A couple of weekends ago, we returned to Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula, Alabama, because I tend to get antsy in January. After surviving the holidays and both my children’s birthdays, I find myself desperately needing to leave town.
Plus, for the last 365 days, my kids have begged me at least once a week to return to Eufaula, despite my repeated explanations that it will never snow in Eufaula, ever, ever again.
But I love the fact that our previous trip had been such a magical experience for them – especially considering how it started.
Despite that, though, I toyed with leaving them at home. I hadn’t had a night alone with Chris in a couple of months, and we were desperately needing some quiet time to reconnect.
Step in: amazing grandparent. Mom and I concocted a plan: she and I and the kids would go down Friday morning, then Chris would come Friday after work, she would leave with the kids Saturday early afternoon, and Chris and I would stay until Sunday late afternoon. A win for everyone – family time, vacation for the kids, for Mom, and a date for us.
Friday, unfortunately, had the forecast of rain over the entire state of Alabama. It was just drizzle, though, and there was no chance of it freezing and forcing me to re-learn how to use my defrost. We arrived around lunchtime to a fog-covered, beautiful landscape. The lake was so foggy, in fact, that it actually looked like snow after all.
The kids immediately forgave Eufaula for the fact that there was no snow and set out to play on the beach.
Oh wait – that’s a picture of geese, not my children. Close enough.
The effect of the weather was especially creepy at the “Caution Alligators” sign, and the crows added a nice touch, as well.
The temperature outside was nice, despite the on-and-off drizzle, so we set out on a walk.
Leading nature walks is what my Mom does best, and it doesn’t matter where we are – she identifies every plant and makes it exciting for the kids.
In fact, if you can’t have snow, having Gramamma is a great substitute.
…As well as a breakfast buffet.
Another reason I had wanted to visit Eufaula again is that last time, due to the snow and ice, we hadn’t been able to go to the actual city of Eufaula – we had just stayed at the state park. I’d never been to Eufaula, which I had heard was a beautiful relic of southern history, and had been featured in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”. I wanted to see this city for myself, especially since the state had just won a victory against the city to tear up their most historic and beautiful boulevard to four-lane it – I needed to experience it before it changed forever.
(Thanks a lot, Alabama.)
So the next day, we all headed into the city. It was just as I had hoped: I was only in need of a hoop skirt to feel like I’d traveled back 150 years.
We went to the Shorter Mansion House Museum,
where a lady with the most fantastic southern accent I’d ever heard (I mean seriously it was straight out of Gone With the Wind – not a trace of “modern southern” in it – she was absolutely an 1800s Southern Belle somehow transported to 2015) gave us a delightful tour.
The house was paid for with the fortunes of the S.S.S. Tonic, which was basically 5 Hour Energy + 12% alcohol – loved by 1900s housewives everywhere.
Also, apparently, they kept Rumplestilstken in the attic.
We then took the kids to George T. Bagby State Park over the line in Georgia, where the Spanish Moss flanked the lake in a most haunting way:
And drove across the dam, further enhancing the “school day” value of this trip:
Of course yet another reason I wanted to go back to Eufaula was for the unprecedented fantastic view of sunset and sunrise – both over the beautiful Lake Eufaula.
After Mom and the kids left, Chris and I ran eleven miles together. Eufaula has a beautiful running trail, going over the water and through the town, yet…we seemed to be the first runners that Eufaula had ever seen.
…The only other person we saw on the entire trail was a guy halfheartedly walking his dog.
…I got honked at by two women when we ran through town – the only explanation we could come up with was that it was Sunday and I was wearing leggings and they have Blue Laws against that sort of behavior in small town Alabama.
…Chris got heckled by a lady driving by, headed for the Big H Chicken Buffet.
…And everyone else gave us quizzical looks, long stares, and cocked eyebrows.
But maybe one person in that town saw us and thought, “Huh! Moving ones legs fast for seemingly no reason. That looks fun! Maybe I’ll try that.”
Or maybe they didn’t.
But either way, we were proud to be Eufaula’s pioneer runners.
It’s worth noting that the bridge going over the lake on the running trail (that has never been used except by out-of-town city slickers) was closed.
We couldn’t for the life of us figure out why – it looked plenty sturdy to us – so we walked across trepidatiously, saying our goodbyes as we did so, but miraculously surviving.
The walking trail is a Rail to Trail project, so there were leftover relics of days gone by, adding charm and character,
as did my husband.
We ran past every fantastic and amazing house in town,
As well as ancient (for Alabama) churches,
a Carnegie-endowed library that has been in service for over 100 years,
And charming city squares.
The trip was perfect and just what I needed to refresh and unwind.
So if you ever need a break from the usual, I know a great collection of cottages along a lake in South Alabama.
With or without snow, with or without kids, they’re fairly fantastic.