June 2024 Southern Pine

Page 1

The king of seafood Alabama from A to Z, revisited

Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News June 2024
Southern Pine Electric Cooperative


Vince Johnson

Co-op Editor

Leslie Jackson

ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.

POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.


AREA President

Karl Rayborn

Editor Lenore Vickrey

Managing Editor

Allison Law

Creative Director

Mark Stephenson

Art Director

Danny Weston

Advertising Director

Jacob Johnson

Graphic Designer/Production Coordinator

Brooke Echols


340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031


For advertising, email: advertising@areapower.com For editorial inquiries, email: contact@alabamaliving.coop


American MainStreet Publications

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For the past 20 years, the 160-acre Summerdale location of Alligator Alley has been home for hundreds of alligators who’ve been either born there or relocated from across the Southeast. There, they have plenty of food, water and space to live and entertain tourists who come to watch them at feeding time.



Dad’s little helper

In honor of Father’s Day, enjoy our reader photos of dads and their little ones helping out.

Traveling A to Z, 2.0!

It’s back! Travel through the alphabet with us again as we take a road trip through the state’s top attractions.


Scream for ice cream

June is National Ice Cream Month, and we’ve got some great reader recipes for homemade ice cream as well as desserts you can make with the store-bought kind.

12 44 VOL. 77 NO. 6 JUNE 2024 DEPARTMENTS 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 44 Cook of the Month 48 Outdoors 49 Fish & Game Forecast 54 Cup o’ Joe ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop 24 JUNE 2024 3 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: www.alabamaliving.coop EMAIL: letters@alabamaliving.coop MAIL: Al abama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 Brody Olive, chef at Perdido Beach Resort’s Voyagers Restaurant, is also the reigning King of American Seafood, as winner of the Great American Seafood Cookoff. Read more, Page 20. PHOTO: Courtesy of Voyagers FEATURES
Printed in America from American materials Get our FREE monthly email newsletter! Sign up at alabamaliving.coop ON THE COVER
see more content online!
Look for this logo to

Brewton Headquarters:

2134 South Blvd. P.O. Box 528

Brewton, AL 36427 251-867-5415

District Offices:


39 West Sunset Drive

Atmore, AL 36502 251-368-4842


205 Wild Avenue

Evergreen, AL 36401 251-578-3460

Frisco City

3979 Bowden St.

Frisco City, AL 36445 251-267-3196

Toll-Free Outage

Reporting Number


Board of Trustees

David Cook, Jr. Chairman

Bobby Ballard ViceChairman

Allen Lang Secretary-Treasurer

Dwight Maloy

Scotty White

Rod Higdon

Lynn Powell

Kenny Bledsoe

Jason Dean

Investing In Our Future

Last month, in the May issue of the Alabama Living Magazine, we shared with you about the recent Montgomery Youth Tour and all of the positive impacts that the program has on the lives of the young people who participated. This month we have the privilege of recognizing 20 additional outstanding students who were selected by the Electric Cooperative Foundation to receive a $1,000 scholarship to the school of their choice.

I have to stop here and give all of the credit and appreciation to the Board of Trustees at Southern Pine for their support for this program. Your board members truly believe in investing in our young leaders of tomorrow. When we began our scholarship program years ago, we only gave one, $1,000 scholarship. There was a huge number of applications and it became apparent to our board that one scholarship just wasn’t enough. So, they decided from that point on we would award 20 academic scholarships every year which helps many students and families all across our five-county service area. This has been very well received and I look forward to continuing our support going forward. I encourage you to visit pages 6 and 7 of this month’s magazine to see pictures of these outstanding high school seniors. In April, we hosted all of them along with their families here at our headquarters office in Brewton where we shared a dinner with them and got a chance to hear from them about their plans for their future. It was a good evening and we really enjoyed meeting the students and their families.

We are proud to be a small part in their future and look forward to hearing great things from each one of them as they move into this very important stage in their lives. We wish all the best to each and every one.

4 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop

Prepare now... June begins hurricane season

WHAT IS backfeed?

Avoid deadly backfeed and help keep lineworkers safe.

Backfeed happens when a person connects their portable generator to a wall outlet, which allows power to flow in reverse – that is, the alternate power source feeds energy back through their home’s electrical system, their meter and back into the power lines.

Potentially deadly backfeed can also happen with permanently installed generators that are not used or installed correctly. They should be wired into your home by a qualified electrician, who will install either an automatic or manual transfer switch, depending on the generator. The job of this switch is to transfer a power source safely from its primary source to a backup source.

To keep utility crews safe, never plug a portable generator directly into a wall outlet or electrical system, and ensure transfer switches are professionally installed and working properly. Electric lineworkers thank you in advance.

Office Hours:

Brewton Office

7 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Atmore Office

Evergreen Office

Frisco City Office

7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Payment Options:

During normal office hours at our Atmore, Brewton, Evergreen or Frisco City offices.

After hours at any of our offices by leaving your payment in our convenient night deposit box.

VISA, Mastercard, Discover or American Express credit or debit card payments may be made anytime by calling 1-844-867-8989 or on our Web site at: www.southernpine.org

Mail your payment to: Southern Pine E C P. O. Box 528, Brewton, AL 36427

Convenient payment points. Pay bill from the 1st - 10th of each month at: James Brothers Furniture, East Brewton; United Bank, Flomaton; McPhaul’s Mercantile, Excel.

Ask about our Levelized Billing, Pre-Pay, Credit Card and Bank Draft payment options.

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 5
| Southern Pine |
Kendal Faye Booker Excel High School Patrick Dillon Byrd Escambia Academy Taylor Madison Campbell McKenzie High School Ella Ashtynn Carden T.R. Miller High School Morgan Joyner Cook Sparta Academy Eli Alan Covington Escambia Academy Madison Brooke Dawkins W.S. Neal High School
6 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
Lexie Marie Evans Excel High School
| Southern Pine |
Christian Matthew Fain T.R. Miller High School Isabella Elizabeth Griffin T.R. Miller High School Sara Elizabeth Hammac W.S. Neal High School Anna Elizabeth Hawsey T.R. Miller High School Jordan Mariner Jones T.R. Miller High School Amber Malaysia King Hillcrest High School Michael Paul Morgan Flomaton High School Logan Gage Robinson Sparta Academy Ti’Yana To’Nae Woods Hillcrest High School Kayleigh Brianne Rowell Flomaton High School William Antonio Thomas Excel High School
Alabama Living JUNE 2024 7
Hannah Katherine White Excel High School


When the power is out, crews are doing all they can to safely and efficiently restore it so that you can get back to life as usual.

Depending on the extent of storm damage, restoration can be a complex process. There are many steps in the assessment and restoration process:

1. 2.3.

Clearing downed power lines

Restoring power to public health and safety facilities

Repairing transmission lines




Clean up with care

Once the storm has passed, it is tempting to go straight into yard clean-up mode. However, take time for safety.

Do not go outside if there is a power outage. There could be a downed power line, which could cause electrocution. Sometimes, downed lines can be covered by branches, storm debris, water, snow or ice.

Keep these additional safety tips in mind:

•Do not trim trees/branches within 10 feet of a power line.

•Read all instructions and be familiar with equipment you intend to use.

•Do not use a chainsaw for the first time during cleanup.

4. 6.

Checking power stations and transformers


Repairing distribution lines

Getting power restored to homes and businesses

Remember, a neighbor may have power while you do not. Your home might be on a different feeder or transformer or the service line to your home may be damaged.

Never plug a portable generator into a wall outlet, which could cause power to backfeed into the overhead lines that utility crews are working on.

Regardless of the extent of an outage, safety always comes first.

•Follow all safety recommendations when using power tools.

•Carry a ladder horizontally vertically.

•Look for overhead power lines carrying a ladder.

•Always look up before removing debris from gutters.

•Take your time serious injury.

• Wear proper shoes and clothing using ladders and power tools.

•Call your electric utility in power lines; never try to remove them yourself.

Remember, wait until an outage is restored before going outside to assess the damage.

8 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop

Bud, Jacob, Dawson, Rafe, Blake and Coy Jordan ages 10 to 84. Taken at our sawmill. SUBMITTED by Kelly Jordan,

is helping Grandpa Fred read. She’s always ready to help whenever needed. SUBMITTED by

Online: alabamaliving.coop | Mail: Attn: Snapshots, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124

RULES: Photos submitted for publication may also be published on our website at alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 9 August theme: “Harvest Time” | Deadline: June 30
Sophia and James Kelley. SUBMITTED by Jessica Kelley, Samson. Molly Debi Green, Grady. Malakai Tarvin is all smiles helping his Papa work! SUBMITTED by Misty Tarvin, Boaz. Cragford.
| Alabama Snapshots |
Amelia helping Dad, Justin, cut the grass. SUBMITTED by Julie Goodson, Daleville.

Baldwin County trail retains top spot in national award list

For the second year in a row, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail in Baldwin County has been chosen as the top recreational trail in the country in the 2024 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

Established in 2003 as a multi-use recreational trail connecting Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Gulf State Park, the trail is a system of paved and unpaved paths and boardwalks providing trail users with access to several distinct ecosystems and outdoor recreational opportunities. It is named in honor of Hugh Branyon, who served as superintendent of Gulf State Park for more than 30 years.

Along the trail are biking, hiking, wildlife watching, playgrounds, fishing and camping opportunities and more.

The trail took first place over nine other trails in the U.S., including the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia, a former railroad now used for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and Missouri’s 240-mile Katy Bike Trail, one of the longest Rails-to-Trails projects in the U.S. For more about the trail, visit alapark.com and choose Gulf State Park trails.

Find the hidden dingbat!

From your responses, many of you had fun looking for the hidden dingbat in the May magazine! It wasn’t in a photo, but the hidden sombrero was disguised as a leaf on one of the flowers illustrating the May crossword puzzle on Page 28. Leave it to the young folks to find it first! Steven Speegle from Arab wrote us that his nine-year-old daughter, Grace, “was supposed to be starting her homework, but noticed the opened magazine and started looking.” After he showed her what the dingbat looked like, “within 30 seconds she found it.” Great job, Grace! Emily Jacobs of Union Springs, age 13, wrote us that she first thought it was going to be easy to find the sombrero, but “it took me a while to find it.” Hiding it on the flower “was a great place,” she says. Jessica Morris tells us that her children, 8 and 10, loved the dingbat as a flower leaf. “They started dreaming up more hats on plants,” she wrote. “A top hat on a pine tree was their favorite.” Kathy Hag-

Letters to the editor

E-mail us at: letters@alabamaliving.coop

AF veteran thankful for column

I just finished reading your absolutely outstanding article in Alabama Living (Cup o' Joe, May 2024)! Thank you so much for writing it.

My father, like yours, never wanted to talk about WWII. He participated in the Normandy Landing and was later seriously injured in Bastogne.

I enlisted in the Air Force in 1959, but it wasn’t until 1960, with Vietnam clearly on the radar, that he decided to talk to me about the horrors of armed combat. He suggested, rightfully, that the Vietnamese could be more vicious than the Germans or the Japanese.

Not by my choice, but I was on the periphery of both Vietnam and Desert Storm. I retired with numerous expeditionary and service medals, including the French Air Medal, but no Purple Heart. In a sense, I was indeed one of the lucky ones.

