Saturday, August 30, 2008

Helen Keller's Birthplace, and more....

On a hot and sunny southern morning, we set out for a little bit of an adventure and headed to the northwestern corner of the state to a lookout tower and an aquarium, but upon arriving, we found that neither attraction was an option: the lookout tower was now a high-class fine dining establishment that opened at four in the afternoon, the aquarium had been replaced with a hotel and spa! So....Plan B needed to be figured out. So we grabbed some of that tourist literature you see in racks and looked at it while we visited a local barbeque joint in downtown Florence. Florence has the northern campus of the University of Alabama and is a pretty decent-sized town. I had never before had hot slaw and upon the recommendation of a local I ordered some at the little restaurant downtown and WOWEE!!!! It was HOT HOT HOT and it kept right on burning throughout the next hour. I had to check the mirror a time or two to make sure that my lips were still their normal size!

So after some looking, between bites of barbeque, we decided to head to Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia and on the way we stopped at a prehistoric indian mound...nothing much to see, just climb up and look at the ceremonial site there, read the plaque and you're done in twenty minutes. I had always wanted to see where Helen Keller was born, we've all read the book, I read it to Luke during our first or second grade in homeschool and we followed some directions and eventually found our way there. We had a wonderful tour guide, I mean how can you not enjoy listening to the beautiful lilt of a true southern lady's accent? She told us a lot about the items in the house, the history of Helen's family, (very interesting, the Keller's were direct descendants of John Quincy Adams!) and of course we saw the dining room where the famous hours-long conflict took place between the young teacher, Anne and Helen, the wild-animal child. We saw the well where Anne taught Helen the word W-A-T-E-R and the little cottage the family had Anne and Helen use for some intense teaching. I learned alot about Helen's adult life that I had never known before, and that some of her friends were famous people like Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, people like that! Wow! She had learned multiple languages and traveled to over 170 countries in her lifetime. Note to self: take time to read some of the many books Helen herself wrote! She wrote several that were published in multiple languages. I never realized that Helen and her two companions were buried in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and that she never lived back in Alabama once she went off to New England to school. She still has family in the Tuscumbia area.

Next we picked another destination and the boys were just hot on the trail of the COON DOG CEMETERY. Remember the movie "Sweet Home Alabama" and the scene in a coon dog cemetery? No joke, there really IS one. THIS is where the scene in that movie between Melanie and Jake took place. If you haven't watched SWEET HOME ALABAMA, you really need to! It's a hoot!
Holy moses, you wouldn't believe what a trip it was out there. I thought we were heading into the wilderness. We were and did, and we must have driven over 100 miles round trip to get out to this place listed on our map of "tourist attractions". The drive really was gorgeous, the scenery was beautiful: it reminded me of northern Michigan except for the mountains. Miles and miles and miles of almost nothing. The area is called FREEDOM HILLS. There were a lot of ranches there, as well as beautiful homes, too. Lots of pine and hardwood. If you didn't know, you should know that Alabama is one of the top states for lumbering.
BUT...I will ask you Michiganians, especially, to note in the pictures below that there was natural gas piped all the way up on top of that mountaintop, and that we can't even get it piped out to us on the outskirts of Flushing, just a mile from the nearest main or whatever you call it, and a mere four miles from the city of Flushing.
I think the boys in Alabama could teach the hicks from Michigan a thing or two about getting utilities out to the folks.....good grief. You should see where they run these lines, it cannot be easy and they have to fight the mountain roads, the rock, and the forest and the wild bears (well, maybe not really on that last part!) and they still get it in up there. The roads up on top of the mountain were nicer than any of the roads in my county! What do we pay all those high porperty and sales taxes and gas taxes for??? Oh, high union wages I do believe.

Once I stepped out of the car after the long trip up here, I could not stop laughing. No disrespect to the coon dogs, or their owners! I love mine, but it just struck me as funny to come way up on this mountain to see this....these people are serious about their hunting buddies.

Take note of the gas main the middle of NOTHINGNESS.Since we were within just a few miles of Mississippi and we had never been there, we took the time to drive over. There was nothing to see, but we stepped foot in the state, (literally, I did!) Luke grabbed some rocks to take home and then we turned around and headed back to Bama....where we bought a home-grown watermelon for our picnic on Saturday. The watermelon was homegrown and vine-ripened and one of the best we've had in YEARS.

Proof we were in Mississippi, there were no WELCOME TO MISSISSIPPI signs, this is the only thing I could find to get a picture of.
Back home to get some yummy steak sandwiches ready for supper after our long road trip....that's enough of the Suburban until we head back to Michigan on Sunday!

1 comment:

Joy said...

LOL! Loved the Tammy Wynette Highway! Proof positive! Helen Keller home: very interesting. I didn't know she had written books. Where have I been?