Among the several interests that we share with my son Travis and his wife Geli is that we love exploring back roads and seeking out hidden gems that are all too often overlooked by the rest of the world. While we were visiting them in Alabama recently, they took us to an interesting place not very far from Tuscaloosa that seemed like we were far removed from city life of any kind.
The Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Area is over 33,000 acres of forest set aside for hunting, hiking, and other outdoor activities. They took us on a tour, and one stop was the old Union Baptist Church, a wooden structure that has been serving worshippers for generations.
The church is several miles down a primitive road that sees little traffic, and I’m not sure if it is still active, since I have not been able to find out much about it. But while the building itself shows some neglect and is in bad need of a paint job, the church grounds adjacent cemetery are carefully tended.
Another thing we share with Travis and Geli is an interest in old cemeteries. If you walk through a graveyard and see how many children died in infancy, and how many mothers died at a very young age, it makes you appreciate modern medicine.
While I couldn’t find out how old the church and cemetery are, there were graves dating back to the 1800s. This is the grave of Ann Hughes, the first person buried there, but there is no date on the headstone.
Some of the grave markers are made of stone, and others are wooden. This one says that Isabelle Simmons was born in 1902 and died in 1916. When you see something like that, it really helps put your own life into perspective.
Travis and Geli had been here before, but never noticed this shovel attached to a tree in the cemetery that Miss Terry spotted. I guess a gravedigger decided it would be a handy place to store it until the next internment.
This is Travis, and though my son looks like a rough, tough guy with his beard and tattoos, he’s the first to admit that that’s just camouflage. Inside he is one of the most gentle souls you’ll ever meet. That black thing sticking out behind his left arm is a tripod. As I’ve said before, Travis is an accomplished photographer and he has a special backpack that holds his cameras, lenses, and other accessories. Like an American Express card, he never leaves home without it.
We had a good time wandering around the church and the cemetery. It is easy to close your eyes and imagine a bunch of Model T’s and horse and buggy combinations gathered for Sunday services, or maybe a picnic on the church grounds in the old days. There are hidden treasures like this all over the country, but you’ll never find them cruising up and down the interstate. Get on some of the two lane roads and explore the gravel ones that lead off into nowhere and you never know what you might stumble upon. To give you an idea of some of the back road treasures awaiting you, check out my books Highway History and Back Road Mystery and Highway History and Back Road Mystery II.
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to get caught up in one of those “eat right and exercise” scams.