Saturday, October 01, 2005

Traveling the Backroads of Middle Tennessee - Camping?

Today I spent several hours driving around looking at houses and land for sale near my home. Around lunchtime I decided to drive further south and try to meet up with some friends who were camping at Tims Ford State Park. Looking at the map, I figured it would be about an hour's drive, and I could do some hiking once I got to the park. With the map beside me, I was set to go. I didn't take into consideration that Tennessee backroads are not marked very well. A road that has a number on the map would be identified as simply "Cayce Hollow" on the road signs. And I couldn't just find my way to the next town that my map showed because the typical signs showing the mileage to the next town were few and far between -- and often absent altogether. My map was mostly useless on this adventure. My one hour drive ended up taking about three and a half hours. If there was a wrong turn to make, I made it. I passed through some beautiful Tennessee countryside, and I saw many properties that I wished were closer to Nashville. And even though I knew I was zigzagging all over the place, it didn't bother me. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, my favorite song was playing over and over on the CD player, and the top was down on the convertible (for awhile). I was in no hurry. Well, no hurry for the first couple hours. Then it got a little tedious and I wondered if I'd ever find the place. I did finally find the park and my friends, but it was almost four o'clock when I got there. I chatted with my friends for awhile, and we took a leisurely stroll (no hiking) around the campground, they shared their dinner with me (hoppin' john with Italian sausage - a first for me, but it was delicious! They also had fresh-baked bread they'd bought at a Mennonite store earlier today). By then it was after six o'clock and darkness was approaching. I wanted to get to familiar territory before dark since my circuitous route earlier had left me having no clue about how to get home. The direction-impaired bug was not finished with me for the day. Once again I made a wrong turn on the way home and drove about ten miles out of the way before I realized I was on Hwy 41 south - I was heading away from Nashville. I had to turn around and retrace my route and eventually saw the signs to I-24West -- a most comforting sight after a day of uncertain driving.

I wonder about days like today. I spent hours in the car, went through half a tank of gas, and didn't accomplish anything other than a couple hours visit with friends. Was there a purpose in all that driving around that I did?

Actually now that I think about it, maybe there was a purpose...not in the driving around - at least not a purpose I can think of - but in going to Tims Ford State Park. As I sat there in the camp chair chatting with my friends, I told them about the camping trips that my family went on when I was a kid. I remember it was so much fun. The campfires, meals cooked on that old Coleman stove - still can smell the bacon cooking in the morning, hiking to the bathhouse to go to the bathroom or take a shower, and listening to the sounds of nature as we drifted off to sleep. I felt a strong yearning to go camping again. Maybe get a small tent and give it a try. I think it would be a fairly safe thing for someone to do alone. So perhaps that will be my next adventure.

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