I spent the day driving the length of Alabama, and can confidently report there’s nothing to see from the highway. The interstate is neatly hemmed in by a wide margin of pine trees. On all sides. From north to south.
In Kentucky and Tennessee, it’s possible to be a passive Peeping Tom. The landscape is wide open to peer into little villages and hollers, and down on a lazy creek or comely pond as you cruise by at 65 mph. Homestead farms line the sides of the interstate, and you can squeeze a guess at people’s lives from the clapboard houses, double wide trailers, and prim little brick homes. Each has an antique barn a few steps away, with old boards peeling julienne-style and galvanized roofs sporting crimson splotches of rust. You can catch a glimpse of lopsided swing sets, puttering tractors, and cattle wandering home. It all sets the mood.
But here in Alabama the margins are thick and wooded. There’s hardly a peek at what’s behind the ever-present pines, Could be a cotton field or a golf course or a space shuttle landing strip. You just don’t know. All that’s visible in a day’s drive is an endless corridor of asphalt and trees. So it’s hard to get a sense of the place.
The day provided only two good diversions. First at the Peach Tower where I stopped for an in-coach sandwich lunch. Peach and fruit stands were situated on the side roads, but alas it’s the wrong season and all were closed for winter.
The second side trip was on the way to Sweet Home Alabama campground. It’s 25 miles off the highway, down a couple of lakeside roads so remote that the GPS gave up. I was a little apprehensive about this place when I arrived – the campground office is also the bait shop and I seemed to be the only guest this evening.
But owner, Tom, was pleasant and generously guided my backing-in efforts. He was also a great help when an outside bin jammed up. The bin holds the power cords and water hose, items I would definitely like to use tonight. The water hose had shifted in transit and the metal end wedged between the sidewall and the bin lock. Tom’s shim loosened the snag, and I was a happy camper again.
I’m sure there’s plenty of good reasons that Alabama is considered the Heart of Dixie, but regrettably I didn’t see anything heartfelt or charming from the highway today. Perhaps I’ll get a better feel for the state tomorrow.
Dash Cam Highlights