Spring has sprung

Spring glorious Spring

It’s that green, peridot, lime green, my colour theme this month in a photography group. As a background, it is everywhere: the young maple and oak leaves, the new blades of grass, and wildflowers that have yet to bloom. As the season progresses the green shade changes to that deep green of hay fields and forests. It is so vibrant! With it return all the insect eaters, the dragonflies are welcome, eat those mosquitos, please! I don’t think many people realize how far some of these dragonflies migrate! It is astounding that they cover hundreds of miles on these gossamer wings! The Common Green Darner can cover over 900 miles! Not just birds and butterflies, so much we just don’t know! So much to learn!

The chipmunks are foraging for fresh seeds, the snakes slowly winding their way through the shrubs and leaves looking for their next meal as well. A friend in town hosts a yard bunny, too many predators out here to see them during the day but we have our masked bandit making the rounds. She is feeding babies judging by her tum and must be so hungry, she looks like one of last year’s babies, not very big! I have been saving the compost to put out late in the day so the ravens don’t eat everything before she has a chance to find some tasty tidbits! If I’m too late taking the feeders down she does the job for me, as well as polishing off the oriole oranges!

..and we have orioles! So many of them! At one point this week I counted four adult males along with three juvenile males, that was before the ladies showed up! They have their orange marmalade to snack on, occasionally it’s raspberry jam. I just try to buy jars with no artificial ingredients or additives, the dollar store is good for the marmalade, check the no-name brands as well, just read the labels! And their daily orange! Apparently, it’s the most popular snack item! For everyone!

Judging by where the orioles fly we have nests both North and South of us, and then all the hoodlum juvenile orioles just hanging about bothering the serious guys that arrive at the orange with their ladies, don’t want them whisked away by some younger more handsome oriole, do we! Many other birds defend large feeding territories, but orioles defend only the space near their nests, and so you may see several neighboring orioles feeding close to each other.

O is our letter for the day! Ha! Not just orioles though. The Rose Breasted Grosbeaks are such a delightful dash of colour, we have five or six of them about. The juvenile Blue Jays are as large as their parents now and have learned peanuts are put out in the morning! Sadly the Red Bellied Woodpecker came back once or twice, I bought some corn for them, their favourite, but he hasn’t appeared since. Lack of ladies I presume! The flycatchers have returned as well, please let them eat mosquitos as well! PLEASE!

I sat and watched a young Hairy woodpecker working out the intricacies of the seed feeder, then exploring the hummingbird feeder as I sat there, and eventually the bird bath, he did looks a bit lost and Mom came to the rescue eventually! The world goes on by as you sit quietly and watch.

I have to admit to not really hiking the laneway, the bugs have been a bit overwhelming and I am not willing to start a marathon race running from them! I haven’t explored the woods for wildflowers but have been watching what has popped up around the house and lake. The Red Columbines are everywhere! I have never seen so many! The Choke Cherry and Serviceberry bushes are blooming along with our two very sad lilacs, one white, and one purple, that each produces a few blooms. The soil here isn’t exactly fertile, we are on rock.

I’ve hung out near the lilac waiting for the hummingbirds to take a sip but it has been quiet. We have at least one adult male and a juvenile one as well as a female but it seems like there should be more. I look at pictures from previous years and there were, it makes me sad to think in my lifetime I will start to see some species disappear. Humans, the most dangerous species of all…

The skies haven’t been so hot, cloudy when there was aurora (NOOO!!!) and high smoke from all the fires burning in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. We had a wild thunderstorm pass to the South of us last weekend, out of the blue it seemed. The first rumble of thunder had me getting up wondering who was driving a dump truck into our laneway, just Mother Nature. She’s funny;) The smoke has made for a few interesting sunrises and the cool mornings had me grabbing a cat for a hand heater after the trip down the stairs to the lake! 4°…cold, but thankfully not cold enough to mess with the tomatoes!

There is something magical about mists! Just a few phoebes and kingbirds to keep me company at the water’s edge! I did finally turn the canoe over and slip it into the water, like right before the thunderstorm, ha, let’s call it a clean-out for the chief bailer! Coffee and sunrise, this view sometimes makes me wonder why I want to go anywhere else, but I do. It’s called six months of Winter! Ha! Next week we get to pick up the trailer, finally fixed, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, only an arm:) We will need to have words with Rolling Retreats, the DRV dealer in Elk City. One front hydraulic jack cylinder was installed upside down and two of the Teflon seals were missing. I can understand if the seals went, they could have been faulty, but not missing, and upside down, and they killed our fridge as well…sigh…words later. The rain slowed down our pick-up date, better to give the road a few days to dry out, it’s tight getting in so better to keep it “out of the rhubarb” (out of the ditch!) as they say here in Ontario. The cats will be happy, they love going onboard when it’s parked, it may be my new office! It will get my computer off the dining room table, but then, I’d have to give up that view…so maybe not!

I’ll leave you with one more sunrise, next time I need to get up earlier and take that hot coffee down with me to keep my hands warm, as well as the tripod and camera bag and what else? Ha! I’m a minimalist in the early morning, camera only:) Saludos amigos, Happy Spring!

Mists and morning light…

Dinosaurs walk among us! Ok, maybe they just sit and squawk!

Dinosaurs or ravens! Ha!

I have always loved Ravens, they have such a wonderful array of calls and sounds. This parent is patient with all the begging coming from these youngsters. They doubled in size in a week and are flapping about trying their wings! Another week and they’d doubled in size again! They barely fit in the nest! A group of ravens is called an unkindness, but you can also refer to them as a rave, conspiracy, treachery, and flock…those names just don’t seem fair for such a smart and interesting bird! They get the bad rap with crows for being harbingers of all kinds of bad omens and misfortune. As a carrion bird, ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls. In Swedish folklore, they are the ghosts of murdered people without Christian burials and, in German stories, damned souls.

In Greek mythology, ravens are associated with Apollo, the God of prophecy. They are said to be a symbol of bad luck and were the god’s messengers in the mortal world. According to the mythological narration, Apollo sent a white raven, or crow in some versions to spy on his lover, Coronis. When the raven brought back the news that Coronis had been unfaithful to him, Apollo scorched the raven in his fury, turning the animal’s feathers black…yikes…hard life for these ravens!

The raven (Hebrew: עורב‎; Koine Greek: κόραξ) is the first species of bird to be mentioned in the Hebrew bible and ravens are mentioned on numerous occasions thereafter. In the Book of Genesis, Noah releases a raven from the ark after the great flood to test whether the waters have receded. According to the Law of Moses, ravens are forbidden for food, a fact that may have colored the perception of ravens in later sources.

Ravens are prominent in early Welsh mythology, with the Medieval Welsh poem Y Gododdin repeatedly associating ravens with battles, bravery, and death. The poem refers to the battlefield as the “ravens’ feast”, with descriptions of the ravens eating the dead bodies of the fallen warriors. In praising the bravery of a warrior named Gwawrddur, the poem’s author references his affinity with ravens:

He fed black ravens on the rampart of a fortress
Though he was no Arthur
Among the powerful ones in battle
In the front rank, Gwawrddur was a palisade.

