Friday, December 28, 2007

Conecuh National Forest, Alabama

The skies opened up over night, but the rain was very light. It stopped raining in the early morning but it was extremely humid when we got up. The temps pretty mild, in the low 60’s.

The cool thing about getting to a camp site after dark is that you really don’t know what it looks like until you get up in the morning. So this morning when I got up I walked over to the bathroom and then walked the entire “C” loop to see the area. The rain was evaporating quickly; the whole area was misty.

Conecuh National Forest in Southern Alabama

C38 is a really nice camp site at Open Pond

Such a nice and sunny morning

Open Pond is a really nice campsite, each loop has a couple bathrooms and a bath house and loop “D” had a real big bath house with many individual showers. I was really impressed with this place and I was really glad that we’d be staying here for the next couple of days. There was a lot of stuff to see around here.

Open Pond Rec. Area

Back at the campsite I started to plan the route for today. The roads were still very wet, so we didn’t plan on leaving for a couple of hours anyway. I had printed out detailed Alabama and Florida county maps which had all the roads on them and had descriptions of which ones were primitive, which were maintained dirt/gravel and which were paved. It was looking like we’d have plenty of maintained dirt roads to ride in the area. I just had to connect them up and make a route.

Our new $80 folding ramp from Home Depot

Our route today would take us from the Conecuh National Forest in Alabama in to Florida’s Blackwater State Forest, which was located just south of here. The clouds were moving out already and I could see some blue sky now.

Working on today's route

We unloaded the bikes using our new ramp. It worked great. We didn’t want to drive all the way to the drop box last night to pay for our camping, so we did that today and paid for last night and for tonight. Camping with electricity and water is $12 per night here. A pretty good deal considering how nice this camp site is.

As I was finalizing the route, we heard rumbling in the distance. At first I didn’t think much of it because the day was turning out so nice, but then the rumbling got louder and closer and clouds moved in. There was a thunder storm moving in. Of course we were bummed, we wanted to ride and if it was to rain again the roads would never dry out. At this point we were thinking of just giving up on the dirt roads for today, go ride the paved roads and save the AL/FL route for tomorrow.

Mike hiding from the rain

The tent is starting to get wet

The rain started up quick. Then, about half an hour later it stopped. We had our lunch and we were getting ready to possibly do a short ride now. Our internet phone wasn’t working out here so we couldn’t check the weather. But before we could do anything, the rains came again, but this time in a form of a downpour not a thunder storm like before. The rain poured out of the sky like there was no end in sight. In the south here, the Gulf can dump a lot of rain. These aren’t passing storms, the moisture gets sucked out of the Gulf and just falls out of the sky, it can do that for hours or days.


With this much rain, the rain fly gets really wet if it's not tied down and pulled away from the tent

After about an hour of waiting for the rain to stop, we had decided to do something besides waiting and go to the nearest town. With the rain pouring, we drove off t wards Andalusia, AL. At this point we started to get concerned if the tent would remain dry since we had all the sleeping bags and pillows still inside. But by now it was raining too hard to move our sleeping bags out of the tent.

More turkey sandwitches for lunch

We finally tie down the tent's rain fly

When we got to Andalusia we checked the weather but the forecast didn’t look so good. More rain was supposed to fall over night, really heavy at times.

Heading out in the biggest downpour

We took this opportunity to stop at a grocery store and a Wal-Mart to pick up a few more items we forgot to get the other day. Then back to the campsite we went. It stopped raining for a bit. The first thing we did when we got back was check to see if our stuff was dry inside the tent, but as I suspected, everything was soaked.

Downtown Andalusia, AL

Too bad we had already paid for tonight. The money was in the envelope inside the drop box so we couldn’t get that back. The reality was that more rain was coming and all our stuff was already wet. As much as we were looking forward to camping for the rest of this trip, we needed to find a motel room for tonight.

So we loaded up the bikes on the trailer, disassembled the tent, packed up and left just as the sun was setting.

Another thing that was hard to do, was to deciding where to go for the night. Andalusia was only about 45 minutes away and had a few motels. The forecast was showing rain tomorrow as well in this area, but for some reason if it wasn’t going to rain tomorrow, we would be close enough that we could make it back here to ride some of the roads.

Another option was to drive an hour south of here in to Florida. That was we had two options for tomorrow depending on the weather. We could either come back here tomorrow if no rain or we could go further east and ride Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, FL tomorrow.
We chose the second options hoping that there was a chance of riding the bikes tomorrow somewhere around here. Crestview, FL was the nearest bigger town south of us, so that’s where we were hoping to stay the night.

The Gator Cafe in Baker, FL

On the way to Crestview, we stopped in Baker on 189 South at The Gator Cafe for dinner. This restaurant was decorated in 50’s diner style, and it actually looked like its been in business since the 50’s.
Unfortunately, the food was kind of pricey for the kind of place it was and wasn’t even really good. We rolled in to Crestview, FL and found an Econolodge up on a hill, the price was right at $63 per night.

Chicken gumbo

Baked potato, fish, shrimp and hush puppies

Banana pudding

Then we proceeded to unload the whole contents of our truck in to our motel room with the purpose of organizing our stuff better and to dry out all the stuff that was wet.

A few hours after we fell asleep I was woken up by a big crack of thunder, lightening lit up the entire sky. We were kind of glad that we were at the motel room tonight.

Unloading all our stuff in to our motel room

Our rain soaked tent and air matress

1 comment:

dan said...

As good bikers, ya'll remain flexible and undaunted. Right attitude. I was researching Open Pond to find a short trip for Nancy and my anniversary. Open Pond looked nice. Have to read more when I get home. I like the pics.