Friday, May 31, 2013

An introduction to traveling with a dog stroller

Hey, who's that doggie in the stroller at Betty Burgers in Capitola? That would be Kitai riding in a pet stroller out in public for the first time!

Betty Burgers makes delicious veggie and meat patties.

In order to prepare him for our upcoming road trip I really wanted to be able to introduce him to the stroller we'd gotten our cat Squash years ago so we could take walks together as a family.

Kitai had only walked along side it because in the past it's been filled with cat.

Test run to see if everything would fit in the back seat. Success!

I also tried something new in the car which was adding an extra cushion for comfort and wedging his medium sized, nested, dog crate and the pet stroller between the front and rear seat backs by reclining the front passenger seat and jamming the crate in place. He still has on his car seat belt leash hooked to his harness to keep him from becoming a projectile in an accident or if I have to slam on my brakes hard.

Once on the road I noticed for the first time ever, thanks to the pillow and mattress, he was able to sit up and look around out the windows, something he'd never done before. He would also rest with his chin on the edge of the crate so I grabbed a fleece blanket out of the trunk to drape it giving him a softer edge to rest his scruffy chinny chin chin upon.

The process of teaching him how to get into the stroller began a few days earlier in our living room. I didn't want to traumatize him by dumping him in and zipping the stroller up so I'd been tossing dog treats into the stroller to entice him to want to go in himself.

Note the additional support I added beneath the pad he's standing on.

At first he seemed quite frightened of the stroller. I realized it was because the bottom he had to stand on wasn't solid (it was just a piece of fabric covered cardboard) so when he'd step in and it gave a bit to his weight he didn't feel safe. The next day I took an old bulletin board and cut it with an Xacto knife to fit the inside of the stroller and placed his fuzzy pad on top of it. It helped but there was still a bit of bend/shake to the stroller floor. So, I added a small piece of 1/4" white foam board beneath the bulletin board. That did the trick! After that he was perfectly fine to jump in and out as I gave him more treats.

My rule of thumb will be to always make sure he's had the opportunity to walk around outside a bit first to stretch his legs, go to the bathroom if needed, meet other dogs and people, and just burn off some energy and curiosity before placing him in the stroller.

Training him with treats worked so well it got to the point where he refused to leave the stroller. LOL

Not only did I teach him to ride in the stroller, I also covered it with a small table cloth because sometimes the less he sees (other dogs in particular) the more calm he'll remain. For Kitai being in the covered stroller was no big deal. When he's all zipped in he can still see out the back so he's not in the dark.

With websites like Fido Factor and Bring Fido it's going to be a lot easier to find dog friendly stores that won't mind if Kitai comes in with me on a quick errand.

Using the stroller makes it a lot easier (on me) to take him into stores that are pet friendly because though he's never had an accident in a business, it could happen and the stroller eliminates the risk I'd say by 99.99%.

It also keeps him in one spot so I can focus on what I'm doing and my surroundings rather than what he may do next or having to untangle his leash if he meets another dog and they wind their leashes together during the obligatory meet and greet butt sniff.

At the restaurant he got to sit inside the stroller out on the patio with the front zipped down while I had lunch with my friend Carl. I was ready for anything including Kitai jumping out of the stroller (his leash was attached to the stroller so he couldn't run away) or for him to bark at another dog if a dog barked at him first. Even though there was another dog there that did bark he just sat and watched it quietly.

The only real problem for me is that since I'll be traveling alone I'll need to find restaurants that will seat me outside and I won't have to try to sneak him in just to place and pick up my order. The nice thing is with the internet and a cell phone I can call around and look for just the right place that offers the right opportunity. Worst case I can drive around until I find parking outside of a restaurant, call in a to go order and leave Kitai in the car just long enough to run in and pick up the order and bring it back out to the car where I can either eat in the car, the trailer, or we can find a nice bench outside to catch a breath of fresh air.

Or maybe I'll just look for food trucks whenever possible.

After lunch I needed to drive my car more as my mechanic wanted me to take it for a shakedown drive after all of the work they'd done to make sure everything was in good working order. We took HWY 1 along the coast and stopped at Pescadero State Beach to stretch our legs. Unfortunately the beach is closed to dogs so we just walked around the parking lot which still afforded us with a great ocean front view, sunshine, and a fresh ocean breeze.

Kitai didn't seem to mind having to stay in the parking lot as he stood with the ocean in the distance. I was laughing at the way the his windswept ears made him look even scruffier than usual.

