We reserved a site on Holt Lake at Deerlick Creek Park near Tuscaloosa, Alabama weeks in advance. When it was time to go, it was evident that rain would be very likely for at least one day. However, we decided to go anyway as we felt we could easily handle one day.
Our site was right on the lake with lots of shade. There was a concrete slab for the trailer with a wooden deck and bannister. It had a circular pull through. A picnic table on a wooden deck and a graveled area with a grill were at a lower elevation. As we could not attach our 10×10 tent and rain was expected late the next evening, we decided to forgo the tent.
This was the maiden voyage, however, for our privacy tent and porta potty. The restrooms were quite far away and up a steep hill, so we really needed them. I have to say that I loved having this equipment so close.
Our Leapair privacy tent went up and down very easily and the tissue inside remained dry in the heavy rain that followed. The porta potty worked well and was really no big deal. I don’t know why I resisted it so long. I am now “porta potty trained”.
It was good to just have the camper and the privacy tent. Set-up was minimal and quick and the site was very comfortable.
Things That Go Bump in the Night
On our first night, I was startled by a scraping sound near our teardrop. It sounded like something was moving around at our campsite. My husband was asleep and I did not awaken him. I opened the door and shined a light outside. I could see that one of our large Hefty plastic food bins was away from our table by about a foot. However, I did not want to get out and move it by myself. (I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to unknown things in the dark.) The scraping continued a couple more times and each time, I opened the door and shined the light. The last time, I caught a glimpse of the culprit. Its eyes were shining in my light and I could make out the form of a quite large raccoon.
Later, my husband woke up and we went out to survey the scene. The box had been moved about eight feet. That raccoon was planning to take our entire box away! We moved it to the top of the table with the other two boxes and we were glad to see that it was there the next morning.
The first full day we were there was glorious! A beautiful, sunny day with lots of cooling shade. The temperature was perfect. We had a leusurely breakfast and just sat in our chairs and enjoyed each other’s company and nature. We used our phones as hotspots and kept up with email, Facebook, etc. In the afternoon, we went biking through paved trails. It was a truly uplifting and peaceful day, the kind of day that just happens occasionally that you can’t order up or force. It felt a lot like some of those past perfect days I have experienced at the beach.
That night, rain moved in and there were heavy winds. We had to close our star gazer window because it was difficult to sleep with the trees bending so much in the wind. It was also very noisy with heavy rain. We were a little concerned about limbs falling on us. Later in the night, my husband got up and discovered that two of our food bins were open in the middle of our outside rug and everything was strewn about. The next morning, we discovered that our chips, English muffins, and cashew nuts were missing. The bags were down the back of the ravine where we think the raccoon has his nest. We put what was left of our food in our car. Not as convenient, but much safer. We did not see any more evidence or their visits after that.
Rainy Day Plan
The rainy day plan was in place when we went to bed the night before. We had researched the area for where to eat and how to spend our time. Our clothes were in the camper and everything was ready for us to just head for the car with an umbrella. We had a leisurely breakfast at the Waysider, a Tuscaloosa landmark. The restaurant was established in 1906 in on old house. It is famous for the biscuits and coffee and both were excellent, as were the complementary beignets.
Next on the agenda was a visit to the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art. It is a very interesting museum with gorgeous Japanese architecture on the outside and Early American Art on display inside. The art is a collection by Alabama businessman, Jack Warner.
George Washington portraits were abundant at the museum, more than I have ever seen in one place. There were also many paintings and sculpture depicting early American life, a couple of which are included here. The museum staff were great and there was no charge for viewing the art. They also allowed photography as long as there was no flash. The art was beautiful and abundant, a perfect way to spend a rainy morning.
Our next activity was a tour of the Jemison Van De Graff Mansion at 1:30. It is owned by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and free tours are offered at 1:30 daily. We had a little time to kill before the tour, so we did a little shopping at the local mall and had lunch at the food court.
Our tour of the Italianate mansion was given by a very knowledgeable docent. She gave us a lot of personal history of the mansion. Interestingly, a woman named Priscilla Cherokee Taylor ran several of the plantations from this home, which was the townhouse for the family. The family name, Cherokee, was explained by the docent. The lady of the house at the time helped heal the daughter of the Cherokee chief. He was grateful and later saved the family from a Choctaw uprising. They asked how they could thank him and he said by naming their first daughter Cherokee. They have given the Cherokee name to a member of the family in each generation, a habit that has continued to this day. A portrait of Priscilla Cherokee Taylor is below and it was her mother who healed the Cherokee chief’s daughter.
The 26-room mansion was opened in 1862. It was very technologically advanced for its time with running water and a coal heating system. The mansion is currently well-maintained and proported to be haunted. Our docent told us it has been examined by paranormal experts on several occasions. We did not see or hear any ghosts, but she had some stories to tell. Today, the house is a frequent venue for weddings and special events. It is truly beautiful! Below is the mansion and a couple of my favorite rooms.
We really enjoyed our rainy day plan and were able to see some Tuscaloosa points of interest that would have otherwise been missed. I highly recommend our stops in Tuscaloosa and you don’t have to go in the rain!
Our visit to Deerlick Creek ended the next morning. It was our second Corps of Engineers campground. We were very impressed with how it is managed and maintained by volunteers. They did a great job.
- Lock food in the car, even if not in bear country! Our habit in the past has been to put our table and food bins in our tent. If we had set up our new 10×10, it would likely have been shredded as this was one very persistent raccoon.
- Rainy days can be great if there is something nearby to do and you have a plan.
- Corps of Engineer parks are great and very inexpensive. They also appear to have a similar look and feel. The Senior Pass consistently provides a 50% discount.
Looking forward to that next trip!