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Visiting Artist Friends in Gadsden, AL

October 9, 2012

The Coosa River, seen from our table at Top O’ The River

From Chattanooga, we drove to Gadsden, Alabama to visit and paint with artist friend Craig Reynolds.  I had been to Gadsden in 2011 to participate in a plein air painting event, and remembered it for its quiet countryside and its beautiful setting on the Coosa River.

We arrived on Tuesday, and checked in at Noccalula Falls Campground on the edge of town.  This campground is owned and operated by the City of Gadsden.  I had called about a week before, but was told things were quiet and we really didn’t need a reservation.  This turned out to be very true.  The campground was almost deserted, although we did have large coaches that did one-nighters each night on both sides of us.  We had a pull-through site, with water, sewer, and electric connections, and after a little trial and error, got the motorhome leveled with the use of a few blocks.  This campground appears to be old and in need of a little TLC.  The roadways and parking sites are paved, but it seemed like everything else was red dirt.  Since it’s heavily wooded, I suppose grass would have a hard time growing, but when we arrived after a night of rain, we found ourselves treading carefully to avoid tracking red mud into the RV.  Everything did dry up pretty fast over the next couple of days.

The park sits above Noccalula Falls, a 90 foot waterfall that spills over a cave-like opening and drops into a small gorge below.  Gadsden also boasts the Gadsden Museum of Art, directed by Steve Temple, a fine painter in his own right.

Since we spent no time at all outside at the park, the location was okay for this visit.  However, we’re beginning to realize that we are “water view” people, so the next time we pass through, we’ll probably stay at River Country RV Park down on the river, and try to get a site with a water view.

Craig, Estra, Me and Nell

The day we arrived, Tuesday, we had dinner at Old Mexico Cantina and Grill.  On Wednesday, Nell spent the day reading and fighting a touch of gout.  After Craig and I painted all day, we again all had dinner, this time at The Fish Market, which was excellent.  On Thursday, Nell spent part of the day doing laundry at the coin-operated machines at the campground.  With only two washers and two dryers, it took a while.  Craig and I spent the day painting, and then the four of us had dinner out again, at Top of the River, another one of Gadsden’s great restaurants.

This was a two-fold visit: first, to see Craig and Estra again and let them meet Nell; and second, to paint with Craig.  Artist Gina Brown, whom I had also met during my previous visit, joined Craig and I as we painted outdoors both days.

There’s a view to be painted everywhere in the Gadsden area

It was a real treat to see these folks again and spend time with them in two of my favorite pastimes: painting and eating.

To see more about this visit, see

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2012 1:27 am

    I SO enjoy hearing about your travels, and seeing your photos Ralph! Please don’t ever stop sharing, I’m living my dream through you & Nell :O) I think I’ll start my own list of places to eat and stay based on your experiences ;o) Hopefully, someday in the future, we can meet up at an RV park, do a little barbecue, and talk about how great the fishing & painting is…I can only dream right now..

    • October 11, 2012 5:26 pm

      Teresa, it’s really nice to hear that. I appreciate the encouragement to keep doing this. Thanks, kid!

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