Another month has sped by, our last full month on the road, and it has been great. But then, so has this whole season. Suzi just finished reading "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" by Isabella L. Bird (it's a collection of letters Isabella wrote her sister in 1873 while on a tour of the Rocky Mountains). In it Miss Bird says; "I fear you will grow tired of the details of these journal letters. To a person sitting at home, Rocky Mountain traveling, like Rocky Mountain scenery, must seem very monotonous; but not so to me, to whom the pure, dry mountain air is the elixir of life." We can relate with Ms. Bird's comment. We have, over the years, seen so much, experienced so much, and done so much and we hope you have enjoyed being along and not found it all too boring. As a change of pace, next month's "Wanderings" will be a small collection photos highlighting this season so you might not "grow tired of the details." However, for this month, here are the details.
After bidding our good friends, Mike Monbeck and the Hogans farewell, we headed for North Carolina and started the month by re-surveying the Pisgah National Forest. We did this forest eight years ago and, boy, have we learned a lot since then. We were looking forward to our return to this pretty little forest but what we hadn't taken into account was the impact of three hurricanes: Frances, Ivan, and Jean, passing through there. The damage did have an impact but we got it done.
Many of you probably felt something from one or all of these storms. We did, too. But, our experiences couldn't compare to the physical residue still visible in the mountains of North Carolina. A lot of the mess was cleaned up by the time we reached the area but the clean-up left mountains of cut-up trees stacked here and there, huge gashes in the skyline, rivers and streams with changed paths, and roads closed. We had heard very little in the media about the impact of Frances, Ivan, or Jean on the Appalachia Mountain areas and was amazed and saddened by the destruction. The influence of hurricanes on those beautiful, gentle mountains could be seen from every Blue Ridge Parkway vista we stopped at. Few were the patches of Fall color, many were the areas of denuded trees in drab browns and dull greens.
/pNext came the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia and a brief stay near Helen, a favorite Georgia town, for a little Bavarian culture, a great meal, and some good German beer. Then, off to the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama. Now, Alabama isn't a place many people think of as being big on camping but the Bankhead has some great spots, particularly if you want scenery and RV hook-ups. We had two "fun" experiences in the Bankhead. The first was fog (remember we now live in a place were moisture in any form is a special event) so thick we couldn't see beyond an outstretched hand. The other was breakfast at the Main Street Caf‚ in Double Springs. Think of your grandmother's kitchen about eight times the size. The cooking wasn't fancy nor low on fats but it was yummy and
filling. Next to our table was a group of "good old boys" who meet here regularly. The conversation was delightful; all about the available work-force, the price of fence material, and high school football. It was an example of "real America."
We took a few days to visit old friends in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It was great to catch up, have some good food, and good conversation before heading for another favorite place, Fifty-six, Arkansas in the Ozark National Forest. In those rugged Ozark mountains we finally found outstanding fall color and enjoyed every minute there. But we came to the Ozark NF to work. There, we learned of a new campground. It is a very rustic (doesn't even have water) next to a formation called Sam's Throne and features some 400 rock climbing trails right at the campground! We have never found any place so beautiful and so focused on rock climbing.
Our last NF this month is Kisatchie in Louisiana. Here, Fred had a little late night encounter with a possum. You would be amazed at how high Fred can leap when confronted by an oversized rat look-a-like. Overall, we enjoyed getting re-acquainted with this NF and spending time catching up on a backlog of work. Oh, we were told to watch out for Copperhead snakes in our campground. We saw some road kill but not any alive - thank you very much.
By the time you read this issue of "Wanderings" the Presidential elections should be done. It seems a bit ironic that we started this season with Canadian campaign rhetoric and end it with the American elections. After the Canadians had elected their next Prime Minister there was an editorial about the mud-slinging and how drawn-out the whole affair had been. The only positive to the completed election campaign the speaker could think of was it only lasted for weeks (6 if memory serves). The speaker then
reminded the viewers, "Our southern neighbors still have months to go before their elections are done." So true, but now they are done and we are almost home - ETA is November 11.
It has been another good season. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have and haven't grown tired of the details.
Suzi and Fred