Accidental tourist

Accidental tourist

It was a accident that I happened upon it – I was taking a detour off a highway and thought the road went through. Instead, I ended up at the site visitors center. This was a successful navigation mistake.

The Moundville Archaeological Site near Tuscaloosa, Alabama isn’t huge, but very interesting. The museum is worth the time.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Heading south, I had some noisy neighbors and a poor night of sleep at Land Between the Lakes. I skedaddled after breakfast and made my way to the Bankhead National Forest, Alabama. On my route I saw a whole bunch of deer and a couple of buffalo. Fun!

I also passed a few of these large furnaces. “Built around 1832 by Woods, Yeatman & Co. as part of the Cumberland Iron Works, Bear Spring Furnace was an important producer of charcoal iron. Furnaces such as these were kept in operation around the clock, turning local brown hematite ore into molten metal. In 1850 alone, Bear Spring was responsible for the production of over 2000 tons of metal.”

Alabama has little Verizon cell service, at least along the twisty two-lane blacktop I drove through the state.

There is easy boondocking here and I found a spot that is used by hunters. These trailers were set up, but had no signs of activity. It looked like people just find a flat spot and camp, so I did the same. My neighbor was a retired RN, John.

John has been living in his sedan for the past few years and is remarkably content. A few years back, he tried to walk to Alaska from the east coast, but knee gave out so he only made it a couple of hundred miles. He has wanted to be traveler since kid, and made it overseas a few times. He owns 8 acres about 100 miles south of here, but because of a newborn grandson he doesn’t travel far from this location.

He invited me to join him at his campfire, so after I ate dinner, I pulled up my camp-chair and we chatted until dark. With a twinkle in his eye he asked if I’d been visited buy travel fairies. I asked him what are those? He said they were people who left items for him like a good map, or a steak, and one person left him a new Leatherman tool. I recognize a shake down when I see one, but I was okay with it. In the morning I packed up long after sunrise and he was still not up. I assume he was waiting for me to leave so I would have the opportunity to slip a token onto his camp chair. I left a tin of good quality Earl Grey tea. I considered a small fee for his sharing of his fire and good conversation last night.

I avoid the main highways as much as possible, and try to stay on the blue highways – the little two-lane roads that slowly go through towns, instead of jetting by on the outskirts. In my quest to stay off the big road, I followed my truck navigation to what I thought was a road around a park. Instead, I turned into the Moundville Archaeological Site visitor’s center parking lot. After talking with the nice young woman inside, I paid the $7 fee, got a map, and set off.

Pugsly wanted to sleep, so Argos and I did some exploring.

Our last stop there was to the Jones Archaeological Museum. It’s well worth the price of admission.

It’s not always good to blindly trust navigation software but on occasion it can render a happy accident.

3 thoughts on “Accidental tourist

  1. Your post reminds me that years ago I made it a goal while traveling to stop in every town I drove though. That is a lot of towns when driving the blue highways. The stop could be as simple as buying a soft drink in a store. I quickly discovered I didn’t have time for all the stopping but I still try to stop when time allows.

    Enjoying your blog.

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