What are you missing along the way?

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What Are You Missing Along the Way?

Fantastic side trips await to/from your snowbird destination

I asked my snowbird friends, "When going to or from your winter destination, do you stop and see things along the way? Surprisingly, they don't. The explanation is, "We're in a hurry to get there on the way south and when we leave, we're in a hurry to get home."

My husband is like that too. For many years we bypassed all kinds of wonderful and enticing side trips because of a perceived lack of time to stop along the way. Finally, I insisted we take an extra detour and visit Ivy Green, the childhood home of Helen Keller, the deaf and blind child whose entire life changed drastically for the better due to her teacher, Anne Sullivan. I got the idea to visit the Keller homestead in Northwest Alabama due to perusing the racks of travel brochures in the lobby of our hotel along Interstate 65 in Athens Alabama. Not only did we visit Helen Keller's home, we inadvertently stumbled upon the famous FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Now we need to go back so we can visit the FAME Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House and other area attractions in the Shoals-Florence area of Northwest Alabama.

[Destination: Helen Keller Birthplace Tuscumbia, Alabama]

A friend told me about a charming area south of Nashville, Tennessee that she and her husband like to visit once in awhile. She said it has a lot of history and is not that far from I-65. I'm in! So, I convinced my husband we needed to stop in Franklin, Tennessee. Wow, what a great choice! Not only was the area irresistibly endearing, it is the site of a huge civil war battle. Despite it being a chilly, rainy day, I enjoyed our driving tour of the area, especially when we stumbled upon Battlefield Park and the haunting confederate cemetery. I would like to return to Franklin, Tennessee again soon.

This year, I read about Peach Park, Alabama. It is located in Clanton almost exactly in the center of the state from North to South and East to West. Right off I-65. So, we stopped and I fell in love with that too. Chilton County Alabama is driven by the local multi-million dollar peach industry and although it was the off-season, Peach Park features a very popular local BBQ restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating plus a charming shopping area that is dedicated to gifts, peaches and related products including peach jam, peach jelly, peach butter, peach ice cream, cobbler and many other Southern delicacies such as Praline Pecans. These are not like the ones you find anywhere else. There's also a giant peach in the garden area, a playground, RV park and live entertainment if you are there at just the right time. Check, check, check! This was the first, but by no means the last time we will stop at Peach Park.

Another memorable and must-do again side trip is the historic and elegant Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Our first year as snowbirds we took an opportunity to visit the hotel's restaurant, J. Graham's Cafe and enjoyed a fabulous lunch of iconic Hot Brown sandwiches created in 1926 by the chef at the Brown Hotel. As if that wasn't enough, we ordered The Original Kern's Kitchen Since 1968 Derby PieĀ® for dessert. Both were absolutely outstanding. Rich, creamy, heavenly. Crave-worthy. The Brown Hotel is an anchor of Kentucky's "Urban Bourbon Trail" and a great place to visit. I was so inspired by our side trip to the Brown Hotel that I published a recipe for a Bourbon Chocolate Nut pie influenced by the authentic, Original Kern's Kitchen pie served at the Brown Hotel.

[Bourbon Chocolate Nut Pie Recipe]

Never one to finish my to-do list, I have future plans to try new places along the way to and from our beloved snowbird home. Thanks to the internet and the lobby racks filled with the brochures, there's many establishments beckoning. Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee; Sinatra Bar and Lounge in Nashville, Tennessee; Belmont Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee; the Civil Rights Trail in Montgomery-Selma, Alabama and Kentucky's Bourbon Trail. The Corvette Museum and Mammoth Cave are popular Kentucky attractions along the I-65 corridor and there's many more wineries, craft breweries and one-of-a-kind local tours such as the Haunted Canoe Trip after-dark ghost tour. Whatever you like, there's much to be discovered if you simply take a look at the options and then make it happen.

"Reclaim your curiosity, your sense of adventure and have some fun. Don't take every moment of your life so seriously. Allow yourself to enjoy life."

-- Akiroq Brost, Author


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