Casita Tweaks & Plans

Weather stripping added around air conditioner to keep air intake from making black streaks on carpet

Weather stripping added around air conditioner to keep air intake from making black streaks on carpet

For a while I have noticed the Casita’s ceiling carpet around the air conditioner getting dirty.  Finally a nasty black streak of dirt appeared all the way around it.

I took a close look at it and realized the air conditioner housing wasn’t sealed tightly against the carpet. That was allowing air to enter through the top of the unit without the benefit of a filter.  So the surrounding carpet was acting as a filter.

So I took the AC housing down, scrubbed the carpet, and remounted the cover.  But the screws would not go far enough to snug the cover down tight against the carpet to prevent the problem from recurring.

An air conditioner filter that fits the Casita's unit properly

An air conditioner filter that fits the Casita’s unit properly

So I scrounged through my supplies and found some white weather stripping that I thought might work.  It looks like it will do the job.  Time will tell.  🙂

Another problem we’ve had all year is very high humidity from the exceptional amount of rainfall in the area.  Even the ground stinks like mildew sometimes.  Inevitably the Casita started smelling a little musty.  I knew that if I didn’t dry it out good, I would soon be dealing with mildew inside the trailer.

I bought Damp Rid, but was not convinced it would be adequate.  For a while, I ran the Casita AC or heater, but I figured that was getting to be an awfully expensive solution.  Finally I put the little electric heater that we used to use in the Aliner in the Casita.

The little electric heater makes a fantastic dehumidifier

The little electric heater makes a fantastic dehumidifier

I like the little heater because it is thermostatically controlled, and it only runs when it is actually heating.  The Casita’s air conditioner/heater fan runs the whole time it is on.

Running the little heater is a lot cheaper than buying and running a decent dehumidifier.   And it has completely dried out the Casita’s interior.  There is not a hint of dampness or mustiness in it anymore.

I also, after using all kind of unsatisfactory substitutes for the factory air conditioner filter, found the perfect solution at Amazon.  It’s a foam filter just like the one that came in the air conditioner.  The only difference is, you have to cut it to fit.

I bought 3 filters, and figure it is good for at least 9 filter changes in my air conditioner!

spider

A spider lurking on the side of our storage shed

Our weather has been rainy and dreary the past two days.  I didn’t find much outside to take photos of.  But we have several big, fat spiders making their home around our storage shed.  So here’s the best nature shot I could muster up for you today!  😀

We had to cancel our trip to Texas.  Instead, we were going to meet with friends at a nearby COE.  But they’ve had to cancel due to a family emergency.

If the government doesn’t shut down, we’ll still use our COE reservations.  If the government shuts down (which means closing the National Parks and Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds) we may go to a nearby state park for a few days.

We are just bursting to get out again!

In preparation for cooler weather, the Casita's closet has been stocked with jackets, raincoats, dog sweater and coat, hats and fleece gloves..

In preparation for cooler weather, the Casita’s closet has been stocked with jackets, raincoats, dog sweater and coat, hats and fleece gloves.

It’s Gorgeous Here!

What a blessing to have such a beautiful, private spot!

What a blessing to have such a beautiful, private spot!

The campground is filled to capacity tonight, but we hardly know we have neighbors.  The way the sites are terraced in our loop, we really don’t even see the people on either side unless we make an effort to look.

The water down from our campsite.

The water down from our campsite.

I very gingerly ventured down to the water behind our campsite today.  It took some careful planning to keep from losing my balance and skidding downhill on my rear end.  Climbing back, I would aim for a tree and rest against it for a few minutes, then lunge uphill to another.  I managed to zig-zag my way back up to the campsite that way.

While I was down there I saw a nice fish that I could almost see “Tinycamper’s frying plan” written on.  But he swam away before I could get my camera out.  And no way am I climbing back down there to try to catch him!

Another view from the water below our site.

Another view from the water below our site.

I am zonked today!  I didn’t realize how badly all the pre-camping scrubbing, building, and preparing had worn me out.  But today I took a glorious, long nap with the windows open and the fan humming me to sleep.  And I’ll probably be in bed by 10:00 tonight.  Such sweet sleep!

