Talladega National Forest

Cindy and I just got back from camping at the Coleman Lake recreation Area in Alabama. It was a wonderful time for finding all kinds of little treasures.

I found the painted rock on the water hookup at my campsite. It was very appropiate. It was so peaceful there! There had been a horse endurance event in the area, and someone left a quarter horse on a picnic table. I photographed it, then left it to amuse the next person who happened along.

The first day out, I had no energy and was able to walk around our loop. Once. Period! But I got a good night’s rest that night. That, combined with the gorgeous weather, energized me, and I was able to get out and enjoy nature’s splendor! It was a lot more fun going than coming, though. It was for Mikky, too. Cindy ended up carrying him! Did I mention that she is a very good friend who loves my dog, too? 😋

As soon as I got home I ordered hiking poles, which I expect to enable me to go longer and farther next time out.

Oak leaf hydrangea almost hiding Cindy, Cindy’s rig. Cindy’s dog Missy, and Cindy and the dogs at the lake.

There were so many flowers that my phone camera simply couldn’t capture, especially the tiny ones. I also couldn’t capture the wild blueberries’ immature fruit. But I was thrilled to get the photos I did.

Immature elderberries and blackberries. I’m not sure what the white flowers are. They resemble bergamot, but they are not pink. On edit, Alabama does have white bergamot.

Cindy saw a couple of snakes. One water snake swimming. And Missy, her dog, STEPPED on a snake. Cindy didn’t recognize the markings, but the snake did not bite Missy. It was a little over a foot long, and Cindy said she guessed the snake was sick or had just eaten.

The composition of this photo is awful, but I love it anyway. Oak leaf hydrangeas are so photogenic!

Look at the difference in this photo after Judie cropped it for me! https://dorrieanne.wordpress.com/. Thanks, Judie!

Cindy likes to go to the same places over and over. I am going to try to coax her into expanding her camping range, especially since I LOVE to camp by large expanses of water. We have the problem of erratic schedules, though, and it seems that every time we make reservations, we have to cancel them. That gets expensive.

False Solomon’s Seal. I rarely see it, and I find regular Solomon’s Seal even more infrequently.
Swamp milkweed was everywhere! I discretely gathered several of the unopened flower buds to steam and enjoy the delicious, delicate broccoli taste with dinner.
Poison ivy and Virginia Creeper growing parallel up a tree. I’m not sure what the other plant is. Maybe a buckeye?
I wasn’t the only one worn out by our walk! In case you wondered, one side of the pillow is Mikkey’s. At night, the other side is mine. 🙂
My little van

Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls from the left side
Noccalula Falls from the right, most photographed side.

Noccalula Falls Campground and Park are part of the Gadsden, AL City Park. It’s a gorgeous place with a serene, peaceful feel.

The campsites are spaced very closely together, but there weren’t many sites occupied. Plus we got sites at the edge of the campground, so it felt spacious to us.

Noccalula Falls Campsite
Cindy and my campsites

My little van got lots of stares (probably of incredulity!) and one middle aged couple seemed fascinated by it and wanted a detailed tour. Then they asked if I lived in it!

It is remarkably comfortable. I am still amazed at how it can hold everything I need.

Heading toward the Falls
The wedding chapel

Cindy hiked all the trails except the one that goes behind the falls. It’s rugged and she was afraid her dog might lurch or lose his footing. And she wasn’t ready to meet Noccalula’s fate!

More photos of the falls. They fascinate me! The statue depicts Noccalula, the legendary Indian maiden who threw herself in the gorge when her father insisted she marry a man she didn’t love. The falls were called Black Rock Falls before they were renamed for the legend. I like the sound of Noccalula better, too. 🙂

We had hoped to tour the entire park, but my COPD is progressing and there are lots of hills. So I didn’t get to do my usual exploring. But Cindy and I still had a wonderful time. I still excel at eating hickory cooked hamburgers and home made potato salad! And short walks, good conversation, and drinking coffee.

We thought of riding the train through the park, but didn’t want to leave the dogs. But we both had a wonderful time and didn’t feel like we missed out on anything.

What are these strange smells, Mom?
Mallards at Noccalula Falls
Mallards
A cheeky squirrel stealing Mikkey’s food from right under our noses. There were also jet black squirrels there, but they were more skittish and I couldn’t get a decent photo of one. Also pictured is a scene I enjoyed of a mom and son feeding the geese.

I plan to get serious about catching up on Casita maintenance and fixes this week so Ron and I can camp together. I missed him!

Waters plunging over the rocks. Also, the black rocks that surround the falls area intrigue me.

Link to van build photos



Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Celebrating Jesus' Resurrection and his soon return

Van Mods & Update

I got the solar screen panels for the van’s cargo area windows done. They are not pretty, and I don’t like how much they darken the van’s interior. But they definitely keep the van cooler in the sun.

Solar screen in minivan windows
The solar screen held in place by plastic angle brackets that I attached magnets to. Since the screen wasn’t as stiff as I expected, I had to use a regular magnet to keep them from slipping down. (I also moved the little gray cosmetics holder because it looked tacky there!)

