Camping with critters

 Sunday, June 22

1-DSC05119I’m pushed back in my lounger, reading in the shade of the picnic table shelter.  Ah, what a lovely afternoon  . . . .

Bridget and Spike are underneath the table. 

I notice a lizard running around nearby.  He’s in the dirt next to the shelter.  In typical lizard fashion, he climbs a small rock and stares at me.

Okay.  Back to my reading . . .

My attention is diverted again by the lizard scurrying under my lounger.  Now where’d that thing go?  I get up from the lounger and peer under the table.  No immediate sign of the little guy.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!”

He’s under Spike! 

Spike is lying with both elbows on the concrete.  The lizard peeks out from under Spike’s armpit.  Spike is oblivious, staring into space, sleepy-eyed on this balmy day.  The lizard runs out between Spike’s front legs, right under Spike’s nose!

“Oh my gosh!”

Of course, Spike doesn’t hear me. 

The lizard darts up Spike’s shoulder.  While the lizard continues to romp and play on Spike, I grab my camera.  Here’s the lizard on Spike’s back.

1-DSC05144Bridget sits nearby.

As is her typical behavior, she’s annoyed with the camera I’m aiming under the picnic table.  She’s as clueless as Spike regarding our brazen visitor!

1-DSC05146Bridget’s so intent on giving the camera lens a dirty look that she doesn’t notice the curious lizard checking her out from the viewpoint of Spike’s behind.

Just another example why these two are called nutcakes!

The lizard dashes off Spike.  Bridget sees him and gives chase until the lizard disappears into a clump of grass.

Well, that was weird.  I settle into the lounger and pick up my Paperwhite.   A few minutes later . . .

Now what?

1-DSC05168The lovely background music of singing birds has assumed a different, urgent tone.

Two birds I identify as Say’s Phoebes are dive-bombing something on the ground.  Their usual, melodic voices change to angry squawks as they rise and swoop several times.  What is that all about? 

“Oh, no!  It’s a SNAKE!”

The little birds drive the snake away from the cottonwood tree which holds in its embrace a nest of precious baby phoebes.  I’m fascinated by the drama playing out before me.

My interest soon turns to panic as the snake changes direction!

It heads straight at US!

“Oh my gosh!”  Bridget and Spike are asleep under the picnic table.


That dang snake is fast and it’s coming right at us!

Bridget wakes up, darts out from under the table, off the concrete pad, and stands behind me.  Spike continues sleeping under the table.  My lounger is alongside the table.  Spike is in the tangle of table and lounger legs.

By now the snake is on the concrete!

Here he is, slithering under the picnic table towards the sleeping Spikey!

1-DSC05151This thing is long!  About four feet and very skinny.  I’m pretty sure it’s not venomous but I’m not taking any chances.  And as aggressive as this snake seems, I’m not about to crouch down to its level to wake up Spike.

Okay, time out . . .

What the HELL is this nonsense I’ve read a gazillion times about snakes being more afraid of us than we are of them?  Give me a break!  I’ve had two snakes this year come TOWARD us!  Like they’re on a mission and will not be deterred!  And vibration scares them away?  Pffftt!  Not in my experience.  Snakes scoff at vibration . . . before it makes them really mad.

Oh, well, back to the action . . .

I look around for a stick or a rock.

Anything I can throw at the snake to convince him to go away.  I see nothing but dirt and grass.  Aha, my hat!  I whip it off my head and give it a toss.  The snake recoils.

And then what does he do?

Does he go away?

Noooooooo . . . .


1-DSC05153Well, this gives me time to find a proper tool.  I’m not waking up Spike.  He’ll only complicate matters.  That snake will come out at the worst time.

I walk off with Bridget, find a long stick I didn’t see before, go back, flip off the hat, and give the snake a good nudge.  Away he goes.

And I do mean GO!  That thing is fast!

I stand in awe as it races away.  I bet that’s a racer!  I’ve read about those racer snakes.  Boy, they are well-named.  That thing can move!

1-DSC05152Now that there’s some distance between us and the snake and he’s moving AWAY from us, I admire its sinuous motion as it flees across the sand.

I’m posting the close-up photo in a smaller size in order not to startle those readers with a fear of snakes.  Click on the photo if you’d like the snake in your face.

Okay, back to my book . . . .

It’s quite good and I am able to finish it without any more interruptions.  Well, there are the prairie dogs on their hindquarters going “Chit, chit, chit, chit, chit.”  (That’s the cleaned-up version.)

I’ve become quite used to their presence, giving them names.  There’s Tom and Jerry and and this one below, What’s-His-Face.

1-DSC05169Just an ordinary day with the critters at our camp at Pelican Lake . . . .



NOTE:  The book I was reading and enjoyed very much is Breakfast at Sally’s: One Homeless Man’s Inspirational Journey by Richard Lemieux.




POSTSCRIPT:  I’m told through the comments of readers that my identifications of the camp critters are incorrect.  The salamander looks like a whiptail lizard (reptile, not amphibian) or western fence lizard, the bird may be a western king bird, and the snake may be a common garter snake (although I’ve never seen such a long and skinny garter snake!), a whiptail, or a racer.

I’ve decided not to make corrections to the story.  (Well, I did change salamander to lizard.  That bothered me.)   I blog about my life as I experience and interpret it.  Often my entries reflect my lack of knowledge.  So be it!  This is the blog of an old lady in a hat, not articles in Scientific American.  Go with it . . .