We continued up HWY 1 until we arrived at Half Moon Bay then cut across to HWY 280 to head home. We made two more stops along the way, one to stretch our legs again and one to stop at Pet's Choice, my favorite pet supply shop to get more essentials for the big trip.

In total we were on the road for 5.5 hours, not quite the 8 I plan to drive each day on the road trip but it was enough to let me know that Kitai will do just fine as my co-pilot. We were both exhausted by the time we got home. He walked in the house and immediately dropped on the floor and took a two hour nap. LOL I'm sure he'll have more endurance by the time we arrive back in CA with The Glampette.

Happy trails and tails to you!

To follow my entire trailer build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trailer Gear: DIY duvet and porta potty cover

The moment I was done inserting the down comforter and laid out the new duvet I'd just sewn my quality control committee came over to test it out. LOL

It was challenging because the fabric with the polka dots is a "minke" fabric meaning it's super soft and a little stretchy so it's hard to sew. The back is a pink sheet that I also used to make the mattress cover with. I even added a zipper. Who the heck do I think I am? All fancy sewing with a zipper? It was challenging but I got it in installed. It works great which will make it easier for washing which was my goal.

 And this little number is the cover for my Thetford porta potty. As well as being a great storage table surface, it's one of the most convenient and eco-friendly solutions for campers/travelers. I made the cover 3" short to clear the mattress that will right beside it.

I also sewed a cover for my wedge pillow, blackout curtains for the windows, and I'm just about to finish a screen door that will velcro into place to keep the bugs out when we want fresh air but not too much nature. I also finished my shower. I need to photograph it and share it with you because most people look at me very skeptically when I tell them I figured out how to put a shower in The Glampette. LOL

To follow my entire trailer build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trailer Decorating: Pulling double duty

The Glampette is so small that many items will be pulling double duty. For some the second use is purely decorative. Take his cute yellow pansy cushion that will sit on the bed next to my pillow during the day. It's just cute!

It's sitting on the fabric I'm about to sew a duvet with for a small down comforter I already had. The duvet will be backed with a pink sheet that matches the mattress cover I made and when it's too warm out I can unzip the duvet, pull the comforter out and use it as a lightweight blanket.

But back to that little yellow flower. . . When you stand it up it's still cute but less flower like. . .

Because wait, it's not a cushion!

It's a DIY toilet paper roll cover that I threw together with some extra fabric I had.

I also made some temporary curtains for the drive home so that I'll have some privacy. The windows on the trailer are tinted dark grey so I made these yellow sheers and a set of blackout curtains for night time in case there's a bright light outside my window that makes it hard to sleep. I'll post a picture of the blackout curtains once they're done.

The TP cover is so glampy I love it! If you want me to make a tutorial to show how I did it just let me know in the comments and I'll put one together for a future post.

To follow my entire trailer build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's been seven days since I've driven my car

Surprisingly, being carless for almost a week hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be.

That's my car. I visit it from time to time, it's almost like it's in prison and I have visitation rights from 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM, the time when the garage is open and I can borrow hubby's car to drive to see it before he goes to work. Mostly I drop by to drop off more parts for the work the garage is doing to make my car safer and tow-worthy for my upcoming road trip.

Have I mentioned before it's 19 years old? Some people think I'm kind of crazy to have such an old car, and to want to use it tow my trailer, but I love my car. It's paid off, the registration is affordable, and for almost two decades it's been superbly reliable. It's an old Acura Integra that's solid as a rock. The only major breakdown it's had was the distributor needed to be replaced a few years back. Besides that it's only required the usual maintenance of oil changes, brake pads, tires, and a new battery every four years or so.

I brought it in to add the trailer hitch, battery isolator, brake controller, transmission oil cooler, a new radiator, and the taillight wiring kit. I also had a safety inspection and tune up done. Among other parts, pretty much everything made of rubber is being replaced particularly the hoses and belts because some are beginning to crack or bulge as they've lost their elasticity. Soon it'll be good to go. And we'll be on our way.

For now I've decided to hold off on painting the car until I return, then have the car and trailer painted at the same time.

I'm still thinking this is the look I want to go for:

It's been suggested I should get a cheap paint job on the car and a good one on the trailer. I'm thinking that'll be the way to go since I'll have the trailer longer than I'll have the car. But, I was told by an Acura rep at a car show years ago that my car can make it to 300,000 miles, and it's only at 141,000 now so I could be driving it for a couple more decades. LOL.