I also trimmed my fleece covered Reflectix window covers so they just slide inside the little white magnetized plastic angle brackets. I was having to attach each magnet individually at night before I found the angle brackets solution, and that was a pain!

Insulated minivan window covers
Fleece covered Reflectix insulated privacy panels in van’s side window.

I also took two 7″ O rings and sandwiched screening in between them for a removeable screen for the floor’s ventilation deck plate. It wasn’t a snug fit, so I whipstitched the screen’s edges around the O rings, hoping that the overlap would make it snug enough to fit tightly enough to keep bugs out. That made it look uneven and bulky. It will do until I can do better.

Van hole in floor for ventilation
It doesn’t look pretty, but it works. It also serves as a hatch to lower Mikkey to go potty under the van when it’s raining.

Finally, after a couple of steamy days, I realized that camping in our sweltering summer would be impossible without an air conditioner. So I combed every description and review of portable air conditioners I could find. The only one I liked was the Climate Rite that sets outside the van and blows cold air inside. But it was too heavy for me to lift in and out of the van. And the reviews were awful!

So I settled on a Honeywell. It’s definitely overkill for my tiny van, but I didn’t feel I had any other option. It’s 40 pounds, which is manageable, and it has good reviews.

portable air conditioner for van
Definite overkill. But it was my best option.

Now for the sad news. My neighbor and I have been excitedly discussing plans to go camping this coming Monday. Now she is waffling, not wanting to leave her husband. So I hope she decides it’s okay. If not, I will go alone.

Blog Problems — Tiny Van Photos Repost

The passenger side door of the van showing the sink cabinet and storage unit.

In trying to learn how to use WordPress’s block editor, I accidentally deleted the page where I had originally posted my first van photos while I was trying to edit the page.

So I apologize to everyone who has already seen them. I will just repost the photos, and hopefully move on to my usual ramblings in future posts. I did post a couple of new “before” photos. Thanks for your patience. ❤️

Kitchen view of tiny campers van interior
The little wash stand was originally a $99 table with 2 slatted shelves, also from Amazon. Since it wouldn’t fit over the wheel wells, I cut it up and used the pieces to build the sink stand with fresh water underneath, and a gray water container on the bottom. I covered the gray water bottle with a slipcover,so I wouldn’t have to look at the dirty water. I used the extra wood for the top and shelf, and had wood left over to frame the refrigerator and build a small shelf behind the wash stand.
Interior view of small diy camper van from rear
I have built camper beds before, but I hated sleeping on a plywood slab. This time I went with a cot that had springs and added a cushy mattress. The narrow width doesn’t bother me as I was used to sleeping on the dinette bed in our Casita. I had to add riser legs so the porta pot would fit under the bed.
Under bed storage in camper van
My only A/C wiring is a power strip that attaches to an extension cord through a hole I cut in the floor behind the driver’s seat.
Deck plate in van floor for ventilation
With the van shut up at night there is no ventilation. Static Camper Van on YouTube gave me the idea of putting a ventilation hole in the floor. So I installed a deckplate in the only place where there was space under the van for a hole that large. With the deck plate open and the fan on exhaust, the ventilation is awesome!
tiny camper sink and water supply
Another van photo. This shows a close-up of my fresh and grey water supply, sink stand, along with a folding dishpan/tote sandwiched between the stand and the refrigerator.
portable solar panel stored in a small camper van
This is the 120 watt portable solar panel stowed behind the passenger seat.
Hole in van floor for electrical cord
Here’s the hole behind the driver’s seat for the electric cord. I plan to stuff one of those plastic mesh pot scrubbers around the cord to keep out bugs. Update: Linneth, a dear reader, suggested using a pool noodle around the wire, stuffed into the hole. Eureka!
My van build pictures wouldn’t be complete without another photo of my best buddy!


The before photo
The tricky part. 🙂

Not Again!

I had to cancel my reservations for this weekend.

My van’s remote keys are working intermittently, my clock display disappears at times, and my right brake light got dimmer and dimmer, then went out yesterday. So I am thinking it is probably electrical problems.

I do have a warranty that should cover the repairs, but it breaks my heart to have to cancel another camping trip.

Winter Really Is Over!

The little van and screen house on West point Lake

I finally made it out camping! After losing my reservations last weekend, I decided to wing it this time. I stopped at Whitetail Ridge only to discover that they were booked solid. So I drove another 20 minutes and was able to get into R. Shafer Heard for 2 nights. Not the 3 I’d hoped for.

King of the Mountain — Mikkey surveying his domain

But as unexpectedly brisk and chilly as the wind turned out to be, I didn’t mind leaving a day early and waiting for balmier weather. At least, a few spring flowers assured me that winter really was over, even though it wasn’t warm enough to sit outside. Until today when I was leaving!

See, spring finally arrived!
The van got decorated with yellow pine pollen, in case I missed the fact that spring is here.

Since brisk walks were our only outings, I entertained myself cooking inside the van.

This was a chicken and everything-in-the-refrigerator curry.