Thanks, readers.  I appreciate the corrections.  I’m learning as I go!

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146 Responses to Camping with critters

  1. Cynthia says:

    Sue you tell a story in a very exciting way! I love the pictures too!

  2. Elizabeth in WA says:

    Well, being it has warmed up…snakes can be a lot of places…pays to stay vigilant doesn’t it?? I do not like reptiles. Only things with fur or feathers!! I am always saying that to our almost 12 yr old grandson. WHO ADORES SNAKES!!! It is a miracle he has not gotten killed back there on his wooded lot in NC!!! Once again, Sue, you are a BRAVE woman!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      I’m not a fan of snakes either. I do admit this one was … um … intriguing. I didn’t know a snake could move that fast! Bless your grandson. Some kids don’t have the fear of snakes.

  3. judithcamper says:

    Very interesting visitors. I found them very entertaining……from afar.. I had a good laugh at your hat providing cover for the snake. And Spike slept through it all. Our friends in nature provide us with beauty and entertainment if we take time to observe and enjoy.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      They certainly do, judithcamper. When I set up camp here, I didn’t realize I was making our home in a zoo!

  4. Thor 'n Drew says:

    That Spikey sure is a deep sleeper. 😉

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Aww… He can sleep through any excitement because he’s deaf. Sometimes his deafness is a blessing!

  5. BadgerRickInWis says:

    Girl, you certainly have a talent for finding exciting ways to do nothin’ all day. 🙂
    As well as a talent for telling a story. Made me smile on a not so great day. Thanks

    But I do have a question. Did you really stop to take a picture of you hat laying on the ground after you had “hatted” the snake, or was that photo staged to illustrate a great story. Either way job well done.

    Also hats off to Spike (Sorry couldn’t resist) for sleeping through the whole thing. I used to think that I dreamed of living a life like yours. Now I’m thinking I want to live a life like Spikes.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, BadgerRickInWis,

      Hmm . . . Is there a snake under that hat or not? I’ll never tell.

      Spike can sleep through a lot. Unless he smells food in his sleep, he’s not going to interrupt his snooze!

      Thanks for the compliment on my story-telling.

  6. Chris B says:

    Hi Sue! Great post. Critters can be fun or a total pain in the ass! We were up in Mammoth Lakes area last week and the screen door was open. Diego was laying around wanting to chase the chipmunks but was behaving very well because a squirrel freaked him out a couple of months ago. It stood up on his hind legs and chattered with his arms out. LOL! All of the sudden a chipmunk made a beeline for the trailer. Diego flew in after him followed by Clete. Diego hunted him down and chased him out of the trailer. He saved the day! Clete was happy that he didn’t have to do anything.

    As always, I’m enjoying your travels,


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Haha! Funny comment, Chris! How terrifying for Diego, a talkative squirrel with open arms!

      What is it with chipmunks? Talk about bold. I had one run into the BLT, too! There’s a chipmunk in Oregon that I hold personally responsible for causing Bridget pain.

      Yay for Diego! Hi, Clete.

      Oh, Mammoth Lakes…. It’s so pretty there. *sigh*

  7. Glenda from Glendale says:

    Who says the life of a retiree is boring?? Not for you Sue! You have your share of excitement that’s for sure. The picture of the critter staring at an oblivious Bridget made me laugh. What a beautiful sunset to end a crazy, critter filled day.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Glenda,

      What was that lizard thinking? Did it really want companionship? Two dogs to play with? Or was it taunting Bridget to chase? Gutsy little thing . . .

  8. Dawn in MI says:

    Well that was an adventure filled day! And great shots too. Poor Spike missed all the action.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Dawn,

      I was glad Spike had fallen asleep. Even when he could hear, he was difficult to manage in a crisis.

      Spike’s the kind of guy, if he’s walking toward you and you indicate in any way that you’re happy that he’s walking toward you, he stops, plants his feet, and looks around like he doesn’t know you’re there. Major oppositional disorder.

  9. Casitagirl says:

    Hi Sue,

    We’re from Michigan and just bought a house in south Florida (part one of our grand plan towards retirement and adventuring). When I’m there, I’m amazed and continually entertained at all the new and interesting critters–armadillos, salamanders, snakes, large bugs, various large and small birds. When you pause long enough to notice, they can keep you entertained for hours!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Casitagirl,

      That is so true. I find that it usually takes 1-3 days before the critters accept our presence. It doesn’t take that long with the more curious ones, like chipmunks. Whether it’s deer or prairie dogs or whatever, either they act like we’re part of the environment and go about their business nearby or the approach us with curiosity.

      Best wishes for you and your “grand plan towards retirement and adventuring!”

  10. Bob says:

    Fun Post!

  11. Bob's gotta bus! says:

    Hi Bob. Nice name you have. How was your day?

    Oh, hi Sue. Don’t mind us. Bob and I were chatting.

  12. Sandy says:

    As I read this post all that came to mind was, “isn’t camping relaxing?” LOL

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yeah, you’d think a person could sit here, in the middle of nowhere, in an “empty” campground, and read a book without interruptions. “Hey, critters! No drop in visitors!” 🙂

      Nice to hear from you, Sandy.

