Friday, August 31, 2012

Small Town Tourism: Alexander City, AL

Last time I promised to talk about how I go about finding things to do on my trip.  I assume this is pretty similar to how all travelers go about it:
  1. I ask someone.  Usually this is my customer.  This is how I found out about the house shaped like a shoe when I was in Pennsylvania.  Sometimes they don't have any suggestions which just makes me realize I need to work on some hometown tourism myself.
  2. I go to the city's official website.  They will usually have a link for "Things to do" and sometimes offer a calendar of events.  The drawback to this is it is specific to that city.  So with Alexander City, it is pretty limiting.  Sometimes I will look at additional cities in the area as I did this time for Montgomery and Birmingham, just in case.
  3. I use Roadside America's website and iPhone app.  This was how I learned about the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham.  I like this site because it specializes in unusual places you might not find otherwise.
  4. For food, I use which has a map of all of the restuarants featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.  I have also used the Food Network's own website to look at other shows like Man vs. Food.  I saw an episode of this show in a waiting room recently and he was in Pittsburg.  I am going to Pittsburg in a few weeks.  Coincidence?  I think not.
  5. I do some custom searches based on things I might want to do.  For example, I usually search for live theaters, art classes and cooking classes in the area.  These often won't show up on the city website or on Roadside America.  Sometimes I use but I find it hard to customize the search on that site and the list of choices in a large city can be overwhelming.
  6. I use the "attractions" setting on my GPS.  This pulls up museums, parks and other potential sites near my location.  This is an imperfect thing as I have documented the problems I regularly have with my GPS.
  7. If all else fails, I drive around.
That is how I found the Charles E. Bailey Sportsplex right next to my hotel in Alexander City.  I was killing time in the morning after scouting my customer's office and decided to drive through here expecting to see some baseball fields.

Not a military airplane on a stick,

a tank,

and memorials to those in this county lost in WW1,

WW2, and additional identical memorials to Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and,

an incomplete memorial for the current conflicts.

Definitely not what I expected to find at a "sports complex".  That wasn't all either.

Across the way there is another memorial, this time for the Civil War.  This monument to the confederate soldiers reads:
"Lest We Forget"
This monument
perpetuates the memory
of those
"Whom power could not corrupt,
Whom death could not terrify,
Whom defeat could not dishonor."

Serious stuff.  The wall listing the names is much larger this time.

There are names on both sides and along the wall behind me and surrounding this platform.

and one final plaque that honors them all and from where you can watch the most serious conflict this area knows on a regular

This park is large and has some replica log cabins, a playground, additional sports fields and some walking trails. It would warrant some additional exploring if time allowed.

The city website had a lot of information about the main attraction of this area, Lake Martin, a 44,000 acre lake that touches 3 counties.  To enter, I go to Wind Creek State Park where the park ranger lets me in for free since I get here about an hour before sundown.  When he asked, I told him I simply wanted to look around an take a few photos of sundown on the lake and he said I could go anywhere execpt "the beach".  This was fine and I never saw a beach anyway or a road leading to one.

The sky is cooperating nicely for a night of sundown photography.

This park is full of pine trees and has very nice camping facilities some with attached boat slips.  It is pretty full being that it is summer and there are a lot of kids riding bikes around the property.

The bathroom/shower facilities are clean (at least the women's are, can't speak to the men's) and as a bonus, the hand dryer says to "turn nozzle upward to dry hair".  No need to pack a hair dryer for your camping trip.

Sometimes you just have to get in the car and drive.

Otherwise, you will never know what you missed.

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