Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It's hard to believe this is day 79 on the road! We remember day 4 as if it were yesterday...we were leaving Chattanooga, TN, going north on our way to Bardstown, KY, and saw the beautiful Tennessee River and agreed we'd like to return to this area again. Little did we know the opportunity would come on our way traveling east toward Tellico Plains, TN.

There aren't many advertised campgrounds near Chattanooga, TN, but one caught our attention located north of the city, near Lake Nickajack on the Tennessee River. Wouldn't you assume Hales Bar and Marina and RV Resort might be interesting? Well, it was, but not like you'd think. Hales Bar is a sand bar and is the site of a huge old TVA electric plant - deteriorating for years - there used to be a dam here as well. We utilized several sets of directions - maps, GPS and directions from the manager of the campground. Approaching the campground our road was overgrown, narrow, and almost eliminated our satellite dish! Trees and roads were in need of attention! We weren't told the office was located in a temporary building near the marina, or that entry to the campground was through an unmanned entry gate with security code. A good samaritan was kind enough to recognize our plight and opened the gate for us. The on-again, off-again rain wasn't so bad until we had to disconnect the car from the coach. We were assigned an unusually large and scenic site and then realized this was actually a secret fishing village and we were about twice the size of any rig in the area. It was obvious that many of our new neighbors had established a homestead quite a while ago. We were parked against the shores of the river, hoping the ground would support us for a few hours.

There are many floating cabins in the river that would be filled to capacity when the weekend and better fishing conditions improve. This is also the destination of many professional fishermen - some of the floating cabins are as large as 3 bedrooms and are quite comfortable. I'm sure when the weather permits there are lots of people who love the huge pool, putt-putt golf course, floating restaurant and marina activity. We were quite happy to spend an evening listening to rain on the roof. After all, we had driven 159 exhausting miles!

Next day we drove 164 miles from Chattanooga to Tellico Plains, TN. Leaves are changing and the drive isn't so bad after the sun comes out from the clouds. We will be in Tellico Plains for a Tiffin RV Network Rally which will not start until Tuesday. After staying overnight at the Tellico Plains KOA, we drove to Marietta, GA to meet both daughters and families who have invited us to take part in Life University Homecoming activities. Lauren will graduate in 2010, and Dr. Kristen will take advantage of some continuing education hours. RV and I will take advantage of time with our 4 grandchildren while they attend classes.

Everyone was going places...Uncle Chris arranged to take Kenneth, his dad, and RV, to the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, GA. Kenneth met several players and received an autographed football. He had his photograph taken with Head Coach, Mike Smith. This was a day Kenneth will always remember thanks to the love and generosity of his uncle!

We took the children to the Atlanta Aquarium, the largest in the world, and seems like new exhibits everytime you visit. The Aquarium has a working relationship with the Falcons in some way - I heard it described as "Surf and Turf".

We drove our car to Georgia and returned to Tellico Plains on Sunday, and would you believe it - passed 3 more TVA dams along the way! It was a beautiful drive - I learned a new term - we were actually riding on the "tail of the dragon" along the way.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

McFarland Park Campground and Florence, AL

As I'm writing, I'm so distracted by the beauty of the Tennessee River just outside our door. Although there are 60 campsites, the layout of the campground is extremely open. For those of you interested in a real value, 50 amp service, water, sewer, picnic table and grill - all for $15/night (we're seniors)! A 7 day fishing permit for FL/TN residents is $16.

From our site we see the Wilson Dam, the vertical rocks across the river to beautiful Muscle Shoals, picnic pavilions down the road with huge fireplaces, and miles upon miles of trails surrounding the marina, golf course, soccer and softball fields, a floating restaurant, and a beautifully manicured driving range (and that's me in the tee pee). Upon arrival, a national bass tournament was taking place, so it seemed crowded. When the tournament ended, we began meeting some of the "real" people. At the end of October they'll be holding a national catfish tournament - imagine a 108 lb. catfish that won last year!

