Monday, January 21, 2019

From Alabama through Mississippi

Finally, the #LeapFrogs are on the move!



We left Lake Guntersville, Alabama early in the morning.

Our original destination was Aberdeen, MS to camp at a freecamping site there. But because we'd gotten an early start, we stopped for lunch in Aberdeen to discuss staying put or moving on.

For years, we've used Trip Advisor to help us find local restaurants when traveling. This
time, Tim found The Burger Shack. The quarter pound burgers were massive and tasty, and the home fries were salted well. Just under $11 for all of it, so my budget was as happy as our tummies.

The restroom had a fun surprise, too.

Something I'm fascinated by - our rooftop suitcase seems to attract attention in these small towns, and everyone wants to chat about our travels - even without us saying a word. I asked Tim if he'd put a "Road Trip Junkie" sign on my back or something.

When we share that we're camping our way cross-country, reactions have all been positive but mixed. Most say they could never do it, many say they've always wanted to do it.

Take the leap and just hit the road. You won't be sorry.

During lunch, we decided to push on to the Rocky Springs Campground on the Natchez Trace.

One of the primary reasons we wanted to push through was to get ahead of the weather, to get out of the cold and the rain. But instead, we landed smack in the middle of the wet stuff.

The Natchez Trace is beautiful, even in the dead of winter. The campground was great, but because it is part of the National Park system, it was affected by the government shut-down, which meant no services were available, including open restrooms.

Before we left, we'd purchased a used tent on OfferUp because 1) it fit our budget, and 2) it met our needs. Unfortunately, I trusted the seller to be honest in his dealings, and when I asked if all the parts were included, and he told me they were, I believed him. I didn't bother unpacking the tent before we left home, but we did purchase some tent stakes, because you can never have too many of those.

Unfortunately, when we got to the Rocky Springs Campground on the Natchez Trace, we discovered the seller wasn't honest. Not only were tent stakes missing, but so was the canopy for the tent - that keeps out all the rain - and the room divider that Tim had really wanted. The room divider we can live without (I never understood them anyway), but the canopy, not so much. We had two smaller tarps that we used to cover part of the tent, but they weren't big enough to cover it all.

The forecast called for clear skies for the next few days, so I wasn't too worried about getting wet. But at 3 a.m., the rain hit. At 5 a.m., I woke with a puddle of water at my feet - inside my sleeping bag.

We quickly packed up important stuff, and left blankets and Tim's chair inside the tent, and retreated to the car. At 5:30, we decided to head into town for some coffee and figure out our next move. We stopped in at the McDonald's in Port Gibson. Again, people seemed to gravitate to us, asking about our travels. One elderly gentleman came over and shook our hand, told us he appreciated us visiting Port Gibson and hoped we had a great journey. We hadn't told anyone we were traveling at that point, and we were talking softly, so he couldn't have overheard us. Tim decided he must be the mayor of the town. Zach looked up the population and said the town was so small, everyone knew everyone else, so they knew we had to be strangers passing through.

Once we had internet service again, we learned the rain was settling in there for four days, so we went back to camp, packed up everything soaking wet, and hit the road again.

Before we went back to camp, I decided we'd venture out to a Roadside America
recommendation in the area - one of the reasons we'd come that direction anyway! Unfortunately, The Frog Farm was not in operation. It appeared to have been abandoned. The ground was too soggy to park, so Tim dropped me off, and I made my way to a locked gate where I snapped these photos. You can see a couple of the large frogs in the distance. Disappointed that we couldn't explore more.

After we packed up camp, we headed for the Natchez Visitor's Center, hoping to get some maps and general information. The place is huge, and allows overnight parking (with electric hookups for 2 nights) for RVs. At the Visitor's Center, we changed into dry, clean clothes (still wet from the morning rains) and then went exploring.

We found a small, local restaurant, called Southern Style, where we feasted on the best
catfish I've had in years, and some of the most affordable. The green beans, mac & cheese, and corn were all specially prepared and seasoned perfectly - not canned or boxed anything. It was so good, I want more. The service was friendly, too. The ladies there all take pride in what they do. I was texting Zach while we were there, and he informed me that Natchez was a dangerous place. When the ladies at the restaurant learned we were traveling through, they told us to just be sure to carry weapons and not be afraid to use them around there if need be. Not once did we ever feel unsafe.

What I found so interesting was that two different races were warning me of the same dangers.

To make our trip as affordable as possible, we're camping for free as often as we can. When I can find an internet connection, I'm scouring websites like freecampsites.net and Campendium.com, looking for random places to land. The first night was the Rocky Springs site, but after realizing the government shutdown would keep us from having bathroom facilities, we began looking outside the national park options.

We left Natchez and headed for another free campsite just across the Louisiana state line.

We'll share Louisiana in our next post.

Family and friends have asked for ways to help us and participate in our journey. I've set up two buttons in the right column to do just that: the Feed the Frogs button is for Paypal donations, and the Wish / Needs List is our "registry" on Amazon. If you'd love to be part of the journey, we'd love to have you along. We greatly appreciate your support!

Recent Posts:

First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized
Do You Have Vivid Dreams? Do You Record Them?


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