Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's A Good Day To Shoot

And why, you might ask, is today better than other days? As I have stated more than once, I have such an aversion to winter that mere words fail me. Even bright sunny days are nothing more than nature taunting me into thinking it's nice outside when in fact, as we speak, it's 32 degrees. I must say I feel bad for those of you who feel as I do and still have to go out in to winter's cruel embrace in order to forge out a living. Be that as it may, if I have to endure the cold (pun intended) hard reality of winter I might as well use it to my advantage. As such, I need it to be dark and dreary. I only use available light and at least when it's overcast I'm not fighting the sun. I couldn't begin to count the number of times I had to change my position because my shadow was in the frame. Add to that that the winter sun is much lower on the horizon and this becomes an all day ordeal. I say all this to say today was cloudy and dreary. Just a miserable day. But from my point of view the first good day I've had since I started this season.

Today was day two of my foray into northeastern Alabama. Mostly Madison, Jackson and Dekalb counties. In fact I was so far northeast the GPS sent me through South Pittsburg, Tennessee to get to Bryant, Alabama. I started this morning working my way up through Jackson County. One of the early things I found was in Scottsboro. A large inverted cone shaped thing. And no...I have no clue what it is. It can best be described as an igloo made out of concrete blocks. Most things I can figure out but this one is a mystery.

Further down the road was this piece of machinery sitting on the side of the road just outside of Stevenson. While I have never actually seen one I suspect this is machinery from an old cotton gin. Why it's sitting here is a mystery but it was adjacent to an antique shop so maybe for display purposes.

While in Bridgeport I had encountered a police officer who wondered what mayhem I was causing on the other side of town. I laughed when I saw this a few minutes later as it could have possibly been my new residence had I indeed been up to nefarious endeavors. This is the town's old  jail across the street from Bridgeport City Hall. I shot this through the bars of the front door.The front door was just that....bars. I can only imagine how miserable that would have been on a cold winter day but it would be easy for the town's folk to come by and "see" you.

As I was heading up Lookout Mountain to find something on the other side of Mentone I happened to glance down into the valley to my left. The area, appropriately named Valley by the way, had been clear cut and was mostly barren save for a couple of lone structures. You'll notice the steeple on top which is what caught my eye. I debated turning around right then but figured I would come back this way instead. As it turned out the GPS led me back this way to my next target. What I had thought was an old school was actually a church. It was old for sure. Named "The Spoken Word Ministry", it was now just a run down old building clad in classic fake brick, asphalt shingle siding that has to have been abandoned for quite some time. The steeple was added on much more recently as it's made of particle board and was attached to a tin roof. I suspect whoever ran this little church was trying to make it more homey and appealing.

My last stop of the day. An old dock on the Tennessee River at the base of the mountain from Section. I was happy to see it because I was done for the day and heading home. By this time the temperature was hovering just above freezing and the wind was blowing a good 15mph.

I did see something that amused me. I was never one for fishing. I understand why folks do but I just never really got into it. But as I was leaving I saw this guy out on his boat. In full coveralls with a hood. It's cold, windy and miserable and yet here he is seeing what he can catch. There's the old expression "One man's junk is another man's treasure" to which I amend to say one man's crazy is another man's perfectly normal I suppose...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dang It's Cold

Yes I know it's winter. And winter is cold. But today redefined cold. My bed was so warm when the alarm went off at 6:15. However winter is short when you've got things to do. I climbed in my truck in the garage and glanced at the temperature. It's 50 degrees down here so I'm sure it will be fine. Um....well no. I watched that digital display drop like a rock. It finally settled on 9. I sighed knowing that this day was going to be a challenge.

The morning sun peeked over the horizon as I climbed up on this old steel railroad bridge. I don't know the original railroad but I suspect the Atlantic Coast Line. Built in 1936 by the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company, it spans across Bessemer Super Highway (super in name me).

I go in every abandoned structure I can. Some are difficult but others you just walk in. This house sits more or less halfway between Harpersville and Vincent on US 231. I was struck by how much was left there. The kitchen table still had utensils on it but the bird's nest in the oven made me think it's been a while since it was occupied. The previous occupants were not what you would call fastidious. Looks like they just gave up and left. I debated checking the size of the suit jacket left hanging in the bedroom but decided against it.

One of my more prolific posters on my Forgotten Alabama Facebook page, Ken Balch, would know what this place was in Dora. If I had to guess it looked very much like the remains of a car dealership. Lots of big  windows and what appeared to be a service bay. It was cool walking through here and imagining a busy business and a lot of activity. Ivy and small trees are its inhabitants now. Btw, there are several old buildings in Dora along the railroad tracks. It's really weird. Like a small ghost town.

Sunday! Sunday! At the Childersburg Speedway. Street stock and late model modified racing! Bring the kids! Free parking!

I remember Friday nights at Huntsville Speedway from my youth. It wasn't a dirt track but many similarities. Sort of Nascar on a TV dinner budget. Those days are long past for this old track way out in the sticks on Plant Road. I found it by accident heading to someplace else. I'll tell you it was really weird walking around this place. It's still mostly intact although the dirt track is filled with rain-eroded ruts. Now the only thing racing on it are numerous yucca plants. It's a strange feeling walking around a place that probably had hundreds of people and dozens of very loud cars on race night. Strange in that the only sound I would hear was the occasional truck pass by. I go to a lot of these places and that apocalyptic feeling always pop up. Like I'm the last person on earth.

I've seen this tractor many times on my way to work. It sits in front of a scrap yard on US 280 between Harpersville (speed trap btw)  and Childersburg. I liked it because it's old and, well, cool looking. This early morning it was covered in frost. I'm sure its seen many a frosty morning in its long and I'm sure hard life.

Cascade Plunge
As I was getting close to finishing my second day out on the road I was following a more or less linear path home as the sun was setting in the west. I knew there was a place I had to get to before I ran out of light. The Elks Lodge #79 up near East Lake. For many years this was THE place to go. An enormous pool. A miniature golf course. A huge ballroom. I did not grow up in Birmingham so I don't know what it was like back in its heyday. But from what I've read this a significant part of people's lives for years. On this day (remember it's cold dang it!) the pool was frozen over except around the fountain and a home for catfish. One of the members showed up while I was shooting the miniature golf course and graciously allowed me to get a few interior shots. I'm guessing it's pretty much unchanged from the way it was 20 years ago but kinda sad seeing it empty now.'s for sale now if you're curious.

It was a good day but any day I'm out shooting is a good day. I do wish it was warmer though...