Driving down to the Gulf this morning?
Yeah, me too.
If you are headed to Florida, for goodness’ sake don’t forget that the Pilgrimage, the annual tour of homes in downtown Eufaula, Ala., continues today and tomorrow.
That’s important because if you think you’ll just jump on 431 and blast down to the Sunshine State, you’re wrong.
Instead of admiring the sparkling white sands of the Gulf, you’ll spend what will seem like the better part of today admiring the sparkling white mansions of Eufaula.
Because you’re going to be stuck in traffic. With all those cars from Cobb, Dekalb and Gwinnett counties. It’ll seem like downtown Atlanta.
And if you have kids in the car with you, they’re going to be bouncing off the walls of the minivan.
Believe me, I know. They’re not interested in learning the difference between ionic, Doric and Corinthian columns. They’re interested in getting to the freaking beach as fast as possible.
And so am I. And, probably, so are you.
In fact, right now you’re probably thinking about a detour, something that skips Eufaula altogether. Google Maps suggests getting on Ala. 26 in Russell County and driving through Union Springs and then Elba and then down to Niceville, Fla.
Sounds nice, huh?
Not really. This route involves locating and properly navigating ELEVEN different state highways in Alabama.
I like to think I’m a pretty good husband and father, not to mention a darn fine navigator, but even I’m not patient and loving enough to survive a series of 11 different two-lane highways and zero known landmarks within a stretch of 130 miles. And that’s before you even cross the Florida line.
No, I’d suggest taking U.S. 431 from the Chattahoochee Valley but just outside of Phenix City, then veer left onto Ala. 165. About 15-20 miles outside of Eufaula, hang a left onto Highway 39, which you’ll follow over a bridge and then continue to follow south along the Chattahoochee River.
Soon you’ll arrive in Georgetown, Ga., and you’ll pass a meat-and-three place called Michele’s. Except they have a buffet so it’s really a three-meats-and-ten if you’re so inclined. I borrowed that bit of insight from Chuck Williams, who as you may know is an expert in such things.
Anyway, from there you can keep heading south on Highway 39 to Fort Gaines, Ga., then cross the river into Abbeville, Ala., to rejoin 431.
Or from Georgetown you could take a right and go back over the Chattahoochee River into Eufaula. Ahead, you’ll see the long line of cars on 431 stuck in Pilgrimage traffic.
But not you.
You’ll hang a left at the Alabama Power building and follow the road running parallel to 431. Eventually, you’ll see no traffic on 431, and that’s when you can get back on the highway and head down to the beach.
Happy spring break, everybody.