Camping in the Rain

Mikkey — one worn out camper. (The black cord is my tablet charger.)

When I made our reservations for White Tail Ridge, the long range weather forecast predicted a mix of cloudy and partly cloudy days with one thunderstormy day.

What we actually got were several thunderstorms, lots of drizzle, and one partly cloudy day — our last camping day!

We took both the Casita and the van. Having the extra room kept us from getting grumpy when we were cooped up during thunderstorms. We didn’t get a waterfront site this time, but the shade was nice during the rare sunny periods.

We would have left early except that I was certain I would find mushrooms after all that rain. My payoff? One log with fatally poisonous mushrooms in the button stage!

I believe these are baby deadly galerina mushrooms.

The days were hot and steamy. One day (between rains) the real-feel temperature got up to 103. I had very reluctantly bought a portable air conditioner for my tiny van. Reluctantly, because it takes up a huge amount of room!

Note the big honking portable air conditioner. It looked fine to me when the real feel temperature outside was 103, and it was deliciously cool inside the van.

After the trip I decided it was definitely worth giving up that 14 x 18 inches! It was not the style I wanted, but it was the only one I could find to fit in the 23 inches between the table top and ceiling. The cab of my micro van is too small to put a unit in the front of the van.

I made a temporary holder for the exhaust hose in the passenger window, and ran the drain line out of the power cord hole in the floor. It worked beautifully! So I’ll make a permanent version for my next trip.

There were holes in the ground all over the place where trees once were — hidden beneath the fallen leaves and undergrowth. I stepped in a couple of them.

The nicest thing about the trip was a group of 7 families, all relatives and neighbors from a fairly local small town. The guys fished (not very successfully) but every single person was warm, welcoming and friendly. Even the teenagers were courteous and friendly to us. People like that go a long way toward restoring faith that there really are a lot of good people around, despite what you hear on the news!

The only trumpet flower I saw had been knocked down by the rain.

We ate sandwiches and take-out mostly. Here, for posterity, is proof that I actually cooked for hubby — once!

Braised pork chops with Brussels sprouts cooked in the pan sauce. Yum!!!

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

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!

RIP Little Sunny & Updates

Best Camping Buddy ever

Best little camping buddy ever.

Little Sunny’s camping days are over.  Besides going blind and deaf, his hip sockets would give and often his legs would go straight out to the sides when he bent down to eat, drink… or sometimes for no apparent reason.  And he completely forgot his potty training.

My little ragamuffin buddy coming out of his sweater at White Tail Ridge.

My little ragamuffin buddy coming out of his sweater at White Tail Ridge.

But it was the dementia that finally defeated him.  At the last, he would wander around, bewildered, in circles.  He would get lost in a room and not know how to get out.  He would stand in corners, apparently waiting for a door to open.  He even became unable to find his food bowl, and I would have to put him in front of his food and water bowls to make sure he ate and drank.

Sunny waiting for Mom at Cotton Hill COE

Sunny waiting for Mom at Cotton Hill COE

He still loved his Mom, but his life just got too hard for him.  So we had him put down last week.  Sunny loved having his neck rubbed more than anything, so I was doing that when the vet gave him the shot.

Although I miss the little guy more than I can say, I am so relieved that his life is no longer a bewildering maze of the unknown.

June was a tough month.  My favorite aunt died, so we went down to Florida to the funeral.  We stayed and visited family several days, got back home, and got a call that my uncle had died, too.  So we went back and attended his funeral 2 weeks to the day after my aunt’s.

Sunny at the Casita window at Ft. Pickens

Sunny at the Casita window at Ft. Pickens

But it was so precious to get to see our cousins that we hadn’t seen for many, many years.  It felt like getting a new crop of sisters.  🙂

I had a couple of major emphysema flareups, but I’m doing great now — except for the weight that my meds keep packing onto me. Two of my sisters are laughing at my concern.  Their advice — I’m old now.  Eat strawberry cheesecake and don’t worry about it.  😀

Sunny camping in the Aliner before we got the Casita.

