Thursday, July 28, 2011

Little River Canyon in Fort Payne atop Lookout Mountain By Kayla Worthey

My family is what you would call an “outdoorsy” family. My husband and I have always enjoyed the outdoors, whether it is hiking, fishing, swimming, or just good ole yard work. And my kids LOVE the outdoors! From the time they were born, we have had them outside. They are the ones you see in the grocery store covered in dirt and you wonder why we never bathe them. Well, we do, most of the time twice a day. I say let them be kids. A little dirt and mud never hurt anyone. It is good for the soul, or so I have been told! We can only hope that is true.

Winter months are tough around my house because neither of my children handle being cooped up very well. Neither does my husband, for that matter. So at the first sign of warm weather our household becomes a much happier place! To celebrate the HOT weather we have been having, we decided to plan a family day at Little River Canyon.
Growing up here, Kevin and I have visited the canyon many times, but this would be my children’s first trip. Our first stop is to the new parking area on Hwy 35 at the falls. The kids were so excited to see the waterfall! Now, my children are 21 months apart so you can imagine the everyday battles that we go through. They will stop at nothing to protect each other, but they also have no problem trying to hurt each other! So while we are making our way down the paved path toward the falls, we referee between the two the whole way. “She is trying to get my backpack”, “KoKo, leave me alone”, “mom, Kinsley hit me”, “He is touching me”… you get the idea.
When we arrive at the water, a momentary calm comes over them. They forget that the other one exists for a moment and the looks on their faces are priceless. They turn to look at us as if to question, “Can we get in there?” and at the first nod of my head, they are gone! Kevin and I hurry behind them trying to keep up. There were so many children splashing about, you would think that we were in a water park. The water is so clean and clear and cool. It is so refreshing that Kevin and I eventually succumb to the temptation of basically bathing in the water ourselves. Watching my children play in the water reminds me of my childhood and makes me appreciate again having the opportunity to grow up in such a peaceful and beautiful place.
After a short while, they begin to notice that there is more around them than just water. Kowen begins to redirect his attention toward the rocks. After inspecting a large area, he finds his treasure. The most beautiful rock he has ever seen, or so he says. Kinsley finds herself at the water’s edge chasing a frog. He hops and she hops, over and over again. Finally she spots her own rock that seems to be much easier to catch and the poor little worn out frog has no idea how lucky he is.
So the kids with their new found treasures and us with a lot of wet clothes, we head back out toward the car. Now our next trip was supposed to be around the canyon rim for breathtaking views, but I think home is a better option at this point since both kiddos are already asleep. Sigh…

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Daycation in DeKalb County by John Dersham

