Saturday, September 25, 2010

So Long for Awhile

For over a year now, I've been writing about my travels in this blog--and now I have temporarily run out of material. I'll be back the next time I take a trip, or the next time cleaning house turns up photos from one of my earlier trips that I haven't covered yet.

Here's a recommendation for music for the road next time you take off for parts unknown:


In the meantime, if you are an aspiring fiction writer, I am writing a series of articles for you to be found at http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jean_Lorrah.

Otherwise, if you have just found this blog, or would like to reread some of the posts (or look at the pictures again), here is an index of my travel posts:

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

My posts about this past summer's semi-staycation close to home begin here.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Columbus' Ships Visit Kentucky


No matter where you live, interesting things will come your way several times each year. Just last weekend the Green Turtle Bay Resort hosted the Nina and the Pinta, accurate replicas of two of the three ships Christopher Columbus sailed on his first voyage to the New World.

These ships were made for a film about Columbus some years ago, but they were built to be seaworthy, and now sail all around the world, introducing people everywhere to the latest thing in seafaring technology, circa the 15th century.

The heat wave had just finally broken, and it was an absolutely beautiful Saturday. As a result, the parks were mobbed, and so were the ships. These little ships originally sailed with a crew of eleven--with a couple hundred tourists on board they really list to the side where everyone climbs aboard!

What is most startling to modern people is how small these ships are, both in their overall size and in things like ceiling height, which is about 5'8". But 15th century European men averaged only about five feet tall. They were also very young, those men who risked their lives in hopes of reaching India and coming home with silk, spices, tea, and gold. Most of the sailors were between 14 and 20, and the cabin boy was only 9. But in those days a boy became legally a man at 14.

Watch your local news for events like this one in your area. Not only does it make a lovely day out, but it gives everyone a sense of history that you just don't get from reading books or watching TV.

_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Seven

Superman's Home Town

Just across the Ohio River from Paducah, Kentucky is the little city of Metropolis, Illinois, home of the annual Superman Festival each June. Eric wanted to rest, so Lois and I drove up to Metropolis one day in July.

The town is marked by the huge statue of Superman in the court square., an indication--along with casinos--that this town lives on tourism. In July, in the midst of a stifling heat wave, on a weekday, the town outside the casinos was nearly empty. The restaurant in the center of town was closed, and we were directed to a diner on the outskirts of town for lunch. Like so many small American towns, Metropolis has empty storefronts, and prime downtown property currently filled by thrift shops.

Lois and I don't gamble, so we didn't go into the part of town where the casinos are. The central part of town with the Superman Museum and Show Business Museum a few blocks apart is small enough that we parked the car and just wandered around. By the way, yes, those are raindrops on my camera lens. A shower briefly interrupted the heat, and we welcomed it.

There is a strange kind of innocence in this part of the country. The museums and shops are not glitzy, and the prices are reasonable. I couldn't resist buying a Superman T-shirt for just $12.00. The Superman Museum is packed with photos, posters, props, costumes--everything imaginable from the many incarnations of the world's first superhero.

There's even the punny street sign that our Lois could not resist.

Speaking of Lois Lane, we left the museum and strolled down the street so our Lois could commune with the new statue of Noel Neill as TV's first Lois.

From there, we walked down to the general Hollywood Museum, with displays of an amazing number of stars, movies, and TV shows.

All in all a pleasant day. If you're traveling with kids, they are sure to enjoy a day in Metropolis, while adults will appreciate all the nostalgia available, and maybe even the casinos we ignored.
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Six


Walk Around Lake Hematite

Lois and Eric and I have traveled all over the world together for the past twenty-five years or so, and have always been able to walk wherever we wanted to go. Despite the insane tour guide force-marching us for miles every day in India, we were able to keep up with the younger members of the tour just last year.

So when we decided to take a day at the beautiful Land Between the Lakes, we thought a mile and a third path would be an easy stroll. The Land Between the Lakes is a national recreation area in western Kentucky and Tennessee, created when TVA dammed the Kentucky River in the 1960's, creating Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. The area has something for everyone, lodges with all the comforts of home, cabins, and camping areas where you can camp out in a tent. Walking trails wander all through the park, which is at its most glorious in autumn, when the leaves turn.

Hunting is allowed but carefully governed in the wildest areas of the Land Between the Lakes. In other areas there are herds of bison and elk, a nature station, and even a planetarium. One fascinating exhibit is The Homeplace 1850, a working farm run exactly like a farm in this area in the middle of the 19th century.

You can fish, canoe, sail, bike, picnic, or just wander around this beautiful preserve and take pictures. Even an indoor girl like me gets out to the LBL from time to time to enjoy a little touch of nature.

This time, though, Kentucky was in the middle of the longest heat wave in history, so we chose a cloudy day, and welcomed the few raindrops that did fall on us.

