Meriwether was great. There is so much to say that I decided to create it’s own post.First, it’s HUGE. I drove around for at least 45 minutes circling round all the different roads, trails, stuff to see, campsites (you get the picture), before picking a place to camp.
Second, it was really hard to pick a campsite. I eventually chose a site close to the bathrooms (mistake #1). I drove around and around trying to pick a good spot for Whiskey and me. One consideration was that in case it filled up (it didn’t) I wanted a site that wasn’t shoved next to another person so that W could roam on his really long lead. Another consideration was the bathroom- I liked the idea of not having to walk far, or out in the woods. It’s not that I mind “going” in the woods. It’s just that I have to consider the dog. How would he react if I meandered off into the woods and didn’t take him. Would he try to bust out of the tent? How would he act if I did take him? In the end I took him with me into the bathroom (no one was around so I felt safe doing so. Not the first time I’ve smuggled him into a bathroom either ::coughpalisadescough::) and when I didn’t feel I was safe doing that I would leave him on his long lead wrapped around a tree because he could pull a stake up in a hot minute.
So let me tell you about the place then our adventure.
Place: Map of the campsite from NPS.
- First come first serve camping
- FREE NO fee. Woohoo! There is also NO box to sign in like I’ve seen at some sites. Just pick your site and set up.
- Each tent site has a drive in area that you pull up next to your site and then drive back out (think loop, c shaped off of the road). Some are big like for RVs. Some are small like for regular vehicles. Some are big enough to give more privacy than others. But no backing in or parking into your site! Yippie! It’s the small things in life…
- You can have fires here, and you can easily see where people have made rings from big rocks, some better than others.
- 32 sites, spread out along the top of a ridge running parallel to the parks main road.
- Lots of hiking
- Lots of garbage cans and easy access to water. I walked over to the bathroom and found an outside spigot which made washing up and filling my large water bottles easier than in a sink.
- There was virtually no one here when we went in August. About 3 or 4 other campsites taken.
- Cell phone reception is splotchy (as it is all over the Trace).
- CON 1– Apparently because of it’s being open all night people (locals) came and went using it as a um… lovers lane. Unfortunately they decided to park at the most secluded spot near me but forgot to turn off their lights while they um… did whatever. I ended up having to get out of my tent in the middle of the night with my dog (he would have no part of me going alone) and do the universally recognized “what the heck!!” arm signals for them to turn off their lights. They did. And we retreated into our tent to try and sleep. They weren’t the only “don’t mind me” middle of the night visitor we had.
- CON 2– Word of advice… Don’t camp near the bathroom. At least not if you’re with an over protective dog who doesn’t like to hear people pulling and walking up to the bathroom at all hours of the night.
- CON 3– I shouldn’t have gone during such a hot part of the year with the dog! Go during a cooler month if your dog over heats like mine. He panted the whole night in the tent and was miserable. I don’t think he slept at all. Oh, and sleeping in a tent with a dog after hiking? I sleep with my arm on Whiskey. At some point I felt something in his fur and I flicked at it…then felt it on up my hand. I scratched at my face and it went there.. OMG ticks! Not something at 2 am that you particularly want to deal with.
We started out by visiting the Meriwether monument and Grinders Inn where Meriwether met his demise (probably murder).
I was hesitant at first to get out at the monument because there were about 2 dozen or more bikes from a seriously hardcore biker gang. Wow those women were… something. I stayed in the car looking at Whiskey panting a few minutes before taking a deep breath and getting out. We looked at the monument where Whiskey hunted a lizard (the lizard luckily escaped to live another day). There is a pioneer cemetery but all the graves are on those tiny little stones flat on the ground. I hate cemeteries like this. I don’t want to ever be buried in a place like this. Where nothing stands to show you were there. Just those flat stones where you can’t tell from a distance the number of the dead or size of the place…. seems important to me somehow to honor people with uniqueness and stone that stands tall… but some people love this. Love the uniform and flat expanse of these types of places. Not me. It seems too prim and sterile.. Give me an old school cemetery any day with it’s crazy flair and spunk of individuality. I’m on a tangent, back to the bikers. They eventually left and we wandered back to the truck and set off to camp.
We met some interesting folks at the campground once we picked a site. George came down on his bike and serenaded us with country western tunes. He, among other things, writes country songs himself. I liked his company. He’s a jovial mischievous older man that had a lot of spunk and spark in him. He told me some of his stories and I told him about Whiskey. Then in the middle of the night the crazy guy came. Crazy guy (CG) pulled up on a bike in the dead of night and unpacked, set up and stomped to the mens room a few times. I looked out and could only make out what seemed to be combat boots trudging heavily through the dark to his site which seemed closer than it ended up being. At night the sounds travel easily so far.
(Do note that the stake appears to be only about an inch or so in the ground. In the next pic I gave up getting it in the ground altogether.)
In the morning Crazy Guy paid us a bizarre visit. Let me say that Whiskey was quite the protector on this trip. He decided early on where all his rope could get to and everything within reach of that was “his” and any time a male visitor got too close he’d set off barking until we’d ignored him long enough and he’d slowly fall silent (the dog, not the visitor), but as soon as the man might shift a foot or move forward oh he’d let them have it! “What do you think you’re doing! Get away from my mom! I’m watching you Buddy!” he’d bark. I’d try to get him to stop and usually he would but with CG he didn’t. He was seriously upset about the guy and with good reason. The man was probably schizophrenic and a few other things. He was talking to himself before he ever saw us, very very loudly, then we he saw me he just…began to include me in the already in progress conversation. Just like that. Weird…o.
I eventually became so upset by his loud anti government “JOIN MY REVOLUTION!” nonsense that I began packing up my camp early. I was breaking everything down at breakneck pace and trying to be polite with “uh huh” “hmm..” “you don’t say” “yeah…” etc. He asked me a lot of disturbing questions “where do you live” “yes but what city?” “How much do you make a year.” “Your husband?” “How much do you pay in taxes” “who did you vote for in the last election” “do you have kids” “exactly what library do you work at…”and on and on.. I made sure to say over and over again my husband was expecting me home soon, and a call within the hour or he’d be worried. The guy seemed totally off his rocker talking about how he wanted me to join his “revolution” against the government. Whiskey was so upset about this guy.
Here’s the punch line. When the guy came up and noticed the upset barking dog he commented “I bet he’s better than a 45!” Yes yes he is. Later I thought. Yes he is because a 45 doesn’t warn you what’s coming, only responds once it gets there. My dog can do both. I don’t want to use my dog as a weapon or EVER train him to protect us. But in that moment I was never as happy as I was to have Whiskey barking and growling. He even put his body weight against my knees, placing himself between me and the man and began to push me away from the man until I was where he wanted me. I told Brandon about our adventure later and he has since joked “you got the 45 with you?” Indeed.
As I drove away from the campground CG was yelling at the top of his lungs at his campsite. Not words, just AAHHHH AAARRHHH! yells. I was being serenaded by crazy. Whiskey was upset by the noises and I circled back to check on Nice Guy George. “that wasn’t you?” I asked just to make sure. “No, it’s that crazy guy at his campsite” he said. “Just making sure he hadn’t killed you.” I said. I really couldn’t make this stuff up people. Camping out is adventure, daring, and sometimes, a little bit of crazy.
Next up we’ll tell you about our travels from Meriwether to Florence Alabama. See you guys for that next little bit of travel in a few days!