Sweet Home (Northern) Alabama

We headed west out of the Atlanta metro area (whew) via gently rolling 2- and 4-lane US routes (our favorite), lined with fall-hued trees. The kind of drive where you can pull off and buy local produce from a guy and his jerry-rigged, tarp-covered stand. We got apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and vine-ripened tomatoes (yes, they're still coming in here). Delish.

We made it to our destination of Decatur, GA early afternoon. Now, we'd picked Decatur because of this Wikipedia article on barbeque. I had found this article as we were driving across the U.S. at the beginning of this trip. (The iPhone makes long drives positively bearable.) This led us to make a point of trying the vinegar-based BBQ in North Carolina, the mustard-based BBQ in South Carolina (we had to resort to buying a bottle of sauce for this, though, but we love it! Great on chicken and ham...so far. Going to try it with the leftover Thanksgiving turkey next week), and (drum roll) the mayonnaise-based BBQ of Decatur, AL.

Well, folks, Decatur is a great place to visit, but I don't ever need to try Big Bob Gibson's again. This place is chock-full of enormous trophies for BBQ competitions, but perhaps they are now resting on their laurels. Very, very disappointing. And the white sauce? Let's put it this way. It's got eggs in it. It should be refrigerated, right? (It even says so on the bottle.) But every table had a room temperature kinda nasty looking bottle of the stuff on it. I had the tiniest of tastes (fearing salmonella or worse) and checked that off the list. Lisa had an unusual entry--a "loaded" baked potato.

Now, the ribs were pretty good, but we still think Fat Matt's Rib Shack in Atlanta sets the bar.

Now, on to happier topics. After lunch, we did a bit of shopping and headed to our campground, Point Mallard.

A very nice city park for the amazing rate of $20/night--large sites, very wooded, full hookups, nice store. We looked up the weather forecast and decided to stay two nights. Boy, were we ever glad we did.

It poured all night and most of the next morning. When a sunbreak happened, we went out for an hour-long walk in the pretty neighborhood nearby. Large, lovely homes and fall leaves. Lots to look at.

(Now, we didn't take photographs of the McMansions! That wouldn't have been nice....)

But we had to cut it short because the weather started to change again. A cold front started to blow through. Temps dropped and winds were 20-30 mph. Again, a good idea to be off the road.

So, I worked on a project for my HS reunion next week, Lisa cleaned the coach, and I got the Crock Pot humming all day. All in all, a very nice, recuperative day. That is, AFTER we first awoke.

You see, it was just pouring and if you haven't been inside the metal can that is an RV when it rains, you have no idea how loud rain can be. (Let's not even revisit last May's monster hail storm.) At any rate, we got the kettle going and were awaiting the morning caffeine jolt (at least I was). We then heard, distinctly, over the rain noise, claws scratching in what sounded like our pantry cabinet over the dinette. Yikes. So, I banged on the cabinet door. The creature ran the other way. I banged again. More scampering. Ick! Could a rodent get INTO the pantry? I know it would like to, as that's where we keep our nuts, granola, crackers, and other such foodstuffs.

Lisa, being the brave one (and being a decaf drinker who doesn't need to wait for her beverage), threw on some rain gear and went outside to investigate. Her theory, which proved to be correct, was that a squirrel (and there were tons in this wooded park) sought shelter from the pouring rain under the cloth canopy above the slide room. That would be right ABOVE the cabinet, not INSIDE it. Whew. Mystery solved. But I was all ready to go hire some kind of critter getter....

After our day "off," the sun came out and we headed back out on the road. Over to the Shoals area, where there looked to be all kinds of interesting attractions. We ended up not seeing Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbria because time was, we thought, short. Instead, we had a wonderful tour of the only Frank Lloyd Wright home in Alabama, given by the woman who is head of the site preservation committee and who was personal friends with the woman who lived there for almost 60 years.

This is the "front" which is really the back.
And vice versa:
The living room:
The study down the hall from the living room. (Mr. Rosenbaum was an English professor. The bookshelves continue in the same line from the living room to the study--a very cool design feature.)
A truly special tour, as the family's furnishings (of which Mr. Wright approved) included original Eames chairs. I couldn't get a good photo because of the sunshine, but suffice to say that each is worth probaby north of $3k (times 6 chairs). One of the best parts of the tour was learning about how items were loved and used, not "collected" or protected. Mrs. Rosenbaum was quite comfortable in her "famous" home for those many, many years.

The other unique aspect of this Usonian design was that Mr. Wright reluctantly agreed to add an addition to this 1540-square foot home after Mrs. Rosenbaum had 4 boys.

The hallway connecting the addition--all storage.

For the first 8 years, this tiny closet of a room was her kitchen. (It was turned into a wet bar later, which is what you see here.)

With the remodel, she got a larger kitchen and a dormitory room for the boys. (Turns out the two oldest went away to boarding school as teenagers. Can't imagine how this room would work for 4 older boys! This is one set of bunkbeds for all four of them....)

After our lengthy tour, we took what turned out to be a very scenic drive through the historic districts of Florence (there seem to be a lot!) to find a Roadfood lunch. No photos of this fun and funky old grocery store, but you can see some here. A very good burger for $2.95 and some fancy parking in this old neighborhood. Had to head-in angle park, which wasn't a problem until it came to backing out in very busy traffic. Glad I had a good flagman outside.

After lunch, we headed onto the northern most stretch of the Natchez Trace, stopping to pay our respects at Meriweather Lewis's death and burial site, given our Lewis and Clark tour from 2008....

The day went slightly awry when we got to our targeted campground at about 4PM. Their policy is for you to pick a site and then they'll "come over to see you." Without Nick, we didn't feel comfortable having someone knock on our door in the dark, in a very remote place, so we moved on.

Now, the one real drawback of traveling in the fall (our favorite camping season) is how early the sun sets. We managed to finish the Trace at dusk, but we then hit Nashville in the dark, at rush hour. Lisa masterfully negotiated that mess and we ended up at a campground near Opryland (!). Stay tuned for how this day turns out....


  1. Wow! you guys covered a lot of ground there. Good thing to find the squirrel outside.

    Travel Safe

  2. As for people knocking on the door . . .

    We have a little battery operated doorbell, which is also an intercom. If someone knocks, we can talk to them without opening the door (and look outside to verify who they are).

    Just an idea, but it's worked for us for 5 years. You can read about it here (you have to scroll down a but)


    Keep up the blog, we're enjoying your travels, being stuck in California for a while.