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.

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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!

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

Tinycamper’s Tiny Camper Van

tiny diy camper van entrance

The side entrance. The little storage unit on the right was a tiny kitchen cart for $49 from Amazon. Non-skid mats keep the baskets in place.

Over five years ago I posted about my dream of building my own tiny get-away camper van.

I never really expected that dream to come true, but I kept occasionally checking used van ads– just hoping.  But I had my heart set on one particular model.  I wanted a 2013 Ford Transit Connect cargo van for the extra height, with side and rear windows.  And it had to be in great condition and at a price I could afford.

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.

Finally my dream came true! I immediately had a shop remove the cargo cage, then started tearing the interior apart and rebuilding it.  I completely removed the headliner, but later cut out pieces to frame the cargo side windows, since I had trouble fitting anything else there. Then I installed the Maxxair fan and the paneling.

I insulated the sides and cavities with Thinsulate, and the ceiling with foil faced polyiso.  I am going to have to add a portable air conditioner to the passenger seat if I expect to use the van in our sweltering Southeastern summers.  Fortunately I usually have access to hookups when I camp.  I do have a portable 120 watt Accopower solar panel stowed between the little storage unit and the passenger seat to keep the lights, refrigerator and fan running in an emergency, along with my one 125 amp AGM battery.

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.

I was going to have someone do the 12 volt wiring for me.  But I didn’t really have the money for that after buying the van.  So I combed the net for the most basic tutorials, and finally learned enough to attempt it.  What a feeling of accomplishment when I finally got it done, and it worked!  Later I added a 4 stage converter charger that would power my 12 volt things and charge my battery at the same time.

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.

At night I cover the cargo area windows with Reflectix covered with silver grey fleece on the inside.  I keep them in place with magnets.

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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!

Hole cut in camper van floor for ventilation

Here’s a picture of the open deckplate. I am still deciding how I will attach screening to keep the bugs out.

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!

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged (3 years?) that I’ve forgotten how to write coherently, so forgive the choppy writing.

BTW, the baskets are “Rattique” (plastic) instead of real rattan because they are water and mold-proof.

–Sharon

I’m saving a copy of this post as a permanent page so the van build won’t get buried.

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.

 

 

We Got a Cuddler

Mickey on my lap

Mikkey on my lap

Mikkey is the sweetest little cuddler you can imagine.  We are thrilled with our new baby (most of the time).

Mikkey on lapp2He bites.  I read that with a chihuahua you must train them not to bite when they are small or they can be aggressive when they become adults.  I bought him scads of bones and toys of all kinds and thought I was starting to make a little progress tonight, so I told Mikkey, “You are such a good little boy!”  He promptly bit my nose. Hard!

Also, he knew what pee pads were for, even though he only used them for #1.  But we picked up some cheaper ones that don’t contain the attractant scent that lets them know that’s where to go.  So now I have pads all over the floor, and he chooses to avoid them and use a more appealing (to him) open space.  I know I should keep him confined in his pen until he understands that he is to go on the pad.  But we do so love to see him race around.  Sometimes we call him Mikkey Motor.  The flame collar suits him.  🙂

So I’ll pick up some of the right pads tomorrow, scrub the floor with OdoBan, and see if we can start over.

His just-cleaned house before all the toys are piled back into it -- and all over the living room floor!

His just-cleaned house before all the toys are piled back into it — and all over the living room floor!

I don’t know how such an incredibly loving, submissive (he rolls over for us to scratch his belly or pick him up) can be so aggressive with the biting.

But I’m watching a lot of chihuahua videos and reading everything I can on how to train them, so I’m sure it will work.  Eventually!

I had the cataract surgery on my right eye and it is truly a miracle.  I discovered I have been seeing the world through an olive-greenish yellow filter.  Colors are stunning now.

I go inThursday to schedule the left eye.

 

I am having to postpone the eyelid surgery until next spring.  We had so much going on with the two trips to Florida, then there were other tests and procedures to schedule, so it just didn’t work out.

Camping seems like a far off, much longed for mirage at this point.  But I am still hoping we can make it down to Florida in November for the winter.

 

 

 

News from Sheba!

Sheba's new owner sent me this picture taken today.  Look at her face!  I am teary with joy at what a perfect home she has now!

Sheba’s new owner sent me this picture taken today. Look at her face! I am teary with joy at what a perfect home she has now!

We’re Home

We just got home a couple of hours ago.

Thankfully there was no sign of mice, no broken pipes, and nothing missing. It looked like we had just been gone a few days.

And the projects look a lot less daunting than I had built them up in my mind.

Sunny is ecstatic to be home.

Ron has gone to buy new batteries for the smoke detectors with instructions to bring home taco salads.

And we are so excited about our new goals of fulltiming and eventually buying a small home base in Florida.

Life is still good. 🙂

Home Tomorrow

Commitment and persistence.

Commitment and persistence.


I am trying to face going home tomorrow “with the grace of a woman, and not the grief of a child.”

Once we leave here tomorrow morning, we will be plunged into a maelstrom of tasks, chores, medical appointments, etc. and probably won’t even have time to think for a few days.

Then the real work starts.

I had planned to redo the bathrooms a year or so ago. My normal procedure is to research how to do projects, watch Youtube videos to learn techniques, then plunge in over my head and eventually end up with a decent job done.

That doesn’t work anymore. I learned I simply don’t have the physical strength to do carpentry and remodeling anymore.

So those projects remain undone. And if we are to sell the place, the kitchen counters also need to be redone.

So my job for the foreseeable future will be scheduling handymen to do the work as I can afford each project. I can’t afford to hire professionals. Hopefully I can find some gifted, reliable handymen.

But back to dreams of fulltiming…

Tinycamper laundry.  :)

Tinycamper laundry. 🙂

It has been rainy here, but yesterday we got a break in the weather long enough to do a little laundry with my Wonder Wash and spin dryer.

That was pure fun to me… and the wash smelled so fresh after drying in the sun and breeze.

But the real world calls, and we will answer tomorrow.

Just Pictures

It’s foggy and overcast this morning. But I have a good enough signal to upload photos, so I’ll post some from yesterday.

I love the COE's safety signs.

I love the COE’s safety signs.

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The alligators were getting out of hand the last time we camped here. One man told us that when he brought his boat into this canal after dark, the red, glowing eyes of the alligatos along this bank looked like Christmas lights.

This is the area where the young alligator chased baby Sheba.  it used to have all kinds of vegetation in the water and on the banks.  I'm sure that's why they've mowed the bank and trimmed the aquatic plants back.

This is the area where the young alligator chased baby Sheba. It used to have all kinds of vegetation in the water and on the banks. I’m sure that’s why they’ve mowed the bank and trimmed the aquatic plants back.

There are dug up areas along the road.  It's not bad enough to be feral hogs, so I think it's armadillos.  Here they were probably going for the young bull thistle's turnip tasting roots.

There are dug up areas along the road. It’s not bad enough to be feral hogs, so I think it’s armadillos. Here they were probably going for the young bull thistle’s turnip tasting roots.

Gorgeous little flowers.

Gorgeous little flowers.

Young 2nd year bull thistle beginning to send up celery tasting flower stalk.

Young 2nd year bull thistle beginning to send up celery tasting flower stalk.

This fallen pine tip looked like a still life to me.

This fallen pine tip looked like a still life to me.

Former lake denizens

Former lake denizens

Critter tracks

Critter tracks

Camping Heaven

Our Casita at Pine Island Campground

Our Casita at Pine Island Campground

Today is a glorious, breezy, sunshiny day with a high in the low 80’s. Weather like this makes us high, too! 🙂

There are many hugepines here.  Unfortunately, they show evidence of pine bark beetle damage.  I had Ron pose in front of one for scale.

There are many hugepines here. Unfortunately, they show evidence of pine bark beetle damage. I had Ron pose in front of one for scale.

Sunny is sleeping hard enough now that if we leave the trailer when he is napping, we can get nice walks in before he wakes up. That’s another good news, bad news situation. We love being able to get out for walks together, but are sad that he sleeps like the old dog that he is.

For several days rowing teams have been practicing for a competition (we suppose). There are 4 long boats with several rowers each, accompanied be an instructor in a motor boat with a bullhorn that sounds like a Parris Island drill instructor! It’s been fun to watch.

This afternoon the sun is sparkling on the lake like a million diamonds. The breeze is steady and cool — keeping the 83 degrees from feeling hot. It couldn’t possibly be more perfect.

I’m still phone blogging and editing my photos on the phone, so I have no idea how they look on a screen. Hope you can enjoy them.

p.s. I had a whole lot of photos to post, but my signal has dropped to 1x, so I can’t upload more.

Bummer!  🙂

 

 

 

 

Phone Blogging?

Tinycamper's laundromat at Pine Island Campground

Tinycamper’s laundromat at Pine Island Campground

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Since I can’t blog on my computer, I decided to see how it would work on my phone.

The view from our awning last evening.

The view from our awning last evening.

The answer is, slow.  And I can’t see it the way it looks on a computer screen

But it works!

We are at the Cottonhill COE Park, Pine Island Campground, on Walter F. George Lake, on the southern part of the Georgia/Alabama border.  We have not camped in this particular campground before.  It is so much prettier than the other two.

I’m still loving my Wonder Wash and spin dryer.  I’m using it mostly for small things like wash cloths, dish cloths, socks and underwear.  It would work fine on jeans, shirts and sheets, but as long as Ron is willing to do the rest of the laundry, I keep it at play level.

My new Camping World treasures -- a mud and sand scraping mat and stair cover.  Love them!

My new Camping World treasures — a mud and sand scraping mat and step cover. Love them!

What is funny is that a big 5th wheel pulled in next to us this morning — and set up a laundry rack just like mine.

We stayed at Eagle’s Roost RV Park just over the FL/GA line for 4 days before coming here.  That’s our favorite place to change gears from going to Florida to leaving Florida.  There’s a lot of interstate noise there, but we like the park well enough that it doesn’t bother us.

We did notice that it’s not being maintained as well as it used to be.  Someone told me it’s because Camping World (across the interstate) bought it out.  I don’t know if it’s true.

Eagles Roost

Eagles Roost

I’ll close with a picture of Sunny’s eyes. They looked good when we left home in November. But my vet would only give me 2 bottles at a time of his eye drops, so he ran out. The insides of his eyelids looked like hamburger and the whites of his eyes looked bloody.  Scariest of all his pupils are red.  I have only seen that years ago before we got his medicine right.

I took him to a young know-it-all vet in Apopka who wouldn’t listen when I told her what we needed.

So she prescribed something different, and his condition continued to worsen. I finally found a wonderful vet near Newport who took us as walkins on a very busy day. He gave us what we needed, and Sunny is slowly improving. I will be so glad when his pupils are no longer red.

And I’m going to have words with my vet when we get home and make sure this never happens again!

Sunny's eye disease.

Sunny’s eye disease.

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