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.
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!
It looked a lot like the fall except the leaves were just starting to bud out. Tiny wildflowers dotted the bare ground, no dragonflies here yet but I could hear a Cardinal calling and I caught a flash of blue-Eastern Bluebirds, adults as well as juveniles! So soon! A Brown Thrasher poked around in the bushes by the water’s edge and a muskrat popped up for just a few moments before diving again. Damn, Muskrat Susy and Muskrat Sam are going to be stuck in my head all night long! Ha! Curse you Captain and Tenille!
In the morning behind the trailer I could hear a Red Bellied Woodpecker and a Brown Thrasher was twittering away in one of it’s 1000 song types. It has the largest song repertoire of any birds. However, each note is usually repeated in two or three phrases! ♫♪♫ Sing, sing a song , making my notes just two or three tweets longgggg…..♫♪♫…The Cardinals are easy to spot! I’d love to see this forest leafed out one day!
I walked along the edge of the road following the songs. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker had just dug an ant out of a hole in the tree he was perched on. The Eastern Bluebird was busy feeding it’s puffed up juvenile and I spyed three Brown Thrashers digging around in the leaf litter. The brown thrasher is an omnivore, with its diet ranging from insects to fruits and nuts. I think fox coloured thrasher would have been a perfect name. There is something about that amazing coloring!
This guy, I presume, got up on the branch and started to belt out his repertoire for the ladies below! I never tire of these amazing thrashers! I walked around the lake path, still covered in downed trees from a tornado last year, or maybe it was the year before. You can see it’s path as you drive through the park, it is horrific. I wanted to check out a small waterfall, Peavine, in the park but was just too tired of driving to be honest. After a trip to the US 280 for a trip to Sprouts and Pet Valu it was time to head home.
It is wonderful to see the trees and bushes blooming, I need to take that with me we will still have a wait by the time we get back to Ontario for any flowering shrubs! In the morning I went off with better light to get some pictures of what I thought might be members of the trillium family. When I uploaded the picture to iNaturalist it was indeed, Sessile-flowered Trilliums (Subgenus Sessilia)! There were ones with both green and variegated leaves as well! So cool!
Getting to Knoxville was quite a jump so we opted for a small county park to spend the night, they were calling for possibly heavy rain overnight so we decided to give it a try. It would also make our jump to RV’s for Less in North Knoxville much shorter and they might be able to start work right after we arrived, we hoped!
We’d stayed at a very noisy KOA right off the highway, ugh, on the way down South of Chattanooga so didn’t want that experience again! This was another very low reservoir off Chickamauga Lake but it was quiet and reasonable and I wish I’d taken pictures. We walked the very happy cats right down to the water and beach, nothing like a thick layer of leaves for a good cat pee time! There were pines and wild chives everywhere! I picked some to put in the sour cream for our baked potatoes for dinner! Have to love a park with fresh herbs! Our spot #167 was a pull through, but an older one, we did manage to get in and out with no problem but it took some wiggling! We went to get diesel and came back. There was a bald eagle fishing way out in the lake and in the distance I heard our first sound of home, a Loon was wailing… then the clouds rolled in, and it did rain. It was a wet, wet morning, but that is another story…stay tuned for repairs, ambassador cats and the rest of Tennessee:) Saludos amigos!