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



Leaving Amity

Sun glowing through trees after the rain

Sun glowing through trees after the rain

Amity COE is probably the most beautiful campground we’ve ever enjoyed.  But when there was no one else in our loop over the weekend — and only a handful of campers in other loops, we were starting to miss people.

Little Sunny enjoying camping.  :)

Little Sunny enjoying camping. 🙂

We left Amity around 3:00 and pulled into FDR State Park around 4:00 this afternoon.  After a fast set up, we headed back toward town to pick up KFC — and Almond Joy ice cream cones at LuBelle’s Ice Cream Parlor.  What a treat!

We got back to FDR amidst a drenching downpour.  It’s still too soggy and drizzly to take pictures here, so I’ll post a few of my final shots from the Alabama side of West Point Lake.

By the boat launch

By the boat launch

We are planning to tour FDR’s Little White House tomorrow.

Upstream of the dam

Upstream of the dam

Downstream from the dam

Downstream from the dam

A glimpse of the dam machinery

A glimpse of the dam machinery

 

 

Ready to Camp Again & Container Gardening

Radicchio in Earth Box

Radicchio in Earth Box

When we got home from our camping trip to Watson’s Mill Bridge last week, we threw a load of laundry in the washer, put on a pot of coffee, and Ron announced, “I’m ready to go camping again.”

The bell pepper plants are loaded with baby peppers.  The tomatoes are not faring so well.

The bell pepper plants are loaded with baby peppers. The tomatoes are not faring so well.

I was, too.

For some reason, our place just depresses us.  It’s a pit stop.  A place to come home to until we can leave again.

I have been reluctant to plant my square foot gardens.  I guess the truth is, I just don’t want to be tied down by them.  So I’m settling for what I have planted in my ten Earth Boxes — at least for now.  We may lose them while we are out camping.  If so, that’s just the way it is.

We are aging and don’t have a lot of years left.  The camping is SO much more important to us at this stage of our lives.

The cold spring killed the fig trees that we have enjoyed for 15 years.  The buds are all black or brown and I have finally accepted that they are not coming back.

Dead fig trees

Dead fig trees

Anyway, I just made reservations for a week at West Point Lake next week.  We couldn’t get a site for that amount of time on the Georgia side, so we’ll be camping on the Alabama side.

We can’t wait!!!!!!

 

 

 

Camping at Coleman Lake

Our campsite at Coleman Lake.

Our campsite at Coleman Lake

Coleman Lake is a small campground in Alabama’s Talladega National Forest.  It’s down a long, winding two-lane road off Hwy. 78, and it feels like you are driving to the end of the world to get there.  There’s no cell reception, so being without phone and internet makes it feel even more remote.

This is one of the birds that was throwing giant beakfuls of leaves into the air. Here he is taking a break.

Sites are very large and private in both loops  — a little more private in Loop B, but we chose Loop A to be closer to the little lake.  It’s a lovely place to soak up nature, listen to the birds chatter, chip and sing while you enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee in the morning, explore plant life along the trails, and absorb the pervading peacefulness of escape from civilization.  A stress-free zone.

The low-key entertainment included watching black birds with iridescent teal heads vigorously pecking through leaf litter and throwing huge beakfuls of leaves high in the air.  Over and over and over.  I tried to get a photo of the action, but none of them turned out.

The most excitement was when Sheba was attacked by a goose.  Well, warned of an attack, anyway!  While Ron was walking her by the lake,  she kept lunging on the leash and excitedly trying to get to a lone goose near the water’s edge.  All of the sudden the goose marched out of the water, got right in Sheba’s face and hissed at her.  We were so stunned, we weren’t sure what to do, so simply walked off, dragging Sheba behind us.  That must have been the right answer because the goose headed back to the water.

Another bird

Another bird

The campground was almost full when we arrived Sunday afternoon, and never did empty out after the weekend.  Thursday was the only day there were more empty sites than full, and new campers began arriving early Friday morning for the weekend.  Most of the campers were fairly local.

The nice thing about such a small, remote campground is that it attracts mostly hardcore nature lovers, who are generally quiet, considerate campers.  We loved it there!

