Thursday, June 29, 2023

Random Thoughts and Moving Day

Location: Jackson County Campground; Scottsboro, Alabama

Today was moving day and I moved about 100 miles east, but still near the Tennessee River. It was a short and easy tow. I'm liking this routine that I started using earlier in year as I was exploring parts of Texas. I'm trying to keep my tows to less than 100 miles and just leisurely drive to my next campground. My purpose of traveling has always been to see new things. So, I figure I can see new things 100 miles down the road just as well as 200 or more. The 100 miles is so if I pass something on the way to a campground, it is close enough for me to easily drive back to explore it after setting up Liberty in the campground. Some RV'ers like to "ball the jack" and cover a lot of distance in a day. You may need to ask a seasoned citizen or an old railroader about the meaning of "ball the jack". I also think my optimum length of stay is 4 days. It just feels right. It's long enough to explore some and still have time to rest up before moving on down the road.

The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains came into view today.

More mountains in the distance. Definitely not like the Rockies but bigger than anything in Louisiana.

Man was I ever surprised to find a Buc'ees on the way. A Buc'ees in Alabama. Wow. 

Campsite #80

The view out my back window. Not as good as I've had the last couple of times, but still not bad.

This campground has a lot of permanent RV's, but there seems to be a pride in their ownership. They keep their sites neat and clean. I believe the RV's are also being used as weekend summer houses with their boats tied up to one of several campground piers. The money they save from storage fees for the RV and boat would generally pay for their summer season campground fees.

I didn't write it up in my last post, but I visited the Indian Mound and Museum in Florence, Alabama during the time at my last campground. I finally got a reasonable answer to the question I always ask the people at Indian Mounds. I always ask, "the people back then were hunter/gatherers and worked hard to get food and shelter just to survive. Why would they build a mound? How would they have enough time to do something that would appear to be frivolous." I've gotten many answers over the years, but none seemed reasonable or logical. The guy in charge of the museum answered it this way. The Indians in the area gathered together at least once a year to trade, visit, pass along information and get married. This was much like the Annual  Rendezvous created by the mountain men of the Rockies. While the Indians gathered up, they would work a little bit on the mound to commemorate that years gathering. After several decades, the mound was completed. Now I'm not 100 percent sure that is how it happened, but it might have been that way.

I'm a sucker for $5.00 museums. The very best Indian Museum that I've visited is in Cherokee, North Carolina. 

The more I learn about the TVA, the more impressed I am with its success. You don't have to quit reading, I'm not going to type up more dry statistics or old history. One thing I don't understand, is why it hasn't been replicated on our other rivers. Yep, we have hydro dams that have improved navigation on many of the rivers in the country, but nothing like the things the TVA has done and is doing. One of the latest examples of an opportunity missed is the Corps of Engineer work to make the Red River navigable in Louisiana. They built 5 lock and dams between the junction with the Mississippi River and Shreveport, Louisiana. None are Hyro-electric dams. The only hydo dam in Louisiana is near the junction of the Mississippi River/Old River/Red River and it is owned by a city. While all the equipment and manpower was available to build the lock and dam, it would have been cheap to add on a powerplant. The TVA also has lots of free boat ramps, parks and picnic areas. Very few of those exist along the Red River. Oh well, life is full of missed opportunities.

I'm still undecided about my route back to Louisiana after the Rally. If ya'll have any suggestions, I'm willing to listen. I thought about paying a return visit to Washington D.C. but then changed my mind quickly. If something would happen while I was in the city, I could be arrested just for being there. Currently, there are over 1000 people that were arrested for being at the Capitol on January 6th. Had I have been the city on that day, I would have went to the Capitol, not as a rioter but as a tourist, "seeing what I could see". I would have been swept up with the other 1000 people. Just thinking about me changing my mind about visiting D.C. because of what could happen gives me a funny, icky feeling inside. It ain't right, and needs to change. Maybe a Convention of the States is what is needed. The founding fathers put it in the constitution for times just like this. Maybe.

On a lighter note, ever since I left Louisiana 12 days ago, I seem to be one step ahead of hot and stormy weather. Heat advisories are being issued for places as I'm leaving and the temperatures are 10 degrees cooler where I'm headed. Just lucky I guess. My luck will run out one of these days soon though.     

