Many people do not realize how beautiful the State of Alabama is. The State’s beauty can be summed up and seen in the many natural resources and natural beauty, so when I describe the state to people who are not familiar with it, I like to say that we have mountains in the north, beautiful lakes and rivers scattered throughout and the beach in the south. Fall happens to be my favorite time of year. I love the changing leaves and there are many arts and crafts festivals that can be found in towns small and large across Alabama. When I was with Governor Hunt’s office I had the rare opportunity to travel with the campaign across the state and, so I got to see the beauty and wonder it has to offer. However, we never had the time to stop long enough to enjoy the uniqueness of each town or see the natural beauty that surrounded them. I am embarrassed to say that I have fallen into the trap of not enjoying what the state has to offer by constantly saying to myself “oh I will get around to visiting this place or that. What it amounts to is that I have not taken time to re-explore some of the areas I got to visit on the campaign trail.
Last weekend my friend Dorothy and I decided to take a day trip to Mentone. Mentone is a quaint, mountain village located in Northeast Alabama in Dekalb County that sits, according the city’s website, in the west brow of Lookout Mountain. I have only been to Mentone once before to visit the Mentone Springs Hotel, a lovely Victorian-style Bed & Breakfast that was built in 1884. Unfortunately, the town lost this beautiful landmark to a fire a year ago. That trip was brief and I didn’t really get to walk around the town or eat in any of the restaurants.
This trip to Mentone was to primarily attend the Colorfest arts and crafts festival, which was set up along the mountain-top alongside rental cabins and homes that overlooked the picturesque valley. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful fall day for the trip the air was crisp and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. After walking through the festival, we walked downtown where there are a number of shops and restaurants. There were so many people in town for the festival so eating was challenging. There was festival food, but we decided to eat at the Moonlight Bistro right in the heart of Mentone. It was a charming bistro with a variety of options on the menu. I chose the bison burger (sidebar: I love bison).
One of the highlights of the day for me was a visit to DeSoto Falls State Park. The 104ft falls and park are located just outside of Mentone. When you arrive to the park, you immediately see the beautiful falls. To get a better view you have to walk down stairs to the overlook, however, once you are there you can walk along the top of the falls. With the changing leaves as a backdrop, they were absolutely gorgeous. It also was so peaceful and relaxing. Since the visit I have done a little research on the history of the falls; according the Explore Southern History website, the falls have been a landmark for thousands of years and were frequently used by Native Americans long before Europeans landed in America. They were a special place for the Cherokee Indians who once inhabited the area. The website goes on to say that the recreation area near the falls was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression. This was my first visit to the falls, but it won’t be my last. One of the things I regret and what I have discovered since the weekend, is that we failed to take the scenic drive in Little River Canyon. That definitely has to be one of the top must do’s on my next trip to the area.
Most people and native Alabamians alike probably don’t notice what’s on the signs when you cross the state line into Alabama…. for as long as I can remember, those signs have had the slogan: Alabama the Beautiful. Those words remind me that I need to make it a habit to take the time to enjoy all the beauty it has to offer on a more regular basis.