Friday, November 21, 2008

Shiba Puppy Mania – Catch IT!!


This is Ditka, my turn to write a blog…but Sox is watching over my shoulder….

We just had to write when we saw how much attention Shiba Inu’s are getting on the Internet.

Well if you’ve missed it, the big rage around the world right now are 6 new Shiba Inu puppies being watch 24/7 on a live webcam. You can see them by clicking here. Mom has to leave the volume off because it makes Sox really frustrated to hear those babies yapping and whining when she can’t figure out how to get to them.

They have been on several national news channels, and have gotten millions of hits from people all over the world tuning in to watch their cuteness. In fact, right now I just checked and there are more than 18,000 people watching these little 6 week old puff balls.

Now, of course, we knew sooner or later our secret would get out. Yep, it’s true. We are the ultimate in cuteness, and yes, all Shiba Inu’s know this from birth. You can see it watching the puppies strut their stuff. To prove it further we just happened to have a few of our own baby pics to share here.

This is the day Mom, Dad and Trev came to pick us up. See how Trevor is looking at me... I had him at 'hello'! It was Valentine’s day 2004 and we were Mom’s Valentine’s Day gift. Mom was suppose to only get one of us but as you can see at one time even our little sister, the one of us with the darkest markings, was ready for a ride in the car. Dad drew the line at two though. I’m sure Sis found another great family as she had the major cuteness factor as well.

This is our ‘Fox in a Box’ picture. We were really lucky to find a home where Sox and I were able to stay together. At first it was reassuring to cuddle up together at nap time. By the way, just like foxes, we Shiba’s are especially attracted to small cave-like places for our sleeping den’s.

We were ready and willing to do our part from the beginning. However, Trevor’s big feet put a whole new dimension to ‘fetching slippers’.

You can pick Sox out by her all white paws. By the way, you’ll notice the popular puppies all have our favorite coat color, called Sesame. This was what we looked like when Mom gave us our ‘official’ names…”Shiba’s Fox in Sox” and “Shiba’s Macho Muffin Ditka”.

We are a little worried though about all the attention. There are people out there who will use this as a way to make money by raising and selling Shiba babies. This is really sad because unlike us (we spent our first six weeks in our breeder’s kitchen, playing with her grandkids) or the online Shiba babies, puppy mill babies are born and spend there first weeks in production-line style cages from Mom’s who never have a life outside of being bred and nursing litter after litter. So, PLEASE, don’t buy a Shiba at a pet store, and don’t just order one of us to be shipped in a box from some unknown breeder on the Internet. Go and check out where we were born to be sure you are not contributing to a puppy mill.

Better yet, check out the Shiba rescue site. The two Shiba’s that lived at the Frericks house before us were both rescues. You’ll get an adult dog this way, but, hey, as puppies we definitely are a handful—like all the chewing, including two pair of Mom’s prescription eyeglasses!

Dad is also really concerned that people are seeing cute and not knowing what bringing a Shiba into the family really means. Having had 4 Shiba’s in the past 2 decades, I guess he’s got us figured out pretty well. As a breed, we have some pretty unique traits. In fact, some people think we act more like cats than dogs. We hate to be dirty and help keep each other clean. While we have no problem barking, we often, especially when playing with each other, make this strange little noise that is termed ‘yodeling’ But, none of those traits compare to the one little personality trait we have that drives most of our owners a little crazy.

Ok, here it is…we’re ‘bolters’. Face it. We’re highly independent and we just can’t resist the chance to find out what’s beyond an open door or poorly latched gate. We are known for being amazingly fast dogs. And, running is such fun, that we quickly figure out how to become great escape artists.

Don’t be fooled. This is not just a Ditka and Sox trick. It’s a well-known Shiba trait and we haven’t met a fellow Shiba yet that is willing to stay by his owner’s side when there’s oh, so much adventure in the world.

