Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Good Side of Alabama

For the night, I planned to stay in another motel. It avoids the whole issue of trying to find a place to stealth camp in such a populated location, though I certainly could have done so if I wanted.

But I wanted a cheap hotel, so I planned to hoof it to the Wetumpka Inn in, where else?, the town of Wetumpka just north of Montgomery.

I also made my plans known to the locals in Birmingham since it would likely be the easiest and closest location for them to meet me for those who were interested.

But so far, I hadn't heard back definitively from anyone. But I did let it be known that I planned to stay at the Wetumpka Inn and planned to arrive at some point before sunset.

The trail follows the main highway between Montgomery and Wetumpka, with all sorts of gas stations and convenience stores along the way. And I stopped at one to check my e-mail, which included a short message from Galaxy 4 saying they were on their way!

I called Mona, the one who left me the message, to let her know exactly where on the trail I was at and my expected arrival time for the motel, assuming she didn't kidnap me off the trail before then. I figured to arrive at the motel near sunset without any intervention, and if she couldn't find me on the trail, she'd wait for me there.

I was rather excited about the prospect of meeting real Alabamians who weren't perverts (presumeably) or policemen (no offense, Big Ox!). People to talk to!

About an hour later, a mini van full of people and two dogs honked, pulled a U-turn, and introduced themselves as the Galaxy 4.

I touch a nearby mailbox to mark my location, then jumped in the van for a ride to my motel. I planned to check in, drop off a bunch of weight from my pack, then slackpack the rest of the way to the motel.

It was on the way to the motel I learned another family had come out to meet me--Wild Dreams--and they were already at the motel. According to Mona, they could see the cockroaches already. =) I hoped that was a joke about the cheapness of the hotel rather than it really being infested with bugs.

At the motel, I checked in--alas, there were no non-smoking rooms in the motel. I asked for the room that smelled the least like smoke, and ended up with room #2.

I emptied my pack of most of the heavy stuff, then headed back to the parking lot with Galaxy 4 and Wild Dreams.

Being Easter, the only restaurants that we knew would be open were fast food, so we headed to McDonalds for dinner. There we did exchanges and entertained each other with stories.

I thought it most amusing that Galaxy 4 called up Wild Dreams at the last minute, "Hey, you want to go to Wetumpka?"

There's nothing in Wetumpka. There's no reason to go to Wetumpka. Unless you're a female convict on death row, apparently, as Galaxy 4 told me the prison holding them was within view of my motel. =)

So being invited to go to Wetumpka would leave you scratching your head, "And WHY would I want to do that?"

But they came anyhow, and I had all sorts of nice people to talk to. =) At least for a couple of hours.

Near the end of dinner, the men decided it would be fun to walk with me from where I was picked up to the motel--about five miles. I was absolutely thrilled at the idea of having company for five miles of my hike. I thought they were nuts--it was a boring old road walk, and at this point, it would be quite dark by the time we finished.

But they liked the idea and I had no intention of talking them out of it. We all went to the point where I got off the trail. I touched the black mailbox to continue my journey while the girls took both vehicles and left. One van would be left at the motel for the men to pick up and drive home while the women drove back with the second van.

And the three of us walked five miles back to the motel. Oh, it was fun, and the time passed very quickly. Easter turned out to be a pretty good day. At one point, we saw a police car pull out near us and we thought maybe he would stop to check us all out--wouldn't that be fun to explain!--but he ignored us and we made it to the motel without any new or harrowing experiences.

They really seemed to enjoy the hike as well, even if it were just a boring old road walk. It was sad to see them go, and I couldn't help but think, "Now THAT'S what I call Southern Hospitality!"

The next morning, I woke up and hit the trail, passing directly by the women's prison. Didn't see any inmates, but it did leave me wondering if the powers that be deliberately routed this trail through the worst places they could find.

The trail turned off the busy four lane highway onto a county road after several miles, and within five minutes, the first of the dogs jumped out and started going after me. *ugh*

Not much happened the rest of the day. More dogs chased after me, and in the mid-afternoon, a couple stopped to ask if I needed a ride anywhere. I was gratified at the offer, even if I couldn't accept it. It was the first time someone stopped to offer me a ride (without strings attached!) since arriving in Florida. It was nice to be meeting some nice people for a change.

At the end of the day, I camped in some woods a couple of miles south of Kellys Crossroads. The location turned out to be perfect, off a rarely used road a quarter mile from the nearest house. A small berm completely hid my camp from the road, and I rested well.


Anonymous said...

We were glad to break up that road walk a bit for you. Maybe you'll find the courage to brave Alabama again and we'll feed you some real southern food! Also glad that Otis and Maggie got to represent for the WELL BEHAVED southern dogs!


Anonymous said...

sounds like an Mcawesome day. glad things are going Mcgreat for you. and the Mcmeal you had with Mcfriends was a great way to spend the evening.


Anonymous said...

Hey, man, no offense taken! I'm just glad you got to meet my best boxing buddies. Sorry I couldn't come down there with them...duty calls! And if you think Alabama is bad, you've got Georgia in front of you. Be safe, my friend!

Big Ox

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Well the female prison location fits in perfectly with this post's Atlas Quest Widget message:

"This ain't the kind of place you want to go the bathroom in"


Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers