Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Our first day driving north in Alabama was a mixed bag. I tried no fewer than four spots to spend the night (luckily starting at 11am), before finally landing at a Walmart (never my first choice but, I confess, becoming a reliable backup plan). A variety of factors freaked me out at each location, ending with a final, beautiful one that I wanted, but we were not there 3 minutes before a man showed up who wanted to see inside my van, asked me personal questions, and then told me all his horror stories of camping in the spot where I was parked. This place was both remote and, apparently, close enough for him to easily access. He also commented on the fact that I was a woman traveling alone. As soon as he left, so did we. I’m not particularly easily frightened, but this was too much.

the beautiful campsite where I didn’t stay

On the other hand, an impromptu stop at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site was a bright spot. Unfortunately we visited on a Sunday, and they are closed Sundays. But the outdoor didactics and views were satisfying; and Hops got to do the whole thing with me. (What we missed at the indoor exhibits and bookstore, I can’t know.) It was a beautiful day to walk around outside and learn about the Tuskegee Airmen, here at Moton Field, where the first African-American pilots trained in the 1940s. Several buildings are still standing or have been carefully restored; as one sign said, where plans were not available to allow faithful restoration, they built “ghost” structures instead, to stand in. The result let me get a pretty good feel, I think, for what the grounds looked like. There’s still an active airfield for small craft next door, too.

On our way out of town, we couldn’t resist stopping at “Little Texas.”

I’m sorry we didn’t get to sleep in Tuskegee National Forest, but I’m so glad we saw the site. Better luck next time.

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