Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Independence day, but not from grid power
Posted by Sean
Happy Fourth of July, everyone, from us here in Europe. Or so it would seem, as in the past two days we've been to Paris and Florence, and passed Dresden and Milan. This morning we are at the Joe Wheeler State Resort Park, near Rogersville, Alabama (map).
Yesterday morning found us at the Elks lodge in Paris (map). Not the one in France, nor even the one in Texas, but rather Paris, Tennessee. That was only about 60 miles from where we started Monday at the Canal campground, owing to a very late decision on which way to head. Ultimately, we took a guess that the boat in Florence would be available, and we got confirmation of that while we were at the Walmart in Murray, reprovisioning.
The Paris lodge has three electric pedestals with 50, 30, and 20a outlets, and hose bibs in each location. I would guess a half dozen rigs would fit easily, but we were the only ones there. There was an old Eagle conversion with a window smashed out parked in front of us, but it was unoccupied and looks to have been parked for quite a while. I made a $5 donation at the lodge, which they were happy to have but do not require, and we were very comfortable for the night with 50 amps. It was a friendly lodge, and we would have gone in for a drink, except it was too smoky for us. It was a strange location, though, in what looks to be a retired warehouse facility, complete with rail spur and loading docks.
We got an early start yesterday, to be in Florence well ahead of our 3pm appointment to look at the boat. There is a city-run campground adjacent to the marina, and we were hoping to get settled in a spot and then pull a scooter out to go back to the marina. We planned to arrive around 2, but we got stuck at a road closure for a traffic accident, and rolled up at 2:30.
No matter, because the campground was sold out. Apparently, all the reservable spaces sell out each year on January 2nd, when reservations open, and the very small handful of first-come-first-served spaces sell out each day by 9am during the season. Today in particular, Florence will be having its fireworks program over the river more or less right there by the campground, so it is very popular.
Instead we drove over to the marina and parked in the lot there while we toured the boat. The boat, a Cheoy Lee 46 Trawler, had a great layout that really appealed to us -- a flush-deck arrangement with a large master stateroom aft, a nice VIP stateroom midships, and a standing-height engine room. Unfortunately, this particular example was in poor condition -- we could feel soft spots in the floors and on the boat deck, we could see damage under the side decks from the engine room, and 30+ years of questionable modifications in the engine room and elsewhere made for a "project boat" of a magnitude not in keeping with our plans.
After thanking the sellers, we turned our attention to alternative lodgings. The nice lady at the park office had suggested a campground across the river, in Muscle Shoals. Now, Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers, and they've been known to pick a song or two (yes they do), but what Muscle Shoals does not have is a public campground, so this had to be a private RV park. We decided instead to go back to our directories and find something a bit further along our route.
This state park was just another half hour or so upriver, and we called to see if they had any spaces left. They did, and tried to persuade me to reserve, which would require a stay of three nights on account of the holiday, at $27.75 a night. Oh, and by the way, there are only two spaces left still available for Wednesday night. We opted to take our chances as walk-ins. Those last two spaces for tonight had sold by the time we arrived, which was perfect because it meant we would only have to pay for a single night in one of the few spaces still left yesterday.
We're under the trees here, so we could not get the satellite online, but the park has WiFi. It's a bit spotty, which has been frustrating, but at least we can get on. The park also has a beach, a golf course, and a lodge with a restaurant, rooms, cabins, and cottages. Near the restaurant is a large marina with a store. We rode over to the restaurant for dinner last night, and then walked the marina. I'm told this park is where the Great Loop Cruisers Association holds their fall rendezvous, and I can see why -- the marina is huge and there are meeting rooms, picnic pavilions, and other facilities available.
It turned out to be a nice stop, and while $27.75 is at the higher end of our range, such a nice park is worth it. Unfortunately, we need to be out by the 11am checkout today. Tonight's stay will be another challenge. I have a list of five campgrounds with power from here to Chattanooga, several of which take no reservations. We'll hit them all, if need be, to find a spot for tonight. Worst case, we'll have to boondock and run the generator, which, in this weather, will cost us $30-$40 for one night.
Photo by y.caradec, used under a Creative Commons license.