There were almost no bugs out yet, although we did see a few mosquitos Thursday.  But I did pick up a tick on the back of my knee while out on the trail.

Looking toward the swimming beach.  The grass is starting to green up nicely.

Looking toward the swimming beach. The grass is starting to green up nicely.

I very rarely get to explore by myself when we are out.  But Wednesday and Thursday Ron offered to keep the dogs so I could roam to my heart’s content.  I felt euphoric as I wandered along the sun-warmed trail and cut through the woods to get a better look at emerging shoots and fiddleheads and whatever other wonders spring had in store for me.

I didn’t find any mushrooms this trip except for several old polypores.  I kept hoping that I might stumble onto my first morel ever.  But either the mushrooms were waiting a little longer to fruit — or they were really good at hiding.

Down by the little dam

Down by the little dam

I do so enjoy reading other camping and RVing blogs where people get out and explore all the restaurants and attractions in an area.  I envy their travels and all the sights and experiences they cram into their trips.

My kind of camping is different.  It’s total immersion into the natural features of the campground and surrounding area.  Seeing the world from a worm’s-eye view instead of a bird’s eye view, I guess.

Hmmmmm..... I think I spot dinner!

Hmmmmm….. I think I spot dinner!

In any case, I do so appreciate the readers who enjoy my low-key pursuits.  Thanks so much for visiting and re-visiting!

Tomorrow I’ll post more of the spring wonders that I found in the woods.  At least wonders, as I perceive them.  🙂

Got it!

Got it!

This was a long zoom shot.

This was a long zoom shot.

Luna moth

Huge luna moth

This beautiful moth looked like she was dressed up in her bridal finery to me.

This beautiful moth looked like she was dressed up in her bridal finery to me.

Ron and Sheba on the trail headed toward the bridge.

Ron and Sheba on the trail headed toward the bridge.

 

 

Coleman Lake, the Pinhoti & the Beach

There are several trails in the  area including hiking and horse trails.

There are several trails in the area including hiking and horse trails.

We plan to leave for Coleman Lake tomorrow.  Since there is no cell service there, I thought I’d post a preview, and will update the blog when we are back in civilization again.

The main activities in the area are birding, camping, hiking and horseback riding.  There’s a primitive horse camp not far from the Coleman Lake campground.  I’m not sure about the fishing.  But when we were there a few years back, one family went frog gigging and harvested 17 big frogs that night.

Coleman Lake swimming beach

Coleman Lake swimming beach

For me, the main attraction is mushroom hunting.  There’s a tremendous variety of habitats from dry hardwood hills to primeval-looking swamps covered in fern.  I’m sure I won’t be able to identify most of the ones I find, but I sure will have fun trying!

For long distance hikers, the close proximity of the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail should be of interest.  It ties in with the Benton McKaye and Appalachian Trails and is part of the Eastern Continental and the Great Eastern Trails.

Gulf State Park right on the Gulf.

Gulf State Park right on the Gulf.

After that, we’re planning to head for the beach the latter part of April.  I changed my mind about the Mississippi beaches when I read that the water is brown and muddy like it is at Galveston.  So now the plan is to go to Gulf State Park in Alabama.

It has excellent reviews.  The water won’t be as clear as it was at Ft. Pickens, but it should still be nice there.  And I’m pretty sure our dogs will be allowed to walk on the beach with us.

So it looks like I will finally, finally, break free of the winter-weary cabin fever blues and go camping!

Making Plans Again

Our last trip to Coleman Lake was when we had the Aliner.

Our last trip to Coleman Lake was when we had the Aliner.


We gotta get out of this place

if it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Cause girl, there’s a better life for me and you.

The cold wave is supposed to hit tomorrow.  So we’ll be hibernating for a few days.

Since we need to stay close to home for doctors appointments, we figure as soon as it warms up we’ll head across the Alabama line to the small Coleman Lake campground in Talladega National Forest for a few days just to get OUT!

The Talladega National Forest is where I found the motherlode of chanterelles the summer we were there.