There are only two places in the campground where it’s not too steep to fish from the bank, so we’ll check them out tomorrow.

Our site looking up from the water

Our site looking up from the water

Sheba the camp dog

Sheba the camp dog

Sunny after a walk

Sunny after a walk

Fern on sun dappled hill

Fern on sun dappled hill

Another tent site

Another tent site

Moss and lichen

Moss and lichen

Closeup of lichen

Closeup of lichen

Some critter had egg for dinner.  I don't know what kind of egg it is.  The shell looks too thick for a bird egg.

Some critter had egg for dinner. I don’t know what kind of egg it is. The shell looks too thick for a bird egg.

Evidence of root-grubbing critter

Evidence of root-grubbing critter

Odd juxtaposition -- dead stump and plastic bullets in the primitive camping area.

Odd juxtaposition — dead stump and plastic bullets in the primitive camping area.

I found lots of mushrooms today, but thought that ganoderma (Reishi) would probably be the only one of general interest.

I found lots of mushrooms today, but thought that ganoderma (Reishi) would probably be the only one of general interest.

Window Fix & Book Storage

The window latch bar reinstalled

The window latch bar reinstalled

In yesterday’s post I described how my very hard to open bathroom window came apart when I gave it a big tug to open it.  And I described how I fixed it.

To my great relief, it worked!

And after lubricating the window track with spray silicone lubricant, the window glides up and down easily and smoothly!

I got the metal bar a little off center, but it's sturdy and it works.  So I'm happy with it.

I got the metal bar a little off center, but it’s sturdy and it works. So I’m happy with it.

I didn’t want to just spray the silicone lubricant and get it everywhere.  So I sprayed some of it into the can’s plastic lid, then used a Q-tip to apply it generously to both the upper and lower window track.

Since it worked so well, I lubricated all the upper and lower window tracks in the trailer.  Now all the windows slide as smoothly as the bathroom one!

The other project that I considered essential before leaving was building  secure book storage.  And the only place in the trailer to put it was underneath our clothes storage baskets.

(Originally we had beautiful decorator baskets, but their metal edges scraped the fiberglass, so we switched to four plain fabric baskets until I can find something pretty that works.)

A view of the curb side window track

A view of the bottom curb side window track that was treated with silicone lubricant using Q-tips

I found a plastic drawer unit in my craft room and decided that would make a decent temporary base for book storage.  Then I found a very ratty piece of inferior plywood scrap in the shed, and decided to build a prototype using it as a cover for the book drawer and a base for our clothes baskets.

The ugly prototype book storage solution -- but hey, it works!

The ugly prototype book storage solution — but hey, it works!

I rounded the corners of the plywood, put D ring weatherstripping around the edges to keep it from scratching the fiberglass if it shifted, and put a piece of white duct tape over an ugly void in the top layer of plywood because I was afraid it would weaken it.  Then I built a frame of 1×3 wood on the bottom to fit down into the drawer.  That will keep the board anchored inside the drawer when we go over bumps and will also help support the weight of the clothes.  Finally I placed a piece of non-skid shelf liner under the drawer to help keep it in place.

So my prototype is very rough and ugly, but if it works as well as I think it will, I’ll buy decent materials and redo it.  And I need to devise a nicer-looking way to pad the edges.

So it will be Thursday before we leave for Doll Mountain, but my beloved books have a place now.  So it’s worth the delay!

More Storage Racks Installed

New bathroom storage racks

New bathroom storage racks

Today I replaced the old rusted bathroom rack and added a new, taller one that will hold shampoo and other bottles more securely.

I also added a second one to the closet door.  (Some of the things pictured in the closet racks will get moved to the bathroom racks.)

So I’m having a ball in my little camper even though it’s still stuck in the driveway for a few more days.  🙂

The two racks in the closet will help cut down on clutter elsewhere in the trailer.

The two racks in the closet will help cut down on clutter elsewhere in the trailer.

The Window is In!

I can see outside now!

I can see outside now!

I finally got a break in the rain, so was able to install the new clear, smoke colored, opening window in the Casita’s door.

The old window out and on the ground.

The old window out and on the ground.

