Archives for May 2013

Walleye Fish ON!

What do you call a lake that spans 231 miles and holds 371,000 acres of large tributary rivers and creeks, shallow canyons, and rocky points and flats?

 Lake Oahe, the Gem of the Missouri River.

Join me in Mobridge, South Dakota and experience some of the best Walleye fishing in the country on Lake Oahe.

Oahe is the largest of 4 reservoirs on the Missouri River, and is known as the Walleye Capital of the World.  In addition, the waters are teeming with sauger, salmon, largemouth bass, lunker northerns, perch, catfish, and of course—carp.

Catch World Class Trophy Fish!

Get A Tan!

Enjoy Amazing Rustic Prairie Landscapes!

The Wildlife in northwest South Dakota is amazing.  It’s not uncommon to see Antelope, Mule deer, Whitetail, Pheasants and Turkey galore, Eagles, Hawks, Owls, and tons of “you name it” waterfowl.  In addition there is a Golfcourse and Casino close by. 

Looking for a great location for your leadership team meeting?  A full conference facility is on site.

Can you imagine a couple awesome days of guided fishing these great waters?  Get your Wall Hanger here!

A spectacular opportunity for the serious angler!  Make your reservations today for a fantastic 4 Day, 3 night, fishing package: includes 2 full days guided fishing, all equipment provided, fish are cleaned, packaged and froze for you.  Rustic lodge accommodations with 3 daily meals included. Purchase the SD non-resident fishing license of your choice on-line or on the way to fish camp.


                                                                                                   Guided   Unguided*

1)    Arrive Thurs June 20th 7 pm /Depart Sun June 23rd 10am   $455    $300

2)    Arrive Mon June 25th 7 pm /Depart Thurs June 27th 10 am  $455    $300

3)    Arrive Thurs June 27th 7 pm /Depart Sun June 30th 10 am  $455     $300

4)    Arrive Sun June 30th 7 pm /Depart Wed July 3rd 10 am       $455     $300

Stay One Extra day option:

5)    Arrive Mon June 25th 7 pm /Depart Fri June 28th 9 am        $650    $455

                                                   Plus Fishing license and Applicable Taxes 

 *unguided and/or non-fishing guests

2013 Non resident fees:

Annual fishing or family fishing/$60

3 day /$32

1 day /$14

Walleye regulations:

Daily limit is 8 per day per person

4 may be over 15″ per day and up to 19.9999″, only 1 can be over 20″

possession limit is 24

For complete detailed information on South Dakota rules and regulations goto:

The clock is ticking, all reservations deadlines are Sunday June 2nd. 

Space is limited. 

Contact me today for details and to register for your trophy fish trip! 


Summer is for Sporting Clays!

Calling all target shooters—Announcing a special opportunity!

Key City Conservation Club in Kasota, MN, is offering provisional memberships!

For just $50 you can obtain a provisional membership, good for 1 year. What this membership level means is you can come out and shoot at the range, but it must be at a “sanctioned shoot” event.

I’m shooting Sporty Thursdays and would love the company!  Sporting Clays is very different from Trap or Skeet. It simulates hunting scenarios you would expect to find in the field, and is great practice for upland bird season.  There are still 25 targets shot for a game.  Shooting started in April, and last day to shoot is September 5th.  The weekly fee for clays is $5.00 per 25 rounds.

In addition, provisional members can shoot Sundays open trap shooting which starts at 11:00 and usually goes until 1:00.

This is a great way to find out how fun it is to belong to a Gun Club without investing a bunch of cash up front.  What have you got to lose?  Maybe you’ll decide to become a life member like I did….

Key City Conservation Club in Kasota is about 90 minutes south the metro, just east of Mankato.  It’s a beautiful drive down 169 to St. Peter, and well, depending on how things work out, car-pooling can be an option. 

For complete information and registration, go to one of these two links:

 Come on, get some fresh country air this summer and shoot sporties with me!









Hot Chick Chili

My “Award Winning” White Chili!  Floridians have good taste! 

