On the Birmingham to Knoxville leg of the return from the Shake Down Cruise, I took Highway 11 rather than I-75. It was lovely. It’s a beautiful 2-lane highway that goes through a handful of small little towns.
Part of why I’d taken 11 rather than I75 was to avoid the miserable construction on said Interstate, but the other reason was that I had once jumped off on 11 (because the the construction) and stumbled on this awesome little taco stand. I’d stopped there once and gotten some tacos and promptly forgot which hamlet it graced. Since then, on trips to or from Birmingham, I have lamented not knowing where it was, but was in too much of a hurry to do the linear search of 11 required to find it again. The journey was made difficult because I saw a bunch of great-looking BBQ joints that I really wanted to try, but I had my mind set on tacos. Tacos, tacos, tacos. It was a single-minded pursuit.
At 9:33 in Collinsville, Alabama, I found it! El Taco Unico #2 El Nirvana de Tacos! I did a little dance. Well, I didn’t really dance. I was driving, but it’s a good story, the dancing. Oh. It would have been a better story, if I left it as a story so you’d think that maybe I really did do a little dance instead of telling you I didn’t.
My joy was short-lived. It looked closed. I looked more closely. They didn’t open until 10:00. I considered waiting the twenty five minutes, but thought that I should move on. I made sure to take a picture with my camera so that I would have an image with the location embedded so that I could tell you, gentle reader, about this destination. I tried to “check in” there on Google Latitude, but this place calls into question Google’s omniscience.
I moved on down the road hoping that I’d run in to another barbecue joint. Another hour on down the road in Fort Payne, I drove past a place that looked promising. Or out of business. I pulled over and looked. Oh, yes, it does say “La Fonda” and they appear to serve tacos. I turned around and pulled up. There were speakers for placing orders, as customary in drive-ins in days gone by, but they appeared defunct. I walked in and ordered a couple tacos to go, one chorizo, and one azada with onions and cilantro. I also got a couple 2-ounce containers of salsas. I considered eating them right there on the spot, but thought that it’d be better to pull off the road somewhere more bucolic. With delicious smells wafting from the styrofoam container, I drove on down the road.
I looked and looked. The places that seemed most appealing were fields, and I wasn’t sure that it was OK for me to just park on someone’s property without permission, a compunction that I think I’ll have to get over at some point. Finally, I found the perfect place, Head Springs Cemetery, a little cemetery on the side of a hill. I pulled in, found a flat place halfway up, oriented us so that the side door overlooked the hill, and parked.
I opened the side door and Thor hopped out to explore. As he walked about, I pulled out the table in back, found a napkin, and started eating. They were delicious, each served in a pair of soft corn tortillas. I carefully contrived to eat them with just one of the tortillas so that I could dip the other one in the salsas, which were also quite tasty. I don’t have sufficient adjectives right now to give them justice, but they were lovely.
I tried to get a picture of me enjoying my lunch, but they call came out looking really stupid. The picture at the top of this page is my view out the side door.
If you look closely, you can see Thor sniffing about.
Just as I was finishing up and thinking that I’d summon Thor back, he came walking up. We got back in and I took a little driving tour of the cemetery. Back in the back was a shaded area that might have been a more private place to enjoy my meal. It was out of the sight of the road. I was reminded of Jimmy Gauld’s “People who teach me to sing,” a song about singing in a cemetery, and I considered getting out my guitar and playing it there on the spot and almost did, but it was buried under some other stuff and I figured that I’d be in other cemeteries soon enough. I did get a picture of a grave adorned with a small little horse. I couldn’t tell if “SSSS” was a horse or a person. The grave didn’t seem big enough for a horse, so I inferred the latter.
The place was pretty well-kept. The only thing really trashy I saw there was a sign lying in the ground.
I continued on 11 up through Chattanooga. I tried to find a similar route from Chattanooga to Knoxville, but the road I chose ended up being a limited access road like an interstate or five lanes and strip malls. I ended up hopping back on Interstate 40 to get back to The Rental in time to make our penultimate gig at the Pizza Kitchen.
Except for having to push back to Knoxville, this day was a pretty good little window into how travelling will feel. I think I’m going to like it.