Luke the Drifter
Nov 23, 2008
|Montgomery’s favorite son - Sunday, November 23
Before heading out for Montgomery, Alabama we wanted to see the famous Calloway Gardens which are right up the road from our campground.
Built by one of Georgia’s wealthy businessmen, the gardens cover several thousand acres of land near the town of Hamilton. We paid our fee (forgetting to ask for the geezer discount) and entered a landscape that at any other time or season must be a thing of beauty. But the cold winds of winter have turned it dormant, and drought is killing the rest.
Still, you can see how it might look in Spring - when warm rain revives the grass and the woods turn green again. A golf course weaves it’s way through the park, and we drove the loop road that follows it’s meandering fairways. Eventually we came to the Butterfly Center where they are raising tropical butterflies of every size and color and description. They are in a building where you can go to enjoy them, but they are closely contained so they don’t escape and threaten the population of local butterflies.
They are beautiful creatures, delicate and colorful. The indoor environment of plants and flowers allows us to see them in a natural setting where they flit erratically to and fro in search of nectar and pollen. There are also koi residing in a water feature that adds to the beauty.
From the Butterfly Center we drove to the Horticultural Center and walked their greenhouses and outdoor gardens. The koi in their pond had attracted the interest of a large and patient great blue heron, and while we watched he caught one and eventually swallowed it.
From Calloway Gardens it was a twenty mile drive to the Alabama state line, and from there a couple of hours to Montgomery. Since we’d gained an hour reentering the Central Time Zone we decided to head for Montgomery’s Hank Williams Museum and try to see it before it closed at 4:00 PM. We made it with an hour and a half to spare, and we were even lucky enough to find downtown parking a block away.
We were greeted by a friendly man who runs the museum, and after paying the $16 dollar entry fee we took a step into country music history that kept us absorbed until closing. Hank’s blue Cadillac filled the first room, and images of him covered every wall. Some were photographs but many were drawings and paintings - some very good and others not so good.
There were records and covers of every album Hank Williams ever made, and his voice filled the rooms with song after song - each one an old friend to be cherished and loved. There was a video of one of Hank’s live shows, and we bought a three CD set of recordings made from those live shows. The manager was a big friendly guy and since we were his only customers he spent quite a bit of time talking to us. It was obvious he loved Hank and loved talking about him. He talked about his death, and he gave us directions to a statue of Hank Williams that stands in a downtown park, and to the cemetery where Hank and Audrey are buried.
We returned to our RV and decided to see the statue and visit the cemetery, which happened to be on our way to a campground on the outskirts of town. The statue was wearing a red Christmas scarf, and it stood warm against the coldness of the park. We found the cemetery quite easily, and we braved the narrow cemetery roads with our Winnebago. Hank and Audrey lie at rest on the top of a hill, and it was touching to stand at the graveside of such a man.
Leaving the cemetery it was a fifteen minute drive to our campground. Tomorrow we plan to visit the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, and also the Civil Rights Memorial. This is why we came to Montgomery, and Hank Williams was just the icing on the cake.