We are experienced hikers. We were slathered in sunscreen and insect repellant, all wearing hats, and Lois and I had our walking sticks. We each had a bottle of water. We should have had a pleasant, easy walk.

What we didn't count on were the humidity and the recession.

Although it was cloudy and we were in the shade for most of the walk, it was breathlessly still that day--no breeze, just heat and humidity. Most of the trail around the lake, named for the hematite gems that are rather easy to find in the area, is clearly marked, and there are wooden slat causeways over some boggy areas.

What we discovered was that with the recession causing layoffs of park personnel, some of the broken and rotting slats on the causeways have not been repaired, and in one place a very important sign was missing.

We set off along the length of the lake, following a typical hiking trail of packed earth with some climbing up and down--the sort of trail we have hiked dozens of times all over the world. But with the heat and humidity, all three of us found it unexpectedly hard going. Still, only one and a third miles....

We swung around the far end of the lake, negotiated a rickety causeway, and came to a Y. We figured that the newer-looking causeway that stayed closer to the lakeshore was the short way to go, and as we were all tired by then, we chose that route. That Y is where the important sign is missing: there ought to be one pointing the direction we took, saying "Dead End."


By this time we were half-way around the lake, so we decided to continue our plan to circle the lake. Unfortunately, although the packed-earth trail remained similar to what we had traversed on the other side, each causeway we encountered was in worse repair than the last. By the time we reached the turn to the "short" end, numerous missing and rotted slats made the causeways more dangerous than the bare earth of the trail.

Fortunately, a few raindrops fell as we came out from under the shade of the trees and worked our way across the boggy approach to the steps up to the trail entrance. I guess we were the only people dumb enough to try walking any trail that day, for we saw no other hikers, just a man in a boat on the lake and two women fishing from the shore near the entrance to the trail.


As you can see from the photos, Hematite Lake is a lovely place--just try not to go hiking there in the middle of the longest heat wave ever recorded!

Next week: Superman's Home Town
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Five

Chain Across the Mississippi

On the Kentucky side of the Mississippi, atop a cliff, there is a most unusual relic of the Civil War. Columbus-Belmont State Park memorializes the attempt to stop Union Gunboats from traveling down the river. Confederate General Leonidas Polk commanded the fort on the bluff, and came up with the idea of stretching a huge chain across the Mississippi--but it didn't work. The gunboats sailed right over it.

The failed strategy was forgotten--actually treated as a legend--until torrential rains in the 1920's eroded the earthen fortifications, revealing the giant chain and anchor. They were then put on display, and the area was made into a pleasant park.

Although the wooden fort is long gone, the bunkers are still clearly carved into the hillside, looking today much like earthwork fortifications from prehistoric times. There are picnic tables, a playground, and a small museum--a lovely place for families to spend a summer afternoon, and indeed, we saw families doing exactly that despite the sweltering heat wave  that has consumed Kentucky all this summer.

Next week: Walk Around Lake Hematite

_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Four

Ferry Cross the Mississippi

Kentucky has mostly farmland along the Mississippi River, and on the other side of the river so does Missouri. Nonetheless, people who live far from the bridges to the north and south need a way to cross--hence the Dorena-Hickman Ferry.



This is one of the last operating riverboat ferries in the U.S. It's not a tourist attraction, but a simple means of getting from one side of the river to the other. We, however, treated it as a tourist attraction, and enjoyed riding across this unspoiled section of the river.

video

The ferry operates from 7am to sunset, M-F, all year long except Christmas Day.

It would have cost us $14 each way to take our car across, but as we knew we were not going anywhere in Missouri, we paid the $1 pedestrian toll, rode across, talked with other people taking the ferry on the Missouri side, and when the ferry came back again we rode it back.

We were not the only tourists that day. Families were out enjoying the sights, including one group taking the family dog along.

Next week: Chain Across the Mississippi
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Three


Dinosaurs in Kentucky

 People don't usually think of Kentucky when they think of dinosaurs or other kinds of fossils, but actually there are lots of fossils to be found in this area. Hence the Dinosaur Museum near Mammoth Cave.

The museum is interesting, but the gift shop is amazing. You can actually buy real dinosaur eggs, dinosaur teeth, and dinosaur bones! Jurassic Park, anyone?
If you are traveling with kids, be sure to let them see at least one of the dinosaur attractions that dot the area. Kids love dinosaurs, and will amaze you with their ability to identify all the different species, their eras, and their habitats and habits.
 

Next week: Ferry cross the Mississippi
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Two

Big Mike's Rock Shop and Mystery House

One of the delights of road trips in the United States is visiting the kitchsy roadside shops, museums, and manmade attractions.


