Can’t decide if this is the weirdest or worst camping trip ever. Help me decide.
We left the campsite from hell in Nashville early this morning, hoping to stay ahead of the freezing rain that the weather forecasts all promised. It’s so cold that when we cross the Tennessee River, there are huge whitecaps rolling about. Destination? Fulton, MS. Sounds odd, but it’s the site of a Corps of Engineers campground – we’ve enjoyed every one we’ve stayed at, and would go out of our way to ever camp there. They are mostly built near dams or other federal waterways. With our “geezer” America the Beautiful pass, a terrific campsite with electric and water generally costs $10-$15 per night. A bargain.
So, we pack up and hit the road by 8am. Jezzy has had a walk in the rain, which she’s not crazy about, and is snoozing in the back seat. We’ve got NPR on the radio, searcing for news. After two days with very little phone or internet access, we’re news hungry. It’s pouring, but not sleeting or freezing rain yet, so we’re hopeful that we can beat the really crappy weather.
Mostly state highways (with a few significant bumps) give way to the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile, three-state National Scenic Trail, that follows migration and (later) trade routes established by Native Americans in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There are many scenic turnouts and points of interest. For us, a major attraction was the smooth pavement and absence of any stop signs or stoplights in the 70 miles we traveled. Fat, warm, and happy, we’re listening to our James Lee Burke audio book, and congratulating ourselves on avoiding a potentially bad day. We did detour off the Parkway to the Visitor’s Center in Collinwood, TN.
Our first sign of trouble came as we exited the Parkway, and found that our smartphone navigation had ceased to function. So, John opened up the Fireball to get our COE campground book to double check directions to the campground. He reported that the floor of the Fireball was apparently covered in peppercorns! Apparently, our grinder had unscrewed itself, and spewed its contents into the cupboard, which jostled open and scattered a cup of black peppercorns into every crevice of the Fireball. Seriously? Do you know how many peppercorns are in a cup? They are now melding in the corners with the bits of red wine slosh from yesterday. I’m no Becky HomeEcky, but this is no joke. With every bit of good nature I can muster, I sweep hundreds of peppercorns out in the street in front of the Fulton, MS Post Office, where we stop to mail a few postcards. Onward to the campground.
We’re enchanted to find the most beautiful campsite ever. We’re not even deterred by the fact that it’s out in the open, in 27 degree weather with a 20mph wind, rather than being tucked into the trees for shelter. Heck, we’ve got electric power and running water (or so we think). Our own dock.The bathrooms are clean and warm, and there are no other campers in sight. Perfect. We set up, I sweep up and toss out another big handful of peppercorns which have materialized from godknowswhere, and we head off with Jezzy to explore. (If the Indian Tellicherry pepper ever establishes itself in Mississippi, you know where it came from!) It’s gorgeous here – we’re bundled up within an inch of our lives, but are optimistically gathering firewood for the bonfire which will sustain us through the evening. This park even has an history museum, the Jamie Whitten Historical Center, a curiously magnificent, mostly-empty social, educational center. Jezzy waited patiently outside while we explored. Seems to be curiously out of place, but we sure did enjoy chatting with the staff and enjoying the exhibits. Back at camp, John sets wood up for an enormous fire in the pit, and I gather snacks for a happy hour treat. We settle in at our picnic table, but the wind is really roaring now. Salami blowing everywhere, almonds and crackers skittering across the table. We nod at each other, and silently retreat inside. The sun sets, and I step outside a few times to snap photos from our gorgeous setting.Meanwhile, we discover that our electric hot water no longer works! It has apparently followed the propane function to the special place where hot water heaters go to die. John spends happy hour reading the Atwood water heater manual, and goes out (hopefully) to check a fuse. Nope. Not the culprit.
Oh well. We’ve got sparkling clean, hot showers in a nearby bathroom, and we’re full of happy hour snacks. Who needs dinner (and the cleanup, requiring water, that follows?) Why do I have the feeling that we’re going to spend a substantial portion of our time in New Orleans (Fontainbleu SP in Slidell, LA) hanging around an RV service department? John is philosophical. I’m of more of a catastrophic mind. He thinks it’s simple stuff, I’m certain it’s the death of the Fireball.
New Year? Schmew Year! (maybe things will be better tomorrow).