Alabama and the Kruger National Park

Alabama is like the Kruger National Park.

People visit Kruger so they can see things they’ve only seen in books and on TV. Everyone makes a big deal of it, but the truth is you spend most of your time driving really slowly and looking at thorn trees, zebras and giraffes. You rarely see the desired elephants, leopards, lions, rhinos and hippos.

For many people, one of the primary objectives of travelling through the Kruger is to get to the other side as quickly as possible. Of course, the main road is not the best for animal viewing, for that you must select one of the infinite side roads and hope you win the lottery ticket… It is generally a 30-minute detour, with no guarantee of any new sightings, hence the fights in the car between driver and passengers.

Alabama is the same. We’ve all seen the locals of Alabama on TV, read about them in books. So when you drive through the state you want to get to the other side as quickly as possible. On the other hand, you’re expecting to see some real-life specimens. So, you’re sorely tempted to take one of the off-ramps to towns with bizarre names like Opp, and try your luck with a sighting…

I just drove across Alabama. Despite taking several (voluntary and involuntary) detours, we didn’t see anything markedly different to West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee or Mississippi. Turns out Alabama ain’t as bad (good) as the movies make it out to be, it just has great branding!