Exploring ideas for affordable, sustainable, enjoyable living.

Free Campsite Finder

Camping is one of my all-time favorite vacation activities. Unfortunately, the price of campsite rentals has really skyrocketed.  I remember spending one summer as a kid road-tripping with my family and camping all along the way.  With a membership to a national campground chain, we could find a site almost anywhere for $8.00 per night.  Not anymore.  Many sites now range from $25.00 to $50.00 (US) per night.  In some places, it’s actually cheaper to rent a motel room.  That’s why I’m so excited about  The site has interactive maps for finding free and cheap campsites throughout the United States and Canada.

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Dog Wheelchair Odyssey

A week before his demise, our five-and-a-half-year-old St. Bernard, Dagda, suffered with hips that had deteriorated enough that he needed help to stand up but, once up, he could walk on his own, although he was a little wobbly and would sometimes fall down. My hope was that we could customize a wheelchair so that we could lift him into it and then he’d be stabilized enough to move around on his own. Dagda agreed, so I helped him post an ad on Craigslist. Lots of people responded…I hope that folks are as willing to donate used wheelchairs to needy humans as they are to crippled Saint Bernards.

Anyway, we got the chair and, due to Dagda’s unusual size, it required some additional modifications, compared to the web link that had inspired our quest. By the time we had it fitted to him, his condition had deteriorated substantially. His doctor thinks that he had a degenerative (spinal) disk disorder, in addition to the hip dysplasia. He could no longer shift himself from lying on his side (sleeping) to lying on his belly (Sphinx position) on his own. His steroid pills made him very thirsty, so he would cry at night and need to be propped up to drink water approximately once per hour. I slept on the couch next to him and helped him up many times every night during his last few days. He also lost control of his bladder and it turns out that puppy pads are no match for the amount of urine produced by a steroid-fueled 180-pound dog.

We did give him a chance to try out the wheelchair, but since it couldn’t help him with his nightly struggles, it wasn’t a viable solution for the long-term. It did work nicely, though, (with brakes on) for propping him up so we could give him a bath. See the pictures of Dagda in his wheelchair, below. This kind of chair may work well for dogs with hip issues only.

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Aquarium infested with snails? Miraculously coinicidental cure!

So, unless you’ve had an aquarium infested with snails, you probably won’t care, but if you’ve taken the time to read this far, then you might as well keep going and file this away so you can have something clever to share the next time you find yourself stuck in an awkward conversational pause with an aquariaphile.

Our freshwater aquarium was doing swimmingly until we got a free plant from one of Hubby’s coworkers. It was infested with snails. In short order, we had thousands of tiny snails and numerous big ones. The tiny ones would pile up on the backs of the big ones and careen around like they were in some slow-motion underwater version of a Wisconsin Dells waterskiing extravaganza. It was a nightmare.

We have fancy guppies, and they don’t eat snails, but we read online that another kind of fish, the clown loach, specializes in eating snails. So we bought one and it showed no interest in snails and promptly died. We took the dead one back and exchanged it for a big, healthy clown loach, and bought a bunch of sinking shrimp pellets, to supplement its snail diet.

Well, the big clown loach shows about as much interest in snails as the little clown loach did. However, the snails flock to the shrimp pellets like flies do to our side yard (or like our dogs do to the the kitchen garbage, which ultimately ends up in our side yard). Within an hour of dropping in a shrimp pellet, there is a pile of at least a hundred snails sitting on it. We just take the fish net and scoop them out. It’s amazing! Our tank is almost completely clear of snails after only a few days!

Aren’t you glad you read the whole thing?

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