Florida to Michigan – April, 2023 – Written by Jim
There is something to be said about an old pair of slippers. From the moment you slide them on your feet, they just feel cozy. Such was our choice of routes north this spring through Alabama, Nashville, western Kentucky and Indiana. It’s a path we have beaten often, as it isn’t quite as busy or mountainous as Interstate 75. Comfortable, no pressure…just head north along I-65/US-31 without too much effort.
With that being said, we are always in search of something new. Rolling along a well-worn path, the sights have a tendancy to look the same. We know all too well that we miss really cool stuff in our everyday lives if we don’t keep our eyes open and look for it. So off we went, searching for change amongst the familiar vistas we knew so well.
One of our first stops was a place we’ve stayed at often: Golden Acres Ranch in Monticello, Florida. This is a Harvest Hosts stop that we hadn’t been to in a few years. Bobbie and Fred Golden have a farm where they raise chickens, guinea fowl and Tennessee fainting goats. They also make mayhaw jelly, which has become a staple in our pantry. With our new rig having solar, we were excited to be off grid for the night to see how it performed.
We’re happy to say that we still had over 13 volts in the batteries when we hooked up in the morning, even after a couple of cycles of the furnace, the fridge running full blast and two cups of coffee run through our drip coffeemaker.
It was a very relaxing place to kick back for the night. Bobbie took us on a farm tour in her golf cart, showing us all they had going on in their little slice of paradise. There is something to be said about a woman well into her 80’s who is planting a slew of new mayhaw trees that won’t be producing for a few years. 🙂
Further up the road, we made a familiar stop in Troy, Alabama at Deer Run RV Park. Troy has always been somewhat of a resupply depot for us, as they have both a Walmart and Publix, along with a Lowe’s store. We did walk Troy University’s campus one time and perused their bookstore, but we’ve never found much more than that in this now familiar place. That’s not to say we won’t in the future, though. I did have a fun interaction at a propane refill station when an elderly gentleman pulled up to refill his tanks. Turns out he boils peanuts at local events, along with making rocking chairs with an odd curve in the upper part of the back. Two of them grace the porch of the dealer. With a sly grin, he said “I used my wife as a model for it.” Take from that what you will.
Another familiar stop for us is Cullman, Alabama. Again, this can be more of a stopover for us, but we made it a two night stay in search of something more. Turns out, it was a good choice. We plugged several interesting places into our GPS and headed out for the day.
Our first stop was the Clarkson covered bridge, just west of Cullman. It’s been there since the 1920’s, and it definitely has some sagging going on.
That didn’t stop us from crossing it though. :). The property also has a millpond and grist mill. It was absolutely beautiful, especially being dressed in spring foliage.
Next up was to a childhood hero’s birthplace and museum: Jesse Owens. I ran track in junior high and I was always fascinated with Jesse’s story of his multiple gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, which made Adolf Hitler very unhappy. My dad took me to the Detroit Auto Show in my early teens, as he knew that Lincoln Mercury had a number of sports stars that would be there. One of them was Jesse Owens. I bypassed Al Kaline, Alex Karras, Geordie Howe and several others to be face-to-face with Jesse. I was laser focused on seeing him. What an honor to meet a living legend!
This time, we had to settle for a cutout of him as he passed away several years ago. I was surprised to find out that he was the director of minority personnel at Ford Motor Company from 1942 to 1945, just a few miles from where I grew up. The museum was interesting, as was the movie in the theater.
They even offered a chance to best Jesse’s 26 foot, 8-1/4 inch world record long jump. I missed it by about 17 feet. 🙂 We also learned that the museum is a Harvest Hosts site, offering a quiet place to spend a night in the Alabama countryside. We’ll remember that for the future.
From there, we went to check out a couple of antique stores. The first was more of a “mall” that had old and new mixed together, We spent a little while there and then headed to a store called Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in downtown Cullman. What a find!
This business deals with unique building supplies out of old buildings throughout the eastern U.S. Everything from doorknobs, to hinges, windows, doors, light fixtures…you name it, they probably have it. They even offer you a soft drink out of an old Coke ice chest to drink while you are browsing.
From that point on, we had to make some adjustments, due to weather. We even passed a brand new warehouse that had been hit by a tornado a few weeks earlier.
Traveling through these areas in the spring and fall definitely require keeping an eye on the forecast. We also passed two multi-billion dollar EV battery plants under construction, and became aware of several more going up throughout the Midwest.
Whether you are a critic or cheerleader of electric vehicles, there’s no denying that they are coming soon…in a big way.
We are now back in Michigan with our new rig fitting nicely into it’s summer home. More on that next time. Until then, safe and happy travels to all!