Norman's Travelogue: All the Stops on the Dixon Brothers' Journey Through the Deep South
In the Season 4 Premiere, Norman Reedus meets up with his former TWD castmate, onscreen brother and offscreen friend, Michael Rooker. Starting with a tour of Rooker's hometown of Jasper, Alabama, the pair explore the Deep South on their way back "home" to The Walking Dead set in Senoia, Georgia. Follow along with Norman and Rooker's journey with the latest edition of Norman's Travelogue:
Right off Highway 78 in Jasper, Alabama, you can get your very own Doebelly breakfast sandwich (from 8am to 10:30am, during the breakfast serving window) at The Frosty Mug drive-in diner. The cash-only establishment, with old-fashioned burgers, delicious milkshakes and more, overlooks the beautiful, winding Mulberry Fork River.
Norman and Rooker explore the neighborhoods of Rooker’s youth, passing by his old high school and even visiting his cousin for an impromptu family reunion. Then, the pair head out to historic Birmingham, Alabama.
"Look in any history book and you’ll see Birmingham has a complicated past," Norman says in the Season 4 Premiere as he and Michael Rooker pass into the culturally rich region. "But today, there’s new energy running through the city."
One of the largest black motorcycle clubs in the world, with over 115 chapters worldwide, the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club was established to honor the legacy of the black soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry during the Civil War. The esteemed members of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club strive to unite to serve their local communities through various avenues of community service.
On their ride through Birmingham, Norman, Rooker and the Buffalo Soldiers pass by the Vulcan Statue, the largest cast iron statue in the world and the symbol of the city. The "Iron Man" is a 56 foot tall representation of the Roman god, Vulcan, the god of the forge, and is over 100 years old.
Also on their path through the city, the Buffalo Soldiers point out the 16th Avenue Baptist Church. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the church was an organizational headquarters, serving as a meeting and rallying point for African-American protestors organizing against institutionalized racism in the city and the nation. In 1963, the church was bombed by white supremacists, killing four young girls. The tragedy marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and increased momentum that ensured the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The church today stands as a national historic site.
After thanking the Buffalo Soldiers for joining them on their ride, Norman and Rooker head off to The Dojo, a co-op of friends and artists with a passion for choppers. Calling themselves the "Alabama Haints," after the Southern word for "ghost," the Haints definitely have a lock on the chopper scene in Birmingham. Their blog says, "We are a bunch of dudes with good bone structure that like to hug and get along," but if their blog posts for local nightlife events are any indication, these guys know how to have a good time.
Norman and Rooker explore one of the most historic parts of Birmingham’s legacy at Sloss Furnaces, a national historic landmark that serves to honor the legacy of Birmingham’s iron industry. Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces became a monument to the Industrial Revolution as the city grew up around the ironwork industry in the late 19th century. When the furnaces closed in 1970, the city rallied around the site and converted it into a museum to celebrate the impact the factory had on the region. More recently, a segment of the factory opened up to artists, and Sloss Metal Arts was born. Now, visitors can try their hand at metal work in the legendary furnaces.
Before leaving Alabama, Norman and Rooker meet up with old friend Brett Hines. A familiar face to the Ride family after joining Norman on a trip through Louisiana in Season 1, Hines continues his penchant for wild adventures by introducing Norman to one of the most buck-wild pitstops yet...
Check out all the spooky stuff in Season 4:
A local Hollis, Alabama gem, the Haunted Chicken House was established to raise money for the Hollis Fire Department with spooktacular fun for the whole family -- if you can stomach it. Featuring all volunteer actors, including the unforgettable blood and feather covered "Chicken Dan", the Haunted Chicken House offers three different attractions: the Chicken House, the Haunted Psycho Path and the Haunted Hay Ride. Want to see if you’re braver than Norman? Well, that’s probably not that hard. For a guy who works with zombies every day, he sure scares easy. But make your plans for an October scare trip now by visiting their website.
After getting their feathers ruffled at the Haunted Chicken House, Norman, Rooker and Hines hop on the highway and head about 80 miles east along I-20 to arrive in Atlanta, Georgia. Arriving at twilight, the crew settles in for a drink at another historic Southern site, though this one for a much different reason...
The first and longest continually operating strip club in Atlanta, the Clermont Lounge has survived many an attempt to close its sordid doors to become one of the most well-known nightlife centers in the nation. With famous visitors like Bill Murray, Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, Anthony Bourdain and more, the Clermont Lounge has also been featured in a number of television shows and specials.
The morning after a riotous night at the Clermont, Norman and Rooker try their hand at "Atlanta's Olympics": roller skating.
Roller skating continues to be an enduring social touchstone in Atlanta, offering a place for people to gather, dance, move and more. Norman and Rooker try their hands at Atlanta’s favorite past time… but they probably need a little more practice. With family and adult packages available at the Cascade Roller Rink, everyone can give skating a shot in Atlanta. Hopefully you’ll have a better time of it than Norman!
Before heading out to Senoia, Georgia, Norman and Rooker visit Leh Keen, stunt driver and Atlanta local. Keen takes the pair out in a trio of '80s-era 911 Porsches to test the limits of their driving skills in a muddy course through the Georgian brush.
Keen is known in the Atlanta region for his "safari-style" Porsche’s, modded out to excel as off-road Safari cars. Learn more about his wild builds here.
Finally, Norman and Rooker end their journey in Senoia, Georgia, about an hour's drive outside of Atlanta, to arrive in the headquarters of The Walking Dead. Norman takes his onscreen brother to a production party celebrating the start of filming the new season of the series.
In 2016, Norman and The Walking Dead executive producer and special effects master Greg Nicotero opened their own restaurant in Senoia called Nic & Norman’s. As a way to pay tribute to the area in which they shoot the show, and to serve as a social home-base for the cast and crew as well, the family-friendly restaurant offers up healthy and hearty fare in a comfortable atmosphere. With more than 400 people working on The Walking Dead, fans of the show are likely to dine with a TWD crew member integral to the series on a regular basis.
And that’s certainly the case when the crew gathers to reunite with Norman and Rooker, combining Norman’s Ride and TWD families under one roof, and celebrating Michael Rooker’s legacy on The Walking Dead.
Watch Michael Rooker's touching reunion with the TWDM crew here:
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