Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Backroads Discovery: A Most Unusual Train Hotel

One of my favorite things to do is explore small towns, places with no tourist attractions. I love Pennsylvania for that reason – it’s loaded with my favorite Small Town America that takes you back in time to when people were friendlier and even though you were never in their town before, they make you feel like you’re returning home.

PA Manheim house

One of the striking old homes in a small PA town. You know how much I LOVE old architecture!

DH and I discover these places by driving up the PA Turnpike and taking exits for towns that sound interesting – all very spontaneous, which I prefer to planned trips. We explore the town itself on foot, then drive along backroads to see what there is to discover.

Driving through Amish country

Driving through Amish country

One of the interesting places we happened across was plopped miles away from any main roads or town centers, in the middle of hundreds of miles of Amish farms. We crossed a railroad track, and suddenly this popped up:

PA railroad hotel

Nope, this isn’t a caboose graveyard, it’s an honest-to-goodness train hotel! They’ve collected real train cars (mostly cabooses, but some larger ones and one of the biggest is called the Bridal Suite!) and converted them into “hotel rooms”. It’s called the Red Caboose Motel and it’s so unusual.

PA railroad hotel dining car

PA railroad hotel car

PA railroad hotel caboose

PA railroad hotel (2)

Look how many there are!

A short distance away, there was a train depot…out there…in the middle of nowhere…

PA railroad depot

The proprietor of the hotel was kind enough to let us see the inside of one of the cabooses, and I took pictures but they’ve somehow magically vanished into the digital netherworld. It was amazing to see how much they could fit into those small cabooses – they even put in a small loft with another bed! They made every inch count without overcrowding.

Later we pulled into the parking lot of a large chain hotel to find out if it was pet friendly, planning, of course, for a future weekend away with Daisy. Nope, no luck, not pet-friendly…YET LOOK AT THE PATHWAY PAVING STONES THEY USED:

Is there any wonder why we thought this was a pet friendly hotel??

Is there any wonder why we thought this was a pet friendly hotel??

Daisy was none too pleased at this misrepresentation.

I'm throwing a BIG raspberry at that hotel!!

I’m throwing a BIG raspberry at that hotel!!


A very special day!

Are you familiar with Danny Elfman or Tim Burton? Elfman writes a lot of the music for Tim Burton’s films, like Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland and lots more. They frequently work with the gorgeously talented, gorgeously beautiful Johnny Depp (did I mention he’s gorgeous??), as well as the lovely Helena Bonham Carter, one of my favorite contemporary actresses. In fact, Depp wrote a large introduction in the playbill for this concert. All four are beautifully eccentric, and I just love them and admire their freedom to be who they are.

Anyway, we were fortunate enough to snag tickets to a once-in-a-lifetime show of Danny Elfman’s music for Tim Burton’s films at Lincoln Center in New York. It was only there six days after a round-the-world tour.

Big screen over the orchestra.

Big screen over the orchestra.

As soon as I heard about it, I jumped online and got tickets – center orchestra! Couldn’t have been more perfect.

New York Philharmonic

View from our seats of the New York Philharmonic

The lighting changed to match the film they were playing music from, and clips from the films as well as concept art you never get to see accompanied the music.

There was a most amazing young woman violinist who just blew our minds. She soloed in a few pieces – dressed in Burtonesque style – you’d think she’d been playing for decades to be that good! There were also two incredibly talented young boys who were soprano soloists for a couple of pieces.

THEN – Danny Elfman came out and performed some of the most loved pieces from Nightmare Before Christmas – we LOVE that film and know all the words to his songs. He was the voice talent for several of the characters, and even though that film has been around a while, he performed them just like he did in the film, with very few variations (just to let us know he was doing it live!). What a wonderful personality and sense of humor! He came out afterwards with his cell phone and shot videos of the audience and the orchestra LOL!!

Every show was completely sold out – understandably – it was phenomenal! The audience went wild. I doubt if anything will ever top it for us. (Except running into Johnny Depp in person – yeah, that would be the end-all for me!)

Before the show, we went to a really cool Chinese restaurant near Lincoln Center called Shun Lee West. Look at the amazing decor!

Huge dragons surround the dining area, which had a sunken center.

