Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Monday, March 24, 2008
This morning started with a little adventure. We had only gone about a mile from the hotel when we noticed the traffic was all backed up. Turned out they were stopped by a freight train that was inching forward, stopping, going backward, stopping, and so on, completely blocking the intersection. We stopped behind a school bus to ponder our choices - some of the bratty boys in the back seat leaned out to chat and ask if they could borrow our bike. We decided to try a detour which, fortuitously, took us right past the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. So we stopped to take pictures of all the neat train cars they had on display there. Then we turned the corner and got by the end of the train and were on our way.
It was chillier this morning so we were bundled up more than we have been in a while. Route 25 outside of Calera was very industrial with 2 limestone plants across the road from each other (all the trees near them looked ghostly, all dusted white), a steel plant, some logging operations, and others. There were lots of trucks going by as a result, and of course it was our usual 2-lane, no-shoulder country road. Plus it was a bit hillier and windier than it was yesterday, so all in all, not nearly as pleasant. Besides all the industrial buildings, there were a few large farms, all with very well-kept, grand-looking houses, neat fences and nice plantings - very little forest. As we got farther from Calera, the houses got less grand.
We knew there would be only one large-ish town we'd go through today, Centreville, about 28 miles out. Although we had a continental breakfast at the hotel, we were feeling hungry when we saw a sign for a grocery store called Six Mile (turns out, the nearby town was called Six Mile too, but we forgot to ask what it was 6 miles from). The folks in the store were very nice and we chatted with them about Payne Lake, our destination for the night, and restaurants in Centreville. They recommended the 'Twix and Tween' restaurant and we ended up stopping there for lunch - had a great, inexpensive buffet. Figuring that we wouldn't have any restaurants at dinner time, we asked them to make us some sandwiches to take with us, and they were delicious, too.
After Centreville, the traffic lightened up somewhat and the scenery became more like what we've been used to - a mix of houses in various states of repair, many shabby, some in good shape, with forest in between. We then got into the Talladega National Forest again and didn't see any more houses. There were still a lot of trucks, mostly logging trucks, and a few cars. The road got a lot hillier here and in worse shape, I guess because of all the truck traffic, but it wasn't too bad. We finally saw the sign for Payne Lake and turned in. The lake was beautiful, in the middle of the forest, all quiet and peaceful. We came to an information station but no one was around, so we studied the maps and made our way around to where we thought we were supposed to be. No one was anywhere in sight, which we thought was odd, but given the time of year we decided it wasn't too strange. We stopped at a site overlooking the lake and Pat went off to try to find the ranger while I set up the tent. Pat found out that we were actually on the wrong side of the lake, that other folks were on the opposite side where there was electricity and bathrooms, but we decided it wasn't worth moving at that point. Our Verizon connection didn't work anyway, so we couldn't update the site. We had our sandwiches, chips and apples for dinner, got all the work done on the website, except copying it to the web server, and went to bed. We had reached the campsite at 54.5 miles, but Pat put another 4 miles on it looking around.