Casita Christmas

Casita Christmas

Gail gave me these sweet little vases last month when we arrived at Ocean Pond.  I knew when I saw them that they would be the foundation of my little camper’s Christmas decorations.

The little wreaths and baubles are earrings.

Then we got lights and a small hanging Christmas tree for Ron’s end of the trailer so it would look Christmassy, too.

Casita Christmas2

And Gail and Mike are finally in their new house.  It’s exactly what they wanted — a small retirement home easy to heat, cool and clean.

Gails House3

Mike will have a good sized shop outside, and Gail is going to have a carport and screen porch added.  She had planned to have a contractor take out one of the interior walls to give her a large living room.  But now that she is in it, she really likes the little house just the way it is.

She has plans to completely redo the yard, though.

The previous owner left the house immaculate.  Gail remarked how nice it is to not have to clean first before moving in.

So we are camping in their driveway, and they are camping in the house — until the guys get the rest of their things moved.

It feels so good to have this house hunting saga done!  :)

Last Day at Suwannee

These tree roots by the river look like modern art sculptures to me.

These tree roots by the river look like modern art sculptures to me.

Today is our last day at Suwannee River State Park.  I grabbed my last opportunity for a long walk with Sheba on the trails.  I am amazed at how much stronger I am than when we started this trip.  I am regaining my long effortless stride that I thought I had lost forever.  I feel great!

This is a little spring that bubbles up and rushes to lose itself in the river.  :)

This is a little spring that bubbles up and rushes to lose itself in the river. :)

I don’t know why I retain my childlike wonder at exposed tree roots, but I find them endlessly fascinating.  So that’s what today’s post will consist of — tree roots that look to me like they are out of a fantasy novel.

We had planned to go to O’Leno State Park tomorrow and stay until Christmas Eve, then go to Gail’s new house.  But she asked Ron if he would help Mike move some of their things from storage tomorrow.  So I am delighted to head over to their place instead.

Mushrooms hiding in an eroded root cavity.

Mushrooms hiding in an eroded root cavity.

I was really afraid of wearing out my welcome by staying too long at Gail’s, but she sat me down and preached me a sermon (figuratively, not literally!) on how welcome I am and will always be at her place.

So the new plan is to go to her house tomorrow, help any way we can, and stay there until after the 1st.  Oh, yeah… and I do a beef stew tomorrow.  :)

This giant tree's trunk was as twisted as some of the roots.

This giant tree’s trunk was as twisted as some of the roots.

I got my little Casita decorated for Christmas and I think it’s adorable!  But I’ll wait and post those pictures tomorrow.

Limestone outcroppings along the river bank.  I think that acid rain eats away the limestone base causing Florida's numerous sinkholes.

Limestone outcroppings along the river bank. I think that acid rain eats away the limestone base causing Florida’s numerous sinkholes.

More fantastic roots.

More fantastic roots.

Suwannee & an Extinct Town Named Columbus

Suwannee River State Park is situated where the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers merge on their way to the Gulf.

Suwannee River State Park is situated where the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers merge on their way to the Gulf.

We are really enjoying our stay here.  There is so much to see, and the walking is doing me a world of good.

Old sawmill site and remains of a small steamboat paddle wheel from the town of Columbus that was situated here in the park.

Old sawmill site and remains of a small steamboat paddle wheel from the town of Columbus that was situated here in the park.

Gail and Mike moved to a hotel when she was so sick.  She is bouncing back, and is already missing camping here in the van.  That’s hardcore!  :D

They close on the house Thursday, and we’ll head to another campground until the 24th to give them time to settle in and for Gail to recuperate.  Then we’ll driveway camp at their place for a few days before heading somewhere else after the 1st of the year.

I'm not sure what this is.  It looks like tracks from a very narrow gauge railroad with train wheels on it.

I’m not sure what this is. It looks like tracks from a very narrow gauge railroad with train wheels on it.

I bought some miniature Christmas decorations for the Casita today.  Will plan to put them up tomorrow after we visit with Mom.