That sounds a bit better!

The raven also has a prominent role in the mythologies of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, including the Tsimishians, Haidas, Heiltsuks, Tlingits, Kwakwaka’wakw, Coast Salish, Koyukons and Inuit. The raven in these indigenous peoples’ mythology is the Creator of the world, but it is also considered a trickster God.

I’d like to think of them as Gods I think, or dinosaurs, or both! All hail the ravens!

Spring Wings! The birds and oh, those bugs!

They are all so busy, these birds! I am feeling lazy! The arrival of the black flies and mosquitos has put a damper on wandering far into the woods or down the road to check the mail, even the cats are hiding under the truck on their morning walk…bugs are bad, for us, but good for other birds! Gamora is no longer terrified of my hat and mesh bug cover, previously the poor cat thought I was some kind of creature from the black lagoon come to eat her! The soil is waking up, I can smell it, hopefully, most of the freezing nights are behind us, they better be, I just planted my tomatoes! Ha!

The cottagers are arriving, the snowbirds! The colorful guys having spent their winters in Mexico and South America! The blue jays must hate these guys, back with a tan and a belly full of margaritas! Ok, maybe not margaritas, I must be dreaming…The rose-breasted grosbeak is the harbinger of warmer temperatures to come, followed by the red-bellied woodpeckers, orioles, and hummingbirds! They arrived yesterday, the Baltimore orioles, no, not the baseball team, and a lone male ruby-throated hummingbird came by this morning! The marmalade and orange halves have been out for a few days waiting for their arrival and the hummingbird feeders are all topped up! I even bought some corn (their favorite) hoping to lure the red-bellied woodpeckers into hanging around and nesting here. I missed them last year, those calls, and colour!

I was hoping for another colorful sunrise this morning like yesterday when the oranges and reds were exploding across the sky. When I see those colours I just have to get up and drag myself outside, it is pre-coffee by the way! Ha!! There was just the smudge of smoke on the horizon today and the whole sky felt dim. The smoke from Alberta and Saskatchewan wildfires has arrived. At a high altitude but it affects the light we see. I pulled the canoe last week with the heavy rains, we had over three inches and tipped it over upside down on the dock, saved me bailing it out!

Our resident beaver was NOT happy I stopped to say hello! With a huge tail slap he left in a huff in front of the dock creating quite a splash! It made ME jump! From destruction, momentary beauty from the smoke. This morning fog was rising from the lake but you could see the smoke on the far horizon, it colours everything with a different tone, odd, a bit reddish and purple, didn’t look right, somewhat eerie, almost like smog in a city.

We’ll see if it clears in the next few days from the upper atmosphere. The birds don’t care, either do the other four-legged wander abouts! A young buck wandered past the front of the house and around the side later, nibbling and trying everything he passed. Gamora felt it might be a dog and maybe she should attack…he looked small far away! Ha! He’s losing his winter coat and looks a bit scruffy but it will soon shed out, those little nubs of horns are so cute! The resident raccoon is very quiet, maybe babies have her busy, she is cleaning up any delectable tidbits in the compost pile on a regular basis! The croaking of the tree frogs has become quite loud as well. I grabbed the wheelbarrow only to squawk and drop it, as it was soft and gooey, I had a frog in my hand instead. I set him on the pallet and warned him of the dangers of sitting on wheelbarrow handles!

The chipmunks have been busy as well as the squirrels, a black squirrel was chiding me for being too close to the flat seed feeder…oh yeah? and who fills it up, buddy! Wasn’t the point he said;) Gimme more peanuts! Luckily no chipmunk fatalities, they have managed to keep one step ahead of the traveling mewberries, with a bit of human help! The cat are all apparently more interested in our new metal bird, Cora the Corre Camino than anything else. She must be sniffed each morning by everyone. Cats are so wonderfully weird! That and exploring the horse poo buckets, manure from the barn for the garden these cats are full-time entertainment!

So Spring, and those new wings. I’m just glad to see leaves on the trees and the thermometer going up a bit more each day, it’ll be too hot before we know it. Time to get down to the barn and shed the horses out a bit more, I could make carpets out of those coats coming out! I will check on the resident dinosaurs as well, there is a raven’s nest on the old silo, but we’ll leave that for next week. Saludos amigos and enjoy the leaves and reflections and the shiny little red canoe!

We have leaves!!!

Where did the ice go?

It happens so quickly, one day, the lake is covered in ice and all of a sudden you notice subtle shifts in colour. The white blanket that lay there all winter starts to change. First to come are the pale blues, then deeper ones, spiderweb-like cracks start to form and then finally it starts to turn dark.

♪♫♪ What a difference a day makes! Twenty-four little hours…♫♪♫

What a difference a day makes
24 little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain…makes me want to break into song! Thanks, Dinah!

It is a sign that Winter has lost its grasp on this part of the world and we can hope for some warmer temperatures, and hopefully an end to ice and snow storms! There is still the cleanup from the ice storm and after that, we’ve had a few Westerly howls that brought down some branches that the ice storm simply wounded. Walking the road and tossing the branches aside that have fallen. Filling potholes and gaping crevices where the heavy rain, after the ice storm, washed away the gravel. It’s all still there, the gravel, just at the bottom of the hills, not the tops and middles! Ha! Our neighbours have been wonderful in helping to fill some of the really damaged spots with machinery! A big thanks to them! Too much for the little plastic wheelbarrow!

Then there was the Little Red Canoe to contend with…it was in need of a spa day. The red gel coat was fading to pink, the wooden trusses’ varnish was peeling, and there were dings and dents to be filled…poor canoe. She had to be in tip-top shape, she’s a canoe influencer, didn’t you know? All the canoes want to be like her!

Glamour shot-Little Red Canoe

She has fans! So, I went to work. Researched how to clean up that gel coat and put a sparkle on her sides! My power buffer didn’t seem to help much and holding it was harder than cleaning the girl by hand. Found a good 3M product (although one article I read just suggested coating her in boiled linseed oil…kinky! Ha!) it was a cut polish as well as a wax, and she was starting to look pretty fine! Old-fashioned elbow grease the older generation would say…it works the best! Some filler for a few dings when she was being used at the rental in Otty Lake (no one takes care of things as owners do!) and let’s see, to cover the filler in those dings, a bottle of red nail polish from the dollar store worked like a charm! As if she had her nails done as well!

The goal was to get back to that red, red, but not quite, I can still make out her manufactures mark so we have faded a bit but she is now shiny! After all the cleaning, the wooden trusses were sanded, stained, and varnished, ready for the comfy seats that attach to them! She’s sitting in the water now, next to her little dock, waiting for the maiden 2023 voyage…soon! Working on the energy levels! Still, so much to cut up and clear away from the broken limbs and trees…little by little!

