Thursday, March 22, 2012

Alabama Trip: Preview

A few weeks back, we said that we were going to go to road trip to New Jersey this weekend. Now, at almost the last minute, we're calling an audible and going somewhere else completely: Alabama.

Why? The weather. It's not that the weather forecast looks bad in New Jersey this weekend, it just doesn't look all that good. My interpretation is this: while the drive up Friday would be nice, and Saturday morning (which we would have spent in the northern part of the state) would probably be dry as well, Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday (including the ferry ride) could be mostly wet. The most likely outcome in New Jersey this weekend is probably "a little rain here and there but not a complete weekend-long washout", which ordinarily wouldn't justify us changing our plans completely...but the thing is, we never really had much in the way of "plans" to begin with. A strict itinerary? Nope. A significant amount of planning that would be going to waste? Most certainly not. All our hopes and dreams of a wonderful weekend in New Jersey washed away? Not really...I mean, it's not like New Jersey was that exciting a road trip destination to begin with. (Aww, that's not fair. We'll make this trip some day. Maybe.) The only thing we really lose here is the $5 cancellation fee on our Cape May ferry reservation, but we'll make that up (and then some!) simply by missing out on New Jersey's toll roads this weekend.

So, why Alabama? Because in some ways, it's a lot like New Jersey: it's a state I've driven through several times, but haven't ever actually stopped and "visited". (The Natchez Trace Parkway cuts through extreme northwest Alabama, but that doesn't count.) The drive time to Alabama is about the same as the drive time to New Jersey, so it's no more or less practical a destination. And, more importantly, the weather on Saturday and Sunday (particularly Sunday) is far more likely to cooperate in Alabama than it is in New Jersey. (Friday is a different story, but we can't possibly get three dry days this weekend, no matter where we go. Well, unless we fly, I guess.)

What is there to do in Alabama? Well, like in New Jersey, I have two primary destinations in mind:
1) The town of Selma, mostly for historical significance (civil rights, etc.) and such. And there's a ghost town nearby that might be interesting.
2) Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in the state. And, it appears to be just as easy as the New Jersey highpoint. Yeah! We'll definitely be doing some driving in the "mountains" of Alabama. (I use quotes because I don't really know how impressive these mountains will be. We'll keep our hopes down. This ain't the Smokies.)
Likely not featured will be Huntsville, as we'll be focusing our trip on the center of the state and aren't likely to make our way up to the northern part of the state.
Along the way, as we traverse through rural Alabama, we'll probably stop at least one Piggly Wiggly. And who knows what else we'll see. This is the rural Deep South, after all. We could see all kinds of crazy things.

Road geek statistical notes! I stand to get far more counties overall on this trip than I would have going to New Jersey, although I will miss out on the prospect of clinching an entire state this weekend. But I could clinch three interstates from end-to-end this weekend: 59, 85, and if we have time for a quick diversion, 26. Oh, and Marla is going to get a TON of counties out of this. A TON.

I haven't driven through Alabama a whole lot, but my impression thus far is that they might be "Pennsylvania south": road construction everywhere, stupidly low speed limits, and despite all that, generally sub-par road conditions. (I mean, seriously, who decides the best course of action following a fatal accident involving a pothole is not to fix the road, but to lower the speed limit? Come on now.) But having never really "visited" the state, my impression may not be accurate. And one thing is for sure: the drive to Alabama is much more enjoyable than the drive to New Jersey.

Apologies to those of you who are partial to New Jersey and were looking forward to us helping dispel the notion that the state is nothing more than one giant dump, but this is the way it goes sometimes.

By the way, I've decided to take this weekend off from social media, so I won't be live-tweeting this trip or anything like that. I'm going silent from Friday morning through Sunday evening, and will blog about our Alabama trip next week. If that's where we end up going, of course. Who's to say we won't change our mind a second time?

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