The Talladega National Forest is where I found the motherlode of chanterelles the summer we were there.

There’s not a lot to do there, but walking through the woods, lighting campfires and just being away from home will be enough to tide us over until we can go someplace more exciting.

Later, we are tentatively planning to go to Buccaneer State Park on the Gulf in Mississippi.  Unlike Florida State Parks, dogs are allowed on the beach there, so it will be fun for our furkids, too.

In closing, I’ll post a few pictures from the Buccaneer State Park website.  They are what’s keeping me going right now.  I am desperate for a beach fix!  🙂

A tent at Buccaneer State Park

A tent at Buccaneer State Park

This might be a little too much direct sun, so we'll probably choose a wooded campsite.

This might be a little too much direct sun, so we’ll probably choose a wooded campsite.

Another photo from the Buccaneer State Park website

Another photo from the Buccaneer State Park website

Last Night at Gunter Hill

Jerry, Carla and Ron at dinner in Cozygirl's Paha Que screen room... complete with heater, good china (paper) and chandelier (shop light)  :D

Jerry, Carla and Ron at dinner in Cozygirl’s Paha Que screen room… complete with toasty electric heater, good china (paper plates and bowls) and chandelier (shop light) 😀

It was my night to cook, but too cold and windy to eat at our picnic table.  So we moved into Carla and Jerry’s screen/wind/rain room for dinner.  A heater kept it toasty warm inside and we had a wonderful time chatting about everything from gardens and raising chickens to camping and RVing, to jewelry making and crafts, to unexpectedly precious times when loved ones have died, to thoughts of what the future might hold.

In short, it felt like we have been friends for a very long time, although this is the first time we’ve met each other in person!

The scenery here is stunning.  I took a few pictures, but mine don’t touch Carla’s.  She captured colors and the flavor of the area so much better!  So I’ll refer you to hers to enjoy!

Ron and I cocooning on a chilly day.

Ron and I cocooning on a chilly day.

Rain moved in this morning, and a cold front right behind it.  The day was windy and chilly, so we spent a fair amount of time indoors today.  At least the sun came out this afternoon, making it a bright, cheery day after all.

I’m exhausted, but wanted to get a picture commemorating our dinner together posted before I crash.  🙂

 

 

 

 

Gunter Hill

The view from our site

The view from our site

We left I-20 and headed south toward Montgomery on Alabama 9 yesterday.  I am leery of driving two-lane roads because we often end up with traffic backed up behind us, or we get stuck behind someone driving 20 miles under the speed limit in a no passing zone.

Carla, Jerry and Ron

Carla, Jerry and Ron

But it couldn’t have worked out better yesterday.   Twice, for brief periods, we had one vehicle behind us.  And we never had anyone ahead of us.  In fact, for most of the way we wound through the rolling hills with the road all to ourselves, except when passing though an occasional tiny town.

We didn’t see one Walmart.  And I only remember one chain grocery store.  A Piggly-Wiggly.  🙂

Carla and Jerry's Casita

Carla and Jerry’s Casita

We did get lost after we got into Montgomery.  But Ron stopped at a Waffle House and asked directions.

Carla and Jerry were waiting for us when we arrived.  They are the friendliest and most delightful couple!  What a treat it was to finally meet them!

And I finally got my long-awaited tour of their Casita!

Behind our site

Behind our site

My first reaction when I walked inside was, “This is BIG!”  It looks so much larger than ours.  Jerry has cut a window in the room divider wall which allows you to see through to the the right rear window from the front, and also removed the range hood over the stove.  The difference in perceived space is remarkable.

But my very favorite mods are the fold-down tables that he has built on the bathroom door, so Carla can use it when she is in her side bed, and the one to the right of the stove, and to the left of the room divider so Jerry has a table there in the rear.

Carla fixed homemade beef and vegetable soup for us for dinner this evening, with crackers and a yummy home-made cheese ball, followed by apple cake.  Yum!  🙂

The weather is perfect.  Crisp and cool, but not cold.  Just perfect for a fall camping trip!

The Good News Continues!

There are real benefits in living in an extremely rural area.

