Monday, April 24, 2017

Alabama

The second state we decided to check off our Bucket List was Alabama. After Google-ing unique things to do in Alabama (because really, what is there to do in Alabama?) we decided to go camping at Cathedral Caverns State Park. So after Cody got home from work on Thursday, April 6th, we finished loading up the car and started the ten hour drive to the top northeastern corner of Alabama. We finally crossed the Alabama state line at about 7:00 the next morning.
It took us about another hour and a half to get to the campgrounds where we had our pick of the campsites and went ahead and got set up. 
We then drove up to "get registered" and buy our tickets for the cave tour for the following day. I say "get registered" loosely because we probably could have camped there for days without them ever realizing we were there (in fact, I think one of the families that ended up camping there Friday night probably never paid for their campsite). It was pretty laid back. We spent the rest of Friday relaxing, walking around the park, reading, making a campfire and eating hot dogs and s'mores. We pretty much had the grounds to ourselves till about dinnertime when other campers started showing up. 

On Saturday, we took it easy in the morning and waited to go do the cave tour until 2:00. I think there were 14 people in our group including our guide. The cave tour was amazing! I've never been in a cave that massive before. It took us about an hour and a half to walk as far back as we were allowed and then back out of the cave. The most incredible part of the experience in my opinion is that, except for the walkways and handrails that have been put throughout the cave, everything else about it has been untouched. There was one tunnel we went through that had been blasted out, but only because the natural tunnel floods at certain times of the year so it's unsafe to use it. I think for most of the tour through the caverns, my mouth was hanging open because I couldn't believe how expansive they were. 
in front of the cave opening
from the inside looking out of the natural cave opening
If you're looking for something cool to do in Alabama, I would definitely recommend Cathedral Caverns State Park. We spent another freezing night in our tent Saturday, and spent Sunday packing up and driving home. Alabama: done! 2 down, 48 to go.

What little-known treasures in the U.S. would you recommend we try to see?

27 comments:

  1. Looks like a great family vacation in a few years! Glad you guys have made this awesome bucket list! It's inspiring!

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    1. Definitely! The entire tour of the caverns is wheelchair/stroller accessible although there are a few really steep inclines so you'd get a workout pushing a stroller.

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  2. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-lesser-known-tourist-attractions-in-america-2014-6

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  3. Island of Kauai, Hawaii - the Na Pali Coast was amazing. You can hike/camp with a permit (11 miles one way), or do shorter portions of the hike. It's well known on the island, but it's not accessible by car. Or you can come do the normal touristy things on Oahu ;)

    Owls Head, Rockland, and Camden, Maine - cute coastal areas that we went to when I was a girl. My mom loves lighthouses, so we saw a few in that region - Owls Head Lighthouse and Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. One of the towns (Camden, maybe?) had a prison shop where the inmates sold amazing wood work - ships in glass bottles, little wooden boxes, etc. We went blueberry picking on Mt. Battie.

    Upstate NY is beautiful - the Adirondacks, especially.

    Central Virginia has the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Peaks of Otter, the Natural Bridge, and Smith Mountain Lake.

    I drove through Northern Alabama once a few years ago, and I loved the lakes and mountains. It looked like a nice place for a vacation :) We toured a cave in MN with my husband's family. It was so cold underground!

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions! Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to drive the Hana Road in Maui and camp up there. :)

      Our only stipulation so far for Maine is to eat lobster. Haha! So your recommendations will definitely come in handy there.

      I've driven through upstate NY, and you're right, but we are definitely going to do the city together. Broadway, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Strand--we've both experienced NYC separately, but we want to do it together.

      Northern Alabama was beautiful! I wish more of our drive had been like that, but we only had about 2 hours of that and then the rest was Georgia. Ugh.

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    2. We'll get around to Maui at some point in the next year or so :) I love Maine, but I'd definitely suggest going in summer - June, July, August. It's cold up there the rest of the time.

      I liked Ellis Island more than the Statue of Liberty after watching Hitch. I bought Divergent and a coffee cup at the Strand, but go up to Jacksonville to the Chamblin Book Mine for better deals (and possibly more books).

