We enjoyed Montgomery, Alabama so much last year that we knew we needed to come back and catch the things we missed. I really should call this post Montgomery/Wetumpka since we spent equal time in both cities and were actually in a campground with a Wetumpka address. Montgomery we knew about. Wetumpka we didn’t, and it surprised and charmed us both.
Wetumpka River Walk
Imagine our surprise when we drive just a few miles down the road to downtown Wetumpka and find a grand river walk on the Coosa River complete with a very distinctive bridge. Oooh, love me some bridges. Our first visit was on a cold, windy day and I’m calling these the herringbone clouds. So different and definitely still hood up weather.
But on to the star of this show….
Our second visit was a crisp, clear day and perfect strolling weather. Forgive me, but I had a hard time choosing my favorite bridge shots. I’ll share a few of the best ones.
This bridge looked different than most since it appears to be completely concrete. According to historical info, it is the only bridge south of the Mason-Dixon line that is suspended by reinforced concrete arches. It’s hard to pay attention to the road driving under those arches and the height is only 12’6″. No driving on that bridge in Lucy unless we want to scrape off the AC unit.
Montgomery is home to Hyundai’s first US manufacturing plant and it is a wonder to behold. We read about this completely free, fantastic tour when we were here last year, but alas, the tours book up a ways out and we couldn’t get in. I booked this one last Fall so we wouldn’t miss out. If you are ever in the area, you truly must do this. The 3.2 million square foot plant cost 1.8 billion (that’s with a B!) dollars and was featured on the show Modern Marvels. I can understand why after that visit.
While we waited for the tour, we got to sit in all the cars in the showroom. I chose a matte finish Veloster since it is touted as an “edgy” look for the younger market. Yeah, that’s definitely me. Not the greatest picture, but the only one we have. You aren’t allowed to take photographs during the tour.
As for the tour, we watched a video explaining some of the finer points of the manufacturing process, donned safety glasses and special headsets to hear the commentary, and boarded a tram. This place is so huge that they drive you from building to building to see the process.
They say most people like the robots doing the welding the best, but I liked the huge stamping presses turning flat sheets of metal into car hoods. Wow! Huge, heavy and loud with over 5,400 tons of pressure involved. This plant is also proud to make their own engines for their cars.
A new car rolls off this assembly line every 50 seconds. Think about that for a minute. Oh wait, another car just came off the line. We got to see them start one up for the first time and off it went to the test track. That production pace sets them up for over 350,000 cars annually. We even got a look at the test track and the parking lot out back. Yeah, that holds 13,000 cars. Amazing!
Rolling on the River
The riverfront in downtown Montgomery is pretty cool and has a riverboat for cruises on the Alabama river. We missed that last time, too, so made sure to book a Saturday evening cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed sitting right up top at the front of the boat and doing nothing but looking at the passing scenery for two hours. Pat pointed out that this was the pace of life way back when. Riverboats and horse-drawn wagons were the fastest things around.
We’re calling these the trifecta of bad selfies.
A few actual good pictures on the river….
Me and the Harrah II, Old rusty bridge at the turnaround point, my rusty tin-man water tower, and finally Montgomery and the capitol building in the distance.
Our trips aren’t complete without some hikes with Jackson. Montgomery has lots of great places to hike with state and city parks all around. We went twice to Lagoon Park, a nice city park and then took our last walkabout at Ft. Toulouse-Ft. Jackson Park run by the state. Ft. Toulouse/Jackson is home to fort replicas and a nice walking trail. Ft. Toulouse was the French fort and they were there defending the local Indians until they lost the French and Indian War. Later Andrew Jackson came on the scene during the Revolutionary War and Ft. Jackson was built. We didn’t know any of this was here, so a historical learning experience and also in Wetumpka.
The Ft. Jackson replica. And our Jackson refusing to go around the big tree down over the trail. Stubborn dog.
A Little Corner of Greece
I saved the best for last to close out the Montgomery/Wetumpka post. Jasmine Hill Gardens features stunning flowers as well as reproductions of famous Greek and Roman statues. A couple in the 1930s retired to this hilltop to create a living memorial to ancient Greece. Supposedly they would leave the gardens in the hands of caretakers every Summer to travel to Europe to collect art and statues for the gardens. They even recreated the Temple of Hera where the ancient Greeks would light the Olympic torch in the original games. The couple’s dream was that one day the torch would come to Jasmine Hill. Lo and behold it did during the journey to Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic Games.
We happened to be here at a perfect time for Spring blooms. I’m not sure what I liked best – the sculptures or the flowers. The combination was really spectacular.
Here are two long-range shots so you get the broad view.
My favorites – orange poppies, dark purple tulips, terracotta Dogs, dolphin fountain and The Three Graces.
And those Three Graces? I saw a shot like this in the gift shop and ran back out to take my own version. I think this is my fav from all the pictures I took that day.
The original of this statue is in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ladies are the mythological three charities, daughters of Zeus. They represent Beauty, Charm and Joy. Indeed!
I took so many pictures and it was hard to choose the best. A few more, because I can’t help myself.
Iris at the feet of The Boxer, Bust of Zeus, and cutie little cherubs around the well.
Finally, this plaque just says it all for the day
You Know It’s Time To Leave When….
You’ve heard the saying “familiarity breeds contempt”? Well we don’t exactly get to that point, but when my directionally-challenged self starts to know the way around, it’s time to go. At least that’s what we’ve decided. After a few trips headed down the Atlanta Highway, and me bursting into song with B52’s Love Shack, it IS time to go.
Of course we did have another first at this stop. A mobile RV repair tech came to see us. The awning was damaged in the winds in Titusville and try as we might, we could not fix it. Turns out it is officially kaput and we’ll have to order another one. That likely must wait until we are still for a month during the Winter. Oh and yes, Pat still has the ring, but I’m keeping track of your dates!
On to re-live those grad school days in Birmingham. See you on the way!