Read Tripping in Alabama While Visiting the Momster

{Dates of visit: Feb 1 - 17, 2014}

There was no way we were getting out of the south without a visit to my mom, who lives right outside of Montgomery, Alabama. She's pretty awesome actually, and we all have a good time in each other's company. So, after the Polar Vortex moved out we made our way to the heart of Bama just in time to celebrate mom's birthday.

The last time we had visited we were able to stay at her house where we completed an interior remodel on the Mutiny. This time though, the HOA was not having it...for whatever reason we were unable to stay in her backyard (on an RV pad behind a wooden fence) which really sucked. I loved being able to get up early and have coffee in the kitchen with my mom every morning. But rules are rules and thankfully we were able to find a spot just down the road at Fort Toulouse National Historic Park.




The park is pretty nice with it's Live Oak trees dripping in Spanish Moss and the Tallapoosa River running along one side. There are historical buildings, prehistoric Indian artifacts, French colonial and early American collections on display. It was quiet and fairly inexpensive for water and electric sites. There's not much to do in the town of Wetumpka (unless your mom lives here too) so shopping options are limited to the Super Walmart and fine dining includes Captain D's or the brand new McDonalds. However, Montgomery isn't too far away and there are a few things worth doing there.

During our last few visits (once in the RV and once when we were still just dating) we had the chance to do some exploring and visited the old confederate cemetery, White House and Martin Luther King Jr's church. We got lost had an accidental adventure in the projects (everyone was nice and helped us get back to the correct road) and visited many of the 13,156 consignment shops in a 15 mile radius. So we were really interested in finding some new things to do in the area. Hot tip: if you're looking to do a shabby chic, retro or country theme on a budget for your home or RV this is the place to shop. 

Now, truth be told, I am not a fan of Montgomery. I wish I was since my mom lives there and therefore, we must visit as often as possible. I love to spend time with my mom but I also like to see new things, drink great coffee, try new yoga classes, explore, hike and eat really good food and to treat her to the same. Montgomery, to me, lacks in most of these areas. Plus, it's still a little bit of a drive from where she lives...so if I'm going to drive 35 minutes for a cup of coffee or burrito it better be really, really, really good. Otherwise, it's just not worth it.

So what did we get into during this two week visit {that I would recommend}??

1) The Alabama Shakespeare Festival.



Since our visit coincided with my mom's birthday Clark and I wanted to do something nice for her. She chose a girls night out at the State Theater where she and I saw a wonderful production of The Great Gatsby {*read trip alert!!}. Everything about the evening was top notch...the staging, acting, set, cocktails, venue...I loved every minute (and after a glass or two of champagne my mom was having the time of her life). Hey, it's not every day she gets to celebrate her 66th birthday with one of her daughters...she deserved every sip of the bubbly! Anyway, this place puts on a quality show and is well worth a visit.And speaking of F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of The Great Gatsby)...

2) F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum.


Located at 919 Felder in the stunning Cloverdale District of Montgomery, the museum was once home to the couple and their young daughter, Scottie. Zelda was from Montgomery where her father was a prominent political figure. Although their stay on Felder was short the museum is full on personal letters, artwork and photos. I didn't know that Zelda was also an author as well as a very talented artist. At the age of 30 she even made an attempt to become a professional ballerina. The museum is truly a treasure for the city and is the only one in the U.S. dedicated solely to the Fitzgeralds. Many grad students spend hours here researching the writer's life and some even choose Zelda as the subject of their thesis. Totally worth the visit...chances are you'll easily spend twice as much time here than you think you will so plan accordingly.

 3) Cafe Louisa.



By far the best cafe in the area {in my opinion}. I drink a lot of coffee...I'm not ashamed to say it...so there's a chance I could be considered a coffee snob connoisseur. Traveling around the country has certainly been trying on the ol' palate...trust me, there are some places that think Folgers is THE best thing since sliced bread. Maybe Cafe Louisa isn't worthy of a 5-star rating when comparing coffee shops across the country but for Montgomery it's pretty high up there. The decor is comfy and eclectic, the coffee is tasty, they have a great selection of pastries and even offer gelato. To top it off, they make, fresh to order, some fantastic sandwiches including vegan and vegetarian selections. It's located where the Cloverdale District begins making it a great beginning (or end) to a day spent cruising the neighborhood and visiting the F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum.

4) Eclipse Coffee & Books (Montevallo, Alabama).




Here's the dirty on Eclipse, the coffee is okay, the sandwiches not so much, the staff may be more interested in texting than answering your questions but it's located in the cute town of Montevallo which happens to be the home of the Alabama National Cemetery where my dad is buried. Two things (besides his family) that my dad loved were coffee and reading. I attribute my own love for the two to my dad. And even though Eclipse doesn't serve the best coffee and the service may suck sometimes, they do have room after room of used books for sale. I don't mean to get all sentimental (or morbid) but I know that whenever I get a chance to visit my dad's grave he'd have no trouble with me making the most of it. He would totally appreciate the fact that I brought him flowers and enjoyed a vanilla latte while sitting next to his headstone looking out over the pond...he's cool like that.



5) Fort Toulouse National Historic Park.



It was nice to find hiking opportunities right outside of our door. While it wasn't the miles and miles of trails I longed for, it was beautiful and tranquil and not too challenging for us as we climbed out of our winter hibernation.



We spent two wonderful weeks with my mom before we headed out with plans that would include Mardi Gras, Glacier National Park and a return trip to Northern California.

This was our departing shot as we left our site at Fort Toulouse. =)
*For those of you who are lovers of literature you might be interested in checking out the Southern Literature Trail which highlights the lives of writers of classic southern literature (like F. Scott Fitzgerald). It encompasses Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Strangely, Zora Neale Hurston who was born in Notasulga, Alabama is not one of the highlighted authors. Still...it looks to be a great tour.

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