But seriously, I'm hoping that soon someone will come out with an electric car capable of towing The Glampette around. I've been told some Tesla Roadster owners have added hitches to their cars. While it would look ridiculously cute towing The Glampette I just can't see myself driving (or affording) a Roadster. It's too sporty for me. I'm more of a simple gal with pragmatic tastes. Hoping for an all electric or at least a hybrid that is capable of towing and has some interior storage space. For now my little Acura will have to keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An on the road bathroom alternative

One of the first things people ask me when they see pictures of The Glampette is "Is there a bathroom?" It's a good question. The trailer is so small I suspect they expect me to say no. But, I say yes because one of the first things I purchased for it was a Thetford Porta Potty. It's small, modern, easy to use, and even easier to clean.

But this past weekend my friend Gordon, clearly a close friend, surprised me with a trailer gift. A box of Travel John disposable urinals. LOL I told him I'd use them as guest bathrooms.

The box contains three biodegradable urinals that are shockingly leak proof, even if you tip over or puncture the bag. They're for men, women, and kids.

They seem like a good thing to have in general in case of a natural disaster where you lose plumbing for a few days, when a public restroom may give you privacy but it's too dirty to use, out on a hike, or if you're caught unexpectedly away from a bathroom for a long time like on a highway when there's been a road closure and you're trapped with no exit.

While men could use this in the car no problem, for women, I'd keep a sheet in your trunk that you could basically hang between two open doors to create a privacy tent by catching the fabric by opening and closing your windows on it, and maybe a few safety pins to hold the sheet securely in place across the other two sides.

The box alludes you can use them in vehicles, on planes, boats, in tents, while handicapped, and bedridden.

Here is a pictorial about how the disposable urinals work. For men it seems easy enough. For women? I think a test run while standing in your bath tub wouldn't be a bad idea. LOL

Travel John also makes a similar product for solid waste and a portable toilet and privacy tent for campers.

Thanks Gordon. It's good to know I have friends who have not only my back but, err, are considerate enough to address the needs of my bodily functions too.

To follow my entire trailer build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dog friendly road trip advice

Today Kitai did not have a fun morning. He had to go to the Vet to update his rabies shot for our upcoming road trip. Some campgrounds will require proof of his vaccination for him to be able to stay on their property.

At first he was ambivalent.

After having his temperature taken he gave me the stink eye.

He got his shots, had a sample taken from what turned out to be a harmless cyst, and a blood draw to test for heartworms. He couldn't wait to leave.

In the past few days I've been getting great advice from other dog owners about traveling alone with a dog. Some points I can share with you:

  • Kitai is already microchipped in case he gets lost
  • He always has a tag on with my cell phone number so if he's lost I can be contacted directly
  • He is always leashed when out of the house
  • When I walk him he wears a separate harness with a second tag so that he won't ever slip his collar and have no tag on
  • He has a seat belt that hooks to his harness for riding in the car so if I slam on my brakes or we're in an accident he won't become a projectile in the car or be ejected
  • Kitai has a reflective leash for night time and a small LED light that clips to his collar so he's more easily seen 
  • I already always clean up after him in public because it's the law here in San Jose

New ideas from the forum include:
  • Create a lost poster with photos of him ahead of time that I can print and bring with me so that if he were to get loose I could handwrite in his last seen location and put them up immediately
  • Get a small window shade that I can put on the passenger window to block direct sun from hitting him and making him too hot
  • Adding"Reward if Found" to the tag he wears on his collar
  • Getting a small battery operated fan in case he needs more air circulation in the car or trailer to be comfortable
  • Bring a copy of his most recent vet records
  • Get a thermometer to check the indoor temperature of the trailer so that I can learn how my trailer heats up and when it's safe to leave him in the trailer alone while I run into a grocery store (in the morning only) without putting him in danger of heatstroke.
Aside from these points it will take a bit more effort, finding restaurants that offer patio seating, and stopping and letting him stretch his legs throughout the day but those inconveniences will be worth having my little buddy with me instead of leaving him home.

If you have any other tips please leave them in the comments. I want to make this experience as smooth as possible for both of us so that our trip is as fun and relaxing as possible.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The not-so-secret waterfalls of Mill Valley

Just minutes north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge you can find some very special Marin waterfalls. I say special because they're beautiful and surprisingly easy to get to once you know where to find them.

They're called the Cascade Falls and my friend Jason Mitchell told my friend Carl and I about them back in January of 2011 when we mentioned we were heading to Mill Valley to visit Tyler Florence's West Coast Kitchen store. Carl and I didn't take the time to find them that day because we were headed to SF to look for food trucks.