Some mornings after the cats have had their outing it is nice to sit and watch what appears. Usually, the chipmunks say thank you for putting those ratbags in lady! We have a group of regulars, all regulated by the grackles, followed by the red-winged blackbirds, their followers;) The smaller birds toe the line with the exception of the woodpeckers, White Breasted Nuthatches, and bug-collecting birds who have no time for their tomfoolery!

It is always a wonder to see the return of the bug-eating birds. How do those robins and flycatchers survive those cold days? I heard the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker well before I saw him! Back to his maple tree, sadly missing one giant branch but the sap was running out and he looked quite happy, a maple syrup fountain! I heard and saw a lone Red-Bellied Woodpecker calling from the treetops. I hope he finds a mate! I missed their brilliant colour last year as the pair we had moved on or were killed. The one thing everyone reacts to by scattering into the branches, turkey vultures included, is the arrival of the bald eagles! As soon as the ice was gone, they were here. They had scouted it last week briefly and flown away.

And the loons, the sound of the loons echoing down the length of the lake…magical! An adult eagle brought a juvenile by early one morning. The adult sat in a tree at the end of the lake and watched the youngster. He/she dive-bombed the Loons much to their dismay, they just dove and resurfaced a few moments later. He seemed to be practicing under the watchful eye of a parent! The Loons went about their business, shaking their heads as they surfaced and looked around for the irritating youngster. The Ospreys come and go, you see them soaring over, scouting, sometimes they get lucky, sometimes they don’t! Life coming back after the ice is gone.

Along with the Loons, the ducks and the geese are back! Hooded Mergansers and wood ducks and I think Golden eyes across the far side of the bay. If you sit and watch it is amazing what appears some days! Just being quiet and still. We need to do more of that, observers, not participants. That will come soon enough with the boats and noisy jet skis, for now, I will enjoy the magic that is the sounds of nature. I’ll go hang out with the chipmunks but we won’t be singing any Christmas songs…promise;) Stay tuned folks, we might be seeing some wildflowers appearing soon!

Are the cats locked in now? Nasty pussycats!

Reliving the past…

Writing the escapades of my childhood sailing around the world on My Love with my mother and siblings was the fun part, proofreading, well, not the most fun, not tedious, a learning experience! Grammarly has been handy, I now know I have no idea where to put commas, I’m not fond of “the” and “of” and Grammarly is not familiar with sailing terms! It also does not like “u’s” in harbour 😉 ha!

I also relive and remember tidbits and reflect on things that I still see as a bit unjust. When my mother asked me why was I turning into an unruly, miserable child around New Year’s in Papeete, Tahiti in 1974? I don’t think it was a question, but a statement on her part, she didn’t want to know why as it interfered with what she wanted to do. She had promised when we embarked on the sailing trip that we would only be sailing for a year, then we would go back to Arizona and what was important to me…my horse. Kids don’t like it when adults lie to them. Our entire existence was often upended by her relationships as the crew we were fond of came and went like the workings of a circular door at a department store. It was hard. The constant change, and the constant stream of new people who knew nothing about sailing or boat maintenance. It became our responsibility as siblings to have to train them at 10, 13, and 15 years of age. We groaned at the thought of any new crew at times! Worse, the ones that thought they knew….

Ah, life on the high seas! I just finished a book lent to me on living aboard called “All In the Same Boat” by Tom Neale, thanks, Malcolm! My mother should have read this! Ha! So well prepared this man was with his family and boat. My creation will be the manual on how “Not to do it” I was thinking, chuckling to myself. But we turned out “better than expected” a friend of my grandparents and uncle once told me…Ha!

It does put me on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster this proofreading and I do have to walk away at times, breathe, go outside, and think of something completely different.

A package arrived the other day from UPS and inside I found photos and letters, mine, my mother’s to my uncle Harry. My wonderful cousin Bronle was clearing out her dad’s files, he’s suffering from severe dementia right now and she asked while we were Rv-ing if I wanted them back, of course, I replied!

Included was a fabulous black and white photo of my father, Al, that I’d never seen. I believe my uncle must have taken it with the handwriting on the back. He had his own darkroom for a very long time I remember. He is an amazing author and photographer. It was fabulous. I saw myself in this photo of my father. The eyes, the chin, the lips, that somewhat suspicious look…it was a delight!

So, back to proofreading, it’s Fiji and onward now, me battling with my older half-brother Forrest who came down to crew and knew it all, that is when he wasn’t vomiting up magic mushrooms! Ha!…sigh…adults can be so difficult! Fightin’ around the World…I struggled with the title I named my diaries as a ten-year-old but I think, well, I should stick with it!

Saludos amigos!

Welcome home! Here’s an ice storm to greet you! Ha!

Getting serious ice build up on the windows

We had one big load to get out of the trailer, dishes, glasses, bookwork, printer/scanner, tools and on and on, good thing it was just the one load. The RV Place was still fiddling with the hydraulics so we left them to it. A stop at the grocery store was in order as Weather Canada was warning about a possible significant ice build up/storm coming, I didn’t want to wait until later in the day when everyone else might have decided it was a good thing to go grocery shopping!

There were plastic totes and bags and bags to unload, sort, wash, dry, put away…I was forgetting where things were to begin with! Yikes! Five months on the trailer does that, it still feels like home sometimes! Maybe I just packed too much on the trailer to begin with! I think I brought back as much food as I initially packed…comes from living on the boat as a kid and shopping for six months at a time! I’ll blame it on that anyway!

In the morning Wednesday it was starting to look ugly…the branches were starting to droop, I had to keep clearing the bird feeder off and filling it…they knew! We had no plans to go anywhere so I sat and watched the ice accumulate on leaves and trees. The wind was coming from the East so it was sticking to the windows and doors, forming icicles on the roof’s edge.

Then the thunder and lightning started…WTF? Rocket made a beeline for under the comforter on the bed, his go to hiding spot…lumpy we call him…the Gods and Goddesses must be angry! All that booming! I went out during a lull to photograph the ice build up, so beautiful, but so heavy. The pines were taking a beating across the lake and I was hoping the wind wouldn’t start to howl.

Then it really started to come down, the power flickered a few times but remained steady for most of the day. I went to the front of the house to look at the ice build up, under the maple and a quick peak down the stairs to the dock to see if anything large had come down. Not yet. I went back to knock the ice off the bird feeders and heard a crash that made me jump! A huge limb came down off one of the maples, there had been a squirrel nest in the cavity there…I’d just walked under that branch…time to go back inside! It wasn’t just freezing rain, an occasional hail shower would come down as well!

Earlier I’d filled up the tea kettle, left a bucket under the eaves in case we needed to flush the toilet if the power went out. At 4 p.m. it really flickered but came back on, a teaser, for fifteen minutes, then all was silent, and getting dark…it was just a matter of time. We had several gallon containers of drinking water off the trailer, we had food. I’d filled the oil lamp and put the candles in easy reach earlier. Now we would have to wait.

