The Star Party that Wasn’t, a Park Liner & Long Gray Hair!

Looks primeval, doesn't it?

Looks primeval, doesn’t it?

We heard about a star party at the visitor’s center around 6:30 this evening and were really looking forward to going.  But, due to overcast skies, it was canceled.  I hope they schedule another one while we are here.

Letting my hair grow.  I usually wear it up.

This is for Kim and Judie who know I am letting my gray hair grow long. I’m really loving it after decades of ultra short cuts.

Today was a leisurely day of chatting with other campers and meandering walks.  While we were out, we met a nice couple from Pennsylvania, Tina and Sam, camping in a 15′ Park Liner.  Park Liner is the latest manufacturer that I am aware of to build molded fiberglass trailers.

I was so excited when I saw the Park Liner that I asked Tina if I could take photos.  She graciously consented.  I apologize that my camera didn’t do it justice.  It doesn’t do well in low light conditions and gave the pictures an odd color cast.  But you can still see the layout.

The Park Liner exterior.  I love the wood, residential style screen door.

The Park Liner exterior. I love the wood, residential style screen door.

I have found (and sampled) all kinds of good edible plants and trail nibbles here.  But since I haven’t stayed intensively committed to it, I have forgotten many of the plants’ names.

I’ve decided to start brushing on on both the edible plants and mushroom skills.  Especially while we are essentially living in the Casita  (temporarily, of course), it helps to have an absorbing hobby to focus on.  It keeps life new and exciting.

Large comfortable bed in the Park Liner, which can become another dinette.  I apologize for the color cast my camera gave it.

Large comfortable bed in the Park Liner, which can become another dinette. I apologize for the color cast my camera gave it.

I am surprised at the number of families with young children that are camping here in tents and popups, considering the cold nights we are having.  I love to see them enjoying campfires and outdoor pursuits.  Those are memories that will last!

Another view of the Park Liner interior.

Another view of the Park Liner interior.

A tiny 13' Scamp is camped next to the Park Liner.

A tiny 13′ Scamp is camped next to the Park Liner.

Nightfall in the campground.

Nightfall in the campground.

These little flowers are blooming all over the place, unfazed by the below freezing weather the  night before last.

These little flowers are blooming all over the place, unfazed by the below freezing weather the night before last.

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!

Comfort Food & the Furnace

Hopping John almost done

Hopping John almost done

This crisp weather is making me want to cook rib-sticking comfort food.  Last night we had homemade hopping john over brown rice, and I can’t remember when I’ve eaten a more satisfying meal–although I did go a little too heavy on the hot peppers.  😀

The mobile RV guy checked the Casita’s furnace this morning.  He found dirt dauber nests in the outside vents and thought that might have been the problem.  When he turned on the furnace it just purred.  But he decided to leave it running while he cleaned the back of the refrigerator and the water heater with compressed air.

Then we heard it. Clank.  Clank-clank.  Clank-klittety-clank.  And it continued to get worse.  So a new fan motor is definitely needed.

He is also going to install my new battery wiring kit from Little House Customs since I don’t have the hand strength to crimp the cables.

A camp fire from an earlier cold weather camping trip

A camp fire from an earlier cold weather camping trip

And he promised to get the job done in time for our trip to Alabama.  I am so relieved to know that will be taken care of!

I am getting excited about the upcoming cold-weather camping and imagining the fun of huddling around a nice campfire.  Got to remember to stock up on hot chocolate and mocha.

We will not be taking our nice propane campfire on our upcoming trips.  We learned that it’s great for atmosphere.  But when it’s really cold, it doesn’t put out enough heat to keep us warm.  We need the real thing then!

 

Autumn Mushrooms, Oddities & Flowers

pink

I’m recovering… enough to enjoy wandering around the yard and the surrounding woods a bit.

fall bloomersI apologize to all whose comments on my last post I didn’t answer.  Instead of trying to play catchup, just know that I appreciate you and will do better from now on.  🙂

We are debating on whether to get the Casita’s furnace fixed this month, or to try to find some inexpensive camping before really cool weather sets in.  With the federal campgrounds closed, I found several Georgia county campgrounds with water and electric that charge under $20 per night.  The state parks are simply too expensive for us as we like to stay for several days at a time.fall bloomers2

Some of the county parks look nice, although it’s hard to find reviews on them.  Others just don’t look that appealing.   And sitting outside on chilly nights breathing campfire smoke might not be the best thing for me right now.

