Tag Archives: West Virginia

360-Degree Tour of Our West Virginia Home


Before we came back to Florida I took a 360-degree video of our home in West Virginia so you could get an idea of what it was like for Rose and I and the cats. I took it using my GoPro Fusion camera that has two 180 degree lenses. It is essentially two cameras in one with a software program called Fusion Studio that stitches the two images together.

Unfortunately, Fusion Studio is the worst software program since Windows Vista and possibly even worse than that. Both the camera and the program were discontinued shortly after I bought the camera so there is no hope for an update that will improve it.

In any case, it would not work on my computer in West Virginia so I had to wait until I got back to Florida to process it. When it did process the video, it tried to keep the video pointing in the same direction even though I turned the camera. So watching it will require you to use your mouse or finger to turn the image so you can see everything. Better yet, if you have VR goggles you can use that.

A couple of things I didn’t mention in the video are that the home is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and two people told us there is a ghost in the house. One said the ghost is a woman wearing clothing that would have been worn at the turn of the Twentieth Century. He claims to have personally see her, multiple times, in or near the gossip room. Another says the ghost is male and can sometimes be seen in the upstairs window smoking a pipe. I have not seen or heard any ghost but I think it would be fun to partake in a city-wide ghost tour which I heard they have done in the past.

As you can see the cats had plenty of space to run around or just hide if they wanted personal space. Even so, I think they are happy here in our Florida home too. Our next task is to find a larger vehicle so we can transport them more comfortably. But that is something I won’t have to worry about until the summer.

What do you think? Were you able to see the video okay?

Returning to Our Florida Home


The second leg of our trip back from West Virginia went pretty well except Floki cried almost the entire drive home. He would stop for brief respites and then start again. I half expected Chris to smack him and meow at him to be quiet.

We got home at about 1:00 in the afternoon. When we reached Tampa and were about a half hour from home we started joking about how surprised the cats were going to be when we put them in their old home.

30 seconds to home.

I never researched how good a cat’s memory is. I always imagined it to be similar to a human’s memory. I’d like to think that if I brought Chris back to the home we lived in when we adopted him more than eleven years ago he would remember it, or at least find it familiar.

I brought both crates inside and then opened the door. They were all so happy to be free and I could only imagine what they were thinking. What they did not do was go exploring. A new place requires exploring but this one was already known to them.

When we left for West Virginia I cleaned our three litter boxes and brought two of them with me. Before coming back I ordered from Amazon a replacement for each of the two boxes I took from there along with a couple of bags of litter. Our neighbor was kind enough to bring everything in the house for us so I was able to quickly get all the litter boxes filled with litter because I knew that would be needed right away. I wasn’t wrong about that.

One bad thing that happened in West Virginia was that Floki mostly stopped paying attention to Rose. Every morning Rose would sit on a stool at the side of the bed and check her email, Facebook, and I don’t know what else. During that time Floki would come to Rose and let her hold him for a while. While in West Virginia, he never did that. And to throw salt in the wound he would get on my lap right in front of her. The day we got home Floki let Rose pick him up and hold him again. I was very pleased to see that.

Another bad thing that happened up there was my toes almost fell off. Well, not literally, but it felt like they would. Even in Florida my hands and feet always seemed colder than they should be, but in West Virginia, there were times when I felt like I had frostbite on my toes. One evening, on Christmas Day or the day after, I spent quite a while standing in the kitchen. When we finally sat down to eat my toes on my right foot felt frozen and were throbbing with pain. When I took my socks off later I saw they were red and slightly swollen.

I looked up what might be the cause and the closest thing I could come up with was a condition called Chilblains which is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air.” One symptom I didn’t have was itching so I wasn’t sure. I also read it was common in very young and very old people. If I did have it, I reasoned, I must be too young.

A couple of days later it happened again so I went to the doctor and she wasn’t certain but agreed that Chilblains was probably what I had and I should go out of my way to keep my feet warm. I think we decided then that we would not be spending Christmas there anymore, even though all of our Christmas decorations are there now.

We have been home for almost two days now and the cats have gone back to their old routines like nothing ever happened. I, for one, am happy to be wearing shorts with no socks.

Florida, Here We Come


It is now 6:30 on Saturday morning as I start this post. Ten minutes ago we left our home in West Virginia and ate heading back to our home in Florida. Getting to this point wasn’t easy.

I think what caused me the most stress was worrying about getting Floki in the crate before he ran under the bed. My idea was to feed them in the empty bedroom and then put them all in the crates when we finished everything we had to do.

I woke up at 3:00 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worrying about carrying the crates down the stairs, especially the big one with Chris and Floki. I am sure the handle was not designed for that weight and I didn’t want to drop them down the stairs.

I also knew I had litter boxes to clean since we didn’t want to leave with old litter in the box. Actually, Rose didn’t want to do that. I cleaned two of the four boxes last night. I figured I would clean one this morning, which I did, but the last one would have to wait until the cats were in their crates.