When you were raised on a boat with a 12 volt light system where the batteries were always dead…you have a plan….thanks John Harrison, the oil lamp was a wedding present way way back in 1990’s…Yes, we often forget what year we were married! Ha! I swear the transistor radio is over 40 years old, or more…yikes! I had it as teenager on Ile de la Reunion in the Indian Ocean for cyclone updates…it still works, yeah, new battery, Lake 88 FM for local news about power outages and posible repair times. The entire town of Perth was out as well! Nothing to do but sit, wrap up in a blanket and keep the wood stove going! The power tease us and flickered on at 7 but went off again. I crept into bed and didn’t even wake up when all the lights came on after 11 p.m. we were back online!

In the morning the fog hovered over us as we listened to the trees creak and groan, then you would hear a branch come smashing down, our heads would swivel to the direction of the noise. My fingers were crossed as I went to bed, the warmer mass of air was supposed to move North over us by midnight, at dawn, we were still hovering at the freezing mark:( A few hours later you started to hear the drip, the melt, temperatures were on the rise! Yeah! The burden of ice was slowly starting to melt. It was a bit surreal as I looked out the window at the rivers of water running down all the trees…

Power was still out in so many areas! Most of Perth, as well North of us, this time we were lucky. In 1998, the infamous ice storm had left us without power for three weeks, with 35 horses at the barn to care for! Not a period I have forgotten! Some people had their power lines ripped off the house by heavy falling branches, others, their entire lines were down. One friend lost their power pole, snapped off at the ground. The power of all that weight of frozen water! By 6 in the evening, most of the ice was gone. Mike wanted to do a quick recon of the road so we hopped in the truck. The torrential rain had created chasms in the road down the hill, thank goodness for duallys! Tires went right over them! We cleared limbs and near the end ran into our neighbor on his 4 wheeler, coming to check the other two cottages, a pine was down over the road. He went back for his chainsaw and Mike it cut it so we both could pass. I picked up limb after limb and tossed them out of the road. We were lucky, just that one small pine but you could see the damage throughout the forest.

In the morning, the sun was out! The cats were pleased to get out, they had been SO excited our first day back. Groot and Rocket were running up and down the driveway like little lunatics, crabbing and bouncing like kids set free from a long car trip, wait! They were!

Groot had to give our new metal bird, Cora, the corre camino-roadrunner, a once over before declaring her family! They sniffed their old haunts, chased a few birds and stalked the squirrels. It was good to be home. My bird friends slowly started to filter back after going without their steady source of sunflower seeds all winter. The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers were the first, then the Purple and American Goldfinches showed up with the ever present flocks of Chickadees. It was good to hear bird song again, the first few hours here of quiet was eerie!

The henchmen showed up, the Grackles, then the Red Winged Blackbirds in flocks. The American Goldfinches were changing over to their bright yellow breeding colours! I sat and watched a flock of birds fly over I wasn’t familiar with, Waxwings I was thinking…and yes, thirty or more Bohemian Waxwings were exploring, looking for fruit and berries. Hopefully we can get a few more bushes and fruiting trees planted this year!

The LBB’s and LGB’s showed up as well, little brown birds and little gray birds! The Chipping Sparrows and a reclusive Song Sparrow, The juncos were poking about in the leaves for seed and the White Breasted Nuthatches were busy as well! A feeding frenzy after the ice and cold.

I think that perhaps the chipmunks and black squirrels were hoping the nasty cats weren’t back, sorry to disappoint them! The feline force is back and ready for some chasing! Actually, not really;) They have deemed the black squirrels too large, with big nasty teeth to bother with much but the chipmunks, we’ll do our best to protect and rescue those young unsuspecting ones caught when unaware! Rocket was bitten on the nose by a vole and has decided the squeaky ones are best left alone as well. Gamora runs the other direction when she hears them squeak! These traveling mewberries, they have so much catching up to do! I was so pleased to see how incredibly happy they were to back on their home turf. The running and crabbing and overall joy was wonderful to behold…then of course…nap time in the sunbeams. I will leave it there for today and stay tuned for the lake ice going and suddenly what seemed like Summer, then Winter, then Spring again. I saw sign on the road at a local farm market: April..the only month you get to experience Winter, Spring, Fall and Summer, all in 24 hours!

Sunbeam bliss

Time to head North! Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York…then HOME!

Apparently in some Virginia counties they have to remind folks that you can’t get to the Southbound lanes, from the Northbound on the freeway/interstate onramp…no left turns folks, just merge…. oh my! Then the intimidator passed us, broke down pulling over in front of us with smoke rolling off his back tires, but soon passed us again…? Really? Nothing says “twat” quicker than that! ha! Ah, the freeways of America! On our way to the Natural Bridge KOA for a few days, trying to juggle getting back to Perth on a Monday!

♫♪♫ I love you for your pink Cadillac
Crushed velvet seats
Riding in the back
Cruising down the street
Waving to the girls
Feeling out of sight
Spending all my money
On a Saturday night
Honey I just wonder what you do there in back
Of your pink Cadillac ♪♫♪ 

I couldn’t resist!

I loved these ornate old PO boxes, something magical in the craftsmanship of the past and the vertical numerical numbers!

We didn’t eat at the diner here, reviews didn’t look the best! We made a quick trip into the tiny Post Office at Natural Bridge…I had to pick up a package (horse dewormers! Ha!) at the tiny post office that is under the visitor center for Natural Bridge State Park offices. Like Perth you don’t get the packages delivered if they are over a certain size! It was open 8:30 to noon only the girl at the KOA warned me, a single postman. He said he used to work in Northern California and did more mail there in day than a month here, he loves it here;) When I called to see if it had arrived per the tracking he knew exactly what box I was talking about…small villages are wonderful. I loved these ornate old PO boxes, something magical in the craftsmanship of the past and the vertical numerical numbers! We stopped at the grocery store in Lexington and then Mike had read about a fried chicken place we could try on our way back. I should have taken pictures. I could hear banjos playing…;) customer service was not their strong suit, the girl at the front grunted my take out order to the cook in the back and I did feel a bit worried, especially when the pickups started arriving with very large tires and oversized upright exhaust pipes. I was scared to look to see if they had those plastic testicles hanging from their trailer hitches as well! Ha! It was food, nothing to write home about. It still felt like Spring here at least!

We had a great spot at the KOA, one of the few open as we head North, close to the pond and a small forest on a hill behind. A traveling Mewberries approved park! Except for the cackling geese, ducks and chickens and those crazy looking goats…we didn’t go near them! Ha!

There was the resident Red Bellied woodpeckers who were not cooperative this trip! White Throated and Song Sparrows. These birds forage on the ground, in shrubs or in very shallow water. They mainly eat insects and seeds. I saw my first Carolina Wren. I heard him before I could see him! They are generally inconspicuous, avoiding the open for extended periods of time. When out in the open, they investigate their surroundings and are rarely stationary. Only males sing to advertise territory.

