Ginny had so much fun on the Bankhead Forest trip that she came along again for Road Trip #4, and we were so glad to have her. This time we decided to drive all the way to Huntsville. “Why not? What else do we have to do?” said one of us.
State parks are not usually in the middle of cities. Monte Sano, however, is right in Huntsville, and that was our end destination, but as always, it took us all morning to get there because of serendipitous stops along the way. We made our escape out of Birmingham through Center Point and then headed north on Highway 79.
We made a couple U turns, and I said something about “going around our elbow” to get somewhere. “You ever heard that expression before?” TOR asked Ginny. She thought maybe it was an Ohio thing because Ginny and I both grew up there. But no, just a family expression, I guess. It does seem to be a good way to describe some of our wanderings.
We spotted one establishment next to the highway that offered an interesting array of businesses—tax service, day spa, AND cell phone repair. One-stop shopping at its finest. A church billboard offered this bit of wisdom: “Hope Is Not Canceled.” Another suggested: “Clean Your Hands! Only Jesus can cleanse your soul.”
We didn’t visit Remlap, but when we saw signs for it and also for Palmerdale, I asked TOR and Ginny if they knew how Remlap got its name. Neither did, so that was my cue. My thanks to my new favorite Alabama columnist (since Kathy Kemp left us) for reminding me of the details. Around 1900, two brothers named Perry Palmer and James Palmer settled on properties about seven miles apart, one in Jefferson and one in Blount County. The Jefferson County brother was quicker and named the town he founded Palmerdale. That left the Blount County brother no choice but to name his town Remlap, which is Palmer spelled backwards. Kazek says it’s only legend that the reason for the two towns was a fight between the brothers. She cites Barry Wilson, author of “The Story of Palmerdale” as saying there’s no evidence about the fight. However, way back in the early 1980s, I had a friend named Perry (no relation to Perry Palmer) who lived in Pinson, and he insisted the fight story was real. So, take your pick
Kazek notes that Alabama is dotted with unusually named small towns. How about Slapout, Smut Eye, and Frog Level? As we drove along, we commented on several Alabama towns that have conventional names but not conventional pronunciations—for example, A-rab and Sayre (say, Ree). Kazek’s column also tells the story of Guin and Gu-Win, but those two towns are nowhere near today’s route, so I will leave that story for another trip.