Friday, February 28, 2014

Opelika, AL

My Uncle Charlie and his fiance Jennifer were getting married in about a month. We decided to back track and start heading to Boca Raton, FL. We left Decatur, drove back through Montgomery, and stayed in Oplika, AL. The drive through Montgomery took longer than usual. We were in bumper to bumper traffic for at least an hour. We were next to a boy's high school sports team through most of it. They read the windows and looked up my YouTube channel. They all had huge smiles as they pressed their cell phones against the windows. They were all playing my videos! They truly made me feel like a celebrity.

Opelika is a small town about thirty minutes west of Auburn. We stayed at the Spring Villa RV Park. The park was on a property that used to be a plantation. The original plantation house and slave quarters were still on the property. The park itself was very open. We were far enough from the road to not hear any traffic. We were surrounded by woods. The park had full hookups, but no WiFi. We both had very poor cell service, making our mobile hot spot obsolete. We only picked up three channels on our TV antenna, so we relied mostly on DVD's for our entertainment. 

At first it was very eerie to stay there. When we would walk the dogs near the plantation house, Honey would bark at the house. We never saw anything there. We stopped walking them near the house after it happened two nights in a row. Apparently one of the slaves killed the slave owner in the stairwell near the top floor. The house has been said to be haunted ever since by the slave owner's ghost. We asked some of the locals about this, but no one knew what we were talking about. You could tell the slave quarters had been burned down, but the main structure remains.

All around the park were trails. We went on a day hike with the dogs. We weren't sure how long the trail was, but we prepared for anything. While walking we saw a lot of animal tracks. I'm not an expert, but I'm we saw plenty of paw prints and hoof tracks. We came to the end of the trail when it hit the main road. The plantation land was very large and extended to the properties across the street. We decided to keep going. After only being twenty feet into the property I stopped dead in my tracks before hastily turning around. There was a dog laying on his side. Thinking he was asleep, I told Josh and we backtracked across the street. Josh made it clear to me then that he was sure the dog was dead. I've never seen a dead dog before, so I made him go back to double check. Unfortunately he was right. We put a ten foot stick in the ground near the entrance of the property as a marker and called the local Animal Control. Unfortunately we never got a call back from them, and the dog's body was never picked up. 

The park would put deer corn out late at night. We watched multiple deer enjoy the treat, but could never catch it on film. Several nights we heard coyotes howling. When the sounds got closer we would fire a shot from the shotgun. That would usually stop the sounds. One time we had the dogs outside when the coyotes were howling. Both of them became on edge and barked and growled towards the woods. The howling stopped after that. 

 We decided to go check out Opelika as a town. I looked up a local open mic night. Most of the time, we go to the venue a day or so before and check it out. We were lucky enough to do this on the same day. Later that night, I was dressed up, tuned, and ready to play! I was a little nervous but completely ready to shine. We enjoyed watching others sing, play, and jam together. A harmonica player even came out! We had a blast getting to know the townies at Eighth and Rail. We learned that Opelika was an industrial city. Opelika's downtown had small town charm much like my hometown Salisbury, NC. After a fun night of music and conversation, it was time to head back to the park.

The most surprising thing about Opelika was the diversity of the area. Downtown was normal with local businesses surrounding the streets. A couple miles down the road however, the quaint town turned into a high crime area. Different people even asked Josh at different gas stations numerous times if he wanted buy crack or other drugs. But just a couple more miles from there was our campsite in the middle of the country. As you turned on the road that lead us to the Spring Villa Park, there was a sign that read "This road is subject to catastrophic sinkholes." As an RV driver, it made us nervous to drive on the road. We saw numerous school buses on the road though, so we felt safe enough to drive on it. At the open mic, we asked the locals about it. They told us there was a sinkhole on that road years ago, so the city had to post that sign. They assured us we had nothing to worry about. 

I called my soon-to-be Aunt Jennifer to ask her about the wedding details. She told me that there were family complications, and they were going to have an intimate wedding instead. While we were in Decatur, we learned that Josh's ninety-five year old grandfather had been in the hospital for dehydration. He was having trouble taking care of himself properly. The family helped get him into a home. After everyone left, Josh's sister Kathy was left to take care of his affairs since she was the only relative living in the same state. Kathy has family of her own and with her third child on the way, we knew she could use some extra help. Since my uncle's wedding was called off for all the guests, we decided to change course and head to Utah to help Kathy. Next stop, Meridian, MS!