The lake outside my window has taken on a whole new life. Mother nature has dumped gallons of water across the Southeast, making us all take notice of the power of water.
Here on the lake, not only is the beauty, the million dollar homes, the leisurely lifestyles and the fishermen who flock here the focus, but so is the quality of the water and the love for nature shown by those who will gather in the next weeks to clean her shores.
Water brings with it the gift of life. The stored treasure beyond my yard fuels our children, quenches Tuscaloosa athletes, bathes us as we prepare for each day. It flows freely from the lake to filtering systems to our faucets. We work to conquer our little empires, meet our goals, and work to afford vacations to other waterfronts across the world.
As we gathered over burgers on the back porch, the value of that water we take for granted took on new meaning. I learned of groups from local churches venturing to Haiti and the Dominican Republic 6-8 times a year, carrying water filters into the hillsides where families with million dollar views live in three dollar shacks with no clean water. Each year 3.4 million people die from water related illnesses, almost the number for the entire city of Los Angeles.
A group there worked with Church of the Highlands to hike into the jungle, going door to door in Voodoo country taking 600 free filters to families. Volunteers visit each home, placing water filled with mud into the filters and and out comes water that the team drinks in front of them.
On a particular trip, a mother had recently passed after giving birth. Four other children remained with a father, who was terminally ill. The team took him to the hospital for treatment and has arranged for the children to be taken care of.
“The needs are so great,” a local participant said. “We cannot do it all, we know that. But it is like those starfish that you throw in the ocean. Some of them DO make it back. We return as often as we can to find those starfish.”
There are teams working on adding space in their building there to take in children who are orphaned and have nowhere to go. They also are sponsoring children for school. Education is the key to their escaping this life.
I recently met a sweet girl who ran the Mini Cooper tour business there. Twenty four, bright, educated, but unable to ever leave the country. We offered to host her here. She now has a baby and will probably never leave.
As I stand on the hillside and look out across the Caribbean beauty on a recent vacation with my family, it is hard to express what hides among the hills with the best views.
It is this groups goal to find each one and bring them the fountain of life that we here in America expect to simply drip from our faucet, straight from our freshwater lakes.
I!f you are interested in learning how to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit your local church to find a trip you can be a part of! www.churchofthehighlands.com has a number of ministries across the world for you or your child.
My husband and I bid on a trip at a charity auction a few years ago and had the opportunity of a lifetime. We bought a trip for a Safari at Ezulwini Game Preserve. The only way to visit is to purchase by donation to a charity.
While talking to a friend, I soon learned that she had lived in Johannesburg for two years and shared her love for Cape Town, South Africa. My husband and I were determined to add it to our trip.
We flew into Johannesburg directly from Atlanta (an 18 hr direct flight) The couple who bought the Safari the year before us flew into Amsterdam with a layover for a night while celebrating their honeymoon and then continued into Johannesburg a day later.
We stayed in “Jo-Berg” overnight at an American Hotel Chain and enjoyed an incredible meal. It was a late flight so we ate there, had a bottle of wine (all for about 40 bucks including a steak…be ready to spend tiny bits of money for elaborate meals in South Africa~ and no scrimping on the quality) and turned in.
There is a lot to see in Jo-berg but it is dangerous at night. We were just ready to sleep to get ready for the new day and adjust to the time change. A little prescribed Ambian on the plane is not a bad idea either. I usually do not take anything ever….but as someone who already creatively gets my days and nights mixed, I thought it best to get on the same schedule as my traveling companion.
We rented a four wheel drive car (recommended) and drove to Ezulwini’s main camp the next morning. It is a beautiful drive but if you are not comfortable exploring and ending up on roads that lead to nowhere, then you might want to arrange public transportation.
Some people took a short flight from Johannesburg to the place they recommend near Ezulwini and Krueger National Park.
I believe it was a four to six hour drive through mountains and on back roads and once we ended up at the end of a road after a wrong turn in a township which was a bit scary but that is how we roll. Let me also note that there ARE signs at exits that say HIGH HIGHJACK AREA DO NOT STOP. WE whisked through that one looking LEFT RIGHT LEFT…NOT GOOD AS YOU DRIVE ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD SITTING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE CAR. Luckily THEY stopped as we entered oncoming traffic to the left.
Do not let that deter though. South Africa is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and that includes most of Central Europe, Costa Rica, Mexico and across the U.S.
We DID make it and as we drove through the huge gates into the property we were all alone in a car passing monkeys, elephants, giraffe and some hippos on the way in. Imagine the excitement of that!
Driving from the city we were able to get an idea of the industry, huge diamond mines and mills along winding cliffs and fields coated in dark black stones with cattle grazing among the rock. We began to wonder how South Africa can be so poor yet so rich at the same time.
We stayed at Ezulwini’s main lodge for two nights and Billy’s Lodge three nights. I would recommend that combination. Each night others who have bid arrive and together we enjoy shared dinners around the table cooked by the staff at both places. It is incredible to meet people from all over the world who have also won the trip through a donation to a charity. We each had an individual “hut” that was airtight (sealed from the critters that include scorpions and other things I had not studied up on) but they make sure to sweep out each night and there are nets to give you the feeling of security from things that bite. Again, I have to admit, Ambian became my nightly friend.
There is a pool at the Main Lodge and open air bar that is a fun place to look at all of the photos of others who have passed through, write in a journal, sit around and meet the locals who work there or you can wait for the sunset views from the tower overlooking the watering hole. You will not be disappointed by the facilities. It is more like visiting someone’s home than a resort. The Billy’s location has more of an open air/ hotel feeling. There they have long overlook walkways and some of the homes have private pools. Ours did not but our neighbors were so sweet to share it one day when they were out exploring. There we were, sunbathing overlooking the bush as animals roamed just in front of our feet in the valley below.