There were familiar calls, the Cardinals belting out their availability, and the chickadees. The Carolina Chickadees and the black-capped chickadees most likely diverged about 2.5 million years ago, the birds still hybridize in the areas where their ranges overlap. The calls and song between the Carolina chickadee and the black-capped chickadee differ subtly to an experienced ear: the Carolina chickadee’s chick-a-dee call is faster and higher pitched than that of the black-capped chickadee, and the Carolina chickadee has a four note fee-bee-fee-bay song, whereas the black-capped omits the high notes. Identification is very difficult even with an excellent view…in case you wanted to know! Ha! The Dark eyed Junco’s were familiar faces and a beautiful yellow-rumped warbler (Setophaga coronata) was having a drink at a muddy pond. The eastern myrtle warbler is the subspecies. The genus name Setophaga is from ancient Greek ses, “moth”, and phagos, “eating”, and the specific coronata means “crowned”…so a crowned moth eating bird;) Ha!

I have to admit to not being a KOA fan but this spot is lovely. Far enough away from the road to be quiet, a rarity, and then all the birds and animals are a bonus, if you have to be at a campground, it was laundry time, this is a nice one! We had a few cloudy days but it was nice to see the sun come out the day we left headed for Chambersburg, PA. The Twin Bridges campground was not officially open but they take overnighters on their way North in the early Spring, and South in the Fall. They had power she said, not sure if the water would be on.

♫♪♫ Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah Valley…♪♫♪…Mike was begging no more spontaneous John Denver singing on the way up the I-81…ha! It was nice to see farms and old barns and stone houses again. We are pretty familiar with this RV park as well, so few are open this time of year. They are delightful to deal with. We pulled in, the water was on! There were a few others there as well. We decided to stay two nights, Mike’s birthday and all, a day of rest was in order!

It is a cool little town. We knew right where to go shopping, remember their weird liquor laws, can’t buy more than a few bottles of wine at a time…horrors! But actually you can buy the limit, go out to your car, come back in and the limit starts again! We had an extremely disappointing chicken shawarma and Mikey’s donuts was closed so I did bake a cake! We had a chuckle as we drove by “Stoner’s Restaurant Family Dining” ♫♪♫ Everybody must get stoned…♪♫♪ ha! Not in the biblical sense please;) a giggle at the Pompy’s Best view barber shop…for those not in the know, pompys is slang in Mexico for, as Forest Gump would say…”Buttocks!” as we waited for the shawarma and then the usual weird biblical things written on cars and signs…”Keep Looking UP! Christ is coming soon!” What if he rises from the ground? Won’t that just shock them all!

The campground is out in an open field but this is farmland. Surrounded by hedgerows and fields. The birds were familiar faces, it felt almost home. I wandered around the empty campground, some trailers were there but not open yet, seasonal spots.

The huge beech (?) trees here are enormous and so beautiful. There are dozens. New bridges being built, sometime this Winter, after we were here in the Fall one was washed away, the remaining green one in the background is bent in the direction of the water…that was a high water mark! A flock of mixed ducks overran me, it must have been feeding time, when they realized I had nothing to offer but kind words they waddled off!

Silly ducks!

Next jump was to Northern Pennsylvania at another RV park that offers spots year round. They have heated water taps and lots of permanents here. Shady Rest Campground in Union Dale, PA. Always friendly and smiling as well. Really nice folks. These spots are hard to find. Our years of going back and forth to Baja gave us time to find these gems!

It was even starting to look like home, rock and bare trees. It was as if we were going back in time with Spring getting further away as we went North! We had a some bad weather forecast so opted for another day at Shady Rest, possible snow and back to serious cold, none of this just freezing temperatures! Not fun to drive in…we were so close…yet so far away…sigh! It’s a beautiful but somewhat sad area. There is an old mill, a church, a house built over the river nearby, stone walls beautiful stacked from decades and decades ago but an air of decay and loss here.

I walked along the road and found a spot to go down to a small river, running water is magical. The first crocuses were blooming but I was appalled at the amount of garbage, glass, cans, water bottles, all thrown out beside the road and down the banks of the stream. Is it education? Is there a cure for that kind of ignorance? Or is it just that people don’t care if their lives are so bleak or is it the tourists from the nearby ski resort? Who knows, it was sad.

Groot and Gamora thought the forest was perfect! Below zero! No problem for the fur kids!

Last stop was in Mexico…hahahaha! Mexico, New York, actually…J & J campground. I’d called Jeff, the owner, “Yeah, we’ll find you a spot” were his only words last week…When I walked into the office his wife didn’t look too happy. She was still in her pyjamas, “Cleaning” she said, with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth as she spoke. She was irritated with Jeff, apparently he hadn’t told her we were arriving today and she was too old to be holding down two jobs and cleaning the bathrooms…I agreed she should be upset with Jeff…bad husband! Bad! “We’ll park you in the laneway” she proclaimed, there is a 50 amp plug right there, people can drive around you…even with the slides out? I ventured? “Yeah” she said…OK, not much choice! We parked as far over as we could without getting off the road, it was soft, put the jacks down and unhitched, it wasn’t very even. We decided to go diesel up before anything else so we would be ready to leave “tout suite!” in the morning! When we got back from the diesel run and a bottle of wine for the nerves the trailer didn’t look level. I checked, it was down 3°..0_0. The front jacks had been slipping a tiny amount after the initial leveling, but only 2/10 or 3/10’s of a degree…this 3° was not good. We hooked back up.

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, not the jack again!!

The idea of being stuck in Jeff and Jackie’s road was not appealing. Better safe than sorry, then we would be EXTRA ready to leave! sigh…”C’mon Myrtle, you have to make it home!”I said patting the trailer!

We were on the road by nine, no cat walks, hitting the highway! First time I’ve been happy leaving Mexico! Customs was a breeze after the bridges, there were maybe three RV’s in the big “RV” lane and four cars in the lane beside that. The Customs officer looked at our passports, asked Mike our license plate number and anything to declare, I piped up with all the numbers (I have filled it out on way too many park reservation sites!) a bottle of tequila and one of wine, he then handed us back our passports and we were good to go! Welcome to Canada. It felt a bit surreal to be back to kilometers and the familiar landscape winding our way back to Perth, through Athens and Rideau Ferry (the bridge still isn’t finished! Ha!) and then through Perth and up onto Highway 7 to the RV Place. It was 10:30 a.m. They said they could winterize the trailer and store it while we checked out the cottage laneway.

Blair was at the shop, we explained what was happening with the jacks and they said they’d have a look as we went to the house. Down the lane, cats were getting excited, they knew where they were! It was a beautiful sunny day! No way in hell the trailer was going to come in here yet. Snowbanks lining the road and very, very soft shoulders! We got the power on, Mike started the furnace and then the fireplace, he’d left it set up and ready to roll! Kitty litter in, cat food, my computer and once we were warming up we plugged the water heater cord to the well in and went back for the contents of the fridge and pantry and our clothes, leaving the cats to re-acquaint themselves with the Long Lake house! When we got back to the trailer, she was on her nose, jacks completely in…I put the slides all the way out, we leveled it again, and it seemed to hold while we gathered the rest of the essentials. Weird that it held this time. Back home, the cats were running around like lunatics, exploring every crook and cranny again. We turned the water on…yeah! All systems a GO! Purged all the air from the pipes then flipped the breaker on the hot water heater …that bath tub was calling my name. Blair said they’d put the trailer inside the shop for the night and we said we’d be back for another load or two in the late morning…we were home:) Nothing compares to that sweet feel. Still somewhat surreal, but home! The rising moon saluted us on the still frozen lake…chez nous, home.

