Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quad Cities, Alabama

We've  made a few changes to our format.  Hopefully, it will be easier to read.  We're always looking  for ways to improve and make our blog more interesting.  We appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Last post, we left the Tiffin Red Bay Campground for a week in the Alabama "Quad Cities":  Tuscumbia, Russellville, Muscle Shoals and Florence, AL.  We enjoyed our time in Florence as the area is steeped in history and good food, and our visits have allowed us the opportunity to slow down (from fast-paced Red Bay, AL...., just kidding) and enjoy the character of small town America, interesting people, and to rest for our next adventure.  We stayed in McFarland Park, a beautiful city-owned and operated park on the Tennessee River (regulated by the Tennessee Valley Authority).  Some of our neighbors were professional bass fishermen in the campground - the ones that have sponsors that buy them beautiful RV's, boats and trucks, and fish big prize $$$ tournaments across the country.  We meet retirees, part-time campers, tent campers, teepee campers, people just like us, college students, backpackers, millionaires in huge rigs, and families who love pop-ups and the wide open spaces.  McFarland Park does not allow permanent campers, and it is extremely neat and well maintained.  Maybe someday we'll park the coach and stay in one of those cute little teepees for a few days.

Every morning the weather was so beautiful we walked at least 45 minutes - but there were also many mornings we stopped to talk to others, observe river traffic, rabbits, squirrels, shorebirds, and people fishing on the side of the river.

We enjoy visiting the University of North Alabama to see the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat.  Leo III and UNA, are the University's mascots.  Their habitat cost $1.3 million.   Feeding and care costs $35,000 annually.  All costs of maintaining the animals are covered by charitable contributions.   Everytime we visited the lions it was obvious they really enjoyed our visits.

While in Florence, we had been thinking about getting new cell phones and decided on a Droid for me.  It's taken a little getting used to but I think I'm going to like the GPS as well as texting - something I never felt the need to do before.  Another feature I really have enjoyed is accessing my email without the computer,  a real time saver.  It is definitely a little computer/phone that provides endless possibilities.  Well, we finally got rid of RV's bag phone...just kidding.  RV's new phone is a dustproof, waterproof Motorola (with larger numbers and letters) and was referred to by the salesperson as the "batphone".   He definitely is enjoying his new phone.

After a restful week we left Florence, and while our weather reporting system says the Memphis area may be experiencing flood levels on the Mississippi River, we talked to one of the hosts at the Tom Sawyer Campground in West Memphis, and she assured us the area where we will be parked is very safe and dry.  When we arrived it was obvious there had been flooding as well as huge piles of driftwood, debris and trash that had floated up into other areas of the campground.  This campground is HUGE and had an area where permanent campers "used to" live.  They had to be evacuated so it was obvious the visitors such as ourselves were in an area that was very close to the flooded area.  We enjoyed seeing the barges floating down the river as we had before....but this time you also saw huge tree trunks and the current was unbelievably swift.  While we were in Natchez, MS, also along the Mississippi River, we found that people didn't fish in the river because of so much raw sewage and industrial waste.  What a shame!

While we were in the Memphis area we had an opportunity to go to the Memphis Rock 'n Soul Museum as well as the Gibson Guitar Factory.  I won't go into a lot of detail, but they both were unbelievable.  Being in downtown Memphis isn't complete until you visit Beale Street.  Although it isn't the safest street - it's kind of like walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans - it's best done in broad daylight.

We left West Memphis and now we're Branson bound, a little over 300 miles away.
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