Rose couldn’t sleep either so we got up at four and decided not to lock the cats in the bedroom. I fed them and spent the time preparing to close up the house and get stuff ready to go out to the car, including cleaning our giant litter pan.

I then started loading the car. There was way too much stuff for Rose’s little car and didn’t know how I was going to fit everything. I had the car more than half filled when Rose stuck her head out the door and said “We have a big problem.”

Since we had to put the top down to fit the crates in the back set she reminded me the trunk had to be empty to put the top down. Since it is a hard top it takes up room in the trunk when it’s down.

So I had to empty everything that was in the trunk. As I was doing that Rose informed me she caught Floki and put him in the crate. I went inside and helped get Chris, who we put with Floki, and the Frankie, when is flying solo. I then put the last litter box in a big garbage bag.

Rose put the top down and I put the cats in the car. I then loaded the trunk, which is as full as it can be, took out the trash, double checked the house and left.

Forty five minutes has gone by since I started writing and Floki is still crying. Wish us luck.

The Return of the Heated Pet Mat


A couple of years ago I reviewed the Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat. The cats seemed to like the mat but living in Florida we really didn’t have enough cold days for it to be useful. I think shortly after I got it I removed the heating part of it and just used it as a cat pad. We had it on our coffee table and Floki used it quite often there.

We brought it with us to West Virginia along with the heating element. I used it as a pad to one of the cat crates during the trip here and it fit perfectly.

When we got here and realized how cold it was I reinserted the heating element and plugged it in. It was a big success.

All three cats took turns lying on it and often there were two cats at a time on it. I have no photos of Floki lying on the mat for some reason but I assure you he was just as interested at Chris and Frankie.

We will be heading back to Florida on Saturday and I plan on bringing the pad with us but I will leave the heating element here.

Stray Cats Everywhere


When we moved into our new home in West Virginia we met several people who were happy to talk about the house, the neighbors, and the town. I will write about the house soon but for now, I want to talk about stray cats. They are everywhere around us. Even so, I have yet to get a photograph of one because I usually see them from a distance or when I am not ready with a camera.

One guy talked about our next door neighbor feeding strays like it was a bad thing. One day, while I was bringing the trash to the alley, I counted four cats and a kitten in the back yard of the house behind us. As far as the neighbors next door, I have only occasionally seen a stray or two there but I was able to get a video of a confrontation between two cats. I first heard the howling sounds that cats make when meeting another cat that they don’t know. I then saw them out the bathroom window at the house next door. I expected a fight but it never happened.

My office is upstairs in the back of the house and I often will see a cat walk by, sometimes through our yard and sometimes next door or across the alley. Once, after it snowed, I saw cat tracks that came right up to our back door.

A couple of weeks after we moved in my wife somehow became Facebook friends with the woman who lives behind us. She said that a woman died at a nearby home who had 14 cats. When the son came to clean out her home he just dumped the cats outside. So, being a caring person, she felt compelled to take care of them. Strangely, we have yet to meet her in person. We bought two cases of wet food for her but when I brought them to her house, nobody was home. I also brought cookies over there for Christmas but only her son was home then.

There are other kind people too on the block. One neighbor said there are at least three people who care for cats but I don’t know if they all care for the same 14 cats or if there is more than one colony here. One man, we were told, leaves a heater on in his garage for the cats. If we were permanent residents I would not be opposed to leaving food out on the back porch and perhaps a shelter too but I wouldn’t want to get cats dependent on me and then leave.

I am glad to know there are many caring people in this neighborhood. I have always felt like most people are good but the bad ones seem to get the most recognition.

On another note. We are planning to head back to Florida this Saturday. This time we will have to cram the two cat crates in the back seat of my wife’s car, where they just barely fit. While it will be an easier trip than coming up here in the moving truck, I am concerned that the only way in or out for the crates is by putting the convertible top down. This could be a problem in an emergency. Let us pray there is no emergency.

Halfway There


We made it to our hotel in Columbia, South Carolina at around 5:30. It should have taken seven and a half hours but it actually was closer to ten.

This photo was taken right after Floki discovered he couldn’t jump through the mirror.

We need to leave very early tomorrow so we get to our new home in West Virginia in time to get help unpacking.

West Virginia Here We Come


We rented a moving truck yesterday and I spent about four hours loading it. When I was mostly done we went back to the U-Haul place and got the car carrier. They quasi helped us but said we had to do it so they couldn’t be sued.

This morning we got up at five but had so much to do that we were not ready to go until 7:45. We put Chris and Floki together on the bottom and Frankie by himself on the top and then strapped them in.

As soon as we started Floki started screaming and Frankie was just wide-eyed and shaking. Chris was the only calm one although he did claw at me occasionally.

It is now 8:35 and Floki just stopped crying and has settled in. Frankie turned around and has calmed down too. The only issue now is that this truck feels like a bounce house but without the fun.