They DO recommend you be escorted at night anywhere on the grounds, as in all camps there because WE are prey to lions and many times those animals pass through. There is also the thing I did NOT research and that is the BLACK MAMBA. So it is not for the faint at heart but we even had an elderly woman with cane-like walker who did FINE on the trip and rode in the vehicles on all of the drives. She had no problems.
Our first night at Billy’s Lodge the owners were there. They invited us to their private wine cellar located in a luxury cave that still had line drawings etched in the walls from hundreds of years before. There was a complete bar and a staff member to serve us. He shared the history of the places. They emphasized that they only allow those who have a heart of giving to be a part of their preserves. We never met a person we didn’t love getting to know as they all had various philanthropies and the same urge to explore the world while also giving back.
After that we travelled to Cape Town by plane and will both say that is the most incredible place in the world. It is wine country that competes with California in climate and sophistication. The beaches have white sand and are clean with crystal blue waters. Whales pass through seasonally and there are seals that make their home on the nearby rocky shore. The hotel we stayed in was just beneath Table Mountain and first class. I think it was Harbourview, a name that later in my life became significant. The pools were oriented, as well as the entrances, so that you felt you were there all alone. Community dinners gave us an opportunity to again make friends with a couple from London who later went to dinner with us at a local restaurant that served the freshest food and some of our favorite wines to date. We ended the night in a pub where karaoke soon rang out with a little “Sweet Home Alabama” twang.
We had drivers take us around in Range Rovers as you can quickly end up in a township that is best explored with someone guiding you.
Ezulwini’s owners also own an incredible house tucked beneath a mountain overlooking the sea just about an hour outside of Cape Town. Here is the LINK to Maritime on Moonlit Bay. It is remote on the end of a peninsula overlooking a lighthouse and not much else. Baboons roam free there across the roads. We travelled out there by car and they were so kind to just tell us “stay, really stay”. It was a private house when we were there but that is how the owners are. There is also another private home with security. They are incredibly generous and just want the world to know how great South Africa is. Everyone in Cape Town speaks ‘LONDON ANGLISH”. BEING FROM THE SOUTH, I GOT A KICK OUT OF THAT.
If you want to visit contact them for information.
Follow Ezulwini on Facebook.
Trevor and the guides update the hunts as they happen. We just saw that the lion king of the pride died since we have been there. Big Boy. So as you see, even two years later we are connected to what goes on there. We saw all but one of the big 5 (Cheetahs were off in another area but some others the day we got there had seen them) on tours that were made twice a day.
The unique experience here is that they are a part of an innovative group taking down fences to ensure a natural environment for the animals to have free range on private lands. A number of the owners in the area work together to see that they have more open range. Many are fenced. There is NO hunting on this preserve, but the photos and memories are priceless!
I have found, in living on the beach as with living on the lake, that while we can set up tent on the shores of nature, God is in complete control. While residing for three years on West Beach in Gulf Shores, I became in tune with every breeze, display of sunset, and the ease of unwinding into the end of a day. I was aware of each popup storm that blew past, as it tossed umbrellas and spewed sand. We were forced to move inland at least three times because of hurricane threats and tropical storms, towing dogs, cats and kids. For the next 10 years, I lived in the city. I found I lost count of sunsets and even the shape and size of the moon most of the time.
This past month’s ice event shut that city down, showing us that we can prepare, but we can never be ready for everything that nature has in store.
I was in my home on the lake the entire week of “Snowpocalypse 2014.” All became still on Lake Tuscaloosa the day after the snow blew across the South, although I have heard there was a pontoon out that afternoon to take in the white wonderland vistas from the water.
I watched as icicles formed, growing longer each day as the ice refused to melt. Tracks in the snow reminded me that these are not “our woods.” I actually had time to fill the bird feeder that I glance at on the way out the door to meetings and carpool, thinking maybe I should refill it, despite the squirrels.
My dogs, who associate the woods with our camp house and freedom, we try to contain. Their excitement is buzzing as much as that of the kids in the neighborhood. Through their eyes we can re-connect with our inner child, embracing the magic of snow.
On the lake, only a few days before the ice storm, I sat on my deck in shorts, soaking in the warm sunshine and watching a sailboat putter out to the point until it raised its sail, capturing the wind for fuel that would push it across the open water.
Each day, as I putter back to home base, tired and hungry, I am reminded why we live. As an artist, as well as a writer, I look at life as art.
“Colors are beautiful when they are significant,” I read in “The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri, beside a warm fire. He died in 1929, but any artist who has studied the notes from his classes realizes his wisdom is timeless.
Life is beautiful when it is significant. Many of us live life being simply present. Quoting from Henri on a day when I have nothing else to do because I am locked in by Mother Nature, I write as I read, “It takes wit, and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish and the spirits must flow.”
Life and spirit, I am convinced while surrounded by it, flow most naturally in nature.
I look back on the ten years in the city and while I loved that time, I am happy to be back in the throws of nature. While in Birmingham, we took the time to explore every restaurant, outdoor cafe, music festival, and cultural event that we could fit into our weekends. We would drag the kids along, all in the name of “exposure to the things in life,” to Bible studies, art shows, festivals, garage sales, and plays. We would have date nights to motorcycling spots, RV adventures, beer pubs, wine tastings and fundraisers. We lost sense of what God was doing outside of our self-orchestrated circle of life.