Oh, I got reported for being a bad dog mom today.  We had gone out for a late lunch, shopping, then stopping in to see Gail and Mike.  We got back right after sunset around 5:30 or 6:00.  The new neighbor next door told me that Sunny was clawing at the door and making distressed sounds, so he reported us.

Confederate defensive earthworks situated across from where the two rivers merge.

Confederate defensive earthworks situated across from where the two rivers merge.

I know that as Sunny’s health declines, he sometimes has panic attacks.  I thought he would be okay inside the trailer with Sheba for company.  Apparently no more, though. So I will have to take him everywhere with us from now on.

He is not using the puppy pads that I place strategically on the floor.  So I think I am going to have to set the alarm to get up in the middle of the night and take him outside for a walk around the campsite so he doesn’t wet on the floor.

The town of Columbus had around 500 residents.  Their old cemetery had 4 separate enclosed areas.

The town of Columbus had around 500 residents. Their old cemetery had 4 separate enclosed areas.

I have thought about when it might be time to have the vet put him to sleep.  But he still loves his walks, loves being around us, and loves eating, so he still is enjoying his little doggie life.  So it’s not nearly time yet.

BTW, no one stopped by to check on the dogs, so I imagine the Ranger saw our truck parked out front and no dog noise coming from the trailer, so he probably just drove on.  I’m guessing that’s what happened anyway.

There were a lot of children's graves and a couple of babies' graves.  This tiny headstone has a symbolic cut off tree monument.

There were a lot of children’s graves and a couple of babies’ graves. This tiny headstone has a symbolic cut off tree monument.

Another area

Another area

Another enclosure

Another enclosure

Cemetery

Cemetery

This person must have been much loved and must have loved the beach. The grave has its own enclosure, and it is lined with conch shells.

These two graves were the only ones that weren't in a fenced in enclosure.

These two graves were the only ones that weren’t in a fenced in enclosure.

Sheba patiently waiting while Mom takes photos.  It was a bad time for photos--midday--but that's how imy day worked out.  :)

Sheba patiently waiting while Mom takes photos. It was a bad time for photos–midday–but that’s how my day worked out. :)

Suwannee River State Park

Spanish moss covered tree overhanging the river.  The trunk is covered with air plants and ferns.

Spanish moss covered tree overhanging the river. The trunk is covered with air plants and ferns. (The color of the water is not enhanced.)

We’re at Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak, FL.  It’s pretty chilly, but is nice if we bundle up and walk fast.  :)

A stock pot takes up a lot of real estate in a Casita!

A stock pot takes up a lot of real estate in a Casita!

Gail was still very sick today, so she finally went to a doctor.  It’s good she did.  She was sicker than she thought.  But if all goes well with her meds, she should start feeling better in a couple of days.

I took some homemade soup to her this evening, and hope it will be the cure-all that chicken soup is reputed to be.

Looking toward the old railroad trestle.

Looking toward the old railroad trestle.

She was so funny.  She called me a little while ago and said, we need to define exactly how sick she has to be to be treated like that again.  :D

I spent most of the day working in the trailer, walking Sheba, and tending the soup pot.  Tomorrow I want to find the old cemetery again and get some good photos of it.  There are also all kinds of geological and botanical oddities here that I want to capture.

Some kind of fungus.  At first I thought it was leaves caught up in a spider web.  But it may be a feature of the mushroom.

Some kind of fungus. At first I thought it was leaves caught up in a spider web. But it’s mushrooms, and the webby stuff (that looks like mycelium) may be a feature of the mushroom.

Picnic area

Picnic area

Another old tree gracefully bedecked with Spanish moss.

Another old tree gracefully bedecked with Spanish moss.

Swings offering a perfect river view

Swings offering a perfect river view

It was a nearly impossible job to back the Casita in here without slamming the truck into the trees or the posts on the other side.  I'm ready for pull-thrus for a while!

It was a nearly impossible job to back the Casita in here without slamming the truck into the trees or the posts on the other side. I’m ready for pull-thrus for a while!

 

Surprises at Ocean Pond

Back at Ocean Pond

Back at Ocean Pond

We snagged the last available water and electric site on our return to Ocean Pond.

The home built RV from Eastbank

The home built RV from Eastbank

Gail is too sick to visit this evening, so I’ll see her tomorrow.  Ron and Mike have gone grocery shopping and are picking up take out food, so we are off the hook for cooking this evening.

The last time we were here, most of the RVs were big rigs.  This time I discovered it is the week for small rigs.

Cute teardrop

Cute teardrop

And remember the home built rig I posted a photo of a couple of days ago at Eastbank?  They are here now.   I stopped and  chatted with them.  I reminded them that I had met them a couple of years ago and they had told me the story of why and how they built their rig then.

They asked me if I knew their rig was on the internet.  I said yes, I put it there!  After a good laugh, they told me they remembered my Casita and Sheba from Eastbank, and that someone else had told them to look out for me.  I didn’t stay too long because they had visitors and I didn’t want to intrude.

More small rigs.  There was also an R-Pod, but I didn't get a good shot of it.

More small rigs. There was also an R-Pod, but I didn’t get a good shot of it.

 

Small world!

So here’s hoping Gail feels better tomorrow.  I am thinking of making a pot of homemade chicken soup for her.

Ron is picking up puppy pads for Sunny, so hopefully our problem with his not being able to make it through the night anymore will be solved.

We are in for cooler days and cold nights for a while.  I checked the weather in Central Florida and it’s about the same as here, so it looks like we can’t escape the cold for now.

It sure is a friendly bunch here in the campground.  :)

From a lake view to a deep woods view.  I'm loving it!

From a lake view to a deep woods view. I’m loving it!

 

Found the Leak & Improvising

No pictures today due to bad cell reception.  Instead of 4G I’m getting 1x if I get anything.  Voice phone calls work sometimes and sometimes they don’t.  So you’ll have to use your imagination to picture our day.  :)

I pulled everything out of cupboards yesterday, anywhere there was a pipe joint.  I wrapped toilet paper around each one so that a drop of water would be visible.  And then I waited.  There was nothing even damp in the area I had found the water.

So then I went outside to see if the pressure relief valve was leaking.  It was bone dry.

But, in the lower left hand corner of the water heater cover there was a puddle, along with a visible spot of water on the concrete below.

So I pulled everything out of storage underneath Ron’s bed, and discovered the bottom of a cardboard box was wet.  Uh oh.  I stuffed toilet paper everywhere to hunt for leaks, and felt all around the water heater.  It also was dry.  Then I went outside and opened the storage door by the water tank and felt around.  Again, everything was dry.

Then I noticed that the wet cardboard box I had pulled from under Ron’s bed box smelled like urine.  Light started to dawn.

Sunny is getting incontinent and can’t make it through the night anymore, apparently.  I guess I’ll get some puppy pads and hope he will go on them.

Later, after running the pump and checking all my toilet paper indicators, I couldn’t find a hint of a leak.  So I went back to the site of the original leak, and smelled.  It was urine that had run along the cabinet to puddle under the dog food.

I had been wanting to rearrange my storage areas but had been putting it off.  Since everything was out and piled on Ron’s bed, this was the perfect opportunity.  I thoroughly cleaned the floor and started repacking.  And I really love my new arrangement.

But there was still the water heater leak to worry about.  When we checked it this morning, it was dry and the spot on the ground had evaporated.  Apparently it was condensation after all!

I still have some toilet paper wrapped around pipe joints and will check them often until I’m sure that Sunny is the only culprit.

When I dug all the food out, I rediscovered I had brought along quinoa and red lentils.  They have to be rinsed before using, and I had left my sieve at home because it was too big for the trailer’s silverware drawer.  But now I need one.

So I started thinking of what I could use as a sieve instead of buying another one and worrying about finding a place to store it.  And then it hit me.  Our coffeepot has the permanent filter that we just wash and reuse.  It could also hold small amounts of quinoa or red lentils while I ran water over them.  Problem solved!

After getting all the storage areas cleaned and organized last night, it’s Casita cleaning day today.

Ron is doing laundry and I’m getting ready to vacuum the A/C filter, the screens and the screens on the fans.  Also, our blinds have picked up a lot of grit from leaving the windows open and running the fan.  I can’t take them down and clean them properly, but I can at least vacuum them.

We’ll be heading back to Ocean Pond tomorrow.  Mike and Gail are both sick and in bed with bad colds.  Hope we can avoid catching them.  In any case, I need to be near them while I can.

Tonight I’ll address the Christmas cards I thought I had left at home.  I found them also  while hunting for leaks.  :)

 

 

 

This & That & Mail Service

Almost empty campground

Almost empty campground

The campground is almost empty today.  I guess that all the sane people are home preparing for Christmas.

Today is in the mid sixties with bright sunshine.  Perfect for a long walk without getting overheated.  And nights are chilly–perfect sleeping weather.

Some of you have asked me to review my St. Brendan’s Isle mail service.

We are very happy with it.  The way it works is you fill out a form from the post office — or St. Brendan’s will send you one.  You have that notarized and send it (along with photocopies of ID) to St. Brendans.  You provide a credit card that they will draw $100.00 on to use for the monthly fee and for postage when they send you your mail.  When that $100 is exhausted, they will take out another $100, and so on.

Simply beautiful

Simply beautiful

If you don’t need that address for driver’s licenses and so forth, you can deactivate the account when you are not traveling.  Then you can re-activate it when you need their services again.

When they receive your mail, they will scan each envelope and send you an email telling you that you have mail.  You can view the envelopes online and select scan, hold, send or shred options.  I have them scan things that are time sensitive so I can read them online.  I put the others in Hold until I am someplace I can receive mail.

So far, I have had mail sent to one of my sister’s houses, and to General Delivery at the post office in Chattahoochee, about 5 or 6 miles from the campground.

Every interaction I have had with St. Brendan’s has been positive, including phone calls to ask questions.

When you set up your address forwarding to St. Brendan’s, you use their street address.  You also need to include your personal mail box number (PMB),  You can’t just put a suite or lot number.  The regulations, new this year apparently, specify it needs to be written like PMB 1234

If you don’t put “PMB” on your mail forwarding order, the post office will simply send it to St Brendan’s street address.  If that happens, St. Brendan’s has to enter your box number by hand, and that can delay your mail for a week.

I found that out the hard way.  :)

Just another pretty shot

Just another pretty shot

Ron and I have both had stomach bugs that left us without much energy.  But today I was feeling great, so was able to take Sheba for a long walk.

And speaking of long walks, the walks with Sheba this trip are doing wonders for my strength and stamina.  When we first started this trip, if I squatted down to take a photo, I could not get up without help.  Now deep knee bends are easy and I am just thrilled with the improvement.

We plan to go out to dinner in one of the nearby towns this evening and will leave the dogs in the trailer.  Yay!  Freedom! :D

On the downside, I have a leak in my water lines somewhere.  The bag of dog food I keep under my bed had a wet bottom last night.  Today I discovered more water.  It is not coming from the bathroom, so maybe it is from the water line attached to the city water inlet.

So that’s my project now — tracking the source of the leak–and then trying to figure out how to fix it.

P.S.  It’s December 7.  Remember Pearl Harbor.

Saturday at Eastbank

I am posting this shot because before we got our Casita, I used to comb the web looking at interior shots and dreaming of how I'd do mine.  So this is for all of you who are interested in seeing how we live in a teeny-tiny camper.  :)

I am posting this shot because before we got our Casita, I used to comb the web looking at interior shots and dreaming of how I’d do mine. So this is for all of you who are interested in seeing how we live in a teeny-tiny camper–including essentials like dishpan, coffeepot and boiled peanuts! :)

How long has it been since you saw a pay phone booth?  This one is near Loop A and includes white and yellow page directories.