Maybe I’ll just get the furnace fixed and we’ll head to Florida later — IF the national forest campgrounds open up.

Interesting mushroom. Note the reticulated stalk

[This is where I edited out a biting comment on the government shutdown political shenanigans.]  😀

Our yard has mushrooms everywhere!  Some edible, some sickeners.  But after our drought last year, I am happy to see them all.  The variety is astounding.  I am only posting a small sample of the photos I took.

I was unable to get a spore print on this mushroom because it has a white parasitic fungus on the pore surface.  It doesn't seem to bother the little guy who is eating it.

I was unable to get a spore print on this mushroom because it has a white parasitic fungus on the pore surface. It doesn’t seem to bother the little guy who is eating it.

Edible penny-bun type bolete

Edible penny-bun type bolete

And another!

And another!

I removed the pore layer because it was a little past its prime.  The pores were actually olive green but they show up brown in this photo.

I removed the pore layer because it was a little past its prime. The pores were actually olive green but they show up brown in this photo.

I’m not sure what this is. At first I thought it might be wild quinine, but neither the flowers nor leaves are a match. On edit: it might be eupatorium serotinum aka boneset or late thoroughwort.

lichen

lichen

Edible suilli

Edible suilli

Poisonous pokeweed berries

Poisonous pokeweed berries

Such a pretty face

Such a pretty face

Another suillus

Another suillus

Soggy ground

Soggy ground

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Red russulas (sickeners) growing by Casita tire.  More are growing under the Casita.

Red russulas (sickeners) growing by Casita tire. More are growing under the Casita.

Paws, Palms & Bamboo

Seeds stuck in Sunny's paws after our walk this afternoon

Sunny’s paws after our walk this afternoon

Today was a good day!

Palm with bamboo thicket in background

Palm with bamboo thicket in background

We went to Lake City and did some shopping, then Ron decided to take the back roads to see the scenery.  I must admit I was underwhelmed.  Mile after mile of boring what I would call “pine barrens” and flat, flat land.  I was glad to get back to the campground and its beautiful surroundings.

I’m enjoying the wild vegetation around the camp.  There is wild mustard everywhere.  And what we used to call dollar weed — I think it is something like pennywort.  Lots of teeny little flowers tucked in the grass.  I tried to get some photos, but the light was exactly wrong while we were out and the photos didn’t turn out well.

Sheba in the water

Sheba in the water

We did let Sheba go into the water at the swimming beach for a few seconds while we kept an eagle eye out for alligators.  So far, no sign of one.

When one of the RVers left Wednesday, he gave us a bunch of firewood.  So tonight I built a big, beautiful campfire.  I am surprised at how much more heat a wood fire puts out than our propane campfire does.  You have to sit almost on top of the propane one to keep warm when it’s cool out.  But we had to sit way back from the wood fire to keep from roasting!

Another thing that surprised me was all the wild grapevines.  I’m used to seeing kudzu covering trees and everything in its path.  And although wild grape vines are common, I’ve never seen them growing this prolifically!

Closeup of bamboo thicket

Closeup of bamboo thicket

Wild grapevines

Wild grapevines

Tree with fuzzy seeds

Tree with fuzzy seeds

Spanish mos

Always fascinating Spanish moss

Free firewood

Free firewood

Just because I love camp fire pictures!

Just because I love camp fire pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camping, Camp Cooking, Campfires, Dog Training, Friends & Joy

Camp kitchen and my embarrassingly smoky campfire!

Some days are just perfect.  Like today.  Sunny, brisk, energizing… and filled with the sheer joy of living!

I don’t take days like this for granted.  They are too special — too precious!

I thought that these little fleabane flowers looked like a bridal veil against the brush.

When we first started camping, we had a campfire every night.  It was just a part of the camping experience.  But since we get out so often, it is no longer necessary most of the time.  Some nights there are other things we want to do besides tend a fire.

Today was different.  My first hint was wondering what the neat little cache of paper towel rolls, empty cracker boxes and other cardboard was doing on the counter.

“To help start the fire,” Ron explained.

