Nick’s Blog

Touring Tuscaloosa

 Posted by at 12:01 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 162019

If you live in Alabama you have to be a football fan. In fact, I think a requirement to graduate from middle school is to be able to recite from memory the names of all of the great Alabama football players and coaches, starting back in the days of Adam and Eve, assuming they played football back then. And if the Garden of Eden was anywhere near Alabama, they did.

The epicenter of Alabama football seems to be Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama. You can’t drive or walk for a block anywhere in Tuscaloosa without seeing a sign or bumper sticker saying Roll Tide. Here the Crimson Tide is more important than food, water, or oxygen. So, it should be no surprise that the Paul W. Bryant Museum, honoring legendary coach Bear Bryant and Alabama football is located on the University campus.

It’s a major attraction in Tuscaloosa, but my son Travis and his wife Geli wanted to show us some other sites around town that might not be on tourist brochures put out by the Chamber of Commerce.

One stop on the University campus was at the former Alabama State Hospital for the Insane, which opened in 1861. In its early days the hospital’s patients were treated with dignity and allowed to become part of the community. But as time went on, funding was cut and conditions deteriorated terribly. Originally built to accommodate 250 patients, by the 1970s the number had swelled to 5,200. There were so many stories of abuse and neglect at the hospital that the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper compared it to a concentration camp. Renamed Bryce Hospital, in 2010 the University of Alabama purchased the hospital, much of which lay in ruins by then. Today a restoration project is underway and the handsome building is no comparison to what it once was.

A few blocks away, Greenwood Cemetery is the oldest surviving cemetery in Tuscaloosa and has been in continuous use since before 1820. Some of the ornate marble monuments in the cemetery were carved in New Orleans. Greenwood is the final resting place of five veterans of the American Revolution, Confederate General Philip Dale Roddy, Civil War nurse Sallie Ann Swope, and Jack and Jerry Winn, slaves who worked to buy their freedom.

Among the more than 2,500 graves in the cemetery, many of them unmarked, are Native Americans, former slaves, and white settlers, along with a number of graves marked simply Unknown Confederate Soldier.

While we were visiting the cemetery, Terry spotted this tombstone that’s been there so long a tree grew up around it.

Also not far away is Capitol Park, the site of the Alabama Capitol from 1826-1846. The capitol was moved to Montgomery in 1847 and the facility became the home of the Alabama Central Female College. The old capitol building burned in 1923 and today only a few ruins remain. Travis is an amazing photographer and the ruins are among his many favorite subjects.

A few miles from town they took us to the creepy ruins of the Jemison Building that also once housed the mentally ill, and today seems to be something right out of a slasher movie. Based upon the graffiti covered walls and trash lying around, it seems to be a popular place to party for the younger set. Travis has also taken many interesting pictures there. Where a person might look and see a trashy place that looks like it should be bulldozed under, he sees art.

Besides Tuscaloosa, we also made a couple of day trips. One of them was to Birmingham, where they showed us some more beautiful architecture, and where we visited a few antique shops, coming away with a treasure or two.

Tomorrow I will tell you about our trip home from Tuscaloosa, hitting on a couple of highlights that I will also do full blogs about in the coming days.

Thought For The Day – Lawyers hope you get sued, doctors hope you get sick, cops hope you’re criminal, mechanics hope you have car trouble, but only a thief wishes prosperity for you.

Jun 152019

It had been way too long since we had seen my son Travis and his pretty wife Geli, so we decided a road trip was in order to remedy that situation. What the heck, any road trip anywhere is always fun, right? On Thursday, the 6th, I had an appointment with the doctor in Deland, […]

Jun 142019

Right now I feel like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, clicking my heels together and saying “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” We just got home from a week-long trip to see my son Travis and his pretty wife Geli in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was a fun and busy week, […]

10 Great RV Routes

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 122019

We may not be fulltime RVers anymore, but we still get hitch itch and like to travel. Since we’re sitting still right now, I’ve been looking over past issues of the Gypsy Journal and thinking about some of our favorite routes from past travels. Here are my ten favorite RV routes. Natchez Trace Parkway – […]

Jun 112019

With winter behind us and the busy travel season here, I know a lot of RVers are starting to think about where they are going to go this summer. So today I thought I would talk a little bit about RV trip planning. There are many ways to plan your RV travels. Some people I […]

Living Two-Gether

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 102019

Note: This is a blog post I dusted off and updated because it talks about something I hear often from new or want to be RVers. If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked us how we managed to live together in the relatively small confines of a motorhome, or heard somebody say, […]

Magical Michigan

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 092019

Note: This is a blog post I’ve dusted off from an earlier date to share some interesting places in Michigan with you. Yesterday we took a day trip into magical Michigan, a place we won’t soon forget. When I say magical, I’m not referring to the state’s beautiful countryside of rolling hills, thick forests, abundant […]

Jun 082019

Most RVers are really nice people, but they don’t make you take a personality test before they let you buy one of these things, and like every aspect of life, there are a few snobs out there, as well as clods and outright idiots. I’m rather well known in the RV world because of the […]

Hot Weather RVing Tips

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 072019

The thermometer has been flirting with the 100 degree mark, which is a reason a lot of people stay out of Florida in the summer. The good news is that there is less traffic on the roads, and stores and restaurants are not very crowded. The bad news is that it’s too bloody hot to […]