Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23, 2010 Day 18 – Moundville, Newbern, & Selma, AL

Got my flakes fix this morning, no Big McBreakfast for me today! And man was it going to get hot, I could tell as soon as I stuck my nose out the door; by the time I had Green Girl loaded I was sweating and ready for another shower. I figured I'd ride without all the gear for awhile and try not to fall off the bike or run into anything solid like a brick wall or a truck, that sort of thing. Those of you who know me know how adament I am about wearing protection gear but it's so damn hot I'm willing to risk it. So there.

With no particular game plan other than avoiding large cities I headed southeast on highway 69 and soon came upon Moundville. I’d heard of ancient native settlements like it on the History Channel or PBS programs so I paid the $8 fee and did the walk-around. Actually other people did the walk-around; I did the ride-around. I expect most people following this blog know at least as much as I do about them so I won’t spend a lot of time explaining. Hey, that's why they have the History Channel, eh?
Eighty stairs going up, count 'em! And it was HOT!
The view at the top was well worth the climb

The one thing I found most fascinating was how they gardened, no row crops for those guys, they planted in clumps and never weeded or watered. The people who are in charge of such things have an actual garden using the same methods and it’s really neat. So neat in fact I may have a go at one like it next time around. Hmm…now that I think about it my garden isn’t too far off that scheme as it is.
Within the park there’s also the Lost Black Warrior Museum with lots of artifacts and dioramas depicting life as it was in the village. When I was there I think there were only one or two others present so I had the run of the place, very nice way to see things.

My best photo of the day. According to me. Thank you.
After leaving Moundville I tooled on down 69 and somehow got off course and meandered on 50 which took me to Greensboro, then 61 through Newbern and Uniontown. Newbern was particularly interesting as there were several old buildings of special note. The old dilapidated former hotel covered in corrugated tin panels was especially neat to see. It looked like it's now used as a gallery but it was locked so I'm not certain.

I couldn’t resist checking out the Newbern Mercantile or Newbern “Merc” as the sign says. There’s a great hand written sign on the door that says “If we can see your underwear you won’t be served”. How’s that for laying down the rules? I liked it right away and went inside for a look-see.
There were fully stocked shelves of all sorts of food goods and if you needed socks they were hanging from hooks above the grocery shelves. I took a couple of flash pictures and immediately an old geezer popped out of the rear and seeing me asked “You takin’ pictures?” “Yessir” I said. “When I was little there was a store just like this and I used to go there with my mom.” He seemed to like that so we talked awhile about the store and some of the other buildings in the little settlement. I liked him and although I didn’t ask I’ll bet he was the one who wrote the sign on the door.

I continued my ride on the unscheduled route through more small towns and before long Selma was just ahead. I recall well all the heart breaking events of the early 60’s and the peace marches in 1965. Riding around town I saw evidence of decay and poverty everywhere in the older sections. Like a lot of cities all of the investment dollars seem to be spent on the suburbs with their strip malls and housing developments leaving the older urban areas to die.

I looked for some of the older landmarks that I remembered from newscasts but without a guide I didn’t see anything. As I was leaving the outskirts I did spot one historical site sign and followed the road out for a look at the 1965 Campsite 1 located on the David Hall farm. It was a long march from there into town and as hot as it was today I wouldn’t have wanted to try it. Motivation is an amazing thing isn’t it?
Once I finished looking the site over I returned to the back roads for more touring. By early afternoon it had grown too hot to ride without the swamp-cooler vest so I pulled over to put it on. I’d had it rolled up in a plastic zip lock bag fully drenched and the hot wind and sun had turned the cool morning water into a near boil. Without bothering to wring the excess out of it I shrugged into it. Now you’d think it would be really uncomfortable but as soon as I put a long sleeved T-shirt on over it I began to feel the effects of evaporation. It got even cooler, nearly to the point of being cold as soon as I got up to speed.

What an amazing piece of gear that vest is and I thought I’d probably been taken when I bought it. When I get home I’d better send those folks a testimonial letter and thank them for making such a neat product. Probably better write it in Chinese now that I think about it.

Along about 3:45 I noticed the sky to the south was beginning to look pretty dark and the wind was kicking up. I studied the cloud formation as I rode along and hoped it wouldn’t develop into a high wind storm. I needn’t have worried, within a short time the sky opened up and dumped on me. The temperature remained fairly hot so the rain was refreshing; at least until I began to get soaked and then I figured it was time to hang it up. Consulting Garmin & Co for directions to the nearest Days Inn I was soon headed to Troy, the nearest town of size.

Somewhere there is a being with a warped sense of humor as the GPS took me to the Super 8 motel; not Days Inn. By then the rain had desisted and since it was relatively early I rode on by and after searching a bit I found them about a half mile up the highway. Inside and registering I commented to the manager and he laughed about it saying “All you guys on motorcycles tell me that. Ha ha ha ha…” He’s East Indian of course.

After unpacking I walked to the restaurant he recommended, the Santa Fe Cattle Company located next door to the motel. It turned out to be really good, very busy but with efficient service and quality food. The waitress brought a bucket of peanuts and of course you were expected to throw the shells on the floor. I being an agreeable sort complied. Hey, that's what I do at home so why not? I had the chicken fried steak which would have fed two but since I was by myself and don’t believe in wasting food I ate the entire thing. Brap…

Back at the motel I noticed some of my clothes were beginning to develop their own fragrant personality so I declared today as laundry day. This time the load was greater than the bathroom washbowl was capable of handling so I filled the bathtub and went at it; jeans, socks, T-shirts, even my Kevlar knitted shirt. Boy were they ever filthy; the water turned a muddy shade of brown instantly and after washing everything I had to rinse them several times.

Outside I rigged up a locking cable clothes line on Green Girl and while I was hanging things up to dry out comes the manager and says “We have dryer!” all the while smiling and bobbing. I like that guy; he’s fun and knows how to treat people, even weird old bikers. I motioned to the invisible warm air and said “Everything will be dry in a couple of hours, eh?” Of course he’s not Canadian so the “eh” part probably went past him but he kept smiling and nodding his head in agreement. I bet in India they don’t use clothes dryers a lot.

With that said I think I’ll close this out for today and go see if they’re dry.
Ha ha ha ha....

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