During the night, a line of thunderstorms blew through North Alabama, and I found myself out in the rain about 9 o’clock trying to tarp the cab of the truck, to keep the insides from getting soaked. The manager at the desk graciously allowed me to pull the Model A around under the canopy in front of the lobby, only blocking half of the fire lane.
By the time we were ready to go, the sun was out and the weather was beautiful, We headed north out of Florence up Highway 20, and crossed the Tennessee state line. I had as one of my very loose goals to visit the rooster’s comb looking part of the state in the very northwest corner. I don’t know why, I just wanted to be able to look at any map of Alabama and instantly say “we’ve been there!” Kind of the same feeling as looking at Dauphin Island on a map. We traveled west for a few miles and turned back south to Waterloo. From there the road followed along the north shore of Pickwick Lake. The drive was very reminiscent of driving along Lake Garda in Italy.
There are apparently some strange animals in north Alabama, or a taxidermist with a real vivid imagination. Along with the usual bucks and wildcats there were a couple of unrecognizable heads that defied imagination – and photography!
A few miles on, we turned onto the Natchez Trace Parkway. This limited access, two lane road goes from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi, and takes a diagonal path across Alabama. There was almost no traffic, and the old truck was purring like a sewing machine (well, maybe a sewing machine made out of tractor parts).
We stopped at a picnic area near a creek and toasted our 40th anniversary with sparkling lemon water gifted to us on our departure by Allison and Robert, our next door neighbors and very good friends.
When we were able to get off the Parkway, we were just over the state line into Mississippi, and the country roads were not marked at all (every one who lives around there knows where they are going!) We stopped at an intersection to try to decipher the lack of detail on the outskirts of our Alabama map, when a local drove up in a freshly painted 66 Mustang. We sat in the intersection and talked cars a while, then he pointed us in the right direction for Red Bay.
Several travel books had recommended Swamp Johns for their catfish. Located about four miles east of Red Bay in an old closed down service station, it was definitely intended for local trade only. No signs or advertising to lure in travelers, and everyone seemed to know everyone else. As usual, the arrival of the Model A broke the ice, and before long we were accepted as part of the extended family. The catfish was as described and well worth the detour off our route to sample.
We backtracked through Red Bay then turned south on Highway 19. There was a lot to see, beautiful rolling hills, well kept yards and neat little towns right out of the 1930s. We ended up in Fayette in a really nice bed and breakfast, the Rose House Inn. We came in and crashed for an hour before getting up and making a Wal-Mart run. Neither of us were hungry, having filled up on catfish.
Still no GPS to measure mileage, but we traced our route on the map – 194 miles, a full but fun day!