So I put fire building on my to-do list for the evening.  🙂

Hanging deadwood for fire starting

I had planned to grill dinner this evening.  But the thought of having to clean the grill was more than I wanted to deal with.  One of my blog readers from Florida told me that soaking the grill overnight in water with a dryer sheet added to it would loosen the most stubborn baked on grease.  She tried it on some of her oven ware and it worked.  So that’s definitely something I will do later.  I can’t do it here, though, because I don’t have a container that the grill rack will fit into flat.  But when I get home, I will try it.

Chicken breast strips cooked in olive oil with garlic and spices.

Anyway… instead of grilling this evening, I decided to cook chicken breast strips on the stove.  It was quick, easy, tasty, and the cleanup was a breeze.  All that was needed to complete the dinner was heat a can of green beans and open a deli carton of potato salad.  Sweat-free camp cooking!

Ron injured himself today.  He went to look for hanging deadwood down by the lake to help start the fire.  He found some he wanted up on the bank and thought he would be able to reach it with his hiking pole to steady him.  Instead he fell — onto rocks.  He bruised his hip and got some nasty scrapes on his arm.  He had fallen into red clay mud and was a mess.  So I got him in the shower, cleaned his scrapes and bandaged them, then gave him Aleve.  We think he’s going to be fine… just is stiff and sore this evening.

Tree roots down by the lake

All that to say is that I got to take Sheba on all of her walks this afternoon and evening… which I really enjoyed… because Sheba is starting to learn a few manners… finally!!!

My first hint that something was changing was, after jumping all over a woman who made the mistake of wanting to pet her, I told Sheba to SIT.  Instantly she looked at me and her little butt hit the ground.  I was shocked!  Progress!  Of course it didn’t last long, but I praised her to the sky.

Tree roots stretching over rocks

On the next walk, we passed by a Dad and his two little boys.  Sheba tugged on the leash and wagged her tail furiously, but made no effort to lunge toward them!

Then, on the way home, three deer ran across the path.  Sheba got very excited, but not the out-of-control excitement that she usually displays.

So I think my little dog-girl is showing some very encouraging signs of eventually being trainable!  😀

Today is the last day of this camping trip.  I’ve been reminiscing about the wonderful people we met this trip.  The high point of the Cherokee rally was meeting Lynne in person.  I had previously only known her through her blog, Casita in the Desert; Casita in the Mtns.  Once in a while you meet a person that you just click with and feel instant friendship with.  That’s how I felt about Lynne.

I am always intrigued by rocks that are aligned differently from the ground and wonder what long ago forces pushed them up at that angle.

And what was amazing is that she was going to surprise us and camp here at Lake Allatoona with us this weekend… only there were no sites available.  But she’s going to be at the Ft. Pickens rally in December so we’ll see her again then (if not before)… and probably at the Green Eggs & Ham rally in Alabama in March.

Another special person I met at the rally was Lois from West Virginia.  I sat at her dinette in her Casita and felt so comfortable chatting with her.

And then there was Jean, here at McKinney Campground, who gave me such helpful tips on how to train Sheba, and was so non-judgmental at my puppy mother ineptitude!

Our campfire this evening

My life has not always been happy.  There were some really tough times in the past.  But in recent years I’ve felt peaceful and content much of the time.  And there are increasingly frequent times of sheer joy.  Camping in our Casita with Ron has contributed greatly to that, and I am so grateful for all the opportunities it has opened to us.

Life is so very, very good!

Thanks, God!  🙂

New Rugs and Table top

New rug and tabletop

 

I didn’t like the cheap brown rugs I had originally bought for the trailer.  So yesterday we went to Target and I found some really pretty ones.  I got one for the little dinette area and another for the front entrance.

They feel good underfoot, and the one in the rear covers the hole in the floor where the original table post went.

I also found the 20″ glass table top I was looking for at Hobby Lobby.  I love this size.  It’s big enough for us to eat at, but small enough to maneuver around.  And when I move the table to the side, it gives us even more walking around room.

When we were at Petersburg campground last week, some days and evenings were too chilly to enjoy.  If we could have kept a fire going the whole time, it would have solved the problem.  But firewood is expensive when you buy it by the bundle.  And although I don’t mind occasionally smelling like woodsmoke, I don’t want to reek of it all the time.