Today, just a few days after the ice has melted and a warm rain plummets on the roof across the rocky yard and into the lake, the waterfalls blast with activity to again remind me of the power of nature. Just beyond the hilltops I catch a glimpse of one ray of sun piercing through a cloud as it illuminates the water for only a second before fading back to shadow.
Tonight, or perhaps tomorrow, or whenever Mother Nature agrees to move onward, I will make a point to step beyond the porch and find what that moon has been up to. Again, I have lost track. Maybe right now I am missing a rainbow as I write. Art is always being created by nature even when we aren’t looking.
Here’s hoping you have a peaceful run-in with nature. Until we meet again, be sure to gather those photos of you and your love of nature, the lake, or your love for anything for that matter. Because in life, the greatest of all is love, and it is February, the month for no excuses!
Photo: Allison Puccetti Adams
Colors of the Lake acrylic, by Allison Adams.
Summer Camp. Ah, the memories! Every child should experience it. We all remember the uncertainty that initially hit us as we watched our parents ride away, leaving us for what they assumed to be “a part of growing up”. At pickup we didn’t want to leave what would perhaps become one of the most incredible experiences of our lives.
Summer camp these days is as varied as the children who attend. There is something for everyone.
Listed are a number of great options, from local Tuscaloosa Camps, Regional, to camps in other states that Tuscaloosa area kids regularly attend.
Local Specialty Day Camps
Academy of Ballet and Jazz, Open All Summer. Instructor Susu Hale Prout, Age 18 mo-adult, Mommy and Me, Pre-school, and intensives. 205-752-5124, www.danceabj.com
The Dance Center, One week workshops beginning June 2. Ages 3-5 (Monday-Friday, 9-12:00)
Little Princess Camp: June 16-20; Broadway Babies- July 14-18; Ages 6-8 (M-F, 9-12:00);
“Angelina Ballerina”- June 2-6; “Pop Diva” Camp— July 7-11; Ages 7-10: “Tutus and Tilts”- June 23-27 (M-F 9-12); “Camp Radio Disney”- July 21-25 (M-F: 1-4PM).
TDC Summer Intensive Workshop with Guest Faculty: Week 1: June 9-13; Week II- July 28-Aug.1 (M-T, 10-6 PM). 205-752-5354, http://www.thedancecentre.net/
MJ’s Academy of Dance, Mary Jo Thompson, Summer Session: June 9-July 17. All styles and levels of dancing at affordable prices. Weekly Classes (all ages) $60 for 6 week session (meet once a week), $50 for each additional weekly class per session and sibling discounts. Dance Camps $136. Tights and Tiaras (Age 3-6) June 2-6:8-12, July 21-25, 8-12. Pop Idols (Age 7-11) June 2-6 8-12, July 21-25, 8-12. Dance Intensives: Age 11 and up) TBA. Pre-register 205-343-7757, email@example.com, www.mjsacademy.com
Hillcrest Shopping Center, 6521 Hwy. 69 S. Suite K, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405.
The ACT Summer Theatre Production Camp, July 21-26 9-2PM, all ages, cost $235. Geared for fun! T’shirt, script, lunches, and snack included. Performing at the Historic Bama Theatre. Workshops include songs, choreography, blocking and lines. 205-393-2800. www.theactonline.com
Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre and Theatre Tuscaloosa join to present Theatre Camp 2014. Acting, improv, music, movement, audition techniques, technical theatre ending in a showcase performance June 27. Beginner or veteran will have lots of fun. K-11th grade. Drew Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-310-8010/ 205-391-2277.
Bama Bounders Gymnastic Camps and Classes
Erin Holdefer-Kightlinger owner. Open to all ability levels. Skills taught in vault, bars, beam and floor for girls as well as rings, parallel bars, high bar, pommel horse, vault and floor for boys.
Full day and half day camp dates beginning June 2-Aug. 4
Gold Stars Camp- M-F 8-4pm, Girls and boys 5-14. Gymnastics, swimming, dance, games arts and crafts, Pizza Fridays, movies.
Silver Stars Camp-M-F, 8-12, Girls and boys age 5-14, gymnastics, games, arts and crafts and more.
Bronze Stars Camp-M-F, 8-12, Girls and Boys age 3-5 (potty trained) Gymnastics, games, art projects, stories.
Before and after care available for additional fee.
Preschool Playtime, Parent’s Night Out, Birthday Parties and Field Trips available. 205-722-2436, www.thebamabounders.com
Northridge Fitness Kid’s Strength Camp. 3 Days per week, age 11-15. Principles of proper body mechanics, developing core strength, weigh lifting safety. 205-752-1201, www.northridgefitness.net.
Tiger Rock Martial Arts- 6 days a week for Martial Arts classes and four locations. Limited Number of spots for a “Train all Summer Program”. Tuscaloosa: 759-4711, Northport: 339-7071, Hillcrest: 343-6449.
