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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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