Today we took the truck and camper into our local auto repair shop to have the electric systems checked out.  The guy spent quite a while diagnosing the problem.  It turns out that the truck charge line is only putting out 8 volts instead of 12.  This causes the relay in the camper to overheat and turn off every few seconds.  Then it cools down and makes contact until it overheats and the cycle is repeated.

The electrician spent quite a while diagnosing the problem… and didn’t charge us a penny for the diagnosis!

He is coming to our HOUSE Monday to diagnose what exactly is wrong with the charge line.  Then he’ll know what parts he needs to order.

I think the reason is that he and his wife are looking for a used Casita, and he is really enjoying poking through ours!

In addition, we spent over an hour today excitedly talking about the Indian artifacts he has found on his property along a river in Alabama.  He and his wife spend countless hours looking for them.  They have found broken pottery, arrowheads, knives, spear points and all kinds of interesting things.   He said the Hillabi Indians has a settlement on his property, and it wasn’t that long ago.  He has discovered that the old fire rings are usually within 50 yards of the river.  So he and his wife take rakes and rake back the forest debris looking for rocks that show discoloration from old fires.  Then they rake down about 4″ and find the old fire ring, and usually find fragments of arrowheads and pottery.  He also found a spearhead stuck in a tree with the tree growing around it.  He said in four more years, the spearhead would probably have been completely buried inside the tree.

He said one man from the area donated his extensive artifact collection to the museum at Cheaha State Park.  Afterwards other local people donated their collections.  They can be seen by visitors to the State Park.

Then somehow the subject of mushrooms came up, and he was off and running again.  He said he and his wife have been very interested in learning to identify mushrooms, but they didn’t know where to start.  I told him about the very best books in my collection that would be a good start for them, so I’ll give him the names and authors when he comes here Monday.  I forgot to tell him that there is also a great mushroom club in Alabama.  I’ll be sure to have that info for him when he gets here.

He also said that he could replace our damaged stabilizer jack, install the 3 stage converter with smart charger that I want someday, and he can install the high lift axle and 15″ Load D tires that I want when the time comes.

He is a godsend, as far as I am concerned.  And what fun to make a new friend who is passionately interested in some of the things that I am passionate about!

Also, my new MiFi is here, and I love it.  What I especially love is that when I camp with my sister, she can share my internet access without my having to remember long strings of security codes and passwords.  All she will have to do is enter the password numbers that are right on the MiFi device.

That’s great because the whole reason I got the MiFi is that I couldn’t get the old security codes and password on my old Cradlepoint aircard router to work.  I called customer support where I bought it, but it is out of warranty and I’d have to pay for the online help.  It was much cheaper to get the new MiFi.

So things are really looking up for us!!!!

Chanterelles!

golden and smooth chanterelles

First day's find -- two smooth chanterelles and one golden chanterelle

The camping trip to Talladega National Forest rated a 12 out of 10 to me because we found… to my extreme delight….. wild chanterelle mushrooms!!!

On our first day’s hike, I only found three — two smooth chanterelles and one golden chanterelle.  But I was ecstatic.  I have searched for them for years, but before this had only found the small orange cinnabar chanterelles.

The second day, lightning stuck twice for me.  I found FIVE chanterelles…  4 smooth and one golden.

chanterelles 2nd day hiking

Chanterelles found our second day of hiking

On our third day’s hike, we found enough to make a wonderful side dish with dinner.  Again… beyond my wildest expectations!

Finally, the day before we left for home, we went hiking one more time.  This time we were staggered by what we found.   We found chanterelle heaven!

chanterelles - third day of hiking

We found enough for a real side dish our third hiking day

We discovered three huge patches of them.  They were on a very steep, rocky bank and I was afraid we would lose our balance and go crashing to the bottom.  So we gingerly descended the slope, using our hiking poles to keep us from falling.

Then we sat on the ground with our feet wedged against rocks to keep us from sliding… and we picked and picked mushrooms!

We ended up with around 4 pounds!

chanterelle heaven

Hiking day 4 -- Chanterelle heaven!

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