The Wilson Dam, began in 1918, and named after President Woodrow Wilson, was the highest single lock in the world when construction began, and is still one of the largest lift locks ever built. It was originally built to harness waters for electricity to power WWI explosives plants. This dam stands as the only neoclassical structure in the TVA system. Because of the dam, the otherwise dangerous Shoals are now commercially navigable. As we noted when we were on the Mississippi River in W. Memphis, the REAL show are all the barges navigating the river.

Florence was formed in 1818 to develop a thriving river town, and an Italian surveyor laid out the town, naming it after his favorite city in Italy - Florence. THE SHOALS is an area including Florence, Sheffield, Russellville, Muscle Shoals, and Tuscumbia. Some of the men of vision who bought land in Florence in its early days were people like James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and Supreme Court Justice John McKinley.

While there were no major battles fought here, few Southern towns suffered more than Florence during the Civil War. Florence changed hands over 40 times. We visited LaGrange College (8 miles south of Muscle Shoals), once known as "West Point of the South". LaGrange was the state's first chartered college and was burned by Union troops.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House was built in 1939 for $12,000 as an affordable middle class home. This home, 1 of 26 Usonion houses in the U.S., is the only home designed by Wright open to the public in the southeastern United States. The house is constructed of cypress, brick and glass and has been meticulously restored.

The University of North Alabama was established in 1830, and is located in the heart of Downtown Florence. The campus is beautiful, and was designed by the country's most renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead (designed Central Park, the Mall area of D.C., AND Bok Tower). UNA boasts the only live Lion mascots in the U.S. living on campus. If you'd like to see their live cam, click on this link (and wait to see the 24/7 on site mascots:

Monday, October 5, 2009


Driving from West Memphis, AR to Red Bay, AL isn't a problem - unless you think driving 170 miles a day is strenuous. Borderline for us! When we arrived at the Allegro Campground in Red Bay, it was packed with coaches awaiting service and we were assigned a site in no-man-land area of the campground (where they replace cracked/broken windshields); however, this is what we refer to as "dry camping"(no sewer, no water, but 50 amp service). Hopefully, a site will become available before too long. As long as we are here it is at no cost, - we meet our neighbors and before too long, we're having a great time.

Accessorizing. We've opted for 2 recliners instead of the couch we had previously. We added another custom louvered wooden fan cover installed as well as our bedroom end tables, and our "Zephyr" closet shelf with support. What a difference this makes! We had an exhaust brake switch added as well as a couple of electronic adjustments.

It is SO dusty and dry in Red Bay; (cough, cough) but we enjoy so much about this area! It is so enjoyable we already can't wait until next year. (Catfish at Swamp Johns, daily lunch specials at The Pig, buying local country sausage/thick sliced bacon and brown eggs at the campground office, etc.). Small world: we met a couple at Tom Sawyer Campground in W. Memphis, on their way to RB, from Quebec City, Canada, and enjoyed seeing them again when we got settled in Red Bay. Waiting on service, we took a tour of the downtown Red Bay Museum. Red Bay has celebrated their 100 year birthday just a few years ago. In another journal I mentioned this was Tammy Wynette's home area, so the museum has dedicated almost a half of the second floor to her memorabilia. You don't meet too many old-timers in this area who didn't know her personally. In Florence, AL, I commented about all the pictures of Tammy and George, and was told the owner of the restaurant did Tammy's hair over for over 25 years. Anyway, Tammy's last husband, George Richie, and his new wife (an ex-Dallas Cowboy's cheerleader)still come in with their little girl. Whoa!

It's Homecoming weekend in Red Bay, so we have to leave before the homecoming parade begins downtown. We've accomplished everything on our list, and look forward to moving over to McFarland Park, a city park on the Tennessee River, in the beautiful town of Florence, AL. (home of W.C.Handy).