How long has it been since you saw a pay phone booth? This one is near Loop A and includes white and yellow page directories.

Stairs from phone booth down to Loop A

Stairs from phone booth down to Loop A

Loop A

Loop A

We saw this home built camper in the same spot in Loop C the last time we were here a couple of years ago.  Originally the big box was a dog house.  When the dog died, they turned it into storage.

We saw this home built camper in the same spot in Loop C the last time we were here a couple of years ago. Originally the big box was a dog house. When the dog died, they turned it into storage.

Loop C across the street from the lake

Loop C across the street from the lake

Tree with moss by tent camping area

Tree with moss by tent camping area

Welcoming committee.  Ron, Sheba and Sunny with dam in background.

Welcoming committee. Ron, Sheba and Sunny with dam in background.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

Another gorgeous unretouched sunset photo from last night.

Another gorgeous unretouched sunset photo from last night. The water near the shore is very shallow and a lot of water plants grow there. I especially loved the little cypress tree with moss!

Eastbank COE

Our Casita at Eastbank COE

Our Casita at Eastbank COE

Casita at sunset

Casita at sunset

We’re at beautiful Eastbank COE campground on the Georgia/Florida border.  There is not much to do except fishing and a couple of short trails.  But soaking in the beauty is a full-time job!  It’s a quiet, heavenly place to relax.  It’s also only $11 a day with our senior pass.  We’ve spent much of the day reading, doing crosswords and walking Sheba. And admiring the lake view from our door and all of the windows.

We are also having to make sure everything that touches the ground is sprayed with bug spray.  There are tiny ants everywhere.

Coots at sunset

Coots at sunset

Sheba has been more combative when other dogs are walked by our site than usual.  I’m guessing she’s getting tired of having to be tied up all the time. And little Sunny is exhibiting symptoms similar to an elderly person with Alzheimers.  It’s stressful for him and for us.

These sunset photos are all unretouched.  The colors were more magnificent than my camera could show.  And if I had retouched them to make them match the splendor my eyes saw, no one would believe it anyway!

Cypress tree surrounded by cypress knees

Cypress tree surrounded by cypress knees

The coots are so numerous here that it is startling.  At first we thought they were trash floating on the water.  Then we realized they were coots.  There are hundreds of them.

We plan to go to Bainbridge tomorrow to shop and look around.

And Wayne, we haven’t seen an alligator, but with all those coots out there, they probably do just fine without ever coming ashore!  :)

Sunset 1 of 3

Sunset 1 of 3

Sunset 2 of 3

Sunset 2 of 3

Sunset 3 of 3

Sunset 3 of 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a

Another Perfect Day

sunset2

Gail and I watched the sunset together this evening. With lots of “Oh, wows!” ::)

Our high temperature today was a sunny 76 degrees.

Another sunset view

Another sunset view

It was perfect for a long walk (for me) with Sheba.  Mike had gone to Jacksonville today and Ron puttered around, leaving the afternoon for Gail and I to bask in the gorgeous weather together and in just being with each other.   That opportunity has been a long time coming.

Ron and I are heading to Eastbank COE Tuesday for a week.  Then we’ll come back here and camp with Mike and Gail for 2 days, and then we’ll both leave here and go to Suwannee River State Park for a week.

Some areas are still soggy from the rain last week.

Some areas are still soggy from the rain last week.

Then Gail and Mike close on their new house.  We’ll head South and give them a while to settle in before we head to their place for a while.

Right now our camping agenda depends solely on what campgrounds have vacancies and what we can afford.  It’s a fun way to camp.

Deep, dark, mysterious looking woods along the trail.

Deep, dark, mysterious looking woods along the trail.

Ron hasn't quite recognized that the Casita has limited space for junk food!  :D

Ron hasn’t quite recognized that the Casita has limited space for junk food! :D

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