Right on the edge of the Mammoth Cave National Forest is Big Mike's Rock Shop, easily identified by the huge cement representation of "Big Mo," a mosasaur whose real skull is on display inside the shop.

That's one of the weird things about these places: side by side with colorful fridge magnets and "I'm with Stupid" T-shirts are real and amazing items--in this case geodes, fossils, and tons of uncut semi-precious stones.


This shop has attached one of the numerous man-made mystery houses sprinkled across the country, this one quite a good one. Here you see Lois and Eric in their optical illusion room. In reality, Eric is five or six inches taller than Lois, but when they stand as pictured at left, Lois seems much taller.

But then when they change places, as at the right, Eric becomes a veritable giant.

Another part of the house was all built at an angle, so what we felt clashed with what we saw. It was very hard to walk through those rooms, because the sensation was of a vertigo that pulled to one side.

At one point they had a platform  that was actually level--stand on it, and you appear to be leaning at an impossible angle. Lois decided to do a headstand on the platform, but the visual clues kept throwing her off. When she closed her eyes, she was finally able to do it.

As we love tricks and optical illusions, we had a good time in the mystery house. Of course half the fun is figuring out what is causing the impression that, for example, water flows uphill.

Next time: Dinosaurs in Kentucky
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part One


Mammoth Cave

You may have noticed there were no new blog posts for the past two weeks. The reason is that I was out getting new material!

This summer, instead of going off to some exotic clime, my friends Lois and Eric came to visit me, and we explored West Kentucky near where I live. The first place we went to see was Mammoth Cave.


All the pictures I took in the cave are available light, no flash. A couple of years ago I got a good digital camera, a Fujifilm FinePix, and have been delighted with the results. It has a storage chip that first of all stores over 500 photos, so you can take as many as you want without worrying about running out of "film," and second, slides into a slot in my laptop for downloading--no wires to lose.

I'm a point and shoot picture taker, not a professional photographer, but I am pleased with the pictures I get with this camera in practically any light. It's good and sturdy, too--I have had it bouncing around while riding elephants and tuk-tuks in India and scrambling around caves in Kentucky, and it has always worked without protest.

The three of us travel companions have experienced various injuries and other physical problems through the years. Ten years ago we'd have taken the six-hour tour, crept into every cranny, and climbed every slope. These days we think twice, so we opted for the two-hour tour that covers the beauties of the caverns without any especially difficult climbing--and particularly avoids the seven-story climb on a spiral staircase when you're tired at the very end!

We called the day before to book tickets, and were shocked to find that they book their tours six months in advance! However, if you keep asking, you will be told to come to the cave, as there are usually no-shows. And when you actually get there in the morning, you find that they run several non-bookable tours every day, so it turned out we had no trouble getting the tour we wanted.


Our tour was mostly older people and families with young kids. We saw examples of all the kinds of formations to be found in Mammoth Cave, even though we didn't get in particularly far. 


Mammoth Cave is the largest cave complex in the United States, with over 400 miles of explored caverns. Our guide told us that there is constant exploration going on, and there are at least another 400 miles of unexplored caverns. Hence Mammoth Cave grows more mammoth every year.

Not only is Mammoth Cave itself both interesting and beautiful, but it is set in a lovely national forest. Even from the car, we saw deer in the woods, and one bold one who came up to the car to beg! Sadly, I was not fast enough getting my camera turned on to snap a picture of that one.

There are other attractions nearby, too--it would be easy to spend two or three days in this beautiful area.

Next week: Mike's Rock Shop and Mystery House.
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Traveling With Pets, Part Seven

Cats in Cars

No matter how well your cat walks on a leash, you will not be able to walk her like a dog at rest stops. Most cats do not want to leave the car in a strange place, but even if yours will walk with you, you will not be able to achieve the primary purpose of walking a dog at rest stops: elimination.

Now, let's all agree right here that your cat would be safer riding in her carrier for the entire trip, okay? But for an all-day trip it's just not feasible, so you have to balance safety against misery. If you have a SUV or van, there may be room for a large cage with bed, litterbox, and water dish. That's great. Unfortunately, most of us drive sedans.

Chances are if you are even considering traveling with your cat, he is an indoor cat. He is therefore litterbox trained, and as uneasy about using an outdoor latrine as you are. But even an indoor/outdoor cat will be too busy investigating new surroundings to take a comfort break before it's time to hit the road again. So if your trip is going to be more than three or four hours, you need to have a litterbox available in your car, and your cat must be able to get to it.

The litterbox itself is the easy part: a standard size box will fit on the floor of the back seat. Place it behind the passenger seat, and move that seat back far enough to hold it so it cannot slide around. Also brace a water dish on theback seat floor, but don't expect your cat to drink or worry if he doesn't. Most cats and dogs will neither eat nor drink in the car, but will be happy to do so once you either settle in a hotel room or arrive at your destination.

