My Mom — April Bride

My mom and her new husband, Jean.

My mom and her new husband, Jean.

When Dad died in 2001, we never dreamed that Mom would someday fall in love again and remarry.  But it happened!

Mom's Wedding - April 3 2014 1In the past, Mom has made it clear she did not want her photo on the net.  But when I talked to her yesterday, she was proud that their pictures were on Facebook — and posted on the wall in a restaurant in her town.  So I’m sure she wouldn’t mind my sharing her happy day on my blog!  :)

The rain just keeps coming.  We live on an unpaved road and there are huge, ever-growing ruts in it.  I called the County Road Department before our trip to Coleman Lake, hoping that the road would be regraded by the time we got back home.  It didn’t happen.  When I called last week to check on why it hadn’t been done, they said the rain had put them behind schedule.  They hoped to get to it this week.  That didn’t happen either.

So, unless they get it done Monday, we will head out for our camping trip Tuesday,  taking the Casita through the ruts, and through the rain that is predicted, and pray that we don’t pop any rivets.

My little garden made it through a predicted freeze the other night with no damage.  Ron covered the tomatoes and peppers with a tarp, and none of the flowers were damaged.  So it must not have gotten quite as cold as expected.

Reveling in Spring!

Wild dogwood tree in our back yard

Wild dogwood tree in our back yard

It’s planting time!

Wild birdsfoot violets in the front yard

Wild birdsfoot violets in the front yard

I haven’t had a garden the past couple of years, and this year the urge is irresistible.  I’m starting with a micro garden in Earth Boxes.  Later I’ll get the raised beds cleaned up, reinstall the irrigation system, and plant them, too.

I also got pink caladiums and pink and white oriental lilies planted in a 3′ x 3′ planter.  Almost everything I plant has to be in raised beds as our ground is solid clay and white quartz rocks.

The trip to Coleman Lake tamed the cabin fever monster, so now we are back to our original travel plan for this year.  Camp within an hour of home for a week once a month and get all of our bills except the mortgage paid off in October!

Wild Stars of Bethlehem after an encounter with the lawn mower

Wild Stars of Bethlehem after an encounter with the lawn mower

We are planning to meet up with friend Peggy for 3 days in late April at a state park in NE Georgia.

I’m planning to get the Casita washed and shined next week as Peggy has never seen it.  :)

I have lots more planting to do.  The seeds I started a few weeks ago should be ready to go into the ground next week.

This is the most heady, glorious season of the year!

Wild crabapple blossom

Wild crabapple blossom

Dianthus in Earth Box by the back door

Dianthus in Earth Box by the back door

Earth Boxes with radicchio, peppers and patio tomatoes. I have a total of 10 Earth Boxes.

Earth Boxes with radicchio, peppers and patio tomatoes. I have a total of 10 Earth Boxes.

I planted pink and purple impatiens around the hosta pot.

I planted pink and purple impatiens around the hosta pot.

 

 

 

This poor hosta has been in the same big pot for several years, and faithfully comes back each spring.  Maybe this fall I'll remember to divide it.  :)

This poor hosta has been in the same big pot for several years, and faithfully comes back each spring. Maybe this fall I’ll remember to divide it. :)

 

The square foot gardens-to-be

The square foot gardens-to-be

 

Last Day Camping & More Info on the Pinhoti Trail

 

New shoots on last year's dead flowerhead.

New shoots on last year’s dead flowerhead.

Although I am no longer physically able to do long-distance hiking, I did want to share this update on the Pinhoti Trail for anyone who might be interested in thru-hiking it.

On my previous post about the trail, reader Diane Kepley commented, and I told her I would add her information to a future post:

Georgia Pinhoti trail is open all the way through to the Benton MacKaye trail with new sections being upgraded and improved. Mapping needs an upgrade to be sure but help is out there. Contact me at Diane@mulberrygap.com and if I can’t help you, can point you to others on the Georgia Pinhoti Trail board who can. Many sections are multi use and not as hiker friendly as the Alabama Pinhoti. It’s a great trail system and trail angels are out and about especially if they know thru hikers are coming through!

…and thanks for helping us spread the word. It’s encouraging to know where there is shelter and help along the way! Happy trails to you!

I’m sure that this post will pop up in search engines for people searching for info on the Pinhoti, and I hope they will take advantage of Diane’s generous offer to provide more detailed information.

trail hazardI had planned to post a whole bunch of spring buds and shoots photos today, but after going through them, they look kind of boring.  So I’ll just post photos taken on the short two-mile trail around Coleman Lake.

beaver job

 

 

 

 

trail steps

Even in death, the remains of this little bird displayed exquisite grace and beauty.

Even in death, the remains of this little bird displayed exquisite grace and beauty.

 

 

footbridge by dam

my kind of trail

cool exposed root

 

blowdowns

There were a startling number of large blowdowns on the trail. Also, many of the pines have been infested with the pine borer. Some areas had been burnt — I’m guessing to help control their spread.

 

 

 

Plant covered roots span the water below.

 

 

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.

 

 

We Found Spring!

Bee on redbud tree blossoms

Bee on redbud tree blossoms

When we got to Coleman Lake on Sunday, it was windy and chilly.  But Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were the kind of days that spring dreams are made of –  golden sunshine, blue skies, white puffy clouds, and temperatures in the 70′s.

bluets2

Bluets, I think.