How about a weekend day trip in your own home county?
We are blessed with a pleura of places to go and things to do just a short drive away.
Let’s begin early Saturday morning at Collinsville Trade Days. This is one of the south’s largest outdoor markets. It is located in historic Collinsville just south of town on H-11. The event held each Saturday morning hosts a multitude of shopping interests for every age and every interest including fresh fruit and vegetables, boiled peanuts, nursery plants, hardware, coins, antiques, toys, cloths, furniture, house pets and farm animals. If you are a collector this may be the place you find that one item of which you have been looking for a long time. Come early because by noon the event is winding down.
After completing your shopping spree at Trade Days go north on H-11 into the quaint and historic downtown Collinsville. If you are hungry try a great lunch at Nessa’s located on Main St., at the corner of Chambers. Nessa’s specializes in fine dining in a beautifully remodeled original downtown building. Look for their schedule for live music on some weekend evenings.
Now that you have filled your tummy it is time for a beautiful little drive. Travel H-11 north to Colbran at H-81 turn right and go up the Colbran gap to Lookout Mountain. Make sure you stop at the top of the Colbran Gap and enjoy one of DeKalb County's finest valley views. Get your camera ready for this photo opp. Next stop is straight ahead to Dogtown and home of world famous Akins Furniture, known for 135,000 square feet of great furniture at great prices. At the Dogtown intersection you will be at the junction of H-81 and Lookout Mountain Parkway. Go straight ahead through the intersection where it will become H-176 heading east toward Little River Canyon National Preserve and the canyon rim drive. Follow the sign for 176 to the left and enjoy one of our county’s most scenic and peaceful drives. Along this route you will have multiple scenic overlooks with good parking and great views of the canyon. At the end of H-176 you will turn right onto H-35. Cross the bridge and pull into the Little River Falls parking lot on the right. There is a short (handicap friendly) walk to the water falls. Here you can view the Little River Falls. This time a year there are some great little swimming holes carved into the rocks on the river floor, so bring your swimming suit, towel and suntan oil and enjoy one of the prettiest places on our planet… right here at home? Make sure you stop and explore the Canyon Center on H-35 just before you leave the park.
Your next jaunt is a mid afternoon drive north on the Lookout Mountain Parkway to Mentone. Head west on H-35 to the flashing yellow light and take a right onto H-89 (Lookout Mountain Parkway) and drive the mountain top road to DeSoto State Park and DeSoto Falls. For a fun break stop at the DeSoto State Park camp store. Here you will find refreshments, ice cream and nature gift items. If you would like a beautiful short hike take the Azalea trail that emanates just behind the camp store. When complete continue heading north on the lookout mountain parkway following the signs to Mentone. Once in Mentone it will be time for a stroll around town and a visit to the gift shops. This little town has so much character with its show place ion the Mentone Springs Hotel. This hotel built in 1884; now a B&B is one of Alabama’s premier historic buildings and is considered the oldest hotel in the state. The Mentone Springs Hotel offers a delight to the eye and to the palette with its two restaurants, including The Springs Restaurant. Now head down the mountain on H-117 and stop halfway down the mountain at Miracle Pottery and see the beautiful work of one of our county’s most known artist, Valinda Miracle. Now to end your day with a great cool down stop for a tour of Sequoyah Caverns, truly one of the prettiest caves ever to be seen.
For more information about things to do and see in DeKalb County for your “Daycation” visit us at Wow! What a great daycation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

True Adventure Sports By Kayla Worthey

This area is known for its great outdoors. Our main attractions are some of the most beautiful natural landscapes around. You can visit Sequoyah Caverns in Valley Head for a guided tour of the cave and stunning reflecting pools. You can drive around the Little River Canyon National Preserve and witness breathtaking views. You can tour DeSoto State Park on its many hiking trails or you can stroll down for a refreshing view of DeSoto Falls. These are all great adventures to take, but if you are looking for something a little more adventurous, let me introduce you to Israel Partridge and his staff at True Adventure Sports.
They offer some kind of guided adventure almost every day of the week. You can choose from a list of adventurous thrills like Rock Climbing, Rappelling, Bouldering, Wild Cave Tours, Extreme Night Hikes, Zip Lining, a Sky Swing, Laser Tag and Treasure Hunts. They also offer Do-it-Yourself rentals on bikes, canoes, kayaks, mopeds, jet skis, and camping gear. If you are interested in learning, they have an array of classes such as GPS navigation, Practical Ingenuity, Orienteering, Certification classes and much more.
After my long, tiresome weekend, I decided to try the scariest (for me anyway) and least strenuous to start out, the Zip Line and Sky Swing Combo. We all meet up at the True Adventure Sports store located on Hwy 176. I was amazed at all the store had to offer. Drinks, snacks, t-shirts, Chaco and Merrell shoes, all kinds of camping gear, and a lot of things that were unfamiliar to me since I am not an everyday adventurer. After we sign our waivers, we load up to head out into the woods. I am starting to get a little nervous at this point, but am quickly calmed by the beauty of the Canyon. We drive a few miles down the canyon road before we arrive at our destination. We all unload and our guides grab the bags of gear. We hit the trail and almost instantly we are there. Our tour guides distribute our harnesses and helmets and then just sit back and watch as we make absolute fools of ourselves trying to figure out how to put them on. You can only imagine some of the conversations that came up in the next 5 minutes. Apparently there are a lot of different ways to incorrectly tie yourself up in one of these things, none of which are very flattering if you know what I mean. So after getting their daily intake of laughter, the girls decide that they better help us. Thank you very much since we have managed to embarrass ourselves beyond belief at this point. So, we get strapped in…correctly this time, and each guide double checks our straps and our helmets before we take off.
First up is the Zip Line! Towering almost 40 feet above us and spanning about 250 feet through the woods, it looks awesome! One by one we climb the tower and hook in. We get our brief lesson on what to do and then we are off. There are screams, yells, laughs, and hollers for the next hour! We even had a water balloon fight break out, staged by our hosts of course. Everyone was able to jump once facing forward and once going off backward. I think our nerves are gone now so bring on the sky swing!
We all follow the path down to the swing. Our guide makes his way up to the platform in the tree about 35 feet up. Who is first? I start my shaky climb to the platform and before I know it I am hanging backwards in a tree. What have I gotten myself into? All of a sudden I begin my free fall back toward the ground and I try to scream, but nothing comes out. Now I am facing the ground and heading into a full motion swing and finally I can breathe! What a rush of excitement! For the next few minutes I enjoy the breeze of the gentle, giant swing. After they release me from the swing and my feet are on the ground again, I can’t stop smiling!
Thank you Israel, Tyler, Elizabeth and Brandy. You guys were awesome and so was this trip! I can’t wait to come back for my next adventure!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

