Talladega National Forest

Cindy and I just got back from camping at the Coleman Lake recreation Area in Alabama. It was a wonderful time for finding all kinds of little treasures.

I found the painted rock on the water hookup at my campsite. It was very appropiate. It was so peaceful there! There had been a horse endurance event in the area, and someone left a quarter horse on a picnic table. I photographed it, then left it to amuse the next person who happened along.

The first day out, I had no energy and was able to walk around our loop. Once. Period! But I got a good night’s rest that night. That, combined with the gorgeous weather, energized me, and I was able to get out and enjoy nature’s splendor! It was a lot more fun going than coming, though. It was for Mikky, too. Cindy ended up carrying him! Did I mention that she is a very good friend who loves my dog, too? 😋

As soon as I got home I ordered hiking poles, which I expect to enable me to go longer and farther next time out.

Oak leaf hydrangea almost hiding Cindy, Cindy’s rig. Cindy’s dog Missy, and Cindy and the dogs at the lake.

There were so many flowers that my phone camera simply couldn’t capture, especially the tiny ones. I also couldn’t capture the wild blueberries’ immature fruit. But I was thrilled to get the photos I did.

Immature elderberries and blackberries. I’m not sure what the white flowers are. They resemble bergamot, but they are not pink. On edit, Alabama does have white bergamot.

Cindy saw a couple of snakes. One water snake swimming. And Missy, her dog, STEPPED on a snake. Cindy didn’t recognize the markings, but the snake did not bite Missy. It was a little over a foot long, and Cindy said she guessed the snake was sick or had just eaten.

The composition of this photo is awful, but I love it anyway. Oak leaf hydrangeas are so photogenic!

Look at the difference in this photo after Judie cropped it for me! https://dorrieanne.wordpress.com/. Thanks, Judie!

Cindy likes to go to the same places over and over. I am going to try to coax her into expanding her camping range, especially since I LOVE to camp by large expanses of water. We have the problem of erratic schedules, though, and it seems that every time we make reservations, we have to cancel them. That gets expensive.

False Solomon’s Seal. I rarely see it, and I find regular Solomon’s Seal even more infrequently.
Swamp milkweed was everywhere! I discretely gathered several of the unopened flower buds to steam and enjoy the delicious, delicate broccoli taste with dinner.
Poison ivy and Virginia Creeper growing parallel up a tree. I’m not sure what the other plant is. Maybe a buckeye?
I wasn’t the only one worn out by our walk! In case you wondered, one side of the pillow is Mikkey’s. At night, the other side is mine. 🙂
My little van

Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls from the left side
Noccalula Falls from the right, most photographed side.

Noccalula Falls Campground and Park are part of the Gadsden, AL City Park. It’s a gorgeous place with a serene, peaceful feel.

The campsites are spaced very closely together, but there weren’t many sites occupied. Plus we got sites at the edge of the campground, so it felt spacious to us.

Noccalula Falls Campsite
Cindy and my campsites

My little van got lots of stares (probably of incredulity!) and one middle aged couple seemed fascinated by it and wanted a detailed tour. Then they asked if I lived in it!

It is remarkably comfortable. I am still amazed at how it can hold everything I need.

Heading toward the Falls
The wedding chapel

Cindy hiked all the trails except the one that goes behind the falls. It’s rugged and she was afraid her dog might lurch or lose his footing. And she wasn’t ready to meet Noccalula’s fate!

More photos of the falls. They fascinate me! The statue depicts Noccalula, the legendary Indian maiden who threw herself in the gorge when her father insisted she marry a man she didn’t love. The falls were called Black Rock Falls before they were renamed for the legend. I like the sound of Noccalula better, too. 🙂

We had hoped to tour the entire park, but my COPD is progressing and there are lots of hills. So I didn’t get to do my usual exploring. But Cindy and I still had a wonderful time. I still excel at eating hickory cooked hamburgers and home made potato salad! And short walks, good conversation, and drinking coffee.

We thought of riding the train through the park, but didn’t want to leave the dogs. But we both had a wonderful time and didn’t feel like we missed out on anything.

What are these strange smells, Mom?
Mallards at Noccalula Falls
A cheeky squirrel stealing Mikkey’s food from right under our noses. There were also jet black squirrels there, but they were more skittish and I couldn’t get a decent photo of one. Also pictured is a scene I enjoyed of a mom and son feeding the geese.

I plan to get serious about catching up on Casita maintenance and fixes this week so Ron and I can camp together. I missed him!

Waters plunging over the rocks. Also, the black rocks that surround the falls area intrigue me.

Link to van build photos

Van Mods & Update

I got the solar screen panels for the van’s cargo area windows done. They are not pretty, and I don’t like how much they darken the van’s interior. But they definitely keep the van cooler in the sun.

Solar screen in minivan windows
The solar screen held in place by plastic angle brackets that I attached magnets to. Since the screen wasn’t as stiff as I expected, I had to use a regular magnet to keep them from slipping down. (I also moved the little gray cosmetics holder because it looked tacky there!)