Huge dragons surround the dining area, which had a sunken center.

A dragon coming right for me! :)

A dragon with glowing red eyes coming right for me! 🙂

Really cool floor-to-ceiling dragon in the lobby.

Really cool floor-to-ceiling dragon in the lobby.

A crystal sculpture with colorful origami inside. Very cool!

A crystal sculpture with colorful origami-like crystals inside. Very cool!

It was a fabulous day filled with sunny skies, great food, and amazing music. I don’t know how we’ll ever top this, but if we do, I’ll post about it!

We’re part of the Thursday Barks and Bytes blog hop!


Two Gals and a Dream Cottage

DD and I have taken a girls’ weekend getaway vacation twice a year for the last couple years, and this past weekend was our first four-day getaway for 2015. I thought my blogging buddies might like to come along for the ride. 😀

Two years ago we found an immaculate Victorian cottage for rent that’s only half an hour away and within walking distance of the beach. We were thrilled, especially because it’s clean, cozy, and its ambiance has become a sort of muse that inspires our writing (we’re both writers).

Nothing promotes creativity like inspirational new surroundings where we can shut off our phones and focus on writing…and a bit of fun…okay, way more than a bit of fun…

We’ve been going there for two years now – it’s like our own home away from home (without all the work!).

How charming is this?!

How charming is this?!

It may not be far, but it’s a whole other world, and our four-day break is incredibly refreshing.

A small section of the living room, where we spend most of our writing time snuggled on the couch. :D

A small section of the living room, where we spend most of our writing time snuggled on the couch. 😀

One corner of the bright, homey kitchen.

One corner of the bright, homey kitchen.

Dining room complete with china and crystal in case a formal dinner party should suddenly erupt... ;)

Dining room complete with china and crystal in case a formal dinner party should suddenly erupt… 😉

Plus three bedrooms upstairs: one in blues, one in pinks, and the other in deep rich red, all with coordinated quilts, period accessories and lovely furniture. The upstairs bathroom is done in lavender and white and still has is claw-foot tub and pedestal sink. So sweet.



The town is filled with Victorian beauties and has a LOT of history behind it.

Look at this beauty just a couple of blocks away!

Look at this incredible beauty just a couple of blocks away!

 They call these the "Painted Ladies" of the town - two facing rows of gorgeous Victorian homes right across the street from the beach. Prices? A cool $1.5 million (for those needing repairs) and UP. Beautiful, yes, but location is everything!

They call these the “Painted Ladies” of the town – two rows of gorgeous Victorian homes facing a central parkland and right across the street from the beach. Prices? A cool $1.5 million (for those needing repairs) and UP…way up. Most of the oceanfront homes are Grand Dames that make these look like little sisters. Beautiful, yes, but location is everything!

This is a single family home with a beautiful breezy view from every level.

This is a single family home with a beautiful breezy view from every level.

Some of the town’s most interesting history is still visible today. There were religious Camp Meetings during the 19th century at the church on a large lot of land capping off the end of the Painted Ladies’ street…

The church/auditorium that is the centerpiece of the Tent Colony.

The church/auditorium that is the centerpiece of the Tent Colony.

…and families would stake claims to land on the same lot where they put up actual tents in the summer to be close to where the religious services were held. There were originally 600 tents, now there are 114 permanent “tents”.

More permanent “Tent Colony” structures of today. Furnishings and rugs are removed for the winter and brought back in spring/summer, and a canvas tent is erected over the wooden frame in front of the wood structure you see – the wood structure is only storage. There’s no real privacy. As tiny as they are, “tenters” have made them quite homey and cozy inside!

These “tents” are passed down from generation to generation; one couple has rented their tent for the past 75 years. “Tenters” love the simplicity of their little homes and usually spend all summer there. Quite the juxtaposition against the neighboring Painted Ladies.

Gorgeous Victorian gingerbread, but definitely more difficult to maintain than the tent homes!

Gorgeous Victorian gingerbread, but definitely more difficult to maintain than the tent homes!

I'd love to see that room!

I’d love to see that room!

Imagine the ocean view from that top balcony!

Imagine the ocean view from that top balcony!

No two are exactly alike, from color to gingerbread design.

