So leaving the opulent seaside village that is Watercolor and/or Seaside from a recent retreat, I couldn’t help but notice the stark truth that is Alabama. Leaving the multi-million dollar beach homes, I couldn’t help but think about the Alabama reality. As I passed this shack, selling snow cones and shrimp, it made me think about my explorations of Alabama over my 52 hike challenge.
I had no hikes on this trip, rather long beach walks and trips to the absurdly over priced shops in Seaside. All to get in my miles in preparation for my upcoming Incan Trail hike in Peru. My four hour drive was more attentive than usual.
Alabama has many layers. Each small town we passed had it’s football field. Players currently being coached will be future legends of the Auburn-Alabama Iron Bowl. Some will make the NFL, but most play for pride, bragging rights and scholarships in that order. Those fortunate enough to be educated or have a trade will find jobs plentiful and the cost of living low. Others will make a living as a laborer in the newly established auto industry that avoids Detroit like the plague. The rest scratch a living running any small business that they can – taxidermy, fruit vendors or small gas station restaurants.
The distinctions were stark. From the various fruit vendors as we left Florida and the chicken farms of South Alabama to the Sikes and Kohns Country store outside Montgomery, the differences were distinct. Sikes and Kohns sells cowboy boots, work boots and wedges, side by side. All necessary in the world that we live. Further along was Tuskegee, home of the famous Tuskegee Airmen and the infamous Syphilis study. Tuskegee is the home to George Washington Carver’s peanut research and the artistry of Lionel Richie.
Alabama people are strong and proud. Many served our armed forces with pride. The 167th Rainbow Division served heroically during World War 1. Our culture ranges from Mobile Bay, with the majestic U.S.S. Alabama in the South to the Gee’s bend quilts in the West. The East brings my home – Auburn University. The North is Huntsville’s engineers and the Space and Rocket Center. The very North reveals Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler recording at the Muscle Shoal’s Sound Studio.
While having few true tourist attractions, Alabama is home to salt of the Earth people. I hope you visit us soon.