Have you ever suffered from campsite envy? You know…when you look around and wish you had a different spot in the campground. It’s when you might say to yourself, “Wow! I wish I had that spot.” or you might say, “Look! Those people have a really nice site”. It happens to us all the time, but once in a while we get lucky and score the best campsite. Such was the case at our most recent stop at South Abutment Campground on Arkabutla Lake in Mississippi. Located on a point at the tip of a peninsula, site 27 was the best site around with wonderful water views on three sides. We were there for three days and spent much of that time gazing across the water at the mesmerizing view. It was peaceful and relaxing.
Arkabutla Lake is a man-made reservoir created from a dam on Coldwater River about 30 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. The Army Corp of Engineers maintains five different recreation areas and campgrounds around the lake. We saw there were a few hiking trails near where we were at South Abutment Recreation Area and choose an easy one for a leisure afternoon walk through the woods. Swinging Bridge Nature Trail is just downstream from the dam. A narrow bridge of wood boards supported by steel cable spans a creek. I laughed out loud when Grammi scurried across the bouncy bridge.
The water level in Arkabutla Lake was above normal so the flood gates at the dam were open. A powerful torrent shot through the dam making the river churn and swirl possibly creating the best class five whitewater anywhere east of the Mississippi. Dozens of brave fishermen stood on the rocks lining the bank casting lines in the fast moving river. I could not help but think that one slip could be disastrous. We did not see any such disaster, but we did see many of them pull fish to shore, making it, for them, worth the risk.
Evening came and we built a fire. Friends arrived for dinner. We have known Analise for a long time. She went to school with our daughter. She now lives nearby with her husband Frankie and it’s been two years since we last passed through this area to visit. Grammi planned a lovely evening outside and set a tablecloth and paper plates on the picnic table.
As we sat down to eat, something crazy happened. An unexpected burst of wind came out of nowhere. Grammi’s plate of food went flying as did her hat. Analise and Frankie managed to hold on to their plates with one hand while holding down the tablecloth with the other. I caught my plate mid-air getting food on my shirt. Grammi then hollered, “the chairs”! I looked to see our lawn chairs had blown over into the fire. I quickly ran to pull them out. We grabbed everything and ran inside the camper where we finished dinner.
A short time later I looked out and saw the lake was calm. Just like that, the wind was gone, so I went back out and stoked the fire. We sat around talking while roasting marshmallows the rest of the evening. Despite the sudden gust of wind, we all had a good time and it was a nice visit with Analise and Frankie.
Last week we went on a hike and Grammi got a blister on her heel. She’s had her Merrill hikers a long time and has worn a small hole in the padding on the inside of the back of the shoe. Well, we can’t have that. We have a lot more hikes ahead of us. So we took a day and went to Bass Pro Shop in Memphis to get her a new pair of hikers.
The Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid is an impressive place. We were there once before and I wrote about that visit in a blog titled Kings and Pyramids dated June 20, 2019. We only had an hour to look around at that time. I said then if I ever got back I’d like to spend more time looking around. We did spent more time there this time looking at this and that. We browsed the camping section keenly and found some bear spray. Hmmm, that might come in handy one day. Grammi scanned the clearance racks and I admired all the shiny new fishing reels. We took a closer look at the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Heritage Center and I was amazed by the collection of duck calls.
We stood in front of the aquarium and tried to identify all the different fish species. We saw a diver in one of the fish ponds net a fish. A sample of its gill was clipped for what I assume will be some testing. I remember having a small aquarium at home when the children were younger. It was a lot of work keeping it clean and maintaining healthy fish. I can’t imagine the work that goes into keeping this place clean and healthy.
We didn’t take the elevator ride to the observation deck again. The Sky High Ride is the tallest free standing elevator in the country and goes to the pyramid’s peak for views of the city. Because they are limiting the number of people in the elevator and on the observation deck at this time, a long line of people were waiting their turn to go up. I didn’t feel like standing in line so we passed on the opportunity.
After a couple of hours and a new pair of hiking shoes for Grammi in hand, we left the pyramid feeling satisfied we had seen enough this time. We went to the Tennessee Welcome Center located only a few hundred feet from the pyramid. It’s a great place to stop and learn about Tennessee’s history. Also on display are statues of Tennessee’s two kings, B.B. King and Elvis. Behind the visitor center is a walkway where we saw Mud Island and in the distance…the Mississippi River. We drove pass Beale Street on our way out of town. We didn’t stop as we were told by locals that there isn’t much open during the day. There didn’t seem to be many people on the street either, other than a few delivery trucks being unloaded.
We went back to camp where we sat outside watching the waterfowl on the lake. A heron stood ever so still in the shallow water. A v-shaped flock of ducks, heading north, flew overhead. I wondered if I had one of the duck calls I saw today, if I could coax them in for a closer look. This was a fabulous campsite. One I’m sure I will remember for a while. I would certainly come back if we pass by again.
So until next time…happy days and safe travels.