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

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…..But I Love My Casita

The coffee shelf that Rob built for me that has turned into an indispensable all-purpose shelf.

Dad used to love his tool shed more than any other place on earth.  It was his favorite place to escape to.  He would often say, “I like my house, but I love my shed!”

I feel the same way about my little trailer.  I like my house, but I LOVE my Casita!  Every time I open the door and walk inside, I feel a powerful sense of home.  Like it’s my place to be.  Like I belong there.

My house is comfortable.  It’s a nice place to be.  But in the 14 years we’ve lived here, it’s never felt like home.

I loved our Aliner until it started falling apart faster than I could fix it.  I also felt a sense of home in it.  No matter where we traveled, when we stopped, popped up the top and walked inside, we were home.

But it’s even more pronounced in the Casita.  Maybe because the quality is light years ahead of the Aliner’s.   Maybe because the happiest times of our marriage have been spent traveling and camping in it.

I named it Egg Harbor… obviously because it’s egg-shaped.  But also because I feel so sheltered and safe in it.

We talk sometimes about going fulltime, but we truly aren’t ready to cut ties to a house, garden, and property surrounded by woods yet.  So I don’t know why the Casita is home and the house isn’t!

I spent a couple of hours in it this afternoon, cleaning, rearranging, repacking…. actually just playing house in it!  It will be so much fun to be on the road again soon!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, and thanks to you readers who made 2011 such a rewarding blogging year!

We had planned to go to a music jam last night to play and sing in the new year, but neither Ron nor I felt up to it.  So we stayed home.  Ron did crosswords and I picked up my long neglected doily (even though I said I wasn’t going to) and started tatting the final round.

Today I didn’t feel up to par, so that explains why I felt too tired to go anywhere last night.  Oh well…it’s nice to stay home and just BE sometimes!

I had planned to winterize the Casita yesterday, but went out to turn on the water heater bypass and discovered ours didn’t have one!  That meant I had to go back to Walmart and buy more RV antifreeze, because the water heater has to be full before you can pump the antifreeze into the water lines.  I might could have gotten away with 8 gallons, but bought 9 just to be safe.

Anyway, now our water system is protected down to 40 below!  Since tomorrow night is supposed to get down to 18 F, that ought to take care of it!

Next year we will definitely have a hot water bypass installed!

The people who originally bought our Casita obviously had never owned an RV before.  They ordered it without a roof vent or water heater bypass!

Since the RV place I used to take our Aliner to was largely responsible for its demise due to shoddy and incomplete work, I’m planning to wait until we go to Texas next winter and have Little House Customs put in a roof fan and the water heater bypass.   They are former Casita fulltimers and know these little units inside and out and have a superb reputation for quality work.  My Casita is worth waiting for them!

Demolition Update

We got the water heater out of the camper today.  It was a big job because I had sealed it really well with butyl tape the last time I installed it.

I wrote Joanne at Our Aliner Restoration for advice on my project since she and her husband have been through a floor replacement and complete rebuild of their 1998 Aliner.  She suggested that I take out all the old wiring and have it redone from scratch later.

So I did.  Actually, I’m glad to have all that stuff out of the way while I’m working in there.  Especially the old Elixir converter.  I also removed all the plumbing.

Was too tired to do any more this evening.  I’ll plan on removing the gas lines and the wiring underneath the trailer tomorrow, then start digging out the staples that hold the aluminum siding to the bottom of the trailer.  That project will probably take a few days.

I keep having to fight off thoughts of simply towing it to the junkyard!

One good thing about working on the trailer… I don’t have to cook tonight.  Ron is on his way to pick up KFC.  🙂

 

Embarrassed to Post

I am truly embarrassed to admit that yes, after saying I was going replace the floor and rebuild the Aliner, then saying I was not going to rebuild it, then saying I was, then stating emphatically I wasn’t… several times…. I am now gutting it and planning to rebuild it.