This is NOT a “cook it all morning” recipe.  Once the chicken is no longer pink, you can have this chili done in half an hour.  Also make sure you chunk the chicken large enough so when it cooks down it’s still chunky, instead of tiny.

2 lbs Chicken (I use a combo of boneless thighs and breasts)

1 large onion, chopped


1 whole garlic, chopped

2 T flour

1 T Italian Seasonings

1 t cumin



    cayenne pepper

2- 14 oz can chicken broth

1 can chopped green chilis

1 ½ c sour cream

1c heavy cream

1– 15 oz can great northern beans, drained

1– 15 oz can red beans, drained


  • Chop chicken into half inch cubes
  • Sauté chicken and onion in EVOO
  • Stir in flour and seasonings
  • Add chicken broth and chilis
  • Bring to boil, then simmer aprox 30 minutes
  • Remove from heat, and stir in creams until blended thoroughly
  • Return to low heat, add beans and heat through
  • Serve with Tostitos and enjoy!

Makes enough for about 8-10 people


The Great Chili Cook-Off

Boy Scout Buddy had been chatting about a big Chili Cook-Off for several weeks now.  He posted signage in the bathrooms and on his car.  He is a regular participant and has won some honorable mentions over the years for his East Coaster version of great chili.  The contest is combined with a flea market and Classic Car show and boasts a crowd of roughly 1500 people. Once it gets closer to the day, all they will do is prepare for it.  In fact, several people from Secret Spot Park compete for the honors of best Chili.  They are looking for more people to enter the contest.  He says Ranger Sam might have extra pots and cookers I can use.

I am intrigued.  I like to cook.  Hmm, what about a white chili?

“White chili?  Now that would be diffahrant”.  He says.  “Is it any good?”

“Any good?!”

And so PR’s Amazing Experimental Toy Hauler Kitchen gears up.  I cook up batch after batch of versions of my favorite chili’s…..running around the campgrounds giving tastes and getting feedback.

After several days of trial and taste, I’m confident I’ve got a winner, and go sign up.  Then I find out that, oh, by the way, participants have to serve at least 5 gallons of chili.  If you want to ensure votes, you’d better have at least 6 gallons. In the days that follow, friendly banter between contestants in the park grows.  Rumor has it that my white chili is an unusual hit and could even win.  The anticipation is growing.  Ranger Sam II is getting the equipment ready for me to use.

One thing that never occurred to me was how to prepare ingredients for 6 gallons of chili with virtually no counter space.  The rules stated that the chili must be cooked at the event on that morning, but ingredients could be sliced, diced, chopped, or whatever else needed to happen in advance.   I am the only “solo contestant”.  Several of my camping neighbors have offered to help.  When the necessary groceries for the chili wouldn’t fit in the Toy Hauler fridge, I knew I was in trouble and needed help!

There I am, up to my ears in onions, garlic and chicken.  Lyn and Ted to the rescue! Not only did they let me keep food at their place, but they stepped up to the plate and became my assistants in the entire preparation process.  Friday night we are huddled into my place, chopping onions, garlic and chicken for hours until we just can’t do any more.  No worries, we can finish in the morning, let’s get some rest. 

Six ‘o’clock Saturday morning came way too early, but they are right there to help me get everything else prepared.  At 8:00 a.m. I get a call from Lois “where are you?”  At 8:30 a visit from a park ranger, “How’s it going?  When are you going to get there?”  The good thing about making white chili is that it doesn’t have to cook for hours and hours.  By about 9:15 Lyn and Ted help me get everything over to the big pavilion at Simmons Park where the Chili Cook-Off is being held.  A cold front came in, and the wind is picking up. Everyone else is already there. They have been cooking for hours.  Wow.  It’s butt cold and windy.  The only redeeming factor is that great 60’s classic rock music is blasting from the DJ booth. We begin set-up to get cooking, while shaking our booties and dancing to stay warm. Ted is on point to sauté the onions and garlic while Lyn is opening cans of beans and chili’s with lightning speed, saving the liquids into a container for later use.  We’re having a blast, dancing, laughing, and cooking away,  and I’m quite sure the competition thinks I don’t have a chance to be ready by 11:30.  Many are curious; they want to know what I’m doing with the heavy cream.

