Florida Again

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock's caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen's horn they make when the children got too close.

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock’s caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen’s horn they make when the children got too close.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up.....

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up…..

I had not intended to blog about Florida again because we are, as usual, spending the winter here.  The biggest treat is having time with family.

Unfortunately, I had to do a factory reset on my phone and haven’t downloaded all the photos yet.  I’m waiting for our next data cycle.  So there will be no photos to share of the lovely 80 degree Christmas celebrated in shorts at Gail’s screened porch.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy's bed.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy’s bed.

So I’ll just share my available photos taken at random, and let the captions tell the story…. which is, it’s CHILLY down here now!

BTW, our water pump went out and our toilet needs replacing.  I have them ordered and Gail and I will do the mods when we get back to her house in a week or so.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Next was O'Leno Park--because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Next was O’Leno Park–because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature... an indoor heated swimming pool.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature… an indoor heated swimming pool.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south.  All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south. All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

So now it's winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

So now it’s winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

But winter in Central Florida doesn't really mean winter. :)

But winter in Central Florida doesn’t really mean winter. 🙂

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

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A New Fur Baby & Blogspot Blogs

Meet Mikkey!

Meet Mikkey!

When little Sunny passed, Ron and I realized we really NEED a dog.  I wanted a Casita-size dog and think the long coat chihuahuas are a perfect compromise between soft, silky fur and not needing visits to a groomer.

We wanted an adult so we wouldn’t have to go through the puppy stage again.  (Note the Band-Aid on Ron’s arm.  I have a few matching ones.  We forgot that little puppies’ teeth and claws are like needles.)

But the only long coat adults I could find were those who were being retired from breeding, and their cost was way out of our range.  So we got a puppy.  🙂

We are both smitten with him.  He is so very sweet.  He’s on the submissive side and has been well socialized, so I think he will be a good pet to travel with.

He is charted to weigh 4.75 lbs. full grown.  So, of course, I’ll have to get a puppy purse to show him off in!

It’s odd.  I adored my little Westie Heidi until she died.  I adored my little Sunny.  Instead of taking their place, little Mikkey just seems to be an extension of them.  It’s amazing how much comfort he has brought to Ron and me.

Healthwise, I had a stress test today.  Not anything I want to do again any time soon.  My cataracts are so bad that I have trouble reading — or seeing much of anything.  So I see my doctor Thursday to schedule the surgeries.  I am so looking forward to seeing well again!

Now to all of you who have Blogspot blogs…  I have tried and tried to comment on your blogs.  For a while, everything was working well.  But now, the “I am not a robot” field flashes for a split second, and despite many, many tries, I can’t click fast enough before the field disappears.

On others, after I type my comment a gray bar appears.  Clicking on the gray bar does nothing so the comment won’t publish.

I seriously wonder if Google is doing that on purpose to influence people to get Google blogs, since my WordPress credentials will not work on them anymore.

I really hope Blogspot fixes that soon.  Because it really irks me that I can’t use my WordPress login like I used to be able to.

Anyway, do know that I still read and enjoy your blogs!

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.

Joy!

View from our site

View from our site. Can you see the small tree on the point? I bet it will be beautiful once it gets its leafy summer dress. 🙂

This morning as we were getting ready to hit the road I was flooded with happy anticipation, which changed to sheer joy once we were underway.

As I’ve said before, I am happier than I have ever been. Ron and I are both talking about “when” we fulltime — not if.

Yesterday, at Pine Island, I sat outside observing the activity around me. Coots bobbed up and down on the sparkling waves. An osprey flew overhead and landed on the sandy beach, picked up a long stick in its beak that looked too big for it to carry, then flew heavily to its treetop nest on the mid-lake island.

Our Casita at R. Schafer Heard campground.

Our Casita at R. Shaefer Heard campground.

Later that evening, as the sunset faded, I watched dozens of small, maybe 3 or 4 inch long fish jumping out of the shimmering, liquid copper colored surface of the water. They fully cleared the water with each jump and it looked like they were trying to fly.

On our previous visit to that lake 2 years ago, a fisherman told me they were carp when I asked him what kind of fish were jumping out of the water then.

Another view from our site.

Another view from our site.

I deliberately did not have my camera with me because I feel and observe so much more when I’m not distracted with trying to photograph my surroundings. I think I need to devote one day a week (at least) to doing that. When I do, the sights, sounds and scents are more deeply embedded in my memory.

So tonight we are at West Point Lake in the R. Shaefer Heard campground. This is another of our old favorites, and is only a little over an hour from home.

We plan to stay here 7 days, then this fantastic journey will end.

We did discover anotther swamp at our last campground.  Fortunate the area was hilly and the campground wasn't swampy at all.

We did discover another swamp at our last campground. Fortunately the area was hilly and the campground wasn’t swampy at all.

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.

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.

 

Newport Campground

At Newport Park

Ron talking with the sweet camp host at Newport Park. Sunny is visible in the Casita door if you look closely. 🙂

We just spent a wonderful week driveway camping at Gail’s, grilling ribs and steaks and eating way too much good food.

The front of the park facing the county road.

The front of the park facing the county road.

This evening we are at Newport Park, a sleepy little campground near Crawfordville, Florida.  This park is near the Gulf after Florida curves back in from the Panhandle.  So it’s only 90 miles from Live Oak.

The river offers fishing and boating, and there is a wildlife observation area across the road.   There are several large dogs here.  Since Sheba won’t quit barking at them, she is on restriction inside the camper.  To her, that’s a fate worse than death!

Walkway over the swamp to the river observation deck

Walkway over the swamp to the river observation deck

Replicas of the Pinta and Nina are supposed to pull into nearby St. Marks tomorrow.  I would love to go see them.  I guess we’ll put the dogs in the truck and try to find a shaded spot for them.  Since Sunny has lost part of his little mind, we can’t leave him in the trailer and go places anymore.  He yips hysterically the whole time we are gone.   So far, he will still stay in the truck with Sheba without causing a commotion.

Fish cleaning station

Fish cleaning station

This campground is way out in the boonies of the old Florida.  Oddly enough, my paternal grandmother lived in this area when she was young, but it is the first time we’ve been here.

I was afraid we’d be without a cell signal as I watched it disappear the closer we got to our campground.  But I am relieved to discover that we get 2-3 bars here, which is enough for phone calls and uploading pictures.

St. Marks River

St. Marks River

We plan to stay here a week, then head for Florida Caverns State Park.  We are still just making our itinerary up as we go along.

And loving it!

The bridge.  There are signs offering a reward for reporting a tagged striped bass.

The bridge. There are signs offering a reward for reporting a tagged striped bass.