University of Alabama Nike Tennis Camp
Two weeks of overnight camp and day camp: Directed by Head Men’s Tennis Coach, George Husack, Women’s: Jenny Mainz, and Assistant Men’s Coach: Ryler DeHeart. Ages 9-18 (all levels) 8:30am-4pm. June 1-5/ June 8-12. Fundamentals of tennis to enhance skills. Evening activities games on the quad, swimming, movies, swimming and other activities. 30 courts outdoors and indoor facilities in case of rain. Check in: 3:00-4:00 Sunday at UA Varsity Stadium- dressed to play. Day Campers depart that afternoon at 6:30 after check in, evaluation and pizza party. Check out: Graduation: 3:00 pm Thursday at UA Varsity Stadium. Parents invited. 800-645-3226. www.USSportsCamps.com
University of Alabama Sports Camps: Offers a number of camps and clinics for the sports enthusiast, including
Baseball Camp ~ Crimson Tide Experience Elite 40, June 30-July 2- $775. and summer youth baseball camps ranging from $140-225. http://collegebaseballcamps.com/bama
Cheer/ Dance Camp- Elementary Camps; Nick Saban Camp; Gymnastics Camp; Soccer Camp; Softball Camp; Swimming and Diving Camp; Tennis Camp (see above); Volleyball Camp;
Go to the site for full information on all camps with links:
Brushstrokes Summer Art Camps
Sessions in June and July. June 2-12 (12:30-2:30 or 3:00-5:00) , June 16-26 (12:30-2:30), July 7-17 (12:30-2:30 or 3:00-5:00), July 21-31,(12:30-2:30), Teen Camp June 5,12,19,26,July 19,17, (Thurs. 9:30-11:30). $185.00 per student. $20 deposit. 205-657-0199, www.annsbrushstrokes.com/summer-camps/
On A Roll@ Fifth and Main, Northport. Young Chef’s Cooking Camp, M-F, July 7-11, July 21-25: 3:30-5:30. $200, includes supplies and ingredients and fun loving instruction in a safe, controlled environment. Chefs 9 years and up. 205-247-7773, Email: email@example.com
ALL AROUND CAMP FUN~
The Capitol School
Contact them for activities and flexible schedules. Summer Explorations 2014 with 2-week sessions of educational topics from June 2-August 8. Ages 2.5-18 years. Opens at 7:30 for working parents. Morning classes 8-noon, afternoon 1-5. Tuition $200 for 40 hours. Session 1: June 2-13, Session 2: June 16-27, Session 3: June 30-July 11 (July 4 Holiday), Session 4: July 14-25, Session 5: July 28-August 8. High School Term: June 9-July 31.
Located on historic Capitol Park at 2828 Sixth Street near downtown Tuscaloosa. 205-758-2828. Enroll online for Summer Explorations at www.thecapitolschool.com
Children’s Hands-On Museum
CRAZY DAZE of Summer. Nine Weeks (50 days of crazed fun!) Kid Karaoke, Dueling Basketballs, Skee Ball, Foos-Ball, Air Hockey. LEGO CAMP. Fun events on special days.
Like on Facebook. www.chomonline.org
FLUM- Forest Lake United Methodist Church
Weekday Kids Program Summer Camp, Grade 1-7 where they can “Just Be a Kid”.
Arts and Crafts, Daily Devotions, Bowling and Movie field trips, swimming, water days at Shelby Park, Games, Sports, Skating onsite, free t-shirt if enroll by 5/1/14. June 2 – August 1/ 14, 7:30-5:30 PM. $50 enrollment fee, $95/week or $25/day. Includes two snacks/day, supplies and field trips. 205-758-6623, Email: WDKSummerCamp@hotmail.com
Wee Camp (pre-K – 4) Field trips, on site activities.
PARA-KIDS Summer Day Camp
Grades K-8 grade: Belk, Faucett, Miller and Phelps Centers, 7:30-5:45 PM, M-F. Single day to weekly. $30 registration, Daily fee $27 or $81/ week. Activities: Exercise programs, swimming, archery, skating, bowling, softball, kickball, inflatables, arts and crafts, Riverworks Discovery and butterfly studies, Field Trips: Lake Lurleen and Alabama Adventure Park.Melinda Wiggins 205-562-3230, firstname.lastname@example.org , http://www.tcpara.org/page/35/day_camp_youth_events.html
Tuscaloosa Academy – Summer Knights Program
Ages 3-rising 8th graders. Also a program for ages 3-K taught by certified staff with special activities to help their development. Summer Adventure grades 1-8. Enrichment and Sports camp activities for the budding chef or sports enthusiast with camps teaching sports skills, express their creativity and stretch their minds. Half Day and Full Day from 7:30-5:30. 205-758-4462 ext. 513, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuscaloosa Barnyard~ Summer Day Camp
Come learn about life on the farm away from TV and video games. Activities: Taking care of animals, boat ride, fishing, games, farm movies, hay rides, pony rides, horse training, arts and crafts, games, learning about nature. Slow paced environment. Kami: 205-248-0773. Space limited: 50% due at time of sign up. www.tuscaloosabarnyard.com
The Community Music School (CMS)
School of Music at the University of Alabama Moody Music Building. University faculty and area professionals. Pre-K to all ages. Private Lessons age 5-adult: piano, band, orchestra, guitar, ukulele, organ, voice, French, Spanish. Offered June-July.
Kindermusik: Age 0-17mo,Age 18M-3Y, Age 4-6Y, Morning or afternoon, June-early July.
Camps: Violin, Piano Camp OR Ukulele Camp Age 5-8:(One week: June 2-6 or July 28-Aug. 1-9:30-noon, $85); Kids Yoga; Beginning Guitar or Drums Camp-Age 8-12: (One week: June 2-6 or July 28-Aug. 1-9:30-noon, $85); Intro to Violin Camp Age 9-12: June 2-6, $85.
Musical Camp: Magic Tree House: The Knight at Dawn July 14-25, 9-noon M-F.
Organizational Meeting 7/13, 6 PM. Show with speaking parts, solos, ensemble cast, songs, dialogue, costumes, staging, accompaniment. Practice CD included: $160.
Summer String Camp~ Grade 4-9. July 28-August 2, M-F: 8:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30-concert at 1. For students already playing instruments and able to read four strings and play in several keys. Teacher recommendation required. Snack prov., bring lunch. $250.
