Rock stars want to go out on it, Ray Charles was told to hit it, and Robert Frost encouraged us to take the one less traveled. The road. Americans love the road. More than the road (whether we are strapping our surfboard to a woody and heading down a West Coast highway, getting our kicks on route 66, or chasing the sundown US 1), we Americans love the existential road trip, elevated to a national pastime by Mr. J. Kerouac. And nobody loves the road like us Yellowhammers. We love the lost highways, byways, black-tops and especially the dirt roads that foster community, connect people and even, on rare magical nights, transport us back in time. We Yellowhammers can embrace the romance of the road sung about in country songs while appreciating the road as a practical sense of place and direction. We love main streets, broad streets, college streets, and water streets. We have state roads, county roads, city roads and back roads. We have cut-throughs, short-cuts, scenic routes and over-passes. Yes, we love the road, because all roads lead to adventure, and better yet, all roads lead home.
I am talking about the road for three reasons. First, we at the yhtc spend a lot of time on the roads of Alabama. We have already collected 600+ photographs documenting this great state and we have only just begun to scratch the surface. Second, this will be a recurring theme moving forward and I might as well introduce it to y’all now. And thirdly, the Yellowhammer crew will soon be embarking on another short road trip up 431 into North Alabama. We will pass through Lafayette and say hello to the famous Joe Lewis, or at least his statue, then travel up to the lovely town of Roanoke. We will continue on along Anniston’s Quintard Avenue on our way to Gadsden, a backbone of Alabama’s industrial iron age and home to a downtown renaissance worth visiting. We will see beautiful Lakes Wedowee and Guntersville as we brush past the tail end of the great Appalachian Mountains and “The Heart of Sand Mountain,” also known as Albertville. All the while we will be winding our way northward toward Huntsville and points beyond.
We hope to take a side trip along Highway 72 (the Appalachian Development Highway) to visit Athens (if you like town squares they have one of the best). Then we’ll head back down 65 (one of our nation’s great interstates) through Birmingham on our way back home to the Plains. This trip will be yet another opportunity to marvel at our state’s great geographic and cultural diversity—that which has inspired us from the beginning.
It is said that in life the trip can be more important that the destination. That is certainly true on the road.