The first step was ridiculously easy… removing the screws that held the old frame in, sliding a spatula underneath the bottom outside flange… and it just fell out.  After I had the old window out, I test fitted the new one.  Perfect!

This is going to be the easiest mod I’ve ever done! I exulted.

There was one chore to do before I could mount the new window — scraping off the old silicone.  I used a good silicone remover which made the job not difficult.  Just tedious.

Next was sticking the weather stripping to the new outside flange.  It was cut perfectly to size.  So I had Ron carry the new window outside for me where I would triumphantly mount it.

The new window

The new window

But then, Murphy reared his ugly head.

The directions said nothing about drilling screw holes in the frame.  So I got a few screws in, but the weather stripping wasn’t compressing and there was a half inch gap between the window and the inner frame.   I thought it must be that the weather stripping was too thick, so I removed it and replaced it with butyl tape.  But the butyl tape wouldn’t compress and there was still that one half inch gap inside.

Then I realized that the screws weren’t penetrating deeply enough, so I drilled pilot holes for the screws and tried again.  Still no compression of the seal–and still that gap.  So I figured I needed to drill the pilot holes deeper….  and I drilled a hole all the way through the outside frame.

New window interior

New window interior

So I took out all the nice, matching black screws that were provided and hunted through my screw collection until I found some shorter screws that were the same width.  Amazingly, the screws bit in, compressed the outside sealant and pulled the inside trim flush against the window.

But there was still some covering my mistakes to do.  I had to insert a screw into the outside frame (well sealed) to cover my Murphy drill-through.  And I had to paint it and the interior screws black to match the frame like the factory screws.

Anyway, it’s done, and now that the window is in, I am thrilled with it.  I can see the view outside my dinette bed while I’m reading, surfing, working crosswords or just enjoying a cup of coffee.  And the window opens!  Having that extra ventilation is wonderful.

New window open

New window open

The window has a very good latch.  It’s as secure — or maybe more secure than the original window.  If someone wants to break in while the window is closed, they are still going to have to break the glass.  And I won’t leave it open unless I feel it is safe to do so.

But like all projects, this one means I have a couple of new projects to do

First is new curtains.  I don’t want curtains up in the daytime because they would block the view.  So I’m planning to mount an attractive curtain rod and make curtains with little rings to go on the rod. They will slide off the rod easily so I can store them during the day.  And they will slide open easily if I need to open them to see who is outside the door at night.

That presents another project.  The screen door is between me and the window.  The only way to open the screen door is to open the outside door.  So I plan to attach a small cup hook to a narrow dowel and hang it from the last curtain ring on the right.  It can hang down to door handle level where I can reach it to open the curtain without opening the door.

The Murphy screw

The Murphy screw. I’m calling it a beauty mark. 🙂

BUT before I can see who is at the door at night, I need to wire my outside porch light so it can be turned on from the inside, too.

But I’m so thrilled with the new window that I’ll get the curtains done before our next camping trip in July.  The wiring might have to wait a little longer.

I need some time to recover from the Murphy ambush!

Clark Creek

Our Casita at Clark Creek

Our Casita at Clark Creek

We did something a little differently this time.  We chose a small campground (only 24 sites – all waterfront) very near to a small town.

Across the creek

Across the creek

We are at a bend in the creek.  The more impressive water views are on the other side of the campground.  But they also get full afternoon sun, and our site is in lovely deep shade all afternoon.

I’m surprised at all the different types of water activity here.  Pleasure boats, fishing boats, jet skis, rubber rafts.  And several people were swimming in the creek today, and one guy was snorkeling.  I swore swimming in creeks and lakes off after a fish bit me when we were camping in Mississippi a couple of years ago.  The only way I will swim in a natural body of water is if it is as clear as Salt Springs in Florida.

Bluebird scolding his shadow in the glass

Bluebird scolding his shadow in the glass

You can stand in neck deep water there and look down and see the individual grains of sand on the bottom.  Not here!

It was sweltering today!  We want to go fishing while we’re here, but will plan on going early in the day before it gets too hot.  After we got a shower this evening it was pleasant sitting outside…. except for the humidity.  So we are chilling inside tonight enjoying icy air conditioning.  I would love to open the windows and hear the night sounds, but don’t want the heavy, damp air that comes with it.