We watched geese, a big grey heron, ducks, and a hawk (not an osprey) dive for fish. It was the first time I had seen a hawk fish!

I really miss the old WordPress editor where I could intersperse small photos and have the text wrap around it. Maybe I still can, when I get used to this new one.

I plan to head out again as soon as being outdoors is comfortable.

Now– to get busy on Casita repairs and maintenance so Ron and I can go camping together!

The Best Laid Plans…

Disappointment

Today I had planned to leave for 3 days camping at Whitetail Ridge. I hadn’t felt well for a few days, but I was determined to go no matter what. Yesterday I got hit by waves of nausea on and off all day — but I was still dead set on going.

This morning I felt even worse. The prospect of spending 3 days sick on a cot in a microvan forced a decision to postpone the trip.

So I’ll just share some random photos with you until I can take you along on a new camping trip. Very soon, I hope!

tiny camper sink and water supply

Another van photo. This shows a close-up of my fresh and grey water supply, sink stand, along with a folding dishpan/tote sandwiched between the stand and the refrigerator.

portable solar panel stored in a small camper van

This is the 120 watt portable solar panel stowed behind the passenger seat.

IMG_20190316_143637

One of my winter sanity savers. An Aerogarden lettuce patch! This picture was taken a while back when the plants were small. I’ve since harvested it several times. What fun to pick a couple of lettuce leaves for a sandwich in my own kitchen!

IMG_20190316_143550

My dear friend and neighbor is always bringing me thoughtful little gifts. Lately she has been bringing me heavenly smelling miniature spring bulb flowers.

Florida Again

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock's caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen's horn they make when the children got too close.

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock’s caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen’s horn they make when the children got too close.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up.....

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up…..

I had not intended to blog about Florida again because we are, as usual, spending the winter here.  The biggest treat is having time with family.

Unfortunately, I had to do a factory reset on my phone and haven’t downloaded all the photos yet.  I’m waiting for our next data cycle.  So there will be no photos to share of the lovely 80 degree Christmas celebrated in shorts at Gail’s screened porch.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy's bed.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy’s bed.

So I’ll just share my available photos taken at random, and let the captions tell the story…. which is, it’s CHILLY down here now!

BTW, our water pump went out and our toilet needs replacing.  I have them ordered and Gail and I will do the mods when we get back to her house in a week or so.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Next was O'Leno Park--because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Next was O’Leno Park–because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature... an indoor heated swimming pool.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature… an indoor heated swimming pool.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south.  All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south. All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

So now it's winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

So now it’s winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

But winter in Central Florida doesn't really mean winter. :)

But winter in Central Florida doesn’t really mean winter. 🙂

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

For Love of Mikkey

 

We are head over heels in love with little Mikkey.

Chihuahuas are not supposed to be like this.  He is almost 90% paper trained.  He gets all of his #1’s on the paper and most of the #2’s.  I had read that this breed was notoriously difficult to pottie train.  Not Mikkey.

And he was SO easy to teach not to bite.  He will mouth fingers, but no more biting!

I took him to the vet Tuesday.  He loved everyone and didn’t bark once.  He did pee when the receptionist picked him up, though.  Otherwise it was just wriggly, wagging tail greetings to everyone.  He did let out a shriek when the vet stuck him with a needle, but was friends with her again as soon as she petted him.

The only time he barks is when he is playing with his toys.  He barks, butt high in the air and head low in his play stance.   Ron stomped at him in fun yesterday and Mikkey barked 3 times at him.  Ron has agreed not to play with him that way again.  We don’t want any aggression or fear to develop.

mikkey2

He is a quiet little dog!  And so loving!  He is the world’s most wonderful lap dog — my dream come true doggie.

I still look at Sunny’s photos and love him so dearly.  And I realized that the reason I feel like Mikkey is an extension of Sunny is because it is the same love.

He is too fast to get pictures of him in motion.  He runs like lightning.  There is no way we can beat him to the door — or anything else.  He really is Mikkey Motor!

But when he snuggles, wow.  I feel such love and absolute trust in his warm, furry little body limp in my lap while he naps.  My heart just basks in his love.

We definitely got the right dog!

It’s pretty obvious we aren’t going to be able to fulltime anytime soon.  There are just too many medical tests and stuff.  I did find out that the reason I have gained 25 pounds in 2 years is due to Hashimoto’s thyroid disease (an autoimmune condition), as well as some of my meds making me prone to weight gain.  But the thyroid condition is very common and easily controlled with thyroid hormones.

The weight gain is trickier.  I look at myself in the mirror and hardly recognize myself.  It looks like I have no choice but to go back on an ultra low carb diet.  Those of you that I’ve met in person would be shocked at how I look now.

My doctor mentioned diet pills, but I declined.  Everyone I know who has ever taken them loses weight fast, then it rebounds worse than ever when they go off them.  But at least I’m willing to discuss it now.

But none of that matters when I’m snuggled up with my Mikkey.  🙂

Oh, the cataract operation on my left eye is scheduled for September 9.  I’ll be so glad to get that done.  Being able to see perfectly out of one eye and half blind in the other is annoying and causes headaches.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: