Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Sunday, March 23, 2008
Talladega, AL to Calera, AL
54 miles (1089 total miles)

Easy day today - only 52 miles, mild, sunny day, gentle winds, gentle hills, very pleasant riding. We didn't rush, given it was such a short day, and took a bunch of pictures, and even so, we got to our motel by 2:30. The only downside was that, being Easter, nearly everything was closed.

We had a nice breakfast in our favorite Talladega restaurant and left at 7:45. Coming out of Talladega, we passed the Alabama School for the deaf and blind, a large school with a separate work center and an equestrian center. Very impressive. We were on Route 21, a 4-lane divided highway with almost no traffic and a nice smooth surface. We soon downsized to our usual 2-lane road, but there was still not much traffic and the Alabama drivers were all very courteous. We passed the DeSoto Caverns Park which we had seen advertised a lot both today and on our way into Talladega on Friday, so we had to take some pictures of that. We also passed some more fields of what looked like it might have been cotton, so we stopped and got a sample to show you.

The first town we came to was Childersburg where we stopped at a gas station and got some ice cream. A train came by while we were eating the ice cream so we didn't get a picture of it, but we took a picture of the railroad bridge. The same tracks appeared and reappeared all day. Shortly after the town of Childersburg, we went over the Coosa River which had a railroad bridge next to the one we were on. The Coosa River seems to morph into a large, sprawling lake called Lay Lake; we saw a little bit of it from the road at one point. Most of the day we passed large farms and bits of forest; some farms had cattle, some had horses, most had wide fields with either sod or cotton or grass for hay. There were some grand houses and some rundown houses, the same mix we've seen all along in the South.

We passed a couple more towns before our destination of Calera - Wilsonville and Columbiana. We were starting to get a little worried about not being able to find any restaurants open, so we got a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches in Wilsonville. We hoped to find something better in Columbiana, which was a larger town and a very nice one, but it was a ghost town - nothing was open and almost no one was about. So we had to settle for our sandwiches for lunch. We got to Calera and found pretty much the same situation - only the fast food places are open. We managed to find a Chinese buffet place (even the local pizza place was closed!) about a mile away, so we added another 2.4 miles on the bike going for dinner. Luckily, though, there is a diner next to the motel which will be open for breakfast early tomorrow.

Tomorrow we'll be camping at Payne Lake in the Talladega National Forest. We think there will be electricity available, but we're not sure about a cellphone connection, so if you don't see an update tomorrow, that's why (either that or we got lost in the forest). Hopefully, we'll be able to connect and upload everything. It may just be pictures of trees and lake, though!

Farm with hill in the background, near Talladega, AL


Route 21 with hill in the far distance

Sample of cotton growing in a field along the road

The DeSoto Caverns Park was heavily advertised

The entrance building to the Park

Railroad tracks on a trestle in Childersburg, AL

A building across the street from the store where we stopped

Sign for the Coosa River

Railroad bridge over the Coosa River (same tracks as in Childersburg)

On the other side of the bridge, an island in the Coosa River

Impressive entrance to the Kidd Farms Preserve

Part of the Kidd Farms

A yard sale going on across the street

A grand-looking house near a bit of Lay Lake, next to the yard sale

A dogwood tree just beginning to bloom

The Columbiana Mountain looms near the road

Train tracks still following us

The courthouse in Columbiana, AL

Plaque on the courthouse

Downtown Columbiana - everything closed for Easter

Flags on the downtown street

The dome on the municipal building

The front of the municipal building

Our destination for the night