Over a year later I thought they would fun to visit as hubby and I were taking our nephew Josh to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and didn't feel like going into the city before or after.

Here's how we got there. From HWY 101:
  1. Take the Mill Valley Stinson Beach 1 Exit
  2. Bear left on HWY 1 and go back under the freeway
  3. Turn right on Almonte Blvd
  4. Almonte becomes Miller - Stay on Miller
  5. Turn left at Throckmorton Ave
  6. Throckmorton becomes Cascade Drive - The trail head is on Cascade Drive
Note it will take you longer to drive from the freeway to the falls parking lot where you'll see this sign than it will to hike to the falls once you've parked. It's important to note because I decided not to carry my tripod in because I thought the hike would be long. It was less than five minutes.

From the lot you'll see Cascade Creek, ferns, redwoods and a foot path to the left of the creek.

Follow the foot path until you reach this bridge.

Cross the bridge.

You'll be able to see the falls to your left even before crossing the bridge.


It's definitely a place of peace and serenity. The green ferns, pebbles through the water, mossy rocks, falling water, and the shade from the towering redwoods all combined to create a place of tranquility.

You'll find roughly hewn benches near the falls so you can sit and enjoy the solitude if no one else is around.

The reason I brought my tripod that day was to take long exposure shots of the falling water if we were successful in locating the falls. Instead, I had to hold/lean/press my camera on rocks and trees to brace it since I was feeling too lazy to walk the short distance back to the car to retrieve it.

For the most dramatic view of the falls visit in the winter after it rains when the creek is running full. As the spring and summer wear on the water level will drop and the falls will become less dramatic but, imo, no less beautiful. I loved that you could see through the semi-sheer veils of water as they dropped from the rocks above.

Of course I can't go anywhere without breaking out my macro lens. This lichen was begging to be photographed.

This branch too.

I simply love being in redwood forests and wish I'd begun visiting them decades ago when I first moved to California instead of waiting until last year.

And of course there's a restaurant recommendation. As we drove down Miller Avenue as we were heading towards the falls we passed Grilly's. It's a Mexican restaurant that serves both meat and vegetarian dishes and I have to say they make some awesome nachos. Instead of adding a meat to them I asked if I could have both refried and black beans. I will do this at any restaurant that will let me from now on because it was better than one or the other.

I wish they were closer because their nachos were awesome and they use my favorite fire roasted salsa on the nachos instead of the chopped fresh tomato variety. I will definitely be returning for an encore.

Here are a few more articles about Cascade Falls and the nearby Three Wells:

Cole's Trail Tales: Marin Waterfalls Hike - Cascade Falls in Mill Valley
Towards an Enlightened World: Cascade Falls, Mill Valley, California
Marin Independent Journal: Hike of the week: Now's the time to catch Marin's waterfalls

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Please use caution when visiting Monastery Beach

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post about Monastery State Beach in Carmel, CA. Yesterday I received a private message from someone who lost her family members when they attempted to help someone else who had been swept into the sea by the waves. The original victim was saved by another rescuer, tragically her husband and daughter didn't survive their rescue attempt.

Both to honor them and to warn others that though the beach looks peaceful and calm things can change in an instant, I'd like to repost the link to the original post: Beautiful and Dangerous: Monastery Beach, Carmel, CA

Please stay safe people. The life you may be protecting isn't just your own but those around you who would try to save you if you get yourself into trouble.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Trailer Gear: Foam mattress or camping pad?

Knowing I'd want to sometimes bring Kitai on trips with me I purposely designed the trailer to have enough room for each of us to have our own beds.

This is the configuration I've been planning on using.

I figured an ultralight, self-inflating, camping sleeping pad would suit my needs perfectly because they're light and partly because I could easily store it during the day leaving the floor open. I'd been considering a Thermarest sleeping pad because some are very highly rated for comfort.

But then I wandered into a Brookstone store and laid eyes (and body) upon a Biosense Memory Foam Mattress Topper. It was like floating on a cloud of comfort. It was CRAZY comfortable.

If I get the foam mattress we could sleep together but I'd have to cut it down and make it a bit more narrow. Google to the rescue. Turns out the best way to cut foam is with an electric kitchen knife. Who knew? I'd make it as wide as the floor space and Kitai and I could share it sleeping together.

Any thoughts? Have you ever used one or both? I'm still leaning more towards the camping sleeping pad for its convenience and versatility but I'm open to suggestions.

To follow my entire trailer build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.