Bathroom out, refrigerator is next to go.

The economy is the reason.  I don’t DARE go into debt with the US on the verge of default.  And even if they don’t default, the debt is so unsustainable no matter what they do that we will eventually crash.

Also, I prayed about it and asked God for specific direction on whether to rebuild it or not.  The next day I was looking at campers on the net and studying floorplans when I got that awful feeling that I can only relate to the extreme mental warning I get when I am thinking about camping someplace unsafe for the night.  I have learned when I feel that warning not to try to rationalize it away, but to get out of there as quickly as I can.

Later, I walked out into the Aliner and felt the most profound sense of peace.  All of the sudden the idea of gutting it and rebuilding it didn’t seem overwhelming.  I analyzed what I actually need in a camper, and the answers are a safe place to sleep, a bathroom, a refrigerator, and a place to fix coffee and cook light meals.  And the Aliner really can have everything I need.  I had just wanted bling.

So, due to the extreme heat, I am only working on the camper for two hours a day.  I do whatever I can get done in those two hours, then call it a day.  It’s going to take a while, but I’m not on a schedule.  The only deadline I have is our trip home for Thanksgiving.  And I’m sure I’ll have it redone by then.

 

 

Undoing the Solar

Where the wires go

Today’s project was undoing the solar wiring so I could remove the charger and solar controller.

I have a pretty high IQ, but I am brain dead when it comes to electrical stuff.  Probably because I don’t want to know how to do it.  My dad did wiring, my ex did wiring, and somewhere along the way I internalized the cherished belief that I didn’t need to know how to do it.

Now I am doing it.  Sort of.  I’m taking pictures of every connection and making labels for the wires to remind me what goes to what when

The solar controller

I start putting it back together again.

I also got the other bed removed.  Tomorrow I’ll remove the water heater and water tank and label more wiring.  🙂

Everything is photographed and labeled now, so it can be taken apart.

Stored in the spare bedroom until time to put it back together

Tomorrow's project

No Camping for a While

Searing temperatures for the foreseeable future.

 

Several things have converged to paint this summer as a disappointing non-camping event.

One is the searing heat.  It’s the beginning of June and already we are experiencing the worst of midsummer temperatures.

Secondly is that the floor in the Aliner has completely  rotted out again.  I can stand in the shower and the floor dips toward the edge of the trailer.  We have to step over an 8 inch rotted area inside the door.  And the floor under the water heater and refrigerator is mushy.

What makes this seem like an impossible hurdle to me is that I gutted the trailer a couple of years ago and treated the floor with PC Petrifier, which is supposed to plasticize rotten wood and keep it from further deterioration.  Too late I learned that I should have used clear penetrating epoxy sealer funneled into the wood.  Or better yet, I should just have replaced the whole floor at that point.

Also, I thought I had the leaks fixed, but very obviously I didn’t.

Additionally, the trailer is 4-1/2 years old and the edges of the skylights are cracking from UV damage.  I have some of the cracks fixed with epoxy, but the Georgia sun has done a number on the Lexan.  Those bubble skylights are expensive to replace, and I would need 3 of them.

So I’ve decided to cut my losses on the trailer.  I’m not dumping any more money into it.  Hopefully I can replace it in a few months with a molded fiberglass trailer that has a reputation for quality, like Casita or Scamp.

If not, our camping days are over.

Heading Home Tomorrow

1923 Ford owned by one of the campers here

Our lovely vacation is drawing to a close.  Tonight’s our last night camping here at Indian Springs State Park.  We left winter weather behind and enjoyed seeing spring arrive during our month-long escape.