So, the big job before you start on that long trip is to make sure your cat can be safely allowed loose in the car. This is where all those short practice trips come in.

If you have someone riding shotgun, then things will be much easier--that person can be given the responsibility of preventing the cat from interfering with your driving. But what if, like me, you frequently drive alone?

If your cat is not in her carrier, she will have access to the front seat. It is sometimes possible to find an expandable gate to keep dogs confined to the back seat. That won't stop your cat--she will go under the seat to the front, and may choose to do so on the driver's side. Or she may squeeze between the seat and the door. Having your cat under your feet while you are driving is exactly what you do not want.

Don't bother with a gate even if you can find one, as it will only guide your cat to exactly where you don't want him. Instead, train your cat to understand that there is only one place in the car that he is not allowed.

Fortunately, most cats don't really want to ride in the crowded area where your feet and the footpedals are--but when they first ride in a car they may think it a good hiding place. Instead, provide your cat with a comfortable, familiar hiding place in the back seat. Put her carrier there, facing inward, with the door open.

Most cats, when given the choice, will not ride in their carriers but in the passenger seat, on the headrest or back of the front seat, or in the back window. The family cat we had when I was a kid rode in the back window, as did my Siamese cat, Soolin. Every couple of hours, though, she would jump up on the back of my seat and check that I was okay. She would only ride there for a few miles, then return to the back window. My current cat, Dudley, though, rides shotgun in the passenger seat.

Before you have to deal with a dangerous situation like your cat blocking the brake pedal, be sure that he understands the word "No." That is the one command a cat can learn--much easier to teach than "sit" or "stay." "No" simply means "Stop what you are doing," and should be taught from kittenhood.

Use whatever method works best for you--the nose flick, the squirt bottle--as long as it does not involve cruelty to your pet, and keep at it until a loud, firm "No!" always results in your cat freezing in his tracks. You should have this single control over all your pets that go out with you in public, dogs, cats, even ferrets. Being able to stop a panicked pet from dashing into traffic with a single word can save a life.

Yes, I know. Cats are cats, and the best behaved ones have times when they won't obey, no matter what. Don't let that stop you from teaching "No!" If it works when you really need it to, it will be worth the effort.

Once your cat understands "No," take her in her carrier in the car to a place where you can safely let her out inside the car--any place you would let someone learning to drive practice, like a school parking lot on the weekend. Let Kitty out of her carrier and drive around while she explores the car. Every time she tries to get on your lap or down at your feet, use "No!" to stop her.

Once you are sure that your cat understands where he is allowed to ride, and feels comfortable in the car, take him on some short trips on real roads. He should soon settle into a routine, and ride comfortably and safely.

Yes, it's a little harder to train a cat to ride safely in your car, but it will pay off in your being able to take your feline companion along for the ride.

__________________________________

Choosing the Best Dog for Your Kids

Homemade Dogfood Recipes

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Traveling With Pets, Part Six


Cats on the Road, Part One--Lodgings

Most cats adapt well to traveling in cars, but before you take yours on a long trip be sure to try him or her out several times on short trips. Be sure you have your cat secure, either on a harness and leash or in a carrier. If you are going to take trips in which you will be staying in hotels or motels, be sure your cat is contented in a carrier. Take along his bed or pillow and a couple of favorite toys, as well as a supply of his favorite food.

Any time you leave a cat alone in a hotel room, put him in his carrier. You may also want to have him sleep in his carrier, and only let him out when you can keep an eye on him. Why? With new territory to explore, your cat may disappear!

Perhaps you may wonder where a cat could disappear to in a hotel or motel room. The answer most often is the bed. She may hide under the covers, but you will easily find her there. However, there are three other bed places she can get into, and two of those can be quite hard to get her out of.

Many hotel beds rest box spring and mattress on a wooden platform about four inches inside the perimeter of the mattress.. The bedspread then hangs down to the floor, creating a small space all around the bed that is perfect for a cat to hide in. If that is where Kitty hides, though, you'll just have to pick her up once you find her.

Sometimes, though, the end of the wooden platform against the wall is open, and the platform does not quite touch the wall. Here's where you learn just how narrow an opening your cat can squeeze through! Cats are explorers, so any niche they can crawl into, they will. Consider how they love empty bags and boxes.

If your cat gets inside the bed's platform, you may may have a difficult time coaxing him out again. You don't really want to have to lift the mattress and box spring off to retrieve him, but there's another possibility that is even worse. Whether or not the bed rests on a platform, chances are there is a hole in the bottom of the box spring. Don't ask me why--since I started traveling with cats I have discovered holes in box springs from modest economy motels to expensive resort hotels. People don't go looking for them, but cats do!