Not so for the millions of veterans who live everyday with the mental pain and suffering of their experiences. They may have killed another person, albeit for a justifiable reason during wartime. But that doesn’t help years later. Or they may have watched hundreds die when their position was hit by a napalm bomb. Or they tried to comfort a comrade they knew wasn’t going to make it! I could go on forever, but I’m sure you get my point. Every individual handled it differently at the time, but years later the nightmares begin as does the suffering.

I’ll never forget an Air Force A-10 pilot during Desert Storm who came to the club one night to celebrate. He had just completed the “most exciting day” of his life. He totally wiped out two entire Iraqi armored and troop columns that were retreating from Kuwait. Later that night he was totally overcome with emotion and couldn’t stop crying. Why? He had suddenly realized how many lives he had taken that day! Again, I’m fortunate to have not been in the heat of the battle, but close enough to know the daily horrors. I don’t suffer the nightly nightmares, but I still worry about those who do!

At the age of 82, I have concluded that, to a large degree, the ones who came home with a flag draped over them were the lucky ones. They are at eternal peace. Their pain and suffering is over! Not so for the millions of veterans who will never enjoy mental peace!

Thank again for helping thousands of people understand what a serious issue this is.

Lee Aldridge, Montgomery

gard had just about given up finding it, when she completed the crossword puzzle and spotted it. “Whew!” she wrote, “Honestly, my husband and I thought you guys forgot to hide it this time.”

Congratulations to Jane Hatcher of Dothan, our randomly drawn winner, who receives a $25 gift card from our sponsor, Alabama One Credit Union. This month, in keeping with our travel theme, we’ve hidden a directional sign, like one you might see on your travels this month throughout Alabama. Happy “traveling” through the magazine and good luck!

10 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
Spotlight | June
AL 36124
or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery,
The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail offers numerous outdoor opportunities. PHOTO COURTESY OF GULF STATE PARK
Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
By email: dingbat@alabamaliving.coop By mail: Find the Dingbat

Take us along!

We’ve enjoyed seeing photos from our readers on their travels with Alabama Living! Please send us a photo of you with a copy of the magazine on your travels to: mytravels@alabamaliving.coop Be sure to include your name, hometown and electric cooperative, and the location of your photo.We’ll draw a winner for the $25 prize each month.

 Burnice P. Lowe of Union Springs, a member of Dixie EC, visited the Louvre in Paris with her magazine.

 Susan Sizemore, Judy Dyer, Daun DeAversa, Caty Savage and Terry Truelove carried Alabama Living to the 13th century Marksburg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Rhine River in Braubach, Germany. All are from Orange Beach and members of Baldwin EMC.

 Paying homage to former South Alabama EC director Jimmy Shaver, Drew, Jamie and Aubreigh Brooks of Troy, took their magazine featuring Shaver on the cover on a trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

 Dianne McCracken of Brewton, a member of Southern Pine EC, poses with her grandson Carter while in Yokohama, Japan.

 Lisa Smith, a member of Pea River EC, traveled to Glasgow, Scotland and to Edinburgh where she had her photo made in front of a castle.

 Susan and Lindsey Whitehurst of Thorsby and Jemison, read their magazine on the beach at Waikoloa, Hawaii. They are members of Central Alabama EC.

Whereville, AL

Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative, if applicable. The winner and answer will be announced in the July issue.

Submit by email: whereville@alabamaliving.coop, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.

Do you like finding interesting or unusual landmarks? Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Remember, all readers whose photos are chosen also win $25!

May’s answer: The town of Stevenson built this memorial to the victims of the TWA Flight 800, which crashed July 17, 1996, just 12 minutes after takeoff from JFK International Airport in New York on its way to Paris, France. Five members of the Stevenson community died in the crash, along with the 225 others on board. It was the third-deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history.

Despite initial theories of a terrorist act, the National Transportation Safety Board, after an exhaustive investigation, determined that the probable cause of the explosion was an electrical short that detonated vapors in the center wing fuel tank. The memorial was dedicated July 17, 2013. (Photo by Lenore Vickrey of Alabama Living) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Mike Dumas of Marshall-DeKalb EC.

Magazine welcomes summer intern

Jenna Parnell, a senior at Auburn University, is working as an intern at the Alabama Rural Electric Association, publisher of Alabama Living, this summer. Parnell is from Clanton and is majoring in agricultural communications.

“I am so excited to be interning at Alabama Living,” says Parnell, “because it not only strengthens me but also fosters some amazing connections in the


“We are looking forward to having Jenna’s help this summer,” says AREA Communications Vice President Lenore Vickrey. “She’s already proven herself a hard worker who is eager to learn about the world of cooperative communications.” Parnell is assisting the communications staff with social media, copy editing and writing stories.

JUNE 2024 11 June | Spotlight

Experiencing Alabama from A to Z, 2.0!

In our January 2023 issue, we used the letters of the alphabet to come up with a set of uniquely Alabama experiences, in the worlds of art, sports, travel and more, that we thought were worth exploring, for newcomers as well as those who’ve lived here for a lifetime.

We realized we couldn’t do justice to every town and city, venue, product, historical site and destination, so this year we’re trying again – with a fresh set of ideas to keep your family entertained and educated. So pull out your calendars and start making plans!

American Village

This living history educational complex in Montevallo was established to teach young people (and others) about the foundations of American government. Here, students “step into history” and discover the power and drama of America’s journey for independence, liberty, and self-government.


In Alabama, beer is about more than drinking. The state’s growing variety of craft brews has provided an economic engine for cities and towns across the state; the industry had an economic impact of $652 million in 2022, according to the Brewers Association. Some of the more popular breweries: Goat Island Brewing, Cullman; Black Warrior Brewing, Tuscaloosa; Good People Brewing, Birmingham; Chattahoochee Brewing Company, Phenix City; and Big Beach Brewing Company, Gulf Shores.

12 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
Illustrations by Kevin Van Hyning


Covered bridges

Lovely covered bridges are scattered around Alabama, many in the northern part of the state, some of which are still open to either vehicular or foot traffic. All make beautiful backdrops for photos. Some notable ones: The Horton Mill Bridge in Oneonta, the Clarkson Covered Bridge in Cullman and the Swann Covered Bridge in Cleveland.

Man’s best friend is commemorated in various forms, from the bird dog statue in Union Springs (a visual reminder of the Bullock County town’s claim as the field trial capital of the world) to the Coon Dog Cemetery in rural Colbert County, the final resting place for more than 150 coonhounds. And the Alabama War Dog Memorial at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile honors the service of dogs in U.S. war efforts.

Eagle watching

Alabama is home to both bald and golden eagles, and there’s no better way to view them than during an Eagle Awareness weekend at Lake Guntersville State Park. On weekends each January and February, the park features live bird demonstrations, guided safaris for viewing eagles in their natural habitat and speakers who share the history and future of these majestic creatures.


Alabama is home to some of the premier fishing lakes in the U.S., including Lake Guntersville, the state’s largest lake, famed for its giant largemouth bass; Lake Wheeler, the second largest lake, with bass, crappie and large blue catfish; and Lake Eufaula, which has a reputation as the “bass fishing capital of the world.”


Do you like being outdoors, but aren’t a fan of sleeping on the ground or toting a car full of supplies? Check out one of the many “glamping” experiences in Alabama. Short for “glamorous camp,” these outdoor getaways feature such comfy amenities as beds with memo ry foam mattresses, linens, a woodburning stove, cooking supplies and more. Some favorites from an Alabama Living story in 2023: Bohamia in Tal ladega County; The Destination near Lake Mar tin; Retreet in Scottsboro; and the Alabama State Parks’ glamps at certain parks around the state (visit alapark.com).

Halls of fame

Halls of fame honor, preserve and promote the names and accomplishments of luminaries in various fields. Among them: The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF) in Birmingham, dedicated to athletes and other sports personalities; the Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia, which celebrates our musicians and the state’s musical heritage; and the Men’s and Women’s halls of fame, which honor men and women whose lives have impacted the state, nation and world. The Men’s Hall of Fame is located at Samford University in Birmingham; the Women’s Hall of Fame is at the University of West Alabama in Livingston.

Ivy Green

Ivy Green, the birthplace and childhood home of Helen Keller, is a biographical and historic house museum in Tuscumbia in northwest Alabama. The deaf and blind author and social activist became a world-renowned advocate of educating the blind and deaf, and also for civil rights and labor reform. On the grounds is the outdoor water pump where Keller had her breakthrough in her ability to communicate. A weeklong festival is held at the home every year at the end of July.


Alabama has several claims to fame in the realm of literature: To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the world’s best loved novels, is set in Monroeville, where the play is performed every April. Just up Interstate 65 is the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, the only museum dedicated to the lives and legacies of the famed literary jazz age couple. Author Daniel Wallace is a native of Birmingham and author of six novels, including Big Fish, which was made into a major motion picture that was partially filmed at Jackson Lake Island in Elmore County (the island is privately owned but is open to the public for fishing, kayaking and picnicking).

Kayaking (and other paddle sports)

Jackson County

Jackson County, in extreme northeast Alabama, offers many opportunities for recreation, including Russell Cave National Monument, one of the most complete records of prehistoric culture in the Southeast U.S. Or hike to the Walls of Jericho, a unique natural amphitheater at the headwaters of the Paint Rock River. And Stephens Gap Callahan Cave Preserve has a striking 143-foot pit that draws cavers, hikers, photographers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

From half-day to multi-day trips, the state’s waterways offer slow rivers and calm canals great for beginners and stand-up paddleboarders (for those who prefer a leisurely pace), or whitewater rapids for kayakers and canoeists who want a challenging outing. The Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT) at 631 miles is the longest river trail in a single state and runs all the way from north to south. Alabama has 2,856 square miles of waterways, so there’s plenty of water fun for everyone.

Mountain lakes

North Alabama, also known as the “mountain lakes region,” features picturesque waterfalls, sparkling rivers and lakes, festivals, arts events, a diverse cultural scene and rich and compelling history. The area also promotes its lineup of “trails,” including a wine trail, motorcycle trail and waterfall trail, among others, to introduce visitors to some of the area attractions.

National forests

The state’s national forests are among our most extensive natural treasures, encompassing almost 667,000 acres of publicly owned lands in 17 counties. In addition to offering beauty, recreation and vital ecosystems for native flora and fauna, Alabama’s forests protect municipal watersheds for seven cities.

Jesse Owens


Alabama’s peach industry is centered in Chilton County. Peaches were first grown in the state in Lowndes County in the 1850s, and they are now the state’s leading commercial fruit. Stopping at Peach Park on I-65 for a basket or two and some homemade peach ice cream is a summertime tradition for travelers headed to and from the beach.

Jesse Owens (1913-1980) gained lasting fame as a track and field star in college and for his four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. Owens’ athletic feats, and his later public relations work in a segregated society, were a source of encouragement and inspiration to the African American struggle for recognition and equality. His life and accomplishments are celebrated at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum in his birthplace of Oakville.

Religious sites

Faith-based attractions abound in Alabama and make great educational day or weekend trips. Among the most well-known and visited: Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, where four Black girls were killed in a race-based bombing in 1963; Ave Maria Grotto, on the grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey in Cullman, where 125 small stone and cement structures depict famous buildings and Christian shrines around the world; and Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, known for its role in the voting rights movement of the 1960s.

Talladega Superspeedway

The largest racetrack in NASCAR often produces the fastest race speeds in the circuit. The grandstand has a seating capacity of more than 140,000, but attendance for the Cup races can climb as high as 170,000, including the infield. The track has a reputation for producing some of the most exciting races in NASCAR, and in the last few years has undergone a $50 million facelift to provide a massive experience for racing fans.

