On Tuesday, October 12, we headed out relatively early for our three-state drive. It was a beautiful, clear morning, and a few of the four-legged residents showed up to see us off as we left the park. Our route was generally due south, starting on IL-37 all the way down to Cairo where we crossed into Kentucky just north of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. We were surprised when we passed through Mound City, a town that has seen better days, to see a National Cemetery. After crossing into Kentucky, we stopped at the Fort Jefferson overlook to walk a little, take in the confluence, and get a look at the GIANT cross. The fort was established in 1780 by George Rogers Clark to be a key trading post and assist in settlement of the area, but was abandoned the next year. The site was later visited by his brother William Clark and Meriwether Lewis on their epic journey in 1803. In 1861, it became a Union supply base and one of the first Union positions in Kentucky.
Back on the road, we continued south on US-51. At Fulton, we stopped to get groceries. The lady at the store pointed us to The Keg, across the street, for lunch. (MW liked his Southwest Wrap. The soft-shelled crab sandwich I had was good, but the sauce and a thick slice of an amazing tomato made the crab taste like an afterthought. If I went back, I’d go for a BLT.) By the time we got back on the road, Lori and Jimmy, our camping buddies for this week, had passed us heading down from Paducah, Kentucky. We crossed into the great state of Tennessee, continuing pretty much due south through Martin, Milan, Jackson, to Henderson, where we headed west over to Chickasaw State Park. We ended up making it just after they arrived. After setting up, the visiting began. No one felt like cooking, so later that night we headed over to Henderson to Bell’s Drive In (delicious all the way around, with fresh, hand-pattied burgers).
Wednesday started, as usual, with laundry. I headed over to the Plaza Laundromat in Henderson, which had older machines but was VERY clean and well kept. I also had a bit of work to get done, and they had nice tables that helped with that. The extension Tax Deadline was fast approaching, and there were a few stragglers. Not quite done with work after the chore was complete, I headed over to McDonald’s just down the street to finish up. Then it was back to camp, where I put on the pulled pork for dinner. For those who haven’t read previous posts, Lori is my oldest friend. We met when my Dad was transferred to Paducah, Kentucky, and went to Lone Oak High School together when I was sophomore and she was a freshman. In the last few years, we have managed to visit a lot more, and their purchase of a travel trailer last year adds to the fun. Spending time with her and Jimmy is always a hoot. Our afternoon was spent visiting, playing board games, and enjoying the beautiful weather.
Thursday morning I worked a bit more, and made a cinnamon apple coffee cake to share…easy and pretty darned good. Later we all headed over to Adamsville to check out the Buford Pusser Home and Museum. For those not in the know, Pusser is the subject of the Walking Tall movies (except for that last one with The Rock) and is quite a legend in Tennessee. It was a long, drawn-out, process, but the short version is this: after coming back to his hometown in 1961 to live, Buford became a constable and then Chief of the Adamsville police department. Soon he was introduced to the new, dark underbelly of McNairy County…bootlegging, prostitution, gambling, robbery, murder…by the Dixie Mafia and State Line Gang. He didn’t like what he saw, and quickly found out that the Sheriff and judge were in the pockets of the criminals. After the incumbent was killed in a car accident, 27-year-old Pusser was elected Sheriff, making him the youngest in Tennessee history. He then began a clean-up, clean-out of the criminals that wasn’t always strictly kosher, but got the job done. In the process, he made a LOT of enemies. In the Theodore Roosevelt vein, the 6’6″, 250 pound Buford began the job with no gun, but a big stick. After close calls in ’66 when Louise Hathcock shot at him (and he returned fire, killing her) and ’67 when he was shot three times by an unknown perpetrator, he added a gun to his arsenal. In August of ’67, an ambush intended for him killed his wife, Pauline. Buford took two or three shots to the face, shattering his jaw and requiring many surgeries. The death of his wife made the local hero famous throughout the country, and it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling. According to the tour guide at the house, the original movie is about 80% factual, and the second is about 50%. There are those who say that it is all a bunch of hooey; that Pusser was just a murdering bully with a badge who shot his wife in the head. There are two facts, though, that cannot be refuted: 1) Half of his face was blown off in the attack when Pauline died. (There are pretty gruesome pictures in the museum from when they were rolling him into the hospital where he stayed for 18 days. Would anyone shoot himself in the face to cover up a crime? A leg maybe. And wouldn’t it be just a little too coincidental to kill your wife and then be attacked by a gang and shot in the face? 2) Before Buford was elected, the county was covered up in serious, organized crime. When he left office, it had been cleaned up. Draw your own conclusions. (That was long, wasn’t it? It really is the short version, though.)
