Dead Zone Campground

Not one sign of wildlife. Anywhere. Here we were out in the middle of a forest, miles from civilization. Our last wooded campground had been teeming with squirrels but this one? Nope. Miles and miles of trees but not a squirrel in sight.

No squirrels in the trees, no birds in the sky, not a one. No geese in the lake, not even a feather or pile of trailings along the shore. Nothing. Not even a fly to torment mealtimes, or a mosquito or anthill mound. This was unprecedented in the South.

It was a balmy, 70-degree day in mid-December and the trees were turning colors. Red and yellow and orange and green — the trees were so pretty! Our campground was on a small lake and I totally expected to be serenaded with crickets and frogs while squirrels danced their winter nut dance, scampering hither and yon burying nuts they’d never find again. But not a sign of wildlife creeping or flying or buzzing.

It was a glorious walk along the lake shore and up the trails — peaceful, serene, scenic — until spouse burst forth with the thoughts that had been nagging away at him. WHY was there no wildlife? Was something wrong with the water? The air? Was our water at the campground safe?

Thankfully we hadn’t hooked up to their water yet, having gotten here early and wanting the pleasure of taking a walk in the forest. We opted to dry camp as our water filters hadn’t been installed yet.

It reminded me of a lake in Italy which I’d written about in Nordic Aliens and the Legend of the Four Cities. It was known as the “place without birds” due to the sulfuric fumes emanating from below that killed whatever unfortunate birds happened to fly the deadly skies of those unhealthy forests.

A nearby lake hosted frogs and snakes, but not a single fish. Swimmers and hunters died in the lake around which neither grass nor flowers grew. Birds avoided the lake for the smoke that continually rose up from it. The entire tract was full of brimstone and alum. But those deadly lakes were in Italy’s volcanic zone hundreds of years ago and there were no volcanoes near our Dead Zone Campground.

Sleuthing failed to turn up any clues as to why we were in a Dead Zone and let me tell you… it is downright scary to wonder if it’s safe to even breathe the air!

When you travel in an RV, you just never know what the campgrounds you book ahead of time will be like. They never seem to match their online photos which appear to have been taken decades ago when the campgrounds were new. But this? Wandering into a Dead Zone takes camping surprises to a whole new level.

Thankfully we’d only booked it for one night after which we traveled to another campground where the frogs and crickets sang to us all night long. So what’s your creepy campground story?

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