Oh, ye of little faith….

Our biggest task is to keep the burner going with all the wind.  We seem to be on the corner getting the bulk of the gusts.  A couple tables set up sideways helps divert the wind.  By 9:35 it’s time to add the chicken.  Ted has it under control.  Lyn is decorating the table with odds and ends she pulled from their camper.  I’m talking with various folks that are gathering information about everyone’s chili.  My ingredients need to be posted on the wall.

By 10:30 all ingredients have been dumped in, and my 6 gallons of creativity smell pretty darn good.  The only problem is I’m not seeing the thickness I usually have with my white chili.  Yikes, I am in a flour crisis!  Ted runs to get more flour.  In the meantime, Lyn and I are sampling the other chili’s and talking to the other “chefs”.  There is some stiff competition, and one guy actually brought in a covered wagon as part of their display.  They also lost half their meat a couple hours ago when a whole pot tipped over onto the ground.   I am the only one making white chili.  Now the goal is to not let it over cook.

With more flour added, and finally stirred smooth, the chili thickens up at just about 11:30, like clockwork.  When the judge’s tray of small bowls arrives, I proudly pour my Hot Chick Chili into each one with Lyn and Ted at my side.  Minutes later, the floodgates are opened and onslaughts of hungry chili lovers arrive to the Pavilion, eager to sample a dozen kinds of chili.  Lyn and I are manning the taste effort to a seemingly endless stream of cold hungry people. 

“What’s that?  Really? That’s chili?”

“What’s in that?” 

“OOOh that is really good!”

“You have my vote!”

“I’ve never seen white chili.”

“This is hands down the best one, you know.”

“What’s EVOO?”

“Can I have more?”

Lyn and Ted are periodically checking comments from the other contestants.  The folks next to me are professional cooks and they win “People’s Choice” every year.  They serve up about 10 gallons of chili.  Apparently the huge line at their station is due to their local notoriety.  I’m ok with that.  My goal is to win over the Judges Choice and go for the cash prize! But it sounds like the competition remains stiff with several other stations delivering some truly outstanding chili.

After an hour and a half of serving up two ounce portions of Hot Chick Chili, the pot goes dry.  Luckily, everyone else’s did at about the same time.  As fast as the crowds appeared, they vanished.  Just in time for the clouds to become thick and full of drizzle. The chili cookers started tearing down their stations hoping to beat the oncoming rain. We got things put away fairly quick, then huddled together and waited for the results under the pavilion. 

Announcements are first made for the Classic Car winners.  That seems to take forever.  It’s hard to hear, and hard to stay warm.  Next, Park Ranger Jason who heads up the chili competition steps up to announce the winners.  The commercial cooks win People’s Choice as always.  Everyone looks around to spot the cooks and congratulate them as they walk up. More congrats as the covered wagon team gets the award for best dressed. Buddy’s chili is called out as a runner up.  We hoot and holler for Buddy as he steps up to claim his trophy.  It’s down to the wire.  Darn Good Chili wins 2nd place, more cheers and clapping.  And then, Park Range Jason announced Hot Chick Chili won first place Judges Choice.  More clapping and cheering. 

Wait, what did he say?  Lyn is pushing me forward, “you go girl, go git that trophy, hon!” It hasn’t really registered.  He said Number 5 Hot Chick Chili is first place. Oh, I am Number 5!  OMG, OMG!  I go nuts with glee and dance on up to Ranger Jason and bear hug that man and jump up and down in the drizzle and wind.  The DJ says “now that’s what I call enthusiasm!” 

Lyn, Ted, Buddy and I go back to camp, Simmons Park Chili Cook’Off victors of the day.

Riverside to the Rescue!

Finally, after weeks of trying to calm down and make sense of what transpired at the dealership with my RV purchase, I am ready to reach out to the Riverside Travel Trailer VP for help with my lingering issues.  Finally I’ve constructed an email that doesn’t contain four letter words.

To my surprise, Mark, the VP, responded within hours.  The additional surprise was that he asked if he could stop by, as he would be in the area soon.

SERIOUSLY?  Come to the park?  What a prince! You BET! 

