Sometimes the best part of going to the lake is the drive itself. Driving up to Silverock and leaving Birmingham, turning off of Highway 69 and passing ponds, farmhouses, rolling hills and miles of cattlefields puts everything going on in town in my rearview mirror. I had borrowed the Best of Cream box set a few days earlier and it turns out to be a great decision–I haven’t heard some of these songs since high school when I spent time driving in West Alabama around Walker, Winston and Cullman Counties. The first thing I’m thinking as I make the trip to Silverock is how much I love an excuse to get on the road and blare music. And the empty county roads on the way to Smith Lake are the perfect setting for a morning drive.
Turning onto the dirt roads that lead into the property, I can’t help but think of every trip to the lake I’ve taken over the years. Don’t they all involve a dirt road at some point? We’ve hit two requirements for really “getting away from it all:” county roads and dirt roads. A little mud on the tires is a small price to pay for a secluded getaway, I say.
Driving through the gate and winding down the hill, I get out of the car in a cul-de-sac surrounded by the cabins that I’ve seen in pictures, painted in earthtones and a short walk from the poolhouse at the center of the development. As I get my bearings and look around, I see signposts with the names of the residents. It’s a unique aspect of Silverock that the owners are committed to being a part of a community, and something that is foreign to urban and suburban developments back in town. It’s a welcoming and unassuming thing, an introduction that promotes a sense of belonging. I take a walk and check out the poolhouse and some cabins and get the lay of the land.
The community they’re building here is evident in more details: the common pool and lounge area (complete with a professional-grade ping pong room); the shared piers that make for ideal spots to watch the sunset; porches that are located just off the boardwalk that encircles the property. Walking across Silverock you can tell that the development team created the site with morning cups of coffee and conversation in mind.
After spending a few hours here I understand how these elements make Silverock unique: ambling around the site is comfortable and relaxed. The palettes of the houses agree with the landscape. The uninterrupted views from the boardwalk are magnificent. And then I realize that, even with construction off in the distance in the second phase of the development, there is a surreal sense of quiet off the lake.
It’s a great morning in early spring. I’ve got another hour with Eric Clapton on the stereo before I get back to deadlines and other assignments back in Birmingham. But I’m looking forward to future trips to Silverock as the weather warms up and summer arrives on Smith Lake.
John Bagby is a freelance writer and photographer from Birmingham. He’ll be posting updates on life at Silverock, you can email the latest news to him at email@example.com.