Quilts of Gee’s Bend

In the 1990s, the quilts made by Black women from this relatively isolated Black Belt community garnered national attention as striking examples of American folk art. Traveling exhibitions of the quilts around the U.S. in the early 2000s, along with the creation of the Gee’s Bend Quilt Mural Trail in 2007, further cemented their importance in the art world. Join the community at the Gee’s Bend Airing of the Quilts Festival, an annual celebration in October, which features displays and sales, workshops, guided tours, food, music and more.


The Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery is among the ten largest such festivals in the world. ASF broadens the cultural identity of the South by producing about a dozen performances each year, including classics, Shakespearean plays, contemporary works, and pieces for young audiences (and it holds acting classes and a summer camp for youngsters).

War memorials

The Alabama World War I Memorial Building opened in 1940 to house the state Department of Archives and History in Montgomery (and today houses the educational Museum of Alabama). Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile was founded as a memorial park that honors all veterans of all wars. And the 22-acre Alabama Veterans Memorial Park in Mountain Brook, dedicated in 2001, is a tribute to Alabamians who fought and came home, as well as those who died in the wars and conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries.


Unclaimed Baggage Center

This popular tourist destination and the nation’s only retailer of lost luggage opened the Unclaimed Baggage Museum in Scottsboro in 2023, displaying more than 70 of the most curious and unusual items they have unpacked from lost bags over their 50+ year history. The center boasts about 1 million visitors annually.

Veterans’ museums

The Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives in Athens, housed in a 20,000-squarefoot building, is a tribute to Alabamians who served in the armed forces and a reminder of the hardships and sacrifices of men and women in uniform. Other veteran and military-themed museums: U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Novosel (formerly Fort Rucker), U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum in Huntsville and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee.


“Yuletide” is the season of an ancient Germanic pagan holiday centering around the winter solstice, but most of us associate it with the Christmas season. Alabama has a number of inspired Christmas and holiday displays and events, including the Weihnachtspyramide in Cullman, a turning, wooden, carousel-like decoration that is one of only three in the U.S.; and CANDYland in Andalusia, a winter wonderland adventure featuring play cottages for kids, train rides, snow tubing, winter skating, Christmas lights and snow shows.

Feeling a little wild? Alabama is home to several zoos that offer education and fun. Among them: The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, which became the first U.S. zoo to evacuate its animals during a natural disaster when Hurricane Ivan struck the Alabama Gulf Coast in 2004. The Birmingham Zoo has about 550 animals of 180 species and endangered species from six continents on its 122-acre site. And the Montgomery Zoo’s Mann Museum hosts over 275 exhibits of wildlife, various fresh and saltwater fish, reptiles and insects that are found in North America.

eXtreme sports

Head outside for some adventure! Alabama has a little bit of everything. Check out Butter and Egg Adventures in Troy (climbing, ziplining, paddling), Whitewater Express Blue Heron Adventure Park in Phenix City (featuring a 12-story zipline), True Adventure Sports in Fort Payne (rappelling, rock climbing, caving and more) and the new Montgomery Whitewater, an outdoor adventure center featuring an Olympic-standard recirculating whitewater channel.

Information for many entries is from the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 19

Seafood king

Perdido Beach Resort chef takes top national prize

With its wall of windows providing sweeping views of Gulf waves kissing white-sand shores, Voyagers has been an elegant eating institution in Orange Beach, Alabama, since 1989. For decades, the refined restaurant inside the Perdido Beach Resort has delighted diners from all over and often played a celebratory role, hosting marriage proposals, honeymooners and 50th wedding anniversaries, as well as a multitude of other memorable moments and milestones.

Today, it retains much of its original character — including its knockout view — but the addition of Chef Brody Olive in 2016 brought renewed energy to the grand dame of coastal fine dining. Olive’s commitment to source local seafood and the innovative treatment it gets in his kitchen have elevated the place that was already on a tall pedestal. Olive reveres its history as much as anyone.

“It was the first fine dining on the Alabama Gulf Coast; the nostalgia of this place and the alumni of chefs — their high level of pedigrees — who’ve been through here are amazing,” he says. “The bones were great. I just brought a little polish and a fresh take. We now mix the white-tablecloth tradition with a bit of fun and the more adventurous dishes that I like to do.”

Diners can experience Olive’s approach in classic oysters Rockefeller, where the starter’s standard hollandaise is buoyed with red-eye gravy infused with the flavor of slow-roasted ham bones. Or in mac ’n’ cheese rich with Asher Blue and bits of Bill E’s Bacon made in nearby Fairhope. “They’re small touches that make a big difference,” Olive says.

Using local bacon is just the beginning

of Olive’s quest for quality; it’s equally evident in seafood and prime steaks. “All our proteins are ultra-fresh; we have the best seafood right here, so I get the best seafood,” he says. For some of his fish, Olive relies on area spearfishermen, who bring him grouper, snapper and more less than 24 hours out of the water. “I love working with those guys; spearfishing is so sustainable, and that’s part of what I want to do as well: raise awareness about the health of the Gulf.”

He treats these ingredients simply, insisting it’s all they need. “We source these fine products, so I never want to overpower them with too many seasonings or heavy sauces,” he says. Olive points to Voyagers’ whole fish dish, a constant on the menu whose specific fish and preparation change often. “By cooking it whole,

the skin holds the moisture, and the taste you get is pure because whatever we put on it, it doesn’t really get through the skin,” he said. “Like the salsa verde we’re doing with the whole fish now. You taste the fresh fish, but the salsa just adds some brightness.”

The menu is swimming with selections that share this philosophy. Pretty and petite farmed oysters from Admiral Shellfish Company are bathed in layers of garlic. A dry rub of habanero pepper gives Gulf grouper a low, smoky heat. Steaks are usually dressed in nothing but salt, pepper, butter and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Steaks still a sizable section

An emphasis on seafood may seem like a no-brainer for a beach restaurant, but for a time, Voyagers’ steaks were making the most splash as the best-selling entrees.

20 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
Chef Brody Olive joined Voyagers in 2016, bringing a little polish and a fresh take to one of the Gulf coast’s most elegant restaurants. PHOTOS COURTESY VOYAGERS

Best catch

Voyagers chef Brody Olive won the Great American Seafood Cookoff in 2023 with a dish that was designed to be delicious but also tell a story about his coastal community.

“Fishing on the Rocks, The Jetties at Perdido Pass” featured smoked gaff-top catfish alongside flashfried mole crabs, horseradish cream with shrimp, pickled purslane and smoked paprika.

Using multiple oft-underutilized Gulf coast species wowed the judges, but for Olive, the dish represents happy days enjoying his fishing hobby. “The thought was taking a bad day of fishing and making it good. The catfish is what some people consider trash fish,” he says. “The mole crabs and shrimp are what I often use for bait.” (He had tasted mole crabs before and calls them “little popcorn nuggets with the flavor of soft-shell crab.”) The purslane is a beach-growing succulent. “It makes a super salty pickle,” Olive says. And the smoke for the fish came courtesy of scrub oak branches Olive routinely trims from his own yard as a chore.

“I took a dune weed, some bait and a ‘trash’ fish and created a winning dish,” he says. “My sous chef Louis Silvestre, who was essential, and I had so much fun with it, and I’m so proud we got to showcase our state and my love of fishing and my home.”

“I’m a seafood guy, and we’re on the beach, so I made the menu more fish-focused,” Olive says. He didn’t ignore the sales figures though. A sizable steak section remains. “There is no nice steakhouse down here, so we are pleased to fill that void, and our beef is really top-notch,” he says.

The entire menu, which changes five to six times a year, is Olive’s love letter to the Gulf Coast. “Every season gives me something good to work with, but my favorite is probably summer, when those first heirloom tomatoes come in and the silver queen corn.” He relishes pairing fresh produce with fresh fish, and being farther south, he gets to do it longer. “We have an extended growing season, so I can hang onto summer,” he says.

Olive’s affection runs deep, but it’s some-

what new. Born in Birmingham, he spent a good part of his life in Newnan, Georgia, and made it back to Birmingham to work at Ocean restaurant after time at Johnston & Wales University’s culinary school in Charleston. He had never even visited Alabama’s beaches until he made the move down to the coast in 2007. He worked in several area restaurants until he navigated his way to Voyagers.

Under Olive’s watch, both the quality and creativity of the food is shining, but it’s not the only gem. Olive touts a stellar wine list and praises his team. “Our staff, the service level, it can’t be beat,” he says. “Everyone has passion for this, and it shows in their professionalism and their knowledge of what they’re serving. They’re telling the stories of our fishermen and farmers.”

besting 12 competitors at the Great American Seafood Cookoff. The win brought the restaurant a lot more attention, something Olive is a little uncomfortable with when it puts the spotlight solely on him but relishes when it helps him highlight the restaurant, his staff and his beloved Alabama coast. “We see a lot of out of towners, and I love showing off what we do, the farmers and fishermen who help us do it, and exceeding expectations,” he says. “It’s rewarding to hear how much guests enjoy what we do.”

While Voyagers enjoys decades of repeat guests and accolades, in August 2023, Olive was crowned King of American Seafood (the first Alabama chef to earn the honor since chef Jim Smith in 2011) by

But the best part transports Olive back to a big table in his past. “I have a very large family, and food was always happiness for us,” he says. “It was all the folks together gathered around eating. I have so many fond memories of that. Now, I make new memories with new folks, their honeymoons and anniversaries. I get to bring the food component to that event for them. That’s lights me up; that’s what makes this work so special.”

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 21 TRAVEL EDITION
Olive uses the freshest fish at Voyagers, like this hibiscus-habanero pepper seared Gulf grouper served with roasted honeynut squash polenta and charred broccolini. Voyagers features top-notch beef, like this cowboy ribeye steak with purple sweet potato gnocchi.

Later, gator!

Take a stroll through Summerdale’s Alligator Alley

For the past two decades, the alligator population in Baldwin County has been steadily growing. Located 18 miles north of Gulf Shores, Wes Moore’s 160-acre Summerdale property – home to Alligator Alley – now boasts over 700 primitive reptile residents whose distant ancestors once roamed the planet with dinosaurs. While many were born into captivity at the site, others were “nuisance animals” relocated from around the Southeast.

“Alligators have a small brain and a large stomach, and that gets them into trouble,” says Moore, whose family has lived in Baldwin County for over 150 years. “They have been known to borrow household pets or farm animals and not return them!”

For the animals retired to Moore’s alligator sanctuary, the food, water, and space are plentiful. While fights can still erupt between males during mating season, Moore says the higher ratio of females to males means less potential for injury than in the wild. Likewise, reduced competition for food leads to less conflict.

Although rare, news of human attacks do occasionally spill into the media headlines, but Moore isn’t fond of the term “maneater.”

“Can they eat you?” he rhetorically asks. “Yes. But they prefer to live in isolated creeks and swamps. When those areas become waterfront property for humans, alligators may be labeled a nuisance and removed.”

“Living here may extend their life expectancy by 50%, maybe up to 70 years,” says Moore. “Some will probably outlive me, although I hope they have nothing directly to do with that!”

While caring for hundreds of alligators is clearly a risky endeavor, Moore says he has avoided any contact with the animals’ crushing jaws since establishing Alligator Alley in 2004. But the appeal of danger is partly what drives thousands of visitors to flock to the sanctuary each year, especially eager to witness one of the three alligator feedings scheduled each day during the tourist season.

