Wednesday found me in Montgomery, AL for a night, a good stopping point between the Florida Panhandle and Atlanta, where I was scheduled to meet friends for the weekend. I got into town by mid-afternoon and wandered around the riverfront area, which includes an old train station and a deserted historic waterfront park. There was some sort of fireman's competition going on in the side lot of a hotel, so my walk was periodically punctuated by a tinny voice echoing through a loudspeaker, yelling "SUIT UP, SUIT UP!"
Montgomery was also the location of my first couchsurfing experience. I was nervous about staying in the home of a person I didn't know from a hole in the ground, but the many reviews for the host were overwhelmingly positive, so I decided to jump. I picked up groceries for dinner and made my way to a small neighborhood near the state government buildings I used to visit when I traveled to Montgomery for work. The neighborhood is full of small, beautiful old homes, many of which retain their period charm.
My host was friendly and full of stories. I learned a lot about Montgomery, and then about being an extra in the movie Big Fish when he learned that I planned to visit the Town of Spectre the next morning. We took a late night tour of Montgomery to see some of the local sites that were used in the movie. Not much sleep on this leg of the trip, but a lot of history and good conversation.
The Town of Spectre is located on Jackson Lake Island, about 20 minutes from Montgomery. Camping is available on the island for $10/night and there were several spots overlooking the water. Pretty much every spot is beautiful - it's hard to point a camera and not get a great shot.
A single lane dirt road winds through the small island, eventually passing by the movie set. I parked just past the last building and walked back up the middle of the now-paved road, accompanied by about 10 goats who were all very interested in whatever it was that I was up to. The buildings are in rough shape, but holding it together for the most part. I expected the place to feel eerie, but instead there was a real peace there. Sunlight filtered through the live oaks, goats muttered to themselves as they searched the ground for treats, and many different birds called from the woods. The water was as still as glass.
After a too-brief stop, I headed toward Atlanta to pick up my friends from the airport.