I had almost  forgotten the wonder of sunshine on my shoulders radiating warmth down into my bones.  And soft, balmy breezes that felt like caresses against my winter-weary skin.  And the whole world seemingly bursting with new buds and shoots and blossoms.

 

We’re home now, and the rain and dreary weather are back.  But those four beautiful days will live in our memories for a long time.

purple violet

Violet

 

I’ll wait till tomorrow to post camping photos.  Today I want to share spring flower photos with all of you up North who are despairing that spring will ever arrive.

Another kind of violet.  The flower looks like a birdsfoot violet, but the leaves are wrong.

Another kind of violet. The flower looks like a birdsfoot violet, but the leaves are wrong.

Yellow violets

Yellow violets

Light blue/white violets

Light blue/white violets

I'm not sure what these are.  They reminded me of the song, "White coral bells upon a slender stalk....."

I’m not sure what these are. They reminded me of the song, “White coral bells upon a slender stalk…..”

Wild ginger flowers.  These grow on the ground and are pollinated by crawling insects.  You usually have to move back leaf litter to find them.

Wild ginger flowers. These grow on the ground and are pollinated by crawling insects. You usually have to move back leaf litter to find them.

We saw this flowering tree when we drove into Tallapoosa for groceries.

We saw this flowering tree when we drove into Tallapoosa for groceries.

butterfly1

And a flower of the animal kingdom. :)

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!

Dandelions with Wild Garlic for Dinner

Dandelion greens, field garlic and spicy mustard chicken

Dandelion greens, field garlic and spicy mustard chicken

Today I got my Green Dean’s Eat the Weeds Newsletter, and it inspired me to… eat the weeds!  :)

Washing dandelion greens

Washing dandelion greens

What’s most plentiful in my yard right now are dandelions and field garlic.  So that’s what I harvested.

Right now the dandelion leaves are small with only a slight, pleasant bitterness to them.  They would be great in salads at this stage.  Later they will be very bitter and will require parboiling twice to make them good.

Field garlic bulbs

Field garlic bulbs

Dandelion greens can pick up a lot of pine straw and trash.  The best way to wash them is to cut them free from the base, then float them in a large bowl of water.  That way you can pick out the pine straw and stray plant matter, and much of the trash sinks to the bottom of the bowl.

The field garlic bulbs clean easily with a spray of water to wash the mud off them.  Then you use the little pearly bulbs.  The green leaves are too fibrous to eat.

Field garlic bulbs ready to cook

Field garlic bulbs ready to cook

I sautéed the garlic bulbs in grapeseed oil because I was out of olive oil until they were translucent and just starting to brown.  Then I added what looked like a massive amount of dandelion leaves, which quickly cooked down to a fraction of their size.  Then all I added was salt and a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes.

I topped them with leftover chicken breast chunks, tossed with spicy brown mustard, splenda and lemon juice.

The dandelion greens cooked up sweet, without a hint of bitterness, and a little chewy.

Not bad for an almost free meal!

 

 

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

Quick Update

There were only two doors whose hinges were so rusty they had to be replaced.  I cleaned all the others with oil that included rust inhibitors and they look good now.  I’ll have to make oiling them a part of routine maintenance now.

I also cleaned and oiled all the acorn nuts because one had a tiny bit of rust starting on it.

I think the rust problem started when I got the Maxx window vents and decided that leaving the windows cracked so air could circulate was a good idea.  What I didn’t take into account is that this is the humid southeast, and fresh air is laden with moisture.  So I think I’ll plan on running the air conditioner or heat strip periodically to dry out the trailer.  Or buy a good dehumidifier.

I learned something new.  I found replacement screws in my supplies that were the same thickness and length as the rusty ones.  But the cupboard door wouldn’t close properly when I got them in because they were pan head instead of flat head.  So the two are not necessarily interchangeable.

We’ve had to cancel our Whitetail Ridge trip next week.  The cold weather that is on the way would make for unpleasant camping.  We are such cold weather wimps.

There’s a Proverb that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”  That proverb is true.  :)

 

A Nasty Job

Would it really cost that much more per trailer to use stainless steel hinges?

Would it really cost that much more per trailer to use stainless steel hinges?

Today I finished replacing the 6 most problematic cabinet latches in the Casita.  All but one of the new ones works great.  That one looks like it’s going to be pretty touchy. But it should still be an improvement over the old one.

Then I moved on to replacing rusty hinges on the pantry over the refrigerator.

Let’s just say it wasn’t a fun task.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and got most, but not all, of the rust off the pantry door and the fiberglass cabinet.

Rust under the hinges, and rust deposits on the fiberglass cabinet.

Rust under the hinges, and rust deposits on the fiberglass cabinet.

The new screw hole patterns do not match the old ones exactly, so I have filled in the old holes with glue and toothpicks.  The new screws will overlap the old holes by about one-half.

I’m taking a break from trailer projects for a day or two because this one has really gotten on my nerves.

The hinges on the lower kitchen cabinet are also rusting, so I will have to replace them, too.  But I may wait until after our next camping trip to get to them.

I’m getting crabby and impatient with my projects.  Do I ever need this upcoming getaway!

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