No two are exactly alike, from color to gingerbread design.

Details, details everywhere.

Details, details everywhere.

Four blocks from our cottage is the town center with NO chain stores, just small, independent shops, indie restaurants, bakeries, etc. Just a few blocks farther is the ocean.

I love the beach during the off season, you wouldn't find me anywhere near it during summer with the crazy crowds!

I love the beach during the off season, you wouldn’t find me anywhere near it during summer with the crazy crowds!

It’s a walker’s paradise and the people are all so friendly. And so many people have dogs that a lot of the shop owners leave bowls of water outside for passing pups! 🙂 In fact, one shop has several bulletin boards with pictures of the pups who visit. 😀

Unfortunately, Daisy couldn’t come along with us, but I don’t think she was too upset – she had Daddy all to herself!

I love Daddy time!

I love Daddy time!

We’re part of the Thursday Barks and Bytes blog hop!


Monday Mischief: Travel-Ready Puppy

I keep a couple of older suitcases to store seasonal clothes away in during off-season. I was just starting to put some summer clothes into one of them when I was called away. Look what I found when I came back – do you think Daisy is hinting that she’s ready for her next travel adventure?

Uh ohhh….am I allowed in here? It sure is cozy!

I can stay? Thanks Mom! I’ll just make myself nice and comfy.

This is my new favorite bed! And if there’s any traveling planned – well, I’m ready to go! 😀

And so am I, my little Daisy! I just may jump on in there with you – after all the craziness around here this summer, I think we’ve earned an adventure!

We’re part of the Monday Mischief Blog Hop! Join in and meet some new furry friends!


Daisy Picks Up A Hitchhiker

While we were in FL for Christmas, we discovered something brand new – and it wasn’t fun.

After taking Daisy out for walks, we’d find loads of nasty little green pods stuck in her fur. And I mean STUCK – they had little spikey things sticking off them that caused the pods to latch onto her fur so strongly that we had to cut the fur off. We couldn’t pull them out no matter how we tried.

We found them everywhere – on her legs, paws, tail, stomach….even under her neck and between her pads!

They looked something like this photo, but surprisingly (and happily!) those nasty looking spines were flexible and didn’t hurt Daisy at all.

My family in FL has St. Augustine grass, and these seed pods apparently are weeds that come up in the cooler months. They call them “hitchhikers” because they grab onto socks, pants, and anything else they can attach themselves to.

We still don’t know exactly what kinds of weeds they are, but they could be sandspur, which could hurt if it attached to the skin. Fortunately, Daisy’s fur is SO thick and curly that even these nasties couldn’t get near her skin – a great natural defense system! But she wasn’t too fond of sitting still while we searched her fur and cut them out after every outing.

So just a heads-up to all my traveling blog buddies out there – new areas could host new problems for our outdoor pups, so just check them over after going outside. You never know what might be lurking!

Good grief, what WERE those crazy things?!


Houdini Havachon!

Daisy’s travel adventure continues….

During our long car ride south, we discovered another side to Daisy – she’s the Houdini of Havachons!

There we were, innocently riding along, music playing, DD reading in the back seat, when suddenly we hear DD cry out, “Daisy! How did you get over here?!”

Daisy had quietly and imperceptibly escaped from not one, but BOTH of her harnesses! We test the fit of her regular harness and her car harness every time we put them on her – they were snug when we put her in the car. Really. They were. (This dog can make us doubt ourselves sometimes!)

DD had suddenly felt a little paw poking her leg, asking for permission to snuggle on her lap. She looked up and there was Daisy, standing next to her “naked” –  no harness on her at all!

We couldn’t figure out how she did it. The next day, she did it again. But the third time, DD caught her in action. Daisy quietly pulled her shoulders in tight, making herself as narrow as possible, then slowly started pulling one leg backward, slipping it through the harness opening.

That’s exactly the kind of move Houdini used!

Suddenly we heard a loud “NOOOO!” from the back seat; fortunately I had my camera on my lap and saw Daisy caught in the act with that telltale “deer in the headlights” expression – you can see her front leg has been moved back a few inches and her shoulder was partly behind the harnesses:

Foiled! Caught in the act!

