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.  🙂

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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.

 

So Beautiful Here

This is an unretouched photo of our sunset this evening.

This is an unretouched photo of our sunset this evening.

Today was a little cool, but I was comfortable in a light sweater.  Until this evening.  Now we are inside for the night enjoying the cozy warmth of our little camper.

Ferns growing in palm tree trunk

Ferns growing in palm tree trunk

Ron and I take turns walking Sheba.  She requires so much exercise to stay happy when she has to be tied out all day.  So this way she gets double the amount of walks that she would if we walked her together.

Today I walked in a different direction than yesterday, and I found blooming pink and red hibiscus!  It was just before sunset, so the petals had curled up for the night.  Wish I could have caught them open.  But I was thrilled to see them anyway.

Pink hibiscus blossoms.  The flowers close in the evening.

Pink hibiscus blossoms. The flowers close in the evening.

Little Sunny appears to be doing better.  I think camping agrees with him.  But when we walk him, we just meander around our campsite and let him sniff trails to his heart’s content.  He can’t walk any distance.  My baby boy is now an old man, I’m afraid.  🙂

We have loved it here.  The only thing lacking are washers and dryers.  I continue to be surprised with how well designed this park is.  Even the barbeque grills are nice ones with heavy covers.

Red hibiscus blooms

Red hibiscus blooms

We had planned to go to Fore Lake tomorrow.  But since it’s supposed to rain Saturday and Sunday, we need hookups.  I doubt the solar panel would be able to keep up with our power usage without a lot of sunshine.

So we’ll head back to Ocean Pond to camp with Mike and Gail for a while again.  They found an adorable house and put in an offer today, and we want to be with them to celebrate.

American beautyberry

American beautyberry

Closeup of beautyberry

Closeup of beautyberry

Picnic area

Picnic area

 

Trimble Park in Orange County, FL

Our site at Trimble Park

Our site at Trimble Park

Rain and thunderstorms welcomed us to Central Florida today.  And the rain will be followed by cold — but not nearly as cold as it will be back home. The high there will be 33 degrees.  Here it will be 55.  And the rain is supposed to end tonight.

side yard

View from the curb side of the trailer

We are cocooning this evening.  We’ll pass the dreary weather reading, listening to music, and working crosswords.  I’m not sure about dinner yet, but we are only two miles from the town of Mount Dora, so maybe I can talk Ron into getting a take-out meal for us.

This park is pretty in the rain.  It should be delightful when the sun shines.

The rate for senior out-of-county residents is just $17 a day!  There are only 3 other rigs here  now.  Of course, it’s a bit muddy from the rain, but our pad is dry.

View behind our trailer

View behind our trailer

Our welcome to Central Florida

Our welcome to Central Florida

The Cutest Teardrop

teardrop

We saw this adorable, apparently home-built teardrop today at Walmart.  The other side was just as cute.  It reminds me a bit of a gypsy vardo the way it is embellished.  I wonder if the mirrored doors are see-through from the inside.  I would have loved to see the interior!

Our plan is to leave for Florida Sunday.

Can’t wait!  🙂

Window Fix & Book Storage

The window latch bar reinstalled

The window latch bar reinstalled

In yesterday’s post I described how my very hard to open bathroom window came apart when I gave it a big tug to open it.  And I described how I fixed it.

To my great relief, it worked!

And after lubricating the window track with spray silicone lubricant, the window glides up and down easily and smoothly!

I got the metal bar a little off center, but it's sturdy and it works.  So I'm happy with it.

I got the metal bar a little off center, but it’s sturdy and it works. So I’m happy with it.

I didn’t want to just spray the silicone lubricant and get it everywhere.  So I sprayed some of it into the can’s plastic lid, then used a Q-tip to apply it generously to both the upper and lower window track.

Since it worked so well, I lubricated all the upper and lower window tracks in the trailer.  Now all the windows slide as smoothly as the bathroom one!

The other project that I considered essential before leaving was building  secure book storage.  And the only place in the trailer to put it was underneath our clothes storage baskets.

(Originally we had beautiful decorator baskets, but their metal edges scraped the fiberglass, so we switched to four plain fabric baskets until I can find something pretty that works.)

A view of the curb side window track

A view of the bottom curb side window track that was treated with silicone lubricant using Q-tips

I found a plastic drawer unit in my craft room and decided that would make a decent temporary base for book storage.  Then I found a very ratty piece of inferior plywood scrap in the shed, and decided to build a prototype using it as a cover for the book drawer and a base for our clothes baskets.

The ugly prototype book storage solution -- but hey, it works!

The ugly prototype book storage solution — but hey, it works!

I rounded the corners of the plywood, put D ring weatherstripping around the edges to keep it from scratching the fiberglass if it shifted, and put a piece of white duct tape over an ugly void in the top layer of plywood because I was afraid it would weaken it.  Then I built a frame of 1×3 wood on the bottom to fit down into the drawer.  That will keep the board anchored inside the drawer when we go over bumps and will also help support the weight of the clothes.  Finally I placed a piece of non-skid shelf liner under the drawer to help keep it in place.

So my prototype is very rough and ugly, but if it works as well as I think it will, I’ll buy decent materials and redo it.  And I need to devise a nicer-looking way to pad the edges.

So it will be Thursday before we leave for Doll Mountain, but my beloved books have a place now.  So it’s worth the delay!

More Storage Racks Installed

New bathroom storage racks

New bathroom storage racks

Today I replaced the old rusted bathroom rack and added a new, taller one that will hold shampoo and other bottles more securely.

I also added a second one to the closet door.  (Some of the things pictured in the closet racks will get moved to the bathroom racks.)