So I ordered the Firedancer propane campfire today.  It has a 5 star review at Amazon.  The propane will be less expensive than buying bundles of firewood, there’s no smoke, and we can turn it off and put it away when we are ready to go inside for the evening.

The Firedancer propane campfire

I’ve wanted one for a couple of years, even back when we had the Aliner.  But I was too cheap to spend the money for one.  Last week made it clear to me that if we are going to camp in cool weather, the campfire has moved from the luxury to the necessity category.

Also, we’ve been doing with a tarp as a a rather unsatisfactory patio mat.  So I ordered a camper patio mat to help keep the mud and leaf litter out of the camper.  I’ve heard good things about this one.  It’s supposed to be lightweight and easy to hose off and clean.

Reversible acrylic patio mat

 

 

 

A Walk in the Woods

We started our day with a hearty bacon, eggs and grits breakfast, cooked on the camp stove out on the picnic table.

Greenbrier leaves sport a welcome spot of color in the brown woods

Our neighbors in the next site were leaving today, so we visited with them for a while.  The only other campers close by are partially screened from view.  But not from earshot!  They are not soft spoken and don’t mind broadcasting their personal business!

Ron, Sunny and I took a long walk today.  It felt so good to stretch our legs, climb hills and fill our lungs with crisp, clean air.  I had hoped to get some interesting photos, but basically everything looked like Georgia woods in the winter to me.  Hope you enjoy them anyway.

We’re planning to do steaks on the grill in a little while and light a campfire.  The perfect end to a rich, satisfying day doing —  not much!

This moss was so green that it made me think of Ireland.

More moss

Amanitas

I didn't bring my mushroom books, so have no idea what this is.

Small shelf fungi on a stump

I love the form of this old tree trunk.

An Idyllic Day

Autumn in December

He leadeth me beside the still waters;
He restoreth my soul.

Today has been one of those days that is perfect from the start.  As Ron was waking up this morning, he heard someone call, “Merry Christmas!” and heard the RV next door pulling out.  He went outside and saw a neat pile of firewood with a fire carefully laid out in our firepit, complete with sticks of fat lighter.  All we would have to do is touch a match to it to start our campfire tonight.

Ron

I wish I could have thanked them, but they were long gone by the time I got out.

The weather was perfect today.  A little breezy until this afternoon, but sunny, bright and warm.  We saw several fish jump out of the water, so we tried a few casts in hopes of catching one or two.  Later, when the wind calmed down, we tried again with no luck.  But we loved just being by the water soaking up the sunshine.

Sunny at the door

Today we just fished at the water’s edge by our campsite.  We may go down to the fishing pier tomorrow and try a little harder.  It would be wonderful to have freshly caught fish for dinner.

We ended the day relaxing around a nice campfire.

Indian Springs State Park, GA

Our site at Indian Springs State Park

Our site at Indian Springs State Park

Our little Aliner is parked at Indian Springs State Park in Middle Georgia tonight.  It’s a gorgeous place.  There are very few campers here, so it is peaceful and very private.

Turning off I-75 onto Highway 42 felt like entering another world.   It’s a curving, two lane, very rural road still sporting autumn colored scenery, with several cattle operations along the way.

behind our site

Our back yard

We built a camp fire, and Ron grilled burgers.  As we were sitting around the fire after dark, Ron remarked, “This is real camping!”  It couldn’t have been a more relaxed and satisfying camping experience.

There is so much here to explore, but unfortunately we don’t have time to check out the Creek Indian museum, the springs, or any of the other beautiful sights.  We definitely plan on coming back when we can spend more time.

view from our deck

View from our deck

at the park entrance

At the park entrance

Ron gathering kindling

Ron gathering kindling with Sunny supervising

Ron preparing kindling

Ron preparing the kindling

me starting the fire

Me starting the fire. I was prepared with LOTS of paper towels!

got the fire going

I got the fire going!

Ron grilling burgers

Ron grilling burgers

We did discover that this is the oldest state park in the country.  Amazing that it is still so unspoiled.

Oh… I did want to mention the camp host.  He is probably the friendliest and most helpful camp host I’ve ever run into.  His name is Dick.  I’m curious to find out if he is here year round or not.  He seemed genuinely disappointed to hear that we were only staying one night.

 

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