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe, I'll Cya down the road. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

A Dam and Waterfalls

Location: Joe Wheeler State Park; Rogersville, Alabama

There is nothing like a good waterfall. Yesterday, I saw two different types. The first one was water shooting out the side of the mountain and the other flowing over the side from the top of the mountain. The first one was a surprise but I knew about the other one because it is what brought me to that spot. The spot is the entrance road going to the Wilson Dam Powerhouse. It is restricted to TVA vehicular traffic only, but people are allowed to walk the 1/2 mile or so to see the falls. The overall area is known as The Rockpile Recreation Area. Hopefully, I'll also be able to put a video in the blog today.

A nice bench overlooking the Tennessee River just downstream of Wilson Dam which is 98 years old this year.

This is the road to the powerhouse which is for TVA vehicles only. But it is a nice little walk on paved surface and shaded by the mountain on the right. That is the powerhouse in background.

This is the first waterfall shooting from the base of the mountain. It is carried to the river by a pipe under the road.

This the main waterfall. There is another one just before this one that will show up in the video if I load it correctly. 

This picture show from the overlook shows everything. The powerhouse with its 21 turbines on the lower right. The dam in the middle and lock on the far side. The lock is the highest single lift lock east of the Rockies. You can see Wilson Lake to the top right and notice the difference in height compared to downstream. You can also see the remnants of Muscle Shoals on the left. It is those rock outcroppings in the water before you get to the dam. 

How about a house on a hill overlooking the river???

My view out the back window. This State Park has been a nice place. About twice as expensive as COE campgrounds, but since there weren't any COE's around, it did just fine. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be going about 100 miles upstream to a County Park in the town of Scottsboro, Alabama for 4 days. 

I need to start reserving campgrounds for my return trip from the RV Rally in Goshen, Indiana back to Louisiana. I'm having a hard time deciding on the route. We'll see. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe, I'll Cya down the road. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Time Distortion & Two Dams

 Location: Joe Wheeler State Park; Rogersville, Alabama

Day 3 of 4 

The tow here was only about 75 miles on pretty decent roads. There was a short stretch of shoulder-less road with a steep ditch on each side. I knew about it when I was planning my route and was prepared for it. A lot of RV'ers believe they should travel on the backroads (blue highways) all the time. I never have fell in with that crowd. I always want to tow on Interstates or roads with wide shoulders in case I have a breakdown or flat tire. I will definitely get off on blue highways when I'm exploring with just me and Freedom. To each their own (taught to me by a female full-time RV'er many years ago, RIP, Malia).

Tucked into a nice wooded campsite.

This campground is a state park located near the river. Not as close as my last campground, but I can see it out my back window. There are 4 campsite loops and 3 of them have been recently rebuilt. Of course, I'm staying the older one. The three new loops are out in the open with no trees and the campsites are new concrete pavement. My loop is tucked in the woods with old asphalt pavement and some turns that would stop some of the bigger RV's. I usually don't like a lot of trees over Liberty2 due to things like limbs, pine cones, ticks, ants, etc falling on her roof, but I'm OK here since no heavy storms or winds is predicted during my stay. 

Yep, that's Freedom and Liberty2 just hanging out.

There is a path leading from my campsite down to the river. I followed it for a little ways before it disappeared due to be overgrown. 

It's quiet and peaceful around here.

I've only been on this trip for 10 days but time distortion has already set in. It's nothing new to me and I have experienced it since I began my RV travels nine years ago. When I travel, it is usually pretty quick with average stays of 3 or 4 days only. I am literally seeing brand new things on a daily basis. My mind has very few periods where it can just kick back and relax. I call it being on "fast forward". When I think back to the campground I stayed at 10 or even 5 days ago, it seems far in the distant past. I can remember every detail of the campground, but I have to focus and think on it. I haven't researched it find out what it is officially called or why it happens. I think it is because my mind is having to absorb so much new information (sights,sounds,smells) in such a hurry, it pushes the older memories to the back, quicker. Often, in our lives, we repeat the same things on a daily basis, such as taking the same route to work, that our mind can slip into "neutral" until something new happens. Here is something to think about: Try to think of something that was a brand new experience yesterday or the day before. If you can think of one or two things, then you're lucky, since most can't name even one. But, with the way I travel, I'm seeing new things almost constantly. There will be less exploring at the next campground, so it will give my mind time to catch up and properly file away the memories. Oh well, maybe I'm going crazy or how my southern mother would say, "touched in the head".

