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What’s next?

Posted by on October 13, 2016

OCTOBER 13, 2016. Many of you have asked me, “Why are you still in Pensacola? We thought you’d have headed down the road by now.” We thought so too, but a couplewhatsnext things changed. First, I decided not to resist all my doctors’ pleas that I stay in town a little longer. They remain amazed at how I’ve recovered but most of them want me to complete the year so they can “fine-tune” their accomplishments with me. “Okay, doctors. You win. I’ll stay a little longer, but my reason has little to do with you. I feel great!”

treeWE’LL BE HERE THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS. A more important reason we’ve decided to postpone our departure until New Year’s Day is that, when traveling as we’ve now been doing for several years, holidays can be difficult. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve enjoyed the season every year, but it’s never been” quite the same.” That won’t be true this year, because we’re in a super RV park and made some friends here and elsewhere in Pensacola that mean a lot to us. The family that owns Pensacola RV Park where we’re staying has become particularly special to us. Each one in the family is our friend. They have treated us like family since the day we arrived and we’ve felt more and more lucky to be here as the time has passed. And our buddy Jon York has been there for and with us since way back when I was rushed to the hospital. almost a year ago. As I got well and became able to do more and more, he was there for me. As an example, we’ve been to the National Aviation Museum with him on several occasions. During the first two of our visits he pushed me all around the place in my wheelchair. Now that I’m strong as an ox again, he’s been our official tour guide the city and its surrounds. Some other folks in town have also become friends and we can’t imagine spending the holidays this year anywhere else. So there!

COME JANUARY FIRST, THEN WHAT? I don’t know the specifics because Florence does all the charting and mapping for our trips. We talk about where we want to gonew-year and generally the route we want to take. Then she goes from there, with her maps and software programs and eventually, “Voila.” We’ve got a plan. We’ve decided to spend the first three months of the year in Alabama. Why there? First, it’ll be too cold to go north before April at the soonest. Second, there’s lots to see! If three years ago you’d have told me I’d enjoy my time in the south, my time in Alabama, I’d have thought you were completely out of touch. But there’s much to be said for southern hospitality and there are places breathtakingly beautiful to explore.

MOBILE, ALABAMA. We’ve already made the hour-long drive to Mobile several times. Remember when I showed you the Mardi Gras Museum we visited there? That’s just one of the places to see in the city…there are lots more. So we’ll drive there and stay at nearby Meaher State Park, located in an area called Spanish Fort just outside of town. We went there a few months ago, primarily so Florence would have lots of room to fly here drone. We also saw the U.S.S. Alabama, on display there for all to see. And Meaher State Park itself is full of fun things to do.

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Kayak at the Lower Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River.

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA. We’ll spend some time in and around this city, so rich in history dating back to the Civil War and continuing through the Civil Rights Movement and the Freedom Riders. After that, we’ll make our way to the Black Warrier River Scenic Byway near Tuscaloosa.  This urban route circles about 12 miles along the Black Warrior River.  Three bridges along the route offer breathtaking views of the river and its riverbanks. The route spotlights the boundless natural scenic beauty of the Black Warrior River and exhibits historic ruins, structures and markers including the site of the Alabama State Capitol from 1826 until 1847. Tuscaloosa is home to Alabama State University, home of the Crimson Tide football team. That team is a really big deal in these parts! College football rules!

NEXT UP, BIRMINGHAM. Founded during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, Birmingham first became a railroad transportation center. And railroads are good! Those of you who follow my blog know that I’m “a railfan.”  That’s a train buff and railroad enthusiast. I’ve always liked trains, but I really crossed the line and became somewhat obsessed when we visited Sandpoint, Idaho in August of 2014.  In the 1950’s and ’60’s, Birmingham received national and international attention as a center of the civil rights struggle for African Americans. Independent KKK chapters had ready access to dynamite and other bomb materials, as many residents worked in mining and related industries. Whites unhappy with social changes committed racially motivated bombings of the houses of black families, earning Birmingham the shameful nickname “Bombingham.” I’m going to learn more about this tragic part of our nation’s history while we’re in the area.

THE TOWN OF CULLMAN, ALABAMA. We’ve had our eye on this spot for a long time. It’s home to Ave Maria Grotto, a landscaped, 4-acre park in an old quarry on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey, providing a garden setting for 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous religious structures of the world.

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A Saint Barnard Abbey monk built these miniatures of Jerusalem, Rome, and biblical scenes from 1932 to 1961. The location is in Cullman, Alabama and the attraction is called Ave Maria Grotto. 

 

PHIL CAMPBELL, ALABAMA. And then there’s the tiny little town of Phil Campbell. Only about a thousand folks call it home. But Florence has it on our route because of nearby Dismals Canyon. Intentionally private, in keeping with its pristine surroundings, this 85 acre conservancy offers a quiet and unspoiled oasis in Alabama’s last secret hiding place. It’s a secluded wilderness filled with natural phenomena, tucked deep within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s not a State Park or National Park. However, it was designated a “National Natural Landmark” in 1975 and as such it’s administered by the National Park Service. I don’t know how Florence finds these places, but she does it time and time again. And they’re always fascinating!

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Dismals Canyon, located in Northwest Alabama.

 

AND SO MUCH MORE. This is just a preview of coming attractions. We’ll be in full swing again after the holidays when we take you to these places and lots more. Our Great American Adventure is now picking up speed again, so join us as we continue to explore America. Subscribe to my blog and get notified of all future posts. I’m not selling anything and your email address won’t be shared with anybody. We just love what we’re doing and want you to come along and ride with us. What do you know about our route? Have you been to any of these places? Leave a comment and let me know.  I look forward to hearing from you. It’ll make my day!

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I’ll continue my story next time.

 

3 Responses to What’s next?

  1. Jon York

    Uh Greg, The Crimson Tide is the University of Alabama, not Alabama State University. The University of Alabama is part of the Alabama State University system, similar to your California system. And it’s in Tuscaloosa, not Montgomery. This link may explain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Alabama
    Gotcha!

  2. David Yetter

    If you are going to Montgomery, you’d better learn that the Crimson Tide football team play for the University of Alabama.

  3. Greg Alford

    I’m red in the face. It’s obvious that I’m not really a big football fan, but judging from the way folks even around here in Pensacola get excited about the Crimson Tide, that may well change! Anyhow you guys, I’ve made some changes and corrections. Do I have it right now? Please say, “Yes.” I’m tired of blogging for the day.

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