Talladega National Forest

Iridescent splendor

Iridescent splendor

Transparent wings

Transparent wings

Ron and I took advantage of the cooler weather to head to Coleman Lake in the Talladega National Forest just 40 miles from home last week.  There is no cell reception there, plus thunderstorms were predicted for the weekend, so we only stayed three nights.  But what glorious days we had!

We met some lovely people there, and I embarrassed myself badly by being a terrible chatterbox.  When I meet people I REALLY like, I tend to do that.

Orange fringed orchid.

Orange fringed orchid. For a real eye treat, click to enlarge, then click the picture again to enlarge it even further. It’s gorgeous!

But most of the time was spent out exploring the trails and the beautiful show of jewels that nature provided.

I find I am starting to forget the names of plants.  I hope that it’s just from disuse, not from aging!  So I’ll present the pictures and allow you to caption the unlabeled ones as you’d like!  :)

Wild sweet potato flower.  These were all over the place!

Wild sweet potato flower. These were all over the place!

Bracken fern.  This area felt almost primeval.

Bracken fern. This area felt almost primeval.

Milkweed pods

Milkweed pods

Flowers blooming from a crack in the bridge rail.

Flowers blooming from a crack in the bridge rail.

Waterbugs walking on water, each in their little dimple of surface tension.

Waterbugs walking on water, each in their little dimple of surface tension.

unknown

sunshiny

purple2

purple

Swimming beach area

Swimming beach area

Our Casita

Our Casita

 

 

 

 

 

The Season for Flowers

Four o'clocks and gladiolas

Four o’clocks and gladiolas

It seems like only a few weeks ago I was waiting for it to be warm enough to go camping.  Now I’m waiting for it to be cool enough again!

The last of the white gladiolas

The last of the white gladiolas

In the meantime, I’m enjoying low-key summer puttering with flowers and a few veggies.

Something wiped out my tomatoes.  I didn’t plant resistant varieties and they didn’t fare well.  So I’m planting more tomorrow. I sure am glad we have such a long growing season!

pink gladiolas

Pink gladiolas

Also I had read that bell peppers will occasionally have a genetic flashback and produce hot peppers.  What are the odds of both of my container peppers doing the same thing?  They are too fiery to eat, so I’m planning to dehydrate some tomorrow for sparing use in dishes that need a little added kick.

I also want to get a fall vegetable garden going soon.  I sure do miss my home-grown lettuce! It had all bolted when we got back from our trip to Modoc.

Dianthus

Dianthus

 

 

Last Day at Modoc

Last night's sunset

Last night’s sunset

We will be leaving tomorrow morning.  This is one of a small handful of our trips that I will be glad to see end.  It’s running an average of 8 degrees cooler at home.

Today is overcast and sweltering.  The people next to us had reservations through tomorrow, but they left today.

A little island out in the lake under gray skies.

A little island out in the lake under gray skies.

The only wildlife, other than birds, that we have seen here was one gray fox.  He was strangely unafraid of us, and in fact followed us for a short distance on the road a couple of times.  My first thought was rabies.  I meant to mention it to the host, but forgot.  Will try to report it on the way out tomorrow.

There were a lot of children running around over the weekend, and if it was going to cause trouble, I would have expected it to have already done so.  Ron suggested that it might have been one that someone tried to make a pet of when it was a baby, then released it when they discovered it wouldn’t domesticate.

Closeup of the island.

Closeup of the island.

In any case, it’s not normal behavior for a fox.

Anyway, our camping season is probably over until cooler weather arrives.

 

Fantastic Forms Down by the Water

 

Huge tree kept from toppling into the lake by rocky supports.

Precarious twins

Precarious twins

It’s still sweltering here.  Far too hot to do anything energetic.  So I’ve meandered around amusing myself by searching out intriguing and unusual natural formations.

Many of the trees at waters’ edge just about have the supporting earth washed away.  It looks like the Army Corps of Engineers has put rocks around some of the more precarious ones to help support them.  But every time a jet ski flies by, strong waves crash relentlessly against them, taking a bit more of the red clay support.  And leaving even more fantastic forms behind.

This one can't last long.  It looks like grandaddy long-legs spider legs are holding it up.

This one can’t last long. It looks like grandaddy long-legs spider legs are holding it up.

We have had nice, strong breezes today as the ever-threatened, seldom-materialized thunderstorms pass us by.

One thing this trip has taught us is not to ever camp in South Carolina in the summertime again!

Ron brought home superb Mexican take-out for dinner this evening.

I’m still drawing plans for a camper van.  I am so itching to tackle that project!  Hopefully next year!

Clutching at the disappearing earth

Clutching at the disappearing earth

Interlocking roots

Interlocking roots

Odd trees on the swamp side

Odd trees on the swamp side

Trumpet flower vine hidden in underbrush

Trumpet flower vine hidden in underbrush

Growing at water's edge.  I used to know their name, but have forgotten and am too lazy to look them up.  :)

Growing at water’s edge. I used to know their name, but have forgotten and am too lazy to look them up. :)

Sunlight  glinting on water

Sunlight glinting on water

Thunderclouds passing over

Thunderclouds passing over

 

 

 

The Heart of Summertime

Tenters on the far bank

Tenters on the other bank

Cloud cover and a steady breeze made exploring the woods a pleasure today.  Amazingly, we have not picked up a single tick! Yet, anyway!

