For the past two weeks, I have been in Alabama with my parents and other family who live down there. I was born and raised (for the most part) in the Birmingham area (Walker and Marion counties). Much of my family, and many of my dearest friends still live there, so my son and I go every summer to spend some time. Each year, we try to find places to go that we’ve never been before, just to explore and get out of town for a bit. I inherited a healthy dose of wanderlust from my mother, so when we get together we tend to find an adventure or two.
This year, Mother and I decided to drive south about 2 hours toward Montgomery, to a little town that most Americans have heard of at one point or another: Selma, Alabama. Neither of us had ever been before, and both of us had always wanted to see the Edmund Pettus bridge, where African American protesters were brutally attacked by Alabama State Troopers in 1965. (If you’d like to see enlarged versions of the pictures below, just click on the images.)
This is an important piece of American history, and something that every Alabamian should see at one point or another. So we hopped in the car, my teenage son in tow, and set out on our little journey.
Another stop along the way that we decided to make was to a place called Old Cahawba. It was the first Alabama state capitol – a bustling, booming river town on the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers that was also the site of a large Civil War prison that housed over 3,000 Union soldiers over the course of the war. The town no longer exists, as it was long ago burned to the ground and abandoned, but there are some ruins left to see, a couple of standing structures, and a few cemeteries that are teeming with pecan and magnolia trees. I’ve been all over the state of Alabama throughout my life, and I have never seen so much Spanish moss as I did in Dallas County! It truly was a sight to behold.
It was a lovely day, and more than worth every gallon of gas and every moment behind the wheel.
Our second excursion was a little to the north in Franklin County, Alabama to a little town called Phil Campbell. Our destination: Dismals Canyon. Now, Alabama is known for its caves and caverns, as well as its wilderness and vast national parks, but I had no idea that this canyon was there! So, my mother, my son, my sister-in-law, my nephew and I packed a picnic lunch and set out to spend our day exploring the Dismals Canyon. If you’ve never been to this place, I recommend you spend the time and money to go! Not only did we spend the day hiking and taking in the many wonders of nature in this beautiful, hidden paradise, but we also opted to return at dusk for the night tour to see the Dismalites. What are those???? Well…they are nothing short of a mystery and miracle of nature! The Dismalites are a bio-luminescent larvae that are only found in Dismals Canyon, New Zealand, and Australia. To say it is a unique experience is putting it lightly! In the dark of night, these “glowworms” illuminate the walls and crannies of the caverns inside Dismals Canyon. They are at peak season in the summer, and it will blow your mind when you see them. I was unable to get a decent picture of them, as are most people without professional cameras and an undisturbed environment, but below is a picture of them that I am sharing from the Dismals website. (Click here to visit their site.)
Although I didn’t get any of my own pictures of the Dismalites, I did get a picture of the elusive Trap Door Spider, and a glowing centipede (their venom causes them to glow under a black light).
As to be expected, I took TONS of pictures that day, so I’ve made a short slideshow of some of my favorites to share.
The beauty was, at times, breathtaking – and the air was dense with more history than my human mind could comprehend. I came out of the canyon exhausted, exhilarated, and with a head full of questions and stories to tell.
So I share ALLLLLLLLL of that to say this: get out of the house this summer and explore your state! We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The US is massive, and full of every sort of landscape that you can imagine. Be it the oceans, the cities, the mountains, the deserts, the lakes and rivers, the various battlegrounds and settlements of the past…the list is endless! No matter where you live, I know you are within an arm’s reach of something that will blow your mind! Awaken the wanderlust within and make some memories!