If your cat gets inside a box spring, not only do you have the problem of coaxing her out--she may get caught in there! You probably took her leash off for the night, but not her harness--and she may get her harness caught in the springs. Then you have a real mess on your hands: a frightened, trapped cat, and the problem of getting her out without causing further damage to the furniture!

Better safe than sorry. When you go to bed, close your cat in the bathroom with his bed, food, water, and litterbox. Be sure to check the plumbing under the sink, though, to make certain there's not an opening that could let Kitty go exploring inside the walls! Even though he may prefer to sleep with you, this simple solution will keep him from spending the night discovering hiding places that could create big problems in the morning. It's a better solution--especially where the litterbox is concerned--than keeping him in his carrier all night.

Next week: Cats in Cars

__________________________________

Choosing the Best Dog for Your Kids

Homemade Dogfood Recipes

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Traveling with Pets, Part Five

Traveling with Cats

Speaking generally, dogs travel more easily than cats. However, there are plenty of dogs who get carsick, or whine for 800 miles, or become aggressive toward strange people or animals. Those dogs have to stay home. But on the other hand there are also plenty of cats who love to ride in the car, walk on a leash, and be friendly with strange people and other animals. They can travel very well.

One thing, though--while dogs can go on camping or hunting trips, or even sightseeing vacations if you can find pet-friendly hotels, motels, and attractions along the way, cats do not take well to that kind of trip. Only take your cat if you have an indoor destination where the cat is welcome and comfortable.

A cat should really walk on a leash as well as be comfortable in a carrier before it's ready to travel. As long as a cat has not been traumatized by being dragged around on a leash, it's actually pretty easy to leash-train him or her. If your cat has been traumatized, though, it may be impossible to get him to accept a leash and harness, in which case just love him as your at-home pet.

Start with a cat harness. A dog harness won't work--your cat will be able to wriggle out of it. Cats also find the easy-to-find X harnesses easy to get out of. I have never understood why X harnesses are in every pet department, while only some dedicated pet stores carry the H harness you really need for security. It's probably because the X harness is self-adjusting, while you have to make a little effort to adjust both the neckband and the belly band of an H harness to fit your cat. It's worth it, though--a well-fitted H harness is the most secure means of walking your cat.



My cats wear their harnesses all the time--hence no wrestling them into harnesses before taking them somewhere. You never want to start out anywhere, across town or across country, with an upset cat.

To teach a cat to walk on a leash, start with a harness. Adjust the neck and belly straps to approximate your cat's measurements before trying to put it on him.




Play gently with your cat, petting and rubbing--no racing or wrestling games before you try to fit her with a harness. When she's relaxed and happy, put the harness on her and keep stroking her. You should be able to slide four fingers under both loops of the harness, but no more or there will be too much wriggle room.

Continue to play with and pet your cat. Once the harness is on and fitted, you can go on to more active games to both distract the cat and show him that the harness will not restrict his movements. Give him his favorite treat, or toss him his favorite toy.

That's it for the first step. Leave the harness on your cat, and let her go about her usual activities. At first she may try to get the harness off, or may chew on it. If you got a sturdy one, she won't be able to bite through it.

Just leave the harness on your cat from now on. When you see your cat cleaning his harness along with his fur, he has accepted it as part of himself. Even if that happens within a day or two, wait a minimum of a week before attaching a leash. Two weeks is even better.

Don't use a dog leash--it's too heavy. Get a strong but lightweight leash designed for cats. Again when your cat is in a relaxed mood, attach the leash to the harness--there should be a loop for it on the back of the belly band. Let your cat drag the leash around for an hour or so, and then take it off. Do the same thing the next day. Don't leave the leash on when you are not watching, as you never know what a dragging leash can catch on.

After a week or so, when your cat is perfectly comfortable with the leash attached to her harness, pick up the end of the leash and try walking your cat around the house. Favorite treats are likely to help.

Do not expect your cat to walk like a dog. Cats do not heel. Tug gently in the direction you want your cat to go. If he starts out ahead of you, follow him. You cannot become your cat's pack leader, so don't try. Practice until you and your cat develop a walking relationship--you'll be surprised at how well your cat will walk with you once he grasps that things he likes (I assume you know the things and people your cat likes) are available when he is walking with you.

Don't be afraid of the floor mop! Every cat does it from time to time--just lies there and defies you to make him get up and walk. Most often it means he doesn't want to leave where he is. For example, I used to take my cat Dudley to school with  me. He loved being in my office, where people would come to worship him, and going to class with me, where he could investigate all the students. He always knew when we were going to class, and would trot happily along beside me via either the stairs or the elevator. But at the end of the day, when we left the office to go home--floor mop!