A variety of blueberries or huckleberries.

A variety of blueberries or huckleberries.

I took Sunny for a short, slow, old-doggie-paced walk this morning.  He soon tired, so we headed back.  Then I took Sheba for a longer, brisker, more interesting walk.

I found all kinds of little wonders to photograph.  However, in transferring them to my computer, I lost over 30 of them.  My favorites, of course!

I think it might be time to start thinking about getting a new camera.  I promised myself one for Christmas, but I might not make it  that long.

Darn!  :D

Wild muscadine grape buds

Wild muscadine grape buds

Greenbrier berries

Greenbrier berries

Smilax flower buds

Smilax flower buds

Sunny after his walk

Sunny after his walk

Sheba exploring

Sheba exploring

Last night's thunderstorm blew all of the trumpet flowers off their vines.  None are left in the trees.

Last night’s thunderstorm blew all of the trumpet flowers off their vines.

Greenbrier thorns and tendrils

Greenbrier thorns and tendrils

 

 

Still Beautiful; Still Hot

Our sunset last night.  The color was not enhanced -- it really was this gorgeous.

Our sunset last night. The color was not enhanced — it really was this gorgeous.

Although it’s 8 degrees hotter here than it is at home, we are managing to enjoy it.  There’s usually a nice breeze off the lake.

There is water across the street behind us, too.  We are surrounded on three sides by water.

There is water across the street behind us, too. We are surrounded on three sides by water.

Yesterday I sat outside under the awning doing crosswords and admiring the million scintillating sun sparkles on the blue water.  Waves gurgled onto shore and slapped up against the rocks.  A few brave birds, ignoring the heat of the day, sang in the deep woods around me.

Although this is a man made lake, I dreamed of Indians centuries ago paddling their canoes around the point.  The deep woods on the far shore beckoned mysteriously.

As evening fell, a lone, far-away whipporwill called.

Sheba.  The sun is giving her black fur red highlights.

Sheba. The sun is giving her black fur red highlights.

We spend a couple of hours in the hottest part of the day inside in the air conditioning doing crosswords, surfing, reading or napping.  We can’t do anything too energetic or we will overheat, so we mosey around — and when we get too hot, we head inside and cool off for a while.

In case any of you northerners ever wondered why southerners move and talk more slowly  sometimes that’s why.  It’s an adaptation to the extreme heat and humidity.  It was a lot more pronounced before everyone got air conditioning.

My precious little aging Sunny.  He is having enough trouble going on walks that I will have to get him a doggie stroller soon.

My precious little aging Sunny. He is having enough trouble going on walks that I will have to get him a doggie stroller soon.

So I can’t say that our trip is exciting.  It’s not.  But it’s beautiful and we are glad we are here.

Modoc, SC in the Hot, Hot Summertime

Looking toward the left from under our awning

Looking toward the left from under our awning

When we were planning this camping trip, we originally wanted to go to Black Rock Mountain State Park in the NE Georgia mountains.  It’s a lot cooler there.

But we are not experienced mountain drivers.  And there is a winding, twisting 2 mile gravel road to the park at a steep grade.  The park’s website says that only those who are experienced at driving narrow mountain roads should attempt it.

Looking toward the right from under our awning

Looking toward the right from under our awning

So that scared us off.

Next, I had wanted to go to Vogel State Park at the base of Blood Mountain.  I wanted to climb the mountain again and see how much harder it was than when I did it in 2003.  I remember it being an easy climb.  I also thought it would be so much fun to see Neel’s Gap again, which was my first supply stop on my Appalachian Trail attempt back then.

But Vogel did not have reservations available for the time I wanted.

The water seems to go on forever.

The water seems to go on forever.

So we scrambled around for a substitute destination.  We had camped here at Modoc when we first got our Aliner 8 years ago.  I remembered it being beautiful.  I also knew that South Carolina in June would be hot and humid — and is it ever!

Modoc COE is an older park. All of the sites are pull-thrus.  But, at least in our loop, they were designed for the size rigs that were popular when the campground was built.  Our truck and Casita are a perfect fit for them.  Big rigs would be out of luck — at least on this loop.

We are having to take precautions due to the extreme heat here.  Yesterday after we got set up, my face was beet red.  Then my head started throbbing.  The dogs desperately needed a walk, so I took them on a short stroll on the shady side of the road.

When I got back my head was pounding with a splitting headache.  I went inside and took something for the headache and slept for a couple of hours.

A huge luna moth on our back door the night before we left.

A huge luna moth on our back door the night before we left.

Since then, we are moving slowly.  I bring the dogs in every hour for a half hour or so to cool down.  Then it’s gentle, easy movements to keep from getting overheated.

Thunderstorms are predicted later in the week.  Although they will raise the humidity, the clouds will obscure the sun which should help keep us from being steamed quite so badly.