Once DD knew Daisy’s trick, she kept one eye on Daisy all the time and stopped her before she got too far into her new escape routine. I guess we’ll always have to make sure someone is sitting in the back seat with Daisy – there’s no telling what new moves she’ll come up with! 😉


Travelin’ Havachon!

So….guess where we went for Christmas? I’ll give you three hints:

Where else would you see a gorgeous blue heron in a busy parking lot? You guessed it – Florida!

We definitely prefer frosty noses, building snowmen, and hot cocoa for Christmas, but we made a last minute decision to join the family down south for Christmas this year. So instead we enjoyed warm, sunny weather, flowers in bloom, and ice cold fruity Christmas punch. 🙂

The only annoying thing was that we kept singing that old Bing Crosby song about Christmas with palm trees in Hawaii…. 😛

But the best part was that little Miss Daisy had her first major travel adventure – a 2400 mile (round trip) car trip!

Lots of time to catch up on my naps!

I’m happy to say that Daisy did extremely well and surprised us with her instinctive travel smarts. Up until now, we’ve only driven 1.5 hours with her, so this was a HUGE difference! It’s a 22+ hour drive, but we stayed overnight along the way. We drove for 3-4 hours at a time, then stopped to take Daisy out. Sometimes, in unfamiliar surroundings, Daisy will just “go” when the spirit moves her (like in the middle of sidewalks! Yikes!), so we were concerned about the car and the hotel room.

Our concerns were unfounded. 😀  She was great in the car and waited for us to take her out to “unload”.

When we first started our drive, she whined quietly for a few minutes, but then settled in comfortably.


After our first stop, she whined a bit longer, and we realized that she’s used to cuddling if someone else is on the sofa with her. Well, DD was in the back seat with her – probably just a moving sofa to Daisy! – but she had the armrest down so she could put her water in the holder and her books in the compartment. We didn’t realize this was distressing Daisy to some degree, as she was being cut off from one of her favorite cuddlers.

Her whines got a little louder when DD piled blankets and a pillow on top of the armrest so she could snooze….with that wall of fleece between them, Daisy couldn’t see DD, and she really didn’t like that. She kept staring at me in the rear view mirror!

DD realized that when she wasn’t napping, she could move Daisy to the center of the seat and attach the center seat belt to Daisy’s car harness; that way Daisy could cuddle up next to her or even lie on DD’s lap. This created one happy little Havachon!

Snuggled up next to DD - NOW I'm a super happy passenger!

It was a bit of an adventure for us to travel with a dog as well. We’ve never done that before, since our previous dogs were large, so we read up on how to travel with a dog, booked pet-friendly hotels, and kind of felt our way along.

The only thing we didn’t like was that we had to eat in shifts. DD and I would eat in our favorite road restaurant:

Down home cookin' and a country store all in one!

….and then bring food out for DH, who stayed outside with Daisy and then ate in the car. I felt bad for my poor hubby, but he didn’t mind. First of all, we were driving in warm southern climates. Second, Cracker Barrel restaurants all have plenty of green grass to walk dogs and they have a covered porch filled with porch rockers where he could sit with Daisy on his lap. She was in her glory! And we met so many new people because of Daisy – everyone would come over to pet her and ask what kind of dog she was (most people thought she was a poodle!), which led to some long conversations. It was so much fun!

We brought Daisy’s wee-wee pads into the hotel room just in case, which turned out to be a good idea. Instead of marking the hotel carpet, she marked her wee-wee pad instead! Whew! 😉

We feel so much freer knowing that we can travel long distances easily with Daisy. It seems to me that she’ll go along with almost anything as long as we’re all together! 😀


All Harnessed Up And Ready To Go!

Daisy loves going to new places, and we wanted her to be as safe as possible in this world of crazy drivers. So I did some research and decided that a car harness is the safest way to protect our little travelin’ pup.

I read that you should use the harness several times on short trips to get the dog used to it, because they generally don’t take to it right away. Well, we tried the harness out for the first time this weekend – I think Daisy rather liked the open-air experience, what do you think? 😉

This is much better than my puppy travel crate! I feel like a person!