  13. EmilyO in NM says:

    The lizard looks like one of the whiptail variety. Curious little things and they can loose part of their tail if captured – they supposedly have quite a “death” scene that is suppose to scare off their attacker – snakes, road runners, thrashers, gila monsters – and have been clocked running 15 miles an hour! Some variety of whiptails are all females and reproduce by cloning themselves, such as the NM Whiptail. I have lots of those little critters in my yard and they do “entertain in a lizard way”, if one takes the time. Enough zoology. (And, since I am not into snakes, have no idea, but does have an interesting pattern.)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Emily,

      Interesting facts!

      I went ’round and ’round trying to figure out if this critter was a salamander or a lizard. In Florida we called similar looking critters.. salamanders. It probably is a whiptail lizard. Somehow calling it a lizard in the story didn’t fit as I think most people — at least this is true with me — think of a lizard as a larger critter.

      And that means it’s a reptile, not an amphibian…. errgghh!!

      I added a postscript at the very end of the entry.

      • Ed says:

        I will leave it up to you about editing the story or not but I agree with Emily, it is a lizard. I can not tell you if it is a Whiptail or not a defer to her greater knowledge.

        “Salamander skin is smooth and moist and without scales. They have stumpy toes that have a limited ability to regenerate when severed. Lizards possess skin that is dry and scaly, much like a snakes. Their toes are longer and can be used for climbing.”

        Look at the toes of that critter sitting on Spike, long toes! The skin does not look smooth and moist but that is harder to tell in a picture.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I did change salamander to lizard. That mistake was too glaring to leave!

          • EmilyO in NM says:

            My first thought about you calling it a “salamander” is because you are originally from the eastern side of the country – us western folks, livin’ in dry climates, have lizards. And, they can be very small too. I have some in my yard that are 2-3 inches long (young’uns). Big, big lizards are gila monsters!

  14. You have become one with nature. The critters have accepted you as part of their world.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Juley,

      I’m baffled why that snake came “running” over to us when the birds drove it off. Was it unaware of our presence? Did it seek cover with us? Was it aggressive? I don’t know the mind of a snake!

      • weather says:

        It very likely sought the relative protection of the camouflage the cements color would provide it as it’s appearance on the darker soil had subjected it to attack

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I didn’t think of that. That makes a lot of sense, weather!

        • weather says:

          your hat to hide under was an unexpected bonus in it’s quest for safety-and before you start feeling badly for sending it off into danger,remember it probably was there in the first place hunting for stray eggs that hold babies of the birds you so love 🙂

          • rvsueandcrew says:

            I don’t feel badly about sending it off. That snake has a marvelous defense… speed!

            These cottonwoods are Baby Nursery and Day Care Center for Birds! With my monocular I see several young birds of various ages, their mothers nearby. And the ones still in nests noisily demand feeding. I know there are at least two “nests of babies” from the constant coming and going of the parents.

            • weather says:

              Wow,Sue,I know that you realize how few on earth are given such glimpses -of what’s so perfectly suited- to bring them wonder and contented sighs…I sense His delight in your appreciation of each gift…

  15. Hilarious! That Spike is one deep sleeper.

  16. Barb George says:

    WHEW! This was a very exciting entry in the saga of RV SUE and the CREW!
    My gosh!!! How smart, and well aimed you were with your HAT! ” Spikey… sleep on brother “(from paw buddy Kali B, a 12 yr old Aussie admirer, who is currently very boring and licking her foot). ” Bridget!!! You are my wondrous hero” (from Racy, the 12 yr old crazy Chihuahua who thinks he is a Rottweiler.
    My life is sure boring here in Hoquiam!
    Hugs anywhooooo,

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Barb,

      Oh, I can’t imagine your life is boring with Kali B and Racy around to entertain you. 🙂 Thanks for the hugs!

  17. MK in NE GA for now says:

    LOL quite a day! But in the immortal words of Indiana Jones “I HATE SNAKES”. I didn’t used to until I moved down here and I’ve had way too many encounters with Copperheads and Cotton Mouths both way more aggressive than the typical Rattlers I grew up around plus unlike a Rattler they don’t give any warnings.

    Aside from the snake encounter it’s sounds like a wonderful day.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, MK,

      “ASPS!! I HATE ASPS!!”

      Yeah, copperheads and cottonmouths, not easy to love!

  18. Marilu says:

    Hi Sue,
    Your little salamander is, I believe, a western fence lizard. Salamanders are amphibious, more closely related to frogs though they have the body shape of a lizard. Lizards are dry land critters. The western fence lizard is one of the most common in the west. The snake looks like a whiptail or racer. No danger to you or to Spike but I have seen them nab a grasshopper in record time.
    Keep having fun out there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Marilu,

      Thanks for helping me with identifications. I added a a note at the very end of the post. I’m not surprised I made errors. If I stopped to research everything I’m not sure of, my blog would stall and die! Haha!

  19. weather says:

    If all I saw on a trip was What’s His Face ,it would be enough.I could stare at that photo all morning.Really fun post altogether,great story,bird shots and sunset-but earth,shrubs and the perfect markings, shape and expression of that prairie dog melt my heart.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, weather,

      I’m glad you enjoy the prairie dog photo because it was a challenge catching him with my camera! I had to point the camera at his burrow and wait for What’s-His-Face to appear. Several shots were too blurry as he would duck back inside, as if sensing I was about to click the shutter, or my arm would be tired and I didn’t hold the camera steady enough. I had the zoom all the way out.