But it is STILL a LOT better than being at home!

weather

Earth Box Bounty & Camping

Extremely productive bell peppers in an Earth Box

Extremely productive bell peppers in an Earth Box

Patio tomatoes in Earth Box

Patio tomatoes in Earth Box

I would never have believed how much lettuce we are getting from 3 Earth Boxes.  The danger is that it will bolt before we can use it.  I’ll be taking several bags on our camping trip, and expect several of the new heads that are growing on cut-off stalks to be ready when we get home.

And I haven’t even started on the romaine.

Little Gem lettuce has small heads that are the perfect size for a salad for two.  Note top left where a head was harvested and is growing a new head.

Little Gem lettuce has small heads that are the perfect size for a salad for two. Note top left where a head was harvested and is growing a new head.

I have two patio tomatoes in one Earth Box and two bell peppers in another.  They are both loaded.  So I am getting my garden fix this year without even having a garden!

We are planning to leave tomorrow for a week camping on the GA/SC border.  It will be hot and humid, but it will be hot and humid at home and I’d rather be on a big lake than at home.

The lettuce plant in the rear is one that regenerated from a stalk that was harvested earlier.

The lettuce plant in the rear is one that regenerated from a stalk that was harvested earlier.

Plenty of rain is predicted, so the little veggies should be fine while we are gone.

P.S.  Just wanted to add that I have used NO pesticides on these plants.  They are so healthy that they are naturally insect repellent.

The romaine will be ready soon.

The romaine will be ready soon.

Earth Boxes, Wild Strawberries & Baby Fig Trees

Wild strawberries are just about through fruiting for the year.

Wild strawberries are just about through fruiting for the year.

The invasive, tasteless Indian strawberries seem to fruit all season.  Their job seems to be to take over the wild strawberries' habitat, and they are doing a good job of it, unfortunately.

The invasive, tasteless Indian strawberries seem to fruit all season. Their job seems to be to take over the wild strawberries’ habitat, and they are doing a good job of it, unfortunately.

The rain has been so dependable that I haven’t had to water anything yet this year.  Both the things I planted and the wild things I didn’t are thriving.

We have been eating salad from our Earth Boxes for several days.  All of the lettuces are going strong.  I did have to pull up the radicchio because it bolted and turned too bitter.  It certainly was beautiful, though.

The patio tomatoes are fruiting, and the bell peppers have little peppers on them.

I planted cilantro and marigolds in two empty Earth Boxes.  I also have green clumping onions planted in one.

I have put off doing anything with the square foot gardens because my heart is just not into it.

Lettuce

Lettuce

Life is in a holding pattern until our next trip, it seems.  :)

Little Gem lettuce starting to head.

Little Gem lettuce starting to head.

Baby romaine

Baby romaine

Patio tomatoes in Earth Box

Patio tomatoes in Earth Box

Baby  bell peppers

Baby bell peppers

 

The cold spring killed the fig trees, but new shoots are coming up from the base of the trees.

The cold spring killed the fig trees, but new shoots are coming up.

 

 

 

FDR State Park

our big pull through site

Our big pull through site at FDR State Park

I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I loved camping at FDR better than I did at the more beautiful and spacious Amity Campground.  It’s odd because Amity had huge, expansive water views, while FDR’s lake is more like a large pond.

Lakeside tent sites

Lakeside tent sites

FDR is old, and maybe that’s why I like it so much.  It has a comfortably worn, down home feeling about it.  Our deeply shaded site suited us perfectly.  I felt so happy and relaxed there.

Yesterday afternoon the rain moved in, so we cocooned with games and internet until the thunderstorms started.  Then I got off the computer.

We had an '85 Scamp for a neighbor

We had an ’85 Scamp for a neighbor

Right after dinner, Sheba started whimpering like she had to go to the bathroom.  So I bundled up in rain jacket and flip flops and took her for a walk in the downpour, through the water running in the streets, while thunder boomed and lightning flashed all around us.

Sheba didn’t have to go.  She just wanted a walk.  She thoroughly enjoyed it.  And while I would never admit it to Ron, (lest I lose my martyr’s halo for walking Sheba in a storm) I also thoroughly enjoyed the walk.

The Scamp owners' son-in-law was there in an '86 Scotty.

The Scamp owners’ son-in-law was there in an ’86 Scotty.

It got cold overnight!  It went from the high 80’s on Wednesday to a damp, chilly morning in the high 50’s.  I even turned the furnace on to take the chill out of the Casita, and Ron and I both wore light jackets until around noon.

We got home around 3:00 to discover that the little veggies in my Earth Boxes are thriving.  When we drove up, Ron commented, “We can have salad for dinner!”

Blueberry flowers down by the campground bridge

Blueberry flowers down by the campground bridge

And we, of course, are already dreaming about our next trip!

Path around the lake on the cabin side

Path around the lake on the cabin side

Mountain laurel near the cabins

Mountain laurel near the cabins

Small island in the lake on the cabin side

Small island in the lake on the cabin side

Sheba watching another dog pass

Sheba watching another dog pass

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 491 other followers