We feel as though the camp host, Dick, has become a dear friend.  And we met some wonderful campers.  Kathryn and Albert helped me search for a lost wallet —

Rear view of the 1923 Ford

which Ron later found in my jacket pocket after I had called the bank and canceled my debit cards and was on hold to cancel my credit cards.  So glad I had a long wait on hold.  🙂

And we really enjoyed meeting Virginia and Danny who were on their first outing in their new-to-them Shadow Cruiser.  They weren’t aware of the America the Beautiful Senior Pass that gives a 50% discount on camping fees at federal campgrounds, so it was our joy to share that

Beautiful proof that spring has really arrived!

information with them.

So now we will head home.  I’ll do some maintenance on the Aliner and probably put in my square foot vegetable garden and some flowers, and settle back into everyday home life.

But we will still plan on getting out for a week long camping trip each month.  Maybe we can make it to the Blue Ridge Mountains to cool off  in July or August when the weather is  really hot this year.

Sparkly rocks found down by the lake.

Hopefully I’ll get the Aliner paid off in July and start saving for a nice down payment on a Scamp 5th wheel, which is the larger camper Ron and I have decided would work best for us and our 6 cylinder truck.

We did go fishing this afternoon.  We didn’t even get a bite, but did enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery from the fishing dock.

And tonight there is a bright moon and beautiful stars in a clear sky.  So it’s the perfect ending to a very good trip.

Redbud trees are bursting into bloom all through the woods.

Last Day at Indian Springs

View of the Aliner from the next campground

Today was another beautiful day.  Tomorrow we head home.  Tomorrow’s weather forecast predicts 100% thunderstorms.  If it’s too bad in the morning to travel, we might stay here one more day.  But Ron is antsy to get home as he needs to get a prescription filled.

I, on the other hand, would be happy to never go home!  🙂

This stump holds water and reminded me of a doggie bowl for wildlife.

The oldest camper (see yesterday’s post) is back from visiting her friend, so tonight is actually her first overnight camping trip.

On our walk today, I gave up trying to get nice landscapes until things green up a bit.  Instead I concentrated on trying to find interesting details to photograph.

Fishing pier at Campground #1

Fishing pier at Campground #1

Part of what makes staying here so wonderful is the camp host, Dick.  He is the friendliest camp host I have ever met and goes out of his way to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable.

He has been here for two years and is fulltiming (with his dog Willie) in a tiny Tab.  But he did say that he wants to get something a little bigger–maybe in the 22 foot range.

We built a cheery camp fire this evening that made sitting outside in the chilly evening a memorable way to end our vacation.

Above ground tree roots

Campground #1 is closed until the crowds pick up a bit. I liked it even better than our Campground #2.

Field garlic along the roadside

Attractive site in Campground #2

Terraced campsites in Campground #1

Dick, the world's friendliest camp host with Willie

Ron and the camp fire

Rainy Days and Books

The Aliner perched over the lake at Indian Springs

Yesterday it threatened to rain all day with intermittent sprinkles.  But as soon as we got the Aliner set up at Indian Springs State Park, the sun peeked out for a while and blue skies appeared!

It didn’t last long.  It rained on and off all night and all day today.  We drove into the small town of Jackson and bought groceries and propane.  On the way back, I dodged raindrops to get photos of a couple of the old ruins and the cemetery here in the park.

I will go back tomorrow after the rain has stopped and learn more about the history.  All I know right now is that the ruins are intriguing.

The view from our rear window

Side window view

Intriguing ruins

Ruins by the old cemetery

The cemetery

More of the cemetery

Another part of the cemetery

Since the weather wasn’t anything I wanted to be out in, I spent the entire day gloriously buried in a book I had picked up at a thrift store a couple of days ago.  I haven’t spent an entire day reading in decades, and it felt positively decadent!

I had planned to cook a big pot of beans tonight as the weather was so gloomy and I thought it would be great comfort food.  But we didn’t get back from town until 3:00, so it was too late to start them.  Instead, I put them on to soak for tomorrow, and made a big pot of chicken and rice instead.  The smell of it simmering as I read only added to my feeling of insulated contentment.

And now–back to my book.  I hope to finish it this evening!