      • weather says:

        Going through all that effort indicates that you found him special enough to want to capture the memory of him,or maybe I just lucked out today that you posted a good nature shot,either way, I’m just glad to be all up in my happy world again!thanks

  20. Sondra-SC says:

    Ha ha…boy you’ve been busy defending your camp from lots of visitors today…Spike was in a deep sleep to not know that he was being invaded…lol kinda funny but glad it wasn’t anything toxic and Bridgett seemed to be getting a kick outta the whole thing!!! I love Prairie dogs! I wish they were protected!! I’ve read about them…they do so much good and are a vital link in the chain of the areas where they live..tilling the otherwise neglected soil fertilizing it, I mean who else would do that in the mostly barren regions where they flourish? COOL right?
    I believe, from the photos shown (not 100% sure ), you have a western fence lizard, (due to the dry skin) a common garter snake,(due to the round eyes and long pin stripes) and a western kingbird (due to the white in the tail)….. I know…. I sound like a know it all!!! I’ve looked up similar guys from my own encounters with critters on travels in the west and being a nature junkie since birth makes me a—- complete know it all! Ha.
    With that bit of missing tail It looks like the lizard was no so lucky with his last encounter!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Sondra,

      I knew I was sticking my neck waaaayyy out with this blog entry! Thanks for helping me out. Look at the bottom of the post and you’ll see a postscript about all my mistakes.

      I’m still unsure about the bird identification. You mention the white in the tail which I only see in the last photo (the bird on barbed wire). That photo was taken from afar with full zoom. In order to make it presentable here, I had to do some editing, including increasing the highlights. The white you see on that bird’s tail may be highlights, not reality. I’ve been watching these birds with yellow bellies fly frequently overhead as they try to keep their babies fed, and I don’t see any white. That’s why I think it may be highlights.

      You probably can tell the difference between a Say’s Phoebe and a Western Kingfisher without the white on the tail. I’m too unfamiliar with birds of the west, so I defer to your identification! Thanks again.

      • Jolene/Iowa says:

        RVSue, I love the way you tell your stories. If you get something wrong, who cares. As I have learned in reading your past blog post, there is as much fun and learning in the comments as in your blog itself. That is why I love this blog. We have fun with it and learn as we go!! Blog on!!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Thanks….I feel the same way, Jolene. I really like the way readers correct my frequent errors. I think it makes my blog more interesting and I (and we) learn along the way. It’s fun!

          • Sondra-SC says:

            … its funny that some people when they see a snake…They Just RUNN all of us who love the outdoors like you Sue, we run for our camera!!

            • Jolene/Iowa says:

              Sondra… I LOVE the outdoors, I just hate snakes. That is why I run. lol! Here in Iowa one of the springtime things people like to do is hunt morel mushrooms in the timber. OMGosh, the different snakes I have been surprised by on my search for the precious morels! My kids would even tell you about a “snake dance” I did while walking around a lake in the Estes Park area while on vacation. I got surprised on the trail and did this little noise and dance in surprise. LOL! Yes, I have a just a few encounters over the years with snakes.

            • Jolene/Iowa says:

              That should have read that yes, I have had just a few snake encounters over the years.

            • Sondra-SC says:

              My Mom is the same way…she hates to be near a snake…if I eve try to show her a photo of one she backs away…NOW spiders I RUN!!! Cant stand being near them no way no how!!

  21. Pam Wright says:

    How exciting!!! You handled all these critters with great calm. Too bad Spike missed the fun. That lizard crawling on Spike was the best!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pam… The lizard was so light on Spike that he apparently didn’t feel it through his fur.

      • I just read your postscript…haha! Some readers do get their panties in a wad over mistakes with our naming things incorrectly. I like your thoughts!!! Correction is okay if put nicely, which not everyone does. Life it too short, let us say it as we want sometimes without fury.

  22. Jolene/Iowa says:

    I hate snakes with a passion! I am terrified of them. I have had more than one close encounter with them over the years of my camping, fishing and just being out in nature. I have 2 quick fishing stories involving snakes. One time I was fly fishing on a dock. My husband was nearby. So I am casting out and he tells me to watch out for the snake in the water. I said ok and proceeded to drop that fly right in front of that snake. My line was a ways out and so it wasn’t until I started to pull the line in I realized that the snake had taken the fly. When I did I turned around running off the dock carrying my fly rod. My husband tells me to drop my rod, I did and ran all the way across the road. He took care of the snake for me. I will never forget that one.

    Then another time I was fly fishing in a trout stream in northeast Iowa. I had on my waders and was down in the water. So I am out there and a black snake comes swimming towards me. I scramble out of the water and up on the bank, start heading down the bank and there is another snake on the bank. Turn around and go the other way, go down further and get back in the water, line out, a couple more snakes in the water. I finally climb out and tell my husband we have to find another place to fish.

    I love all of your adventures with the crew because it reminds of me similar adventures I have had myself. There is always the potential of adventure when you are out with nature!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, Jolene, your snake story is definitely the scariest, ickiest, skin-crawling-est I’ve ever heard! Gosh. Definitely nightmare material. Sometimes when I set up a new boondock I wonder if I’m settling us into a bed of snakes. Usually I can tell when an area looks “snaky.” Even so…. it’s creepy!

      Thanks for sharing your snake story. I don’t think I’ll ever hear a better one!