DeKalb Tourism 2 by John Dersham

DeKalb Tourism is the primary organization promoting tourism in DeKalb County. We are a non profit organization and are funded by the county lodging tax, grants and city appropriations.

Here are the ways we promote:
Tourist Information Center - We are open seven days a week to answer questions about our area, give directions and show guests places to go and things to do, where to eat and shop, historical locations, scenic attractions, lodging, parks etc. We promote businesses verbally and by giving our customers your printed information. We send visitors to you when they are looking for your kind of business.
Official DeKalb County Visitor’s Guide with QR code – Our guide provides current and potential tourists information about all the things to see and do in DeKalb County, which would be inviting to the tourist. This guide is the single most distributed travel guide promoting DeKalb County. We give our visitor’s guides out in our information center; we mail them out from phone and internet requests, we distribute them at conventions and travel shows, at welcome centers, mini markets, hotels, motels, state parks, and many other places all throughout the southeast.
Official County Tourism Website – Tourism related businesses are included on our website with a description of your business, a direct link to your website and email, phone number, address and other requested information. We average 30,000 website visits a month and we are the primary resource worldwide for people needing travel information about our county. Included in our website is an interactive version of our DeKalb County Visitor’s Guide. This one can be printed or viewed on line. It has a page turn feature, you can magnify the images and it contains live links to your website. In addition our website has links to online video’s and articles. You can request to have your video or article reviewed for inclusion on our website.

Travel Writers - We work closely with travel writers and other news media to see that articles are regularly considered for publication in magazines and newspapers nationwide. We submit press releases to magazines, newspapers and radio stations to promote travel articles on places, events and businesses in DeKalb County.
State Affiliations - We network closely with the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, The Alabama Tourism Department, the Alabama Travel Council, Chambers and CVB organizations all across our state.

Here are additional services we offer:
* Digital Marquee at one of Fort Payne’s busiest intersections. We promote your tourism related business on it.
*Weekly newspaper Column to promote Tourism in DeKalb County
*Member? educational seminars
*Television advertising campaigns
*Radio Advertising
*Magazine and Newspaper Ads
* YouTube video’s
*Presence as an exhibitor at state and regional travel shows
*Provide education and presentations to local clubs, civic organizations and area businesses
*Provide help with member ad campaigns
*Support local activities and festivals
*Provide general information about our county, our towns, municipal services, churches, history, maps and a host of general information for the community, for the traveler and for new residents.

*We promote businesses that out of town tourists would be interested in visiting. We do not represent local businesses that do not have a tourism draw. We do, however offer information at our information center to guests that ask about non tourism businesses like, auto service, health care, construction, retail (non tourist related) etc. We keep information on real estate and related information for people who would like to move to DeKalb County.

If you have questions please contact DeKalb Tourism at 256-845-3957