I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do have goals each year that I attempt to reach. One goal for 2016 is to be more adventurous to travel and explore different parts of the Southeast Region. It is liberating to get a deeper understanding of the region where I spent my childhood.
A friend and I took an adventure yesterday to Decatur, Alabama, which is about 85 miles north of Birmingham and 25 miles southwest of Huntsville. Decatur is known as the River City because it is located on Joe Wheeler Lake and the Tennessee River. My friend had never been to Decatur, but wanted to go because it was the last day of her friend and world -renowned artist Tim Stevenson’s exhibit at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center located on Church Street. The Center has a unique history in that it was a library for about 70 years. From the Center’s Website: completed in September of 1904, the Carnegie Library of Decatur was one of the 2,509 libraries built by the millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. At the turn of the century, Carnegie began donating money to non-profit, educational organizations. Starting with a large library system in Pittsburgh, with a donation of $1 million, Carnegie began to fund libraries throughout the nation. The Decatur Library was housed in this facility for more than 70 years before being transformed eventually into the Visual Arts Center in 2003. Tim’s artwork was beautifully displayed throughout the Center’s main floor and included my favorites, his landscapes, along with his still life pieces.
After going through the exhibit we decided to go for lunch. While driving we were sidetracked by a stray dog walking along a busy road. We tried to catch him so that we could take him to the animal shelter. Unfortunately, we couldn’t, he was too timid, so we had to put our super hero capes away and hope that someone else may have more success in catching him.
While on the way to lunch a boutique caught my eye. This, of course, is not a surprise because I love boutiques in small Southern towns. Cricket by the Creek is the name of this boutique and It just so happened that today they had a sale in their upstairs room; clothes were $15 and shoes were $20! Believe it or not, I scored a pair of Donald Pliner sport wedges for $20. I thank God I wear a small size and I love a good bargain. The ladies who helped us were pleasant and helpful. This boutique is definitely on my list for a return visit.
After this other detour we ended up at Big Bob Gibson BBQ for lunch. I am ashamed to say I have never been to the restaurant and was grateful that my friend indulged me. The restaurant was built from Big Bob Gibson’s pit barbecue where he cooked in his backyard. The restaurant has lasted 75 years and four generations. His barbecue has won many awards and has been featured in several magazines including, Southern Living, Garden and Gun Magazine and was also featured on the Food Network. I had the BBQ pork plate, which is listed as a 10- time World Champion for pulled pork plate, with mac and cheese and green beans. My friend had the same except with baked beans. Everything was homemade and fresh. I especially liked the world famous white sauce. Of course, we couldn’t leave without splitting a delicious homemade pecan pie. Oh my, you definitely don’t go hungry at Big Bob Gibson’s so be sure to bring along your appetite.
On the way out of town we stopped at the Joe Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge because it was the Whooping Crane Festival. My friend and I braved the chilly temps to catch a glimpse of these beautiful birds and take a short stroll through the wooded area. Once again the beauty of nature was amazing.
I am guilty of this like most of us, sometimes we never really know or appreciate the wealth of beauty and history in our own backyard. It was an interesting day of exploration of the River City. Yesterday was the start of my 2016 goal to be more adventurous It was a great day! What could be better than seeing great art, getting super deals and eating awesome food.