      • Jolene/Iowa says:

        The weird thing about this area with all the snakes around was that it was a stream near the trout hatchery. It was a catch and release area and there were about 5 people fishing in the stream. We were all spread out so it was fine. I can just imagine what those men were thinking as I am climbing out of the water with my fly line dragging behind me, heading down the bank, letting out a little scream when I am startled by that snake. Abruptly turning around with that fly line still following behind me on the ground, getting back in the water down stream and then jumping out again. They had to think this lady is nuts as I made my way to our truck! BTW, water snakes in Iowa are not venomous as far as I know.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          When I started to read your snake story, I thought you were going to say a snake got inside your waders! A snake doesn’t have to be poisonous to be creepy . . .

          • Jolene/Iowa says:

            Lol… I would have really been scrambling then if it got in my waders! I wonder if these experiences are why every now and then I have dreams with snakes that wake me up screaming! lol

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              No doubt that’s why . . . . I’d be surprised if you DIDN’T have snake nightmares.

  23. Ladybug in Mid-Tenn says:

    Kudos to you for being calm enough to remember to take pics of the snake! 😀

  24. Cinandjules (NY) says:

    Oh that was good!

    Sleeping Spike and Bridget giving you stink eye! Hah

    I’m not fond of snakes. Jolene’s snake in the H20?? Something about a snake in H20 raises a HUGE red flag…for me at least! You’d see me walking on water…in waders!

    Have a great day!

    • Jolene/Iowa says:

      CinandJules, I just about was walking on water with my fly line trailing behind me! lol

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You have a great day, too, Cinandjules!

      Yes, Jolene’s story is, uh, how shall I say?… memorable! That’s material for a horror movie.

  25. Cheryl Ann says:

    Hey, Sue…twice now as I’ve reached for the water faucet up at the horse ranch, a snake has whipped out of the tack room! (The water faucet is on the outside corner). The first time, I screamed and the ranch owner ran over and killed the snake (a gopher snake). The second time I muffled my scream so that he wouldn’t come over and kill it. Now, I hope I can just think, “Ho hum” and go about my business while the snake does his or hers. They DID find the signs of a sidewinder once, but never found that snake. Poisonous ones…er…NO! But harmless ones would catch some of the 10,000 gophers they have up there! They have lots of lizards, too! Very different from our desert animals, which is why I keep my horses up in the mountains!
    Cheryl Ann

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cheryl Ann,

      I found your story very interesting. . . particularly the progression of your attitude toward snakes. I’m going through the same process. I surprised myself by feeling admiration for the snake’s racing ability as well as an appreciation for the beauty of its movement.

      Rodents are a PITA for a boondocker. I’m in a constant battle trying to keep them out of the PTV. I haven’t seen any small rodents around here which may mean the snakes are keeping them cleared out. Good! I don’t like snakes but I’m okay with them if they keep their distance and go around decimating the population of small rodents.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I envy you having horses, BTW.

  26. JodeeinSoCal says:

    I want to hear the story the lizard told the family about HIS day!! Since Spike sees himself as the protector of the perimeter I don’t think he’d be happy to learn the reptiles saw him as a “safe haven”. The snake is so beautiful (yes, I’m one of those people) and luckily harmless. I still marvel at how they can possibly move so fast by just “slithering”! Glad you’re keeping the local fauna entertained :-).

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That is funny… the lizard telling his side of the story. You reminded me of one of my lessons when I taught language arts to sixth graders.

      Our classroom had a low window that went to the floor. Outside a snake was in the bush that pressed up against the window. The kids were fascinated to see a close-up of the snake without a chance of it coming toward them. A little frog was also in the bush and it was obvious what the snake’s intentions were. Several of the students wrote about their feelings toward the snake during our daily writing time… 100% negative toward the snake.

      The next day I introduced the topic of point of view. I instructed the students to write from the point of view of the snake or from the point of view of the frog. This generated some clever writing, some including the snake’s or frog’s impression of sixth graders peering at them through the window. Teachable moments! Not allowed in schools much anymore . . .

      Anyway… I noticed some compassion surfacing for the snake once the students looked at the situation from the snake’s point of view!

  27. The snake came toward you because he recognized you. “Hey! That’s RVSue and her Canine Crew! I’m a big fan!”

    And the lizard? Also a big fan. He wanted to get a photo with Spike. You didn’t see his buddy with the iPhone.

    And the prairie dogs? “Chit-chit-chit” means, “Hey, everyone, it’s RVSue and her Canine Crew!”

  28. Bethers says:

    Could be your energy field frequency rate is increasing. It’s like becoming more in tune with nature just like Joe in the turkey and deer documentaries. The critters just don’t see you so much as a threat anymore…

  29. Michael in CA says:

    Dear Sue,

    I’ve been lurking your blog for a year and a half now and it is time that I properly thanked you for the many hours of wonderful, humorous and thoughtful insight, wisdom and entertainment you have so generously delivered. I look forward to my regular dose of RVSue stories each week.

    I also want to thank you for helping me to make a big change in my life. Your narrative, courage and zen-like approach to the challenges on the road have given me the courage to take the plunge myself. I retired early last month and next week am taking delivery on my truck+camper combo. I can honestly say that this would not have happened were it not for you.

    While I have often yearned for the adventure of RV travel, I shied away because I did not think I could handle the surprises that come along with it. I’m a planner and a bit of a control nut, so turning life over to ‘whatever comes next’ seemed terrifying. Your stories have given me the confidence to know that I, too, can handle the surprises and challenges that lie ahead.

