Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get Out and About!

I have spoken many times about my hubby in my blogs. We’ve been married thirty years (a life sentence? Not really, more like a life of joy and memories). As you get older you tend to fall into routines, the same thing day-in and day-out. Our son is out of the house and we kind of fell into a rhythm of doing the same things on the weekend – go to Huntsville, shop for things we didn’t need, eat out and go home. Same stores, same restaurants…then suddenly we looked at each other and said, “Are we getting boring or what? We used to do things besides shop.” What did we do back then, before the child came along and consumed our lives?

Well, that was a quandary for us. We talked and decided that we needed to do some interesting day trips, something to get us out of the rut and learning. Now, I am a notorious list maker, Stephanie understands. I sat down and made a list of thing I wanted to do. Not to be hoggish, I told him to make a list, handing him a pad. I got one of those deer-in-the-headlight looks – “You want me to help?” Sure, this is a joint effort I told him so he immediately went to the Internet. I, however, knew of some local things I wanted to see. I bought a little pocket calendar and for each weekend I put my name or his to denote who was in charge of the trips. (He came up with the BCS game – I can’t top that!). We began…

This last weekend I discovered a local treasure that I wanted to share with all of you. Burritt on the Mountain. I’ve heard about the place, mostly from the local news, but I had never ventured up Monte Sano in Huntsville to take a look. It was my weekend so we went on Saturday. I knew next to nothing about it but it was a place on my list. There is an admission cost - $7.00 for adults and I think $5.00 a child. We paid for our stickers, grabbed a map and took off. Beginning with the mansion.

Dr. William Henry Burritt, a local Huntsville physician and inventor, died and left the mansion and 167 acres to the city of Huntsville. The mansion has fourteen rooms and is built in the shape of an X. What struck me the most about the house was it was mainly constructed of concrete (after a fire had burned the house the day he moved in, Dr. Burritt wanted it fire-proof). I also learned that he used hay bales as insulation, something people are doing today – everything old becomes new again. It was a 1930’s house, comfortable and to me, welcoming. I loved it!

Then we went out to wander the grounds and I became more excited. There are houses behind the mansion, dating from the 1840’s to about the 1890’s. They are furnished in the period and are absolutely charming! There were many artifacts in those houses which I could identify from seeing the things used when I was a child. It amazed my husband – he grew up in New York City and had no idea what a lot of the farm implements were. I was having a field day, reminiscing about my childhood and simply enjoying the exhibits. There is also an old country church which had the men’s and women’s doors (remember those? Maybe not, most of you are too young.) The pews were the exact same ones I have sat on many a day, anticipating the dinner on the grounds after a hell-fire and brimstone sermon. Ah, memories…

I also discovered that the museum sponsors events, more fun! They have demonstrations of things like basket weaving, a blacksmith, spinning, weaving and other things from daily life in the 1800’s. I want to go back and catch some of those. And, I found they are having a play this week called “Appalachian Witches” in the old church. It’s acapella singing covering the legends of the Appalachians from the viewpoints of three women. The cost is $20.00 a ticket. Sounds fun! (I hear my husband groaning now…) It’s a very well run and knowledge-oriented place which I intend to visit again. (More groaning – but it’s my weekend!)

There is also a barnyard, complete with a mule, goats, miniature horses, sheep and chickens. I noticed a lot of kids were really enjoying the animals. So if you have little ones, this might be entertaining for them.

Then, I discovered the gift shop, Josie’s (Named after Dr. Burritt’s wife). There were many interesting and novel things in there. I brought home a brick red Satsuma-type cat that is now lounging in my master bath. They also had some wonderful lotions and soap…perfect gifts for your friends. Plus, some pretty baubles… Hubby had to drag me out.

So if you are interested go to their website www.burrittonthemountain.com. Check out their events and what they offer. It’s really a wonderful place.

After dragging hubby around for most of the afternoon, we tried a Cajun restaurant that was new to us. A perfect end to a nice day (anyone who knows me, knows I love New Orleans). As I leave you, I want all of you to think of you daily lives. Have they become humdrum? Get up and out! Do different things. Shake it up.

Do you have any local places you might want to share with me? I need to fill some of my weekends. Hubby is still struggling…


  1. It's sad, but I've never been! Now I want to go. One day. :-) We love Cajun food, since we lived down that way for five years (a long time ago) and came to love it. There are a couple of good places in town!

    As for day trips -- maybe the Amish country in Tennessee? We stopped by there last year, on our way home from a casino (the Amish and a casino -- what a weekend) and didn't have time to explore the actual houses. But oh, the woodworking, and the bread, and the horse and buggy. It's in Ethridge, TN.


