28-Feb-2004 -- It was a beautiful day for a confluence visit in south Alabama. I started out in Luverne AL. (my home town) and departed about 12:30pm., thinking I was going alone. Then an old friend of mine calls me just to see what I was going to do this weekend. After explaining the whole thing to him, I invite him along, he agrees. So I travel to Opp AL. and pick him up. We drive about 160 miles to the town of Creola where we get off I-65. Here’s where the fun begins!
I knew from the incomplete logs on the website that it might be a little hard to get to. So I tried contacting Alabama Power about a week earlier and they seemed to think the confluence was not on their property. So here we are about 1.5 miles from the confluence on the highway, driving back and forth looking for the road in the picture on the website. We never found it, or any other road, without a gate on it. So finally we decide we are going to have to go to the gate to the steam plant.
As we approach the gate we’re thinking there is no way they are going to let us in this place for any reason no matter how innocent! So I drive right up to the guard shack and the armed security guard meets me at my window. He was very polite but also firm in his questioning. I explained the whole thing to him and told him of the significance of the whole project. He wasn’t very interested and was reluctant to hear anymore. After a little more talking and after he had read the “letter to landowners” I had just printed off the website, he decided to call some people and find out just how serious and determined we were. At first he says we will have to come back on Monday, and I told him how far we had to come and that we wanted to be the first to visit it and how important it was that we get there today. Then he calls another security guard down here to talk with us. To our surprise he said he had already heard that someone might be coming by the plant wanting to take some pictures of a certain point of LAT. LON. , but wasn’t to sure about it. He was much more interested in it than that first guard had been though. Then we ask if it would be ok to drive back to the confluence as close as we could, and he says he will have to drive and escort us all the way. We gladly agree!
After driving all the way to the very back of the property we had to stop about .35 miles for the confluence, because the ground was too soft to dive any further. So we unload at a place they guard calls the “Ash pond”, its where all the burnt coal is dumped and collected. And just beyond the piles of ash is a short hike through a mud and ash swamp! The guard starts to follow and then decides he will wait at the last pile of ash for our return. Not really that bad we thought…………then we start walking through it! All the rain the week before sure didn’t make it any easier. As we’re walking toward the confluence, whitetail deer and other critters scatter into the cat tails. By this time we’re covered in a muddy ash mixture up to our knees, and still .10 mile away.
Finally we arrive at the confluence! After a brief celebration and a break to catch our breath, we snap some pictures and start trudging back through the swamp. Dodging alligators and moccasins we try to keep an eye out for the piles of ash from which started. Eventually we get a glimpse of them over the top of the cat tails and head that direction. Then we see the guard waiting patiently for our return. He spots us just after we spot him and starts walking through the mud and ash back toward the truck. As he makes his way slowly and carefully through the muck he suddenly steps in the wrong spot! Caught off balance he tries to break the fall by going to his knees! It was no use; he was now covered with the same filth we had been wading through. Just when he thought he was getting away clean he falls on the way back out to the truck! After making sure he was alright, and he was, we all had a good laugh!
We drive back to the front gate where we had parked and we all hose down with the water hose. I think the guard enjoyed the little adventure, despite its mishaps! We let the guards know how much we really appreciated all that they had done to help us. We also told them to visit the website, and then we loaded our wet butts up and headed home.
It was a fun trip and I can’t wait to visit another confluence!