Mom goes frantic when one of us bolt. She’s sure this will be the time we won’t come back. Well, admittedly we don’t understand what it means to ‘watch for cars’ so we’ve probably had more near mishaps than we’d care to admit. In our neighborhood there’s lot of people who know us and usually we end up being brought back home or enjoying the hospitality (and doggie treats) in someone else’s house until Mom and Dad come to get us. Even though Mom and Dad seem to have eyes in back of their heads to keep track of well-latched leashes and tightly closed door, we’ve still had our adventures running wild not just in our neighborhood but strange cities and campgrounds as well.

Nonetheless, Mom and Dad and Kyle and Trevor all love us bunches and we’re very happy to be part of the Frerx Adventure. We know we are definitely ‘silver spoon’ puppies, just like those little webcam stars will likely be.

So we hope you go out and enjoy watching the puppies and their antics. Watching them brings back such happy memories for Sox and I when we were litter mates.

If you haven’t check in on this little Shiba “A-team” – each has a name starting with “A”…most Japanese, of course--- time is running out. They are six weeks old. That’s how old we were when Mom and Dad came to get us, and each of these guys are already spoken for so there stardom will soon be coming to an end.

Well, Sox has fallen asleep and Mom wants the laptop so I’m outta here.

Luvin Licks, Ditka

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Senior Day: Austin Peay at EIU

This week's game was our last home game and Senior Day!
We did our usual home game routine leaving Quincy around noon to get to Fox Ridge State Park by dark.

It was raining steadily most of the afternoon, so we decided to pack the food into the jeep and feed the boys at Trevor's house. Luckily Andre had just cleaned the kitchen making it easier to set up and start warming the food. I try to make enough so that we have leftovers for the tailgate. I made vegetable soup and pulled pork sandwiches, the guys really dug into the vegetable soup and wiped it out leaving only a small amount of the pulled pork for the game.

We also brought along 2 birthday cakes that was leftover from a surprise birthday party for a buddy of mine. He is 39 hours younger than me and lets me know who is older.

The cake was a big hit as well. I believe there were only crumbs left when we left.

Trevor and his roommates are taking care of Rambo till they find him a home. To keep him happy they bought a tire for a wheel burrow to be used as a chew toy and play toy.

Jeff and mom and dad!

Pug (James) and some of his family!

Both of these guys were roommates of Trevor's at one time or another.

The games are becoming predictable! We take the opening drive inside the twenty and kick a field goal. On our succeeding possessions we run three dives and punt or we might run two dives and then throw a two yard pass then punt. We will run dives and pass the ball a maximum of two yards until we get behind in the score. Then and only then will we consider opening up the offense. But it is usually too little too late. As it was again this week!

We really enjoy being with the guys and feeding them and we enjoy the campground and the time we spend together there. We enjoy watching Trevor play because he enjoys the game so much, but the games themselves are almost unbearable to watch. This is a talented group of players that are really struggling and my heart goes out to those seniors that had to end their football careers this way.

ken f

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nashville to Quincy

Because we went to bed so early Saturday night, we were up bright and early Sunday morning and on the road by 8am.

We stopped after an hour at a rest stop and made eggs and toast for breakfast.

We had decided to split the drive back to Quincy in half, stopping at Rend Lake, where they had extended the camping season at Gun Greek Campground to the end of November.

Baby and Rend Lake

This campground is very easy access from I-57 at exit 77. Many of the sites have beautiful lake views.

Dogs walking at Rend Lake

After we set up we decided to do some exploring since we knew it was suppose to get much colder later.

With the temperatures dropping quickly I whipped up some grilled cheese and tomato soup with hot tea. Ken watched a few of the football games, mostly with his eyes closed and little snoring noises as commentary.

Since we were out of eggs we decided to drive in to Benton for a Walmart visit. Ken also wanted a light to hang under the motorhome by the tanks. We supposedly have heated tanks but once it gets 25 degrees or below, Ken-the-plumber starts to get a bit concerned about the water pipes.

