USA 55, 10th November 2006

So it rained. All day it rained. I took the pretty roads but they weren't all that pretty since it was raining. Eventually I reached Alabama. After calling in at the Visitor Centre I headed towards the Natural History museum at Anniston.

They need someone good at maps. The map on the brochure did not help much when I tried to find where they were, I found them using the state map. The route round the museum started just great, then turned into a sort of maze. I enjoyed the visit though. The displays were well done.

How about these straw stalactites?

They are all fake! Superb, but fake! They built a fake African tree too, just as well created.

Next door is Berman Museum of World history. It's all here proclaims the brochure. I found some guns including some funny ones - there's one that looks like a pressure gauge for example. There's some souvenirs of World tours made by the wealthy, copies of great paintings. There's some precious carving collected by the donor's wife. Don't bother to go. Unless you've nothing better to do than sitting whistling. And it's a moot point if sitting whistling mightn't be more interesting.

One really useful piece of information did turn up at the museum though. Directions to the local Walmart......

It didn't rain during the night. And I was able to access the internet from a corner of the car park. Next morning I asked the guy at the gas station, should I go to the MotorSports Hall of Fame at the Talladega Speedway. He said absolutely yes, and he was right.

There were lots of cars. Most of them looked much the same to me, but hey, they are famous cars.

Or, in some cases, they were famous cars. Past tense.

I took the coach tour around the speedway, it's a sort of oval, with 3 banked curves. No fear of the coach departing without me since I was the total of the tour party. It's quite an amazing circuit. Here is the main stand, a mile long, with seating for 125,000.......................

I rushed across Birmingham Alabama, on the highway, and decided to go to a National Forest campsite, but passed a Walmart on the way. That did it. Walmarts are free. And the campsite might have been closed. For the second night in succession I could pick up the Internet from a corner of the car park.

I visited a natural bridge in the morning. 148 feet long, the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies. I took a walk around the rest of the park, it was raining recently, there was water running everywhere, these arches are still being formed, so it was all in all an interesting walk.

This was the rock face at another part of the canyon.

I talked to the owner. He insisted to give me a postcard, said I had said the nicest things about him of anyone today. Hmmm. I was the first visitor of the day...............

I just looked at his brochure. It says the bridge was formed by an underwater river 200 million years ago. An underwater river? It's an interesting concept.

I eventually reached the Natchez Trace Parkway. This is a sort of typical view.

I've got to put up with nearly 200 miles of beautiful stuff like this.

I called at an information centre for the Tennessee -Tombridge Waterway.

Oh, I better tell you the story. Used to be, in the late 1700's, Ohio farmers would build a raft and float their produce down the Ohio River and then the Mississippi down to new Orleans. Then they would sell their produce and their boat and walk back the shortest way from Natchez on the Mississippi, on an old Indian trail, about 500 miles. In the busiest year, about 10,000 people walked back this way. The trail I am now on follows this route

Then came steamboats so they didn't need to walk. Then, much later, the canal was built. You see the Ohio first flowed north, then west, then south with the Mississippi, it was a very long way round. The canal made it much shorter but they had to go over a hill - the deepest lock has a single lift of 84 ft. That's a big lock.

After the above visitor centre I made a few stops then called at the Natchez Trail visitor centre. After looking at the film and checking out other information, I asked where can I park for the night. Well some people go down to Walmart he said, it's about a couple of miles away, but most people just park in the car park here.

So that's where I am. In the car park here.

Best regards

David Barker
Now on the Natchez Trace Parkway

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