Restricted to a 60-acre area of the property with plenty of food on hand, it’s no wonder no alligator has broken out into the surrounding community. “Why would they leave?” Moore asks with

An alligator eyes a visitor from the bank. The gators become active once the temperature gets above 60 degrees.
TRAVEL EDITION 24 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
Some whimsical signs also serve as warnings to visitors at Alligator Alley.

a smile. “More than likely they would prefer to break in!”

Feeding time

Beginning around March when alligators become active, some 1,000 feral pig carcasses are fed to the animals annually, many tossed into the property’s gator-infested 23-acre pond throughout the warmer months. But it’s Moore’s appearance on a golf cart in the reptile’s territory behind the spectator chain-link fence that’s a highlight for visitors. Alighting with a cooler or two stacked with gator goodies (raw chicken pieces) and sporting a wide-brimmed straw hat, shorts, and heavy boots, he inches his way cautiously between the massive 10- to 12-foot-long beasts that lumber onto the bank from the murky pond.

He calls them all by name – Shredder, Elvis, Chili Dog, Big Easy, and J.W. – “which I named after a friend of mine since they both have only four teeth left.” He even offers some a friendly pat on the snout after a chicken thigh disappears through gaping jaws, into their voluminous 55-gallon-sized stomachs.

While visitors are permitted to hold smaller alligators or walk through tortoise and snake displays, it’s the massive alligators that draw the most attention. An 1,800-foot elevated boardwalk guides them through the back swamp where dozens of scaly beasts chill out in the green duckweed-covered water, often eyed cautiously by their blue heron neighbors wading through the shallows.

That area is also home to 13-foot Captain Crunch, somewhere in the upper region of 40 years old. Captured by a nuisance alligator trapper near Tallahassee, Crunch holds the world record for bite force at just under 3,000 pounds. If seized by its monstrous jaws, Moore can only offer an analogy of what the unlucky recipient might experience.

“If I dropped a car on you from a height of two feet, that’s the bone-crushing force these alligators could generate,” he explains.

When the cool weather arrives in October, the daily feeding ritual continues for a while but with smaller portions since the animals’ metabolism slows as they transition into brumation, a period of inactivity over winter when they avoid food for months.

Alligator Alley closes after Thanksgiving, reopening for the Christmas to New Year week, then remains closed until February 1. But late winter visitors may still glimpse the residents. “If the temperature is above 60 degrees, the alligators will be out for viewing, just no real activity,” says Moore.

Originally purchased by his grandfather in 1939 for farming, the property included a cypress swamp (later expanded) that was home to an alligator called Old Joe. Young Wes was permitted to feed the fascinating creature and the thrill never left, inspiring him to eventually establish an area to protect the animals and educate the public about their role in nature.

While Moore can appreciate an individual alligator’s nuisance factor, he says most do more good than harm.

“Although they do eat fish, they really don’t reduce the gamefish population since they prefer turtles, snakes, otters, and beavers in the wild – animals you may not want in your pond anyway,” he explains. “So an alligator can help manage your wetland better than you can.”

Alligator Alley is located at 19950 Highway 71 in Summerdale. Phone 866-9942867 or visit gatoralleyfarm.com for more information.

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery and has written features, columns, and interviews for numerous magazines and newspapers. His website is getnickt.org.

Owner Wes Moore feeds chicken to one of the big gators. A visitor holds a young alligator (his jaws are always secured).
26 JUNE 2024
A group of gators enjoy some sun on the bank.

Why it’s important to tell us about your financial accounts

Do you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? If so, you need to tell us about any financial accounts you own, alone or with someone else. That’s because SSI is a needs-based program, and eligibility is determined by your resources as well as your income. Examples of financial accounts include:

• Checking, savings, and credit union accounts.

• Christmas club accounts.

• Certificates of deposit, also known as CDs.

Stocks and U.S. savings bonds.

What you need to tell us You need to tell us about changes to your financial accounts or account balances to ensure you receive the correct SSI payment amount.

Let us know if you:

• Open a new account.

• Close an account.

• Add a joint owner to an existing account.

• Increase your account balance over the SSI resource limit of:

• $2,000 for an individual

• $3,000 for a married couple living together and receiving SSI.

Achieving a Better Life Experience

(ABLE) accounts

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at kylle.mckinney@ssa.gov.

ABLE programs allow people with disabilities to save money without losing important benefits, including SSI. We exclude

ABLE accounts with balances less than $100,000 when determining SSI eligibility. To learn more about ABLE accounts, visit ssa.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-able.html.

How to report changes to your financial accounts

• Call us toll free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

• Contact your local Social Security office. You can find your local office at ssa.gov/locator

Additional information

For a complete list of SSI reporting responsibilities, please refer to the publication What You Need to Know When You Get SSI at ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-11011. pdf Please share this information with those who need it.

June travel crossword

1 Grotto in Cullman where you can see tiny replicas of famous buildings from all over the world, 2 words 5 Rocky outlook (Brit.)

8 Jetsam of 1773

9 Many times named Alabama’s prettiest town, _____ Springs

Gp. in charge of condominiums, perhaps

Flaw 13 Large freshwater lake in Gulf Shores

16 Aviation prefix 1 7 Horse food

18 Town where Cheaha State Park is located

20 Weight measurement, abbr.

“__ a clear day!”

22 Alabama mountain top with stunning views and mineral springs, 2 words

__, the people 28 One of Alabama’s most popular seaside destinations with amazing sunsets, 2 words 31 B ig shows 32 Hidden “forest” in Prattville

On the ferry, say

Caesar’s 3

5 Compass point, abbr.

6 One of the most scenic and biologically diverse rivers in the USA named after some beautiful white lilies

7 Highway or avenue 11 Ocean-bottom areas

12 Civil Rights Memorial designer, _____ Lin

13 V isit

14 Color of the lobed tickseed flower

15 Town where Bellingrath Gardens & Home can be seen 19 Inns

23 Place for a soak 24 Rainbow shape

25 Stay out under the stars

2 7 Canyon sound

29 Florida’s neighbor, abbr. 30 Central point

28 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop SOCIAL SECURITY
Down 1
Breakfast staple
Answers on Page 53



Fort Payne June Jam. Alabama’s Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry will be joined by special guest performers Old Dominion, Shenandoah, Lee Greenwood, Montgomery Gentry featuring Eddie Montgomery, Mark Wills, Exile, John Berry, Taylor Hicks, The Malpass Brothers, The Castellows and a surprise singersongwriter. 12 p.m. at the VFW Fairgrounds. TheAlabamaBand.com


Oneonta June Fling, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the downtown area. Arts and crafts, classic cars, great food, a cruise-in for all kinds of vehicles, a kids fun zone, live music and entertainment fill the downtown area. Live music begins at 9:30 a.m. 205-813-7194.

8 Clanton Peach Jam Jubilee. Free outdoor festival featuring live music from country’s greatest artists, as well as arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, hot air balloon, inflatables kids zone and live entertainment. Gates open at 11 a.m. PeachJamJubilee.com

8 Decatur Readers and Writers Jubilee, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Featuring Miranda James (pen name of Dean James, New York Times bestselling author of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries, plus 20 other authors, classes and panel discussions and meet-and-greets. MyDPL.org

To place an event, e-mail events@alabamaliving. coop. or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

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8 Fort Payne Bluegrass on the Rim concert. 7 p.m., Little River Canyon Center. Featuring Kelli Johnson and Foggy Hollow. Bring folding chairs and blankets. Food vendors on site. Adult tickets are $25 in advance or $30 day of the show; students, $20 in advance or $25 day of; and children 10 and under are free. 256-845-3548.

8 Rainsville 16th anniversary of the Freedom Run 10K and 5K. For runners and walkers of all ages. Race begins and ends at the DeKalb County Schools Coliseum. 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

8 Stevenson Depot Days, celebrating the historic train station that was converted into a historical museum in 1982. 207 W. Main St. Search for the event’s Facebook page.


Prattville Summer Creekwalk Concert Series, 6:30 p.m., Spillway Park. This summer’s Creekwalk Concerts will be on the second and fourth Tuesdays of June and July and will feature local and regional bands, food trucks and more. PrattvilleAl.gov

14-15 Alex City 34th annual Alexander City Jazz Festival. Friday’s event is at Strand Park in downtown; Saturday’s event is at the Lake Martin Amphitheater. Past lineups have featured blues, jazz, funk and soul, as well as Americana, bluegrass and rock ’n’ roll. Presented by Russell Lands. AlexCityJazzFest.com


Brewton Alabama Blueberry Festival, Jennings Park, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Featuring original arts and crafts, antique/classic car show, free children’s section, rock wall and inflatables, obstacle course, live entertainment, fresh blueberries, blueberry bushes for sale, blueberry ice cream, cobbler and crunch, and a food court. 251-867-3224.


Geraldine Picnic in the Park. Car show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., music begins at 2

Around Alabama

p.m. 203 Kermit Machen St. Live music by local artists, face painting, food vendors, craft vendors, a kiddie train, balloon art, inflatables and pony rides. Children’s activities are free. See the event’s page on Facebook.


Phil Campbell Phil Campbell Festival. Friday features Gospel Night in the Park at Memorial Park, and a cruise-in at the PCHS parking lot from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday features contests throughout the day plus live music and food and craft vendors. PhilCampbellAl.com


Marion 29th annual Marion Rodeo, Perry County Cattlemen’s Ralph Eagle Memorial Arena. Co-sanctioned by the Professional Cowboys Association and the International Professional Rodeo Association and produced by 3-R Rodeo Company of Jemison. Gates open at 6 p.m.; rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Perry County Fire Association Crisis Fund. 334410-0748.

22 Montgomery A Tribute to Centennial Hill, 4 to 9 p.m., sponsored by the Montgomery Music and Arts Foundation. Event will be in the 300 block of Jackson Street, in the area of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. parsonage. Activities will include a program that covers the history of Centennial Hill and the bronze statues donated by Dr. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama. Live jazz music and presentations by state elected officials and historians. 334-202-4749.


Guntersville Guntersville Lake HydroFest, hosted by Marshall County Tourism and Sports. Two days of competitive boat racing as drivers volley to take home the Southern Cup. Street party begins on June 27 at City Harbor, featuring photo ops with boats, drivers and crew as well as music and free fun from 6 to 9 p.m. For ticket information, visit ExploreLakeGuntersville.com


Tuscumbia Helen Keller Festival, Spring Park. Thursday kicks off with a downtown parade at 6 p.m. and a street party downtown at 7 p.m. Friday features a marketplace from 12 to 9 p.m. and live music from 6 to 10 p.m. Admission is $5. Saturday’s marketplace, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., is free. A bike ride begins at 6 p.m., with live music from 5 to 10 p.m. The marketplace continues Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m., and worship in the park from 7 to 10 p.m. HelenKellerFestival.com


Columbiana Liberty Day. Features music on three stages, a 5K race, food trucks, arts and crafts, children’s games, a car show, a hot dog eating contest, a parade on Main Street and a fireworks show. Free. CityOfColumbiana.com

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 29
Enjoy the South’s best blueberries at the Alabama Blueberry Festival in Brewton on June 15. PHOTO COURTESY ALABAMA EXTENSION SERVICE

From rockets and space to mountains and lakes

If there was a cheerleading squad for all things North Alabama, Tami Reist would be the leader. In a way, she already is, in her capacity as president and CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association, which represents 16 counties in the northern half of the state and generates more than $4.3 billion in travel expenditures annu ally. The Decatur native has 40 years of expe rience in the tourism and hospitality industry. She began her career in 1984 at the Executive Inn Hotel in Madison and then for Yedla Man agement Company in Huntsville. As general manager for the Amberley Suite Hotel in Decatur she helped with new hotel developments including the Hampton Inn, Courtyard Inn and Residence Inn in Decatur, and Hampton Inns in Huntsville and Florence. In 2000, she was named president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. There, she worked with the Decatur Morgan County Hospitality Association to set up a $2 self-imposed fee on hotels to help fund tourism developments including Ingall’s Harbor and Pavilion, and later the development of a $9 million Home 2 Suites. The funding continues to be used for tourism projects in Decatur and Reist uses it as a model for helping other communities in North Alabama. She is a member of several tourism and travel-related and civic organizations and is the recipient of many awards in the tourism industry. — Lenore Vickrey

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day usually consists of working on trail projects, working with our industry partners, and promoting our region by working shows to share North Alabama to other states.

