A Rainy Planning Day

Tuesday October 5th 2021

The rain began shortly after 5AM. It was a heavy rain that sounded like a continuous roar on my roof. I’m parked under an Oak tree, so I had the added noise caused by the tree leaves to contend with as well. When I woke up a second time around 7AM, it was still raining heavily. By 9AM the pattern for the day was established. It stopped raining for two or three hours before starting up again. The rain passed through the area in waves of heavy rain. In between the waves the sun managed to come out a couple of times. The pattern is forecast to continue through tomorrow night. There is a flash flood watch out for all of northern Alabama.

Tennessee River between the rain storms.

Yesterday when I tried to make reservations for my next stop starting Friday, I had no success. I realized that I had allowed a holiday weekend to sneak up on me. The Columbus Day holiday is a state holiday in Alabama and Georgia as well as a federal holiday. The first thing on today’s agenda was to find where I was going to go next. I haven’t had any success in my direction of travel. Worst yet, I’ve learned the problem continues all of next week. Next week is the fall break for schools in the southern part of the country. Many of the school systems in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi have next week off. I’m used to northern states that don’t have a structured fall break.

A new bird condo near my site. No birds have moved in yet.

The key phrase in the last paragraph was “in my direction of travel.” The RV parks I’m aware of and those that I can find on the internet to the east, southeast and a few I checked to the north are all booked for next weekend into next week. I did find openings 200 miles to the west at my go to from the summer, Sam’s Town Casino RV park. I haven’t committed to a 400 mile detour, but it is nice to have a fall back. I’m continuing to search for options this evening. Google search, Google maps and my other references are getting a real workout. If I don’t come up with a better plan, I’ll lock in the back track route in the morning.

A Nice Day Between the Rainy Days

Monday October 4th 2021

Today began overcast and a little foggy. The sun burnt through the gloom by midday. The general result was a nice warm fall day. Unfortunately, the rain returns tomorrow, Wednesday and probably Thursday. The TV weather talkers are calling for two or more inches of rain over the next few days.

Ducks, ducks and more ducks.

My activity level today reflected the weather conditions. While it was overcast outside, I was dragging out my breakfast and watching the morning TV shows. As the sun broke through the clouds, I got outside to explore more of the campground and the shores of the Tennessee River.

This seems to be an attractive fishing area. Everyday I’ve seen several fishermen actively fishing from boats toward the shore around the campground. There also seems to be a lot of action with fish breaking the surface of the water. Some are feeding on surface insects, but other times the water boils with fish responding to a probable predator fish below. On every walk around along the shore I see some evidence of fish in the water.

Single fisherman on the calm water.

I’ve been carrying fishing gear in the basement storage of my RV home since I got on the road. It has not seen the light of day since I stored it. At locations like this I think about getting a fishing license and dropping a line in the water. Perhaps if I was here longer I would. Most of the places I stay for longer periods of time don’t have attractive fishing nearby.

Blossom of the day along with an insect visitor.

Rainy Day Football Watching

Sunday October 3rd 2021

It was a rainy day. About 4AM this morning I woke to the sound of rain on the roof of my RV home. After a brief check to close windows, I went back to sleep. It was still rainy lightly when I woke around 8AM and it continued most of the morning. During the afternoon there were periods without rain, but the sun never made an appearance.

Bird picture (heavily magnified) of the day.

The weather was a perfect excuse for spending the day in front of the TV watching NFL football. As I’m writing this blog entry, I’m watching my third full game of the day. The early games were interrupted by two different walks around the RV park, but tonight’s Buccaneers vs. Patriots game is getting more of my attention. The return of Tom Brady to Foxborough is an event not to be missed. The coverage is also over the top with prepared tribute pieces aired before the game. The Patriots are my team based on the location of my birth and where I lived most of my life, so I won’t root against them. Still I was happy to see Tom Brady lead the Bucs to the Super Bowl victory last year and would like to see the aging veteran continue to do well. Tonight I expect Tampa will prove to be the better team.

The campground didn’t empty out as much today as I expected. About a third of the sites emptied out. Many of the rest seem to be occupied by people that leave their rig on the site during the week while they return home for work and school. Late this afternoon many of the RVs were empty. It is very quiet tonight without a lot of outdoor activity.

While I have been writing this blog entry and watching the game on TV, the over the air television signal went away. I’ve experienced a similar issue other evenings in this area. I’m not sure if the broadcaster is dropping the signal strength to a level that I can’t receive or if I have some internal issues in my RV home. The bottom line is I can’t watch the game right now. I’ll have to switch to watching something on satellite TV.

An Overcast Day is Better than a Rainy Day

Saturday October 2nd 2021

I woke this morning to an overcast day and it went downhill from there. Rain is in the forecast for Sunday and Monday, but it got here a little early. A few light showers were added to the overcast this afternoon. Today’s temperature peaked in the mid seventies. Overall it was an OK day.