As we left the museum, Jimmy purchased the Walking Tall boxed set. We headed over to the Adamsville Cemetery to see Buford’s and Pauline’s graves, then found Kokomo’s 50s Diner, a tiny place with pretty darned good diner fare. On the way back to the park, we stopped at the sight of the crash that ended the life of the legend, marked by a wall and a historical marker. Back at the park, we relaxed, and then Lori made us chicken fajitas for dinner. Of course, a day of Buford was ended with Walking Tall!
In the wee hours on Friday morning, it rained torrentially and was simply delightful. Though still too hot to open the windows, the sound of the rain on the roof made me sleep like a log! I needed it after some jack**s was laughing and howling at the moon at around 12:15 AM! (That’s just RUDE!) We took our time getting our acts together, so I was able to finish the last post before we headed up to Jackson. In town, we ran a few errands, and stopped at a favorite for me, Rock’n Dough Pizza & Brewery. On our last run through Jackson, we tried a couple of their pizzas. This time, Lori, Jimmy, and I had build-your-own calzones, and MW had the Italian grinder. Oh, and we shared the pretzel appetizer, because that is a MUST. The conclusion, everything there is delicious! Back at the park, we drove around checking everything out. That evening, we had leftovers for dinner and watched a little more Buford in Walking Tall 2.
Saturday morning started with breakfast casserole and bacon at the Grimm campsite, which was delicious. Later we headed over to Henderson to fill the truck up, and Jimmy followed to do the same. Just after we finished, our truck wouldn’t start, but thankfully, Jimmy was still nearby and able to give us a jump. That precipitated an unplanned run to Auto Zone to replace the batteries (yes, there are two), which we knew were near the end of their lives. A ridiculous amount of money later, we dropped off some mail at the post office and headed back. The afternoon was spent visiting and playing cards…Phase 10 (pretty fun). Dinner was chili courtesy of Lori, and of course, the evening’s entertainment was Walking Tall: The Final Chapter. (Honestly, the first two movies were pretty good and really told almost all of this story. This one felt like they were just rehashing to fill more celluloid.) Then it was time to say our goodbyes…Lori made it clear she would NOT be up when we pulled out at 7ish. LOL. It was really a good few days, and hopefully, we’ll get to do it again soon.
Named for the tribe that once occupied the area, Chickasaw State Park is very nice with LOTS to do on its 1,400 beautifully wooded acres. Amenities include 4+ miles of hiking trails, plenty of bike-friendly roads, boat rentals on Lake Placid, horse rentals for trail rides, a camping and souvenir store, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course, sand swimming beach, fishing pier, pavilions, playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, and several rental venues. They also have an aviary with several birds of prey that were injured and cannot be returned to the wild. The park has a robust events program that includes a large variety of interests. When we were there, they had some re-enactors in one section, a strong man competition in another, and a lumberjack competition in yet another. Lodging options include cabins, a group lodge, a group camp, and several campgrounds. The wrangler campground has 32 electric and water sites designed for those traveling with horses. There are 29 primitive tent sites with water available nearby. The RV section has 53 water and 20/30/50-amp electric sites, 26 of those also have sewer. There were a handful of pull-thru sites, and also several that could accommodate large rigs. A dump station is nearby. All sites include picnic tables, fire pits, and grills, and each campground has a playground and a bathhouse. Facilities were very nice and kept reasonably clean. It was a very beautiful campground. The only negative is the road noise from TN-100. There is a fairly steep hill beside the campground, and you get a lot of engine noise from those going up and Jake brakes on trucks going down. That’s the only thing that keeps it off of our favorites list. Cell signals were strong, and there were plenty of over-the-air TV stations available, too. For this stay in October 2021, we paid $160.83 for five nights.
Thus ends another post. Next up…LOTS of Navy, Navy, Navy!!! See you on the path!
P. S. Hit the follow button at the top right to be notified of new posts and please SHARE, SHARE, SHARE on social media!