What new projects have you been working on?

Three years ago after Covid, we started working on a training initiative for our tourism employees called Flawless Deliv ery. Thanks to a grant from Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, we have trained over 1,000 tourism employees. We have also starting working with our Chamber of Com merce Youth Leadership students and training them so they can understand our tourism workforce and pos sibly decide on a career in our industry. I had the opportunity to work with teachers while updating the tourism curriculum for our CTE students. I created a Tourism and Sports Marketing curricu

lum guide to help the teachers understand the industry. They ound this training to be great and we are now allowing students to go through the training. This is a great way to uild our future workforce as North Alabama continues to grow its tourism.

What is it about the area served by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association that makes it such a great destination?

I love the fact that my 16 counties are all in the Appalachia area and all but one county is part of the Tennessee River Valley Region. We are blessed with remarkable natural beauty and biodiversity. When we are up North recruiting people to visit our area, we tell them about our mild winters, which allows them to golf and fish year round. We like to use the phrase “From Rockets & Space to Mountains & Lakes.” We have a lot to offer. We have some of the best attractions, from the Cook Museum of Natural Science, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Dismal Canyons, Cathedral Caverns, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and many others. Then the rich music history with FAME recording studio, Muscle Shoals Sound studio nd others throughout our area. Several of our new attractions are Wildwater Cullman, Sand Mountain Park and The Orion Amphitheatre.

What’s one thing about north Alabama that most people might not know, that you’d want them to know?

There is no shortage of natural wonders in Alabama, and Natural Bridge Park in Winston County is home to a sandstone and iron ore bridge created by erosion over millions of years. The natural bridge is over 60 feet in the air and spans 148 feet, making it the longest natural bridge east of the Rocky Mountains. The 150-acre park the bridge opened to the public in 1954 and attracts visitors from all over the world.

What the first place visitors should check out in north Alabama before anything else?

Before you decide on what to see and do in North Alabama, visit our website northalabama.org or check out our Facebook page, facebook.com/ visitnorthal, or listen to the “Unexpected Adventures in North Alabama” podcast. These tools will elp you make the decisions on the places you will want to visit.

| Alabama People | Tami Reist

A feast, edible and visual, at Opelika’s Botanic restaurant

There’s a lot of good stuff going on at Botanic. Everywhere you point your eyes at this combo nursery, garden shop, home decor store, and cafe-bar-restaurant in Opelika, there’s a visual feast waiting. Every conceivable shade of green pops from houseplants, bushes and trees. Flowers explode in a riot of rainbow colors. And the collection of buildings, holding greenhouses, eateries and retail spaces, blends into the natural surroundings with layers of landscaping, worn-wood beams and stone elements.

But it’s the actual edible feast that has the dining room of Botanic’s restaurant The Grille (accessed via a stroll through a verdant oasis) packed at lunchtime on a spring Tuesday.

Ladies celebrating a birthday dip lettuce wraps stuffed with red curry chicken, pickled veggies and peanuts into a salty tamari-hoisin sauce. A young couple tuck into a bowl of warm and creamy Conecuh-sausage-corn dip with crisp house-made tortilla chips. A delightfully rowdy group of retirees sips macchiatos and

munches on fried chicken sandwiches with spicy Wickles Pickles spread and “grown-up” grilled cheeses: ooey-gooey gouda (from nearby Thomasville, Georgia’s Sweet Grass Dairy), fig jam, tart apple slices and bacon between slices of sourdough.

The menu’s selections are innovative but not too complicated, a little elegant but still accessible; Executive Chef James Jolly describes the concept as “a refined Southern dining experience.” But, he stresses, refined doesn’t mean snooty. “We want the food and the atmosphere to feel unpretentious,” he says. And his other goal — in addition to serving delicious dishes — is in step with Botanic’s motto: “of and for the earth.” “We’re really focused on sustainability when it comes to our food.”

Built on local and seasonal ingredients, the Grille’s options at lunch, dinner and brunch reflect these ideas and Jolly’s overall food philosophy. “We do scratch cooking, making all we can, about 85-90 percent, in our kitchen,” he says. “I’m always asking myself,

Botanic’s chef James Jolly serves up dishes that are both creative and comforting. Honey vanilla pot de creme topped with a blackberry-citrus jelly and honeycomb-shaped cookie ends a meal at The Grille on a sweet note (right) and a juicy chicken breast over crisp kale and cobble, apple and cucumber chunks, toasted pumpkin seeds and salty feta combine in the chopped crunch salad.

| Worth the drive |

The Grille at Botanic

1702 Frederick Road, Opelika AL 36801



Hours: Dinner Reservations | Tuesday – Saturday 5 – 9 p.m.

Lunch | Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sunday Buffet 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Closed Mondays

(top) A serene scene greets guests arriving at Botanic, and it continues into every area of the large property, including the Greenhouse, left, and the Garden, which will offer dining surrounded by nature.

‘What’s ripe and abundant now and what can I do with it?’”

With summer coming, that means diners can expect dishes that put a spotlight on the bounty from area harvests. “Summer is my favorite time of year, bringing me my favorite ingredients,” Jolly says. And while The Grille’s menu changes throughout the year, every summer, Jolly’s “favorite ingredients” make their way into some sort of succotash dish. There’ll be a crispy stone-ground grit cake with some type of cheese and a swirl of heirloom tomato sauce (maybe it will be smoked). And the star -- the succotash -- is mix of farm-fresh delights: okra (possibly flash-fried), cherry tomatoes, lady or purple-hull peas, lima beans and always bacon. “I want all of summer in one pan,” he says. “It’s an elevated take on a Southern summer supper that’s so comforting.”

Jolly is particularly passionate about another seasonal gem: Alabama peaches. After 2023’s lackluster crop (due to a late freeze), he’s getting ready to peach-out, using the sweet, soft fruit in cocktails, desserts (like a peach cobbler cheesecake), appetizers (perhaps grilled peaches cozied up to creamy burrata) and thick pork chops topped with a peach salsa. “That’s serving great-tasting food but also cutting down on waste, increasing our sustainability,” he says.

It’s clear Jolly relishes playing and experiment in the kitchen, and it’s a mindset he’s instilling in his team, too. “I like to give all my chefs the freedom to be creative,” he says. “I have some great cooks here, and I like to let them go and show off their skills.”

And the foods and flavors of The Grille are just a taste of Botanic. If you’re in a hurry, pop into the market for a toffee nut and honey iced coffee and a salted caramel brownie. If you’re more interested in a refreshing libation, head to the patio bar, where

you’ll find a blackberry bramble cocktail waiting. Don’t leave without shopping for a few potted plants and veggie starts at the nursery and main greenhouse.

And find garden supplies and the works of local artisans (pottery, jewelry and more) at The Garden Shoppe.

Mirroring the thousands of green things soaking up sun and water and getting bigger every day, Botanic is expanding too. When its construction is finished, a new 10,000-square-foot greenhouse will soon allow Jolly to grow more for use in Botanic’s kitchens. “We currently have some raised beds where we grow lettuces, tomatoes and peppers,” he says. “But I can only get so much out of that. With the new greenhouse, I’ll be able to produce enough vegetables and fruits to run our restaurants and maybe even have a surplus to sell to the public.”

The aptly named The Garden is also coming soon. The dining space and event venue will deliver a unique eating experience, a full immersion in Mother Nature, with tables surrounded by shrubbery and blooms and climbing vines, all under a greenhouse glass roof that can be opened when weather permits. “It’s a multi-purpose space, with a martini bar and a beer garden area too,” Jolly says. It will host breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as private events and special Botanic dinner and entertainment events at night.

For Jolly, food is a focus — “I want to blow people away with flavor,” he says. But he also puts emphasis on the entire Botanic experience, which begins with a warm welcome. “I don’t want anyone to feel they don’t belong at Botanic,” he says. “The spaces are so inviting — all the plants set that tone; nature is inclusive — and they are for everyone to enjoy. We want to give people more than a meal; we want to help them create memories here.”

34 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
Opelika l
Alabama Living JUNE 2024 35

The need to weed: Tips on controlling weeds and the weeding impulse

Weeding is my favorite garden chore. It is also my least favorite.

Yes, I am a conflicted weeder, but for good reason. Like dusting and washing dishes, weeding is an endless and paradoxical chore — a labor of love and an exercise in futility — that can be a delight one day and pure drudgery the next. Either way, there always seems to be a need to weed.

Just how strongly we each feel that need, however, depends a lot on our personal attitudes toward weeds. Some view them as unwelcome intruders that must be evicted while others see them through Ralph Waldo Emerson’s eyes: “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Tolerance for weeds, in other words, is on a spectrum. But regardless of where we are on that spectrum, there are some undeniable truths about weeds to be considered.

One is that any “plant out of place” (the standard definition of a weed) can affect its surroundings, both aesthetically and biologically. The severity of its impact may depend on whether the weed is a native or non-native species and whether it has the potential to become aggressive, invasive or noxious. The other is that weeds are here to stay and trying to totally eradicate them is an expensive, potentially environmentally harmful and ultimately futile undertaking. Gardeners respond to weeds in a variety of ways ranging from waging all-out chemical warfare against them to blithely

ignoring them. And the options for weed control are plentiful, too, including hand pulling, hoeing, tilling and mowing as well as mulching with straw, cardboard and newspapers. Using groundcovers, solarizing the soil or using a flame weeder to kill weed plants and seeds are also options to try before resorting to herbicides.

The very best option, however, is a thoughtful, well-planned management strategy called integrated pest management.

IPM is a strategy for managing pests of any kind — weeds, diseases, insects and even nuisance wildlife — in a more economical and environmentally sustainable fashion. By pairing sound gardening practices and advanced planning with a toolkit of different control methods (biological, cultural and chemical), IPM helps reduce and control pest populations while also reducing the need for synthetic pesticides.

At the heart of IPM — and of all effective pest control — are knowledge, prevention and observation. The more we know about our plants, their needs and their potential pests, the more prepared we will be to protect them. If we avoid inadvertently introducing pests into the garden, we reduce the need to control them. And if we monitor our plants and landscapes for emerging pest problems, we can act quickly to nip

those problems in the bud.

To learn more about IPM, check out Integrated Pest Management in the Home Landscape publications from Mississippi State, extension.msstate. edu, and Oklahoma State extension.okstate.edu universities. The National Pesticide Information Center, npic.orst.edu, also offers helpful hints on IPM and your local Extension agent and Master Gardeners can also be great sources of information about IPM and weed control in general.

