Warriors Path State Park, Tennessee to Oak Mountain State Park in Alabama
We’d looked at pictures of Warriors Path State Park in Tennessee, it was a three hour jump from Natural Bridge in Virginia, about the most we like to do, yes, we are not in a hurry, first time ever. Warriors Path State Park is a 950-acre Tennessee State Park in Sullivan County, Tennessee. It is named for the Great Indian Warpath that was used by the Iroquois in war raids with the Cherokee and other tribes. We’d read it was an older park and sites were tight to get into with a bigger 5th wheel on some of the RV forums. I usually go to campsitephotos.com to get a look at the sites but there wasn’t any pictures for this particular park. I took an educated guess with pad length, 40′ and the fact it angled away from the road in a way we could back in according to the park map and made a reservation for one night. It was also fairly close to the I 81 and not miles and miles from the freeway.
Tons of traffic in this corridor and it seems no one ever gets trained in how to merge! Pedal to the metal. It must drive truck drivers crazy as motorists reach the end of the yield lane, are still not up to speed and force the semis to move over or they’ll smush the cars…I’d be an evil truck driver and let them figure it out on their own…some do…ha! How hard is it? Get up to speed and move into the lane smoothly, sounds easy enough…not. Mike had a special German vocabulary for the drivers too busy looking at their phones, or who are simply put, idiots. He did come up with a new slogan, drive like there’s a buffet at the end fat boy, he yelled at one particular man in a vehicle that realized at the last moment he had to merge…not PC I know, it’s a vicious world out there. Sometimes you can’t move over to accommodate these fools…
There was no one at the park entrance store when we got there. A hand written note in the window said they were sick, to call the main park office if there were any questions or proceed to your site, we toodled off on the narrow paved roads and yes, many of the sites were really small, it’s an older park, but oh so beautiful. The campground is up on a heavily treed point that juts out into the reservoir. We followed the arrows to our site and backed in with a few back and forths to get lined up. The camp host came by to see if we needed any help, not a problem we said and settled in.
What was obvious was there had been a significant wind/storm event here in the last year or two. Whoever had been in our spot would have been smushed (my word of the week) by a 2 and half foot in diameter 80′ tall tree. Half of it would have been in the campsite, right where we parked, the other half, root ball and all lay pointing towards us. These downed trees were everywhere. It was a bit shocking, all were pointing in the same direction. I went out for quick wander, I didn’t have a map so I scurried down the steep hill behind us to the lakeside where I discovered a trail. I followed it along the lake and eventually it turned and went back up to the B campsites, which were all closed, only the C campsites stay open all Winter.
The nights are still chilly, it was 43° flintstone scale at dawn. The cats were all on the back of the sofa catching the first morning rays until a squirrel ran under the trailer! I had planned on getting up to see the eclipse but it would be too low to the horizon and blocked by the trees so decided to snuggle with Rocket instead. He has become a bed boy. He has taken the whole moving thing the hardest, the youngest with the least experience and given the fact that he is a huge baby huey to begin with, he needs extra attention.
I wandered off to the park office to see if there was anyone there in the morning after following the path the other way, towards the boat launch to look at the campsites on top of another hill. There was one there we could get in, in a pinch. I write down the spots and keep them on hand, we are coming back, not sure if we’ll take the same path but we’ll see, always good to know!
On one of the many trees fallen into the lake I came across had oyster mushrooms growing on it! It was slick, I wasn’t ready to play log rolling on the lake. I’d nearly fallen in earlier, the path around the lake has been worn away in many places with iffy footing along the edges. In some places only the tree roots are holding the path in place. I walked up the boat launch to look at the campsites in the 2nd circle. A man was leaf blowing using what sounded like a redneck’s truck exhaust, you know the ones I mean with the F*ck Trudeau bumper stickers and oversized flags, here they might be flying confederate flags, I didn’t actually know what was making the horrendous noise until I was quite close, f*cking leaf blowers. It was 8 a.m! I found another site we could get into, in a pinch, if everything else is booked. I’d like to come back here if we are taking this way back in the Spring! I’m working on the leaf blower ban petition!;) ha!
There was an abundance of fungi, the ones with the little white knobs, Panellus stipticus is one of several dozen species of fungi that are bioluminescent. Strains from eastern North America are typically bioluminescent, but those from the Pacific coast regions of North America and from other continents are not. I need to go back after dark! Ha! I could have stayed a few days here to explore, and another chance to go back to Broad Street BBQ in Kingsport…I should have taken pictures, we got a family pack to go with pulled pork and brisket, added ribs, beans, slaw and potato salad (I was thinking a few meals here plus pulled pork sandwiches for the road!) We devoured it. The owner was chatting with an old man from NY, telling him how he’d traveled all over the world and the food in America was CRAP! I laughed under my mask, he smiled. You buy a tomato at a market in Italy he said, It tastes like TOMATO! Here, they taste like cardboard! He has a point. I don’t put crap in my BBQ or beans or slaw, all natural! he proclaimed and I thanked him for that. Man, was it tasty, we sat in the trailer and ate until I had to go lie down, damn it was good! The smokiness (Hickory he said) of the meats, the sauce with just the right amount of sweet and sour of the vinegar, my mouth is watering just thinking of it…all gone now! It was Rocket approved pulled pork and ribs said the cat licking his chops!
Oak Mountain was a six hour jump so we chose a KOA in North Chattanooga for a one night stopover. Good for laundry, $2 wash or dry but man it was noisy right beside the interstate. I’d hoped the trees would block some noise but no, we won’t go back, but we do have clean clothes now:)
I got out to stretch my legs after we checked in and got situated, down to the lake, the familiar path around it and was shocked by the devastation of what appeared to be a large wind event. The path meandered now around huge fallen pines, sometimes I had to scramble over them. Trees were toppled at the roots, some snapped off a few feet from the ground. In the sunny clearings new Southern yellow pines had sprouted, new life returning, a cycle, but so sad to see so many spectacular trees snapped off and ripped from the ground.
I asked an older man, a camp host who was leaf blowing around the bathrooms. Said he was happy to chat and stop work for a moment, smiling with his soft Alabama drawl. He’d been working here for a decade or more and I asked him about the trees and destruction. This March he explained, a tornado came down the valley along the lake and did incredible damage. “We are in tornado alley!”he exclaimed “but this was a doozy!” It flattened the park pavillions on the other end of the lake, as if nothing was ever there. That same storm front hit Warriors Path, several states he said. His son lost the roof off his house. Angry nature.
A North American Spur-throated Grasshopper hitched a ride on my pant leg for part of my walk before I set him down in the leaves. I wandered towards a swampy area, usually good for birds but it was remarkably quiet. I spotted a Red Bellied Woodpecker high in the canopy, their chatty call is unmistakable, a few American Goldfinches fluttered away but not very busy bird wise.
At the end of a point was a fruit tree, common native persimmon species found throughout the eastern United States. The fruit makes delicious persimmon bread, cookies, cake, and pudding once mushy ripe, but is inedible (too astringent) prior to being mushy ripe. It can also be fermented into persimmon beer. Yum! I hope you found some perfectly ripe fruit to eat! Not ripe=not good I was told in a comment on iNaturalist. It is a wonderful source of information! The other two berries, American Bittersweet and Strawberry bush are toxic so sometimes bright red has its purpose! Ha! Careful Karen!
The best birding was at the picnic table at the empty tent site next to us below this American Bittersweet bush. The forest was full of robins trying to perch and feed on it. The branches were quite spindly and some of the juvenile Robins found it challenging to get a perch to feed. It was amusing to watch, sorry about the Robin overload but they were so beautiful!
We had to de some rearranging on our schedule. We wanted to stop at several parks in New Mexico but they were dry camping with very limited first come first serve water/electric camping spots so it would be hit it miss to find a spot with power. We have a propane leak somewhere we haven’t been able to diagnosis so we have turned the tanks off, we think it’s the fitting going to the refrigerator, no problem, as it runs on electric as well but the stove, no. I found a cheapy two burner electric hot plate at at Walmart that we have been using, it works, and the water heater is propane/or electric so no problem there, but we need power, the generator won’t cut it. So we are still going to Carlsbad, but then North to Roswell, then West to Alamogordo to see the White Sands National park. We have a mobile RV guy set up to come see the trailer in Tucson:) All is well, oh, and the bedroom vanity slide will only go out an inch or two so we’ve stopped trying with that, cables are all ok, nothing binding so maybe the gearbox, always something on a wiggling, bouncing, moving home! We can work around it, just a bit cosier in the bedroom!
We’ll be back to this park, especially mid week, so quiet here AND I just discovered, after leaving, there is a waterfall here in the park, Peavine Falls! Argh! Lost photo op! Hahahaha! The old camp host told me the entire campground is closing in May for a makeover. New pavement, it’s fine here he told me, in the A area, but the contractor underbid way back when and by the time he got to the other main loop it was only an inch thick he laughed, breaking up all over the place! New 50 amp service for all the sites and new water lines he said. “Come back before May!” he chuckled! I let him get back to work, I think he might have stood there and talked all afternoon if given the chance:) Nice man.
We finally completed the last of our errands, finding a phone that we can use as a hotspot. The Best Buy close to the park had the one we wanted, we went, but it seems their security system had shut down the room where all the electronics are safely kept and they couldn’t get in there. They didn’t look like they were having a great day, let’s say unenthused was the key word here! We had to drive to another Best Buy South of us after a trip to the Verizon store, they had the same phone, but it was $200 more…so that would be a no. Off we went again, a simple errand of course turns into an adventure, Mike was groaning, enough driving on our rest day! We did buy one here and then went to Sprouts to refill on food and of course, vino, before returning to the park, but we did stop to diesel up…much easier when you are NOT pulling the trailer. The Exxon, with a talking TV, adds, football games, scores pump, was blaring out sound at a volume a deaf person might just hear. Thankfully, a nerd had included a MUTE button. What is America’s obsession with TV’s? Argh! They are in cafes and diners, often several, they are on gas pumps now and if you look at RV’s they have three sometimes! One in the living room, one in the bedroom and for Christ sakes, one outside??? You have to go to your state park and sit outside making a racket watching your TV? WTF is all I can say! Ha! Rant over;)
We headed out Friday morning, it was 78°, wowza. We have finally turned West, into Mississippi, sorry if I break out in song! ♫♪♫ M-I-double SS-I-double SS-I, double PP-I, right in the middle of the Cotton Belt
down in the Mississippi Delta, wearin’ last year’s possum belt
smack dab in the Mississippi Delta! ♫♪♫
I think I might have overplayed my Bobby Gentry, Ode to Billy Joe eight track as a kid;) Ha! Another state, here we come! The roads were not too bad, no major cities but a few bumps on the bridges through Tuscaloosa had Mike resorting to curious German swear words aimed at road engineers. We have taken to duct taping our fridge lock shut for these roads, it seems to jiggle open, revealing a cascade of fresh and frozen food products all over the table and floor, and even hiding under the chairs at a few previous stops! Rving is SO much fun I keep telling Mike:)
Stay tuned folks as we drive past Chunky, Mississippi and arrive at Roosevelt State Park:) That would be a fine address, I’m from Chunky. We did also drive past Cuba today as well:) Saludos amigos!