October 14, 2013 10:14:22 AM
Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]
"Nose into the wake," Sam hollered. We were out for a little kayak fishing on Bear Creek when three fancy bass boats sped by. As luck would have it, there was a bass tournament going on.
Cooler weather was edging in and leaves were fluttering in the breeze. Cool and fluttering signal our annual camping trip to Piney Point Campground in North Alabama, the little campground that's not near anything.
There's no cell service and no Internet. There's no entertainment other than watching things that move in the trees, on the ground and in the water.
Most times we've been there we didn't see a soul -- except the first fall, when we were climbing down some rock outcroppings. A ranger fellow yelled down from the road, "Y'all seen any rattlers? They like to hang out in those rocks."
Bear Creek Development Authority operates five campgrounds and the TVA recreational waterways. We picked the most remote campground and the last week of the season. In four years we've watched the camper numbers increase from us to about us and six others.
Still, it's quiet and though it's not unlike being at home there's no laundry to wash, or grass to mow, or fields to bush hog or even pets to feed. I find it takes less time these days to adjust to doing absolutely nothing like sitting in a camp chair with a cup of strong coffee, where conversation tends to, "Sam, you see that fox squirrel in that hickory tree over there?"
Saturday morning we loaded up the kayaks and fishing gear and headed to the creek. We took a wrong turn and ended up on a washed-out horseback riding trail. We turned around with a bit of difficulty then came face to face with some surprised horseback riders.
We managed to get on the right road that looked like a washed-out horse trail that led down to the creek. It's a beautiful place. The rocks go so high and the trees grow so tall you'd think you were in mountains. Few places could be more beautiful or remote.
Then we started seeing the bass boats. Some fishermen would slow down, some would make conversation. "Catching anything?" "Getting any bites?"
"A few," Sam said.
I had backed my kayak into a slough, wedged it between stobs, and pulled out my peanut butter sandwich. Sam was fishing a ledge where bass wait for shad to drop off. A couple of tournament fishermen slowed down and watched as Sam got a strike. Sam played the bass hard for a little show. The fishermen with their 250 horsepower-Evinrude fancy boat watched Sam with his 190 manpower-kayak bring in the tournament-size bass.
Sam quickly unhooked the fish and tossed him back in the creek. "Yeah, he played hard, but he wasn't all that big," Sam said with a grin.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.