Sunny camping in the Aliner before we got the Casita.

Ron and I have started going through our things and sorting them into trash, donate, sell and keep piles.

We plan to camp this winter in Florida, and hopefully sell our place sometime soon.  We’d like to fulltime for a while.

But eventually we want to move near my sisters — if this place sells, of course.  If not, we’ll still spend our winters in Florida.

Being able to spend time with my family is more important to me than great adventure out West.  So we’ll probably stick pretty close to the Southeast.

I have felt pretty “blogged out”  lately.  Hope that changes when we get back on the road again.  🙂

Spring!

Spring is following us north.

Spring is following us north.

I was seriously tempted to take some of the redbud flowers to make pancakes with, but decided I didn’t want to have to explain to a ranger why I was eating his trees!

Field garlic

Field garlic

So I settled for using a little field garlic in our dinner omelets this evening.

It’s fun watching spring start all over again after experiencing it in Florida.

Dandelions.  My favorite spring flowers.  Seriously!

Dandelions. My favorite spring flowers. Seriously!

We have had to take turns walking since Sunny can’t be left alone now. We went shopping in Valley yesterday, but had to take turns shopping, too. It was too hot to leave Sunny in the truck without air conditioning.

Lush clover.

Lush clover.

I thought I would always have a dog. But after being so constrained by Sunny and Sheba this trip, I think that when Sunny passes on, I may wait a while and see how I do without one.

Nature's lace.

Nature’s lace.

Another beauty.  Can anyone tell me what it is?

Another beauty.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Real Life in a Casita

 

A storm moving in over the lake

A storm moving in over the lake

As our trip is winding down, Ron and I are in agreement that we are happier living in our Casita than we have ever been before in the 23 years that we’ve been married.

We love living on gorgeous lakes, in landscaped flower gardens with peacocks, and in quiet woods. We love the idea of leaving cold winters and hot summers in the rear view mirror. And we love the friendly people we meet in campgrounds.

In sad need of defrosting

In sad need of defrosting

I could be happy fulltiming in the Casita. But Ron feels that we would need a bigger rig.

At least we are beginning to look toward making it happen. First, our place needs a lot of work before we could think of selling it. We are hoping to get most of that done this summer.

And if we change our minds, the house would be nicer for us to live in after the repairs and improvements.

Anyway, it’s something fun to dream about at this point.

I had no idea the refrigerator fins were so iced.  I keep lunch meat in front and never bent down low enough to see this!

I had no idea the refrigerator fins were so iced. I keep lunch meat in front and never bent down low enough to see this!

As far as life in the real world, 4-1/2 months in humid Florida meant that we couldn’t wait until we get home to defrost our freezer. (Ron holding the door open while he tries to decide what he wants probably had something to do with it, too. 🙂 ) It also was a great opportunuty to deep clean the refrigerator.

So I got it cleaned and cooled down. Then we headed to Eufaula to restock.

Good as new -- almost.

Good as new — almost.

I was surprised at how the refrigerator warmed up after putting refrigerated meat in the freezer and lots of fresh veggies in the refrigerator. For a while it got up to 60 degrees. It’s still in the mid 40’s now but should be at 40 soon. So tomorrow I’ll probably get rid of more foods I’m not confident will be safe.

Little Sunny is doing so much better than he was as far as his anxiety attacks. We left him in the truck while we grocery shopped. He was pacing when we got back, but exhibiting none of the hysterical yipping that I was afraid of.

No pretty photos today. It’s been overcast and raining.

Last of the Spooky Photos

Ron walking Sheba

Ron walking Sheba

I like this campground and love the campers we’ve met.  But I have had all the swamp I want to see for a while.  For that reason, I’ll be glad when we leave Thursday and head back to Gail’s  house for a few days.

Sinkhole

Sinkhole

I don’t know how I missed that the little Scotty trailer belongs to a camp host.  I talked with her today.  I asked what year model the trailer is.  She said 1962 is stamped on the tongue of the trailer, but her title says 1965.  It has always been in her family.  She bought it from her mother “15 or 20 years ago” for $800.  She said everything in it is original — even the cushions.  They were apparently made of extremely good foam because she says they are still springy and are not deteriorating.  I’m guessing it’s latex, based on that — although I would not expect even latex to last 50 years.

