Category Archives: the P-Dawg

Tales from the Trailer Park

One thing I learned on my recent road trip is that a person’s vacation is only as good as her ability to roll with the punches. I was presented with an opportunity to put this philosophy into practice when I first stepped foot inside our rented RV and got the distinct impression that people had lived in it before. But instead of relishing the feeling of a gritty floor beneath my feet, I railed against it.

“This RV is a piece of crap,” I announced to the P-Dawg after the rental guy had gone back inside his office. “It’s nothing like the one he showed me when I booked it!”

I had to turn away then, so the P-Dawg wouldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes.

But my husband is a glass half full kind of guy, and whether he was truly blind to the dirty floor and the stained upholstery and the brown schmear on the wall of the kids’ sleeping loft, I will never know.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said as he re-attached a piece of wood paneling. “This is going to be awesome.”

It took us longer than expected to load the entire contents of our two-story colonial inside the thirty foot long RV, but soon enough we were bouncing along the Ohio turnpike, headed east. Once we were on the road, everyone’s spirits rose. The children for their part loved the freedom that the spacious table and couch seating afforded them, each choosing spots diametrically opposed one to the other. And the P-Dawg and I loved the fact that the motor rumbled so loudly, we couldn’t hear a thing either one of them was saying to us.

When we entered Pennsylvania, we realized it was mountainous and there were many white knuckled moments of barreling down steep, narrow inclines, which I must admit my husband navigated with the utmost finesse. As we approached the campsite where we were to spend our first night, the road continued to narrow until it was nothing more than primitive sort of towpath with a shoulder-less river embankment on one side (mine) and a cement wall on the other.

It was like trying to thread a motor home through the eye of a needle and we got through it by the skin of our teeth, thanks to the P-Dawg’s nerves of steel and my back seat driving credentials, which enabled me to hang my head out the side window like a golden retriever and periodically yell, “Oh, my God! You are WAY TOO CLOSE!!!”

But no sooner did we breathe a sigh of relief, than we were presented with our next recreational challenge: to back the ten foot wide camper into an eleven foot wide spot between two trees at dusk. I got out of the vehicle, and employing an elaborate system of made up hand gestures, guided the P-Dawg deftly into the spot. There was one touch and go moment when I disappeared momentarily from his view and he almost ran me over, but it’s the sort of thing you learn to expect after almost eleven years of marriage.

After we (and when I say “we,” I of course mean, “the P-Dawg”) hooked up all the various attachments which would provide us with basic necessities like water, electricity, and air conditioning for the night, I took the children on a walk around the campgrounds and my husband went down to the river behind our scenic camping spot to gather kindling. When the kids and I returned, he had a nice fire going and was making steaks on the charcoal grill. We ate our steaks at ten o’ clock in the evening with some baked beans and garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and I daresay it was one of the best meals I ever had.

After that, it was time to settle in for our first night under the stars. So we went inside the camper and brushed our teeth with running water from the tap, watched an episode of the Wiggles on DVD, and crawled into our simple pallets made up with down comforters and Egyptian cotton sheets.

As I dozed off reading my Kindle and sipping on some chamomile tea I’d nuked in the microwave, I knew exactly how Lewis and Clark must have felt.



Did you like this? Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)

I Saw a UFO

When the children and I returned to our campsite overlooking Lake Raystown in the scenic Pennsylvania foothills, it was already dark and my husband was pacing back and forth.

“Where have you guys been?” he asked me. “I was about to send out an APB.”

“P-Dawg,” I said solemnly as I took a seat by the fire, “I just had a transcendental experience.”

“Did you see a UFO?” my husband dead-panned.

“How did you know? Did you see it, too?”

Here the P-Dawg rolled his eyes. “It was just a wild guess. But go on,” he continued, in what I couldn’t help but notice was a patronizing tone of voice, “Tell me what you saw.”

“Well. You know how sometimes a person will tell you about seeing some kind of weird luminous object in the sky that is definitely not an airplane or a hot air balloon or even a weather satellite?”

“Yes . . .”

“And what you tend to do is smile and nod. Maybe you’ll say something like, ‘Wow! That’s incredible,’ but what you’re really thinking is, ‘This person is a total nut job who probably also plays D&D and goes to medieval re-enactment fairs.”

“Yes . . .”

“Well, I know how those people feel now, the ones who no one believes.”


“I took the kids for a walk down by the lake and while they were having a blast with the playground all to themselves, I sat down on a nearby rock and watched the sun set between the mountains. It was a gorgeous sunset, all salmon and coral blending into lavender gray within this perfectly balanced frame of water, mountains, and clouds around it.”


“And I felt totally content. The sight of that beautiful sunset completely eradicated those first few not so great days of our vacation, when I had to adjust to living in squalor and taking public showers, and when our reunion with our friends got rained out and when our side storage compartment opened up on the turnpike and we lost some of our stuff.”

“Go on,” said the P-Dawg.

“And just as I was thinking about what a perfect ending that sunset was to our vacation, this ORB OF GOLDEN LIGHT came up over the top of the mountain and started moving towards me.”

“Sounds like Ball Lightning.”