  2. Hey LJ! What are the names of those Cajun restaurants? I only know the Cajun Cafe. I would love to try some others!

    I love to go to Etheridge - we've bought a lot of leather items there for the horses. They are certainly craftsmen when it comes to saddles and bridles. Where do you go when you visit it? And a casino? I love casinos! Where is there one close? Ok, so hubby wouldn't want me to know but I do!

  3. There's Tim's Cajun Kitchen, and The PoBoy Factory. Both good. :-)

    My only trip to Etheridge has been to the shops on the main drag. We stayed too long at the casino and were late going through there. :-) Next time I want to make the rounds of some of the houses.

    This last time we went to a casino in Metropolis, Illinois. It's about the same distance from here as Tunica -- around four hours. We don't go often, but now and then we get the bug.


  4. The Burritt Museum is a fantastic place to visit. I accompanied my youngest son on a field trip there a long time ago. We saw Native American dancing and there was a craft fair set up on the grounds. We also did some hiking up and down Monte Sano. A very fun trip! I haven't been back since. Sounds like I need to make that a priority. ;)

    There are Mennonite homes, a wood shop and bakery along Hwy 64 near Beans, TN. We've always wanted to stop there but pass it on the way to visit family.

    Don't forget the wonderful things we've got in Huntsville, like the old Train Depot, Constitution Village (where famous founding fathers once met before America won independence from the British). The art museum always has new exhibits on display and the Space And Rocket Center switches stuff out frequently. They just had the Star Wars exhibit there.

    There's a lot to keep you busy here at home. ;)

  5. This is a great idea for a post! I have family come in several times a year, and I'm about tired of taking them to the Space and Rocket center and Bridgestreet. >.< I hear the botanical gardens might be worth it once things are alive again. >.>

    I did have a suggestion of a fun and inspiring spot to visit. Seeing artsy posters and announcements in a local coffee shop, we ended up giving Lowe Mill a try one Saturday afternoon. The building alone was worth it, as the three-level former textile factory is more than a little historic. On the first two floors tables were set up for local folks to sell their handmade wares, and by the time we got to the glass blower the atmosphere reminded me of a slice of Seattle's Pikes Place Market. The third floor is made up entirely of art and photography studios, with broad viewing windows to let you see what their eclectic owners have been up to. I would highly recommend giving it a visit if you're looking to try something different! After all, it's free unless you see something shiny or tasty that you just have to have. ^_^


    ~Angela Blount

  6. The Botanical Gardens are nice. I have a membership and it's fun to go at various times during the year to see what's blooming or what special display they have. This year they had the most wonderful tree houses.

    Not too far up the highway in Lynchburg is the Jack Daniels distillery. Even if you aren't a drinker, it's a fascinating tour. And Miss Mary Bobo's is supposed to be a fabulous place to eat (never eaten there).

    In Tuscumbia, there's the Helen Keller home, Ivy Green. It's so inspiring to see where she grew up and to see the water pump where she made her big breakthrough.

    Cullman's Ave Maria Grotto is also amazing. It's replicas and miniatures built by one of the monks. He used bits of this and discarded pieces of that to create these works of art.

    Have you been to Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro? It's a hit and miss treasure hunt, but a fun trip, especially if you come away with a new pair of $90 shoes for $20 or a Land's End polartec jacket for $15.

    I went to the Weeden House for the first time last fall. There's not really a lot there, but it's an interesting look into a particular time in Huntsville history, and in one room they had a magazine with an article about Maria Howard Weeden written by HOD's own Kay Cornelius.

    One thing I want to do is the Cemetery Stroll. It always seems to fall on a day when I already have plans. Maybe next time! Maple Hill cemetery is full of history and when they do the stroll, folks dress in period costume and talk about the various folk buried there, including Dr. Burritt who's entombed in a mausoleum.

    I second Angela's mention of Lowe Mill. They have a restaurant too -- The Hungry Tummy.


  7. I've done the cemetery stroll, and it's pretty good! If you're into bugs (and I am NOT, I assure you), Cook's has a museum in Decatur. I think it's about more than bugs, but I haven't exactly been tempted. And don't forget to put the historic tours on your list. Decatur, Mooresville, and Huntsville will open their historic homes and/or gardens for tours throughout the year.

    There's also, believe it or not, an Antebellum trail through northern Alabama that meanders past old homes. You can't go inside any of them, I don't think, but it's a pleasant enough drive.

