, look how svelte she is! She's been on a diet for a few month and dropped 10lbs.

What I learned:

1. Stay calm.  The vet was impressed with how calm she was under the circumstances.  Mike and I made small talk in the car on the way to the vet to keep our emotions in check.  It helped her too.

2. Follow your gut, as well as your vet's advice.  This was our first experience with 1st Pet, we had NO idea what to expect.  They were incredibly knowledgeable and the first thing they provided us with was a "What to Expect" flyer.  Rattlesnake bites are up this year, and they are pros at this point.

3. Money is no object.  It wasn't cheap. And I didn't care.

4. Mind your dogs in open desert settings, to include chain link fenced yards.  Elly has a decent prey drive. Distracted pet parents can prove fatal.

5. 1st Pet was amazing.  I'm honestly contemplating making them my primary vet, even though they are 35 minutes away. Our current primary vet isn't terrible, but I have left there feeling less than impressed on several occasions.  Google could've done a better job.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Great Arizona Flood of 2014

Today, a monsoon hit the Phoenix area with vengeance.  For those not familiar with desert rains, they can be violent.  Not necessarily the rains themselves, but what they can bring.  Deserts have washes. Washes are essentially dry river beds.  Since they can be dry for 90% of the year, or even dry for years on end, humans tend to forget that they exist for a purpose: drainage.  Humans also tend to forget how deadly they can be.  Whole swaths of Interstate 10 were under water and consumed countless vehicles of brain dead drivers who thought that their Honda Civic could really make it through water up to their windows.

(photo from KNXV)

Entire neighborhoods were evacuated due to flooding and downed power lines.  But most people made the best of the new found (and short lived) lakes that sprung up throughout the valley.  Desert people LOVE water. Its rare to see so much of it here.  And the dry soil and high temperatures will make quick work of its disappearance. 

After a wet day at work, Mike and I took the dogs out to enjoy the lakes that formed in our own neighborhood walking path.  This is less water than we have seen in the past, but still enough to make our water dog happy.

The sun came out by 1PM, and by the time we made it out to play it was warm and wonderful.  Rommel and Elly thought we were the best parents ever. While she isn't a huge fan of swimming, she's an enormous fan of splashing and chasing in water.  And Rommel may as well have fins and gills.

Of course we took video again. Who can resist the joy of a dog in water?  (for those who watched my prior dog/water video, I apologize for the same soundtrack.  It's the only watery type music I have on my PC). 

Also, Blogger's mobile site does not like embedded videos.  For those using the mobile site, here is the link directly to the youtube video.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer

Every year, Mandy and Pete rent a bouncy house/water slide for their son's birthday party.  Every year, once the kids are done, the dogs and adults pretend to be kids.  This year, the slide was different and proved more difficult to get the dogs up to, but everyone still had a blast.

We even bought a harness so Rommel could wear the GoPro.

For those viewing the mobile version of this blog, here is a link to the youtube video.  Blogger mobile doesn't like embedded videos.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Journey is Over

In inevitable was upon us.  Our vacation was ending.  We woke but didn't bother getting up.  The breeze was cool, as rain clouds were on the horizon.  Both trailer doors were open, Elly was napping at our feet and we just enjoyed the last morning.

Hunger won in the end, and we pushed towards Lake Mary Road.  Once there, we went the short distance to the Mormon Lake Lodge for a simple, country breakfast. Not quite willing to throw in the towel that early, we decided to check out some NF roads for future camping.

One camp spot had a distinct feature:

It sprinkled on and off during our short adventure.  We found some promising areas where the dreaded 5th wheel couldn't get to.  Just before hitting pavement for the last time, we stopped to break the dogs.

I noticed that our little jaunt through mud left interesting patterns on my wheels.

To say the least, I was depressed to be heading south.  Temperatures quickly rose to remind us why we left in the first place.  One of these days I will convince Mike to sell everything off, buy a plot of land in the woods and runaway.

One of these days....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Flagstaff Fiasco

We woke in our little pine nook and had breakfast again cooked by Mandy.  (She's amazing, have I mentioned that yet?)  Aside from chairs, we had little cleanup.

The road towards Tusayan wasn't nearly as atrocious as the way in and we made good time.  In Tusayan we noticed the NFS doing controlled burns in the town limits.  I'm glad we didn't camp further west.

The drive to Flagstaff was fairly uneventful.  We stopped at Five Guys for a burger before saying farewell to our camp mates.  Mike and I weren't too keen to head back home yet.  But first we needed to find a new water pump.  I wasn't expecting the endeavor to take 4 hours but it did.

Glutton for punishment, we headed out towards more AZBDR tracks.  We obviously didn't learn our lesson the first two times, having thoroughly NOT enjoyed the two prior tracks we followed.  We went south down Winona Ranch Road hoping to end up in the pines near Mormon Lake.