There are two ways to handle the floor mop. What generally works with Dudley is to simply drag him a few feet. He doesn't like being dragged, so, being a reasonable cat, once he knows he's not going to get to stay where he is he gets up and walks along, pretending it's his idea (always let your cat think it's his idea). The other method, used when you're in a hurry or the terrain is such that you don't want to drag your cat through it, is just to pick him up and carry him. Some cats, like my Splotch, don't like being carried at all, and quickly learn to get up and walk rather than being picked up. Dudley doesn't mind being carried, though, especially if he can put his paws around my neck and look over my shoulder.

Once your cat is comfortable on a leash and in a carrier, you are ready to try her on the road.

Next week: Cats in Cars


__________________________________

Choosing the Best Dog for Your Kids

Homemade Dogfood Recipes

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Traveling With Pets, Part Four



I was going to write about traveling with cats this week, but I turned up some photos of both dogs and cats that I thought you'd enjoy, so I've decided to write about keeping your pets contented when they are out of their home environment.

First consideration: if you have an extremely nervous, high-strung animal who is either afraid of or aggressive toward strange animals, leave him or her at home. Not all pets can learn to be happy travelers. Leave such an animal in a familiar environment, with someone s/he knows visiting daily. If you recognize such a temperament early, teach the pet to see his or her crate as a safe haven, and be sure s/he gets to know the people who work at the local kennel. That way, if you have to leave your pet at the kennel (the familiar home environment is always preferable), it won't be a traumatic experience.

Whether your pet is traveling with you or staying home, make sure that s/he has his or her usual food, familiar toys, and usual mat or blanket. If s/he must go to the kennel, provide food, toys, and bedding that are familiar. Don't wash the bedding! You want it to smell like home and family. You can wash it after your pet rejoins you at home.


I've done a lot of traveling with two or even three animals at once--but only when the pets all live together at home. Dogs and cats get along very well if they have a chance to get to know one another. If there are pets where you are going, make sure they will accept an invasion of strange animals! Never, ever, take your pets along as a surprise to your hosts.


You may notice that all my animals, both dogs and cats, wear harnesses. Remember that the best behaved animal can get startled or frightened, and you may need to control him or her.

A harness is easier to grab hold of than a collar, no matter how your pet wiggles, giving you the best chance of preventing a sudden escape. It won't choke your animal as a collar might. In the car, a seatbelt can be looped through a harness.

When you stay at a hotel or motel, never leave your animals loose in the room when you are not there--just another reason to teach your pets to be comfortable when created.

Finally, you will have some pets who particularly love to go to specific places. My dog King loved to go back to Florida, where he was born. Cuddles, on the other hand, loved to attend science fiction conventions. He even loved to dress up. Here he is dressed as Blake, from the Blake's 7 TV series:


Don't be fooled by his facial expression--Cuddles always looked a little melancholy, but his wagging tail told that he was having fun. And sometimes having fun left him all tuckered out!


______________________________________

Choosing the Best Dog for Your Kids

Homemade Dogfood Recipes

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

No New Blog This Week

I'm not even going to try to tell you everything that happened this week that simply erased the time in which I normally write my blog.

Over at the right you see links to all my posts on travel in India, Nepal, Italy, and Japan, as well as some general blogs on travel and the first three posts on travel with pets. If you haven't seen some of them, here's your chance.

If you haven't read last week's blog post, find it here.

Otherwise, see you next week with a post on travel with cats.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Traveling With Pets, Part Three


Each Dog is Different

Cuddles was a timid little dog who had been raised without much love or attention. He was very eager to please, but he was terrified of riding in the car. Before I rescued him, he had been in a car only once--when he was taken to the pound, where the person he had relied on deserted him, and bigger dogs beat him up and peed on him. I took him home in my car, and the next day took him to the vet, where he was poked and prodded and given shots.

I did think about the fact that his only positive rides were going home from the pound and the vet, while he was still traumatized, so I started putting him in the car when I went to the post office, or on other short trips, so he would learn that not all car rides led to trauma.

By the time I got Cuddles, I figured that it was best for him to travel in a crate. His first long trip was to Michigan, for MediaWestCon. I have no idea what made me think that going to a science fiction convention would bring the little dog out of his shell, but I turned out to be right. What I didn't expect was for him to be carsick!

Before we headed for Michigan, none of our practice rides were long enough for him to get sick. It was a good thing I had him crated for his first long trip--much easier to hose out a plastic crate than to clean upholstery!

But that was the only time Cuddles got carsick. He had a grand time at the convention, where everyone fussed over him and petted him and gave him treats. From then on he was willing to travel in the car, though he enjoyed being new places more than the journey, and he was a regular attendee at MediaWest*Con for the next dozen years.

Cuddles didn't really like riding in his crate, but he wanted to ride in my lap, which of course would not do. I could put him on King's chain if King were not with us, but it was heavy on the considerably smaller dog. Besides, Cuddles didn't want to ride down on the floor.

