Frank Jackson Park is hidden jewel

Published 12:53 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

As I write from waterfront campsite 5 in Frank Jackson State Park in Opp, the view from my motor home window is breathtaking. The campsite sits on a little rise with steps leading to a grassy area to the placid lake. A gentle breeze stirs the flap on the RV awning. Squirrels scamper in the grass and run up and down the trees. One sits on a banister nibbling a nut.

My camping friends agree that I have the most scenic spot in the campground. It is a pull-through site that affords me that beautiful full view from one side of the RV. It is a blessing not only for its beauty, but because I didn’t have to back the motor home in it. I just drove right in, shut off the engine, and took advantage of the full hook-ups of water, sewer and electricity. Some time later, the camp host brought a connection for cable television.

October and November are Scarecrow in the Park months here. Earlier in the morning, I took a short walk and encountered some of those scarecrows. Several greet you as you drive to the park entrance and others pop up at various locations in the park. One gentleman scarecrow dressed in a red and white checked shirt with blue pants leans against a tree and spends the day staring in the direction of my site. Frankenstein stands half hidden among some trees. I saw him as I came back from walking on the campground bridge. A jolly-looking couple sits close to the pavilion with dulcimers in their laps.

Last week when the Heart of Dixie Dulcimer players performed for the Extreme Experience camp for the blind and visually impaired at Blue Lake Methodist Camp, they invited everyone to their festival at Frank Jackson State Park. I was thrilled to find out about it and determined to attend. I couldn’t wait to see dulcimer friends that I hadn’t seen in two or more years. These gatherings are like family reunions with plenty of smiles, hugs, and lots of catching up on each others’ news.

Around 6:30 p.m., the players gather and strum, while other campers sit around to listen and chat. It is not unusual during the day to see small groups gathered at campsites playing their dulcimers and guitars.

On Wednesday, one of the blind Extreme Experience campers who had a dulcimer lesson at Blue Lake joined us. She took another lesson from Heart of Dixie player Sherry Davis. From the very first time my late husband Claude and I happened upon a dulcimer festival at Tannehill Historic State Park years ago, we learned something special about dulcimer players. Nothing pleases them more than to introduce the dulcimer to others and teach someone how to play.

The Heart of Dixie Dulcimer Association couldn’t have selected a more suitable or beautiful spot for their annual festival. Frank Jackson State Park is a hidden jewel of state parks, sitting right here in beautiful Covington County.