Even something as common as laundry is something new, in a new town. 

There are two dams near this campground. They are on the Tennessee River and only separated by about 15 river miles. These two plus the Pickwick Dam at my last campground are needed to provide enough water to cover the shallow, rocky stretch of the river known as Muscle Shoals. I saw the first dam, Wheeler Dam, on day 1 of my stay here. I arrive in the early afternoon and had time to drive around the dam before eating at a fancy restaurant named Taco Bell. I was lucky to get in the way I was dressed in shorts and a tee shirt and without a reservation also. Fine dining at its best.

This is Wheeler Dam. It has 11 turbine for making electricity. Notice how close the fisherman is to the structure.

The water was rough in this part of the lake. That is the dam in the background.

This shows how rough the water was. I asked a local fisherman if this was normal, he said No, it was because of the wind ahead of a storm. 

Today's exploration will be to the second dam, Wilson Dam. It's time to do the 3 S's and get moving. Let me modify that to 2 1/2 S's since I don't shave much anymore. Ya'll can guess at the other 2 S's or ask an x-Navy or Coastie. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe, I'll Cya down the road. 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Battle of Shiloh & Corinth

 Location: Pickwick Landing Dam Campground (TVA); Pickwick, Tennessee

There were two main items on my list of things to see and do in this area. One was to see the dam and Tennessee River and the other was to visit the Shiloh/Corinth Battlefield. Today is day 4 of my 4 day stay and I have done both. 

I've thought about how to write a post about the battlefield and am unable to come up with a good way to present something so massive in size and importance. Instead, I will write a short summary of the events with some captioned pictures and maybe some personal opinions/views at the end.

The reason for the battle was the intersection of two major southern railroads located in Corinth, Mississippi, near the Tennessee border. The east/west route ran from the ocean port of Charleston, S.C. to the Mississippi River port of Memphis, Tenn. The north/south route ran from the Gulf of Mexico port of Mobile, Alabama to the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. Whichever side controlled this intersection controlled the major supply line for the south. 

This is the railroad intersection in Corinth. That small square of railroad track cost the lives of many people.

About 1 year after the war began at Fort Sumter, the south moved 44,000 troops into Corinth to defend the intersection. After the north won battles at Nashville, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson they were in control of the intersection of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The north initially brought 40,000 men to Shiloh by way of riverboats. They unloaded at a place called Pittsburgh Landing, about 20 miles from Corinth.

This is Pittsburgh Landing today. The stairs on the bottom left lead to the Shiloh National Cemetery.

The south took the fight to the north by leaving Corinth and marching the 20 miles to Pittsburgh Landing. They arrived before daylight and the fight began. The south easily pushed the north back early on in the morning. Some say, many of the southern soldiers stopped fighting so they could eat the breakfast that the north had been cooking before the fight. Even so, the north was pushed back to the river landing before they held their ground. During the night thousands of fresh northern reinforcement troops arrived. The battle resumed the next morning and with fresh troops, the north pushed the southerns all the way back to Corinth. The north laid siege to the city. After a little less than one month, the living conditions were so bad in Corinth, the southerns abandoned the city and retreated to Tupelo, MS. In late summer, the south tried to retake the city but was defeated. All total, about 30,000 dead and wounded in the fights at Shiloh and Corinth. 

You can visit the Shiloh Battlefield. Not long after the war ended, survivors on both sides met with historians to record what happened and where it happened. The battle is recorded in detail. There are monuments located everywhere throughout the battlefield commemorating what happened at that location. You can look across an empty field and see a monument in the distance with only a mowed path to reach it. It would take weeks to see and absorb everything. I only had one day. 

One of the monuments scattered around the battlefield.

Another monument on the battlefield. Each state who sent men to the battle erect their own monument. They design it, mostly however they want.

This is the location where the Union anchored a couple gun boats on the Tennessee River to shell the southern positions. 

