Once Meg and I started talking about a driving vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama, I immediately looked at the Highpoint opportunities that might exist along the way. Pretty quickly I determined that the Highpoint of Alabama could be gotten with only 2 hours of additional driving time, by deviating from the more direct route. Needless to say, I still kept the plan to myself until the day before we left on our trip. When I told Meg that I wanted to grab the high point of Alabama, and it would only take us an additional two hours, she rolled her eyes at me. She pushed back a little bit, with the valid argument that three kids trapped in the car for 12 hours would be tough. But, I convinced myself that we could pull it off without major issue. And, I drug the whole family along for my adventure.
We left Cincinnati at 8 am in the morning. The fact that Meg pushed us to leave earlier indicated to me that she had accepted my plan… my insanity. The drive through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama went well. We hit several short but heavy downpours along the way, but other than that, it was rather uneventful. The kids also did good. We took a lot more breaks than I had thought we would, but that broke it up well also.
After driving through Anniston, Alabama, we continued south a bit more, until we reached Cheaha State Park. The drive was actually pretty nice. Although the back roads slowed us down, it was a beautiful drive, and we saw many interesting old homes, cabins and other properties. Meg was pondering all of the great old antiques that must be in some of those old homes and cabins. When we reached the park, we drove passed the gift shop, the front gate and the small hotel in the park. The drive from the front gate to the Highpoint was just over a half mile. Once we reached the Highpoint, we got, out. Nolan, Anna, Sadie (the dog) and I climbed the tower steps to the top. This Highpoint was definitely one that the state had put a lot of effort towards. The tower at the Highpoint was a solid rock building, rather than a rickety old steel fire tower. From the top, the kids and I waved at Meg. We quickly started back down after we finally heard what Meg was yelling at us from down by the car: “you locked me out of the car, and I don't have the keys.” So, we climbed back down to save Meg.
After we got back to the car, we drove back to the gift shop. The family was done with their Highpoint, but I still needed to run my requisite 2 miles in order for me to claim this Highpoint on my list. I started running from the gift shop. The road from the gift shop to the top was actually pretty steep, and unrelenting. When I was all said and done, I'd gain and lose about 300 feet of elevation. Definitely not a killer elevation gain, but it certainly ranks as a tough 2 mile run. I knew that I would need a bit of extra distance in order to get a full two 2 miles. So, when I got to the top of the hill, and approached the left turn that leads to the Highpoint, I continued straight, instead of turning left. I continued down the road another 0.35 miles, then turned around, and made my way towards the Highpoint. I tagged the Highpoint, and kept running the return loop, towards the gift shop. The return loop is similar to the entrance loop, accept, along the way you pass by some rustic campgrounds along side the road. Several groups were camping. I continued down the hill. I was happy to finally be running down hill. I passed by the backside of the hotel, through the gate, and back to the gift shop, where the family was waiting for me in the Explorer, with the air conditioning cranked up high. Round trip on the 2 miles was right around 18 minutes. We left the park, and started the 2 hour remaining drive to our final destination stop for the night.
Cheaha Mountain was a nice simple Highpoint. It was better than a street corner. It had the nice drive-up option, and the park was beautiful. If I had it to do over again, I would have planned for the family to actually stay over a night at the park's hotel. Even Meg thought that would have been neat. Number 27 complete. Numbers 4 for Anna and Nolan. Sadie's first.