February 5, 2017—Feb. 25, 2017
The first real stop on our new journey was to experience the culture of Alabama. This was my first time coming to this state and was excited to explore this unknown land. During our time here we desired to focus on the natural scenery, the various battles, and the history of Civil Rights.
Our first RV destination in the north allowed us to take in plenty of the Alabamian scenery and culture. I quickly learned how the Appalachian Mountains extended into most of the region making a lot of the state quite hilly with a plethora of caves. Russell Cave was the first outing. We chose this cave because several indigenous people groups lived in and around this seven mile long cave throughout the past couple thousand years. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied viewing the small display of the artifacts, and we were not allowed to enter the cave. At least we were able to get out and walk around the hillside.
Another day we found a scenic drive that brought us to Desoto Falls and followed the river. Here we enjoyed waterfalls, lakes, cliffs, and more. The road was very scenic with up to 15% grades and tight, winding turns.
Even though we enjoyed hearing the southern accent and watching all the people walking around in camouflage (it was still deer hunting season), we wanted to move on south. Northern Alabama still got under freezing at night so the external water source had to be shut off.
The second RV destination enabled us to learn about a few battles from different wars. Being from the north, I heard about the Creek War but never knew much more than the name. Look back to a previous blog, “The Battle of Horseshoe Bend”, to learn more about this indian civil war. (Interesting they still say “indian” here, not “first peoples” or “native Americans”.)
We also stopped by Montgomery and saw the First White House of the Confederacy and the Alabama State Museum. These places brought out the southern view of the Civil War. “Cotton was King”, slavery, independent states’ rights, northern states buying cotton to only turn around and sell cloth back to them at extremely high prices. These issues polarized towns, families, and even brothers.
While we were in Montgomery for the day, we took in a few other sites as well, noting all of these places were free. This included the First White House of the Confederacy and the Freedom Walk that included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church. It is notable that the first president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, is still a much revered and an honored person down here. They still celebrate his birthday.
That same day we were able to also learn more about the need for civil rights. We were looking for a way to show our children how people were wrongfully treated to explain why the civil rights groups were needed. Alabama was a hotspot for many civil rights events, however, we wanted to find a place where the information was objective as possible without politically charged indoctrination mixed in. The Alabama Sate Museum had a very good depiction of the history.
A wonderful blending of military history and civil rights was the Tuskegee Airmen Museum. This museum brought out some of the challenges the black men faced along with their exemplary performance as fighter pilots and support personnel. I enjoyed bringing the boys to the training ground that played a significant part in history. They saw planes, hangars, and a sample war room. Oh the memorization these men faced!
The final place we visited in Alabama was the Pioneer Museum. This place showcased the lifestyle a common person had during the 1800’s through the beginning of the next century. Front porches on divided houses with a breezeway in the middle, an old church with holes in between the floor boards, a train depot, cotton gin, farm implements, and other tools and toys. This was quite a conglomeration. We saw a boll weevil and learned about its devastation to the cotton crop. The boys were fascinated with how the steam engines were used in debarking trees. Of course we didn’t miss out learning about the processing of sugar cane nor visiting with the chickens.
All in all, we knew we were not in Minnesota anymore when we sampled the catfish and frog legs at the Chinese buffet. Of course Alabama can keep their crawfish and octopus salad. But this was all a part of learning about what made Alabama the naturally beautiful state with the rich history of battles and civil rights playing fields.
Until we meet again,