October 24-26, 2010 – Pickwick Dam and David Crockett SP
Drove out of the Memphis area and took the recommendation of the Visitor Center hostess to travel US 64 across the state rather than I-40. It was a more interesting ride certainly and there were less trucks. This part of Tennessee was rolling farmland. As we travelled, the wind kept getting stronger but it was a humid wind and the temperature was around 80 degrees. Pickwick Dam is a TVA dam along the Tennessee River. There was a state park, Pickwick Landing SP, right across the bridge and it was located on the Lake formed by the dam while the TVA campground was on the River side of the dam. There were two locks allowing the barges to ply these waters as well. We decided to camp at the TVA site because we had not used one of their campgrounds previously and we wanted to kayak the Tennessee River. Unfortunately, the weather interfered with our plans. There was a paper plant right across the river and the wind was blowing in our direction so the smell of sulphur was almost overpowering. The wind kept getting stronger all night and it began to rain as well.
We packed up and left in the morning and headed northwest toward David Crockett State Park. It was the scariest ride we took the entire time and not because of the road. Put it this way….all I could hear was “You’ll never go home; you and that little dog!” We have one of those weather scanners that has the NOAA weather and they were reporting a tornado near Hardin County and Waynesborough; the town we had just gone through. The sky was an unbelievable shade of black/gray/green and the clouds were very low. It was raining heavily at times and the wind was incredible. The weather station kept giving instructions for getting out of the weather and reminding us that high profile vehicles should stay off the road. At one point, we pulled over on the side of the road to watch this particularly ominous cloud that looked like something we had seen on Storm Chasers. We really expected to see a funnel cloud and we could see a column of what appeared to be rain but we weren’t sure what it was. I got out of the RV to see what was behind us because we really couldn’t see that part of the sky. The wind seemed to be blowing the clouds away from us but there was another area that was suspicious looking heading our way. We kept going but it was so scary and I was constantly checking the sky. Of course, the radio didn’t help as we kept getting that siren sound signaling a tornado sighting. Very very scary.
We finally got to David Crockett State Park. The rangers were not particularly concerned about the weather or about a tornado as they thought the worst had passed. But, we set up quickly and located the shelters we would use if there was a tornado spotted. We would have gone to the bathrooms but the park was deep in the woods and afforded a semblance of safety. It rained pretty much all day and the wind continued until about 4:30 when the sun peeked through the clouds. The park itself was situated in the rolling countryside of Tennessee and there were herds of cattle grazing on adjoining lands. We saw several dozen turkeys, lots of squirrels and at least 20 deer. Needless to say, with all of the hickory and oak trees in the forest, there was plenty for them to eat. There was a 40 acre lake and a nice bike/hike path. The sites were not level and not big but we found a pretty good one since we got there early in the day. Some of the trees are passed their prime fall color but others were ablaze.
This was a lovely state park and I would have liked to stay another day. We hiked one of the trails in the afternoon with Dixie but we were so deep in the hickory and oak woods that we could get no satellite signal much to Bob’s dismay. So, because the World Series was to start, we left and headed to Nashville.
We drove the Natchez Trace Parkway which was an absolutely beautiful ride. The road is sort of narrow for an RV of our size and the pullouts are also not made for rigs like ours, but we did hike down to a falls and with the tree color and the rolling farmland and woods, it was so pretty and reminded me, at least, why I prefer Pennsylvania over some of the western desert states. Tennessee is very much like PA in its geography and only a little milder in temperature at least in this area.
We are staying at Nashville Country RV park which is right between US 31W (which goes north and south) and I-65 about 13 miles north of Nashville. It is very noisy here and the site we are in is very small but we had no reservation and basically, took what we could get. We can get satellite reception here although they have cable hookups. Expensive too, relatively speaking, even with Good Sam and Camp America discounts – about $35.00 per day. They do offer tours and trips to the Grand Ole Opry and we are going to take advantage of that.