Another picture of the little Scotty -- with the clearly visible Camp Host sign that I missed before.  :)

Another picture of the little Scotty — with the clearly visible Camp Host sign that I missed before. 🙂

As for the surroundings here — swamps, sinkholes, and more swamps.  The nearby town, Marianna, is beautifully clean and well maintained, though.

I did feel a little spooked when we went to Walmart and saw several Middle Eastern men — and they were not smiling.  One had his wife (I guess) in a hijab with him.  (Or is it burqua?  It was all black, full body covering.)

Since I had never seen anyone actually wearing one, I took a long look at all I could see of her — her beautiful, expressive eyes.  Later I wished I had smiled into her eyes instead of curiously gawking.

Swamp 1

Swamp 1

 

Swamp 2

Swamp 2

Swamp 3

Swamp 3

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.

Swamp Swimming?

This was the free daily jigsaw puzzle in my puzzle app last night.  It describes the weather here perfectly!

This was the free daily jigsaw puzzle in my puzzle app last night. It describes the weather here perfectly!

 

Our Casita at Florida Caverns State Park

Our casita at Florida Caverns State Park

Last night was the first night in Florida that we seriously worried about our water freezing.  I ran the propane furnace instead of the AC’s heat strip.  I pulled out all of our underbed storage and opened all the lower cupboard doors so the heat could reach the water pipes.  I also left the bathroom door open so heat could keep the pipes behind the shower pan from freezing.  It worked!  Thank heavens that no more temperatures that cold are predicted!

Entrance to swimming area

Entrance to swimming area

Ron and I have decided not to do the cave tour.  Many years ago I toured some huge caves (maybe Luray — can’t remember.  It was the one with the rock formation in it that looks like two poached eggs), but they were huge and felt more like cathedrals than caves.

These caves are a lot smaller.  I was told there is some crouching down required in some places.  Just the thought of it triggers claustrophobia.  So we’ll just enjoy the above-ground sights — which is mainly a lot of eerily beautiful swampland.  So glad it’s not mosquito weather!

Another shot of the swimming area

Another shot of the swimming area

A nice thing about this park is that it is near stores and fast food places.

Also, important to me, they do allow clotheslines.  In fact they have clothesline poles at each site — to keep people from using trees.  So if I decided to use my laundry drying rack behind the trailer, it shouldn’t cause problems.  I probably won’t, though, because they have laundry facilities here.

Swimming area.  You can tell I was boggled at the swampy swimming!

Swimming area. You can tell I was boggled at the swampy swimming!

Sheba is embarrassing me!  There are several other people here with large dogs.  They are all so sweet and friendly.  And they don’t bark at other dogs.  Sheba still has to sound the alarm and try to intimidate any other dog she sees.  It makes me feel inadequate as a doggie mom!

This place is not big rig friendly, so there are lots of tiny campers, along with several medium sized rigs.  Next to us and across the street are two matching teardrops.  Ron said they are two single women, each with their own teardrop, traveling together.  I said hi to one of them and she didn’t answer, so I’ll have to take Ron’s word for that.

Final swimming area photo

Final swimming area photo

About the swimming area….  I don’t think I’d want to swim in a cypress swamp.  Even if the weather permitted!  But it’s gorgeous viewing.

And, as at Newport Park, the ground is covered with little violets.

A little Scotty trailer

A little Scotty trailer

One of the twin teardrops

One of the twin teardrops

This photo is the last one I took at Newport Park.  I liked it enough to insert it here.  :)

This photo is the last one I took at Newport Park. I liked it enough to insert it here. 🙂

I found a place to store my drying rack.  :)

I found a place to store my drying rack. 🙂

Little violets

Little violets

Bridge built around trees

Bridge built around trees

 

 

 

 

Doing Laundry in a Casita

Three loads of Wonder Wash laundry on drying rack bungeed to Casita tongue.