View of the Tennessee River on an overcast day.

Today followed the usual first day at a new location pattern. I got the rest of the setup tasks complete for my week long stay and got familiar with the campground. The campground looks like it was developed by the Army Corp of Engineers or probably the Tennessee Valley Authority given the location. The layout of the sites and other recreation areas along with the poured concrete picnic tables are some of the signs. It’s possible that it was developed by a private company to similar specs, but more likely was leased or sold to a private concern after it was built with public funds. There are signs that it was upgraded in recent years. New power, water and a few sewer utilities are on most of the sites. Some sites have been removed and the area replanted, but the old electric utility boxes are still there. They probably added new sites to other areas of the park, but needed to keep the total number of sites constant. The result is an interesting mix of an old style campground, modern campground amenities and a family oriented clientele.

Zoomed and cropped image of a Great Egret on a distant river bank.

The campground is located about four miles from the nearest major road on the south bank of the Tennessee River. This section of the waterway is know as Wheeler Lake. The Wheeler Dam, Lock and Hydro electric facility is down river a few miles. The view in most directions from the campground is of water and green tree lined banks. The one exception is on the north bank of the river. The industrial looking area is actually the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. An interesting neighbor for a campground.

A Fifty Mile Travel Day

Friday October 1st 2021

Where did September go? The sun was back for the first day of October. It was a little more humid than I’d like for a travel day. Getting ready for travel and setting up at the other end of my travel were a sweaty mess even though the temperature only got into the low eighties.

I didn’t get as many of the inside travel preparations ready yesterday. This morning I had a few extra inside tasks to accomplish, but I didn’t need to leave until noon. As it happened I got on the road at 11:30. With less than fifty miles to my next stop, I arrived around 12:30. They didn’t really like my early arrival. The first thing I was asked was “Did you request early check in?”. There published check in time is 3PM. Early check in costs an extra ten dollars. I was entertained by a whole bunch of “reasons” why they charge for early check in. The real reason is because they can. Going somewhere else for two hours or my entire stay isn’t a good option. I really think the lady checking me in didn’t like charging the fee either.

Ten extra dollars poorer I arrived at my campsite for the next week. I found a back in site with a couple of trees in bad positions. Backing in was a challenge exacerbated by my rear view camera acting up again. A neighbor walking his dog stopped and help spot me as I backed in. Overall it took a little longer than normal, but was not that hard.

Site 7 at the Decatur Wheeler Lake KOA.

The campground was quiet and not very full until 3PM. Shortly after the prescribed check in time a steady stream of weekend campers started to arrive. The campground is on a lake formed by a dam on the Tennessee River. Many of the campers arrived with boats. It looks like it is going to be a bit of a party park this weekend.

Caught by the Rain

Thursday September 30th 2021

It was a cloudy day this morning. Instead of the high fluffy clouds of the last few days the sky was completely filled with white. The morning weather forecast called for the clouds to continue all day with a slight chance of rain. The high temperature for the day was in the mid seventies.

Blossom of the day.

The forecast was overly optimistic. This afternoon while I was out driving around more than thirty miles from my RV home it started to rain. Half trusting the forecast, I had only closed the roof vents on my RV home. Many windows were still open. I headed for home in heavy rain. As I got near my RV home the level of rain diminished as I got ahead of the storm. Everything was fine. The wind wasn’t strong, so it didn’t come in the open windows. Rain continued for next couple of hours. It never got as heavy as I experienced on my drive home.

Later in the day, before it got dark, I got most of the outside travel preparation tasks complete. I’m moving on about fifty miles east tomorrow. The weather is forecast to be dry in the morning.

Are Shortages Returning?

Wednesday September 29th 2021

The nice fall weather continued today. It is getting a little more humid. With the humidity more clouds dot the sky. The billowy white and occasionally dark clouds form an interesting pattern in the sky. A couple of times today they threatened rain, but only a drop or two fell.

A day filled with lots of big clouds.

Today was another exciting grocery run. Listening to the gloom and doom news stories on TV, I expect to find shortages and huge price increases every time I go to the store. I didn’t find anything unusual about the supply on the shelves today. All year there have been small issues with choices of brand or flavor variations in products, but it has always been possible to get the things I need or a close option. Yesterday the news indicated a new shortage on paper products was happening. I found the paper towels and toilet paper aisle fully stocked. So I’m now fully stocked to the extent I have storage space.

