You never know what you’re going to find when you get off the interstate highways and start exploring America’s back roads. That is where we have found some of our most memorable experiences. An example is when we visited Spectre, Alabama.
Don’t bother looking for Spectre on any map, because you won’t find it. The town never existed, except in the movie Big Fish, a 2003 story about a son who is frustrated by the tall tales his father has spun throughout his life, which led to their estrangement. It is only when his father is on his deathbed that his son begins to understand just how much reality is interwoven with fantasy.
Edward Bloom (played by Albert Finney as an old man and Ewan McGregor in his youth), was a traveling salesman in the South with a gift for gab who loved telling stories. And oh, the stories he could tell! They were populated with a witch, circus people, a werewolf, a giant, Siamese twins, beautiful ladies, heroes, and villains. Oh, and a huge catfish.
Bloom’s son Will (played by Billy Crudup) has always been frustrated by his father’s lies, and only when it looks like his days are numbered do they reunite. It is then that Will realizes that there might be some truth behind his father’s tall tales. He travels to Spectre to find out for himself. There he meets Jenny, his father’s first love, and she tells him about the wonderful things he did for the town. Later, the people from his many stories attend his father’s funeral and tell the young man what an influence he was on so many of their lives. The movie ends with Will passing on the legacy of his father’s stories to his own son. It’s one of those feel-good movies that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
The film set for Spectre was built on Jackson Lake Island, a small private island on the Alabama River near Millbrook, Alabama and when filming was over the crew left the buildings as they were. The “town” is open to visitors for a small fee. Many of the buildings, which were shells erected for the movie, are in disrepair, but fans of the movie will easily recognize what each one is.
In the movie, the entrance to the town was between a pair of tall poles with a line strung between them where everyone threw their shoes, because everybody in Spectre was barefoot.
Even though there is nothing inside the empty walls, it’s fun to wander around the town’s single dirt street and peek into them. You almost expect Edward, Jenny, and other characters from the movie to pop out of one of the doors and said hello to you.
While we didn’t meet any actors in Spectre, we did get to know some of the many goats that live on the property. They are everywhere!
These triplet kids weren’t too sure about the two legged creatures admiring them, but they didn’t seem all that concerned. Our wonderful daughter-in-law, Geli, couldn’t resist giving this little one some love.
It looks like this would be a good place to put a kayak in the water and take a fishing pole with you. I wonder if I could catch the big fish from Will Bloom’s stories? It would sure be fun to try!
Spectre is just outside of Millbrook Alabama. Take Cobb’s Road/Alabama River Parkway 3½ miles east of Interstate 65 and turn left onto Cypress Lane. Stop at the gate and use the phone there to call and get the gate code. Entrance is $3 per person, and camping and fishing are also available on the island.
And speaking of goats, here are a couple of old goats walking hand in hand off into the sunset.
Congratulations George Rawley, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Terry’s cookbook, Miss Terry’s Kitchen. We had 161 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon!
Thought For The Day – Sometimes you have to stop thinking so much and just go where your heart takes you.