Campers spend final day at Paul Grist

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chelse Nash and his family spent what could be their last day at Paul Grist State Park Thursday.

Nash, who said he and his wife are semi full-time campers, spend between two and three months of the year camping at the 1,000 acre park.

“We probably average three months out of the year here,” Nash said. “We stay gone probably seven to eight months out of the year, and we will spend probably two to three months on the average here because I love to fish.”

Email newsletter signup

While Nash has spent many days at the park and made a lifetime full of memories, Thursday was quite sad.

“Everything I look out at breaks me up. The drive in, we just drove in, and we were all about in tears, but it was a beautiful drive in. It was just so pleasant coming through here,” Nash said.

“The sad part is that I’m not going to get to see the fall this year. You get out on that lake in the morning with the sun coming up … it is just beautiful.”

The park is among four others that were placed on the chopping block because of budget cuts made by the Alabama Legislature. It was announced Sept. 30 that Grist and four others would close Oct. 15 because they don’t make enough money.

Nash said the list of memories he has made at Paul Grist goes on and on, even his first one from 1957 when he was 17-years-old.

“It was my first experience with trying to ride a canoe. It didn’t turn out well,” Nash laughed. “I stayed in the water more than I did in the canoe, but that was my first experience with Paul Grist State Park.”

Nash said the memories he’s made there are priceless.

“If you offered me $1 million right now for the memories right here in this park, I’d say no. I’ll take the memories,” Nash said. “You can’t put a money price on memories.”

Dan Chandler, who rides horses at the park, was also sad to see the park close and wants to see it remain open.

“It is heartbreaking,” Chandler said as he leaned back in his seat. “I think if people could just get together I believe that we can keep this thing going. There are a lot of people who said they would donate work to keep it going.”

The Dallas County Commission is making an effort to keep the park open. Probate Judge Kim Ballard and commissioners are scheduled to meet with representatives from the park system.