Under the wide and starry sky,
    Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
    And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
    Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
    And the hunter home from the hill

Requiem-Robert Louis Stevenson – 1850-1894

On a footnote here-I finished this up last night but sat reflecting on the differences of these two countries, Canada and the United States of America, not to be confused with the United States of Mexico:) There is such a volatile feeling for me there, maybe most Americans untouched by the violence have gotten used to it, or ignore it as a form of protection. The random violence. I heard a joke once that Canada was the apartment right above the crack house…maybe. With the elimination of many rights for women to choose what they want to do with their bodies and the ever increasing violence, some random, some not, how can you ever explain to a parent their six year old, a child, was taken down by an AR15 automatic rifle for no particular reason except someone hated that school and what was done to them there, or their spouse working at a bank, minding their own business…How?

How can anyone fire anyone in the US? Do you worry about repercussions from that not so stable employee you had to let go? Just how unstable is the system you wonder with no health care for so many, unaffordable, unattainable. This is certainly not the America many yearned to go live in when I was a child. Even then the cracks were starting to show, I always said I was born in Canada. America was already making enemies long before I was born. While Canada is by no means perfect it does have a hospital I can go to without worrying about losing everything I own to their billing department. I don’t worry about going grocery shopping, or looking for unhinged people in parking lots (other than my friends;) ha!) I do in the US. It’s my spidey sense scan that looks all around me before I exit the truck and the desire to get in and out of a store as efficiently as I can while noting the exits…Would I go to a Walmart? Never…schools are certainly right out as well! I am not a fearful person, I don’t say “Be safe!” as all our American acquaintances do, I say “Bon voyage”…is that fear built in after decades of violence for them? It’s not new…just the guns are firing more bullets now. It made me sad, and thankful at the same time that I live in Canada. Very very thankful. I know many of my American friends live in wonderful caring communities and I am happy for them but what will the next few decades bring? Sadly if the crack house burns down, the apartment above it is bound to burn as well….

Tennessee, the good and the bad and recently the very sad…

Mike making friends:)

I hate hooking up in the rain, there’s the mud, then the wet feet and the cold but we got going early, no cat walking. We wanted to get to RV’s for Less as early as we could in case they could get working right away. I did forget about losing an hour going into Eastern time…sigh…another hour of my life lost arbitrarily! Ha! We pulled into North Knoxville just after midday. It took a few tries to get parked where they wanted us to but managed, always harder when there is an audience! At first they suggested a hotel but then saw we had cats (furbabies..ha!…their words) and said not to worry, they’d get us back on board as soon as they could. We shut the traveling mewberries into the front of the trailer and closed the door, Rocket hid immediately under the bedcovers, the other two hung out by the windows watching Mike flirt with the official greeters! The old dometic fridge came out quite easily but the new Whirlpool was stubborn and it didn’t help it was not exactly the dimensions that Lowes told RV’s for Less it was…

You have to love an RV dealer that has cats and dogs running around their grounds, real animal lovers. Four cats and two dogs wandered about, people let them in and out, fed them, called them, petted them. Miss Priss is the grande dame of the place, elderly and not a care in the world as she wanders about her property. There was a siamese cross, Gracie and an elderly very fluffy grey boy, Leo, who had things to do, then there was Cali. She definitely owned this place! At six months old fear wasn’t in her vocabulary! She was as bold as she is beautiful. Tried to climb on the trailer multiple times as the workers removed the fridge and shooed her off! She sat under it after that, she WAS the supervisor after all! Perhaps wanting to know how these Canadian cats traveled? Ha! An older Jack Russell cross followed everyone about-their dog at Rv’s for Less, but not their dog, she lives behind them (but they are NOT nice people! We were told stories in depth, didn’t feed the poor older girl and far worse things) but she comes here to eat and live most days:) and nights. She barked a few times our first night and Mike opened the front window and told her it was OK, and she went back to sleep. Gamora even let her sniff her tail, the dog killer herself!

They went right to work the next morning, we moved back to the truck cab, cats in front again. We were going to lose the top cabinet, which was fine as it only held napkins but then there were more snags. Apparently the specs Lowes had given them were off…enough that it would not go through the door, but fear not, they could put it in through the side window! We sat and watched from the truck through the windshield at the progress. At lunch break I went on the trailer and gave the mewberries some water and crunchies for their hardship, Rocket was still hiding. There was some sawing and banging so he wasn’t ready to come out and face the cat killers he said!

After lunch the insertion of the fridge was resumed. Window removed, many hands gathered together from office and shop as they gently handed it from the outside in with the forklifts help. Not much swearing;) this whole dealership is very very religious. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team-Serving in Jesus’ name trailer was parked behind us, another one came into the lot while we were waiting. I was a little worried about our “alien” fish, hoping everyone had a sense of humour;) While the fridge was being installed another man was working on replacing the power cord reel cover as well as affixing a bracket under the backend to help with the back cap wiggle. It was a short term fix Karen, one of the owners said, “Ya’ll need to bring that back another time to get fixed properly, a 12 hour job!” Next trip we promised, another Fall! Mike’s friend Dave aka Pork, stopped by for a quick visit while we were waiting, he lives in Knoxville now, originally from Perth, nice to see a familiar face.

The fridge was also deeper than they were told so no ice maker, no problem we said, we didn’t want any extras, more to go wrong in my book. They managed to move the island 3/4″ to the right for clearance but then the table was hitting when the door side slide closed…I’d had the table out to refinish it in the Fall..”Why not chop an inch off the back of the table, if it slides out an inch less it won’t bother us!” I suggested. Perfect solution! Butch apologized profusely when he brought the table back, the painter’s tape they put on it to protect it had removed some of the awful shiny varnish I had applied, and planned on sanding off when we got back, “Not a problem!”I told him I’d planned on removing it all anyway! He came back later with a jar of laquer, he said I should try it, not so shiny. Very kind. At closing time they were 90% done and said they could finish up in the morning and we moved back on board to admire our shiny new cooling device. It was HUGE! Bigger than what we have at the house!

We took the cats out for a wander once everyone had gone home, They give you a key to their front gate to come and go as you need to after hours. Cali took a shining to Groot who was MOST disturbed by this! “How forward!” Groot exclaimed (he’s a bit of an old fashioned guy, we can’t sniff noises right off the bat, we must get to know each other first, he’s such a prude!) there was to be no playing! He had sniffing to do! “BORING!” Cali said and finally wandered off much to Groot’s relief! Groot may kick himself down the road for not making friends;) Hahahahaha!