For info. call 205-348-6741, www.music.ua.edu/community-music-school.
Tuscaloosa Piano Studio, beginners age 5-11, July 14-18. Meets from 9-12 daily. Groups according to age. Recital at 11:00 on Friday. Cost: $120. which includes book. 205-454-7463.
Crimson Music Camps: Jazz Improvisation and Marching Percussion Camp: June 12-15; Band, Piano and Vocal/ Choral/ Opera Camp: June 15-20. bands.ua.edu/programs/crimson-camp, Heath Nails at email@example.com.
The Long Weekend- Summer Multimedia Journalism- June 13-15, grades 6-12. $125. Teach creative and effective ways to communicate through writing, exploring magazines, yearbooks, literary magazines, broadcast programs. June 6 deadline for registration. asps.ua.edu. Meredith Cummings: firstname.lastname@example.org, 348-ASPA.
Sylvan Learning Center ~ Writing, mathematics, study skills, specialty classes for state exams. 205-345-7676.
Tuscaloosa Public Library Summer Reading Program
All are FREE
Tommy Johns- Magic: Tuesday June 3, 2014: Weaver Bolden Branch: 9:30, Main Branch- 2pm, Wed. June 4: Main Library- 9:30, Brown Branch- 2pm http://tommyjohnspresents.com
Tom Foolery- Juggler- Tuesday, June 19, 2014: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30, Main library-2pm,
Wed. June11, Main library: 9:30, Brown Branch- 2 pm
Summer Safety Programs: Tues. June 17: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30, Main-2pm,
Wed. June 18, Main- 9:30 am, Brown Branch- 2 pm
Kit Killingsworth- Bubble Fun: Tuesday July 15: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30 am, Main-2pm,
Wed. July 16: Main- 9:30 am, Brown Branch-2pm
Dr. Magical Balloons- Magic and Storytelling: Tues. July 22: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30am, Main- 2pm; Wed. July 23: Main 9:30 am, Brown Branch- 2pm. http://www.drmagicfun.com
4-H Animal Programs: Tues. July 29: Weaver Bolden-9:30 am, Main-2pm,
Wed. July 30:Main-9:30, Brown Branch-2pm http://www.aces.edu/main/
The Bama Theatre: Movie Friday, Aug. 1: 10 am, doors open 9:30
Tuscaloosa Public Library, 1801 Jack Warner Parkway, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, 205-345-5820,
Alabama Museum of Natural History ~ History Expedition 36
Middle School Week: Grade 6-8) June 9-14; High School Week (Grade 9-12) June 16-24; Public Camp Week (all ages) June 23-28, email@example.com.
June- August Programs with Summer Field Trips including tubing, caving, fossil-hunting, canoeing in various areas around the state for families, students and children over the age of 10. Transportation and equipment provided. 205-348-7550.
July 11: Shark’s Tooth Creek Fossil Trip; July 12: Canoeing on Bear Creek; July 15: Tubing the Little Cahaba River; July 17: Canoeing the Coosa River; July 19: Shark’s Tooth Creek Fossil Trip; July 29: Tubing the Little Cahaba River; July 31: Canoeing North River; August 1: Canoeing the Coosa; August 2: Shark’s Tooth Creek Fossil Trip; August 9: Shark’s Tooth Fossil Trip
Summer Camps at AMNH. Art Day Camp: June 2-6
Discover art and science for grades 3-5. Sculpture, painting and photography.
Art Day Camp June 2-6, Science Day Camp: July 21-25; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 205-348-7550. Space is limited.
Alabama Summer Computer Camps,Dept of Computer Science High School: July 21-25, July 28-Aug 1, Middle School: Aug 4-8 (includes computer, robotics, smartphone apps with App Inventor at the high school camps. outreach.cs.ua.edu/camps
Dr. Jeff Gray at email@example.com 205-348-2847.
College of Environmental Sciences, ages 11-14. Management skills, experiencing college life, enhancing confidence and self esteem, investing, insurance, wealth accumulation, and credit. Snacks, Camp T’shirt. Application at ches.ua.edu
Jan Brakefield, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAMPS Within Driving Distance:
Lake Forest Ranch
Interdenominational Christian co-ed camp in East Central Mississippi on 60 acre Shadow Lake. (less than two hours from Tuscaloosa) Theme: Building Relationships for Eternal Impact. Activities: horseback riding, wild ride water tube, low and high ropes course, basketball, gym games, tennis, beach volleyball, swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, archery, frisbee golf, game room/ arcade, paint ball course for teens, Bible Studies. Rick Malone: 662-726-5052, www.lakeforestranch.com.
Moundville Archaeological Park- Indian Day Camp
Session 1: June 2-6, Session 2: July 28-August 1. Ages 9-13. For kids interested in Native American arts and way of life. Focus on weaving, pottery, gourd crafts, hiking, gathering wild foods, touring museum and park, storytelling and sampling authentic Native American cuisine. From Tuscaloosa, a bus will meet at Smith Hall at the University of Alabama at 8:30 returning at 4:30 PM. Cost $200 per child per week. 205-371-8732, email@example.com , http://moundville.ua.edu
McWane Center- Summer Camps. Various topics each week with some overnight options. Morning sessions (9-12:30 and afternoon 1:00-5:00). 205-714-8414. http://www.mcwane.org/camps_and_more/camps/summercamp.
Nike Golf Camp~ Samford University, Birmingham Age 10-18. Overnight ($935)and Day Camp ($595)from 8:30-5pm. Hoover Country Club. July 20-24. 800-NIKE-CAMP.