And remember, we shouldn’t feel compelled to eliminate every weed. Many “plants out of place” pose little to no threat and are also beneficial to pollinators, wildlife and important soil organisms and help build soil, retain soil moisture and prevent erosion. Plus, some have medicinal and culinary uses. A prime example: Earlier this spring, one of my favorite gardening guys, Shoals Master Gardener Dwight James, sent me pictures of his first-ever batch of dandelion jelly. It is a gorgeous clear gold in color and according to Dwight tastes “almost like honey.” That’s one plant whose virtues have been discovered!


 Plant garden mums and keep planting summer annuals.

 Continue planting okra, sweet corn, melons and beans.

 Root cuttings of hydrangeas, azaleas and other flowering shrubs.

 Mulch between rows in the vegetable garden to keep soils cooler and moister.

 Divide and thin spring bulbs.

 Get the kids out in the yard and garden.

 Garden gloves, hats, equipment and art make great Father’s Day gifts.

36 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop | Gardens |
Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@gmail.com.
Katie Jackson is a freelance writer
and editor based in

Enter Alabama Living’s annual photo contest!

We want to see more of your awesome photos! Winners and honorable mentions will be published in the September issue, and first-place winners receive $100.

Photos must be uploaded to alabamaliving.coop beginning on June 1. Complete rules will be posted there. Good luck!

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 37
Photo by Troy Beshears Anniston, Ala. 1st Place, 2023

What is mutual aid and why does it matter?

Electric cooperatives employ a variety of methods to reduce the likelihood of power outages – from regular tree trimming to equipment maintenance and repairs, to local grid updates. But outages do occur, and when they do, co-ops are ready to respond.

Another way co-ops prepare for major outages and disasters is through mutual aid, which is a collaborative approach to emergency planning. The mutual aid model allows electric co-ops to help each other out during times of need. This approach permits co-ops to “borrow” restoration workers from other co-ops, thereby increasing the workforce response to areas impacted by a major outage event. It’s essentially about neighbors helping neighbors, even when those neighbors are fellow co-ops located hundreds of miles away.

Electric co-ops operate according to seven principles, and principles six and seven, Cooperation among Cooperatives and Concern for Community, are directly connected to the mutual aid model.

Electric co-ops were formed to provide reliable electric service to their members at the lowest reasonable cost, and mutual aid has been a fundamental part of our DNA since co-ops were formed. The concept of mutual aid originated with the rural electrification efforts in the 1930s. From the very beginning, electric co-ops relied on each other to assist in times of need, and mutual aid provides an essential safety net in times of crisis.

Mutual aid ultimately benefits co-ops’ consumer-members. During major outage events, co-ops can increase their workforce and respond more quickly, leading to shorter outage times for members.

Disaster response and mutual aid is managed by electric co-ops, as well as co-ops’ statewide organizations, like the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA), which publishes Alabama Living The statewide organizations assist with coordination between states, helping to ensure the neces-

sary personnel and equipment, which are the key ingredients of the mutual aid recipe. These efforts require effective logistics management and experts who fully understand resource allocation and have the know-how to respond under pressure.

During major outage events, a variety of equipment is necessary to complete repairs, including bucket trucks and other specialized vehicles, utility poles, transformers and wires. Skilled lineworkers, tree trimmers, damage assessors and other key personnel are also often shared among co-ops. These experts provide critical skills and manpower to speed up the restoration process.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric co-ops has been built to federal standards, line crews from any electric co-op in the U.S. can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support and secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.

Today, mutual aid continues to be a vital part of how electric co-ops operate and serve members of their local communities. The goal of mutual aid is to restore power as safely and quickly as possible after a major outage event. By sharing resources, co-ops can significantly enhance their response capabilities. In essence, mutual aid embodies the sixth cooperative principle of “Cooperation Among Cooperatives” and ensures that members receive reliable electricity even in the face of major challenges.

Jennah Denney writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

Twenty-two Baldwin EMC employees traveled to Florida to assist Clay Electric Cooperative with power restoration after Hurricane Idalia in August 2023. Crews from nine Alabama rural electric cooperatives traveled to the Joe Wheeler EMC and Tombigbee EC service areas to help restore power in March 2023, after northwest Alabama suffered significant damage due to storms and tornadoes. Personnel from Sand Mountain EC in northeast Alabama traveled to Baldwin County in September 2020 to help the area after Hurricane Sally blasted the Alabama Gulf coast.
Alabama Living JUNE 2024 39

Help your dog (and you!) avoid a snake encounter

The first glance sent an icy shiver of fear down my spine, then disbelief turned to relief as I realized my three dogs –only two on leashes at the time – and I walked within six feet of this reptilian behemoth without it noticing! I snapped a photo before it disappeared into the creek below. The very same spot of the backyard creek where the dogs like to play on hot summer days!

We are very happy with all the varieties of non-venomous snakes we see on our property. We know that they are keeping the mice, rat and frog populations in check, and most importantly, claiming territory from the venomous invaders! (Plus, they were here first, and every little creature deserves a chance to live its life.)

But with this encounter, my mind was rushing. Is it a copperhead? A bite will cause extreme pain, swelling and possible anaphylaxis shock from an allergic reaction. My smallest dog could quite possibly die or at the very least have lifelong neurological complications due to the tissue killing properties of the venom.

Later, as I’m reviewing the photo from the safety of my couch, I’m not seeing the characteristic Hershey-kisses pattern and the copper-colored head that is this species’ namesake. But it was by water, so could it have been a water moccasin, aka cottonmouth? Those bites are far more severe, requiring antivenom within six hours and even then, it’s touch and go.

As I’m frantically web-searching in hopes of an answer, I came across an app called Snake Snap. Send in a picture and an ex-

pert will get right back to you with guaranteed 100% accuracy. After being assured my data wasn’t going to be sold and feeling somewhat dubious but desperate for an answer, I applied, giving my email and consent for the $1.99/monthly subscription. Within minutes I had my answer. My suspicious serpent is a banded water snake, otherwise known as a Southern water snake (or Nerodia fasciata for you Latin lovers) that enjoys sunbathing in warm places after dining on frogs in cool creeks. Still uncertain that my previous hours of panic weren’t in vain, I emailed back something like, “Are you sure?” The kindly herpetologist replied with identifying characteristics, picture comparisons and the offer to answer more questions. I cannot express the depths of my relief! (I probably won’t cancel the subscription in the seven-day trial period!)

Sipping a cup of chamomile to counteract my post-adrenaline crash, I pondered the snake savvy takeaways from my adventure that I would share with our clients, family and friends.

I am certain that just because I haven’t seen any of the venomous varieties in my area, it doesn’t mean that they are not there. First, as prudence perseveres, every one of our pups will be on leashes when the weather is 60 degrees or above. This will drastically reduce the risk of curious little noses having a deadly surprise.

Secondly, I need to keep my walking trails mowed or stay on paths that allow my heightened view to see the ground and any “wiggling branches” desperately trying to vacate the area, before the dogs do. I see it as my responsibility to care for and protect ALL God’s little creatures. (Even if you are not a lover of all critters, it’s a bad habit to let dogs “play” with any snake, as they can’t tell if it is venomous or not.)

Thirdly, if a bite should happen, try to safely ID the snake, stay calm although your dog may be panicking, and carry him to the car. Do not touch the wound or try to suck out the venom; this Hollywood bravado does no good and will probably get you a bite in the face. Know in advance which vets are open, have experience with snakebites, carry antivenom and get him there ASAP! Remember, educating yourself and planning ahead are key in any emergency situation.

There are six venomous snake species in Alabama: the copperhead, cottonmouth, timber rattlesnake, pigmy rattlesnake, Eastern coral snake and Eastern diamondback rattlesnake. To see photos and learn how to distinguish these species from nonvenomous ones, visit outdooralabama.com/ snakes/venomous-snakes.

40 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop PET HEALTH
Julie Bjorland is a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) and has been working alongside Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (known as Dr. G) for the past 20 years. To suggest a topic for discussion, email contact@alabamaliving.coop Learn about the differences between Alabama’s venomous and non-venomous snakes, especially if you like to take your pet into the great outdoors. PHOTO COURTESY JULIE BJORLAND
Alabama Living JUNE 2024 41

Set your home to vacay mode

A:Q:How can I lower my electric bill when I’m gone on vacation?

Just like you, the equipment in your home is hard at work getting through the daily grind. While you are off enjoying a new adventure or time away, give your home’s equipment a vacation, too. Doing so can reduce unnecessary energy waste and unneeded wear and tear on your heating and cooling system, appliances and more. Here’s how to set your home to vacay mode.

Your heating and cooling system keeps you comfortable. If you aren’t there, it doesn’t need to be quite so comfortable in your home. Setting the thermostat closer to the outdoor temperature can save you energy and money. I don’t recommend completely turning off the heating or cooling system. In extreme weather, your heating and cooling system also helps protect your home from freezing pipes or damage from excessive heat.

As a rule, you can typically set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature when you aren’t home. Each home is different, and the weather varies depending on where you live. Consider the right temperature balance for your home.

Installing a smart thermostat gives you the ability to control your settings remotely from your smart phone. This allows you to adjust the temperature after you leave home and right before you return.

Most water heaters include a vacation mode setting. This setting drops the temperature to reduce wasted energy when you’re away. A storage water heater is like an insulated tea kettle, standing by and ready for you to have hot water whenever you need it. Give that water heater a vacation, too. Changing the setting to vacation mode keeps it on at a lower setting, saving energy. Leave yourself a note with a reminder to turn it back on when you get home, so you don’t wind up with a disappointing shower before the first day back at work.

Closing the curtains can provide two benefits. It can keep heat from the sun at bay. This reduces the load on your heating and cooling system, which saves energy. It also has the benefit of blocking visibility into your home when you’re away.

For security, some people use timers or leave on exterior lights. Make sure any lights left on are LEDs, instead of incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. LEDs use less energy and have less impact on your electric use when left on all night. You can also consider adding smart LEDs to your home. Smart LEDs can be controlled remotely through an app on your phone.

Did you know there are devices in your home that continue to draw power from your electrical outlets even when turned off or on standby? Before you leave, walk through your home and unplug devices and small appliances. Make sure gaming

Before you leave for vacation, reduce unnecessary energy waste and unneeded wear and tear on your home’s equipment by following these energy-saving tips.

Set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature when you aren’t home. You can also consider upgrading to a smart thermostat, which gives you control over the temperature from anywhere.

consoles and computers are fully powered down. Unplugging any devices that have lights, clocks or use standby mode can also reduce wasted energy.

Having peace of mind that your home is powered down and secure can help you enjoy your vacation. After all, we all need an occasional break.

42 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop | Consumer Wise |
Having peace of mind that your house is powered down and secure can help you enjoy your vacation. Follow these energy-saving tips before you leave home. PHOTOS COURTESY MARK GILLILAND, PIONEER UTILITY RESOURCES Miranda Boutelle is the chief operating officer at Efficiency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy efficiency company. She has more than 20 years of experience helping people save energy at home, and she writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing nearly 900 electric co-ops.
Alabama Living JUNE 2024 43

we all scream for

44 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop | Alabama Recipes |

Cook of the Month: Anne Ward, Dixie EC

Anne Ward has been making her “Butter Buckle Ice Cream Dessert” for many years, and says it’s been a staple for family gatherings for a long time. “I tweaked the recipe but ripped it off from my sister-in-law, Linda Miller,” says Anne, who moved to Alabama from Alberta, Canada, more than 50 years ago. “She always made it for her family and she shared it with us.” Now Anne enjoys making it for her own family groups, and in the process found that using butter-flavor cooking spray in the bottom of the pan adds a bit more buttery flavor, and of course, makes for easier cleanup. And rather than using just a pint of ice cream, she suggests a “brick” of ice cream, letting it soften a bit, then cutting it with a knife and laying the pieces in the pan. If you can’t find butterscotch topping (we had that problem, too), she agrees caramel topping makes a fine substitute, and if you can’t find apple pie spice (a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and sometimes cardamom), try cinnamon.