Eventually I found a harness designed to be fastened to a seatbelt. That worked very well. Cuddles could ride shotgun, sit up, lie down, and get just close enough to me to put his nose on my knee but not interfere with my driving. He happily rode many hundreds of miles that way.

The secret to traveling with dogs who are pets rather than working animals is to make sure they trust you (not hard to do, dogs being naturally trusting creatures), and then try safe methods of keeping them comfortable until you find the one that works best for the individual dog.

Stop every two or three hours at a place where you can walk your dog--and of course stop earlier if the dog gets restless and starts to whine. One of the advantages of their habit of refusing to eat and drink on the road is that they rarely need extra pit stops.

Speaking of pit stops, the one most difficult for Cuddles was when we were guests of a convention in downtown Little Rock. It was the only time we stayed at a hotel instead of a motel. At a motel, I could toss my clothes on when we got up in the morning, and take Cuddles to the dog walk before fixing myself up for the day. But that time we were on the 9th floor of a hotel in the middle of the city--and the hotel didn't have a dog walk.

We were on one side of the freeway, and there was a park with a dog walk on the other side of the freeway, with a walking bridge over the traffic. Like most dogs, Cuddles grasped only "inside" and "outside." He was fine walking down the hotel corridor, riding down in the elevator, and walking through the lobby, but I had to fight with him not to lift his leg on the perfectly manicured bushes right outside. Still, by the second day he got the point that he had to wait till we got across the bridge and down into the park.

Speaking of elevators, Cuddles became quite sophisticated about them, as he rode them frequently both at the university where I taught and in our travels. "Elevator" was actually one of the words he understood--not unusual, as dogs can learn as many as a hundred words. Still, fellow conventioneers continued to be amazed that I could say "elevator," drop Cuddles' leash, and he would lead us directly to the nearest one. Fortunately, he would never go into one without me.

When we got on an elevator, Cuddles would always sit down--that way no amount of jolting would throw him off his feet. But dogs are creatures of habit--they like things to stay pretty much the same, and tend to assume that they are until something out of their experience happens. One time we were driving to Philadelphia, and stopped overnight at a motel in Pittsburgh. Obviously Pittsburgh gets very cold in the winter, so the motel had a sort of airlock for its entrance. I had luggage and Cuddles, opened the outer door, and we were in this little room just the size and shape of an elevator. So Cuddles sat down, waiting to be whisked upward! He was very surprised when I opened the door on the other side, although we hadn't moved.

King's life overlapped the first three years of Cuddles' life with us, and we already had Soolin, the siamese cat, so for a time I drove down to Florida and back with three animals. They all shared the same habit of not eating or drinking on the road, but only after we had settled in for the night. I don't really advise traveling with three animals at once, but it can be done if they live together at home and are good friends.

Next time: Traveling with Cats
______________________________________

Choosing the Best Dog for Your Kids

Homemade Dogfood Recipes

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Traveling with Pets, Part Two


See more cute dogs at I Has a Hot Dog

Traveling with a Dog

When I got my first dog, King, I immediately had to figure out how to travel with him, because I adopted him while vacationing in Florida, and needed to bring him home to Kentucky. It was a case of "learning by doing."

King was probably nine or ten months old when I adopted him, which is the perfect age at which to adopt a mixed-breed dog. At that age a dog is still easily adaptable, but is the size he's going to stay, and you can tell what his coat is like (how much grooming you will need to do) and any other physical characteristics.

That first trip, I had no special travel gear for King. I didn't even think to try driving him around a bit, to see how he would behave! Instead, I just put Six, the parakeet (in his cage) in the back seat, put King in the front passenger seat, put some bowls and food and water in the car for him, and hit the road.

Until later dogs, I had no idea how lucky I was! King chose the floor in front of the passenger seat as his spot, curled up, and slept all the time I was driving. When I stopped, he was happy to get out and go for a walk, then get back in the car again.

I would never do that today. I just lucked out to get a good traveler as my first dog. He even had the sense to choose the safest place possible to ride, as I had no way to strap him in. Today practically everyone crates a dog for travel. I got King a crate before our next trip, but it was only so I could safely leave him in a motel room while I went out for dinner. That first trip was just after Christmas, so I could lock him in the car.

I learned a lot about traveling with a dog from King. He was a happy, friendly dog, and on that first trip north he did not yet feel protective of me the way he did later. It was on my next trip to Florida that his protectiveness proved a problem.

It was so long ago that there were no self-service gas stations yet--the attendant put gas in your tank. When I stopped, King was asleep on the floor in front of the passenger seat. He sat up, but stayed where he was, because I hadn't opened the door so there was no chance at a walk yet.