There's the enemy!

There’s the enemy!

How the other half lives :)

How the other half lives 🙂

Jetski towing rubber raft

Jetski towing rubber raft

Mimosas blooming on the bank

Mimosas blooming on the bank

I have never seen Sunny's tongue hanging out so far.  He was hot!

I have never seen Sunny’s tongue hanging out so far. He was hot!

Always beautiful Sheba

Always beautiful Sheba

This isn’t the ideal time to go camping, but we were so desperate to get out that we are glad we are here.  We’ll manage the heat by cocooning inside during the hottest part of the day.  And going for ice cream cones.  🙂

New Window Vent & Camping Preps

The new Window Maxx vent

The new Window Maxx vent

I got the new vent for the Casita’s dinette window installed yesterday.  Today we got a gusher of a downpour, so I was able to test the trailer with the roof fan vent open under its cap, and the rear and dinette windows open with their Window Maxx vents.

I was thrilled that not a drop of rain got into the trailer!  So we now have excellent ventilation without hookups, even in the rain.

We’re planning to go to Lake Allatoona Wednesday.  I’m not sure which campground yet.  But some of the campgrounds keep waterfront sites open for walk-ins.  And we should be able to get a nice one if we arrive in the middle of the week.

Ron finishing the mowing so we can go camping

Ron finishing the mowing so we can go camping

It’s going to be hot.  But, like Ron said, it will be hot here, too.  Partially cloudy days mixed with intermittent thunderstorms are predicted.  So at least the sun won’t be blasting us full time.  As long as we have a breeze, we will be okay.

We are so excited to be getting out!  And Sheba will have a lake to splash in!

I took the dogs to the vet for checkups Friday.  Sheba is doing great.  I was afraid Sunny wasn’t doing well because he has lost two pounds and sometimes has trouble standing.  But the vet said the weight loss is no cause for concern.  He said the trouble standing is due to arthritis in his hips.  So we are going to try supplements and hope they help enough that he will not need arthritis meds for a while.

 

 

 

New Rain Cap & Antenna Advice Needed

Casita with new rain cap for the fan

Casita with new rain cap for the fan

Since it will be a couple of weeks before we can get out camping, I am working on my project list in the meantime.

Yesterday we got the rain cap for the new fan installed.  I am so excited to have that done!

Then today I washed the trailer.  She sure does look beautiful — to me, anyway!

Sun rotted vent cover

Sun rotted vent cover

While Ron was on the roof yesterday helping me tighten bolts, he started to slip, so grabbed the antenna and the black water vent cap.  The vent cap is so sun rotted that it shattered.  And the antenna got turned around a bit.

I have ordered new caps for the black and gray vents, and will have to buy a rivet gun and rivets and learn how to use them.

I am very tempted to just take the antenna down.  We don’t watch TV when we are camping.  We get our news on the net.  And the antenna is a pre-digital TV model.  So I may just take it off and patch it with a piece of the fiberglass I cut out for the fan installation.

Crooked antenna

Crooked antenna

I would appreciate suggestions on whether or not to keep the antenna.  As I understand it, it is an amplified antenna, but it is not directional.

If I keep it, I will need to remove the old sealant and reseal it tomorrow.

Started the Fan Project

Tied into the dinette light wiring

Tied into the dinette light wiring

Traumatic!  That was today.

First, I tried to run the wires under the ceiling carpet with a coat hanger.  But the foam under the carpet caught where I connected the coat hanger loop, forming an impenetrable glob.   So I ended up having to cut through the carpet, pull it out a bit, and push the wires back under.  When I’m through, I’ll go back and contact cement the foam to the fiberglass and to the seam, and I am hoping it will be invisible.

I had never cut wires, connected wires, or used a connection crimper before, so I had to learn to use the tools as I went along.

First of all, the trailer wires were too short to connect with the new wires.  So I had to splice in an additional length onto the main white and black wires.

Cutting the hole in the carpet was nerve-wracking!

Cutting the hole in the carpet was nerve-wracking!

