Sunday, July 6, 2014

The South Will Rise Again

Outside Castle Otttis
Following on the Easter debacle, we wrapped up our latest southern itinerary in Jacksonville. It's faintly amazing to me that after three trips to the South, we have at least two more tours to go--one cleaning up all the teams in North Carolina we haven't yet seen, another returning to Birmingham and heading south to Pensacola and, next year (maybe), Biloxi. And oh yeah, the rest of the Appy League—make it three trips.

We began our time in Jacksonville at J. P. Small Memorial Stadium, which once hosted Negro League teams and is now part of a public park in Durkeeville, whose complex history and frequent redevelopment intrigued us.

We were approached by the caretaker, who lives in a formerly mobile home parked on one corner of the site, and he took us in to see the small but well-crafted stadium museum underneath the grandstand.

We headed to the new stadium downtown, wedged between two other stadiums—though apparently, they do do other things in Jacksonville besides play games.

We had an exciting ninth—Jacksonville had been up 4–1, but Pensacola scored three in the top of the ninth before the Suns recovered and put it away in the bottom of the frame. A satisfying end to the baseball portion of a trip not always distinguished by the quality of its games.

But wait, there's more! We let happenstance guide us to a more-than-satisfying dinner in Callahan, Florida:

My god, look at this massive piece of pie! Naturally, we each ate one.

The last stop of the day was the Folkston Funnel—a place where a few train lines converge. The town of Folkston, seeking some sort of touristic advantage, has embraced the railfan community, building a small viewing platform and installing loudspeakers that relay actual local train radio chatter.

We didn't see any trains, but we did meet a fellow who comes here from Iowa each year to log and photograph various equipment passing through. Who are we to call him obsessive and strange?

Plowing on, the next day we visited the Keith-A-Que, which was senselessly open at 8 a.m., since they weren't serving anything other than red hots. It was made clear to us that we seemed pretty strange for looking for pulled pork at that hour, but hey, we didn't tell them to be open then. We thought it was what one did in the Fire Ant Capital of the South.

After that it was a tour of Habitat for Humanity's fake slums and sample houses...

...followed by the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville and finally the stadium formerly inhabited by the Macon Peaches and various other teams.

That was essentially the end of the line for the April trip. Which is a good thing because the July trip starts in less than a week.

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