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Posts Tagged ‘AL’

Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls

We spend the Easter Triduum at Noccalula Falls Park and campground, a wonderful city park.  The campground is adjacent to the falls and has great hiking trails.  Aside from it being a beautiful spot, we’re here because of the St. James Church mass schedule, which is a short drive from the campsite.  We’re able to go to an evening Good Friday Mass on Friday night  (with one of the most inspiring homilies ever) and a Saturday Easter Vigil Mass which held us rapt, even though it lasted almost 3 hours the next day.  Both nights we ate at the Fish Market restaurant on the Coosa River beforehand, a smaller meal on Friday, of course ; ) which may have contributed a bit to our magnanimous mood.

Indian maiden, Noccalula, leaping to her death at Noccalula Falls

Indian maiden, Noccalula, leaping to her death at Noccalula Falls

Besides the hiking trails, there’s a city park next door to the campground, where we take a train ride and explore a historic village.

Noccalula Park historic buildings

Noccalula Park historic buildings

Easter Sunday starts with a call from Chris and Emily – a wonderful way to start the day.  But, the rest of the day looks like rain, so we decide to spend it driving towards our next destination.  We do a utilitarian stay at the Sweetwater Valley KOA, with a concrete slab so that Dick can check on our macerator , which has become slow and finicky on this trip.  All’s still well.

We make a minor effort to find a restaurant  for Easter dinner, then settle for a delicious “home-cooked” Stouffer’s lasagna.  And count our blessings.

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We’ve stayed at Monte Sano State Park before.  We get the same site (I look up an older blog post where I was pretty intrigued with the peeper frogs here at our site, #19).  But it’s so coooold here (we’ve run our heater every night on this southern spring trip) we don’t get the big symphonic chorus again.

Alabama Constitution Village

Alabama Constitution Village

But we do have a really beautiful, almost warm day to tour the Alabama Constitution Village in downtown Huntsville the next day. It’s in a lovely area of historic homes, and the Navion slides nicely into a regular metered parking space right in front.  We’re glad of its nearness, as we slip back for additional coats and sweaters, and some cheese and crackers – which allows us to pay closer attention to the costumed interpreters. Everyone learns better when not hungry or cold.  Jaded living history museum visitors that we are, we enjoy it all and pick up a couple of new things.  We’ve never seen an “Ugly Jar” before – a jar/jug with an ugly face used to warn children, really anyone, that something bad was in there, like poison or alcohol. The other thing we’d never seen was a pair of andirons, shaped like snakes, which when a fire was lit in the fireplace would look really scary to children and keep them back from the fire, and being burned.

We got a combination ticket to the Depot Museum, where we tour briefly – they’re closing in half an hour, then sit in their scenic parking lot to use internet and plan the next few days, before heading back to our non-tech campsite.

Depot Museum

Depot Museum

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Rattlesnake Saloon, AL

Rattlesnake Saloon, AL

We stay here longer than expected.  It’s a really nice local park and campground,  it’s raining and Dick has some programming to do.  There are pretty walks along the Tennessee River, with a beautiful marina (and restaurant that will open soon after we leave) and things to see nearby.  Plus, we meet a local couple who give us restaurant recommendations!  I remember the three  restaurants with three R’s:  Ricatoni’s Italian Grill, Rattlesnake Saloon, and Rosie’s.  (We remember the couple who recommend these because they said they sold their last motorhome to Denzel Washington, their previous one to the Backstreet Boys.)  So, our first night in town we go to Ricatoni’s and have an absolutely outstanding shrimp dish. We think that if this in any indication of the local restaurants, we need to stay longer.  The next day, after touring the Helen Keller site (written about in previous post), we go to a Palm Sunday Mass, where the priest interrupts the Palm Sunday reading underway and insists on reading the Good Friday reading in our booklet.  Afterwards, we decide we should head to the Rattlesnake Saloon, about a 20 minute drive into the hills from Tuscumbia.  It’s definitely an experience!  We park in a big upper parking lot (RV’s can stay here with hook-ups, but we’re glad we’re not – it’s raining, muddy and crowded) and climb into the back of a pick-up truck for a steep, scary, careening ride down a narrow dirt (muddy!) road to a restaurant/bar/music venue in a cave below.

The next night we head back to Ricatoni’s – but their power’s been off for the two hours previous to opening.  The dinner still is great, but not quite as fabulous as the first time, for obvious reasons.

We do Rosie’s the 3rd night (so-so), and don’t need to stay here any longer.  We’re out of restaurants, it’s stopped raining for a bit – we’re off!

Out my "bedroom window"

Out my “bedroom window” McFarland campsite

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Cottage next door to Main House

Cottage next door to Main House, where Helen was born

This is truly an inspiring visit for me.  When I was a little girl, my parents gave me a set of biographies.  The first biography I ever read was Helen Keller’s.  I can remember being enthralled by the story of this other  little girl, who had lost her sight and hearing at 19 months, and lived in a world of darkness.  Then a teacher, Annie Sullivan, came along and turned this little girl’s comfortable world upside-down and led her, kicking and screaming, towards the light of learning and understanding. Helen Keller would go on to graduate cum laude from Radcliffe,  contribute to many causes and be recognized as a brilliant pioneer.  But I always think of the pump, and the cold water pouring over her hand, and the letters for water being spelled on her palm, until – the miracle happens.  Water is a thing, it can be named and spelled.  What a torrent of words follows!  It’s a total thrill to stand next to the pump and think about that.

The Pump at Helen Keller's Birthplace,  "Water"

The Pump at Helen Keller’s Birthplace, “Water”

Tantrum Dining Room

Tantrum Dining Room

I also love seeing the dining room, which I remember more from the movie/play, The Miracle Worker,  than the book. The battle happened in this room.  It looks to me like all the napkins are folded neatly. : )

Other fun things to see here?  The key that Helen used to lock Annie in her bedroom and then hid –   and much more – in the “museum room” of the Main House.

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