I’ve seen guys tighten a wire stripper around a wire, give a little yank, and it was done.  Not me.  I tightened the wire stripper, then tugged and tugged with all the brute force I could muster, busting a knuckle against the top of the cabinet in the process.  No dice.  So then I tightened the crimper on the wire, then turned the wire a quarter turn and cut from that side, too.  Finally I got one wire stripped.  Then I repeated 7 more times.  Next I connected the two bunches of 4 wires each.    When I finished the second bundle, I noticed that there were only 3 wires in the first bundle.  One wire had worked free.

Apparently I hadn’t stripped the wire far enough, so I had to disconnect that connector, and restrip the wires.  In the process I accidentally cut off one of the little copper strands on one wire, and two on another.  I remember an electrician telling me that was bad news and could make the wire overheat.  So with almost no wire left on the dinette light, I had to cut it even shorter and strip it again.  Finally I got them bundled back together.  This time I checked to make sure all the wires were secured.

Testing the fan to make sure it works.

Testing the fan to make sure it works.

Just to make sure the fan wasn’t defective — or that I hadn’t wired it improperly, I reconnected the battery, taped my black wire to the black wire on the fan, then touched the white wires together.  IT WORKED!!!!  Beautifully!

I decided to cut the hole in the roof from the inside to minimize the time I have to spend up on the trailer’s roof.  But first I had to cut the carpet away so I could see what I was doing.   I Just knew that I was ruining my little Casita.  But eventually I managed to get the area cleared of carpet and it doesn’t look so scary now.

I probably would have time to finish the installation today, but I’m going to wait until I get a good night’s sleep and my blood pressure goes down a bit!  🙂

 

Beach Rats & Mourning Doves

Beach rat

Beach rat

I spent most of the morning under the awning or inside surfing and cleaning the trailer trying to  hide from the sun.  I didn’t want my bad sunburn to get any worse.

Another view of the beach rat

Another view of the beach rat

By afternoon I couldn’t stand the inactivity any longer, so took off on the trail toward the Fort.  That part of the island is a lot prettier than the nature walk area, I think.  Also, I didn’t want to leave without seeing the beach on the Bay side.

I was underwhelmed with the Bay after seeing the spectacular turquoise Gulf.  There was a big oil slick (at least I think that’s what it was) that made the water look dirty.  So I didn’t stay there long.

Pensacola Bay from the picnic area

Pensacola Bay from the picnic area

On the trail I met a guy who was just finishing up a hike of the entire Florida Trail.  I was thrilled at his accomplishment, but I can’t say I didn’t feel a twinge of envy.  🙂

When I got back from my walk, I settled down in the shade and started working a crossword.  I looked up and saw two mourning doves strolling through our campsite.  After I had gotten several photos, I glimpsed something dark out of the corner of my eye.   When I turned to look,  I saw FOUR rat-like creatures just a few feet behind my chair.  I was too curious to be afraid.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

Three of the rats disappeared into the underbrush, but one busied himself eating leaves a few feet from my chair.  Then the doves ambled over toward the same area.   They got within two or three feet of the rat, totally ignoring him… and the rat ignored them right back.

I wasn’t sure if they were really rats or not, so I showed a couple walking past our site the header photo and asked them if they knew what it was.  The guy said, “I think it’s a rat.”  Other campers had told us that since the rain the other day the rats had come out in force.  So Ron walked over to the camp host’s site and asked him what they were.

Another dove photo

Another dove photo

He said, “They’re beach rats.  They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.  But if you mess with them, they will bite.”

The armadillos are so brave, they will venture within a few feet of Sheba, and only run away when she starts barking at them.  None of the animals here show any fear at all.

I ended up cooking chicken tenders this evening.  Sorry, Wayne… we’ll have to catch Jo Patties next time!

Pair of doves

Pair of doves

We leave tomorrow for parts unknown.  Friday is a bad time to leave without reservations, but we’re not sure how far we’ll feel like going, so we’ll find someplace to stay.  If all else fails, there is always Walmart.  🙂

Rat and doves together

Rat and doves together

One of the ever-present armadillos rooting for food

One of the ever-present armadillos rooting for food

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