Tuesday, November 20, 2007 -- Joe Wheeler State Park near Rogersville, AL
It's been a busy two days, yesterday and today, and I need to get a post done to bring y'all up to date. Monday, yesterday, we got up early at A. H. Stephens Park and had the bus on I-20 by 9:30am. We were headed west, through the heart of Atlanta, and on into Alabama. The bus ran fine, the day was warm, and we made good time... making it to the Alabama visitors center at the GA-AL state line by noon or so, central standard time. Since we were making such good time we decided to head for Joe Wheeler State Park in northern Alabama. A quick phone call confirmed that they had space and that space would be available for the entire Thanksgiving Day weekend... so off we went.
Dar drove the next leg and tackled the Birmingham traffic like a seasoned trucker. We pressed north. Along the way up I-65, there's a stark transition from wooded hillsides to open, flat, farmland -- the ancient work of the Tennessee River, I presume.
An observation and a suggestion: Alabama has more litter along its interstate highways than I've ever seen anywhere to date. We saw a team of state-owned tractors mowing the roadsides along I-20. Because of the drought the grass isn't growing, but apparently there's a secondary purpose to these rigs... chewing up all the plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cheese-doodle bags, moon-pie wrappers, and other household debris that people simply toss out and into their environment. As we were passing by, I saw one tractor/mower drive over one of those disposable bead-plastic injection-molded coolers and the mower blades converted it from one big piece of litter to about 10,000 little pieces of litter. Do the people of Alabama feel a right to discard anything they want along these roads? Does the interstate highway system replace the need for additional landfills? Is grinding it all up with mowers state policy? I don't know. But here's a suggestion... pick it up instead of chopping it up. Duh!
Joe Wheeler State Park is a much nicer place than the shoulders of their I-roads. Located along the shores of Wheeler Lake, a dammed up portion of the Tennessee River, it's considered a "resort" park, as it has a golf course, a big lodge with hundreds of hotel rooms, a marina, cabins and cottages available for rent, all in addition to the big campground. We found some great sites for the camper, very much to our liking. By the time we backed in, leveled, and put the slides out it was dark. The time changes at the GA-AL state line to Central Time, and while we gained an hour on the clock we didn't gain an hour of daylight. By 4:30 here, it's getting dark. We put on over 350 miles today and we were tired. So after a quick spaghetti dinner and a little reading, I was out.
Today, Tuesday, was supposed to be warm, mid 70's, and mostly sunny. The rest of the week is downhill, weatherwise: good chance of significant rain, much colder (lows near freezing) -- you know, "do-stuff-inside" days. So today we opted for the outdoors and hiked around the parks over 2,000 acres, had lunch at the lodge, and photographed the park and a ton of wildlife. Along our walk today, we saw at least 2 dozen whitetail deer who feared us very little. They seemed more curious than fearful. We also have some feral cats around the campground -- they don't hurt anyone and serve a purpose in keeping small rodents under control. Oh, and we have a semi-tame skunk or two that lurk around looking for food -- a little disconcerting at first, but something you learn to deal with.
We're going to spend the rest of the week here. We've got full hookups and a great site. As an additional bonus to being here, we can have Thanksgiving dinner at the lodge with about 600 of our closest friends. It's supposed to be very good and it'll be perfect for our needs.
The flip-side of early darkness on the eastern side of the central time zone is the early morning. Sun's up at 6:30am... and so am I. After getting up at dawn and hiking so much today, I'm getting sleepy and it's only 9pm.