How fitting. Today, Don and I are making the ride to Millbrook in hopes of seeing what remains of the Town of Spectre, Alabama. Though this doesn't fit the true definition of an Alabama Ghost Town, it is most likely a rarity so unique in this state that I dare say it is one of a kind. We are visiting the remains of a movie set from Tim Burton's 2003 motion picture "Big Fish."
In case you aren't aware, "Big Fish" was filmed entirely in Montgomery, Wetumpka and surrounding areas and generated millions for the local economies. It was a big deal at the time and brought a lot of attention to the state. I remember the Birmingham News had an article about star Ewan McGregor being in Wetumpka that was titled something like "A Jedi Goes to Walmart." It is funny, the things you can remember sometimes.
Unlike most of the sets that were real world parts of the filming locations, Spectre is a facade of homes and businesses that was constructed specifically for the film. I had read online that a lot of the sets were being deconstructed and burned so I figured it was high time that I make my way down there before it would all be gone. As a huge movie buff, I was stoked to get on the road and get down there. It was an ominous morning with strong chances of rain which Don reminded me of before we left. My rain gear was in my back pocket so I was ready to go.
It is chilly, not quite cold, and still overcast. I haven't been on a good, long ride in quite some time and I am feeling renewed and alive inside barely noticing the lack of warmth. Our first stop was for gas outside of Montevallo. We selected the same cheap bottled water and I ate some Boston Baked Beans candy. We marveled at the huge candy display and the older of us talked about how he used to eat that brand of sweets and how much smaller the selection used to be. Outside I lamented over an oil leak and we heard the screaming of a small child or animal in the distance. The fog was burning off but the kudzu seemed to be inching in on the spots where we stood so we elected to move on.
We arrive at our destination to find a locked automatic gate with a pay box. The sign advises that the property is private and for members only and even with a membership there is a fee and you need the gate code. For motorcycles, entry around the gate would be easy and Don and I debate the virtues and drawbacks of forcing our way in or looking for ways to do the right thing. About this time, we notice we are being watched by a man on his front porch about 100 yards away from the gate. Don convinces me that a little research on the front end is worth it to avoid the business end of a shot gun on the back end. It is good on days like this that I have someone to be the voice of reason.
We approach the man on his porch and find out his family owns the land and he is happy to let us in. The downside is that membership is $1000 a head. Don and I share a quick moment looking at each other before our host can't take it any more and laughs, telling us that for $6 and our signatures on a waiver, he'd be happy to let us in. We quiz him for a moment. Much to my dismay, the foam forest has recently been dismantled and the retail section of the town has been torn down and burned. He explains that while real homes have a code, these are shells made to look like homes and aren't up to any code. They aren't maintained in any way and when they start to get dangerous he tears them down. His manor and ways seem to suggest that it won't be long before all of it is gone. He talks about the trouble with the foam and how he can't really get rid of it. He is nice enough talking to us but refuses to appear on camera and once it is brought up, he is quick about getting us through the gate and moving on his way.
We leave and I hope for the same luck for the rest of the trip and come up empty handed. We hit enough rain to get good and wet. It doesn't stop us from giving our bikes Hell on the roads to Rockford. Again, it has been way too long for me and the needle on the speedo is running parallel to the needle inside me that gauges my personal happiness and satisfaction. We stop for gas. I fill up and tie my rain gear around my face and we hit the interstate. Bombing down the super slab, the stray rain drop lances my skin and I barely notice. Today has been good medicine and I'm still high on the dose.