Chatter in the campground was crazy in the days that followed.  My email to Mark listed all of the concerns I could think of, but my park friends all reiterated how important it was to make sure knew how unsafe my situation was in pulling the RV those 120 some miles to the park, and that the retailer allowed me to leave that way.

Finally, Mark arrived to Secret Spot Park. Just like the day I purchased my Toy Hauler, of course, it had to be another one of the 6 days in a calendar year that it rained in Florida.  If there is one thing I can say with confidence about the manufacturer of my Toy Hauler, it’s that they are committed to ensure their customers are taken care of.  When he actually looked at some of the “non-towing issues I had listed in my email, he quietly shook his head in embarrassment.  A manufacturer has to rely on dealerships across the country to represent their product well, right down to service, and when one doesn’t, well you end up with someone like me.  But he remained professional and courteous.  He offered to have me stop into their facility on the way home to have everything that needed to be fixed done right there on site.  Awesome!

Then Ted, Buddy and Lois stopped in, to check on how things were going.  Lois immediately brought up how awful it was to see me come around the corner with the Toy Hauler that day–

“How could they let her leave with it set up like that?  She could have died!” 

So outside we go, to look at the hook up issues in the rain.

After much discussion and examination, he agreed with us, there is no way to level the truck and trailer, it wasn’t set up correctly, and came to the conclusion the hitch needs to be adjusted by at least two notches.  The sway bars should not be that difficult to move either.  Perhaps with the hitch adjusted that will resolve itself.  The cargo rack has been installed standard, but he sees the problem. There are things they can do to adjust that too.  Buddy and Ted took off with my truck while Mark, Lois and I went back inside and continued looking at issues.

Not only did Mark address my concerns, he stepped up and showed me many other things about my Toy Hauler I would have never known.  Plus he showed me how to turn on the heater, and how to set the air conditioner on automatic to regulate the temperature.  I did get a quick tutorial at the dealer on turning on the stove, but I’d never done it, and sure couldn’t remember how to, or where to find any instructions.  I confided in him that I was using electric to cook and had not used my LP gas for anything at this point.   He chuckled “you’ve got to use your LP, that’s what it’s there for!”  Well, I’m doing just fine without having to use it. The 2 burner hot plate I bought is perfect for my needs.  I have the rice cooker, the George Forman, the crockpot, and everything else I’ve been cooking has not required being in an oven.  And now I have a microwave!  Heck its 75 degrees here, who wants to bake in a trailer?

The guys return with my truck and back it up to the Toy Hauler hitch.  We go outside and take a look.  They had taken it up to the ranger’s maintenance building and moved the hitch.  We went through the steps of hooking up.  WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  The sway bar chains were MUCH easier to hook on.  Although not perfect, the unit looked much more level.  It seems Mark identified the problem and it has been resolved.

My hero! Mark, and Riverside Travel Trailers ROCKS!  Actually a whole bunch of folks are heroes.  Buddy, Lois and Ted, my many new friends and the whole ranger crew at Secret Spot Park. Everyone has been so incredibly supportive and helpful! What would I have done without them all? With much gratitude I raise a toast and shout kudos to all.

Mark tells me I have to try pulling the Toy Hauler again.  I agreed to buck up and give it a shot, but not until after the Chili Cook-Off was over.  Ted and Buddy said they’d help me.  We can drive around in the boat launch parking lot and get me some practice.  For the first time in weeks things are looking up with this whole purchase experience, and in one visit, Mark restored my faith in believing I’d made a good decision.  Thank you, sir!

Barely There

My big dog Buddy and I have a SUPER secret spot at Secret Spot Park.  About a third of a mile down the road outside of the actual park entrance, this special haven is marked with a garbage can at a narrow opening in the fence.  Ranger Sam told us about it, and assured me it was safe, and actually part of the park property.  We go there at least once every two days so Buddy can run like the wind off leash and fetch the bumper across big sand flats and in the brackish water. Sometimes there are Latino people fishing right near the entrance where there are bare spots in shoreline of mangroves, but after about 50 yards, the entire mass acreage is devoid of human life.  If a person really wanted to escape from mankind and live off the land like a nomad, this would be the place to do it.