But then the gas station attendant came to my window to collect payment for the gas--and when he reached for it, King obviously thought he was reaching for me. He charged up off the floor, snarling at the poor man who had no idea what was going on. I grabbed King's collar and held him back--fortunately he didn't connect.

But that was when I knew I needed some way to keep King on his side of the car! When I got to Florida I told my parents about what had happened. My father came up with a solution: he bolted a two-foot length of chain under the glove compartment, and from then on every time I put King in the car I fastened it to his collar. He could still get up on the seat and look out the window, still sleep comfortably curled up in his favorite spot, but he could not get onto my lap or reach the window on my side.

I learned from King what has proved true for every dog and cat I have traveled with since: they will not eat or drink while we are on the road. Get a motel room, and they know we're staying for the night. Then they will eat and drink.

King was easy--he loved to ride in the car, even if he spent most of the ride sound asleep. My next dog, Cuddles, was not so easy.

Next week: A different kind of dog teaches different lessons.

______________________________________

Choosing the Best Dog for Your Kids

Homemade Dogfood Recipes

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Traveling With Pets, Part One


In order to post photos from some of my earlier international travels, I need to first locate the photos I took and then scan them. Yes, up until four or five years ago I used a 35mm SLR camera that required film. Remember film? Remember not knowing till the prints were developed whether any of them were good, too late to go back and reshoot?

Anyway, till I can find and scan photos from other trips, I thought I'd discuss something I've done for years within the United States: traveling with my pets. I travel by car, and these days take only cats and dogs. However, my first traveling pet was an unusual road trip companion, to say the least.

That first traveling pet was, believe it or not, a parakeet (budgerigar, to be specific). His name was Six, because I purchased him when The Prisoner was running on TV, and Six certainly thought he was a prisoner whenever the door was closed on his very large cage. At the time I had just gotten my first university teaching job and was still living in "No Pets" apartments.


But the rules allowed fish or birds. I had had my fill of short-lived goldfish, and I had a birdcage left from rescuing a wild bird fallen out of the nest, so I decided to get a parakeet. In those days birds were sold at Woolworth's, and our local store had a batch of healthy young birds. I studied them, and picked the one that climbed the bars to nibble at my finger instead of rushing away when I touched the cage. That boded well for the first rule of traveling with pets: make sure your animal companion is bonded with you and trusts you. It helps if he's not afraid of strangers, but the most important thing is that he trust the person taking him into unfamiliar situations.

Along with the little green bird, birdseed, seed and water cups, grit, etc., I bought a book on how to care for parakeets. It told me to put him in his cage, talk to him, give him food and water, but not open the cage for two weeks until he got used to me. Then, it said, take the cage into the smallest room in the house, close the doors and windows, and let him out.

I waited the two weeks, took Six in his cage into the bathroom, and opened the door.

Six hopped onto my hand, walked up my arm to my shoulder, and chirred happily into my ear.

So much for taming him!



Of course after he had reassured me that he was definitely my bird he did fly around the cramped space of the bathroom, and bump into the mirror. Later he would bump into the window and mirror in the living room, but only once each. Six was a fast learner.

Six was a most unusual bird, not afraid of anything. He trusted me from day one, and proved extremely easy to train. I quickly discovered that the one thing he hated was to be grasped with my hand holding down his wings against his body, so that was how I trained him not to perch on people's heads. I trained him to land on hands and shoulders, where he would receive treats.

And over the next few years I taught him to talk.

The books will tell you that male parakeets make the best talkers, but that if you have a pair they will chatter to one another and be unlikely to copy human speech. Six bonded with me and imitated what I said. We started with the traditional "pretty bird," and when he had conquered that I taught him "My name is Six" and "I belong to Jean Lorrah." I figured that if he ever got out and got lost, he would probably go to a person--and most people would want to keep a little talking bird. But if he kept saying he belonged to someone else ....

I don't know if you can microchip a parakeet, but there were no microchips in those days. You certainly can't put a collar with ID tags on him! I didn't know of anywhere to get an ID band for his leg, so I did the best I could to build his ID into him!

Of course he traveled in his familiar cage with all his favorite toys inside and plenty of food and water. I strapped it securely into the back seat of the car and fastened a towel around it with clothespins to protect Six from drafts.

He loved to travel! Three or four times a year I would drive down I-75 to visit my family in Florida, and then back again. Six chattered and talked and sang all the way. Singing and chattering indicate that a parakeet is happy.

So, with a rather unusual traveling pet, I figured out the basics of traveling with animals: keep your pet secure and safe, provide as much as you can of his familiar surroundings, and take along his regular food, treats, and toys. With a bird it's surprisingly easy, because he lives in a cage. But on the other hand, if you have a timid, easily frightened bird who is afraid of strangers, it's probably best to leave him at home with a friend looking in on him.

Next week: traveling with a dog.
_________________________________________________

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.