It. Was. Terrible.  Hey BDR folks, Arizona actually has TREES.  I promise, I've camped there. Try routing people through them.  Not down rocky, 4 low, slow, scrub brush landscaped roads.  BORING.  Frustrating. The dogs and I were tired of being tossed around the Jeep.  Mike was frustrated with being in 4 low for so long.

The only bonus was another enormous herd of elk.  I think this one was larger than the one we saw on Day 1.

We also saw a small herd of pronghorn antelope.  They were a distance out, you may or may not see them.

Miles later, we finally hit a serviced forest road where we could pick up speed and beeline for the pines.  Unfortunately, it was a weekend.  In Flagstaff.  During summer.  When every Arizonan wants to escape the oppressive heat and head for the hills.  Every campsite was within eyeshot of a fifth wheel or occupied by one.  Thankfully I noticed a sign for  two track heading towards Anderson's something or other.  It was rocky and unused.  This was the only time we were happy to find a rocky road.

Secluded, Mike went about replacing the water pump in the fading sunlight.  I cooked dinner and Elly kept guard while Rommel napped.

It wasn't the best day, but it wasn't the worst day either.  No matter, we were still on vacation, still with each other and still in the wild. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Farewell Colorado, Hello hot hot hot Arizona

Thankfully it did not rain on us overnight, so we were able to pack up a relatively dry campsite.  During breakfast we noticed an already steady upwards progression on FJ's traveling up to Black Bear.  Great.  Our road out is single lane and groups of 5-10 FJ's were coming up every hour.  We would have to time our exit perfectly.  We stopped off at the falls one more time to fill up the 5 gallon emergency water jugs.

Man I'm going to miss Silverton.

Prior to leaving for our trip, I was cornered by a coworker who was desperately in need of a honey wine. Having traveled to Silverton herself, two years prior, she bought a bottle and loved it.  They don't ship out of state.  Being winos, we agreed to stop.  I wasn't expecting to leave with 10 bottles just for myself.  But hey, they don't ship out of state.  If you're a sweet wine person, Honeyville is for you. 

After our expensive stop, we slabbed our way south.  It would be nice if there wasn't a huge expanse of desolate desert in between our favorite vacation stops and home.  Four corners makes the desert I call home look like a jungle.  You know its boring when the camera goes back into its neoprene case.

Pete and Mandy were intending to get home tomorrow, so we planned to camp again south of the Grand Canyon.  We were aiming for the eastern exit that the AZBDR notes.  By this time, the sun was setting.  It was going to be a late night.

The sky was hazy.  We initially thought the usual, dust.  But no, its fire season.  Somewhere west of the canyon there was a large fire and it was stinking up everything east of it.

Several miles into our journey, I was done.  This road was nothing but exposed rocks: bumpy and slow going.  It would be long past dark before we entered the pine trees and found suitable camping.

During our quick dinner, our water pump died.  Good news, the trip was almost over. Bad news, damnit, our water pump died.  Cheap Hecho in Mexico garbage.  Pete and Mike rigged it up to work for the short term, but we were going to have a to get a new one.  And since Mike and I weren't ready to throw in the towel on our vacation yet, we would be doing some shopping in Flagstaff tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Red Mountain Mining

We woke again to overcast skies and cool temperatures.  We haven't felt as gung-ho for difficult trails as we were expecting.  Mike chose an easy, but tall mountain climb, literally across the street.  First, our 30 degree downslope mentioned yesterday.

We made our ascent up to an old mining facility and explored for a while before rain chased us back into the Jeep.

On our way around the mountain, we discovered that through a long lens, we could actually see our campsite across the way. 

We briefly hit pavement before continuing on through the Red Mountain Mining District.  This entire route was littered with old mine sites.  Yankee Girl was my favorite.

We hit pavement again less than 10 miles from Ouray and decided that lunch would be consumed there.  We got some pretty good homemade pizza at the Gold Belt Bar and Grill and then hit the tourist shops.  Mike researched why we were seeing so many FJ Cruisers; the FJ Summit had just started.  Tired of the tourist trap, we made our way back to Silverton and camp. 

Mike and Pete stopped to wash the FJ off at the waterfall, while Mandy and I went to camp to wash up.  I left Mike with the camera.  He got some pretty good waterfall shots too.

Finally having sunshine over camp this afternoon, I was able to snap some late afternoon colors on the mountains behind us and of our camp. 


After playing, Elly put herself to bed.  We open the tent flap enough to fit a dog and they go in at out at will.  Once the temps dropped, she put herself to bed for the night. 

We have a killer view from camp.  I love it.  Rommel and I spent quite some time watching the evolution of the sunset.

We were on this road earlier this morning:

Its sad to think that our time here is coming to a close.  I think camping at 11,300 ft was probably a poor idea considering the headaches and weariness we've all been suffering, but I have such a fondness for Silverton and its beauty, that I never want to leave.