Butter Buckle Ice Cream Dessert

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup oats (quick-cooking or old fashioned)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 jar butterscotch ice cream topping

1 pint vanilla ice cream

To melted butter, add flour, oats, sugar, spice and pecans. Mix until well combined but crumbly. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, stirring once. Cool and crumble completely. Place 3/4 of the crumbs in the bottom of a 9x13inch pan, lightly greased with no-stick spray. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 of the butterscotch sauce on top. Add a THICK layer of ice cream. (May have to indulge in more than a pint!) Place the remaining crumbs on top, then dribble the rest of the sauce over the top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in freezer to harden. Store in the freezer until ready to serve.

November theme: Rice

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 45
Recipes can be developed by you or family members. Adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Chosen cooks may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. Submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications. Email us: recipes@alabamaliving.coop USPS mail:
Visit our website: alabamaliving.coop
Coming up next... WIN $50!
by: August 2
Attn: Recipes P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
October theme: Spooky Treats Submit by: July 5
Photo by Brooke Echols

Homemade ice cream brings back so many memories for me. I have always said that food is the gateway to nostalgia and homemade ice cream is a big one. My Daddy Joe loved all ice cream but he had a sweet spot for the homemade stuff. Our recipe for this easy three- ingredient ice cream is an easy and healthier way to have a little bit of that summer nostalgia. If you aren’t so interested in cutting any calories, feel free to use regular sweetened condensed milk in place of the coconut. For more memory-making recipes, be sure to visit us at www.thebutteredhome.com

Photo by The Buttered Home

Blueberry Ice Cream

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla Pinch of salt

1 cup whole milk

1 cup half and half

2 cups whipping cream

Puree blueberries in a blender. Add pureed blueberries and sugar in a saucepan and stir, warming until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate mixture until cold. Add in vanilla, salt, milk, half and half and whipping cream. Mix. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn. Freeze to allow ice cream to set up and ripen. Notes: This ice cream takes a little planning as the ice cream base needs to be cooled after cooking. I also like to let the ice cream harden up in the freezer after it has been processed to make it more scoop-able. You can enjoy it straight out of the ice cream maker but it will have more of the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Martha Black Handschumacher

Arab EC

Coffee Ice Cream

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

1 cup almonds

1/2-3/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

1 12- ounce jar hot fudge ice cream topping

Make a sweet cream base with the 2 beaten eggs, heavy cream, sugar and

whole milk. Can be refrigerated overnight. Roast almonds at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, set aside and cool. Finishing the ice cream: Add 1/2-3/4 cups coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua) to the cream base. Transfer to ice cream maker and begin to freeze. Open and remove dasher, stir in roasted almonds and fudge topping by hand. This ice cream remains soft so it's convenient to make ahead, transfer to a shallow dish and into your freezer. It will be ready to serve when you are.

Janie Whelton Baldwin

Linda’s Ice Cream Pumpkin Pie

1 9-inch pie shell, baked

1 cup pumpk in 2 cups vanilla ice cream

11/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 small box (33/4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding Cool Whip, for topping

Let ice cream stand in bowl until soft enough to mix with pumpkin and spices. Stir with spoon until blended. Add instant pudding, using electric mixer for 1 minute. Pour into baked pie shell, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Top with whipped cream or Cool Whip before serving. Garnish with nutmeg, nuts, chocolate, pecans, almonds, etc.

Terri Hall

South Alabama EC

Easy Three-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

3 ripe bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons coconut sweetened condensed milk

Slice bananas. Add bananas, vanilla and coconut condensed milk to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour into a freezer-safe dish and chill for 2-4 hours. Serve and enjoy!

Muscadine Ice Cream


16 ounces heavy whipping cream

5 ounces sweetened condensed milk 2-3 tablespoons muscadine preserves or jam

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 wafer sheets

In a large bowl, combine heavy whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk, beat until fluffy (increasing speed as you go). Add 2-3 tablespoons of muscadine preserves or jam, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat for another minute. Spread finished mixture onto first wafer sheet and cover with second wafer sheet. Press down a little and align the edges. Let freeze overnight, then cut into pieces like sandwiches.

Natalia Haynes

Marshall-DeKalb EC

Butterfinger Ice Cream

2 cans sweetened condensed milk

1 cup sugar

8 Butterfinger candy bars, crushed 1/2 gallon chocolate milk

Whole milk, as needed

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and place in an electric ice cream freezer. Add whole milk as needed to bring to fill line. Follow freezer directions until frozen.

Beverly Bentley

46 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop

Mom’s Homemade Ice Cream

6 eggs

2 cups sugar

Splash of vanilla

1 can sweetened condenced milk condensed milk

2 small boxes or 1 large box pudding mix, any flavor you want

Mix all ingredients together and fill ice cream maker with milk. Run ice cream maker until desired consistency.

Cecilia Robinson

Pea River EC

Serious Lemon Ice Cream

8 lemons, juiced

2 teaspoons lemon extract

1 teaspoon lemon rind

4 cups sugar

3 half pints heavy whipping cream

1 pint Half and Half Milk, as needed

Combine all ingredients except milk. Pour into an ice cream freezer that requires ice and salt. Fill container to within 2-inches of the top, using milk as needed. Churn ingredients until they are thick and smooth. Makes 1 gallon.

Lexie Turnipseed

Dixie EC

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

5 eggs

1/2 cup white sugar

1 box dark brown sugar

11/2 cups toasted pecans

1 pint Half and Half

1 pint heavy whipping cream

Beat eggs with white sugar and dark brown sugar until thick and fluffy. Add pecans, half and half and whipping cream. Pour mixture into an ice cream freezer. Finish filling ice cream freezer with whole milk. Freeze what is not eaten in a freezer safe container. Makes 1 gallon or 11/2 gallons.

Sharon Pitt

4 cups peach puree, sliced peaches blended

1 small pack age peach Jell-O

1 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cans sweetened condensed milk Red food coloring

Slice peaches and puree in a blender until you get 4 cups puree. Pour puree into a large bowl and blend in peach Jell-O. Blend in sugar, whipping cream, almond and vanilla flavorings. Add 2 cans sweetened condensed milk and a few drops red coloring, if desired. Pour peach mixture into freezer can, add whole milk to the fill line and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Wanda H. Stinson

Pioneer EC

German Chocolate Ice Cream

11/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup plain flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 quar t milk

2 4- ounce bars sweet cooking chocolate, melted

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup shredded coconut

1 quar t light cream or Half and Half

1 cup pecans, chopped

Combine sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan. Gradually add milk. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes. Blend in chocolate. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into eggs; return to cooked mixture; cook 1 minute. Do not boil. Add coconut; cool. Stir in cream. Chill; stir in nuts. Churn and freeze. Makes approximately 1 gallon.

Peggy Key

North Alabama EC

Banana Pudding Ice Cream

2 cups sugar

1 can sweetened condensed milk

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1 8- ounce container Cool Whip

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 small box instant banana pudding

3 bananas, cut into small pieces

1 box mini Nilla Wafers

Mix together milk, sugar, eggs, sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Let cool completely. When completely cool, add Cool Whip, vanilla, pudding and bananas. Pour into freezer container. Fill with milk. Let ice cream mix at manufacturer’s instructions. Top with Nilla Wafers and serve.

Thomas Braswell

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 47
Grannie Wanda's Peach Ice Cream

Beetle bream!

Tiny baits produce big action from feisty panfish

greatly resembles downsized bass fishing. With an ul tralight spinning reel loaded with 4- to 6-pound-test line, throw various temptations to likely spots to entice something to clobber it. Bluegills, redear sunfish, also called shellcrackers, and other assorted panfish species frequently hit tiny spinners, crankbaits, jerkbaits and even topwater lures.

Among the most versatile lures on the market, spinnerbaits catch multiple fish species from top to bottom all year long and can go many places where other lures can’t go. Spinnerbaits can provoke vicious strikes even from non-aggressive fish that might refuse other offerings. The whirling blades give off vibrations and flash that fish can easily detect.

Many panfish enthusiasts throw “beetle” spinnerbaits, also called “harness” or “jighead” spinners. Such baits consist of a wire harness attached to a jighead. Since the components separate, anglers can easily switch blades, arm sizes, jigheads or soft-plastic trailers as they wish.

On the jighead, anglers can hook an infinite number of trailer combinations in different sizes, shapes, colors and configurations. If fish won’t bite one color or size, try something else. To change trailers, simply thread a new one onto the hook without retying the line attached to the jighead. For added enticement, tip the hook with a colorful scent pellet.

A beetle spinner can catch panfish throughout the entire water column in all seasons. Work beetle spinners several different ways. Retrieval speeds determine how deep the lure runs. Like in bass fishing, simply toss the lure to a sweet spot, such as grassy edges, lily pads, downed trees or other cover that might hold fish and work it back to the boat.

Bluegills spawn from late spring through early fall. They make depressions on the bottom for nests. Spawning beds make great places to throw spinners. Around the beds, let the lure drop to the bottom. Then, slowly work it just over the bottom. Barely turn

Beetle spinners make excellent lures for enticing

the reel handle, just enough to make the blades flicker.

Around thick grassy patches, buzz beetles over the top so the blades churn the water or wake the baits just below the surface with steady retrieves. A surface commotion can bring fish up from the depths.

Also try the stop-and-go method. Pause the retrieve periodically to let the bait sink a foot or two. As the bait slowly descends, the blades continue revolving and creating flash and vibrations. Fish commonly hit lures as they sink. This method works great when fishing submerged grass beds. Run the spinner just over the grass tops. Occasionally, stop so the lure sinks into the grass.

As weather warms, fish might head a little deeper for more comfortable temperatures. Sloping banks and drop-offs give fish easy access to both deep and shallow water so they can move up and down in the water column as they desire. Along woody river shorelines, toss beetles near tree trunks, fallen logs, stumps and other cover. Near shorelines, jetties, fallen logs, drop-offs and similar places, work baits parallel to the cover. Bream commonly hover just over the drop-off edge looking to ambush passing prey.

Bridge or dock pilings, standing timber and other structures can provide deep cover from top to bottom. Fish might hold at any depth. On the hottest days, cast to the coolest places, such as under docks, trees, bridges and other places that cast shadows on the water. Also look for small tributaries flowing into larger waterbodies. Flowing water in the shade runs slightly cooler than water in the sunshine.

Around deep cover, try the “yo-yo” or “helicopter” retrieve. Let the bait sink to the bottom and then pull it back up to the surface. Then, let it sink again. In extremely deep water, pop the bait off the bottom and let it sink again. Keep trying different depths and retrieves to see what works best that day.

Easy to master and inexpensive, fishing with small beetle spinners on ultralight tackle offers an excellent and extremely fun way to introduce children or novice anglers to the sport. In the right spot, anybody could catch good numbers of feisty fish. Despite their diminutive size, bluegills and other bream species can outfight anything in fresh water, ounce for ounce.