We found a small restaurant in Benton called the Cozy Table for dinner, then headed back to the motorhome to snuggle in for a long winter’s night. Actually, the evening turned out to be warm and cozy inside and instead of falling asleep early as we expected we ended up watching a PBS Masterpiece Theatre presentation called ‘God on Trial’ about prisoners facing their last day before their ‘gas showers’ at Auschwitz. Ken and I both got hooked on it having turned it on about halfway in. We’ll go back now to rent this DVD to see what we missed in the beginning. It was followed by another documentary on the two prisoners, Vrba and Wetzlar, who escaped Auschwitz and ultimately were able to get the news out to the world on what was really happening there. When you are running on an HDTV antennae and no dish you get a lot of PBS and Ken and I are big PBS fans. I

Monday morning was a perfect example of what we love about RVing. With the temperature at about 25 degrees outside we stayed snuggled in a bit longer than in prior mornings. We took our time with coffee and morning news.

Ditka and Sox love having mornings like this too.

All the birds on the lake, in a veritable feeding frenzy, got Ditka in a rile and ready for a morning walk.

We took the dogs for a walk from the point where we were parked over to the next point
and set for awhile at the shelter house just taking in the bright but brisk morning.

On the way back we were joined for awhile in the woods by this lovely doe. It is shotgun season here now so I hope she stayed near the campground!

Ken made breakfast while I did hair and makeup and then we packed up for the final leg to the trip home. Even though it was cold outside we were neither in a big hurry to leave this beautiful setting and will be sure to figure Gun Creek into future plans when we need to head south again.

We had hoped to drop in on Kyle but since it was a ‘court’ afternoon for him and we were running late just did a straight 4 hour jaunt back to Q-town.

We’ll leave you for now with sunset over Rend Lake.

Hugs, C

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nashville Parthenon and EIU vs TSU

We weren’t up long before the electricity went out. After checking it became apparent that a large part of the area was, in fact, without electricity. The RV park got noisy pretty quickly with all the generators that were flipped on in the next half hour.

That was a good excuse for us to go to Ken’s favorite breakfast place that we don’t have in Quincy – Waffle House.

That still gave us some tourist time before the game.

Ok, I’ve always been intrigued by Greek mythology. In fact I have a favorite goddess – Nike, goddess of victory.

The most famous status of Nike was in the Parthenon in ancient Greece on the hand of a giant statue of Athena.

Cindy in front on Parthenon

In 1897 as part of their centennial celebration the city of Nashville commission the building of a true-to-size replica of the Greek Parthenon.

Full view Athena, Goddess of Battle

In 2002, they took on the added project of doing the gold gilding of the statues as they were in the original Parthenon.

Cindy in front of Nike

Closeup shot of Nike

Cast of figures that are at top of Parthenon – Nike crowning Athena as she is born fully grown, with her father Zeus to the left.

If you haven't already noticed in previous posts, Ken and I also have a think for Gargoyles. The Parthenon actually depicts the Gargoyles whimsical predecessor the mythical Gryphon.

Sideview of Parthenon…people in picture help give feel for sheer size of this building

This is a really impressive piece of architecture. However, we decided we couldn’t spend too much time since it is next door to Vanderbilt and the area was getting very congested with all the game day activities with the Gators in town.

Modern equivalent of the ‘temple of battle’, LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans and venue for Trevor’s game against Tennessee State

One of the best parts of the TSU game is the band. Half the band and the ‘Sophisticated Ladies’ set up on each side of the field and keep the place rocking. There half-time show was great, a tribute to our President-elect Barack Obama.

I have to admit this time the band was about the only good thing about the game. Eastern played awful, not better way to put it. It seemed like our defense was on the field the entire time. In fact, Trev told us later they had almost 50 % more defensive downs than average. Trevor had a decent game but was still fully frustrated with team play.

It became colder as the afternoon wore on and we were really happy, especially with the game as it was, to get back to the car.

We went downtown to the ‘party section’ of Nashville to have dinner with a couple of the other sets of parents. We had a few drinks at Tootsie’s. While the live music was great, Ken and the dad's were getting a kick out of the 'side shows' . Lots of touchy-feely stuff going on between the girls dancing together, the couple who definitely needed to 'get a room' and the 'Brokeback Mountain boys' at the bar. Looked to be a lot of 'free love' gettin' passed around that night.