So I’m having a ball in my little camper even though it’s still stuck in the driveway for a few more days.  🙂

The two racks in the closet will help cut down on clutter elsewhere in the trailer.

The two racks in the closet will help cut down on clutter elsewhere in the trailer.

While We’re Waiting….

The curtain is up -- deliberately overlapped in the center for privacy

The curtain is up — deliberately overlapped in the center for privacy

While we are waiting for the air conditioner part for the house to come in, I’ve decided to do a few more little mods on the Casita that will make our next camping trip more organized.

First, the front door curtain is finally up.  It is overlapped in the center, which should provide maximum privacy when we are emerging from the shower.  It blocks a lot more light than you would think from the photo.  In fact, it feels like a dungeon in there with the curtain up!  And the dowel with the cup hook on the end hangs down to the door latch opening and makes it easy to open and close the curtain with the screen door in place.

I riveted standard rod holders to the door, painted white to match the door.  That should make it less noticeable when the door is propped open during the day while the curtain is stored in the closet.

The regular curtain rod I was going to use wouldn’t work.  The finials were so long that they prevented the screen door from latching to the main door.  So I had to use a skinnier rod, without finials, and am temporarily keeping the curtains from sliding out of the rod holder with split rings.  Someday I’ll come up with a better solution!

Tomorrow I plan to mount some more cabinet racks.  I want to add an additional one to the inside of the closet door to hold insect repellant, sunscreen, and such.

The existing rack in the bathroom is rusted, so I’ll replace it.  And if I can find a satisfactory place to mount a holder for shampoo, body wash, lotion and mouthwash in there, I’ll do that, too.

I also need to devise a slim box for  my mushroom reference books that will fit under our clothes baskets underneath the rear bed.  They are frightfully expensive books, and they’ve gotten roughed up a bit on previous trips.   I don’t leave home without them.  🙂

By putting the heavy books in the rear of the trailer, it will also help get some of the excessive weight off the trailer’s tongue.

So I’m just piddling along until we can finally get on the road.

If the air conditioner part takes too long to get here, I may run out of projects and have to start deep-cleaning the house.

I sure hope that part gets here soon!  😀

No Visible Accident Damage After Scrubbing the Casita!

She's as beautiful as ever!

She’s as beautiful as ever!

A few days ago we got a day up in the 60’s, so I decided to wash the Casita.  I am so glad I did!  The top was covered with black crud!  So I scrubbed it with a dishcloth that has the nylon scrubbie net on the back, using dish soap, bleach and baking soda.

It came out shining like new!

Ron held the ladder for me.  I wanted to do the scrubbing myself because I am a lot pickier than he is.  🙂

So over a period of 4 days, we finally have it looking good as new.  I saved scrubbing the bottom front until last because I knew I would encounter damage from the accident.  I wanted to get it super clean so I could determine what was dirt and what was damage.

No visible damage!

No visible damage!

If I put my face right up to the fiberglass and look really hard, I can see some tiny, barely visible stress cracks in the gelcoat.  I checked on some boat discussion boards and found that those tiny cracks are totally cosmetic and nothing to worry about.  Since I am the only one who can see them (Ron can’t), I’m just going to strip the existing PoliGlow from the area, put on a couple of new coats, and call it good as new!

The top of the gas tanks were bent when the truck jackknifed.  The plastic gas cover saved the Casita from getting gouged by them.  There is one horizontal rub mark in the fiberglass where it was forced against the trailer, but that is all!  And cleaned up, I have to really hunt for it.  With a coat of poliglow, it, too, will be invisible!

The bent tops of the propane tanks

The bent tops of the propane tanks

We moved the gas tank that was on the right to the left when we were straightening them out.  I’m not sure why as the tops of both were bent, but that was the decision the guys made!  🙂

Even the plastic gas tank cover was undamaged!  It just flexed.

The only real repair I have to make to the trailer is to drill holes in the bar at the bottom of the gas tank support and bolt it back down again where the welds popped loose.

The truck, on the other hand, sustained $3700 worth of damage!

I never realized how wonderful the Casita’s belly band is at protecting the body from damage.  It just makes me appreciate my little camper even more!

Sheba supervising.  :)

Sheba supervising. 🙂

 

A Cold Casita and More About Wild Yams

Lynne called today from Salt Springs to ask which replacement converter we had bought.  I was so tickled to hear from her.  Amazingly, our phone connection held, which is better than any cell reception I got when we were down there!  I’m hoping we will be able to get to Florida before they have to leave, but am not sure if we can make it work.

Tonight is predicted to be the first really cold, below freezing night we’ve had this winter.  I have the Casita winterized, but need to bring all the canned and staple foods that I generally leave in the trailer inside so they don’t freeze.

Greene Deane, author and prolific wild edible foods video producer, has tentatively identified my wild yams (from yesterday’s post) as Dioscorea Polystachya.  Due to the immense variability of the leaves, he hesitated to give me an absolutely positive identification, but with that lead, I should be able to name my yams when they come up this year.

What’s cool is, if that is what they are, I’ve added another excellent wild edible to my natural grocery sources!

Here is a quote from Green Deane’s website about it:

One-year-old roots weigh about 3 ounces, two-year-old roots, a pound. The root, in good soil, can grow up to three feet long and weight up to five pounds.  Its flavor is between a sweet potato and a regular potato. It is 20% starch, 75% water, 0.1% B1, and has 10 to 15 mgs vitamin C. The most common use is cooked like a potato. The Japanese prefer it raw. However, varieties can differer and I do not recommend you eat it raw. Cook it, or experiment with it raw very carefully.