Riverview Camp for Girls: Mentone (3 hours from Tuscaloosa). Christian camp, ages 6-16. Cabins with bathrooms and showers. Photos downloaded each day of campers. Directors: Susan and Dr. Larry Hooks. Offers Mother-Daughter Weekends in April and August. 800-882-0722. Jennifer Fisher- Tuscaloosa’s Representative: firstname.lastname@example.org
Camp Skyline Ranch- Mentone. Girls Christian Camp for ages 6-16. Various sessions. $3,217. for two weeks, 1725. for one week. June 8-August 1 (see website for session information). Arts and Crafts, Horseback Riding, Swimming, Archery, Dance, and other activities. 800-448-9279, www.campskyline.com
Space Camp- Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, Grades 4-6 (age 9-11). Summer $979/ person. Climbing wall, simulator, Spacedome Theater and Digital Theater. Begins on Sunday and ends on Friday Morning.Various topics from robotics, Space Academy, Aviation Challenge, to Day camps. See the site: www.spacecamp.com/
Xcelerate Nike Girls Lacrosse Camp at Auburn University, Youth and High School , June 25-28. Age 10-18 Girls. 800-NIKE-CAMP.
ZooFari Camp at the Birmingham Zoo~ Grades 4K-8th Grade. 8:30-3:30 pm. May 27-Aug. 15, weeklong camps. Ranges from $200-260. Visit their site at www.birminghamzoo.com/education/ or 205-397-3877 or email email@example.com.
Valley View Ranch, A’top Lookout Mountain, Cloudland, Georgia. Six Sessions June – August ranging from $1500-2950. Limited to 60 girls. Hunt Club, Vaulters,Barrels, English, Stock Seat, Pony Club (younger campers). www.valleyviewranch.com, 706-862-2231.
JH Ranch ~ A camp teaching practical Christian Principles for everyday life. Headquarters in Birmingham. Ranch in California ~ http://jhranch.com/dates, Business Office :402 Office Park Drive, Suite 310, Birmingham, AL 35223, Toll Free: 1.800.242.1224
Jamey Abersold’s Summer Jazz Workshops, Louisville, Kentucky, $595.
http://workshops.jazzbooks.com/, Workshops of varying levels in Jazz studies, 812-944-8141.
My husband and I recently made a road trip across Mississippi to the little town of Clarksdale.
Each year we try to surprise each other with birthday trips. This year he took me on a horse adventure in Georgia.
He was thinking we were headed to the Viking Cooking School~ the Alluvian Hotel and Spa, but I had some more rural destinations in mind.
Clarksdale has become famous stemmed by events revolving around blues music and the characters who surround it. Morgan Freeman, who has revived a local blues joint called Ground Zero Club has helped spark renovations nearby. Just recently, among all of the newfound interest, you will find loft rentals for weekend guests wanting to immerse themselves in the music and Southern culture.
On the outskirts is another spot called THE SHACK UP INN. My husband has wanted to go there for a while.
We recently sold our Tiffin Motor coach and had always talked about having an airstream. I thought a night in an airstream might be fun to check out. I just happened to find one at a quaint little artist place (with renovated barn which holds a dark room and art studios) on the internet called 7 Chimneys. It rivals some of the dreams I have had of fixing up the old family place to have artist retreats and live off the land spreading creative cheer across the countryside.
When we arrived we found that the main house and pool belong to the owners (they were out of town) so we did like anyone else in a shack would do (a quite nice one at that) and sat for a spell on the front porch, absorbing the breeze until the window unit could catch up with the June 90 degree heat, taking photos of the sun as it set across the airstream I had hoped to be renting for the night. They were kind enough to upgrade us to their largest cabin since the airstream was under renovation.
We have talked about taking an airstream across country. I would probably be happy having one in my driveway, full of artwork and creativity I could park in front of anyone wanting a class or take it along to the beach or a festival. My mom cringes at the thought.
Since we were about ten miles out of town and were planning on tasting a bit of moonshine if we ran across any (when in Rome), we decided to call a cab. Friends told us there was a cab driver called Mr. Jolly who helped out some friends who told us about the place. He was “down the road a piece” and said he would call us when he got back to town. Mr. Jolly IS, “in his words”, the only paying cab service in town.
Lo and behold, he did call us back.
We explained by cell phone (thank goodness times have changed where those are an option) after we watched him pass us a few times that we were “in the shacks by the white house with seven chimneys”.
“Oh, yeah, you must be at Miss Stovall’s place!” he said.
We waved and hooped as he rounded the dirt driveway.
“What yall stayin up in here for? I used ta live in one of them shacks like that?” he said with a half toothed grin. ” Spent my life tryin to get out of one. This is a ways, you know. Gonna cost ya about thirty.”
The owners of the house had told me when I called to check availability, “oh don’t worry, just leave the door open. Everybody does, and we will have it open with the keys on the counter for you.”
When I called the owner after arrival to see how we might get to town without driving she said, “oh you should drive, there is only one cab. You might get there but not sure if you will get back. Sorry to cut you off, but we are a bit frantic as a truck was stolen from here last night. It was a worker I believe, a person we are mentoring so don’t you worry. Nothing dangerous.”
Luckily I had brought Bertha as I always do when I travel.
Just before we were loading into the car with Mr. Jolly, a bright red pickup pulled to the back of the house. We then noticed three black kids who were casually playing out front in the sprinklers. We waved to them as we pulled across the yard. They couldn’t have been older than twelve years old.
“Aw, they must be the workers children hanging out for the weekend,” I thought as we bumped along beside them on the gravel road in the cab.
Minutes later as Mr. Jolly and I began chatting about places to eat and things to do we heard police sirens and realized we were being pulled over.