When we go there early in the morning, we can see hundreds of fiddler crabs scurrying back into their holes for shelter as we make our way down the sand trail.  The place looks like a haven for pigs, but no sightings yet.   Mangroves, sand and fingers of brackish waters make this an extraordinary place to run and play fetch for hours.  Buddy is always excited to go!  Me too, it’s great exercise for both of us. 

And today was no different.  Except for one small detail.

Buddy jumped out the back of the truck with his orange bumper in mouth, eager to get onto the sand trail.  Our rule is that he walks on leash for the first 100 yards in case there are any anglers trying for fish. Then when the coast is clear he can be off leash.  It’s looking like we’ve got the whole place as usual, and we start down the trail.

In an instant, a tan, human backside popped up out of a row of mangroves, about 50 yards ahead of us.

“Whoa!” I whisper to Buddy, and we freeze in place.  Hmmm. Looks like we may have come across a nomad.  What in the world do I do next?  Walk by like it’s no big deal?  What if this person is some sort of nut case or psychopath hiding from the law?  Do I want this person to end up between me and my truck?  I don’t think so.  Heck, maybe there’s more than one person in those mangroves!  The form was scrawny, skinny, and was sporting a head of long stringy matted gray hair.  Hard to guess the age of this person, but then..…while stretching and yawning, (completely oblivious that I was there) …the thin, tanned body turned around and…. eh-hem…clearly he was a man.

I quickly bent over as though picking up dog poop, hoping he would believe I did not see “him” in the raw.  When I stood up, the figure was gone, which presented me the perfect opportunity to gracefully back the hell out of there and get to the truck.

Which we did, to Buddy’s dismay.

That’s the last time we’ll be going to our SUPER secret spot.  I guess it isn’t so secret after all.  Anyone could be back in those mangroves living off the land and apparently they are.  Well, they’re barely there.

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers


6 large bell peppers

1lb ground venison

1 medium onion chopped

1 16oz tomato sauce

6 cloves garlic chopped fine

1 ½ c cooked rice

1 t salt

1 c shredded mozzarella


1)      Cut pepper tops, remove insides and rinse.

2)      Cook peppers in boiling water 5 minutes and drain.

3)      Cook meat and onion until browned, drain . Stir in remaining ingredients and ½ of the tomato sauce, cook until hot

4)      Heat roaster to 350*

5)      Stuff peppers, stand upright in the ungreased roaster , pour remaining tomato sauce over pepper tops ( I can only get 4 peppers into the roaster at once- you can either cook the rest later, or use an oven and a pan large enough to cook them.

6)      Place lid on roaster and cook 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake another  15 minutes or until peppers are tender  Sprinkle with cheese.

7)      Let stand a few minutes before serving



Serves 4 – 6 people


*Using a slow cooker on the high setting works great, too!


It was time for Dennis the Menace and Carol to leave for Mississippi to volunteer for a disaster relief project.  Dennis thought they’d be coming back in a few weeks, but I was teary eyed all the same.  As they pulled out of the campground I waved a sad goodbye.

But in the process of musical neighbors, I was blessed with yet another exceptional experience.  Sometimes, you just have a feeling about a person. An unexplainable connection.  It happened to me the minute I met Lyn and Ted. 

When they backed into their campsite I was especially intrigued to see how Ted would unhook and set up.  After all, I need to learn how to manage my RV by watching other people.  He sauntered around the corner of his truck, wearing faded jeans and a soft plaid shirt, sporting a10 gallon hat and cowboy boots. His keys hung from a chain on his jeans.  He strolled over to the storage bin on their camper with slow, deliberate movement.  There was an air about him.  He resonated as a steadfast, methodical reliable man.  I went over to him and started asking questions about unhooking. His laid back, soft spoken response was like listening to a breeze through a patch of willow trees. All he needed was a banjo.  Suddenly I was getting a mini-tutorial on how to level an RV, and that quickly evolved into a discussion about many things pertaining to RVs.  He had just purchased theirs as well, and was intrigued by my story. “You need to meet Lyn, and tell her about what you did!”