After we had our fill of that, we went across the street to Ripsy’s for – guess what --- ribs. This place had something special, a cornmeal pancake, served with butter, in place of serving rolls or bread. Good stuff – I’m going to be looking for a recipe.

Ken was beginning to wear down so as the others decided to enjoy more of the Nashville nightlife we headed back to the RV. We could have had a really good time in this part of Nashville but after a day out in the cold at the football game and Ken's current health struggles, we decided we'd better pack it in for the night.

We were in bed by 9pm!!
Hugs, C

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday, Marion, IL to Nashville TN

It was a lovely day to travel Friday, November 7th. We had only about 200 miles left to Nashville so we took our time, stopping at a Flying J along the way to get diesel and propane.

The motorhome seems to be very economical with propane for heating and the stove but we really suck done the propane with the multi-burner tailgate grill which we sometimes have on for hours at a time.

It is certainly nice to have diesel prices down below $3. On a trip like this that saves us almost $100 over the high’s we were paying over $4.

The trees in Kentucky and Tennessee were at the peak of fall foliage.


We arrived at Two Rivers Campground about 2 pm. Luckily I had called on Thursday because we ended up with one of the few remaining sites. I’d expected no problem since Christmas at Opryland did not start until the next weekend. However, what I hadn’t realized was that the Florida Gators were in town playing Vanderbilt. There were literally dozens of Gator fan RV’s in the park.

With all the Gators around, Ken felt obliged to get out the EIU flags!

We noticed last year the really wide variety of motorhomes in the parks in Nashville. This year was no exception. Here’s one that caught our eye…

It’s a vintage greyhound bus with the name ‘Donbrokus’! These folks have obviously been around awhile. The license plate was from the state of Washington and the have a 5-digit FMCA number. Considering our number is in the 300,000 range, these folks were pioneers!!

Our intent was that Ken would nap awhile and then we’d do dinner out. However, being the RV attics that we’ve become we had a hard time parked blocks from large RV dealers without taking a look-see. We love Baby to pieces and have been very happy overall with her performance but now with 21,000 miles under our belts we have some ideas of some things we’d like to have upgraded if we fulltimed. Both of us are in agreement the Tiffin Phaeton seems to be the best overall fit if we were to upgrade. In fact we had already determined our favorite model for the 40QTH and its close cousin the 2009 40QSH just happened to be sitting on the lot down the street. We paid it a visit and ended up spending an hour inside this pretty baby talking to the sales manager. Obviously RV sales are not really hot right now so he had lots of time to talk!

It doesn’t make sense for us to make this kind of trade when we are doing these long trips since the bigger engines get about 20-25% less gas mileage, that our 10.5 mpg. We are putting more mileage on our unit right now than most fulltimers!

We enjoyed the lazy afternoon, even though a nap wasn’t in the cards.

There are lots of restaurants near this rv park. This evening we decided to try to Santa Fe Cattle Co.. This was another great choice. We shared a sampler platter with ribs, steak and chicken. 17th St. still tops the bbq charts for us but this is a very good restaurant. Very similar to a Texas Roadhouse (peanut shells on the floor!) with a slightly Southwest flair considering they also serve fajitas.

Stay tuned…tomorrow is game day!

Hugs, C

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kyle’s Swearing In for Illinois Bar

We started our trek for Nashville Wednesday afternoon, Nov 5th. We left at 5pm and arrived at Kamper Kompanion RV park at the I-55 Carlinville exit about 7:30. Kyle came over and had spaghetti with us in the RV and watched a new episode of Law and Order.

It was a VERY blustery night with 40mph winds. We were glad the worst of the front went through while we were parked.

At 8:30am Thursday morning Kyle picked us up (so we didn’t even have to unhook the jeep!) and we drove in to Springfield, to the state capital complex downtown.