There is also a National Cemetery located on the high ground near the actual Pittsburgh Landing. Most of the graves only have a small square marker with a number on top since the identity of the soldier is unknown. Although there are a few southern soldiers buried in the cemetery, most were buried in mass graves out on the battlefield. The southern soldiers laid on the battlefield for days or weeks before being buried in shallow trenches. Most of the time, locals were the ones doing the southern burials. Eyewitness accounts tell of northern soldiers going onto the battlefield to retrieve the bodies of northern soldiers while ignoring the body of a southern soldier near by.

The entry path to the National Cemetery on the Shiloh Battlefield

The cannon monument is supposedly the spot where General Grant had his headquarters.

It's a peaceful place but you can feel the unrest in the air.

This is an example of the two types of headstones. The one on the left was known and has his name inscribed. The one on the right is an unknown soldier. The number on top (291) means he was the 291st soldier buried here. At least they were buried individually unlike the southern soldiers who were mostly buried in mass trenches. 

This gives you an idea of how many "unknowns" are buried here.

This is the superintendent's lodge

The National Cemetery Act of February 22, 1867 financed and developed national cemeteries. The act purchased land and constructed superintendents lodges, perimeter walls, fencing and headstones. 

The reason there are so many large civil war monuments and statues in the south is simple, but has been misconstrued lately. At the time most of those monuments were put up, the family members of the dead southern soldiers considered them as a "headstone" or "marker". Most never knew where their family member died or was buried. Now, people are removing those markers in order to erase the memory. To a lot of southerners it is equal grave desecration.

The last picture is a peaceful one. It is of the road between the Indian Mounds and the Battlefield. Straight ahead in the Tennessee River beyond those trees. The boundaries of the Indian Mounds are within the boundaries of the Battlefield. This has kept the mounds essentially intact since the war. General Sherman had his encampment among the mounds because it was a perfect location militarily. It is protected against attack on three sides. Two by steep ravines and the third by the river.  

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be headed to Joe Wheeler State Park on Wilson Lake between two TVA dams. This has been a nice campground.

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road. 

Friday, June 23, 2023

1st TVA Campground (Pickwick Landing)

Location: Pickwick Landing Dam Campground (TVA); Pickwick, Tennessee (this post if from morning of day 3 of 4)

A main part of this trip, besides going to the FROG rally, was to explore the Tennessee River Valley. This stop is the first campground on the river. The campground is located just downstream of the Pickwick Dam and about 150 feet from the banks of the river. If the TVA would cut some of the weeds growing in the stone rip-rap, I would be able to see the river through my back window. It is still a nice campground under some tall pine trees.

I think I got the best of the campsites. My back window is looking at the river about 150 feet away.

These are the weeds that obstruct part of my view from the campsite. Since the management of the campground has been contracted out to a private company, I don't put must hope in the weeds being managed by herbicides. 

The Pickwick Landing Dam, built between 1934 and 1938, is a hydro-electric dam and produces 247 megawatts of power with 6 turbines. It has 2 navigation locks that are 600 and 1000 feet long. They can easily handle the typical 2x4 barge tow. The dam is 113 feet high and about 1 1/2 miles wide. It creates a 43,100 acre lake with 490 miles of shoreline. Whew, I condensed the dam information into as few words as possible, in hopes to prevent boring, glassy eyed reading. It interest me which is why I'm visiting the valley. 

The powerhouse. There are 6 turbines and 3 windows per turbine. To oversimplify things, the dam makes the water deeper on the upstream side and when water flows downward through an opening it spins a turbine that creates electricity. A lot of the time, the release of water for electricity is enough to keep the water from getting to deep on the upstream side so floodgates aren't opened regularly. Currently, they have only been using 3 of the 6 turbines. 

This is view showing the powerhouse on the left and the floodgates on the right. The locks are farther to the right behind that concrete wall.

One of the old turbines.

Freedom jumped in the picture. She wanted a copy sent to Liberty to let her know what she was missing. I don't know how to do that, so it won't be done (don't let Freedom know that though).

A set of 8 barges heading up river to the Pickwick locks. There is a web page names "marine traffic" that will show you where the boats are located and where they are going. It covers the entire world.