Three loads of Wonder Wash laundry on drying rack bungeed to Casita tongue.

Ron and I have had enough bad laundromat experiences to make us want to come up with a better idea.  And I believe that we have.

The Wonder Wash in use

The Wonder Wash in use

We will still use laundromats when they are available, reliable and clean.  But using mildewy washers and out-of-order or rusty dryers is now a thing of the past.

I started with a manual Wonder Wash.  I have one at home, but since I couldn’t get to it, I ordered a new one to use just for camping.  I also had a smaller spin dryer that Laundry Alternative used to carry.  But it is out of stock now and may not be available again.

The Nina spin dryer is a lot larger than I expected.  At first I was tempted to send it back, but I am so glad I didn’t.  It holds jeans, towels, sheets, etc. without a qualm, and is so quiet I wonder sometimes if it is running.  It spins at 1800 rpms and gets clothes a lot dryer than my washer’s spin cycle at home.  So they dry fast since they are just damp when you hang them up.

The Nina Spin Dryer

The Nina Spin Dryer

The Wonder Wash can be used while boondocking.  But the spin dryer needs electricity.  And since hand-wringing is the hardest part of doing laundry by hand, I would only use it when we have hookups.

You will read reviews all over the board at Amazon.  Some people say the Wonder Wash is fantastic (as I do).  Some say it does nothing and after you use it you end up with wet, dirty clothes.

I believe both views are correct because the results are solely dependent on the way you use the Wonder Wash.  The directions say to spin the tub one turn per second.  At that rate, laundry falls from top to bottom and from bottom to top each turn.  If you spin it faster, centrifugal force will keep the clothes in one place — and you will end up with wet, dirty laundry.

Clothes out of the spinner --ready to hang to dry.

Clothes out of the spinner –ready to hang to dry.

If you turn it at the recommended speed for two minutes, the clothes fall from top to bottom and from bottom to top and are slammed through the hot, soapy water each time.  Even without the “pressurized soap and water being forced through the clothes” that the ad touts, dunking clothes that many times in hot soapy water does a great job cleaning them.

I don’t use the handle.  It’s hard work.  Instead I just spin the tub on its axis, pulling the lid toward me, and then using the drain pipe mount as a handle to keep the spin going.  It’s as close to effortless as manual laundry can be.

Water comes out of the spinner fast!  I don't have a bowl large enough to hold the water, so I quickly switch to a second pot when the first one is almost filled.

Water comes out of the spinner fast! I don’t have a bowl large enough to hold the water, so I quickly switch to a second pot when the first one is almost filled.

When I first got my Casita, I wanted to make it the prettiest little camper ever.  And I loved the way it turned out.  But as we actually use the trailer, beauty is giving way to what works for us.

I had already modified our camper to have twin beds instead of a double bed and dinette.  My dinette idea was very pretty, but not too practical.  Ron uses the little round table for his tablet and man cave stuff, so I always eat off a tray sitting on my bed.  Since we weren’t using the table as a dinette, I removed the cushions by his bed and stuffed them into the closet, freeing up space to leave my “laundry room” set up permanently.  I do plan to put attractive small rugs underneath the washer and spinner to keep the bare white fiberglass seats from showing.

These pictures are out of order.  I rinse clothes from the washer in the sink or in a large bucket.  Some clothes require only one rinse.  Most require two.  And really dirty ones where I used a lot of soap require three rinses.

These pictures are out of order. I rinse clothes from the washer in the sink or in a large bucket. Some clothes require only one rinse. Most require two. And really dirty ones where I used a lot of soap require three rinses.

Hopefully this will help me spend a few minutes each day or two doing a small load and keep laundry from piling up.

Disclaimer — I have no connection with the sellers of these machines — except as a happy customer.

Heavy duty folding dryer rack bungeed to trailer.  Usually the bumper, but the way our site is situated, the front is away from the road.

Heavy duty folding dryer rack bungeed to trailer. Usually the bumper, but the way our site is situated, the front is away from the road.

 

%d bloggers like this: