Tag Archives: Alabama

Forkland, Alabama

We left Miller’s Ferry reluctantly and with some concern about the weather. Yet another storm system was barrelling through the south with the threat of tornados, high winds and other misery. The predictions for the north were much worse. After the time we had spent lingering in southern Alabama I was looking at the calendar with no small amount of concern. We had to start making time north if we were to get home before our health insurance ran out but this storm system looked even worse than the last one. So we decided to move as far north as we could and still be outside the severe weather zone. We also decided to stay three nights which would allow the system to pass us and clear further north.

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Gorgeous Red Bud in bloom everywhere.

We arrived in Forkland Alabama Army Corp of Engineer campground to a nice surprise. Each of these campgrounds has a flavour to it. We had been to Forkland before but the flavour was nondescript woods. This time it was glorious spring and the wildflowers were in full bloom. As if that was not pleasant enough, a full on eruption of migrating songbirds meant the campground was positively thronged with red headed woodpeckers, blue birds, finches and warblers. And third, a storm of delightful whimsical art had hit the place. All over, stumps of wrecked trees had been transformed into birds and animals and mushrooms. The whimsy was positive, friendly and lovely. And so we settled in to a wonderful spacious campsite with our own dock not far from the washroom/shower/tornado shelter.

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There was one downside to our arrival. The campground host warned us that they had recently had a huge number of rattlesnakes appear. From his description, my guess is they have a wintering place nearby and they had awoken and spread around the campsite to warm and then disperse. Garter snakes do this back home so we have a brief spell of little snakes everywhere. I had done my best to train Misty that little garter snakes were terrible and she needed to stay away from them. I didn’t know if the training would transfer to the rattlers if she encountered one nor if she would recall training from the year before. We were careful never to let her out of the trailer without first inspecting the site and if we went out at night we always had a flashlight and checked where we walked. We did not see a single snake.

The storm system rolled in as forecast on our second day and we were once again watching the radar and checking the warnings. We seemed to have a sweet spot and storms raged north and west of us. As the system got closer a tornado watch was announced and the campground host stopped in to make sure we knew the washroom had a central reinforced room that doubled as a tornado shelter. At one point we were under a severe thunderstorm warning but I could see on the radar we were only in it because of the placement of the county border and the storm was going to miss us so we stayed in the trailer. We heard a lot of thunder and lightning to the north as it rolled by but that was all. We were safe. I was very concerned about the huge mess to the north, especially Nebraska and Iowa where most of the states were in a flood warning but we were fine in.

We spent our days again taking long walks, and many training walks with our Misty. The campground was actually crowded with lots of little kids and so we had plenty of opportunity to practice sitting nicely while children pet you and not barking your head off like an idiot and yanking the leash every which way when passing another dog. Misty did very well. We had one comical episode. A woman there had three long hair “teacup” chihuahuas who got loose and charged at Misty. Her reaction was hysterically funny. She froze and then slowly put her head down while these three little dogs, each one just the size of her head, barked furiously and acted like they were going to attack her. She was just bemused. Her reaction seemed to be “What are you?” I was very proud of her. Everyone around was laughing and laughing as the owner ran around trying to scoop them up while they dodged her and kept up their empty threats against Misty. Eventually we just walked away while she continued to ineffectively call, try to scoop, and get frustrated. People, train your dogs! I couldn’t help but think how one of those dogs would have been a nice meal for a rattlesnake.

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Many army cops of engineers campsite include private little docks and Forkland is no exception. These steps from our campsite led to our own little dock. Unfortunately flood water meant the dock was underwater and the swiftness of the flow with debris meant we didn’t get to put the canoe in the water.

After the third day amid alarming flood reports coming out of Nebraska, we left our site and headed off to our next stop, Lake Grenada area of Mississippi.

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Millers Ferry Campground

This campground is my absolute favourite of all the Army Corp of Engineer campsites we have been to. The sites are especially well maintained, the campground is in the bend of a lake with a lot of lovely sites right on the water. The bathrooms are neat and clean and they have a laundry. We got a very nice site right near the water. Then we saw a six foot alligator so we made very sure our dog could not go anywhere near the water. One rather interesting thing they have is huge bamboo clumps. Some of them were thicker than a man’s forearm and three stories tall. I know they are considered an invasive nonnative plant but I still like the look of them.

There is a neat little marina across the water that had the best homemade burgers. Again we went walking every day several times a day, training walks with the dog and long bike rides. Dick finally found a real old fashioned bamboo fishing rod and he bought it. We also made a side trip to the nearby dam to see the rapids.

And of course wildflowers and birds. Lots and lots of cardinals, blue birds, assorted sparrows, chickadees, and more than one bald eagle. And every day egrets, white pelicans and Canada geese in the water. We have been to Miller’s Ferry Campground three times now and each time has been a pleasure.

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Isaac Creek Campground

We really enjoy Army Corps of Engineer campsites. They are big and spacious, have huge individual sites, and they are set in lovely places. Isaac Creek is wonderfully nice even by Army Corp of Engineer standards. The campground is located in south west Alabama just upstream from the Claiborn Lock and Dam and the region is positively packed full of history. It’s rather off the beaten track with no nearby city. We made a point of stocking up before we went in.

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One of the fun things was lots of paved roads for bike rides. The river was extremely high and fast flowing so we decided for safety reasons to forego canoeing. We signed up for three nights initially but we soon increased that to five as a major storm system was supposed to be barrelling through. We didn’t want to be traveling in storms. Our decision turned out to be correct as the system spawned 36 tornado warnings with six confirmed touchdowns. At one point we were also under a tornado warning which we spent in the shower stall of one of the washrooms. This was our second “hide from the tornado” event. Our young dog who is being trained got her longest sit stay session yet and she did very well. As it happened the tornados went to the south of us.

In spite of the one scare we had a lovely time. We took bike rides daily and short training walks with Misty at least three times a day. There were lots of other kids and dogs in the campground so we worked on lowering leash reactivity and proper heel technique. We also did lots of sit/stay and lie down stay.

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There were abundant wildflowers to enjoy and the place was full of migrating birds. After weeks of intense volunteer work for Gulf Specimen Marine Lab we found it a great pleasure to unwind, watch the sunset and sunrise and just enjoy life at a slow easy pace.

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Migration South Day 22-24 – Blue Springs State Park Alabama

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Our last stop before our Florida destination was Blue Springs State Park Mississippi. I was not so happy with this state park. The trip did not begin well. They had only one full service site left and in the process of trying to back up we nearly ended up putting the truck in a huge drainage hole. The roads into the campground were really narrow, so narrow that it was impossible to turn a corner or back in without going off the road. Both sides of the assorted roads also had many heavy duty old fashioned cement lined ditches and culverts. Everything was covered with a thick layer of leaves and pine needles so that I was unable to see that hole until I almost drove into it. it could have been a total disaster and it was only that the truck felt like it was on something strange that made me stop and pull forward while the one tire was still partly supported that saved me. Afterward, viewing this huge square hole with a two metre drop left me shook up thinking of what could have happened. I suspect this near miss coloured my view of the park.

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The other thing about the campground was it was really really dark. No sun could get through a solid canopy of trees overhead. This was probably really nice in 100F weather but on a cool day, it left me feeling claustrophobic. After the near miss with the truck, we were able to find an electric/water site with some openness and sunshine. We thought it was a full service site because it had a sewer outlet. When we went to pay the lady told us in a horrified voice that was not a sewer outlet and we could not dump in it. Fortunately we had dumped just before leaving our last place and I had only opened the grey water outlet so we had done no damage. Later walking the park I could see almost all the sites had what appeared to be a sewer outlet that was not a sewer outlet. We also saw that much of the old cement plumbing was being torn out and replaced with something more modern. The over all effect was to leave us feeling this place was dark and dingy. At least the washrooms were clean and the shower water was hot.

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The park has two beautiful springs for which it is named. There is a parklike area around them and they empty into two huge pools. The water is a constant 68F (20C) but it felt too cool to swim when the temperature was below that. The water was clear and lovely. The pools were full of small fish. The springs empty into a small river/large creek that meanders off to encircle the campground in a rather pretty way. This redeemed the place but I doubt we will be back.

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Migration South Day 20-22 – Miller’s Ferry Campground, Camden, MS

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We made another decision to enjoy the journey instead of racing to get to the destination so we decided our next stop would be Miller’s Ferry Campground, yet another Army Corps of Engineers campground near Camden, Alabama. It was only 107 miles closer to our eventual destination but it is such a nice place we had to stop. We had a leisurely breakfast, packed up slow and easy, and drove at a nice easy pace on quiet back country roads. We made a stop at a lumber yard to pick up some replacement wood planks for parking our trailer on if the ground is soggy. (The ones we had were splitting.) Plus I needed to get some new connectors for that overheating melted connection.

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Misty practicing loose leash and sit-stay under some Spanish Moss.

Everyone I know in the RVing community has been robbed or cheated at least once. So far we have been very lucky and it hasn’t happened to us. We have been told criminals tend to target Canadians because they know we are unlikely to be carrying guns. I credit the alert dogs we always have with us. We nearly got robbed again and again, the dog saved the day. We were in the back of the lumber yard chatting with the nice young man who was cutting our 12 foot board for us and I had foolishly left the truck window down half way with my purse in plain view. Suddenly, I heard our Misty giving her alarm bark. It’s a very impressive big booming “Rowr! Rowr! Rowr!” Though she’s gentle as a kitten she has a set of big white teeth many alligators would be intimidated by. I looked up just in time to see a man pulling his arm, hand empty, out of the truck and then watching him run off as if a demon were chasing him. Misty was really angry and she wouldn’t calm down as quickly as she usual does. I gave her the command that all was well now, praised her up for the alert, and she finally put her hackles down and laid down again in back. I wonder if that apparent would be purse thief got himself a bad start when this 70 pound black dog rose up from where she had been sleeping in the back to give her big booming alert bark. I hope he soiled himself! He sure pissed our Misty off. Misty was madder at him than she was at those herons.

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The dock at our campsite.

We arrived at Miller’s Creek just after 1:00pm and then settled in to a lovely spot. We even had our own private dock! My first job was fixing that loose connection. Again, birds, open space, wonderful scenery, flowing stream. This park is very popular and so even for winter it was about one quarter full. We have several lovely long walks. The sun was shining all day. The temperatures were not quite at T shirt level but a sweet pleasure.We stayed two nights. They had a nice laundry for only $1/load so we got caught up on that chore. We met a nice couple who showed off their fancy Bigfoot trailer and shared lots of advice to consider for our next travel trailer.

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We found we were back in Spanish moss territory. We also found a whole lot of bamboo. Bamboo may not be native to North American but it has to be the nicest grass there is.

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Overall it was a wonderful stay and I’m so glad we decided to travel only 107 miles that stage of our trip to take the time to enjoy Miller’s Creek. Life is too short to miss such wonderful pleasures. That stop for the sheer pleasure of it completed, we continued on our way towards the Florida PanHandle.

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Cathedral Cavern

We stopped on our way out of Huntsville to do the tour of the Cathedral Caverns. This is the nicest cave we have ever been in. We have been to Carlsbad and it is bigger but there are extended stretches of nothing pretty. This cave had lovely stuff all around. It took us almost two hours to walk the mile and a half into the cave while the guide showed us all the various things. We had a very good guide who knew all the history of the cave and had many things to tell us. We enjoyed this stop.

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This one was fascinating because it was a piece of the stalagtites hanging down and they had a hole in each on where the water ran through.

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