I also trimmed my fleece covered Reflectix window covers so they just slide inside the little white magnetized plastic angle brackets. I was having to attach each magnet individually at night before I found the angle brackets solution, and that was a pain!

Insulated minivan window covers
Fleece covered Reflectix insulated privacy panels in van’s side window.

I also took two 7″ O rings and sandwiched screening in between them for a removeable screen for the floor’s ventilation deck plate. It wasn’t a snug fit, so I whipstitched the screen’s edges around the O rings, hoping that the overlap would make it snug enough to fit tightly enough to keep bugs out. That made it look uneven and bulky. It will do until I can do better.

Van hole in floor for ventilation
It doesn’t look pretty, but it works. It also serves as a hatch to lower Mikkey to go potty under the van when it’s raining.

Finally, after a couple of steamy days, I realized that camping in our sweltering summer would be impossible without an air conditioner. So I combed every description and review of portable air conditioners I could find. The only one I liked was the Climate Rite that sets outside the van and blows cold air inside. But it was too heavy for me to lift in and out of the van. And the reviews were awful!

So I settled on a Honeywell. It’s definitely overkill for my tiny van, but I didn’t feel I had any other option. It’s 40 pounds, which is manageable, and it has good reviews.

portable air conditioner for van
Definite overkill. But it was my best option.

Now for the sad news. My neighbor and I have been excitedly discussing plans to go camping this coming Monday. Now she is waffling, not wanting to leave her husband. So I hope she decides it’s okay. If not, I will go alone.

Blog Problems — Tiny Van Photos Repost

The passenger side door of the van showing the sink cabinet and storage unit.

In trying to learn how to use WordPress’s block editor, I accidentally deleted the page where I had originally posted my first van photos while I was trying to edit the page.

So I apologize to everyone who has already seen them. I will just repost the photos, and hopefully move on to my usual ramblings in future posts. I did post a couple of new “before” photos. Thanks for your patience. ❤️

Kitchen view of tiny campers van interior
The little wash stand was originally a $99 table with 2 slatted shelves, also from Amazon. Since it wouldn’t fit over the wheel wells, I cut it up and used the pieces to build the sink stand with fresh water underneath, and a gray water container on the bottom. I covered the gray water bottle with a slipcover,so I wouldn’t have to look at the dirty water. I used the extra wood for the top and shelf, and had wood left over to frame the refrigerator and build a small shelf behind the wash stand.
Interior view of small diy camper van from rear
I have built camper beds before, but I hated sleeping on a plywood slab. This time I went with a cot that had springs and added a cushy mattress. The narrow width doesn’t bother me as I was used to sleeping on the dinette bed in our Casita. I had to add riser legs so the porta pot would fit under the bed.
Under bed storage in camper van
My only A/C wiring is a power strip that attaches to an extension cord through a hole I cut in the floor behind the driver’s seat.
Deck plate in van floor for ventilation
With the van shut up at night there is no ventilation. Static Camper Van on YouTube gave me the idea of putting a ventilation hole in the floor. So I installed a deckplate in the only place where there was space under the van for a hole that large. With the deck plate open and the fan on exhaust, the ventilation is awesome!
tiny camper sink and water supply
Another van photo. This shows a close-up of my fresh and grey water supply, sink stand, along with a folding dishpan/tote sandwiched between the stand and the refrigerator.
portable solar panel stored in a small camper van
This is the 120 watt portable solar panel stowed behind the passenger seat.
Hole in van floor for electrical cord
Here’s the hole behind the driver’s seat for the electric cord. I plan to stuff one of those plastic mesh pot scrubbers around the cord to keep out bugs. Update: Linneth, a dear reader, suggested using a pool noodle around the wire, stuffed into the hole. Eureka!
My van build pictures wouldn’t be complete without another photo of my best buddy!

The before photo
The tricky part. 🙂

The Best Laid Plans…


Today I had planned to leave for 3 days camping at Whitetail Ridge. I hadn’t felt well for a few days, but I was determined to go no matter what. Yesterday I got hit by waves of nausea on and off all day — but I was still dead set on going.

This morning I felt even worse. The prospect of spending 3 days sick on a cot in a microvan forced a decision to postpone the trip.

So I’ll just share some random photos with you until I can take you along on a new camping trip. Very soon, I hope!

tiny camper sink and water supply

Another van photo. This shows a close-up of my fresh and grey water supply, sink stand, along with a folding dishpan/tote sandwiched between the stand and the refrigerator.

portable solar panel stored in a small camper van

This is the 120 watt portable solar panel stowed behind the passenger seat.


One of my winter sanity savers. An Aerogarden lettuce patch! This picture was taken a while back when the plants were small. I’ve since harvested it several times. What fun to pick a couple of lettuce leaves for a sandwich in my own kitchen!


My dear friend and neighbor is always bringing me thoughtful little gifts. Lately she has been bringing me heavenly smelling miniature spring bulb flowers.

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