Then the camper door opened, and a breath fresh air and burst of sunshine hit me and Secret Spot Park like a bolt of lightning.  Introducing Lyn, the most dynamic person I’ve met in years.  Her cheery greeting and southern drawl is a priceless combination to win hearts instantly.

“Way’ll hhhhhigh, thare!” She welcomed me as though we’ve been best friends forever.  Before long, we were chatting away like best friends, too.  Lyn hales from the Tennessee back country and is a tour operator/consultant with Mountain Memory Tours. She’s an outdoors woman who has traveled a road in life that is almost unbelievable.  A true inspiration to women, a living reminder that “this too shall pass”.  It’s hard to believe she had been wheel chair bound and had both knees replaced.  Her bubbly personality and active lifestyle would never allow her to go down for the count!  Living a life of travel and adventure, she knows more details about more places than everyone else I’ve ever met combined.  She shares endless stories about people and places. Some of my favorite ones are about her time spent growing up in the back country.  Lyn is short for Ethlyn, and yes, she grew up without a bathroom in the house.

We share meals and stories frequently.  We sit around the campfire with Buddy and Lois and other neighbors, joking about who exactly has the biggest accent.  Tonight they will come over for Stuffed Green Peppers.  Lyn is bringing her famous Apple Pie (the liquid version) and Ted contributed venison for the meat!  These are two people I love to pieces and would follow home. I mean really.  I’d follow them about anywhere.  Now there’s a scary realization.   Ya’all keep readin’ my blog now, ya hear?

Missouri Supermom

The white suburban pulled into the campsite across from me. A tall, thin person in a long sleeved hoodie got out and proceeded to pull out what looked like two tents.  Then boxes and containers of “stuff”…food, musical instruments, containers and bags and cartons.  Three small boxes were placed in a row across the picnic table—what was that?  Juice boxes?  Then 3 small children spilled out of the vehicle, lined up along the picnic table and sat down in a row in front of the drinks, quietly watching as two small tents were erected. 

Then the hoodie was pulled back, revealing a blue eyed fair skinned woman sporting a number 3 buzz cut.  The kids were directed into a mini production line, bringing blankets and pillows into the tents. Then they formed a single file line and headed to the bathroom.  They remained in a single file line back to camp, then sat in a well behaved row on the picnic table bench again, watching the woman organize things in the boxes.

Wow, am I hallucinating? Never had I seen such well-behaved children. No screaming or running around camp. They stayed close to the woman, close to each other.  How does she do it?  What an amazing woman.   She arranged their dinners.  They ate, and put everything away.

They were all tucked away in their tents before dark.  Then the wind came, soon to become wind and rain.  I started thinking about the night I held onto my canopy for dear life for hours in the storm.  I quickly ran over to their tents and called out,

Are you guys ok in there? 

“Yes…some of them are already asleep.”

“Ok, good, I just want you to know, if you have any issues, please don’t hesitate to come over to my camper, I’ve got plenty of room.  Don’t hesitate!”

“OK thanks, right on.”  She replied

And I made it back across to my place just before the big rain hit.

The next morning I was in the bathroom when she came in with the 3 little kids, following quietly, single file, over to the bench by the showers.  They sat in a row, and patiently waited for instructions.  Two girls and a boy.

“Hi, I’m the one that came by last night to check on you.”

“Oh yeah, thanks, right on.”  I had the great fortune to meet Joni, the amazing woman from Missouri. 

What can I say about this person?  She is strong, confident, independent, daring, brave, calm, wise, centered and full of love for her kids.  She home schools 3 of her 4 kids, and they are positively geniuses in training. 

“Where’s your other child?”  I ask.  “Well we are on a long vacation, and he didn’t want to have to miss being in school that long.”

“But we get to learn things every day with mom.” the youngest chirps.

Joni has been married for 10 years, divorced for one.  Her X is still her best friend, but apparently they both realized they are looking for something more. When I asked her how she manages everything she does, her reply “I’m trying to be the best version of a person I can be, and teach these guys to do the same.”  That spoke quiet volumes. Joni aspires to be authentic, and teach her children to do the same.  If only she could be cloned.  What a great inspiration and leader on raising kids.