Sunrise in Knoxville

In the morning after a few snags were worked out, inverter hook up and trim we were on our way by noon after settling up. They had estimated the time to relace the fridge on the quote and felt bad they had to charge us a little bit more as it hadn’t gone as smoothly as they’d expected, but they didn’t charge for half the time they did spend on it, very gracious generous people. We may not share the same beliefs but acknowledging good people is what we need to do more. Ken, the sales manager had taken a shine to our retro aquamarine mini fridge, we didn’t really need it so offered it to him at a reduced price and he was very happy. He’d sent pictures of it to his wife earlier and she loved it! He was busy that morning smoking ribs and pork in a huge portable smoker for a charity dinner behind the shop, it smelled amazing, “You could all stay!” I think our neighbours were planning to! A lovely couple next to us from “New Joursy”. Their trailer had been submerged in Hurricane Ida in Myrtle Beach, Florida and they were picking up a new one they had bought at RV’s for Less after the insurance paid out, “not until” he said winking! I joked with Mike that it was like living next door to Tony Soprano;) Apparently a lot of filming in that series had been done in the neighbourhood where this really nice guy, Dave lived, it was just the accent! Ha! Or was it? Ha! We opted to start North again, just under two hours NE was Warrior’s Path State Park, we’d stopped here on the way down and decided to resume our journey towards home!

They were also calling for some heavy rain so best not to be on the road for that. There was no one at the small park office when we arrived but I had an idea where we were going. I’d walked this upper part of the campground in the Spring, noting the few sites we could fit in. #85 was the only one. It was a tight turn but they’d added some new width with paving and some extra gravel to the inside of the road which made it easier! Great view down the river. Mike wasn’t impressed with my choice but there were only a few sites we can actually fit into, the spot where we had been before was booked, it was the weekend! I thought three nights here was a treat after RV’s for less urban setting. I had no idea the entire park would fill up! ha! Even on a rainy forecast!

Groot thought the leaves across from the trailer were fine for a nice long pee but just too many dogs he said, in almost every camper except the pop up one right beside us were dogs, both big and small, some campers had three, others had two…not funny Groot said as I told him to put his big boy pants on. His little sister Gamora would protect him! Ha!

There are trails along the lakeside, some a bit precarious after the rain, but the leaf covered forest floor was alive with small wildflowers. Red Deadnettle, Virginia Spring Beauties and Rue Rue Anemones. The lake, well, not really a lake but the Fort Patrick Henry is an 872 acre run-of-river reservoir, meaning water is passed through the reservoir without being stored long-term. It has two hydroelectric generating units at a large dam on the end. The huge towering trees, oaks and beech tree roots seems to be what holds the reservoir banks together, sometimes they win, sometimes mother nature does judging by the number of toppled trees in the water.

I tried to find some information on the geology of the area without much luck. The huge rock outcroppings that go diagonally up and down these hills are fascinating as well as the striation on the rocks by the edge of the reservoir, what caused those scratches and lines? Fossil pine needles a friend suggested! Who knows. I read that 22 families were “relocated” to flood this area:(

Given how full the park was I was surprised how quiet the trails are. Most are not small child friendly unless they want to fall into the reservoir over and over again, from heights at times! They are narrow, and after the rain, slick. I came across some new flowers and plants along the way. The small furled umbrellas when they emerge were Mayapple, American mandrake, wild mandrake or ground lemon and are widespread across most of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. The unripe green fruit is toxic. The ripened yellow fruit is edible in small amounts, and sometimes made into jelly, though when consumed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous. The rhizome, foliage, and roots are also poisonous. Mayapple contains podophyllotoxin, which is highly toxic if consumed, but can be used as a topical medicine. Karen will want to know! happily I can inform her that the Eastern redbud blooming(the Cercis canadensis), a large deciduous shrub or small tree, native to eastern North America has flowers that can be eaten fresh or fried.
In some parts of southern Appalachia, green twigs from the eastern redbud are used as seasoning for wild game such as venison and opossum. Because of this, in these mountain areas the eastern redbud is sometimes known as the spicewood tree.
Native Americans consumed redbud flowers raw or boiled, and ate roasted seeds. Analysis of nutritional components in edible parts of eastern redbud reported that the flower extract contains anthocyanins, green developing seeds contained proanthocyanidin, and linolenic, α-linolenic, oleic and palmitic acids are present in seeds. So many plants! Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday we had two trailer whip past us at least 30 mph…this is a SMALL tight road, they nearly creamed the front of the truck in their hurry and the camp host was right on their tail in his golf cart reading them the riot act AND that they’d booked a site too small for their trailer. It must be a tough job here in Tennessee, especially given their gun laws, one has to be careful.


Carrying Handguns
Tennessee does not require a permit to carry a firearm, whether openly or concealed. If you want to carry a gun openly or concealed in public in Tennessee, you don’t need a permit. As of July 1, 2021, Tennessee is a permit-less carry state.

Purchase of Firearms
Subject to some exceptions, it is unlawful to sell or transfer a handgun to any person who is intoxicated or who is prohibited from gun ownership under the law….duh????

Warriors Path State Park-a time for reflection at sunrise

Our three generational neighbours across the way had been watching their kids like hawks, now I know why! He was shaking his head in disbelief after they shot past, I went out to check our truck…missed it by “That” much he showed with his two fingers…nice folks. Their son in law had never met a “Canadian” before. He wondered if our license plates from “Ontario” was the capital of Canada….sigh….

While humans pose the most danger to anything in life there is an astounding amount of other toxic things growing in plain sight. I wondered if the parents of the kids who didn’t know where the capital of Canada was would know about the rest of the weird things right next to their trailers! Ha! While I was walking Rocket we spied, actually, he spied a millipede for me as we meandered through the deep layer of leaves! Toy! Müther! Toy…nope, very toxic! Apheloria virginiensis, the Black and Gold Flat millipede, is a large North American millipede. It is reported to secrete cyanide compounds as a defense. It is recommended that one wash hands after handling this organism as the toxic compounds it secretes are poisonous and can cause extreme irritation if rubbed in the eyes! Apheloria virginiensis serves as a host to the parasitic fungus Arthrophaga myriapodina, which causes infected individuals to climb to an elevated spot before death. Good thing I didn’t let Rocket play with it!

Across from the trailer at the base of a large oak were plants that looked like blooming pine cones, absolutely fascinating! Conopholis americana, the American cancer-root, bumeh or bear corn, is a perennial, non-photosynthesizing (or “achlorophyllous”) parasitic plant. It is parasitic on the roots of woody plants, especially oaks (genus Quercus) and beech (genus Fagus). The only part of the plant generally seen is the cone-shaped inflorescence, which appears above ground in spring. The plant is found growing on roots in wooded ravines in every state of the United States east of the Mississippi River. While widely distributed, it is uncommon. The suckers of the parasitic roots cause the formation of large rounded knobs on the roots of the host tree.