Another Move is Coming


I did a DNA test recently and I was almost certain it would come back 100% Nomad but apparently they don’t test for that. I counted all the homes I have lived in throughout my 57 years and ran out of fingers and toes. 22 was the number I came up with and that is assuming I didn’t miss one or two. Well, soon that number will be 23.

We currently live in a 55+ mobile home community in Florida where we own our home but pay lot rent. That rent goes up every year faster than inflation. Our original plan was to buy a motor home when we retire and travel in the summer but we needed a home base that wouldn’t cost so much while we were away. We spent a lot of time looking around here but it is almost impossible to find anything but a fixer upper or a tiny home with one bathroom for less than $200,000. Condos are an option too but with their high maintenance fees they are not much better than what we are paying now.

Enter option number two. A couple of years ago I went with Rose on one of her business trips to West Virginia and Virginia. At the time she was managing an apartment complex in each of those states. I was most impressed with the town that the West Virginia property was in. It is a small town on the Ohio River of about 3500 people or so and it just seemed like a nice change of pace. We currently live in the most densely populated county in Florida and driving places can be a real drag sometimes.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast and the owners there mentioned that the house across the street was for sale. They said it would probably sell for about $40,000. The place was about as big as the bed and breakfast and Rose and I figured it would probably take another $40,000 to restore it, still an excellent deal. While the idea of buying a home there intriged us, we were not ready for that commitment.

Two years later Rose comes across a Five-bedroom, three-bath, 3000 square foot home for $159,000. The home is not only in good condition but it has a separate two-car garage that has an apartment above it that we can rent. It is also 120 years old and is on the National Historic Registry.

I always assumed we would downsize when we retire. We even talked about living on a boat in the winter and then living in a motorhome in the summer. This house is the exact opposite of what I imagined but I think we will really like it there. The photos below were taken from the Realtor.com website. We have not seen the house in person.

I think the cats will have a great time exploring this house but I may have a hard time getting an accurate cat count.

I was hoping to get a home with a fenced yard where we could let the cats out but this fence probably is too short to be useful. Still, I could probably figure something out so that they can enjoy the outside. Maybe we could screen in this patio for starters.

Of course, this won’t be a done deal for a couple of weeks and anything can happen before then but so far, everything seems good. For now we will be going back and forth between our two homes and eventually we will sell the Florida home.

My biggest problem has been figuring out how to best transport the cats. My original plan was to rent a cargo van and put a cat playpen in the back. (Note: I am using Amazon links so you can see what I am talking about. I am not recommending anything but I will get a small commission if you buy something). I thought I could put the three cats in the pen with a small litter box and some water and maybe food. Then we could pack the rest of the van with supplies. I didn’t think we needed to bring anything big since it would be easier to buy everything there. I also thought we could rent a car carrier and tow Rose’s car. That idea was shot down when I could barely find van rentals that were one-way and none had a towing option. In addition, the vans that were one-way had a $350 drop off fee that doubled the price.

My second option was to buy a hitch for Rose’s car and rent a trailer. I would then have to put the cats in the back seat of her two-door car which wouldn’t be easy. I thought I could find one big carrier that covered the entire back seat but no such luck. Then I found out that her sister was giving her a sofa and loveseat which meant we had to rent a truck and since we were renting a truck Rose decided to bring the bed in the spare bedroom and she also bought the mermaid dresser from the last post.

I dreaded the idea of renting the truck because we would then have to put the cats in the front seat between us for the fourteen-hour drive which would probably be sixteen hours in a truck. We decided it was too long and will split the trip in two and stay at a hotel in South Carolina.

I went to a local U-Haul location and measured the space in between the seats. I then ordered two pet crates. One crate is 18×24 inches and the other is 13 x 22 inches. I could have ordered two of the larger crates but then I would have a problem getting them both in Rose’s car on the way home. My plan is to seatbelt the larger crate between the seats and then attach the smaller crate above it. I will put Chris with Floki and Frankie by himself to minimize fighting.

The larger crate arrived last week and the cats, or at least Frankie and Floki, were very curious about it. Chris must have been napping.

I wish I could give them a bigger space but we just don’t have the room. It is the trip with the cats that I dread the most. I think, perhaps, it is because I fear the unknown. What happens if there is an accident or we break down? What if one of them escapes the hotel? I’ve never been a Boyscout but I like to be prepared.

I bought them each a collar and Tile tracker.

I wrote their names on the front and my phone number on the back. The Tile has a range of about 200 feet and you can find it using an app on your phone. There is one that has twice the range but it is also twice as heavy. The nice thing is if anyone else with a Tile app comes within range of your tile the location will be recorded for you. It is not perfect but it is an added piece of mind. We also have all the cats microchipped as well so that will help too.

So I think I am as prepared as I can be but I would welcome any suggestions and a little luck too.