March is birthday month for Joni and all the kids.  She will be 37.  The kids are 4, 6 and 8, plus her boy, 11 back at home.  This trip is their combined birthday gift, and they will be heading back to Missouri in a few days to celebrate with the oldest boy too.  Happy Birthday to a truly authentic, super family.  Right on, Joni!



One of the fun things about having the Toy Hauler is fussing with it to get everything “just so.”  But the first is to dismantle the old homestead.  Taking down the tent—what a bittersweet event.  Tenting is all I know, and I do it well.  This is not the end of an era.  Carefully folding it up and tucking it back into the bag, I promise this was not it’s last trip. Then I turn to the cook kitchen.  The last front brought winds with it that finally twisted up the cook canopy, and I had to remove the cover, leaving only the frame up.  I decide to keep it up for now.. 

Arranging, and rearranging things again to see what makes the best flow in a relatively small space is a nurturing activity.  Putting things in cabinets, opening and closing drawers. Finding just the right spot for dog toys, tools, canned goods, dishes.  As I am experimenting, there are a couple obvious things that need to be addressed right away. 

Clearly I must have steps constructed up to the bed.  The girls have one heck of a jump up and down otherwise, and it’s clear they could hurt themselves making the leap.  With Sunny Girl already having ACL surgery, there’s no need to take chances. I start measuring and drawing plans to buy or build something that will help minimize the risk of them getting injured. 

Next is dog fence.  The fence I have has been working, but now I want to have something more “finished” to be a part of the overall toy hauler look. 

How convenient that there is a Home Depot just a few miles away from Secret Spot Park.  I’ve already made several trips, buying hanging hooks, step stools, electric cords, extra lighting, buckets, a heavy duty Dewalt cordless drill…and now I’ve  hauled boards, posts, 2×4’s and plastic lattice fencing back to Secret Spot Park to start my projects. 

Sometimes, you just have a feeling about a person. An unexplainable connection.  It happened to me the minute I met Dennis.

If I could have ever picked a brother, it would be him.  If I could ever ask for a sister it would be Carol.  If I could ever be a part of another family, it would be theirs.  They welcomed me into their world before I even got out of my vehicle and into a camp site. They helped me to evolve from sleeping on the ground in a tent to sleeping on a bed in an RV.

 Now, Dennis is helping me as I nest in my new Toy Hauler and “make it mine.”  Inside the storage bin of his gigantic Fifth Wheel RV, he has enough tools to open up a wood shop.  Together, we build a step for the foot of the bed that allows the dogs, and me to step up to bed rather than make the four foot  jump in.  As we work side by side on this project I understand what makes him so special. He is selfless and has a heart of gold.  Despite his gruff and mischievous outer self, he is a giver in thought and deed. And a darn good carpenter.  In mere moments I have a perfectly fitted step for the bed.

Then we began cutting lattice to line the one side of the Toy Hauler and create a good looking dog proof yard.  When he and Carol had to leave for the afternoon, he hands me his tools so I can continue working while he is away.  Keith and Janet stop by, and we girls almost finish the whole fence project while Keith supervises.  Dennis returns to make a couple final cuts, and wha-la, I have a fenced in yard that’s the envy of the park.

Then it’s back to fussing with the inside details.  Have both couches down?  One up?  Wow, the hula hoop is perfect up above the kitchen cabinets.  Definitely need a work station set up somehow.  Need more counter space.  How can I accomplish that?  Wouldn’t it be cool to get a little electric fireplace in here?  Hmmm, the ideas keep brewing. 

One thing about an RV is the space is limited, so creativity has to be unlimited.  What a great opportunity to start a list of what is still missing.  Not everything needs to be done in one day.  Now that I’ve constructed a good list and am satisfied on how things look, me and the kids should kick back in “the yard” and enjoy!  With an awesome rotation of tunes flowing out of the outside speakers, I get horizontal on the lawn chair to suntan while the dogs find perfect spots to chew their new bones.  My goodness I love this Toy Hauler life!