Figuring if things are more expensive is more difficult. Moving around all the time and shopping in different areas adds an extra variable. Most of the prices on standard items like can goods or boxed goods go up and down a few cents depending on where the Walmart is located. Things that have a shorter life which may be sourced locally, like produce, meat and dairy are much harder to judge. I know the meat is more expensive than it was a couple of years ago, but I’m not sure when it went up. Produce is a total mystery with respect to the price. Its price is seasonal and demand based. The product that I find hardest to predict is milk. Some states must subsidize or tax it. The price can vary by more than a dollar a gallon from state to state. A half gallon of milk was only ninety eight cents today. That is the cheapest I’ve paid in ages.

Blossom of the day.

Tomorrow is my last full day at the this RV park. On Friday I’m moving east another fifty miles or so for another week. Until the end of the month my plans remain in jello.

Thinking About Rivers.

Tuesday September 28th 2021

There were a few more clouds today, but otherwise it was a nice day. The mid eighties temperature of the last few days continued. It was a little more humid and there was no breeze. So far it hasn’t cooled down as fast this evening.

In my wandering around the area, I found a nice boat launch area on one of the dam created lakes on the Tennessee River. There was a lot of recreational boat traffic. It is hard to believe that there might also be commercial traffic on the river. The Army Corp of Engineers and later the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built and maintain dams and locks to support navigation from the Knoxville TN area where the river forms all the way to where it empties into the Ohio River in Kentucky. The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was also created to connect the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee River in Mississippi. This allowed traffic from the Tennessee River to reach the Gulf of Mexico via Mobile Bay. I was camped along the Tenn-Tom Waterway earlier in the month at Piney Grove Corp of Engineer Campground.

One of the things that has surprised me on my travels is the extent of America’s river system. I knew about the major river systems on the Continent from the various geography courses I took during my education, but the extent of their use and all of the other smaller river systems is the surprise. The Mississippi River is navigable from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. I knew the Ohio and Missouri Rivers were major tributaries, but the role of the Tennessee and Arkansas rivers were things I learned more recently. I’ve also learned there is a connection to the Mississippi River from the Lake Michigan in the Chicago area, but it may only be usable by shallow draft and low vertical clearance vessels. Either way, it opens up access from the St. Lawrence Seaway emptying into the
Atlantic near Newfoundland. I’m not sure how far the Arkansas river is navigable, but it is at least as far as the major cities in Oklahoma. Out on the west coast the Columbia and Snake Rivers are the surprising ones. Traffic can reach areas of Oregon, Washington and Idaho from the Pacific Ocean.

The other major waterways are the Intercoastal routes along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast. They allow smaller commercial craft and recreational vessels to travel from the Philadelphia area in the northeast all the way to Brownsville Texas near the Mexican boarder without having to face the open sea in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Some sources define Boston as the northeast start and exclude the west side of Florida from the definition of the Intercoastal waterways, but either way it is a lot of protected navigable waterway.

All of the nations rivers represent another interesting way of travel. I know there are some people that transition from RVs to boats and the other way around too. I am not going to be one of them. The issues of navigating the roads solo are hard enough. A boat needs at least one more person on the crew.

Lost Monday

Monday September 27th 2021

The good early fall weather continued again today. The temperature peaked in the low to mid eighties will very little wind and a bright blue sky. The combination of warm days with cool overnight temperatures is ideal.

As far as productive or adventurous experiences today was a bust. I got lost in the bowels of the internet during breakfast. Between reading obscure articles on a variety of subjects and watching videos, I consumed half the waking daylight hours. It was an enjoyable day despite not producing anything worthy of capturing in this blog entry. Here are some of the pictures from today’s walk around the RV park.

Football Sunday

Sunday September 26th 2021

The nice early fall weather continued today. There were a few more clouds during the middle of the day, but the sky was back to cloudless by evening. The temperature peaked a little above eighty with very little breeze all day.

This was the first Sunday that I have been able to watch the NFL games on TV. The first Sunday of the season I didn’t have any TV reception and last Sunday I was traveling most of the day. I am not an over the top football fan, but I do enjoy following the game. Most weekends I’ll catch bits and pieces of games. Today, I watched more than usual to catch up for the lack of exposure over the first two weeks of the season. The local teams in this market seem to be the Tennessee Titans and the Atlanta Falcons. I hoped this area claimed the New Orleans Saints as a home team so I could see their game against New England Patriots. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I didn’t get to see the Patriots loss.

I need to set my alarm clock to get back on a decent sleep schedule. I’ve been getting up at 10 in the morning. At night it is closer to 2AM before I get to sleep. When you don’t have any specific plans it is easy to get out of sync. Today the day felt particularly skewed with the football pregame shows starting before I finished breakfast.

The weekend guests at this RV park departed this morning. A couple more look like they are leaving in the morning. It will be back to the empty during the day and near full at night cycle starting tomorrow. According to my original plan I would have been one of the people departing tomorrow. Yesterday I extended my reservation until Friday, but in my head this has seemed like my last day. Once I don’t leave tomorrow I should be back in mental alignment.