The ceremony was much more elaborate than we’d expected with several speakers. There were 84 new lawyers sworn in this day. It’s pretty cool to have our son now part of the same professional bar as Abraham Lincoln and President-elect Obama. It had an air of great patriotism and duty to country and civil society, making it tough for Mom to keep the tears back.

It was interesting to see the number of lawyers who had a father as an attorney. Some were 3rd or more generation in the Illinois Bar. Who knows maybe 30 years from now Kyle will be back here handing his son or daughter their license to practice.

They actually took the oath as a group

Each received their licenses to practice individually from Supreme Court Justice Rita Garmon.

Following the ceremony there was a very nice reception in the ‘Hall of Flags’. We got to spend some time talking to Justice Cook from Quincy who will be retiring soon as well as Justice Garmon.

We left Kyle pick a ‘celebration lunch’ restaurant and so finished our day in Springfield at Olive Garden.

By the time we got back to the RV it was 2:30pm and Kyle needed to head back in to Carlinville.

It didn’t take much for us to unplug and head out. We planned on doing another short route as far as Marion Illinois. We’d found an RV park just off the interstate with good reviews and I’d also heard that they had the #1 BBQ joint in America in Marion. Yes, believe it or not… the restaurant with the champion title for BBQ is not in the South but in Illinois!

The place is called the 17th St. Bar and Grill. It is very easy access off of I-57 and I’d suggest if you are heading North/South in Illinois you seriously consider working this in to your schedule. Ken and I both had the ribs, and red beans and rice. I can’t guarantee it’s the best bbq ever but I’ve had a lot and can’t tell you anywhere better. A full rack of ribs, with two sides and awesome homemade rolls was $19.99.

The RV park, Marion Campground and RV Park is only one year old and very neat and convenient. It was $22 for full hookups. Very friendly and open year-round. You’ll see it soon in our RV reviews. We’ve gotten a lot of good tips from and feel its important to provide similar input on the parks we’ve used. The more comments out their the easier it is to determine what you can expect from the parks.

Since this is a 5-day trip, I’ll be breaking this adventure down into daily installments so come back and visit soon for the next leg of our autumn adventure to Nashville.

Hugs, C

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Halloween Weekend Full of Treats!

Our friends Mike and Cheryl Ift decided to spend the weekend with us in the motorhome, traveling to Charleston, IL for the Murray St. at EIU football game.

Ken played chauffeur for us as Mike, Cheryl and I started a little pre-tailgating. For Cheryl and I it was bloody mary’s while Mike only had 3 beers…actually I came to realize that Mike didn’t know how to count beyond ‘3 beers’!! ;-)

Ken had spent Thursday cooking so we could invite the D-Line over for his famous ‘Better Than Olive Garden’ Sausage and Potato Soup, Sloppy Joes and Nachos.

The guys enjoyed time together around the campfire. They need to keep things pretty low-key the night before a game and since it was Halloween the campground made that a lot easier than being in the middle of the campus with all the partying.

We had a really big surprise when Donald Thomas, one of our ‘adopted sons’, who graduated last year, dropped by the motorhome. It was so cool so see how happy the players were to get to see him again. These guys are such a family unit.

Cheryl and Mike slept on the sofa bed. This had Sox and Ditka all confused. We suggested we’d keep them shut in our bedroom but Cheryl loves the dogs so much she didn’t want that. Mike, however, was not so sure the dogs being with them was such a great idea when Sox decided to share his pillow with him!

Cheryl is always one to be on the move so she and Cindy took the dogs out for a run Saturday morning.

Ken cooked his ‘big breakfast’ with sausage, eggs, fried potatoes, toast and juice.

We made sure that Mike and Cheryl had appropriate EIU tailgate attire.

All that and we still had the RV packed up and on the road by 9am. We dropped by WalMart for ice, and a few last minute tailgate additions, including replenishing Mike’s ‘3 beers’.

Mike, Cindy and Cheryl along with the Kesler and Reeder families.
We were set up in the Panther parking lot with food warming, snacks out, and dogs staked out at front and back of the RV.

