American Locations 49 – Rock City

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Rock City, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Leaving DeSoto Park early the next morning, we drove north on Rte. 679 to Isla del Sol, where we turned west onto Rte. 682. We took it to Rte. 699 and headed north up the coast. We were in no hurry, as usual, and took the scenic route. But this really wasn’t very scenic, there was too much development. After driving through Clearwater we took the Causeway to the mainland and continued north along the coast on Alt. 19. This was a much nicer drive. Eventually Alt. 19 merged into Hwy. 19, and we continued north. At Weeki Wachee we gave up the sightseeing and turned east on Rte. 90, which took us to I-75. We then headed north at a much greater speed. We stopped for the night in a private campground in northern Florida, then continued north on I-75 out of Florida through Georgia into Tennessee. As you can tell, we were getting anxious by this point to get home. We stopped for the night in another private campground just south of Chattanooga.

Notice the leaves. It was mid-November by this time, we had been on the road for 2 months. We were surprised by how cool it was.

We spent the following day in Chattanooga. First we visited Chickamauga Battlefield.

 

Then we went to Rock City.

This was a place my parents had taken me to as a child, and I was wanting to see it as an adult.

They were decorating for Christmas.

The parts I remembered from my visit as a child were the named rock formations. Such as the fat-man squeezes.

 

And others.

And the swinging bridge.

There was an alternate route. Which my wife took.

I especially remembered the overlook.

You were supposed to be able to see 7 states from there.

It was a rough walk. But there were plenty of places to rest.

At the end of the trail was Fairyland Caverns.

This black-light display hadn’t changed a bit since I had seen it in the 50’s. It was just the way I remembered it.

 

Next Location – Stinking Creek, Tennessee

 

 

American Locations 48 – Fort De Soto 2

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Fort DeSoto County Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The next day we moved to the worst of our 3 sites. Although you can’t see it, the site was  next to a playground, and the screaming was incessant.

 

It was a gloomy overcast day. We explored the park. There was the beach.

 

 

I don’t know where this excursion boat was from, but if they had free beer no wonder it was so crowded. They must have been going out. If they were coming back, after a cruise with free beer it wouldn’t have been so crowded.

 

We toured the old fort. From the position of the one canon it seems treachery was afoot.

 

There was a fishing pier that extended out into the ocean. Which had free fishing. Apparently the fishing fees had been covered by an endowment from some kindly rich person. Maybe he sponsored the excursion boat, too.

 

There was a scoop of pelicans.

 

And all sorts of birds.

 

We walked out to the end of the pier. There were several dolphins playing.

 

We saw this anhinga drying its wings. They were fun to watch. They’d circle in the air until they spied something in the water they wanted to eat. Then they’d nose-dive, hitting the water at such a high speed you’d think it would knock them silly. Then they’d come up and float on the water while their wings dried. Or got out somewhere to dry them, as this one did.

 

The Sunshine Bridge, that spans Tampa Bay from south of Tampa to St. Petersburg. Although on this day it was very hazy and overcast, not much sunshine.

 

On our third morning we moved to a more agreeable site.

 

It was a much nicer day to roam around the park.

 

Birds were everywhere.

 

 

 

These people looked like they were fishing off a paddle board. Or maybe they were just standing up in a kayak. Either sounds tricky.

 

We found some exotic trees.

 

This is the Sunshine Bridge on a sunny day.

 

A monument to DeSoto.

 

There was a second pier that went into the bay.

 

From which a man caught a small hammerhead shark. He took some pictures, let other people like me take some pictures, then he threw it back in. You are not allowed to fish for sharks.

 

This seemed like a well-staged photo to me. The chairs in the sand at the water’s edge, the beached kayak, the birds in the water. Except it wasn’t staged, we just came upon it while walking around.

 

Some other nice spots.

 

My wife had come to this campground several times with her parents when she was a child and she enjoyed seeing it as an adult. But 3 days was enough.

 

Next Location – Rock City, Chattanooga, Tennessee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Locations 47 – Fort DeSoto

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Fort DeSoto County Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Later that morning after my feet dried out we left the Big Cyprus campground. We continued west on Hwy. 41. There were sights to stop for along the way.

 

 

 

We stopped at this one place that had a boardwalk that wound deep into the swamp. I wouldn’t have to get my feet wet this time.

 

 

 

Emerging on the west side of Big Cyprus, we turned south on Rte. 29 to Everglades City. This is on the west side of Everglades and was totally wiped out. The hurricane damage was a lot worse here. Even the visitor center was closed. So we didn’t stop, we turned back north up Rte. 29. Skirting the west edge of Big Cyprus, it was another pleasant drive. At first. Once we got away from the preserve, it was the usual development. So we took Rte. 82 northwest over to I-75 and headed north. For some reason our GPS routed us into Tampa onto I-274 and around to St. Petersburg from the north, instead of taking us across the Skyline Bridge from the south, which would have been much simpler, and faster, and less hectic. But eventually we made it to Fort DeSoto Park. They were very busy and only had 3 sites open for the night, and were booked up for the next 2. But they worked with us, moving us from our original site to a cancellation the next night and another cancellation the third night. Our first site was the best. It was on a channel.

 

Once parked, I hardly budged the rest of the night. I was tired from all the driving, and the view was sublime.

 

 

 

A pair of dolphins swam up the channel our site was on then back out. They are so fun to watch. And there was yet another nice sunset.

 

 

 

 

Next Location – Fort DeSoto 2