October 11 – 23
Five short days after returning from Oak Island Joanna and I set out for Lafayette, Louisiana to join up with Adventure Cycling and ride their week long Ragin’ Cajun Country tour. To break up the 12 hour drive we decided to make a slight detour to Huntsville, Alabama, drop in on Jessie and Dave for two nights and see their new home.
We set out mid-morning anticipating a smooth drive, our timing being that we would hit the outskirts of Atlanta around noon time and avoid the horrendous rush hour traffic that plagues the city. But, as is often the case, plans get dashed and it would turn out to be a long and tedious day of driving. Our first challenge was the remnants of Hurricane Michael which dumped a tremendous amount of rain on us as we entered South Carolina, slowing us down to 40-miles per hour due to non-existent visibility.
Just outside of Spartanburg traffic came to a complete stop and we would sit there for nearly an hour without much clue as to what the cause was. Eventually we were able to inch forward and take an offramp, affording us an opportunity to take a number of adjacent streets until we could get around the pile-up. We’d find out later it was an accident involving a semi-truck, which we would see being towed when we stopped to eat at a Subway just off the highway.
Back on the road our nightmare continued as we ran into rush hour traffic in Atlanta and the GPS re-routed us south and west of the city, instead of north, thus adding approximately 2-hours more to our drive. After detouring around on small country roads we finally arrived at Jessie and Dave’s much later in the day than we’d hoped and yet seeing their new house raised our spirits.
Equally upbeat was our decision to head over to a spot we’d enjoyed our last visit, Yellowhammer Brewing and their food option, Earth and Stone Pizza. The craft beer craze has hit cities like Huntsville (witness Birmingham, Mobile, and our home town of Charlotte) with a vengeance and the selection at Yellowhammer is excellent, leaning toward Belgians and stronger ales.
The pizza from Earth and Stone is also excellent and the combination of beers, pie and good conversation thoroughly revived us and we later repaired to bed relaxed and refreshed. After a filling home-made breakfast with lots of bacon, we got into Dave’s Chevrolet Volt (which he’d picked up the day before) and drove to a trailhead in Monte Sano State Park for a day hike that would turn out to be much tougher than I’d originally anticipated.
We made our way to a summit that overlooked the surrounding countryside, much hillier than I would have thought and then descended on a dirt road.
Eventually we backtracked on a tough piece of rutted and rocky trail that brought us up to another summit populated by cabins that can be rented, most with incredible views of the hills and valleys nearby.
Making our way back to the car we drove into downtown Huntsville so that Dave could stop by DMV to register the car while Jessie, Joanna and I hung out at adjacent Big Spring Park to kill time and enjoy the beautiful fall weather.
We watched a small group of men setting up folding chairs for a wedding that would take place later; Dave re-joined us and we drove to a nearby shopping center for lunch at Taco Mama, a local chain known for their, well, tacos.
Joanna and I ordered our usual choices, carnitas for her and fish for me and along with chips, they made for a filling lunch. We returned to the house and spent the rest of the day lounging around, continuing the conversation that had started as soon as we arrived.
Much later, with hunger becoming a motivation, we made our way to I Love Sushi for a delightful combination of sesame chicken appetizer, sushi, and Chicken Yaki Udon. Being a Friday night, it was crowded given their reputation for reasonably priced sushi and indeed, the quality was good.
We finished up and drove back to the house with an early bedtime in order. Our drive the next day would take close to ten hours and we wanted to be in camp by mid-afternoon in order to set up our tent and be ready for the first meeting of the tour. It had been a whirlwind day or two, what with the horrendous drive down and, I’d later discover that the arduous hike didn’t do me any favors, but that’s a story for another day. For now, we were on our way to play Cajun.
Hurricane Michael: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Michael
Yellowhammer Brewing: https://www.yellowhammerbrewery.com/
Earth and Stone Pizza: http://earthandstonepizza.com/
Chevrolet Volt: https://www.chevrolet.com/electric/volt-plug-in-hybrid
Monte Sano State Park: https://www.alapark.com/monte-sano-state-park
Taco Mama: http://www.tacomamaonline.com/
I Love Sushi: https://www.facebook.com/ilovesushijonesvalley/