Old Stone Fort State Park – Manchester TN

Snoopy has been begging me to take him out for a little spin. The weather was not really cooperating but it is January after all. But this week I saw a break: the temps were not going to be below freezing but rain was in the forecast. Why not! 



There was another reason to attempt a short trip too. I suppose I had a romantic view of a remake of the classic John Steinbeck travelogue, Travels with Charley, but in this case the stars would be me and my tuxedo cat, Oreo. I wanted to test traveling with a very ornery feline in a closed space. Understand that Oreo is 16 years old and used to getting his way. He is on a prescription diet that is supposed to be easier to digest and reduce the number of times he barfs. And he only has three states: asleep, awake and hungry.

I thought I did adequate preparation. I planned my meals, made lists and shopped for groceries and nick-knacks but soon there were secondary lists of all the things I forgot. I quickly realized that Oreo’s prescription food was at home so I had to find an alternative. He got his own container of baked chicken breast. I guess that’s why there are so many Super Walmart’s. 

Monday – 01/16/2017

Leaving Snoopy's home in the boat storage unit.

Leaving Snoopy’s home.

Oreo rode in his carrier and complained anytime we were moving. I put a new sifter litter box in Snoopy’s shower (just to be safe) and stopped about half way to let him check out the traveling space. So far so good.

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park is a straight shot down I-24. Getting there is well marked and not far off the interstate. I made one stop at my sister’s in Murfreesboro to let Snoopy do a little showing off. Why Old Stone Fort? My niece, Sarah Jane, works there. She told me that sites 32, 33 and 34 were the most popular campsites  because of the view of the Duck River and I was able to get 32. Setting up went well and soon my traveling companion and I were safely inside the travel trailer.

View from the campground.

View from the campground.

By afternoon, the rain had pretty well stopped so it looked like a good time to explore the Nature Trail that starts at the Check-In Station. The trail is not well marked in the traditional way and because the ground was covered in leaves it was not always easy to see. I only missed the trail once but fortunately I ran into the edge of the Duck River so I was able to follow it and pick up the trail just before Blue Hole Falls. From there the trail was easier to see.

At one point in the walk, I came upon a small herd of deer. They heard me coming and scooted away before I could get a good photo. As I continued along the trail, they reappeared and ran the other way. This happened several more times. I would frighten them off then they would reappear and run the other way.  

Tuesday – 01/17/2017

Bluehole Falls

Bluehole Falls

I woke a couple of times during the night to the sound of a light rain. Very soothing. When I woke, I was hungry and Oreo was famished. Breakfast was bacon and eggs prepared outside for me and baked chicken for Oreo. He didn’t complain about what I was feeding him and fortunately for me he kept it down.

To keep things as tidy as possible, I planned to empty the litter box at least daily. The first change went well and the shower stall turned out to be a good location. Oreo is a bit longer than the litter box and he seems to be unaware that his ass hangs over the edge. (Very reminiscent of boating trips years ago when the girls would pull their bathing suits aside and pee over the side of the boat. At least they knew what they were doing.) This means frequent cleanings so I can share the facilities. 

One of my other goals this trip was to get as much walking in as I could. In the afternoon, I decided to explore some of the other trails. I started at the Museum/Office and started down the trail that was to go around the perimeter of the ancient enclosure. I must have started wrong because I was seeing numbered signs that were decreasing in value. By the time I got to 6, I lost the trail. No problem, I explored a number other trails including Backbone Ridge and Forks of the River Trails.

Wednesday – 01/18/2017

Foundation of an 1800's paper plant.

Foundation of an 1800’s paper plant.

During the morning litter box ritual, I didn’t handle the interlocking trays correctly and several pounds of CLEAN litter was spilled in the shower stall. No problem, I figured I would scoop up as much as possible and then wash the rest down the drain. Bad idea. Even though it was a small amount, do you know what clumping cat litter does when it hits moisture? On the silver lining side, I had a shower yesterday and the repair can wait until I get home.

I didn’t leave the campsite today except to walk. I first did the Garrison Road Trail. This was the best marked trail in the park. I stopped for

Step Falls

Step Falls.Thursday, 01/19/2017

lunch and then walked the Nature Trail in reverse of the direction I took Monday. I got off the trail again but I also saw the deer again. The park is not so big that you are concerned about getting lost and I had my cell phone and Google maps. Using Google maps I was able to tell which way I was going and my proximity to roads and such. 


Thursday – 01/19/2017

Leaving the Park as I came in.

Leaving the Park as I came in.

I stopped about halfway home for lunch. I stashed Oreo in Snoopy to give him time out of the carrier to do his business while I got a Chick-fil-a and some waffle fries.


Click on the book cover to visit Barr's site.

Click on the book cover to visit Barr’s site.

With no TV reception in the park I was able to catch up on some reading. I have been reading the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr. Barr’s mysteries are set in National Parks; the main character is Anna Pigeon, a park ranger. Many reasons to like this series: she talks about the pros and cons of Federal employment, you learn something about each of the parks, and she does a good job developing her characters.


Good Eats

Jiffy Burger – Manchester, TN

Sarah Jane also suggested that if I was in the mood for a hamburger that Jiffy Burger got her highest award. She was right. I had a double cheeseburger and an order of onion rings. The cheeseburger was terrific and I have never had better onion rings–they are the best. Jiffy Burger gets my best recommendation too!

The Bottom Line

  • It is possible to travel with a cat. Just because it’s possible doesn’t make it desirable. I’m going to have to put a prophylactic below the litter box to make this work.
  • I like winter camping because the campgrounds are so empty.
  • I cleaned up the trailer on Saturday. It was easier than I thought to get everything ship-shape again.

One Response to “Old Stone Fort State Park – Manchester TN”

  1. Robbie says:

    Loved reading about your adventure in Old Stone Fort Park. Glad it went well.

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