This blog has been delayed due to my being under the weather. It is from back in late April, but we didn’t want you to miss any of our travels, so bear with us as we catch up!
As our time in Florida came to a close, we reflected on arriving in Florida the beginning of November. We began in the Panhandle and gradually worked our way counterclockwise around Florida. We spent time with family and friends, had a major repair on the RV and completed our yearly physicals. We counted many many alligators along the way and took our first airboat and swamp buggy rides. Now it was time for our last stop in Florida. We stayed three nights in Jacksonville and very much enjoyed visiting my Uncle Bill, Aunt Peggy and cousins. We also managed to meet an old friend of Bill’s and his wife for dinner one evening. Bill met a Boy Scout childhood friend he hadn’t seen in fifty years for coffee on Saturday morning and really enjoyed reminiscing and catching up.
And with that, our winter travels in Florida ended and our summer travels began!
First stop was in Cordele, Georgia for two nights so we could visit Bill’s cousins nearby. Always nice to visit these sweet, lovely ladies!
While in the area we made the short drive to Fitzgerald, Georgia to visit the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site. The museum was closed that day but we did walk around the thirteen acre historic site in the beautiful Georgia countryside. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and a few men crossed the Savannah River into Georgia on May 3, 1865. Davis was headed to unite rebel forces and continue the fight. On May 9, 1865 they camped in this pine forest, unaware they were being pursued and the enemy was close. At dawn they were captured by two groups of Union cavalry. Strangely, the two Union forces were not aware of each other and briefly shot at each other, killing two Union cavalrymen. Davis was taken prisoner and held in Virginia for two years until he was released. A monument marks the spot he was captured. We really enjoyed our visit here but the Georgia gnats were vicious!
Next up we said farewell to Georgia and hello to Alabama. We spent four nights at the huge and beautiful Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City. Our final days in Florida had been such a whirlwind we spent the time here resting, stocking up at Walmart, picking up our mail at the local post office, doing laundry at the park’s nice air conditioned laundry room and catching up on monthly paperwork. We did drive over to the 2,040 acre Horseshoe Bend National Military Park in Daviston, Alabama. It is the site of Andrew Jackson’s victory over the Red Stick Creeks, a faction of the Creek Nation in the horseshoe bend of the Tallapoosa River. This was the last battle of the Creek War of 1813-1814 and resulted in the Treaty of Fort Jackson which gave 23 million acres of Creek land, half of their land, to the United States. Today, three fifths of that land is now Alabama and one fifth is what is now Georgia. It also brought national fame and recognition to Andrew Jackson, his first step on the road to the White House. Nine months later (1815) Jackson defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans, the last battle of the War of 1812. In 1828 Jackson was elected president and two years later signed the Indian Removal Bill, requiring southeastern tribes to move west of the Mississippi River to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) leading to what the Cherokees called the “Trail of Tears”.
I think this is definitely one of the lesser visited national parks but the ranger was very friendly and we toured the exhibits at the visitors center and watched their twenty minute movie about the Creek culture and the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. There is a three mile loop drive with five stops where exhibits describe different events. We enjoyed the beautiful drive and found several geocaches. On the way home as we crossed the Tallapoosa River, Bill noticed hundreds of turtles sunning on rocks.
One funny story about our stay here. Our first day in the park we heard birds walking on our roof. They sometimes do this when they are looking for food. Back in November we were having the same problem and we could occasionally hear them pecking the roof. Bill bought a large fake owl. It is very lifelike and you fill the inside with small rocks to keep it stable. We named him Hootie and when Bill placed Hootie on the roof we had no more bird problems. So once again Bill got out Hootie and placed him on the roof of the RV. That night we kept hearing an owl hooting. He kept at it until we finally fell asleep. We think the owl was trying to talk to Hootie! We had the same thing happen when we used Hootie in Clearwater. That time the hooting of the owl drew the neighbors and us outside where we saw it in a tree until we spooked it and it flew away. Yes, Hootie looks very real and draws owl friends!
We really enjoyed our time at this lovely Alabama State Park. Well done, Alabama!
Next we headed to Clear Creek Recreation Area in the Bankhead National Forest outside of Jasper, Alabama. Bad weather was headed that way so we left Wind Creek State Park early, drove through Birmingham on a quiet Sunday and arrived at Clear Creek under a tornado watch. We just settled in before the heavy rain started. Fortunately the extreme weather stayed away and we just had about an inch of rain during the evening and through the night. We were greeted the next morning with beautiful clear blue sunny skies, pleasant temperatures and a steady breeze. We loved being able to open up the windows and letting the breeze in. While here we celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary with dinner at home and a bottle of Asti.
While at Clear Creek we went geocaching in an interesting area of the park. One tricky geocache was located under these rocky overhangs, which served as shelters for prehistoric people for 10,000 years in this part of the United States. During the Civil War this county seceded from the Confederacy and many people forced from their homes sought refuge here. This geocache required some rock climbing which always makes me nervous so Bill found it without my help.
After a three night stay, just relaxing and enjoying the forest, we headed to Chewalla Lake Recreation Area in the Holly Springs National Forest outside of Holly Springs, Mississippi. As we crossed the border into Mississippi we stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center. It was the prettiest Welcome Center we had ever stopped at with lovely antique furniture and paintings of Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis. There was definitely an Elvis presence to emphasize the fact that Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Our campsite at Chewalla Lake in the Holly Springs National Forest was almost empty and very quiet. We considered driving an hour east to Tupelo to tour Elvis’s birthplace or driving an hour south to Oxford to see the home of the famous author William Faulkner while we were in the area, but both days it rained and the temperature hovered around 50 degrees. We just couldn’t get motivated to get in the car and do any driving and sightseeing in those conditions. We did make the short drive into Holly Springs to pick up some supplies at Walmart. We also managed to grab two easy geocaches so we could add some Mississippi geocaches to our total.
Next stop is Little Rock, Arkansas where the drama got real!