    The home I covet is Belle Mina -- in Belle Mina. Now's a good time to drive past it, as the trees aren't blocking the view. It once belonged to a governor (or two) of Alabama. Once you've driven past it, go to Mooresville and drive through the town. Then eat at the Limestone Bay Trading Company.

    Another very cool site is Falls Mill in Tennessee. It's an old historic water mill and they still grind grain there. I've been a few times now. There's a small admission charge, but you can wander all through the mill and along the grounds.

    And though I haven't been to this one, my mom has and she says it's awesome. Rattle and Snap Plantation in Tennessee.

    Great post, Cheryl! And now you've got me thinking about all the things I've been meaning to do. :)

  8. If you want to spend a couple days on the road, drive the Natchez Trace. My sister and I drove it from north Alabama to Natchez. We had no itinerary -- just stopped when and where the mood struck. We kept running into one older couple along the way, and darned if we didn't see them again in the motel in Natchez. We got to Natchez too late to find a B&B, but found a neat one on the bluff the next day. We did the antebellum home tour and loved every minute of it.

  9. Ok LJ, I am going to try those restaurants. I didn't know about the casinos in Illinois. Going to have to do a trip!

    Oh Kathy, a bread shop? I love the Mennonites bread and their cakes! I don't know where Bean Tennessee is but I am going to look it up.

    RP, I saw Robert Reeves do a spot from the Lowe Mill. I haven't been yet. I love pottery and I want to go now. I also think I was a glass blower in a previous life because I love it so.

    Hey PM. I have never gone to the Jack Daniels Distillery nor have I eaten at Miss Mary Bobo's. My sister did last year and she had to wait an hour to get a table. She said it was worth it. I like the Botanical Garden too, gives me ideas for my plants.

    Lynn, the Mill sounds fun! I love things like that. And I have never heard of the Limestone Bay Trading Company. It goes on my list to try for restaurants. I've never heard of the Rattle and Snap plantation but I am using the link you so thoughtfully provided to check it out. Thanks!!!

    PM, while I lived in Jackson, Mississippi, I worked the traffic court for the Natchez Trace. Yes it is a federal case when you speed on it. LOL I used to get a lot of interesting cases from that stretch of road. I did a seizure in Natchez one time - a huge plantation house. That was fun because I got to look at all the lovely antiques. I love Natchez and all the beautiful homes there.

  10. Thank you for sharing this!! I have wanted to check it out but was unsure about what to expect. This is a nice surprise indeed. I love day trips and exploring my world. I had hoped to get to more places here, but have been venturing further due to demands of others. Now I am inspired to see Burritt.

    Great post and loved the pictures!

  11. Thanks Christine. i hope you do find the time to visit the museum. It was really a surprise.

  12. Thanks for all the great info! I'm ready to head out right now! I grew up in TN near Lynchburg, so we always took visiting company to the distillery. Miss Mary Bobo's is a must! There is another smaller distillery, George Dickel (sp?)near Normandy, TN (a little north of Lynchburg on hwy 41A) and the wonderfully quaint towns of Bell Buckle and War Trace all clustered in the same area. There used to be a restaurant called the Walking Horse Hotel that was known for it's southern cooking and collection of TN Walking Horse memorabilia, but I think it's closed now, at least temporarily d/t a fire. All the little towns around there have special craft days and so forth.

  13. Gosh! I've lived in AL for fourteen years and never visited most of these places! I see road trips in my future.
    One of the places I want to visit is the Cathedral Caverns State Park in Woodville, AL. I go by the road every time I travel to Huntsville and always say I'm going there this year. They say the temperature is 60 degrees year round inside the caverns.
    Thanks for a great post Cheryl!

  14. This all sounds like so much fun! It makes me want to take some day trips. :-)

    This museum looks great. I love a that sort of thing. In the past, my momma and I have done many home and garden tours. Marilyn is right Natchez is great! Rattle and Snap are certainly worth the trip. They do a Christmas tour that is supposed to be really, really nice. I have always wanted to go to that. There are several B&B's in the area. We stayed at one and had a great time.

    Maybe now that I am done with grad school I will have more time for days of fun.

  15. Funny how when I go on vacation I wring everything out of the trip I can but I don't explore at home.

  16. How could I forget Bell Buckle. They host the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival each summer. Lane Davies, who used to play on several soaps, takes a Shakespearean play and sets it in a different era. Last year he did The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Tennessee) and had the main characters as wannabe country singers. It's TERRIFIC! I've been the last three summers and plan to go again this summer when they present A Comedy of Errors. It's truly Shakespeare for the masses and costs about $10.