“Lawd, that is the pow-leece,” Jolly said as he kept rolling not sure it was for him, but finally pulling over.
“Jolly,” the policeman said as he gave him a pat on the back and motioned for him to come to the back, “there has been a break in up at the …. place.”
I have to say, as a writer, I can never be in a situation and and not try to hear all that is going on. I heard “stolen truck”, leaned out the window almost jumping over my husband who was trying to hide his beer beside the door like we were still teenagers and yelled, “Is it a red truck?”
“Well, yes it is,” he said. “Have you seen any young chullins too?”
“Those kids back at the house I guess were dropping one off. We thought they were with an adult. Holy moley! We have solved a robbery!”
“He skirted off in his outdated police vehicle and we high fived and told Mr. Jolly how much we loved the excitement.”
“I still don’t get what just happened,” Mr. Jolly kept saying as he scratched his head, adjusted his cap and headed again towards town.
I think even after we got out he was not sure what had gone down.
That night we paid him $100. He had recommended a few places to eat but we headed to a more trendy looking spot just down from Ground Zero Blues Club.
We ate at Stone Pony Pizza on Delta Avenue. It appeared to be a locals place with live music. We had a quick pizza after our half day of work and the three hour drive from Tuscaloosa to Clarksdale. Many of the restaurants that people had recommended as icons had closed to our disappointment and we passed on the bar-b-que because we live in the town where Dreamland was born, but hear ABE’s is noted as the best in town.
We headed to Ground Zero where King Fish (who happened to be a large, brown teenager with a set of lungs and talent that would make Led Zepplin take notice) and a group of young kids at the blues camp held each year were showing their talents, bending notes on a harmonica towards a packed house. We fit right in with the families of teen musicians, someone asking us which was ours.
“We are too young to have kids that old,” my husband chimed as he often does in denial on road trips. “I know my place….My baby is now 19 and on the road somewhere near Michigan with a band called LONGREEF as I write this.”
*note, Ground Zero has a free taxi limo but Jolly gave us a tour of all the great spots to eat and be seen and perhaps never return from in Clarksdale. Who can resist that?
We called Mr. Jolly and he picked us up for the return ride within a few minutes. The ride home after a night of Blues that rivals any on Bourbon Street (NOLA), continued to be a surreal event. Mr. Jolly had picked up his girlfriend as he came to get us, but on the ride home, it was only him. He told us about his wife, how he had lost her six years before.
“Ain’t never gonna find another like that one,” he told me. “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to find what I had.”
Some things that change, just can’t be duplicated.
“It’s ok,” I said as if he needed my consoling. “You will meet her again one day.” We were the only souls anywhere to be seen on that long stretch of two lane between miles of huge, lush corn rows, even in 2013.
“Sho Nuff,” he said with a smile that glittered in his wide rear view mirror.
I squeezed my husband’s hand and watched the headlights shine high into the trees on the oak lined two lane road just in front of Muddy Waters Cabin site with my hair blowing across my face. I watched the needle bounch just right of center on his dash. I tried to remember the last time I had ridden in a one seat wide car, especially with the windows down on a two lane road. It didn’t take long to remember I learned to drive in a car like this.
“You know, you don’t need to know nothing in this world but whether you are going to heaven or to hell,” he said. “The rest don’t really matter much.”
There is a lot of talk in Clarksdale about heaven and hell.
After all, this is where Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil that made him a legend,
brought blues to the world, and cost him his life.
We heard all about him the next day when we ventured into the Cat Head Store. The man working there already had a small group of regulars gathered round as he told stories about the crossroads.
He told us about the spot where Robert Johnson is buried.
“Go left on Highway 8 until you find Money Road.
Don’t forget to stop at the remains of the old Bryant General Store where Emmit Til was said to have flirted with a white lady cashier and was killed by the owner. That moment started the Civil Rights movement. You might miss it so go slow. It is a boarded up two story brick gas station. “
He continued with directions and I wrote them down like a roaving reporter in my little notebook tucked inside my snakeskin purse.
“There will be a blues marker about five, no two to three miles down the road, and a white church on the right. Robert Johnson’s grave is one tucked under a big Pecan tree in the back left side of the yard.
Nothing has changed since he was buried except for the driveway which was once river gravel,” he continued.
The shop keeper had a few new bodies venture in and continued with his stories about the man who was in church that dug the grave in that, the only black cemetery of the day.
“You know the sickest part,” someone there said as we all leaned in to hear his whispers, “Roger Stoli owns Robert Johnson, and his name is on the back of his headstone. Makes me crazy sometimes and I wanna go rub it off or something. He had his only kin sign over rights. Come to find out there was a child no one knew about. That kid still gets only half of the sales of his songs. Stoli still gets a piece. That my friends is pure robbery.”
Now I grew up in a small town. You can believe ALL of what you hear, or some of what you hear, either way the story is gonna be good.
Robert Johnson was 27 when he died. He was at an extended gig in Greenville, MS. It was known he loved the ladies. He shacked up with the wife of the owner of the place where he was playing. Unfortunately, his girlfriend happened to be a waitress there. The owner had her serve him a bottle of whiskey laced with poison. (click his name above for music and history)
“He was poisoned on a Saturday but didn’t die until Tuesday,” the shopkeeper said with this look of revelation on his face.
We ventured into to an upscale shop called The Delta Bohemian, part of a bed and breakfast type hotel downtown. We chatted with Madge, the owner awhile and I fell in love with a butterfly covered silk sarong she had designed and had made in New York.