    My adventure is just beginning, and I plan to ease into it at first (I’m keeping the apartment for now until my partner retires in a few years), but I know in my heart that an incredible journey is just beginning for me.

    Thank you so much for showing me the way and opening this door. Before making this change my life was one of constant stress about work and keeping up with the latest toys and fashionable cars of my neighbors. No longer! Now unburdened, happiness is returning to my life.

    Thank you, thank you, a thousand times, thank you!

    Love Michael in California

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, Michael, you made me cry! Tears of happiness for you! I know without doubt that you are moving in the direction meant for you. I love that you have a truck-camper to pick up next week. What fun! You will be able to ride that thing to many out-of-the-way places and starting right away!

      It’s okay to ease into a new way of life. For me, “jumping into the deep end” works best, but many folks do better with a more gradual adjustment. I hope you will keep in touch. I’d love to hear how your adventure story progresses.

      Thank you for the heartfelt message. I’m overwhelmed by the thought of changing your life for the better. What a privilege! You’ve experienced a shift in your universe… I choke when reading your line “Now unburdened, happiness is returning to my life.”

      God bless you, Michael.

    • MK in NE GA for now says:

      What a wonderful story and tribute to our RVSUEANDCREW!

      Michael in CA we all hope you keep us up to date on your new beginnings!

      • Cinandjules (NY) says:

        What sweet words!

        Welcome to the the “other side” aka retirement Michael! A year and a half spent lurking? Glad you came out of the closet and joined us blogorinos..we have a lot of fun here…not to mention..”da teacher” has a wealth of information!

        Congrats on your truck camper combo! Boy that was a fast purchase!

    • Krystina McMorrow says:

      Yep…crying my eyeballs out too!!!! Thank you for sharing your story Michael in CA. I too followed RVSue’s blog while I was in the process of selling my home and all that goes with that. I have been on the road now for 3 months and loving it. I started out in VT and went to NC, then to Destin, FL and now I am in WI. Yes, it is a real learning experience as I have zero knowledge of the inner workings of an RV. It is fabulous because everyday now I am using my brain…hummm…how come my microwave fell out of it’s cabinet on my maiden voyage????? I figured it out and all is well. How exciting to be picking up your camper SOON!!! Sure hope you will keep in touch here often.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        I’m proud of you, Krystina! From dream to reality! I’m lovin’ that you’re lovin’ life on the road . . .

  30. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Hi Sue,

    Looks like you and the Crew have your own personal zoo! Your post and pictures had me laughing! I bet that lizard had never come across a dog before, he probably thought Spike was an oddly textured rock! So glad you had your hat to divert the snakes attention – good thinking!

    I have Eastern Fence Lizards in my yard. They seem to be curious little creatures. I have one that must live near my shed; I named him Freddy. He likes to sun himself on the ramp and watch as I weed or water the flowerbed, just inches from him. I have seen a couple others sunning themselves on the brick footers of my front porch. I’m glad they find my yard so hospitable. 🙂

    Have a great day, Sue!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Denise,

      It’s Animal Kingdom around here. Remember that old show? Or was it called Zoo Parade? Oh well . . .

      Yeah, these little lizards are characters. I see them all over around here. They scurry very quickly to become immobile and stare. Enjoy your garden friends!

      And you have a great day, too.

  31. Lee J in Northern California says:

    What fun! Bold lizards and a snake running for his life!

    I have to say Sue, I agree with Michael, your attitude is inspiring to lots of folks.

    About 30years ago I wanted to go to Point Reyes National Seashore to ride and camp with my horse but my non horse riding husband wanted no part of I continued to dream…then one day I was sitting, dreaming, and I read an article in a Family Circle magazine about a woman that decided to take charge of her life and do things despite fears.. She said she didn’t want to have written on her tombstone..’she read a lot of magazines’.
    So I made the decision and just did it, my husband loaded the camper on my truck,I loaded up stuff, hooked up my trailer and went for it. The funny thing is three of my lady friends felt the same way, scared, intimidated , hang back and let the knees knock…so they decided to do it too! We lived in far flung places, so each had to make plans and make their way alone to the Steward Ranch Horse Camp at Point Reyes.

    We ended up meeting up, riding some of the most glorious trails ever, and we started a trend..I was no longer afraid…I could go alone or with friends, without husbands to buck us up.

    I was amazed what I could do alone, and it gave me such pleasure to know I WAS capable, I could make decisions about what I wanted and just go for it.

    That is how I see you, a capable woman that has learned that her desires are valid and worth pursuing. In the end, things aren’t important, contentment is…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Your comment is inspiring! You wrote in only a few paragraphs what I have tried with varying degrees of success to communicate to fearful women. Throughout this blog there are comments from women along the lines of “I never could do that”… “Aren’t you afraid?” … and so on. It’s frustrating to know that there are hordes of women too afraid to try what they want to do, simply because hubby doesn’t want to participate or the women consider themselves incompetent. Errgghh!

      You, Lee, wrote how your world changed for the better once you stepped out into the unknown and embraced the challenges. Many “doors” opened for you once you decided to do for yourself. Self-reliance is an elixer. The more you accomplish, the more you dare to attempt!

      Thank you for expressing yourself so well. Maybe some female readers (and timid male readers, too) will follow their dreams, with or without help!

      • Rita says:

        I compare myself to Meryl Streep who played that woman in the movie Africa…I’ll take a challenge anyday and even face a lion if need be LOL

  32. weather says:

    Congratulations for having helped yet another,Michael,join the trail to happy endings you gift so many with.

