Picture of alabama Our trip through Alabama and Georgia on Columbus Day weekend of 1999 had two particularly prominent themes: the first was rain, the second was southern culture at its finest. A slight rarity, Trout got to accompany us on this adventure as well. We spent the first evening in Marianna, Florida where we left Trout at the hotel and went to Shoney's for a late dinner. Apparently, the entire town of Marianna did as well, or at least the entire male population, and dressed in suit & tie at that. We found that vaguely unusual, but no more so than the fact the waitresses at this particular Shoney's were not permitted to carry straws around with them because they made the place look 'like a truckstop'. I suppose I should mention that it was not raining at this point. Nor was it raining the next morning when we drove into Alabama where Trout posed for this picture. Shortly after this, we discovered Dothan is perhaps one of the ugliest cities on the entire planet. If anyone happens to be reading this from Dothan, our condolences.

Picture of capitol It started raining as we approached Montgomery and became exponentially harder over the next few minutes until we weren't sure we'd be able to take a picture of the capitol at all. It let up long enough for a quick jaunt out of the car, though the contrast is terrible. We began driving up to the national forest which was our original camping destination, but as it continued to pour, we eventually decided there was simply no way camping would be enjoyable that evening. So instead, we turned towards the Georgia border and a closer state park.

Picture of chewacla The only thing you can pick up on FM radio on a Saturday afternoon in southern Alabama is the Auburn football game, so we were painfully aware that the football game was ending thus our only objective in reaching Chewacla State Park was to avoid downtown Auburn. Naturally, we got lost, and ran right directly into the stadium. We were then forcibly herded back out of Auburn lemming-style with several thousand other cars. Eventually we managed to get around the city and make it to the state park, where they actually gave Trout a cookie at the gate. Trout enjoyed this, but did not think it justified six hours in the car in the rain.

Picture of troutfalls This picture might have however. This is Trout in a waterfall. He doesn't really know what to make of it, but he certainly preferred hiking, even in the rain, to sitting in the car. The rocks around the river were made even more slippery by the rain so Trout even got carried (or pushed, dragged, thrown) up some of the rocks around the falls.

Picture of georgia After that we headed for Georgia hoping the rain would stop the next day before we went to Callaway Gardens. Here at the Georgia border (in the rain), Trout discovered that holly bushes are sharp. We spent the night in LaGrange, where apparently all restaurants close at 9 PM even on Saturdays. We actually found one in the phone book that was still open, but they were unable to give us directions from the interstate to where they were located. We tried to find it by driving around randomly. For future reference, we do not recommend driving randomly around LaGrange as the city was apparently designed by M.C. Escher. In the end, we ordered pizza.

Picture of butterfly2 The next day, we went to Callaway Gardens (where dogs are welcome in all outdoor gardens while leashed) and of course it was still raining. The hiking trails and gardens were very impressive, and we pretty much had them to ourselves as no one else was stupid enough to be out in heavy rain showers. As the day progressed, the rain continued to become even harder to the point where the concept of hiking was simply ridiculous. Instead we visited the indoor butterfly garden which is truly spectacular. Most of the butterflies were unwilling to land anywhere long enough for a portrait, but the picture here and the background picture turned out acceptably. We gave up on Callaway after this as the golf course had become a lake, and the hiking trails were sporting a current. We headed east, trying to get ahead of the weather again. We arrived in Macon, just ahead of the storm, and decided (foolishly) that we could spend a little time at the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds before the rain started again. We were wrong, it started on the trail at the farthest possible point from the car. Drenched again, we fled Macon and continued heading east.

Picture of florida Halfway to Savannah, we outran the rain again. As it was still clear out when we reached Savannah, we decided to spend the night there. The next morning it was amazingly bright and sunny. We packed up the dog and headed out to St. Simon's Island. Along the way we passed the "world's smallest church" but for some reason we failed to stop. Trout frisked about the beach at St. Simon's for a while, but the real excitement came later in the afternoon on Jekyl Island. Trout discovered the existence of fish thanks to some jumping mullet. Several hours later, Trout had still failed to learn that fish do not remain exactly where they land in the water. We visited a few of the old mansions on the island and then headed home, stopping for this picture (3rd in the Trout Across America series).


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