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    3. Oooo, I'll definitely have to check out the Chamblin Book Mine! Sounds awesome!

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  4. Love the cave pictures! That looks really fun! Kind of makes me want to go there and camp and you know I am not a camper!

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    1. Honey, you would love the cave! It was amazing!

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  5. I've always wanted to visit Alabama to go to Unclaimed Baggage! https://www.unclaimedbaggage.com/about/

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    1. I have never heard of that before. So cool! I can just imagine all the random stuff they must have there.

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  6. Woohoo!
    Soon we'll be saying Sweet Home Alabama & meaning it!
    As a native Georgian, this would not normally be something to be excited about, BUT THEY DON'T KNOW 'BOUT ME.
    This camping trip looks amazing.
    I'm not sure about the "freezing night" part...I need to ease into the camping world.
    TAKE ME WITH YOU NEXT TIME!

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    1. We definitely were not prepared for how cold it got while we were up there. It actually would have been perfect if we had brought extra blankets. We generally prefer to camp when it's colder. The days were gorgeous. I think we might have caught the last cold snap of the year because the week before and the week after, the weather was back up in the 80s.

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  7. You guys should come up to Mammoth Cave some time.

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    1. Wow, that cave puts Cathedral Caverns to shame! Haha! We are actually tentatively planning to do Kentucky next year. We will definitely have to add that to the itinerary. Our Kentucky stop is the Derby because #lifegoals. Have you ever gone?

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    2. No, I haven't ever been to the derby. I've been to the big fireworks display on derby weekend which is currently coming up. If you want to see a beautiful are of KY you may want to check out Red River Gorge. It's one of my favorite places in this state.

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    3. I know. If the Derby wasn't the same weekend as my sister's graduation, we probably would have gone this year. Speaking of which, can you believe Sarah is graduating from COLLEGE?! The Red River Gorge looks like a beautiful area. Thanks for the tip! :)

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    4. Sarah's graduating from college?!? Wow! I really have been gone a long time.

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  8. California: beach camping, driving the 1, redwoods, mountains, big bear lake, catalina island, San Francisco, the list goes on...

    Montana: glacier, camping, camping, camping, work on a ranch, breathe in big sky country, yellowstone, missoula

    Nevada: desert camping, vegas, hoover dam, lake tahoe

    Colorado: climb a 14er, see the red rocks, garden of the gods, pike's peak, go to fort collins and visit the brewery,

    Washington: seattle is awesome, but also take time to visit the smaller surrounding towns--very charming and good people, great camping up here

    Oregon: hiking, hiking, hiking! such greenery, the waterfalls are beautiful, salem, portland, crater lake, multnomah falls, haystack rock

    hawaii: cannot recommend kauai enough. go there and do everything. on maui the hana highway is not to be missed. if you go to oahu, make sure you cliff dive off the china walls and go to the north shore for the best cave swimming.

    arizona: yes the grand canyon is fantastic, but also go to lower antelope canyon and have your minds blown.

    utah: fresh air, open spaces, great hiking here: bryce canyon, zion, arches, etc

    new mexico: just driving through this state will change your life. desolate beauty.

    texas: great for drinks and good food. houston and austin are your best bets.

    you haven't seen the states until you've gone out west. do it all.

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    1. For Cali, we definitely want to start up north with the redwoods and drive down the 1 to San Fran.

      We have to do Vegas. Obvs.

      Bryce Canyon is already on the list for Utah, and Four Corners is non-negotiable. I've always wanted to stand in 4 states at once.

      We want to go to Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. It's the most photographed event IN THE WORLD.

      And in Texas, we actually want to hit San Antonio and do the River Walk. And take in a rodeo, because #duh.

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  9. Loved reading this and love road trips. I gotta go see this place.
    I desire to visit all the suggestions as well.
    Will there ever be enough time?!
    Love you,Mommy

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    1. I know! The more I research about things to do in each state, the longer the list keeps getting of things I want to do. So much to see, so little time.

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  10. California/Nevada - Lake Tahoe is a must!!!!

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