The lead barge nearing the lock gates which should be opened by now.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was created by Congress and approved by FDR in 1933. It's purpose was to create a federal agency to make the Tennessee River navigable, control flooding, help in reforestation of area and provide the basis for industry and agriculture. To accomplish its mandate, it built 46 dams along the main river and its tributaries. Of the 46 dams, 29 are hydro-electric. For navigation, there are 9 main locks operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The TVA serves 10 million people in 7 states with a work force of about 10,000 people. By the way, they also have 3 nuclear power plants and are on the cutting edge in new developments concerning nuclear power and solar power. 

I believe the TVA has been a very successful program since it was created. Apparently, and hopefully, there are enough checks and balance within the agency to prevent political interference, remembering the Board of Director are political appointees of the President. The whole program could be considered a step in the socialist direction. This was the main criticism of FDR's New Deal and a few of his programs were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It is hard to imagine the large amount of work and improvements done by the TVA being accomplished by any other way than through a public agency. It could have been done by private companies but the extreme financial risk would have made it more expensive in the long run. One piece of great news is the TVA is self-funded and do NOT receive any federal appropriations.

It's a very pretty area around this part of Tennessee and north Mississippi. I'm a little behind on posting since I've already explored parts of the area. Oh well, maybe I do a two-post day and make a post this evening. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe, I'll Cya down the road.    


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

A top 5 COE campground

 Persimmon Hill Campground; Enid Lake, Mississippi

Today is day 2 of 2 here at this great COE campground and tomorrow is moving day. The next several campgrounds are four day long stays because these 2 day stays, while good at getting me back to my original route, are a bit tiring. I didn't plan to explore much at this campground, but I was able to drive to the Batesville Indian Mounds which are about 10 miles north of here. I didn't do the hiking trail around the mounds and was satisfied with what I could see from Freedom. These were small mounds compared to some other places I've been. I'm still not convinced the "experts" know what they are talking about when they explain how and who built all of the mounds scattered around the country. It is hard for me to believe that people who were struggling to find enough food to survive would also find the time to haul dirt to build a mound. Oh well, it wasn't a great exploration, but I'm OK with it. 

This COE complex on Enid Lake is one of the best maintained areas I've been been to in a very long time. There are several campgrounds around the lake and the one I'm staying as has full hook ups. I missed that when I was making my reservation. I won't be emptying my tanks here because the sites are close enough together that I don't want to disturb my neighbors. I'll use the dump station at my next campground. During this Monday and Tuesday stay, it is probably about 75% full. I'm glad I stopped here and will be back if I'm passing through this area.

The rest of this post will be pictures and captions. 

My campsite with the lake and dam out my back window. The sun sets to the left. The first night was just a reddish sky sunset and I'm hoping the one tonight will be better. 

The view out my back window, which I need to clean.

This is the view from the Mississippi Welcome Center. The bridge on the left is the four lanes of I-20 and the bridge on the right is the railroad bridge ( I'm guessing the railroad cars was a dead give away). If you look close, you can see a nice US Flag proudly flying over the railroad bridge. I was hoping to get some tourist pamphlets but the place was closed while observing Juneteenth.

This is a typical section of interstate across North Louisiana and Mississippi. I'm not fond of it and call it a tree tunnel.

One of several boat ramps around the lake.

My favorite thing in the campground and other parts of this complex is the "swinging thinking-bench". I sat and "swang" in all of them but one. The next few pictures are of other swings around here. I just had to post them. 

"Swinging thinking-bench" #2

Swinging thinking-bench #3. That is the COE office in the background with the flag flying. 

Still Swinging thinking-bench #3. Freedom wanted in the picture. 

This is an indicator of what makes this campground special. The little flower bed is maintained by the campground host and the pride just shows and shines. It's the little things like this that count. 

OK, OK, this is the last swinging bench. I didn't sit in this because I only discovered it this evening while I was walking off some sauteed shrimp I made from supper. It is a great view of the lake and shows it size.

This is also from tonight walk. I'm taking the picture while standing in an empty campsite. It sure was a nice evening.

The sun just went down and it was a below average sunset. Oh well, there's always tomorrow and tomorrow I'll be camped along the Tennessee River. I'm looking forward to that.

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road.