We left there in search of a tamale, finding Larry’s Tamales just down the way. We rolled up in there a bit earlier than they are accustomed and ordered a dozen tamales. “Fountain broken,” the owner told us as he motioned while barely looking at us towards the machine just beside two men rolling the tamales in the back. Luckily we had our own chilled drinks in the car.
We learned about Sonny Boy Williamson and W.C. Handy, and saw Wade Walton’s Barbershop where these guys would have spontaneous jam sessions back in the day. The country’s oldest blues station, WROX 1450-AM may have been the station that was cranking out all of the blues tunes as we paraded the streets.
That night after our enlightenment and being immersed in the culture we stayed in the Gunny Shack at the Shack Up Inn. The stories had made the adventure more than just a trip to an old town. We felt like part of the story as we checked in to a shack that had once belonged to a black lady who was an artist. Her brushes and a canvas were still lying on her desk in the corner when we walked in. I felt, as an artist, this was some part of my history that would plant itself as one of my “moments”.
There was a band from New Jersey warming up for the filming of a music video. We were some of the only people in the daylight crowd of six.
We hung with the band and a guy who had come from Australia once and never left.
“I bought me a piece of land down the way,” he said.
Jolly later told us when he picked us up for dinner in a local joint that he had had a call to that place a few years back when he was working for the police force.
“He’d done put his woman out on the street. She was screaming and carryin on. He told us to take her back to the bus station,” Jolly said.
Never know what you will find in a small town and how big the stories tend to get throughout the years.
Surrounding the town is thousands of acres of what used to be cotton. The Hopson Plantation once had a 4000 acre cotton farm and commissary. Cotton is no longer king in Clarksdale. Apparently corn is, for bio-fuel, according to the locals.
So there is no surprise that on the way out, we took the route towards Money Road.
It is a good thing we didn’t follow the directions because the miles were off, but the descriptions were right on. The place was almost abandoned, except for the big sign saying he was buried there. The gravestones surrounding him were turned over and broken. His was coated in Mardi Gras beads, old bottles of whiskey, plastic flowers covered in mud.
We pulled out onto County Road 6 towards town and attempted lunch at Giardinas in the Alluvian Hotel and Spa in Greenwood, MS, but it was closed on Sunday. We had also been told DOE was one of the best places ever to get a steak…EVER. So next time, we will have to find a way to get there for dinner.
As we toured Greenville in no hurry to get back to Tuscaloosa, we found a restaurant tucked within the old Train Depot. Immediately a family began asking us how we found the place.
“We never eat fast food on trips,” my husband explained.
“Well, welcome!” at least two to three people said as they greeted each other then motioned to us, one an elderly man in his 90’s whose daughters had driven from Oxford to take him for a Father’s Day lunch.
We devoured the special, roast and gravy, among photos and read the news clippings dotting the walls of all of the latest achievements of anyone in town as we prepared to ease back to a bit quicker pace.
Not much has changed along the Delta Blues Trail. Sunday’s are still defined by flocks of cars lining the roads beside the rural churches. Fried chicken and heavy roasts are still favorites for after church feasts and there is always an excuse to go a calling to friends and neighbors across the trails, dirt road and two lanes. We said a prayer as we eased off back to T town and towards the bustle of our family of three children, two dogs, a cat, two parakeets and a hamster awaiting us at the end of the paved drive.
Story and Photos by Allison Adams
except for linked material and video
I can feel them now in Belize~ landing on a soft beach, speaking of love, toasting to their future, perhaps sparking a small wave, a breeze of what is to come across the planet where we are, just as we are soaking in and simply remembering the first wave.
Every year I love to pull out my journals from the year before
(yes, there are usually two or more of them).
I am a journaling junkee!
This year I created a new way to capture my journaling and my calendar in one place.
The happYmess Journal documents my todays while I plan my tomorrows.
I also LOVE the SARK’s Journal and Playbook! I have one from 1996, one from 2000 and one from 2006. While many of the goals, scribbles and thoughts are similar, they still evolve.
WHAT ARE YOU DREAMING TO DO DIFFERENTLY IN 2013?
WHAT ARE YOU LOVING THAT YOU WANT MORE OF IN 2013?
After all, we all made it through the doom and gloom of the end of the world at the end of 2012!
Last year was the year for my painting evolution. I took some great workshops through local and regional outlets.
@pauljackson @alabamaartsupply @kellienewsom @nancunningham @forstallartcenter
(even google evolving where these are supposed to link to these artists~ who knows! but hey, I am up for big changes and new adventures, even if on my blog!
In 2013 I explored @seejanewrite the blog a day for 30 days and made it with a few “multi blogs” along the way! Thanks @javaciabowers @seejanetweet
SET A GOAL, ANY GOAL AND SEE WHERE IT LEADS YOU!
It doesn’t have to be life changing! Just something to help you stretch and grow!
Here is a GREAT one!
Anyone with a camera on their phone can do it! And be sure to tweet it to me
at #artallie on Twitter!
This is the link to the DAILY PHOTO CHALLENGE!
TODAY! DAY ONE! A FAVORITE! FOOD
AND I LEAVE YOU WITH SCENES FROM BARTON G RESTAURANT IN MAIMI BEACH!
Treasures like this are all over the world. GO EXPLORE them~
Barton G was the personal chef for Versace. Next time you go to Miami
find this quaint restaurant tucked on a side street among gardens and find a corner table beneath the twinkling lights in the trees.
Or better yet, stay in tonight and get creative! Find a bucket and fill it with ice cream, candy bars and top it with POP ROCKS! Your kids will love you for it!
Blessings to CREATIVE LIVING EVERY DAY in 2013~