Mike Ift and Cindy decked out for tailgating, drinks in hand.
Time to kick back and let the tailgating begin. Saturdays was Sailor Jerry and Coke for Ken, Cheryl and me. Mike had ‘3 beers’.

The band adding to atmosphere marching amidst the tailgaters
The EIU band adds to the atmosphere, kicking it up in the tailgate park park pre-game

We knew that Trevor was still not cleared to play. Doc dropped by the RV pre-game to let us know that it looked like Trevor was going to get some limited playing time despite his MCL still appearing ‘loose’. Doc felt it was really too soon but Trevor and the trainers outnumbered him since they all felt the leg brace he was wearing would keep him from further injury. It is really hard to keep Trev off the field if he thinks there’s anyway he can play.
Before the game they introduced players from past decades.

Here’s Donald Thomas, second from left, with current decade players. See Donald, we really do blog and now you are on it too!!!

It was amazing to see guys that went all the way back to playing in the 1940’s.

The man who sat next to me had been place kicker, class of 1952. He said that most of the players then were WWII veterans newly home from war, mostly married and attending college on the GI bill. There were so many students like them that they had temporary trailer city set up for these families on campus. He told me war vets make some damn tough football players!!

Speaking of da%n tough players, here’s our guy back in action after his longest time away from the game due to injury since he started playing football…missing 5 games. He was so glad to be back and said his leg was not a problem at all. Of course, he hates having to wear a brace on his leg now in the games but I’m sure glad it is there.

Since his playing time was limited to test out how his leg was reacting, he spent time off the field on the cycle to be sure he was keeping his leg loose.

We took a halftime break back at the RV and then after the game, with a strong EIU win over Murray St., we were back for more post-game tailgating waiting for the boys to shower and come out to join us.

There’s always so much great food to share that we were pretty well stuffed before the game started. Kickel’s had some awesome Italian sausage done in a pepper, onion and tomato sauce. Robinson’s were around with deer sausage sticks and of course Ken made sure everyone got a helping of his sausage soup which was a real hit. To top that every player comes out of the locker room with a large Domino’s pizza of his own as a post-game feeding.

It was only later that we compared notes and found out that all our neighboring tailgaters had made sure that Sox and Ditka got plenty of tailgating munchies as well. More on that later…

After the players sat around with us for awhile, they headed out for their Saturday night postgame victory partying.

We got the RV back to Fox Ridge just before dark. Cheryl and I took the dogs for a walk. Then, as a group, we decided we preferred dinner back in town at Lincoln Garden rather than cooking at the campsite. It was probably a very good idea since we were all so tired at dinner we couldn’t stop the traveling yawns.

Cheryl and I had wine along for Saturday night around the campfire but by the time we got back to the site, we could hardly keep our eyes open.

Guess we four 50+ tailgaters found out we don’t have the stamina we did…we started watching the Texas vs Texas Tech game on TV and all ended up sacked out shortly after 9pm!

Since this was the weekend of the time change we got an extra hour to sleep. That was lucky for Ken and I. Remember the dogs and the tailgate food. Well, Ken and I didn’t know that night just how much people had been feeding the dogs so we had no idea why Sox had decided to be such an absolute pain. Up until almost 3 am, I don’t think she laid in one place on the bed for more than 5 minutes and she was constantly in our face. It then became apparent when she went to the corner of the bedroom and threw up all the garbage she’d been fed all day. After that she and we slept fine. Lesson learned: keep the dogs closer under foot at the tailgate so we know what ‘treats’ they are getting.

Sunday morning Cheryl took Ditka for a run while I trailed somewhat keeping the recuperating Sox and a walk.

We met Trevor back at Lincoln Garden for breakfast, said our good-byes and then were on our way back to Q-town.

Apparently Cheryl and I were partied out by this time, since Mike got these shots of how the two of us spent most of the 4 hour drive home.

Next week, it’s Kyle’s ‘swearing in’ as an Illinois Attorney and then off to Nashville for the Tennessee State game in the Tennessee Titans stadium…stay tuned!

Hugs, C