Then I found a beautiful flower….Cancer root and now Bloodroot? Sanguinaria canadensis is sometimes known as Canada puccoon, bloodwort, redroot, red puccoon, and black paste. In bloodroot, the juice is red and poisonous. Products made from sanguinaria extracts, such as black salve, are escharotic and can cause permanent disfiguring scarring.
Bloodroot is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants, a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also benefit from growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris.
Internal use is not recommended.
An overdose of bloodroot extract can cause vomiting and loss of consciousness
…will avoid but the roots can produce a dye as long as you don’t get it on your skin…once again, I will avoid it! 

Maybe speeding trailers and gun toting Tennesseans aren’t the most dangerous thing out there after all? Some would beg to differ with me after Monday’s shootings in Nashville…It is the guns…I saw the meme..what is wrong with this country? It breaks my heart to think of the insanity here, and at home. Some days I do think humanity is doomed, but as a senator said, guns aren’t the problem, we need more prayer in school…STFU…shut the fuck up….

That covers the good, and the bad…and the very very sad. We are ready to head home…stay tuned, a few states still to go! Saludos amigos ♥

Light and water-beautiful-Warriors Path State Park, Tennessee

Mississippi and Alabama-trucks full of catfish?

After a shopping trip to Ponchatoula (Is there a town called Umpalumpa here as well? Ha!) to diesel up and get some ice, meat and vegetables for our small larder as I couldn’t see any grocery stores near Archusa Creek we said goodbye and sacrificed our $20 night here so Mike didn’t have to battle the elements, as well as the road work that continued on the Interstate 12 and then again on Interstate 59 North. We were passed by my very first live Catfish truck! Those are holding tanks! Who knew? Interstate 59 full of surprises!

We’ve traveled this stretch before headed back to Canada just after Covid hit hard. We turned off at Mississippi 512 and headed East through Pachuta, more road work…argh…and extremely narrow lanes, but no giant oak branches..whew! There were pretty clear signs to the Archusa Creek campground, aka Water Park, it was sitting on a good sized lake.

Archusa Creek Water Park

No one at the front desk/window when we arrived so we drove in and followed the signs, it was 4 pm! Past loop B to loop A, narrow, wooded, very very crowded with campers and trucks and bonfires and kids on bikes and site 23…had a trailer in it…but site 26 did not. Mike just managed to get backed in. Sites were narrow but paved. A lovely gentleman from across the way, on the fancy bayfront sites on the water (lake/reservoir) came over and offered to drive me over to the camp hosts trailer to ask, especially before we unhooked, better to know in case we had to move. There was no one at the hosts trailer but a large loose dog with sharp claws that was very friendly so he flagged down someone else to do with the lake management who called, Donna, and then passed me his phone. “Oh yes, it’s site 26 you are supposed to be in, training a new girl, sorry about that!” Good to know. I thanked her and the water management guy in the pickup and the nice man drove me back. I thanked him. He’d been near Canada once he said, Lake Superior in Michigan, his kids had wanted to go to a beach when he lived in Indiana..too cold for me he said of the water. I laughed, yup. Very friendly helpful people. Mike walked around the campground, every license plate was Mississippi….and us;) Ha! Now hopefully all that wicked weather will go North of us and the sun will come out and we can look around!

Archusa Creek Water Park is located in Quitman, Mississippi, just off Hwy. 45 and Hwy. 18 East. The 450 acre lake is a fisherman’s paradise with large quantities of bass, catfish, perch and bream. The whole family can enjoy camping, boating, swimming, water skiing and picnicking. The picnic areas are equipped with barbecue grills and family-size picnic tables.…Family sized picnic tables vs couples picnic tables? Ha! That was about all the history or information I could find. When the Waterway District was created in 1962, its main mission was flood control for rivers and their tributaries along the Pascagoula River Basin in southeastern and east central Mississippi. In addition to flood control, the agency’s mission expanded to include water management and recreation. The District derives its name from Pat Harrison, who served Mississippi as U.S. Representative (1911–19) and Senator (1919-41)...end of story.

That is just too weird but I remembered a news article on BBC I’d read about a young black man being dismembered and discovered (I googled it) not too far from here, his mother was looking for justice…just kinda creepy. Apparently the police force denied any foul play even though his head had been severed…combined with smiley police chief on the billboard we saw earlier just reminded us of how lucky we are to live where we do, with the freedoms hopefully all of us deserve no matter what our colour, creed, race or religion.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…maybe not here.

At 10 p.m. there was a loud knock on the door of the trailer. Mike turned on the outside light and went out to find two young boys, maybe 8 and 6 years old. “”D’ya wanna buy turtles?” they asked. Mike look perplexed…turtles, no thanks. They continued on with their chatting, Mike called it gibberish, of which he understood none before coming back inside, I was smiling, I did hear, “D’ya have an air gun?” was it real turtles or maybe they were selling the chocolates called turtles I suggested to Mike, he’s leaning towards real turtles, I did make out paper route but their accent was so strong I only caught a few words here and there….we are traveling through a very foreign country I laughed, we can’t even understand the locals!

We did a diesel-up run and a quick trip to the grocery store, not many white people in that grocery store. A friend suggested socio economic reasons for having the campground as all white but I think it goes deeper, is there a fear to be surrounded by these whites? I came across this article written in The Atlantic that begs to be read: RACISM IS ‘BUILT INTO THE VERY BONES’ OF MISSISSIPPI

When I thanked the grocery clerk for bagging my groceries, he looked surprised and taken aback…

I had to force myself to get up and walk about the campground, the gray skies and a slightly off feeling of the place had me wishing we were gone. The Flowering Dogwoods were beautiful as well as a few wildflowers, a type of sage and cress. Out at the park entrance an azalea bush was in full flower! I’d found some cheerful colour!

I wandered back down the road towards the tent camping area and out to the side of the lake. I’d seen some ducks in the distance and when we’d arrived I thought I’d seen a swan, “No, a goose!” Mike said…turned out it was a Goose Swan! The trio looked like the Far East Mafia that controls this side of the lake;) a Swan Goose, native to Mongolia, northernmost China, and the Russian Far East with his henchmen ducks! Ha! Most likely an escapee or a domestic one! While uncommon in the wild, this species has been domesticated. Introduced and feral populations of its domestic breeds occur in many places outside its natural range. The wild form is also kept in collections, and escapes are not unusual amongst feral flocks of other Anser and Branta geese.

It was a bit of a relief to pack up and head out in the morning. We had to wait for a few trailers to go first, not much parking here and trucks were blocking our way out of the corner. We were on the road by 11:15 and said Goodbye to Mississippi and headed into Alabama, heading for Oak Mountain State Park. Up the MI 45 to the Interstate 20, the turning North East on the I-59/ I-20. Alabama gets the reward for smoothest bridge/freeway connections, Mississippi gets the lowest score…paving guys need some help it seems! Ha!

We’ve been to Oak Mountain State Park many times and it is always heavily booked, perhaps more so as it’s closing in May for a total redo of the campsites, roads etc. We had a spot nearly on the end of B campground, always good, less people, near some tent sites that I figured with the rain and colder weather wouldn’t be used. It’s a Groot, Gamora and Rocket approved Park! Great sniffing and walking, even trails they can mosey down!