July 6, 2012

Bama Backroads


While I rehab a sore hip and ankle from a near fall from my July 4th race, I decided to take a relaxing trip using back road routes from Montgomery to Athens, via Tuscaloosa.  Highways 82, 69 (always wanted to take that road), 195, 33, 157, 110, 72.  The first part on 82 is a quick scenic drive from Montgomery to Tuscaloosa.

Although I've been in Alabama for near 12 years, this was my first time in Tuscaloosa, I toured the still open wound of the April 27, 2011 tornado that ripped through T-town, lots of evidence of the storm is still apparent.  I then drove through the campus of the University of Alabama.  Although I am an Auburn fan, the Crimson Tide campus is very beautiful, I could live here if it wasn't U of A  ;-) .  I tried to stop for coffee at a well-known "Cafe'" near the campus, but it wasn't open for breakfast (?), so I had to get some Waffle House coffee, it was better than expected for my first Awful House experience.

From there I headed to Jasper via Highway 69.  This is a beautiful and scenic twisty-curvy roller coaster of a road, just the kind of driving I love, and one of the most beautiful drives I have ever experienced in Alabama.  After a quick pit stop in Jasper, and getting a little bit lost, I found 195 and took it towards Double Springs hoping to take a short hike in the Sipsey Wilderness before heading to Athens.  I found the same scenic twisty hilly roads on 195, but with a lot more big trucks, so this part of the trip wasn't as good.  At Double Springs, I took 33 to head into the Sipsey Wilderness.  Again, there were very nice well maintained, lightly traveled roads, very scenic.  Lots of signs for camping areas and trail heads, I chose one with some history, popular and close to 33.  I only did a mile and had to turn around (2 miles RT), the temperatures were already above 90 (at 9:00 AM), and my hip and ankle needed more rest.

Double Springs
 Gateway to the Sipsey Wilderness
From the Pine Torch Trail head I headed back to 33 and headed toward Moulton.  As you come out of the Bankhead National Forest, the change in scenery is abrupt, from hills and curves to flat and straight.  As I made my way into Moulton it was very noticeably that a storm had come through recently.  Leaves and twigs littered the road and became worse as I got closer to town.  I noticed many residents sitting in the shade in their front yards at almost every house, and many were also cleaning up debris.  Closer to town there were trees down, power poles down, streets closed, moderate structure damage, and lots of people and power company trucks out clearing side roads and repairing power lines.  Now I figured out why so many people were out of their homes, their power was out and it was HOT!.  I saw at least two home which had trees come down on them, one of which looks like the tree had been struck by lightning, as the trunk looked like it had exploded, with lots of splintered wood around the yard.   I found out on the news later,  they had a storm, and it was still not determined if it was a micro burst or a tornado.

Wheeler Dam & Locks
From Moulton I headed out towards the Wheeler Dam on Highways 157, then 110.  The road over Wheeler Dam on the Tennessee  River is very narrow and scary, with logging trucks going fast in the opposite direction, I was glad to make it over that long bridge.  Wanted to take some pictures of the Dam and Locks, but there was no where to pull off to take pictures, so I only got a view from the high water side of the Dam.

From there I headed to 72 and on into Athens to spend the weekend with Grand kids.

Although the driving time is double, it was well worth it.  With all the recent closings due to accidents on I-65 this week, I was GLAD to avoid that part of the very boring, but stressful drive to Athens.  I might find another back road route to go home.

1 comment:

Drew Trachy said...

I've also noticed the abrupt change in geography when crossing the Alabama/Tennessee border. It's very obvious why lines were drawn where they are now.

I'll have to check out that stretch from T-Town to Jasper. Sounds really nice!