Friday, 29 November 2013

In the Footsteps of the Chickasaw Nation


We left Tiffin in Red Bay on November 22 with repairs complete and CC in tip top shape. A short drive took us into Mississippi where we set up in a fabulous campsite in Tishomingo State Park. The park is where Dixie and I have been hiking and watching fall take its hold on the woods. Very few leaves remain on the trees but we have an oak decked out in deep red a stone’s throw from our coach.


We are in the end loop of campsites near the park border so our setting is very tranquil. Our nearest and only neighbour is around the other side of the lake.


The park is named after Chief Tishomingo of the Chickasaw Nation that inhabited this area for thousands of years. Tishomingo translates as king’s assistant or servant king. As a woodland tribe, it is easy to imagine their survival based on the plentiful fish-filled lakes and rivers, berries, herbs and mushrooms in the woods and deer in the meadows. It is cool to trek pathways stepping in what might have been their actual footsteps. The majority of 21st century Chickasaw Peoples live now in Oklahoma.

Challenges of extreme weather must have been enormous. We have been having our campfires at dusk before the temperatures drop into the teens and then we climb inside our warm motorhome. I have so much respect for those native’ survival techniques! Staying warm must have been an incredible challenge for them.



We experienced a lot of rain during our first few days in the park and had to schedule our walks between downpours. We did see many small deer perhaps feeling less conspicuous on the gray days. A small flock of Canada Geese, a pair of White-fronted Geese and one Grelag Goose cruise Haynes Lake throughout the day. They are particularly vocal in the early morning. The Grelag has a distinctive gruff honk that would shake anyone out of a deep sleep. My theory is that they are celebrating the fact that they are geese and NOT turkeys in lieu of Thanksgiving lurking around the corner.


On our many hikes, nature always presents us with new sights. With Chris along on ‘The Outcroppings Trail’, my photos give a better idea of the scale of the cliffs. It’s interesting that among the piles of dead leaves are  two or three hearty plants that refuse to give up their chlorophyll. An oak leaf wears an interesting fungus called a gall. Insects feed on the leaves, forcing a high production of growth hormones that form the gall. Luckily galls on the leaves do not harm the tree’s health. The water trickling water falling softly is beginning to freeze and build small icicle sculptures across the rocks.




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Our time is spent hiking, reading, baking, catching up on some movies, just relaxing without any schedule or appointments to attend to. We have been checking out the forest reflections in the new mirrors and wheels.

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The campground has a cute outdoor chapel and hosts Sunday Services at 8:30 am. Having celebrated our “Turkey Day” in Canada, the American Thanksgiving was a second chance for us to reflect on our bounty and love of friends and family. Although I’m not a religious sort, the outdoor chapel in the woods would be a great spiritual setting in which to celebrate nature and Thanksgiving.

The locals of Alabama and Mississippi are very friendly and welcoming folk. I am not sure if that is related to their religious faith but I have noticed that there seems to be a church of some sort on every corner. To confirm that my observation was not exaggerated, I looked up some statistics. The large-small town of Orangeville where we lived in Ontario has a population of about 11,410. There are forty five places of worship for those residents to choose from. On the other hand, Red Bay Alabama is populated by 3,153 people who have over sixty five churches in town or close by to attend. Wow!


Here is Chris receiving the eleventh commandment:

“Thou shalt giveth thy dog many bones!”     from the Book of Dixie, Verse 15


Below is the star of our Thanksgiving Feast. Maybe I’ve consumed too much of it and that is why I am hamming it up!  Sorry!!


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

After the Rains


We are still at Tiffin in Red Bay, Alabama in what is similar to the 1950’s suburbs portrayed in the Edward Scissor Hands movie. Everyone wakes up at 6 am,walk their dogs, eat breakfast and drive into the bays by 7:00 for service. Those left behind, wait for The phone call with anticipation, perhaps this afternoon……. Then promptly at 330 pm, all the coaches return to the lineup in the “campground/parking lot”.  Meanwhile, the workers peel out of the shop heading for freedom. Jacks go down and a camp-wide melody of  beeping resonates while the slides open, electricity and water are hooked up and cocktails are served.  Often the men gather to “compare rig sizes and performance” while the women hustle inside the coach preparing the evening meal. How 1950’s is that?


The weather has been varied with a range of daily temperatures from 40-74 during the day. A fire warning was in place with the extreme dry conditions. Our hikes in the Tishomingo State Park have been great, crunching through piles of leaves and enjoying the colours. There are many creeks and ponds  for Dixie to sip and dip in. After two days and nights of rain, the conditions changed. The paths in the woods were sodden and treacherously slippery. Some rocks had a thin film of “leaf slime” over them and with the stones and roots sitting every two feet along the pathways, I felt like I was walking on a newly waxed floor on which someone had randomly tossed a handful of marbles and wooden dowels. Three quarters of the leaves were down but the hangers-on shone brightly. We spotted some turtles lined up on a log sunning themselves. The smallest was 8 inches in diameter but the others were up to 14! With turtles’ great sense of hearing, they are almost impossible to photograph. By the time I realize what they are, they are sliding off  the log into the river. Most berries and flowers are gone. A few  glistening  red seed pods remain. They look like they would make perfect hats for mice or perhaps a centrepiece for Thanksgiving dinner on a chipmunk’s dining room table. It was difficult to appreciate the scenery when my focus had to be on avoiding a fall. Dixie however, motored ahead, checking out the rock cliffs and enjoying short swims along the route. The streams were swollen and there were many mini water falls trickling over the mossy cliffs.

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Dixie explores the caves. Below is proof that I am not exaggerating about the dubious, dangerous paths.

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The Tiffin lot was filled with its own ponds and streams as water raced about. We discovered a great country-like walk down a back road beside the golf course in town. We dodged the raindrops and avoided the muddy fields plus, on a wet Sunday, there were no golfers about. We celebrated the end of the rains as everyone parked here hopes to be called into a work bay soon and get that special sticker on their windshield.

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Another day, we drove to Tupelo Mississippi to restock groceries and alcohol. I’m not sure if I mentioned that the county of Franklin and thus, town of Red Bay is dry. We discovered that Tupelo is  the town of Elvis’ humble beginnings. The small clapboard house that his Dad built is on the site as is his church (which was moved there) various plaques and a statue of Elvis playing his country-gospel tunes that began his fame. The town of Tupelo has many businesses linked to the Elvis name such as Johnnie’s Drive where young Elvis hung out, Tupelo Hardware Co. that supplied Elvis with his first Guitar and namesake businesses like Presley Eye Care, Love Me Do and Elvis Presley Heights Cleaners.   There are colourful 8’ high guitar monuments along the sidewalks of Main Street celebrating “The King”.

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Americans are preparing for Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season. Every grocery store has at least one aisle packed with green and red items! We picked up some Clementines whose smell signals the approach of Christmas. Reading the label while reaching for one of these little sweeties can only make you feel good!