We stayed outside Birmingham, Alabama in Oak Mountain State Park for a few weeks in the spring of 2011. It was our first stay in the South outside of New Orleans and so many things were new to us.
In New Orleans we had stayed in the city, at Jude Travel Park, an RV park on Chef Menteur Highway. Aside from a few road trips during the day (and over night once in the southern Bayou), we didn’t know what to expect from living in the forest for a while.
Southern forests are my favorite, in part because of Oak Mountain. The trees are epic, especially root structures. The forest floor is often open, more so than the Pacific Northwest where I’ve lived for so long. The insects in the forests are amazing and make the environment otherworldly. Cicadas would deafen us til past midnight and outside our RV toads waited in the light of the road for 2 inch long roaches to run past and become dinner. We took our yound adopted Nola cat out into the night on a leash to chase roaches along side the toads. She was pretty excited to say the least.
We first visited Birmingham on a Sunday. The city felt so empty, to say the least. We found downtown, a restaurant called the Bottle Tree and the famous Sloss Furnaces, an industrial complex you can apparently tour by yourself – at least no one was there to tell us how it worked. We wandered the machinery and structures for an hour or two, getting in some good practice on my newish Pentax 67.
We eventually moved on to Oxford, Alabama and years later returned again after having explored most of the other Southern states. The south has left me with thousands of film and digital photos, fodder to remind me of what I love about those states. I don’t even mind the heat and humidity as much as I probably should. I loathe only the fire ants.