“Thrilled” is the word that came to mind! She was SO happy and tried out all kinds of sitting, standing, and lying positions, always with that same happy puppy-pant.

I'm so happyyyyyyyy!

I was shocked to read in a Blog Paws article that there are still a lot of people who drive with their dogs on their laps – while they’re driving! Just take a look in the article at what the AAA (American Automobile Association) says happens to dogs of different weights who are unrestrained by a car harness – it’s terrifying. You’d think that would be enough to convince pet owners to keep their pet as safe as they keep their children.

Anyway, since our first 10-minute drive with Daisy was such a success, we’re going to increase that travel time. We also have a seat protector which we’ll use on our next trip because we know this time we’ll be taking Daisy out to explore. (Isn’t it funny how Daisy’s coloring just happens to match my car interior? LOL!) 🙂

Where are we going next??


A Havachon Remembers Her Puppy Travel Crate

I’ve read in a few places that experts – the big unnamed “THEY” – believe that dogs don’t have long-term memory. I’ve never subscribed to that belief.

Daisy in her puppy travel crate last summer

If that was true, how is it that they remember people they haven’t seen in more than a year? Scent, yes, but they associate that scent with something – kindness, cruelty, whatever. They remember.

Our vet and books by trainers recommended that we use a loud, sharp whistle to help train Daisy. She doesn’t like loud noises, so this was a humane way to get her attention when she was acting up. We kept forgetting to buy one, so we made a loud noise by hitting a spoon against a pot lid. It worked like a charm.

We haven’t used that pot lid in months, but the other day Daisy was NOT listening and her incessant “jump-and-spin” excitement that caused her an injury previously was non-stop. So I took out the pot lid – no spoon – and showed it to her. Immediately she stopped jumping and obeyed our “no jump” command. She stayed calm even after I put the lid away. Even after months of not seeing it, she still remembered that she didn’t like it and that she needed to listen.

This weekend, I passed Daisy’s puppy travel crate along to my friend who just got an 8-week old Westie. Daisy outgrew it months ago, but it sat in a corner of our family room all this time. Naturally, Daisy still associates the pink crate with car travel, which she loves. I took the crate out of its place late last week, leaving it by the door so I wouldn’t forget it  Saturday morning. She saw me move it and new that the space where it stood was empty. She sniffed it out many times.

Daisy in her "ready to go" stance last summer

Yesterday, I decided to pack Daisy’s two winter coats away. One was a hand-me-down from a friend; Daisy only wore it once, back in November. Five months ago. When I brought it out, she got all excited and started dancing around, expecting to go out.

But then she ran over to where her travel crate used to be and just stood there like she always did before we’d take her out in the car. She stood there in position as if a phantom travel crate was still in its place . She could clearly see that it was gone, but still, that was her spot all those months ago.

We haven’t used the puppy travel crate in six months, but the association and memory was still there, even though the crate wasn’t.

I think dogs do have long-term memory, at least a certain amount. Maybe some don’t – my last dog was a big Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix with a wonderful temperament, but she was just happy to be pet, played with, and fed every day. A happy-go-lucky sort of dog. Everything other than love, play, and food was just white noise to her. She wasn’t a dumb dog, but she didn’t have the desire to out-smart us like Daisy and other dogs I know have. Whether or not she had long-term memory, I couldn’t tell. I was also too busy raising a baby to notice a lot!

What do you think? Do you believe that dogs have long-term memories?


Monday Morning Chuckle: Canine Concierge – Pooch Relations!

No I’m not making it up – this is a bonafide, real life occupation and one employee at the Hotel Pennsylvania has the business card to prove it!

Oh Concierge....I'm ready for my spa treatment, please....

Being right across from Madison Square Garden, the hotel expected about 1,000 canine guests during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and one man’s job is the Canine Concierge in charge of Pooch Relations.

A Wall Street Journal article about the dog show talks about this and a few other new occupations to hit the Big Apple for this elite event – how about a Pet Taxi for dog owners who don’t want to walk their star AKC pups in the crowded city? No fewer than TWO cab services of this type are being offered!

And the Barking Dog restaurant cooks burgers to your dog’s taste, any way he/she likes it. (Reviews for their human food aren’t so good, though.)

How cool is that?!


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