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Old 12-08-2010, 07:55 PM   #1
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Alabama: Birminghan, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Mobile

Several good spots found so far with the help of Forum members:

Comlara Park, Central Illinois ( Maggie), Downtown Saint Louis (Ike T), along the banks of the Mississippi at Memphis
(Debbie from Nashville)...

Any suggestions for Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Mobile?

Non-traditional places always interest me. Stayed at a wonderful fairgrounds in Kalamazoo, Michigan enroute.

Hunkered down in the cold snap at Memphis but moving further south soon.

Thanks y'all.

Sergei
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:10 PM   #2
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Lake Lurleen State Park just outside of Tuscaloosa is one of my favorite camp grounds in the area. Have stayed there numerous times. Nice sites, nature and mountain bike trails, and a beautiful lake. Really a nice place.
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:19 PM   #3
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Tannehill Ironworks State Park is a good option between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. It is located on I 59/20 South toward Tuscaloosa about 20 miles out of BHM.

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

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Old 12-09-2010, 07:22 AM   #4
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If you are headed south from Memphis, Natchitoches, LA on the Cane River/Lake in NW Louisiana is a good hop from there. It is one of our favorite places in the world---full of culture, history, beautiful old homes and their own plantation road.

We like the Nakatosh Campground, right outside of town. There are not a lot of local choices, and we like to be close to everything when we are there. The historic downtown area and riverfront at Natchitoches are carefully maintained and beautiful, and there are some unusual shops selling unusual and local items and a couple of good restaurants.

Natchitoches

Nakatosh is decent but unexciting, not an RV "resort", and be sure to ask for a site toward the back where the trucks coming in and out of the truck stop nearby won't bother you. Bathrooms are clean, the lady in the office is very nice and very helpful. This area is a must-stop for us at least once a year.


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Old 12-09-2010, 10:42 AM   #5
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Thanks to everyone for these good looking suggestions.

Maggie, I will add Natchitoches to my travels.

Anyone with suggestions for Montgomery and Mobile?


Sergei
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:34 AM   #6
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Alabama -- my home state. I have not camped there yet, however.

Airstreamers camp (dry) at the parking lot of the high school football stadium in Athens, about 15 miles south of the TN/AL state line, on I-65 or Hwy 31. WBCCI has annual rally at the Old Time Fiddler's Convention in October. Maybe the school would permit camping there, off season. The fairground is north a bit across the highway from the high school (I-65/Hwy 31 split, the first Athens exit going south).

I expect churches in small towns would allow parking in their lots for overnights. Then, as I'm sure you've heard, Wal-Mart and Cracker Barrel might welcome overnight parking.

I used to visit the Bankhead Forest, the Dismals area, in NW Alabama. Near the same area is Winston County, which, during the Civil War and secession, became the Free State of Winston. I can recall seeing barns on the roadside still saying, "Welcome to the Free State of Winston."

I love the rivers, many beautiful parks are along the rivers. The TVA lakes and state parks are beautiful with waterfront.

Space Museum in Huntsville is interesting. Civil rights memorials in Birmingham and Montgomery are great to see, the remembering why is the hard part.

Tuscaloosa, wow -- I would abandon my job, if I had one, to drive down there and introduce you to the original Dreamland Barbecue -- the original, not one of the later chain restaurants in other cities. "Ain't nothin' like 'em, nowhere." Finding it is complicated, but you can ask around, a friendly police officer. You might need to park the rig and take the Mini. It's located back in a residential area with narrow streets. The building probably ought to be condemned. In my opinion, that's a sure sign it's authentic -- even the fire department protects its existence by not closing it down.

And in Decatur, Big Bob Gibson's, the usual smoked meats are delicious, but the white sauce with the chicken is worth the trip.

Skipping around, back to NW Alabama, my college haunts, I recommend visiting Muscle (sic) Shoals, the music scene there; all the restored downtowns of cities like Huntsville, Florence, neighborhoods of Birmingham, all have thriving arts museums, galleries, history exhibits. Tuscumbia is a neat little town, home of Helen Keller. Early jazz musician Eubie Blake was born in Florence, I think there is a park with the little house and exhibits of his story. I would imagine all of these areas have spots for free overnights, perhaps in the parking lots of the parks along the river (Tennessee).

I used to drive the Natchez Trace between Nashville, TN, and Jackson, MS, often. The part that cuts across the NW corner of Alabama, and crosses the TN river, has the most beautiful scenery. The nearest towns for finding a parking lot, if not a state park campground, are Cherokee and the Quad Cities, Florence/Sheffield/Tuscumbia/Muscle Shoals, area. Out in the boonies you can see parks with information about several prehistoric Native American sites, such as mounds and sites of Trail of Tears Corridor history. I have some cassette tapes of a driving tour along the Trace if you're interested.

A couple of years ago, I was driving back roads to visit my Dad in AL and had to wait for the miles long Trail of Tears motorcycle ride that takes place each year, following Hwy 64 in southern TN, from east TN toward Cherokee, AL, and on to Memphis. That was an amazing sight.

I have some property in north central AL, out in the country, with a pre-Civil War log cabin, thinking about developing a small park for Airstreamers. I'm now daydreaming out loud here.

The northeast area, in the "mountains", you can check out Mentone and the Little River Canyon SP area. I have some friends with weekend homes there. I'll try to get some phone #s for you, for any ideas of free spots of interest.