    P.S. about your P.S, -clearly humorous self deprecation was intended in your referring to yourself as an old lady in a hat.Never the less,if anyone else dared to call you an old lady,they’d get pounced on!A lady that is the definition of who maverick’s hats are meant for,yes.But old?!! Not by a long shot,woman.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m sure young people see me as “an old lady in a hat” and that’s okay. I borrow that image.

      I’ve always used self-deprecating humor. Many times throughout my life, people who didn’t know better, would say I had low self-esteem because I made myself the brunt of my jokes. I’ve always enjoyed laughing at myself. Why not? Some of the things I find myself doing are hilarious!

      Isn’t Michael’s story great! I’m thrilled he’s bringing adventure into his life.

  33. Ladybug in Mid-Tenn says:

    Speaking of POV…while I was reading the story, I couldn’t help but wonder what Bridget is gonna tell Spike about what he missed! LOL

  34. Susan in Dallas says:

    Both Bridgett and Spike were clueless! So funny! I’ve acquired the same attitude about critters when I’m working in the yard and encounter them. My snakes are usually no larger than a big worm but when I come upon them I still shriek a little, jump up, and gladly help them go somewhere else. Except for roaches. Those I smash willingly. Spiders I fling on my shovel to help them get to their new destination faster. Hope they fly well. Whatever your snake was, it was very pretty.

  35. Chinle says:

    Hilarious post, Sue!

  36. AZ Jim says:

    That tree silhouette shot was beautiful and it now graces my desktop (also saved in files). I’m like you in that I haven’t memorized all critters great and small, so if I call a Hippopotamus an elephant………..sue me.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I put it as my desktop, too!

      The critters don’t care what ya’ call ’em… and as Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

  37. Rand says:

    Fun getting to know your neighbors.
    I recently found some nifty apps that identify birds, trees and dogs.
    Birdsnap app detects the parts of a bird so that it can examine the visual similarity of its comparable parts (each species is labeled through the location of 17 parts).
    The Leafsnap app, which involved costly time and resources spent in collecting and photographing thousands of leaves, took almost 10 years to develop and now has more than a million users.
    Dogsnap is funny if you take a snap of a friend and see what kind of dog it comes up with.
    So far mac only but android expected soon.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rand,

      If that birdsnap works, it’s fantastic. I love birds yet I find them very difficult to identify.

  38. Rita says:

    LOL love your neighbors. My little dog Ralphie loves to eat little black ants that visit my patio. I swept the patio and put a small carpet for Ralph to lie on when I’m outside sitting or reading…for some reason the ants don’t get on the carpet but will go around it to get where ever they are trying to get to (no doubt my house). I had to laugh cuz one ant crawl on Ralphie’s paws…he jumped straight up on all fours right onto the carpet. The little tiny ant startled Ralphie LOL

  39. Patricia from Florida says:

    I also got choked up reading the post from Michael in California. Good luck to you Michael. We all need to value people over possessions more. We sure can’t take any of it when we pass.

  40. SusanS says:

    Hey I am comment 100!!! I’ll never probably be number 1 so I’ll celebrate this. Your book looks interesting. I’ve been reading a lot of wandering, walking, hiking, trekking books right now. Currently reading “Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain” on my Kindle.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, SusanS,

      That sounds similar to the book I read recently about a guy who traveled across the U.S. without a cent, relying on the kindness of strangers….

  41. Crystal says:

    OMGosh! What a hoot! You had me on the edge of my seat! It is hilarious that Spike, the protector, missed the whole scene. He was even part of the scene. Lol. Too funny! That look Bridget is giving is so….Bridget. Nut cakes for sure!

    I am a women that mostly travels alone. Sometimes I meet others at an event and sometimes it’s only me and the dog(s). My mom was very independent and never would think she “couldn’t” do something. Hubby goes on short trips, but is more of a stay-close-to-home guy. Until retirement I have to be satisfied with two-weeks trips, or less. After retirement I hope to stay out months at a time. Sometimes extended family “don’t get it”. That’s okay, they don’t have to. Some day they make think, gee, why didn’t we go somewhere and do something different….

    Michael, congrats in your new-found happiness. I hope you’ll share your adventures with us! What truck camper did you purchase?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Crystal,

      I like the way you say that sometimes your extended family don’t get it but that’s okay, they don’t have to. You don’t need anyone’s approval to live your life your way! It’s yours to live!

  42. Pat in Rochester says:

    Oh Sue, what a shame you’re going to have to burn that nice hat. But it’s got snake cooties all over it, so it can’t be helped.

  43. Michael in CA says:

    Thank you ALL for the heartfelt welcome! I knew I would feel right at home in this community.

    I will definitely keep y’all posted as I emerge from my embryonic stages and begin my new life as an RVer.

    A few have asked what kind of camper I selected: It is a 2015 Lance 1172. By truck camper standards, the thing is a heavy and massive beast. By Travel Trailer or 5er standards, it’s a compact cozy little thing. Funny how context can shift perspective! 🙂

    It was RVSue’s experience that convinced me to take a hard look at downsizing. When I began my RV research journey two years ago I was looking at 40 foot 5th wheels. Transitioning from a house, it was hard to imagine fitting into a small space so it seemed natural to look at big RVs. RVSue, and others, helped me to change my perspective on this. I realized that the ‘house’ includes the outside…which was really what mattered the most to me about RVing. All my adult life I have yearned to spend much more time outside. The RV community helped me to see that what I really needed was a functional and comfortable place to sleep, cook, and eat and that my living room could be the wonderful places I visited.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That’s quite a nice truck camper, Michael.

