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Many readers of this space know that one of my travel goals is to visit all 3,143 counties in the United States. One good way to get a bunch of counties in a short time that I’ve done a few times is to try and visit every county in a state in a short period of time (like a day). We have done 88 Ohio counties in 24 hours as well as all the counties in the 6 New England states in about 27 hours.
February 27th and 28th (2009) is the anniversary of when myself and 3 other intrepid travelers attempted to visit every county in Alabama (in one day). Here is a rough approximation of our route, starting off in the Mobile area.
Staring out – the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed at
We met up at my friend Jim’s house in Montgomery about midnight or so and after some discussion about sleeping in our van, we decided to go for a hotel near our starting point in Mobile. Before miles and points, we went for “cheap as possible”. Our hotel was approximately exactly what you might expect from a $33.99 / night hotel room. We had made a reservation at the Motel 6 Mobile West before we left Montgomery, but when we got to Mobile, the clerk informed us that he had just sold his last room. The gentleman was not fazed when informed of our so called “reservation”. In the end, he told us that he could sell us a room that “had something wrong with it”.
Naturally the appropriate first question is “well what is wrong with it”. Jim’s first thought was a room with tigers inside. In the end, we had our choice between a room with purple dye on the bathtub or one with dirty carpets. We went with the dye….
I’ve written about this hotel before – What’s the worst hotel you’ve ever stayed at? The Motel 6 in Mobile, Alabama takes the prize for me – what about you?
Drama on the trip
The drive mostly went without any major hiccups (until the end!) – Bibb County took a bit of maneuvering as Exit 228 on I-65 was closed due to a highway accident, leading to the following conversation between me (driving) and a policeman
Me: “Is this road closed?”
Cop: *Gestures with his flashlight at the accident*
*Five seconds pass*
And of course, there was lots of talk about refreshing “Old Suggsville” water
Also we went through the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama (named after a prominent local businessman, told a railroad worker named Phil Campbell if he would construct a railroad depot and add a side track to the stretch of railroad going through the area, he would name the subsequent town after Campbell)
But the big thing I remember about this trip was ALL the rain. It went back and forth between nothing, light rain and torrential downpours, nearly the entire time we were driving (foreshadowing alert!).
Finishing up: Driving a van into a river
So at about 5:30 a.m., a little before sunrise, we were making our way through Bucks Pocket State Park, in northeastern Alabama, on County Highway 173. We were aiming to cross Sauty Creek which was the dividing line between DeKalb county and our 67th and final county of the trip – Jackson.
As we wound our way down the road we saw a green sign that we thought was the final county sign and we wrote the finish time down. We began to celebrate as we turned the van around to illuminate the sign for proper finishing pictures. Then, we saw that it was some sort of camping sign. So we continued going forward down the road towards the county line. As we go around a bend, Jim sees the green county sign about 200 feet ahead and says “There it is” – following which, Carey yells out “Stop!”, as the van plunges into a raging river.
Luckily, Jim had stopped in time and as steam arose from the van, we were able to pull it back out of the river. With the insane amount of rain we got during our trip (there was a flash flood warning at one point), the bridge over the river that marked the county line between DeKalb and Jackson (the final county) was washed out!
We had to detour an extra 45 minutes or so around the river to enter Jackson County, before driving back down to the other side. Here is a picture that we took of the washed-out road (I’m in the middle)
Here’s a handy informational sign from the other side that would have been very useful to know BEFORE we went into the river 🙂
If you are interested in the blow by blow trip reports (and who wouldn’t be!!?!?! :-D), you can read them over at my old blog – Every Whatever
I revisited this topic when talking about the man who has made 5 (failed!) attempts to visit Yemen – asking “How far would you go to meet a travel goal?“