Central Alabama is Sand Mountain, a very interesting area geographically and culturally. It has been known for its Appalachian culture, and for the big, very big outlet malls.

I used to take college students on spring break service learning trips to a place in eastern Alabama, where I know you would be able to park free. SIFAT, Southern Institute for Appropriate Technology. I have not had an update in a decade, but this institute was the training site in sustainable practices in agriculture (also resourced by Auburn University) and engineering, and was the first stop for overseas Habitat for Humanity groups. Habitat HQ is not far away in southwest Georgia, Americus, also near Plains, home of President and Mrs. (Jimmy and Roselyn) Carter. (I had the pleasure in graduate school of working on a writing project for the Caregiving Institute founded by Mrs. Carter.). Of course, all the Carter library stuff is in Atlanta, near Emory University.

The LA (Lower Alabama) area is lovely, especially the county seat towns, the homes with verandahs and architecture unique to that region. Peanuts, peaches, pecans -- out of season at the moment, but probably on lots of menus.

Going more South, toward the Coast, Montgomery and the MLK history museums, Mobile, Fairhope (site of a utopian community), Daphne are neat areas. Katrina and oil spill have made impact on the beaches. We are going that way after Christmas, to the FL panhandle, to drive along the beach highway (if it is open).

Here's a Fairhope video:

Happy Journey!
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:43 AM   #7
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Did you see "Fried Green Tomatoes"? Fannie Flagg is from Alabama. She wrote this partly historically true novel based on an area called "Irondale" near Birmingham. Of course, Truman Capote, and Harper Lee spent their childhood summers together with relatives in Montgomery.

Sorry to write a BOOK on your thread -- I love so many things about my home state.
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:35 PM   #8
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We camped at Deerlick Creek in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama vs. Mississippi State game and loved it:

Facility Details - Recreation.gov, Deerlick Creek (AL) - Recreation.gov

The park was clean, quiet and the fall foliage was an added bonus:

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Old 12-09-2010, 06:06 PM   #9
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We stayed in Oak Mountain State Park when we took our son to Samford University this fall. The campground was awful. The other areas of the park were really nice.

We are looking forward to visiting AL over the next four years. Samford gives us a great excuse.
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Old 12-19-2010, 11:33 PM   #10
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Cold Snap changes route

After Memphis I spent a night with the guys who have the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi. They gave me a spot right across the tracks from their place, along side another project they’ve started, Shacksville.

I’d earlier had a spontaneous thought to go from there to Tupelo, then down through Alabama to ‘Nawlins but that windy night in the trailer I carefully monitored the National Weather Service predictions and abandoned the idea. The cold snap was quite a bit colder as you went east of the Mississippi so I hung by the river and the next morning went down to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where I stayed for 8 days.


Tonight I’m in Vidalia, Louisiana, right across the Mississippi River from Natchez.

My general plan is to spend Christmas and New Year’s in New Orleans and then decide whether I want to go west into the warmer, lower part of Texas, and maybe New Mexico, or explore the rural parishes of Louisiana. Either way, I think I will return to Canada next April by working my way up the American South East Coast.

That will include ALABAMA and some Mississippi places that I haven’t seen yet, like Hattiesburg and Meridian.



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Old 12-22-2010, 04:52 PM   #11
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Made the drive from N.O. via the coastal road back to Beaumont earlier this year. An interesting experience as it is remote. Lousiana 82 The Grand Chenier Highway. Note the bird and wildlife refuges.

The Texas coast once past Houston has a different remote feeling (grasses versus trees), but also refuges (whooping crane, for example) on the road to Corpus Christi (recommend staying in Rockport for any exploration of this area; such as the Spanish Mission complex at Goliad [state park]). From CC south to the Rio Grande Valley is the Wild Horse Desert (a humid, but dry land of grasses -- the King Ranch and others; some bigger than American states) until one reaches the near tropical area of the River. See threads on CC, Padre Island (north and south, they are different), etc.

Unless otherwise engaged, but sure to bypass Houston via the tollroad on the south side (enter off of I-10, and re-enter Highway 59-S). Great view of the Port (and refineries) from a tremendously high bridge [45-mph]).
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:24 PM   #12
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After Memphis ...went down to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where I stayed for 8 days....
Sergei
I hope you enjoyed V'burg and I hate I missed you. Although I work there, I don't know a bunch about the town other than the Military park and a few good sports to eat.

A few times a year, we stay in the same campground you are probably in right now. It's a good jump off spot to explore Natchez. The horse carrage rides are a good spot to get a narrative of the area...

Thanks for the thread...I'm enjoying it!
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Old 12-22-2010, 07:34 PM   #13
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Natchez Trace and Natchez

Hello Sergei,

Danielle and I are heading out tomorrow and look forward to meeting you in New Orleans. We're heading over to Tupelo then down the Natchez trace for two days. We'll probably be in Natchez, MS for Christmas. See you in a few days.

As I'm writing this it occurs to me that I did not receive a package for you.

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Old 12-22-2010, 08:34 PM   #14
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Tomorrow I roll back onto #61, The Blues Highway, headed for Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Natchez will be a pretty place to spend Christmas. Likely closed that day, the Visitor's Center in Natchez on the Mississippi is not your stereotypical Welcome Center. Instead it's a really good, very impressive interpretive center and first class introduction to the city and it's people.

Since I'll be in New Orleans for a while I sent the mail to my temporary address there.

See you in 'Nawlins.


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