      Here’s a link for readers to take a look and read the features of the 2015 Lance 1172. Sweet!

    • weather says:

      You given yourself a lot more versatility by going from 40′ to 17′, and by selecting one so easy to detach,with a side door.The interior configuration makes for long term satisfaction by not omitting any furnishings a basic home offers.I’m really glad for you,about this and the happiness returning to you.

    • Krystina McMorrow says:

      WOW…fantastic truck camper! Love it 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Love it! Impressive. If and when I have to be self-contained, I hope to get a Lance bumper pull. They use the windows I have in the T@B, and I love them. Other features have sold me on the 1575, I believe is the model. I figure on rainy days there’s enough space to sit my zero gravity chair inside.

  44. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    That’s a nice looking camper – it has all of the comforts of home.

    Congratulations, Michael! 🙂

  45. Julia From SoCal says:

    Well, our Bella would have chased both of those reptiles so far away they would have gotten lost looking for their hole! What a funny story. What a difference between older dogs and younger high prey doggies…
    Actually we got Rattler Aversion Training for Bella and she maybe would remember that when she decided to chase the garter… its a very useful and potentially money saving training for doggies, who might get bit and cost big dinero to save their lives otherwise.

    Good Luck Sue, we love your blog:)
    we took our TC remember, the 575 dollar camper out to the beach a few weeks ago and it was great!!!

  46. Julia From SoCal says:

    It’s funny I did not read all the comments…. I was only reminding Sue of our introducing blog comment…especially down to the link of the 2015 Lance. It shore is lovely… to each his own… my Michael says there is no right or wrong, we hope to get a lot of mileage out of our $2000.00 1988 f-250 and our camper… I guess we have a lot of gas money and repair money, not having bought the beautiful Lance and New Truck!!

    We hope to go to the Eastern Sierras, know how beautiful it is

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re right…. What’s right for one, isn’t for another. The important thing is choosing the right rig for YOU!

  47. Boy can I relate… A recent workamping gig had us at a nature center. Loved it BUT… as far as birding goes, I just had to admit that everything I know about birds was learned at either KFC or Popeye’s.

  48. Julia From SoCal says:

    Once I was on the john in my Topanga house.
    A fine lizard tail was seen near the vanity close by.
    When I got up I grabbed it around his body; he was about 12″ long.
    He did a little push up and took a big bite
    which caused me to drop him.
    But I caught him up again with a towel, and put him outside.
    Jes’ didn’t fancy having him in the casa any more:)
    HAHAHA true story

  49. weather says:

    Good Morning Sue,
    Last night was the first time this year that I saw the fire flies dancing just on the other side of the glass before falling asleep.What awesome book ends for a day-What’s His Name’s photo ………then fireflies.

    Hope the voices of all that are near you are especially lively and endearing as you enjoy this mornings coffee.Greeting the day here by wondering what promise it holds,I’m hearing only canary finch songs and water right now.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      “Canary finch songs and water” . . . What a way to start a day! Sure beats an alarm clock . . .

      The crew and I are enjoying a very cool morning, quite a change here in the Uinta Basin.

      • weather says:

        …..enjoying a very cool morning, – no more facing a cold,hard world constantly trying to defeat all effort to just be alright…as being truly happy seemed like a dream no longer likely to part of that season of life either…

        How many new starts ,begun with fresh hope,turned into disappointment life brought , and is still the experience of so many.

        Sue,our todays surpass the best chapters in fairy tales,because the mountains that only held castles were a refuge we found we didn’t,after all need,and the valley walks through flowers are so much better than those pages depicted…as we smell each plant …free to go where the air changes to suit our gleeful whims.

        God, I’m so glad to have been led to meet you with your ways of appreciating our playground

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I feel the same way, weather. I always delight in the way you look at life.

          We didn’t have books in my childhood house. (We went to the library instead.) I did have the book of Walt Disney’s Cinderella. I think I memorized every ribbon on her dress, every curlique on her magnificant coach, and every flower outside the prince’s castle. Oh, how I would dream over the pages of that book!

          Your comment makes me realize my dream as a little girl was meager and pale compared to the real life I have now. I smell the flowers! I don’t need a castle!

          I’m glad you are having a good morning!

  50. Candace says:

    Critter learning lesson acknowledged … discomfort with snakes keeps me from asking what family they are from – I just bolt. No, I didn’t enlarge the picture to get a closer look 🙂
    That was a good call to use your hat. I don’t think I would’ve been that coherent after seeing any snake heading TOWARDS me!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I figured there are readers who don’t like to be surprised by a large close-up of the head of a snake.

  51. Glenda in OZ! says:

    Gosh you sure had me worried about that snake…………….AND you were brave enough to get photos…………sheesh………better woman than I !!

  52. DeadEye says:


    That is one gorgeous photo of a pink and blue sunset with the naked tree. Thanks.


  53. Diane, Blue Ridge Mts., VA says:

    HA! I am still laughing, “Old Lady in a Hat” The critter stories are so funny. And, I am going with it…
    by the way, my daughter in law’s father is the editor for some of the Science magazines you may or may not know of, HA! I’m still going with the hat lady.
    take care.

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