Every year about this time, there is a clear and defined day where it actually starts to feel like Fall in Alabama.

And every year on that day, I go crazy.

I become an obsessed antsy fool who can think of nothing but going North. Sometimes I fantasize about North Alabama, sometimes the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, sometimes New England, sometimes Canada, and sometimes Alaska.

(Although I hear Canada’s Autumn has already come and gone. So scratch that fantasy.)

It completely consumes me and I begin nagging my husband to please take me away, and I can even become so psychotic that I consider traveling alone…with children.

And two weeks ago, I actually followed through.

It mattered not that we had a camping trip planned for that very weekend in North Alabama, where my heart so desired to go. I was so consumed with the need to go north immediately that I packed myself and the children up and left a day early, loosely planning to drive about in North Alabama and stay overnight on hotel rewards points. My dear husband didn’t argue and even agreed to do all of the camping grocery shopping in my stead. Because he knows you can’t stand in the way of someone in their Crazy Season.

Our first stop was Weathington Park, one of my favorite overlooks in North Alabama, right above Scottsboro. The crisp fall air and barely-budding fall colors warmed my heart deeply, confirming that this was indeed what it sought.


The kids had never been there and were quite impressed with the view, though perhaps not as big of fans of the wind.


I snapped a dozen pictures of them before they ran away, and they all came out like a mountaintop silly pose photo booth.

Weathington Photo Booth

I especially liked Noah getting slapped around by his sister’s hair.

They ran around at the park while I breathed in the mountainous air. And we were all well satisfied.


They had also never been to Unclaimed Baggage, just down the hill. This cost me many questions on the way there about how luggage gets lost, why luggage gets lost, what happens when luggage gets lost, and why people can’t just go to the store and find their luggage again.

And when we arrived, the questions began again: how could such an enormous surfboard possibly get lost?


Who knows, Ali. Who. Knows.

All troubling thoughts were forgotten, though, when Ali spotted her hero at the store.


I bribed them to hang out with me in the denim section by promising a visit to the kid’s building afterward. Although I did find and buy myself a pair of Armani (Armani!!) jeans for $30, I kinda more so fell in love with these beauties:


Long Live the Queen. And may she one day be photographed wearing something similar.

Speaking of England, I also ran across this book. The British have such a more respectable way of saying “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader”:


Eventually we made it to the kid’s building, and my anti-violence ultra-cautious daughter picked out a pair of these for her one purchase:


Noah stayed true to his stereotype and decided on a motorized train set that was shockingly cheap and even more shockingly functional. We hooked it up for him the next day on our camping trip,


where he let many hours fall through the cracks.


After Unclaimed Baggage, we toured the historic Scottsboro square, where everything felt as if nothing had changed in 50 years.


There was a Soda Fountain,


A courthouse where Noah decisively did not want to pose for a photo,


And a bakery, where the children received their other bribe for playing nice at Unclaimed Baggage:





Then we continued our adventure driving through The Great Autumn Outdoors.


We drove to Huntsville next, because a) I just needed to drive north, and b) I had Marriott points, and Marriott has yet to grace the great town of Scottsboro.

Plus, I haven’t been to Huntsville since I was a tween. It was time.

As tradition states in our family, we had to try the local Greek restaurant. We found Big Papa Gyro hanging out with the Classy ladies. Because he’s Greek. And Greeks have good taste.


I mean, who but Greeks would know how very stylish it is to have a faux rock fountain – on a pedestal – with a hanging garden protruding from its abdomen?


And of course nothing accents such a magnificent piece like a wall-length mirror on one side,


And a Greek mural lined with fake hanging grapes on the other side.


All of this confirmed the most important of facts: This was a TRUE Greek-owned restaurant. And it was going to be delicious.

I had a hard time picking from the above-counter food photos,


But I finally did, and let me tell you – they slaughtered half a dozen potatoes on behalf of my side of fries.


It was all I dreamed it to be.

It was the night of the solar eclipse, so the plan was to go to Monte Sano State Park, 15 minutes above Huntsville, to watch the event. Unfortunately, the clouds did not agree to our plan.


We did, however, see something more rare than an eclipse – this dude was in the park office when we walked in…


Which is when he looked at us, smiled, then licked a twenty-dollar bill.

While holding eye contact.

Then…licked it again.

I have no idea what that meant but it might stop me from travelling alone again for at least six months.

The sky stayed completely dull until we pulled back in at our hotel, because of course it would show off when I no longer had a great view.


But there was no way I was hanging out on a mountaintop with a dollar-licker after dark.

141023 Pinks Over Huntsville

The next morning while we were eating breakfast at the hotel, Chris checked in on us via text. I sent him back a photo that encapsulated that family demeanor for our trip thus far.


He tried to help lighten the mood.


But that just made Ali want to play along, and her grumpy face might be the most frightening thing I’ve seen this whole Halloween season.


I apologize if you have nightmares.

We drove back to Scottsboro and ran at Goose Pond Colony, soaking in yet more North Alabama Beauty before meeting the rest of the family on our camping trip.


And it was exactly what I needed to ease my Crazy Season.


And the kids didn’t seem to mind being dragged along.



…And then we headed to meet the rest of the family for our camping trip, blissfully unaware that it would create a week of misery and the need for four doctor’s visits.

But at least my Autumn need to escape was satiated.

16 thoughts on “Just Escape.

  1. I get a little crazy for leaf=peeping, too. Fortunately, my husband is an avid amateur photographer who is always willing to venture out somewhere for good photo opportunities. He snaps away, I find a comfy place to sit and soak up Autumn, and we’re both perfectly content.

  2. What a beautiful trip you had. I love a good grumpy face. To bad it ended with Sumac poisioning.

    As the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder here, I have to say I am jealous of what seems to be an endless summer/ fall in Alabama.

    As I scraped the ice off the windows and brushed the snow off my car yesterday I was thinking how lovely it would be to be retired and be like so many “Canadian Snowbirds,”, on my way south for the winter.

    I think a trip to Alambama should be in my families near future.

  3. We did Maine this year so Em could see the leaves change for real – and lemme tell you, it did not disappoint – not sure about B’ham, but you can get there awfully cheap on Southwest – plan ahead for next year!!!

    PS – I’m glad to see Noah’s keepin’ it classy with his Tux shirt. Will always asks “are we going somewhere nice” which always results in him putting his on.

    1. I love that your name is still AndySteveBenWright.

      We do have amazing leaf colors, but they happen several weeks from now. And I needed them RIGHT. THEN.

      Although I would love to go further north to see them!

  4. Looks like you guys had fun! Glad creepy dollar licker didn’t follow you! Next fall you can fly to Washington! We have lots of pretty fall colors!

  5. I love Papa Gyro’s. We eat there almost every time we go to Huntsville. It’s only about a 45 minute drive for us, so we try to go often! I am not sure when they became “BIG PAPA GYRO” though. And, just for giggles, I find it HILARIOUS that the Classy Beauty has replaced what used to be the adult novelty store…

  6. NC mountains had their fall about a month ago. Most of the trees are bare and we’ve already had a rather large snowfall. Be glad you didn’t head all the way up here.

  7. “But there was no way I was hanging out on a mountaintop with a dollar-licker after dark.”

    Hilarious. You have the best/worst encounters. Also, I have the same craze in Autumn, but have yet to act on it. Maybe one day…

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