What a difference a week makes…the curmudgeon chronicles:)
One last visit to the dock before it came out and the water was turned off…time to head South. The constant honking of geese reminds us of migration, ours included. We will so miss this spot and all it’s wonderful qualities, so, until next Spring shall we say:)
The weather forcast was not looking good, below freezing and possible snow by the end of the week, time to pack up and head South, the most direct way possible. We lined up a few stopping spots and did a couple of 4-5 hour jumps, longer than we usually do to leave the gray behind and look for a hint of sun:) The border at Thousand Islands was a breeze with a lovely fellow who used to be stationed in San Diego and there we were, back in the U.S of A….
One night in an RV park North of Scranton, another West of Chambersburg, PA, where the bail bond stores outscored the liquor stores…0_0…and finally for a two day stay at Natural Bridges, Virginia. We’ve been here before and a bit of sunshine and hiking after three straight days of driving and sunless days were in order. Rocket behaved like a champ for his first long journey out, bugging his older sister like little brothers do, exploring the truck, playing with all and anything he could find, then settling in for long naps with Groot…what a kitten!
This is a beautiful, easy hike up the Cedar River to the Lace Falls. The leaves were turning, the walk was quiet except for a few camera questions and nice chats with other photographers. We stayed two nights at the KOA in Natural Bridge. A beautiful wooded setting with chickens roaming free, great place the cats said, Rocket was determined to have chicken for dinner but those are smart old hens;)
The first night was a wild night of wind and rain, tornadoes touched down to the West of us as a cold front came through, passing us by thankfully! The next morning dawned cool but sunny and glorious to see the sun! Robins were out and Carolina Chickadees. I saw a few woodpeckers high in the trees as well.
The local feral cat was sunning herself as her two kittens kept watch from under a KOA cabin. We donated our roast chicken from a few days before to them and they gobbled it all up gleefully. I told Rocket if the feral cat Mama hadn’t gotten a chicken, I doubt he would. Overall a quiet place except for the overzealous leaf blower…if there were a few things on earth I could ban, those would be on my list;)
Our next jump was to Sevierville, Tennessee. a four hour hop for an overnight stay at a “Christian” RV park…0_0…no lightning strikes were recorded and we made it in and out in one piece;) The cows in the field next door had the cats a bit worried but we assured them it was for one night only;) This is such an odd area-Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s Disney World) is just down the road, enjoy a show on ice including hillbillies, gateway to the Smokey Mountains and of course, places you can rent an assault rifle to fire for fun…
Next hop was to Alabama, another 4 and half hour journey but worth the drive and a two day stay-Oak Mountain State Park-it is a gem we’d found on a previous run through this part of the country and we were determined to come back. We came in through the back gate from the 459 to Cahaba Valley Road. I have never seen so many churches per square mile along dotting the landscape along this road, and they are mongo churches! Not quaint parish ones but thousands of square feet of your non-profit Christian donations going to build these monstrosities…It’s a steep climb up to the back gate gate but doable, forgot we couldn’t make the turn by the gate to go left but simply used the right hand lane as our own to get past the ranger’s booth, the lovely lady ranger laughed waved us past, no problem, this happens all the time:) “A” loop is our place to go, at the end, close to the lake and paths sites 26-29 are the best:) There are a lot of tent sites here as well, wonderful spacing in some, really crowded in others, you have to pick and choose:) Full hook up, $30 a night, wooded with paths along the lake and we knew exactly what spot we wanted, there were several but this was perfect. Forest behind and woods and ravines, cat heaven! And those reflections on the lake…beautiful!
We left by the back gate again but took the Cahaba Valley Road South to the 65 North back to the freeway past what must be Birmingham’s horsey suburbs. I’m not a big fan of some of the Southern architecture, those enormous white pillars scream ostentation to me…they make me cringe alongside the numerous McMansions dotting this road. While I appreciate Mother Natures natural beauty preserved here it has an odd feel, I told Mike, I just don’t feel welcome here, maybe it is just the crazy times we live in but after a somewhat uninspired $24 breakfast at Waffle House ( yes, we can do much better aboard Myrtle for a quarter of the price-it’s a once a year driving through the South thing) before we did our grocery shopping it left me feeling not uneasy, but sad. The forced friendliness of employees paid to appear cheerful is not how I like to start my day…Do people like that? or am I turning into a curmudgeon? Wait Mike just asked “turning”? Ha! On a positive note…Here’s a fun town!
Mike was getting tired of the 4 plus hours jumps so we picked a few three hour trips as we turned West across Alabama and Mississippi. So far the I-81 until Knoxville had been pretty smooth traveling, a few bits of road work and drivers who couldn’t/didn’t look ahead but otherwise good roads but so much traffic. The I-20 was no exception. Truck after truck after truck….and where were my crazy billboards. A few years back the “(855) for truth” crazy christians owned most of the billboards along the freeways, their billboard budget must have run out;)..aww….what to do while Mike is driving;) Plan our next stop! Roosevelt Lake Dam State Park in Mississippi…
… you can tell I’m following a lake trend here:) How could you resist? I made a reservation online for the last spot it said on the lake…it was a quick one mile off of the I 20 but felt like you were in the wilderness, a few trailers and Rv’s occupied some sites but it felt fairly empty. This park looks like it has seen better days, like many state parks. The roads need work, the shoulders are breaking apart, potholes to be avoided and the roads and turns are very narrow…but not impossible. Would I bring a 44′ trailer in here…NO…we finally found our site at the CCC campground, no one at the gate house, maps were faded and hard to read but we did decipher them and figured out which way we had to turn. After getting to our reserved spot, we tried to back in before giving up and taking another one further down. The roads were so narrow and the ditches so deep you could not swing to make the turn. We took the last spot at the end, #92 and I called Reserve America to make sure it was not reserved for the night. There were no posts with numbers, no reserved signs, nothing to indicate the spot was free or not. Reserve America was good, saying they didn’t have a reservation so to go ahead and take the spot but try to find a camp host or ranger as well. Finally found a number up at the gate house on the faded maps, not the friendliest of rangers but told them what we did and they said “Fine, we’ll note it” never did see a camp host or ranger…I should remember to take more pictures of the spots we are in, we never did quite get level the slant towards the lake was so great but hey, it was one night:) I read some of the reviews later on about the park and facilities and they were not very cheerful.
The cats spent the afternoon with us wandering around near the lake, climbing trees, not so many paths as Oak Mountain but there was a duck family that they found very interesting:) and we could leave the window open ALL night it was so warm. The traffic noise from I-20 was quite audible but it is a nice one nighter, certainly not a destination stop, but better than any RV resort:)
The next morning was gray and windy, no sunrise shots or reflections…time to move on to another favourite spot from previous travels. Beaver Dam campground in the Kisatchie National Forest North of Minden. It is a few miles out of the way but we so enjoyed it, huge spacious sites, neighbours hardly in sight and a fantastic variety of forest floor mushrooms!
and yes…more lake views;)
Beaver Dam Campground is located in the Kisatchie National Forest, the only National forest in Louisiana. It is nestled in the forested piney hills and hardwood bottoms of seven central and northern parishes. It is part of the Cenozoic uplands and has large areas of longleaf pine forests. No camp host was at the campground and it was first come first serve according to their website so we cruised along until we found the perfect spot and backed in. These sites are HUGE! Brand new tables and fire pits, the price has gone up over the last few years but it so quiet, peaceful and for $25 a night with electric and water ( and really good drinking water from the tap as well!) it can not be beat. Site #11 was perfect but 7-13 would all be fabulous as well. Views to the lake, small paths leading to the shore and mushrooms wherever you look!
Skip the fried chicken at Cottons in Minden, it looked good but…no. Everything seems to be a weirdly grotesque kind of McMansion or it needs a coat a paint. It has the air of being left behind and lingering with a mild desperation for something better. Is this what the Republicans do for a state? The local water/ice refill station along the highway filters were so clogged you got a gallon and a half of water when you paid for 3 gallons, we ended up dumping it out it smelled so strongly of chlorine, and that is purified water? and it is a dry parish! Perish the thought;) Dixie Inn next door is not but hey, great campground, but we limited it to one night as another rain front was coming in and we were going to check out a new state campground after Corsicana, Texas for three nights of rest! But I saved the best for last, the crazy billboards started started to appear along the I-20-a whole new fresh batch!
This Gordon lawyer bible talking guy made the very bumpy drive through part of Shreveport very amusing as well as the scattering of Jesus billboards…such a very odd country we are passing through:)
Looks like we’ll be getting fresh tortillas soon and wondering at the meaning of the “Cowboy” Churches with huge cow penning arenas. Could it be a homage to the old bad ass Yahweh God of the old testament? Busting balls and broncs? Stay tuned and we’ll be looking for the truth..it’s out there, along with Google;)