Winter Solstice, Valances and Good Tidings to All!

While fighting the cold, a bitter winter day five or six years ago, I made a vow to escape winter once retirement happened.  And we have, fleeing successfully for the past two years!
The pictures below are from our last winter at home in 2011.  This snow was much heavier than normal but it does happen occasionally.  I do not like snow; can tolerate maybe two hours of it!
Yesterday was the winter solstice…the shortest day of the year.  I always look forward to the day that signifies the increasing daylight.  Suffering in the past from seasonal affective disorder….I hate the long, cold and dark nights.  Our annual trip to the sun has eliminated the depressive symptoms.  Looking at pictures of the desert sunrise is great medicine!
Dome Rock
Sunrise at Dome Rock
We’re getting excited as our exit day approaches but also a bit worried that winter will follow us into Texas where we will be visiting Larry and Debbie Gamble.  Another mod, BAL stabilizers are on the schedule.
The long awaited valances are finally complete!  Pleased to say they are up and there are no complaints.  Enjoyed taking the sewing machine out of storage and dusting it off.  The last time it was used was when curtains were made for the old 13' foot Casita.
The material is leftover upholstery from a chair…(see previous post).  The cafĂ© rods are from the Dollar Store and they were secured by zip ties.  The blue in the window is not the ocean but a tarp that’s covering the trailer!
Just mentioning the old trailer makes me nostalgic.  We sold it  after two years in order to get a bathroom.
This was our first love……a 1990 13’ Casita.  Sure hope it’s somewhere still on the road!
Just had to share the pictures from our first Casita!  We never, ever realized how that purchase was going to change our lives. Changes including travel all over the states and a new family of friends….our fiberglass trailer friends!
Wishing everyone out there a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! Please stay safe on the road for another year of travel and good times!


Random Ramblings


Struggling to write because there are no pictures to share!   So much of what I write is wrapped around photography.

Before we left on the Big Trip (Alaska 2013), I felt that it would change me.  We’ve been home for almost 3 months and I’m still trying to put my finger on what’s different?  But there are subtle changes …. more confidence has found a home somewhere inside me.  We did something big, something that was almost incomprehensible (to us) before the trip!  This time last year I did not know where Fairbanks and Anchorage were…except in Alaska!

The other change seems to be one of roots or belonging.  My world has gotten larger, more aware of what’s happening in other places, noticing there’s an ice storm in Anchorage, a flood in the Rockies and a whole city in San Francisco volunteering to make a little boy’s dream come true!

Whatever the changes, they are welcome!  Hoping to continue to grow as a person as I approach my 65th year.

Frequently find myself thinking of the birthday that’s still 4 1/2 months away.  Must apply for Medicare soon…am I beginning to feel old?

Switching subjects….did I mention how sick I’ve been?  Three days after getting home I was down with sinus issues, itchy eyes, chest congestion which led to asthma.  These problems continued off and on for two months with me finally going for allergy testing.  Learned that I am allergic to cats!!!  And dogs, dust mites, mold, ragweed and roach debris and miscellaneous weeds, grasses and trees.  This shocks me as cats have been in my house for the past 34 years!


Discussing this as a warning to others.  Our house was extremely dusty after being closed up for over 3 months.  And it was not exactly clean when we left!  We had lots of rain during July which caused mold outside and inside.  We’ve been cleaning for weeks and now I’m symptom free (for the present)  and have lots of prescriptions and inhalers if needed.

One of the things that I’m grateful for during this season of thanksgivings is my lack of depression.  Years past I have always gotten down as the cold days and long dark nights descend.  Thoughts of the Arizona sun are keeping me in a great mood.  Heading west just after the new year arrives!  We have a wedding to attend in January in Scottsdale and a rally in Quartzsite in February.  Looking forward to seeing some old friends!

The Casita has a new propane regulator, new gas hoses and the bearings have been greased.  Now ready to tackle the long postponed project of valences over the blinds.


 Wonder if this will work?  Found the remnants from this upholstered chair and it seems to match a blue in the cushions.  Will let you know how they turn out.

Other than trying to get the house clean, we have been walking frequently and hiking with a group of seniors.  Also joined a gym but hurt myself the second visit….still waiting for my body to heal!

Enjoying our fur babies….even though the black and whites fight constantly.  I pray for the day they peacefully co-exist!





Been hanging out on a new (to me) Facebook group, Dutch Oven Cooking.  Strange to be looking at groups other than Casita Owners but the cast iron group is quite addicting.  Lots of information there and I got inspired to rehab an old piece from my granny’s house.


This was after 3 hours in a self cleaning oven before scraping the rust and re-seasoning it.  Wish I had a before picture.  There’s a line on the back that indicates it was made between 1750 and 1875.  Warning….this group is habit forming!  Already gone through Mom’s cabinets looking for more cast iron.

Looking forward to being on the road!  For those of you out there, be careful!  Hope to see some of you soon.



Sightseeing on Veterans Day With Vets


Last August, while trotting around the northwest and Alaska, we spent a few days in Colorado with Ms. Casitaescapes and her spouse, Jeff.  This past weekend we had the opportunity to return the favor.

