A return to the Mississippi Delta

Two years ago we traveled through the Mississippi Delta area of Arkansas and fell in love with the area. So naturally when we began planning our trip to Oxford we decided to cross the Mississippi River into Arkansas and return to two of the places we enjoyed back then. When we told our friends we were going to Mississippi by way of Arkansas they looked at us like we were crazy.

Our first stop in Arkansas was Lake Chicot State Park. I posted about our first visit  here.  After a long day driving through part of Alabama and all across the state of Mississippi, we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas and arrived at the campground hot and tired.

Lake Chicot State Park Site 7
Lake Chicot State Park Site 7

We got set up in time to watch a beautiful sunset over Lake Chicot.

Sunset over Lake Chicot
Sunset over Lake Chicot

The lake was beautiful in the early mornings.

Morning on the fishing dock
Morning on the fishing dock

Lake Chicot is the largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest natural oxbow lake in the United States. It is a popular fishing destination and many varieties of birds can be seen here.

Egret on the fishing dock
Egret on the fishing dock
Cypress trees at Lake Chico
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot

On our first visit here we had our first taste of delicious Mississippi Delta hot tamales so of course getting some more was on the top of our to do list. One day we took a drive back across the Mississippi River to Greenville, Mississippi to pick up three dozen hot tamales to go from Doe’s Eat Place. We were in heaven as we ate some of those spicy tamales for dinner. The rest are in our freezer to take home. I posted about our first visit to Doe’s Eat Place here.

Doe's Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi
Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi
Three dozen Mississippi Delta hot tamales
Three dozen Mississippi Delta hot tamales

One day we took a self guided driving tour along the levee which runs along the Mississippi River to protect the area from flooding. A gravel road runs on top of the levee and the scenery changes from borrow pits to farms to woods as you go along.

Egrets flocked to the trees beside the borrow pits
Egrets flocked to the trees beside the borrow pits
Borrow Pit beside the levee
Borrow Pit beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee

Cotton is the number one crop in this part of the Mississippi Delta and we passed many fields on both sides of the river. Soybeans and sorghum are also big crops in the area.

Fields of cotton as far as the eye can see
Fields of cotton as far as the eye can see
Cotton is the number one crop in the Mississippi Delta
Cotton is the number one crop in the Mississippi Delta
Cotton Bolls
Cotton Bolls

Next up: A return to another favorite Arkansas State Park in the Mississippi Delta with some scenic drives, a museum, and award winning barbecue.

First stop on our Fall Football Road Trip

After enjoying a relaxing summer at home, we are once again on a fall road trip to watch the Georgia Bulldogs play an away football game. This year we are on our way to Oxford, Mississippi to see the Dawgs play the Ole Miss Rebels. But in true Wandering Dawgs fashion, we are not taking a direct route to get there.

We started the trip in Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, a few miles south of Birmingham. This is Alabama’s largest state park and it has something for everyone – mountain bike trails, golf course, lake with a beach, hiking trails, a scenic drive, a beautiful campground and more.

Wandering Dawgs in Oak Mountain State Park Site A28
Wandering Dawgs in Oak Mountain State Park Site A28

Every day Blondie and I walked on the trails around our campground loop.

Early Morning at Tranquility Lake
Early Morning at Tranquility Lake
Moccasin Nature Trail behind our campsite
Moccasin Nature Trail behind our campsite
Early morning walk in the woods
Early morning walk in the woods
Spotted this Heron on our last morning
Spotted this Heron on our last morning

One day we drove to the dead end of Peavine Falls Road on Double Oak Mountain. As we wound our way up the narrow road I was reminded of some of the drives we have made in the Great Smoky Mountains.

This sign was at the parking lot at the dead end at the top of the road
This sign was at the parking lot at the dead end at the top of the road
We had a picnic at the Peavine Falls Overlook
We had a picnic at the Peavine Falls Overlook
View from Peavine Falls Road Overlook
View from Peavine Falls Road Overlook

We enjoyed our stay and were even able to do a little shopping in nearby Pelham and Birmingham before continuing our journey west to our next destination.

Celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service

Our wandering has taken us to many of our wonderful national parks across the United States. We loved each one of the parks that we visited.

The national parks, national monuments, national historic sites, and  other national areas are managed by the National Park Service which celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in August, 2016. To celebrate this anniversary I am sharing pictures of the national parks we have visited throughout the years.

Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park, Maine
Arches National Park Landscape Arch
Arches National Park, Utah
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Bryce Canyon Hoodoos (Utah)
Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)
Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)
Moose beside the road as we were leaving Denali
Moose beside the road in Denali National Park, Alaska
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Pa-Hay-Otee Overlook in Everglades National Park
Pa-Hay-Otee Overlook in Everglades National Park, Florida
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, Montana
Grand Canyon North Rim Cape Royal
Grand Canyon North Rim Cape Royal, Arizona
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Cataloochee Valley Overlook Great Smoky Mountains
Cataloochee Valley Overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Kings Canyon National Park, California
Kings Canyon National Park, California
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
The Big Tree, Redwoods National Park, California
The Big Tree, Redwoods National Park, California
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Sequoia National Park, California
Sequoia National Park, California
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
Lower Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Lower Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California
Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California
The Tree Patriarchs in Zion National Park, Utah
The Three Patriarchs in Zion National Park, Utah

Thanks to Travel with the Slowensky’s for giving me the idea for this post.

Backyard Wildlife

I never know what I might see when I walk out my back door.

One day a juvenile horned owl stopped to search for a tasty morsel in the marsh.

Juvenile Horned Owl
Juvenile Horned Owl

Another day this diamond back terrapin took a wrong turn into our back yard.

Diamondback Terrapin
Diamondback Terrapin

The ruby throated hummingbirds come by for a drink every day.

Hummingbird on feeder
Hummingbird on feeder

It’s been a constant battle keeping the aphids off my milkweed but I have had an occasional Monarch stop by.

Monarch on Milkweed
Monarch on Milkweed

I spotted my first caterpillar of the summer on August 24!

Monarch Caterpillar August 2016
Monarch Caterpillar August 2016

All the butterflies love the Mexican Sunflowers I planted this year.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Gulf Fritillary on Mexican Sunflower
Gulf Fritillary on Mexican Sunflower

And the bees love it, too.

Bee on Mexican Sunflower
Bee on Mexican Sunflower

Flashback to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games

I am having a great time sitting in my living room cheering for Team U.S.A. at the Rio Olympics. Twenty years ago I didn’t get to see much of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta from my living room. Instead, I was volunteering with the Yachting events (now called Sailing events) near Savannah, Georgia.

Before the games began, we saw the Olympic Flame arrive in Savannah on the Schooner America. After torch bearers ran through Savannah  they wound their way around Georgia to the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta. The world then watched as the final torch bearer Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic Cauldron.

1996 Olympic Flame arrives in Savannah aboard Schooner America
1996 Olympic Flame arrives in Savannah aboard Schooner America

Two of our friends participated in the relay through Savannah. It was such a thrill to see the Olympic Torch relay in person.

1996 Olympic torch relay in Savannah
1996 Olympic torch relay in Savannah

For the Olympic Yachting events, a Day Marina was constructed in the waters of Wassaw Sound near Savannah.  To get there, we had to drive a few miles, ride on a bus, and ride a shuttle boat to the Day Marina along with other volunteers and athletes. For two weeks, Henry, our daughter, and I got up at the crack of dawn and put on our volunteer uniforms to help with the launch and recovery team of volunteers on the Day Marina.

Volunteers arriving by shuttle at the day marina
Volunteers arriving by shuttle at the day marina

Tents were set up on the Day Marina to provide a home for the athletes during the long days on the water. The larger countries had their own tent and ramp to launch their boats while smaller countries shared a tent. I was assigned to work with Fiji, Guam, Jamaica, and Thailand who were sharing a tent between Team USA and Team New Zealand.

1996 Olympics Yachting Day Marina in Wassaw Sound near Savannah, Georgia
1996 Olympics Yachting Day Marina in Wassaw Sound near Savannah, Georgia

Our days were long and hot but it was worth it to be able to meet athletes and trainers from all over the world. I was even able to do a little pin trading and get a few autographs.

1986 Olympic Pins
1996 Olympic Pins

There was a flurry of activity as each team prepared to launch their boats to go out to the race course. Things got busy again when the sailors returned after their event.

USA Atlanta Olympics Bronze Medal Soling
USA Atlanta Olympics Bronze Medal Soling
USA Olympic Bronze Medalist Courtney Becker Day returns to the Day Marina
USA Olympic Bronze Medalist Courtney Becker Day returns to the Day Marina
1996 Olympics Mistral Gold Medal winner from Greece
1996 Olympics Mistral Gold Medal winner from Greece

The races were too far away to watch from the Day Marina. One day we got to ride a boat out to the race course to see one of the events.

1996 Olympic 470 yachting race
1996 Olympic 470 yachting race

Being an Olympic volunteer was a once in a lifetime experience. Meeting these amazing Olympians and watching them prepare for their events was something I will never forget. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do it.