The drive down off the top of Cheaha Mountain was easier then going up the mountain the previous week, but it still made for a slow trip. Especially since the state highway leading north from the state park was a slow two-lane mountain road for longer then either of us would have thought. Our trip was less then 70 miles but it took nearly 2 hours to make the trip, which was all along two lane state highways. Once we got to Alexander City, we were back on familiar ground as we had traveled US 280 from Auburn to Birmingham at least three times a year for over 20 years. Our destination was Wind Creek State Park, which is about 7 miles south of Alexander City. For those of you following this blog you may recall that Wind Creek was our second stop with the little pop-up camper three years ago. This time however, we had a huge 35 foot fifth wheel and choose a site near the lake. It was a back-in site, as most of them, but I am getting good enough that it did not take long before we were set up in our new site. I should state that we have been in a lot of campgrounds over the past two years, however, the campground in Wind Creek State Park is one of the largest we have stayed in with over 500 campsites. The other large commercial campgrounds in the past tended to squeeze everyone together, however, like all state parks we have stayed in, the sites in Wind Creek are large and spacious with plenty of room for a picnic table and fire ring, although there was a burn ban (including barbecue grills) in the state. I was also surprised with how busy the campground was, especially those sites near the lake. The campsites near the lake were over half occupied. While we did not have a waterfront site, we did have an unobstructed view of the lake all week. Knowing that they drew down Lake Martin over the winter, I expected to see a couple of feet of dry lakebed, however, due to the drought the lake was already down over 6 feet which left over 50 feet of the lakebed dry. However, the fall colors were at their maximum, as much as they would be due to the drought.
Since we have explored the region around Lake Martin in the past, we had no plans for sightseeing. Rather our plans were more mundane in nature, visiting with friends and family. Monday was Halloween and although there were no plans in the campground there were big plans in Alex City and Auburn for “trick or treating”. Before heading to town with their three sons, Janna and Jep dropped in for a visit. Janna was a high school friend of Jenny’s and we have stayed in contact through facebook over the years. Her husband is a full time park ranger at Wind Creek and they all live on the property. It was great seeing them all and marveling at how old her oldest son is now. Their middle son had the run of the RV and proceeded to drive his parents to distraction pushing all the buttons that he could reach!! They could only stay for about an hour as they needed to get to town before dark.
Tuesday we spent doing laundry and cleaning the RV, so there is not much to say. However, on Wednesday Kristin’s parents, Lynn and Doug Hileman drove up from Tuskegee to spend the afternoon with us. After a nice picnic lunch outside out RV, we drove over to the two mile hike around the shores of Lake Martin on the state park. The weather was absolutely perfect and we enjoyed the time walking and getting caught up on all their current activities. After the hike they took us out to dinner at Kowaliga Restaurant, which is on the shores of Lake Martin. We had a very nice meal sitting out on the deck overlooking the lake which ended up being a 3 hour dinner.
Thursday was spent at the campsite where I worked on the blog. On Friday, we had a real treat. Purely by happenstance, Nikki and Chris were also at Lake Martin for a wedding that weekend. Surprisingly, the wedding was not for one of Nikki’s friends, as you would expect, but for one of Chris’s college friends who are now working in the Birmingham area and choose an outdoor setting at Lake Martin for their wedding!! Nikki and Chris, along with Adam from the brewery, were staying in Birmingham at an Air B&B on Thursday night. Chris and Adam had meetings on Friday with local beer distributors exploring the possibility of expanding Hi-Wire to Alabama. So we drove up to Birmingham, Friday morning to pick up Nikki and visit Kal’s parents. Unlike our visit a couple of weeks ago, Kal’s mom is doing better and was much more alert and interactive. We set with them on the porch of the facility for most of the morning having a nice visit. We left for lunch to allow her mom to take a nap and decided to take in Dreamland Barbecue near the UAB campus in Birmingham. For those of you not familiar with Dreamland, this is by far the BEST place for barbeque ribs in Alabama. Their original location in Tuscaloosa is world famous and this location in Birmingham is every bit as good and frankly a better environment. Chris and Adam were able to join us for lunch in between their meetings, so we had an unexpected treat to see them as well. After lunch we returned to say visit a while longer with Kal’s parents before leaving to meet Shannon and one of her daughters for dinner. Unfortunately, Phil and their other daughter had other plans and would not be joining us. So it goes with high school kids. We had a couple of hours to kill so we dropped over to Riverchase Galleria, which is still one of the largest malls I have been in. After wandering around for a while we ended up in Sears looking at their specials. Before we were finished we managed to buy each other Christmas presents so the time spent shopping was worthwhile. We then picked up Kal’s dad and met up for a nice dinner at a Mexican restuarant, although after stuffing myself with ribs for lunch and I was not very hungry. We then drove back to Wind Creek where Nikki spent the night with us.
Saturday was set aside for football, both Auburn and Texas A&M were playing at 11:00 in the morning. Since we were not going to get either game over the airwaves, we set out for Niffers on the Lake which also opened at 11 in the morning. Nikki went with us to watch the games which was a great treat. Since we were there when Niffers opened we had our choice of tables and even got them to show the Auburn game on the main TV (which they would have done obviously anyway) and Texas A&M on another TV we could see from our table. The Texas A&M game was a disappointment as they lost to Old Miss and even the Auburn game was more competitive then it should have been against Vanderbilt. It was still a lot of fun spending the early afternoon with Nikki watching the game, eating nachos, and drinking a little beer. We then dropped Nikki off at the place they were staying on Lake Martin and we retired to the campground for a quiet remainder of the weekend.