This was our first time to entertain  fellow Casita owners due to our challenging parking situation.  To park in our driveway one must back in, downhill, performing an 180 degree turn and stay off the hand built wall and flower garden.  But the ex-truck driver was up for the task.


That’s Kira, the Keeshond, lower left and the Chatta-Egg, all winterized, center.

Sight-seeing was top priority….along with catching up!

Decided downtown to the Tennessee River was the first place to visit.  As a native, we have endured Chattanooga before it became the place to see and live……. smog and backwardness, years ago, made it a place to escape.  At least for me!


It’s a beautiful warm, sunny day and the Market Street bridge is reflecting in the blue river.


Glenda poses for me on the Walnut Street Bridge as I fill them in on the old span’s history.  It was Chattanooga’s first bridge, built in 1890, now a walking bridge.

From there we traveled up river to the Chickamauga Dam searching for blue herons to photograph.  (That sounds like we paddled up the river….no, we drove the van!)


Not as many birds as usual but got a picture of our friends.



Tennessee River just below the dam.

After lunch we are heading to one of the mountains overlooking the city, Signal Mountain. 





The first day ends with me promising a trip to the tiny mountains in the distance…….the Cherokee National Forest!

Veterans Day is another gorgeous sunny day!  We make a lunch and get an early start as we’re heading about 55 miles east to Polk County and the Whitewater Center, home of the 1996 whitewater Olympics.


The water in the Ocoee River is calm today as TVA has taken it out to generate electricity.


And the Visitors Center was closed for the winter.  David and I got married here 13 years ago…brought back some nice memories.

Next stop is an overlook climbing the mountain to  Chilhowie campground.


This is Parksville Lake created by Ocoee Dam #1, the oldest hydroelectric dam in TVA system.   Completed in 1911, before TVA was established. 

Love this view!  This is sacred territory for me!


On top of Bean Mountain we picnicked at this old CCC structure set on the western brow.


Back in Chattanooga by mid-afternoon, Glenda, with her boundless energy, decides that a trip up Lookout Mountain will complete the tour.  Off to Point Park…a Civil War sight.


Exactly 150 years ago, during November, the Battle Above the Clouds was being fought.

The views from the park are amazing!DSC_6458




Downtown and parts of the Tennessee River winding through the valley.


By this point we all are ready to collapse and veg with the TV.

Great fun with fun folks who both served their country!

This was our first attempt at being tour guides and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Our friends have headed east toward the Great Smoky Mtns…..hope they are staying warm!

And we are still cleaning the house and getting the casita baby ready for her January western trip!


Great Smoky Mountains & Cherokee Rally



Arriving at Happy Holiday RV Park in Cherokee two days before the rally, we decided to drive north on 441 to see the leaf changes.  The national park had just opened that morning and visitors were flocking to the different attractions.

Our first stop is at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to tour the Mtn Farm Museum.   The old farm has many out buildings similar to the ones we remember from our grandparents’ homes.



Notice the old fencing around the garden plot!

The farmhouse was gated to prevent entry but pictures were made from the door.  Image living here back in to 1800’s! 




After admiring the Oconaluftee River,


we are heading for Mingus Mill, a 1886 water-powered turbine grist mill.






Love this old mill…it’s still grinding corn!  Fresh corn meal can still be purchased inside.

After a few more stops we are back on 441.  The trees are becoming more vibrant as we ascend the mountain.




The mountains are obscured by the thick haze that gives them the name of “Smoky”.



The winding road and parade of colors is hypnotizing as we cruise up to Newfound Gap.  Then our stomachs are protesting with hunger and keep us from exploring Clingman’s Dome, 7 miles farther up the road.

Forty-five minutes later we are arriving back at Happy Holiday RV park, our home for the week.

This is our 4th rally at Happy Holiday and it’s the mountains and the trout stream that keeps pulling us back.  And, of course, all the cute little white trailers!


Our home and the creek just behind us.


The RV park is huge with two creeks and a lake (pond) in the middle.  The eggs are mixed in with the larger trailers and motor homes but all appear to be happy.


The morning mist is lingering over the campground



A few late flowers are scattered at the more permanent sites.



The rally has the usual egg parade and potluck dinner…..those at the end of the pot luck line were ravished with hunger but said it was worth the wait!

No pictures from the pot luck…too busy eating!  And only one mod is captured.  Our shoes are always in the way….love this idea.  It is just in front of the bed.


A few unusual trailers… this is Troy’s silver painted Burro.


We camped next to him in 2011…nice to see old friends.  And others made new friends.



In honor of Halloween…..kept this non-tripod night shot of the lake and trailers.


Love this lantern!


This fur baby is 16 years old and has cataracts.  The sunglasses are not just for show!

The sunshine is abundant on Friday and we are heading east on 19 in search of fresh apples and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Beautiful day!



And suddenly it’s all over…but not before we make our reservations for next year!

PS    To my loyal readers:

Apologies for being so late with this post!  And the lack of comments on your blogs.  Trying to find the balance between living in the Casita world and living in our Chattanooga world.