As warmer weather approaches and the days grow longer, my county collecting trips begin anew. To start 2014, I journeyed south to middle Tennessee and northern Alabama with the hopes of escaping the snow blanketing Ohio. With temperatures in the 60s for most of the trip, I can say I succeeded.
My route included stops at the Courtyard Decatur, AL; Fairfield Inn Oxford, AL; Springhill Suites Chattanooga, TN; and Fairfield Inn Cookeville, TN and would allow me to collect between 75 and 80 county seats. The final tally was 78 county seats in 77 counties. St. Clair County in Alabama is one of 35 counties in the U.S. that has 2 county seats so to be complete, I visited both towns and mailed home a postcard from each. This brings my entire tally up to 873, comprising about 28% of all the county seats in the country.
Here are the before and after maps (of the relevant area) showing my progress.
For the benefit of new readers of this blog, the dark blue color represents counties from which I have mailed and received a postcard documenting my trip. Green is for counties where I have been to the county seat but not documented my visit. Cyan is for counties I have been in or through, but not visited the county seat (most, but not all, of the green and cyan counties predate my quest to “collect” every county in the U.S.) A close inspection will reveal that I crossed into one county in Mississippi (Monroe County) and one in Georgia (Carroll County) on this trip as well as collecting 5 counties in NW Georgia along the Alabama border. (To see my complete progress maps of the U.S. see Traveling the United States one county at a time).
On the road, I usually see something interesting or amusing worth photographing. Here are a few examples.
In Centre, AL (Cherokee County), I came across a true “county seat” just outside the county history museum. (The brick building in the upper left corner is the county courthouse). I actually sat on this bench while writing my postcard. Considering my quest, I thought it a must.
Another interesting sight was sign for a law office across the street from the courthouse in Cleveland, TN (Bradley County). I guess hobbits need lawyers too.
My visit to Moore County, TN required a stop in Lynchburg, home of the Jack Daniel’s distillery. Need I say more?
As far as the Marriott properties at which I stayed, only the SpringHill Suites in Chattanooga is worth mentioning (the others were all fine examples of their brand, but nothing special). The SpringHill Suites is right on the Tennessee River several blocks from the activity of Chattanooga, but close enough to walk if the weather is nice (I had to drive due to heavy rain). My 5th floor room faced the parking lot, but luckily I was in a corner room on the east end of the building, so one window had a great view of the river. The staff was friendly and helpful and the property immaculate. This is definitely a place worth staying.
This trip complete, I am already contemplating my next journey. I’m now planning routes and hotels for a trip to North Carolina in late March or early April. I expect to include southern WV, parts of western VA, and if all goes well, the last 6 counties in SC. Look for details in my next blog post.
Until then …