Can’t say we started out in 2021 thinking we would spend so much time in Alabama but we have. Adding last years three week stay during the pandemic in the Tuscumbia area with this past winters two month stay in Gulf Shores, this brings our total to nearly four months having lived in the state of Alabama.
I decided on this route mainly to avoid coming close to Atlanta Georgia on our way north from Florida. I have yet to meet anyone that says towing around Atlanta is easy. I spent some time there years ago and recall even driving the rental car inside the city was nuts. I also wanted to avoid the Appalachian Mountains, preferring just to skirt around the foothills. Driving through Montgomery and Birmingham was no big event and yes, the south side of Birmingham on I-65 is still a bumpy ride.
I would have liked to spend some time near Birmingham specifically to take a day trip to Anniston Alabama where I attended basic and advanced training at the Army Military Police School at the time located on Fort McClellan way back in 1982. I’ve got to tell a short army story with a few photos and then I’ll move on.
I joined the Military Police at 18 years of age. You could join the army at 17, but not the MPs. We also had to score in the top 10% of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to qualify. Some guys were dropped from training when they could not get a secret security clearance. I was so excited that I could become a COP at 18 but things changed as a result of something that happened years before. The Military Police had been involved during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam (1968) where they were outgunned in Saigon, causing infantry units to be called into the city. It took the army many years to decide to restructure the Military Police by incorporating advanced infantry tactics and weapons. After graduation they took away all my shiny leather gear and traffic whistle replacing them with field gear and an M-60 machine gun. They always said the military trains for the last war. Well at least during those days. Fortunately I was heading home after training as a member of the National Guard and could avoid the months in the woods. I stayed six years but would have stayed longer had I known a war would break out in the middle east and my unit would deploy.
Thanks for permitting me to digress to the old days. Being in Alabama brought back some old memories. Now on to the present day.
We booked an Alabama State Park campground about two months in advance and arrived at Wind Creek State Park, outside Alexander City Alabama on a Saturday. Our paved site had 30 amp electric service, water but no sewer connection so we planned to stay just five nights. I know better than to arrive on a Saturday when a public park would be at its busiest. Five kids road their bikes behind the trailer as I was backing in! This is one of the largest state parks in the country in terms of RV sites, numbering well over 500. For lack of a better description the park is like a carnival for kids and even included an ice cream boat that pulls up to the shore of the lake. No worries, after the weekend and the ending of spring break the park became less occupied. They had the most convenient dump station as we left the park, sold propane and had a marina store. I’d go back for another visit.
I want to make an important point about RV parks in general. I’m of the opinion most everywhere you find an RV park there is something of interest to do in the area. You might not discover those interesting places until you have arrived in the area. Maybe a few parks are located on interstate highways just for the convenience of having a place to spend the night (or holiday weekend), but most are there because people want to visit the area. I spend a lot less time fretting over finding the perfect park along our would-be route or over-planning to make sure I’m close to everything there is to see and do. Especially during these times where campgrounds are busier because everyone is RVing and camping spots are getting harder to find unless you plan out a year in advance. I found a good spot for the upcoming holiday, having called the day after they opened. The lady that answered the phone said it rang for 10 hours on opening day. We all know locals mark their calendars to get the good spots the first day reservations are excepted. I’ll never be able to beat them to the punch so why try.
Near Wind Creek State Park we found Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. The place looked interesting enough in that it offered experiences we may not have had before. Better than a museum inside where one could see yet another old piece of farm equipment or rifle or whatever that look the same as the last museum. This National Military Park was on the grounds of the pivotal battle where Andrew Jackson and company ended the Creek Indian Nation’s control, opening up some 23 million acres of land for white settlements. Now I’ve traced Jackson’s footprints from his home at The Hermitage near Nashville to northern Alabama, south to Mobile Bay eastward on to Florida. Not because those trips were planned just to see what Jackson was up to. Most were just spots we have discovered along our journey in an RV that happened to be within miles of our camping spot. I’ll not get into if Jackson was a good guy or not because that becomes political, although I’m prepared to support my position should you and I ever meet and want to talk around the campfire. I appreciated the way the park was presented to include the markers explaining what happened in the exact spots you were standing in or look towards. There is no book that can better explain the events compared to seeing the place in person.
Our next stop was to the Corinth Recreation Area within the Bankhead National Forest. Bankhead was the Speaker of the House in Congress at one time. What a dream spot this was, surrounded by huge trees with plenty of space between the neighbors. The place was so quiet you had to check your pulse at night to make sure you were still alive. Corinth is just outside Double Springs Alabama. The campground reviews are for the most part accurate other than when they comment bring your food with you as there is no place to shop. Not true – Double Springs is the county seat (population 1900) with a good grocery store. Walmart is 30 minutes away unless you take the unmarked forest service roads like we did. Roads to the campground and within it are plenty big enough for big rigs. If you ever wanted to camp in a national forest but were worried about access this is the place to go. Down the road from our spot was an 1850’s church with graveyard. Wyatt chased his freebie off leash in the parking lot while I looked under the wood siding of the structure, finding exactly what I thought I would find which were wood logs. The campground is on the shore of a larger secluded lake with boat access. A trail leads around the park, just kick off the leaves that cover the paved track. There are all kinds of rock walls and a great overlook to the lake, constructed years ago by the junior civilian conservation corp. This Corp of Engineer Park is less visited probably because you have to leave the interstate for 30 miles to get to it and its not near any huge city. We stayed 13 days on full hookups and 50 amp electric service. American the Beautiful passes will get you a discount on a portion of the stay.
Karen visited an excellent thrift store in town to replace some of our clothing, all new with tags on them for cheap money…. Had lunch at Jacks, which is a chain of fast food places in the south where we have gotten to know the menu. Did the typical bi-weekly visit to the laundromat as one was not available at the campground. Bought a folding camp saw to trim trees if needed and cut up firewood that was laying around. We spent a lot of time just sitting in our chairs with a fire overlooking the woods or swinging in the hammock. Finished my 2020 tax return. Paid -1% in federal income taxes this year and Texas has no state income tax:) All stuff you do when you live fulltime in an RV. I’ll also report that the $50 a month hot spot from Cricket (AT&T) is working flawlessly.
I found out about the Corinth Recreation Area years ago when following the Living Our Dreams Blog. If you have taken the time to read this far into my usual wordy blog, I’m giving you this reward by referring you to Paul and Margery Zeller blog. There is no finer resource or better organized blog in terms of places they have been.
And again, we would find a wonderful day trip to make from the park which we knew nothing about until we arrived and started to research the area. Who knew the largest natural bridge east of the Rocky Mountains was near little old Double Springs Alabama. The forest also has many hiking areas that lead to fantastic spots. You might have to drive farther to get to the trail heads. Natural Bridges Park is only a short distance from Double Springs where the town itself is actually within the national forest boarders. You really have to see the place in person to appreciate it.
We are currently at the US Space and Rocket Center Campground in Huntsville Alabama finishing up an 11 day stay. Can’t wait to tell ya about the most interesting museum I have every experienced. True, I’ve got zero experience with being around NASA sites of significance so I might be a little easier to impress. I hope to remember to write about something new we tried where Karen spent the day alone at the botanical gardens and then I spent the day alone at the space museum. You need time alone when you live in a 400 square foot box. Even our dog Wyatt had to stay behind.
Thank you Alabama for the Covid vaccine 15 days ago! They could care less that we are from Texas. Got a next day appointment for the one shot version at Walgreens. No problems or side effects were worth noting.