Tuesday, February 28, 2006

06-12 Scottsboro Alabama Unclaimed baggage Center

(12) On The Road Again
Scottsboro, Alabama
Unclaimed Baggage Center
Cathedral Cavern
Memphis Tennessee

Another 165 miles up the road to Scottsboro, tucked in the north east corner of Alabama. The drive was mainly along hwy 431, a mostly two lane road, with a couple nice sections of 4 lane newly paved road as well. The road gradually began to climb larger and larger rolling hills, each with a passing lane for each slightly steeper grade until finally reaching the top and then a quick decent down the other side. Northern Alabama appears to have lots of forest and not too many farms.

I was able to get the only campsite available at my Passport America campground and signed up for three days. The small campground has each campsite hugging the side of a steep hill. There’s also a State Park and county park close by for camping.

I went to the Unclaimed Baggage Center which the town is famous for. That’s where all the lost luggage ends up and everything is for sale. They basically price everything at about 50% off the original price, which in many cases, I find a bit high priced, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good bargain. I bought a 128 mgb jump drive for my computer for $8.00. You name it, they have it, Cd’s, Dvd’s, clothes, digital and 35 mm camera’s, books, even a kitchen sink.

Scottsboro and hwy 79 leading into the town is along the Tennessee River and 69,000 acres of gorgeous lake. The lake is dotted with wonderful islands covered in hardwood forests, which make them look like floating islands. The lake is surrounded by rich green covered mountains shrouded in mist that makes the area look romantic and mysterious.

The next day I traveled to Cathedral Cavern State Park. The third largest cavern in the U.S. after Mammoth Cave and Carlsbad Cavern. The entrance, which is natural, is the largest entrance to a cave in the world. Going caving on a hot summer day is a great way to do something cool. It’s not the most beautiful cave I’ve visited. But the size and scope of the cavern really is impressive. And the drive from Scottsboro was like a Sunday drive in the country. Seeing those rolling mountains off in the distance and the roller coaster drive along country roads to this secluded site really make me appreciate the country more and more.

I discovered back in town a great store on the main square of the town. The town has the county courthouse in the center, with the town square surrounding it. The store is called Hammers and has everything from clothes, lots of jeans and stuff, fabric remnants, fun stuff you don’t need but just have to buy. Like solar yard lights or crocks. I bought a designer shirt and a c/w straw hat.

Time to head west towards Arkansas. Have to meet up with friends in about a week. I’ll let you know how that leg of the trip goes in the next installment.

ZIPPING ALONG. Talk about traveling, I crossed the northern portion of Alabama, Mississippi and into Memphis Tennessee, using hwy 72. It’s a secondary road that’s very good for the RV traveler. Much of it is a 4 lane divided highway that I was able to travel a leisurely 55 to 65 mph through rolling hills with great vistas. It took all of 6 hours to travel 270 miles and I was at my campsite and set up by 2:30 pm. Felt great to put some miles under my belt.

I’ll stay in Memphis for 4 days then into Arkansas to meet up with my buddies Jimmy and Larry who are traveling from Florida and will only take about 2-3 days to get to our destination in the Ozarks.

And what a different sense of the city this time around. I was approached by a vagrant the first couple of minutes after stopping for directions. An overall nice guy who was down on his luck. I gave him some fig-nutons and $3.00. When I got to the campsite, I heard on the news that a bit earlier, there had been a fatal car chase and crash on Winchester, the street I used to get to the campground. This morning, as I was driving downtown, I noticed a number of police cars with their blue lights flashing and a person in handcuffs on the ground.

A stark contrast to the posh areas of town I then toured. Back on the main entrances to town and I was back in the gritty rundown areas of this working mans town.

After leaving the downtown area, I decided to take in the Graceland tour of Elvis’s home. Nice tour even after having to wait in line for over an hour. $30.00 included the home, his car collection, what a super collection of cars including the original pink Cadillac. Oh and his two private planes. The big one named “Lisa Marie”. Visiting the house was cool man, really groovy. Talk about a time warp back to the 60’s and 70’s! But I really felt like I was in Elvis’s home, where he lived and sang all those great tunes. The main rooms were surprisingly tasteful for their era. The jungle room and TV room were, well, you need to see them for yourself.

Elvis tidbit. Lisa Marie is the sole heir to the home. She still owns the home and the 13 acres of land it sits on. She sold the tour operation for $100 million dollars to the creator of the American Idol. The upstairs is not on the tour and only the family has access to it. Seeing his grave along with his mom and dad was emotional and a bit bizarre with an Elvis impersonator looking on at his grave.

Second Elvis tidbit. Elvis was a voracious reader. Much of it spiritual. Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet, Siddhartha, Science of the Mind , Karate, and the Bible of course. Side note: I’ve read many of the same books.

Camper Info: MILEAGE. Ok, since this report is already long, I’ll add a note about gas mileage. Last year, towing my 29 ft, 6,500 lb dry weight, 5th wheel camper, I was getting between 9-14 mpg towing and touring. Average 10.53 mpg

This year, towing my 32 ft, 8,500 lb dry weight, camper, I am getting between 8.8-12 mpg , using a new air filter that a friend, Tim, told me about. Because the new camper is heavier and larger, I feel the mileage has been aided by the higher capacity air flow of the new air filter. It’s not much, but when compared to towing a “cottage” last year, to towing a “house” this year, I think overall I’m doing really well with the mileage. Average 10.11 mpg

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