48 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
| Outdoors |
John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j. felsher@hotmail.com or through Facebook. bream in shallow or deep water.



Mo 1 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03

Tu 2 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:27 3:21 - 4:51

We 3 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39

Th 4 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:27

Fr 5 NA 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03

Sa 6 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:27 7:21 - 8:51

Su 7 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39

Mo 8 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27

Tu 9 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15

We 10 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03

Th 11 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51

Fr 12 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39

Sa 13 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27

Su 14 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15

Mo 15 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03

Tu 16 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:27 3:21 - 4:51

We 1 7 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39

Th 18 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:27

Fr 19 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15

Sa 20 11:18 - 1:18 11:42 - 1:42 5:48 - 7:18 6:11 - 7:41

Su 21 NA 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03

Mo 22 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:27 7:21 - 8:51

Tu 23 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39

We 24 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27

Th 25 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15

Fr 26 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03

Sa 2 7 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51

Su 28 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39

Mo 29 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27

Tu 30 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15

We 31 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03

The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 40 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA, a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. To order the 2023 Moon Clock, go to www.moontimes.com.

Alabama Living JUNE 2024 49 7315 County Road 17 • Woodville, AL 35776 256-805-0153 • macy@libertymonument.net Serving North AL, Southern TN, and Northwest GA. We o er traditional sandblast and laser etched monuments. Onsite cemetery engraving. Check us out on Facebook.
2024 EXCELLENT TIMES MOON STAGE GOOD TIMES JUNE A.M. PM AM PM We 1 7 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:27 3:21 - 4:51 Th 18 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Fr 19 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:27 Sa 20 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15 Su 21 NA 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Mo 22 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:27 7:21 - 8:51 Tu 23 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 We 24 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Th 25 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Fr 26 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39
Mo 29
2:03 12:57
2:27 Tu 30
10:33 - 12:03 Sa 2 7 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Su 28 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39
6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30
6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15

firing up one PORTABLE GENERATOR is like starting HUNDREDS OF CARS

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), one fuel-powered portable generator produces as much carbon monoxide (CO) as hundreds of combustion-engine cars.

Using a portable generator in your home, garage or too close to your home is like starting a parking lot full of cars and letting the CO poison seep into your home. And the devastating result is almost immediate: The CO from one generator can kill in minutes.


1.Always use a generator at least 20 feet away from your home.

2.Never operate one inside a home, on a porch or near windows and doors.

3.The 20-foot rule also applies to other locations, such as a shed, cabin, camper or trailer.

4.When shopping for a generator, look for one that produces reduced emissions.

5.Also look for one that shuts o automatically when high levels of CO are present.

6.Keep your generator well-maintained and follow all manufacturer’s instructions.

7.Ensure CO detectors are installed on every level of your home and near or in bedrooms.

8.Test CO alarms monthly; also track their age. They need to be replaced every seven years.

Source: CPSC

Learn more at:

TOP 3 REASONS for using

a generator

1.Weather-related power outages.

2.Power shutoffs.

3.Temporary locations.

CO deaths associated with PORTABLE GENERATORS

Approximately 85 individuals die in the U.S. each year.

81% of deaths occur in residential locations.

50 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop
Alabama Living JUNE 2024 51

Crisis deepening

Last month, I wrote about the growing problem of electric capacity shortages in the U.S. I referenced the extended blackouts in Texas and other parts of the Midwest with Winter Storm Yuri in 2021, as well as the rolling blackout across the TVA and Duke service areas resulting from extremely cold temperatures on Christmas Eve 2022.

I noted growing concerns expressed in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico that, unless something changes, electric capacity shortages may soon become a crisis in certain areas of the country with the expansion of data centers, the growth of artificial intelligence (which demands multiple times more energy than traditional internet searches), the rise of an electric economy due to higher demand from the growth of electric vehicles, increased electric heating, more energy intensive manufacturing, and the zeal of the Biden Administration in shutting down fossil fuel energy resources.

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board published an opinion article, “Biden’s Plan to Ration Electricity,” on Sunday, April 27, which states the electric capacity crisis is deepening. The organic demand for electricity, the explosion of demand to support data centers, and the forced conversion of energy usage to electric usage all continue to increase at the same time the Biden Administration continues its march to eliminate all fossil fuel energy resources.

Recently the EPA issued its proposed rules on greenhouse gas emissions, water management at electric generation plants, tighter mercury emissions, and coal ash storage and management. This greenhouse gas rule will essentially force existing coal plants to shut down by 2032 and will effectively ban new baseload natural gas plants by requiring the adoption of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

The Clean Air Act provides that EPA may, “…regulate pollutants from stationary sources through the best available system of emission reductions that is adequately demonstrated.” CCS, however, is neither the best emissions control technology, nor is it adequately demonstrated. Only one very small power plant in Canada is currently operating CCS technology at utility scale. No natural gas plants are outfitted with CCS technology, nor is any viable technology currently available for natural gas plants. The EPA states tax credits available under the Inflation Reduction Act will promote CCS, but that doesn’t equate to a mature “best available and adequately demonstrated” technology that actually works.

The captured carbon dioxide in the CCS process must be stored deep underground in geologic formations, which are primarily located in the upper Midwest and Gulf Coast Regions. Many other regions, like Florida, do not have suitable geology for carbon storage. Very few pipelines either exist or are being permitted to

transport captured carbon dioxide from power plants to the geologic areas suitable for carbon storage. Pipeline permitting and construction will likely be difficult, given that environmentalists are as opposed to carbon pipelines and sequestration as they are to fossil fuel-fired generation.

CCS technology is expensive, and it requires significant amounts of energy. Because of this, CCS effectively leeches reliable energy that would have otherwise served the electric grid. We also haven’t even addressed the capital costs of capturing, transporting and sequestering the carbon. That means that electricity provided by traditional power plants will increase dramatically. The constant media assurances that renewable and carbon-free power will be cheaper and more reliable than power produced by coal or natural gas are poor journalism or outright lies – not even with the massive tax incentives offered by the federal government.

Coal plants today provide about 16% of the electricity in the U.S. Their closure, within a compressed period of time alone, will place an already stressed electric grid under even more pressure. The regulatory uncertainty of the EPA rules on new natural gas units will have a chilling effect on the construction of reliable natural gas generation that would replace the shuttered coal generation.

While the U.S moves to close as many fossil fuel generation plants as quickly as possible, China continues to build new coal generation. China has added more than 200 gigawatts of coal generation over the last five years and started construction on an additional 70 megawatts in 2023 – more than the existing U.S. coal fleet. These assurances that the U.S.’s renewable energy program will reduce global carbon emissions are on par with the promises of “cheaper” and “more reliable” carbon-free power: simply not true.

The triple convergence of growing electric loads, the forced closure of coal-fired generation plants, and the Biden Administration’s plan to place equally draconian restrictions on existing natural gas plants point to a deepening crisis of electricity demand and much higher electric costs for consumers and industry well into the future. The shortage of electric power, or “rationing” of electric power as suggested by The Wall Street Journal, combined with higher energy prices will have a disastrous effect on our economy with the higher costs of energy being assumed in every good produced or consumed.

The rhetoric of climate change being the greatest existential threat of any of our lifetimes rings hollow as the world faces so many other real challenges. How long will the voting populace actually care about what might happen 75 years from now while, much sooner, they might be sitting in their cold, dark homes?

The picture the EPA is painting is not pretty, but I hope you have a good month, anyway.

52 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop | Our Sources Say |
Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

Closing Deadlines (in our office): August 2024 Issue by June 25

September 2024 Issue by July 25

October 2024 Issue by September 25

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Alabama Living JUNE 2024 53
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Sinkers and floaters

Ilove nature. Beautiful scenery, fresh air. It’s wonderful. But my wife thinks that the great outdoors is uncomfortable and dangerous. So why I ever talked her into a tubing trip on a river is a question I still ask myself many years later.

My friend Mickey got me hooked on tubing. We always floated on a stretch of the Locust Fork River, just north of Birmingham. The scenery is jaw-dropping. Boulders, beaches, bluffs and waterfalls. Even the take-out point is a picturesque, covered bridge.

If the water level is low, it’s a sleepy little float. However, after a big rain, it becomes a whitewater ride with roller coaster rapids. Naturally, Mickey and I preferred it fast and dangerous.

The kayakers thought we were insane. “Why are you riding on inner tubes? These are rapids!” they said. But our oversized truck tubes enabled us to slide over the rocks. And having floated this river so many times, we knew where the trouble was. Heck, I didn’t even wear a life preserver.

That was then. Now, I would insist on a life jacket, a helmet, a whistle, a GPS, clearance by the Coast Guard, and a helicopter following our progress.

On the day I took my wife, the water was low, meaning an easy trip. I thought Carol would have nothing but mosquitoes and sunburn to worry about.

Wrong. It was bad from the start. The first minute Carol was in the water, she began looking for snakes. Then she glared at me with a “I heard the banjos from ‘Deliverance’” kind of look. This was going to be the longest three hours of my life.

We hadn’t gone far when she pointed to a boulder and said, “Are those sticks on top of that rock?” Mickey said, “Uh, no.” It was several water moccasins taking in the midday sun. I tried to calm her down by saying, “Snakes don’t like cold, fast-moving water, so we should be ok.” That got a terse one-word reply.


I had no time to respond because we were approaching House Rock, rapids named after a monstrous chunk of limestone flanking the left side of the river. To avoid any problems, you steered clear of the boulder. Mickey and I warned everyone by pointing and shouting, “Stay to the right!” Everyone did - but Carol. Down the left side she went, where she flipped and lost her tube. Quickly, she popped out of the water, gasped for air, then began crying, praying, and cussing me. I almost started laughing. Keep in mind I’m finally admitting this years after it happened - and I’m not sure I’m in the clear now.

Next up were two more challenging rapids, Tilt-a-Whirl and Double Trouble - a swift, sweeping curve that leads to a drop of a couple of feet. We began to hear the sound of moving water.

Carol sobbed, “Is this a big one?”

“It’s not too bad. But it is a bit harder than House Rock.”

She began wailing, “Waaaa! I just can’t! Waaaa! Can I just walk around them?”

That’s wife-speak for, “Will you walk with me?”

“N-O. I’m not walking around those rapids. Get in that river. You’re the only wimp out here.”

Yep, I said it just like that - to myself.

Of course, within minutes, we’re walking around Double Trouble, picking our way through rocks and mud to avoid turning an ankle, or stepping on a snake. After what seemed like an hour, we arrived below the rapids and met up with the rest of our group.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful, thank the Lord. We lagged behind everyone, and Carol continued to complain, whimper, and cuss me. Finally, we saw the covered bridge in the distance. The end was in sight.

Everyone stood up in the shallow water and walked out of the river. Except Carol, who stumbled to shore like Tom Hanks in the movie “Castaway.” Finally, her ordeal was over.

At that moment, my personal ordeal began. For the next few weeks, I endured my own version of Double Trouble. And no rapids were involved.

54 JUNE 2024 www.alabamaliving.coop | Cup o’ Joe |
Joe Hobby is a standup comedian, a syndicated columnist, and a long-time writer for Jay Leno. He’s a member of Cullman Electric Cooperative and is very happy now that he can use Sprout from his little place on Smith Lake. Contact him at jhobby2000@aol.com. Illustration by Dennis Auth

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