“It was about half the size of a full moon, I’d say. At first I thought it was a hot air balloon or something because the edges seemed like they were burning, but as it came closer I could tell it obviously wasn’t that. It was a glowing ball of fire. And I’ll tell you something else, P-Dawg. I saw it right there in front of me plain as the nose on your face.”

“I bet it was Ball Lightning.”

“It was moving towards me, but I felt no fear. Instead I got up from my rock and started walking toward it. It was the strangest thing I’d ever seen in the sky and I just had to find out what it was.”

“Ball Lightning” the P-Dawg said.

“I did not feel as though I was in any danger. It was one of those times when you think, ‘If this is the mothership come to take me home, well then so be it. I stared at it for several minutes and just when it got close enough that I thought I’d finally be able to make out what it was, it suddenly receded into a tiny pinprick and disappeared.”

“Look up ‘Ball Lightning’,” my husband said to me.  “Also, ‘Foo Fighter’,’Saint Elmo’s Fire’ and ‘Will o’ the Wisp’. I hear it happens pretty often when the conditions are right.”

“Have you ever seen it?”


“Well. If it’s so common, how come they never mentioned it in my Earth Science class?”

Some of you are probably wondering if the Ball Lightning had a message for me.

It did not. But on that last night of our camping trip, in the tranquil breath between day and night, in front of misty mountains against a canvas of pink light, I felt for a moment as though all was right with the world. It made our whole trip worth it.

And now whenever I walk past the microwave, it starts going automatically and my hair stands on end.

Just kidding.


Of course, I didn’t have my phone or camera with me. But the Ball Lightning looked something like this:


You can look at some of the more mundane photos from our trip on my Flickr page here. One of the kids deleted most of the photos from my camera, so I have very few pictures from the inside of the camper and the three days we spent in DC.

Did you like this? Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)

Breaker One Nine

As the P-Dawg and I prepare to leave for our upcoming RV road trip, I find that I have some questions. Questions like, “What will we eat?”, “Will there be nightly turn-down service?”, “Do I need a ham radio?” and “How do you drive an RV?”

My husband for his part can’t wait to get behind the wheel of our rented motor home. I asked him earlier if he had any reservations at all about driving it and he said, “I was born to drive an RV.” The RV that I rented is thirty feet long and about ten stories high. So when P-Dawg and I are on the open road, we will be in a position of great power, like truckers. For example, if you pass us and make the international horn honking symbol, we will have the option to ignore you or oblige. We will also be able to tell whether or not you are wearing pants.

Every self-respecting trucker needs a road handle, and P-Dawg and I are no different. I spent a lot of time thinking up a good one for him (“Doc Shamrock”) but when I revealed our CB handles earlier this evening he admitted that he would prefer to just go by “P-Dawg” instead. Which is fine. I myself will be the “Tessmanian Devil,” or “T-Devil” or even just plain old “She-Devil” for short. I have also been boning up on trucker lingo so that while we are crawling down the interstate in the granny lane, I’ll be able to yell out things like, “Breaker! Breaker! Ease up on the hammer, flyboy, I see disco lights ahead.”

Also, did you know that in trucker lingo, an attractive woman passenger is called a SEAT COVER and a rest area is a pickle park?

From here on out, Jonas and V-meister shall be known as “the little anklebiters” and if we hit a cow on the interstate, we are going to have steak on the grille.

But I really hope that doesn’t happen.

Over and out.

Did you like this? Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)

The View from St. Paul’s

When the P-Dawg graduated from medical school back in the day, we took a celebratory trip to London.

On the top of my husband’s sight seeing list was Sir Christoper Wren’s famous St. Paul’s Cathedral, an architectural marvel with no external buttresses.

Coincidentally, this is also where our sightseeing lists diverged.

P-Dawg’s List Rima’s List
Saint Paul’s Shopping
Tower of London Shopping
British Museum Shopping
Tate Gallery Shopping
Millenium Bridge Shopping


On the afternoon we visited Saint Paul’s, we walked in circles for forty days and forty nights before locating it. Its golden dome was visible like a mirage in the distance, but no path led to its front doors.

“Let’s ask for directions,” I said hopefully, limping along next to my husband’s long strides.

“Pshht” he said, and kept on walking.

When we finally arrived, I was hungry and a little disappointed. St. Paul’s was no Disney World, that was for sure.

“I don’t see a gift shop or even a cafe,” I remarked to the P-Dawg, who said, “This cathedral has no external buttresses.”

After the tour, I was ready to reward myself with a pint of Guinness , but my husband insisted we climb the 257 winding and treacherous steps to the top of the golden dome. I obliged, but only because I didn’t want to ruin our fledgling marriage.

The view was certainly rewarding, but I worried about wasting the last shot in our cheap camera on it. That’s because I was born without the internal censor that tells you when to just shut up and smile, and also because using up that shot would pretty much guarantee me a run-in with Sir Elton John on the walk back to the hotel.

“That’s a waste of a shot, P-Dawg,” I warned my husband as he aimed our cheap little Vivitar toward the street below.

“This building has no external buttresses,” he said, and took the picture, anyway.

It’s my favorite one from the trip.

Did you like this? Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)