I just wanted to follow up on a thread I wrote just in case anyone else wants to go north from the I-20 at Anniston, AL to Huntsville via SR 431.
When you get off at Exit 185 in Anniston this will take you into the heart of Anniston. It’s a truck route all the way but the lights are timed so that the only thing you can do it go from one light to the next. More than a few times, we would begin stopping for the light just to have it turn green as soon as we stopped moving. The traffic was pretty heavy.
Coming into town Fort McClellan is appears to be the large land owner in the area. This town is very vibrant and active with many shopping areas and a bustling downtown area. Traveling north on 431 you will pass Alexandria, Wellington and Glencoe.
As we made our way up 431 we observed a tremendous amount of weather related damage that we can only attribute to a tornado. There were old growth oak trees uprooted and lying on their sides. Many properties on the way up the road had cut timber waiting for pickup.
What was most notable were the trees that remained standing but were now randomly standing at fanned out 45° angles or less from vertical. Continuing we saw damage to homes and businesses and the familiar blue tarp covered roofs. On our way up the highway, there was a tow truck that was holding short of the road and he was towing a 30 foot travel trailer that appears to have sustained tornado damage. The roof was angled and crushed on the right side about half way down to the frame as if it were picked up turned over and dropped.
A few properties had volumes of debris scattered everywhere. In places the west side of 431 appears to have suffered the majority of the damages. We observed that the properties on the east of the highway fared a little better. It looked to us that the tornado followed the road for at least 5 or more miles devastating one side and only flirting with the other. We were both in agreement that this would not have been a good place to be during the last weeks of weather that devastated much of this area and northward. Continuing you’ll come on a larger town called Gadsden.
There is a by-pass in Gadsden look for the I-759 sign; it’ll be a left turn. Go straight and enter on the right. Coming off of the by-pass you need to get on the I-65 for 1 exit and staying to the right you get off at the very next exit. This is the Attalla exit.
Continuing on through Rockledge, Boaz and Albertville you will find yourself approaching Guntersville. Guntersville is quite the place and it is framed by a lake named for the town. It was quite a sight to see a 35 to 40 foot yacht on Lake Guntersville. As we passed we noticed how still the waters were. Coming out of Guntersville one can see mountains out of the front windshield however the road sweeps left and up through a notch. The grades over this little hump put us up at about the 800 foot level and we maintained that for a number of miles. Next stop is Huntsville. The road wasn’t anywhere as bad as I thought it could be since we were crossing portions of the southern end of the Appalachian chain of mountains. Just last night I saw a program that said that the Appalachians at one time were the tallest mountains in the world but over millions of years have been severely eroded.
The final leg of our travels had us climbing a pretty good size grade for at least 2 to 3 miles and unlucky for us we got caught behind a really slow moving rack body truck laden with storm debris. Finally our turn was coming up, Monte Sano Blvd. Glad to be out of the frying pan but we just jumped into the fire. Once on the Monte Sano Blvd we could see the altimeter begin at 860 feet and it incremented to 1650 feet in less than 2 miles. Turning right on Nolen Avenue you would drive straight into the park. The campground office is about ½ a mile inside the park on the left. Once thing I would have liked to do would have been to disconnect the toad before coming up here. It would have just been better to do that if I knew previously what the conditions were.
We are on site 80 in Monte Sano State Park. The park is very nice. We have a level site which is unusual in the mountains. The base is compressed stone and pea gravel. We have a 30A, water and sewer site. The roads in the park are paved. This is a very nice state park and not at all too expensive. In regarding to satellite reception, I was not able to do so this time. The tree canopy is too thick. You can however get all the digital broadcast channels as the transmitters are only 5 miles away.
We have decided that on our way home we are going back via I-65 south to Birmingham and then east on I-20 and home. We’ll be staying over in Georgia for 1 night on the other side of Atlanta.
We would not have not have seen the countryside and everything else that we observed had we not taken the scenic route. Whenever you can … take the scenic route.
To continue the journey ….