East Alabama Wine, Art & Cheese Festival, Heflin, Alabama

The East Alabama Wine, Art & Cheese Festival is in Heflin

The East Alabama Wine, Art & Cheese Festival is in Heflin

My sister and I went to the East Alabama Wine, Art, & Cheese Festival last weekend. It was held at Smith Farms Store, at exit 205 off I-20 west in Heflin, Alabama. Admission to the festival was free, but the tickets to the tasting were $25 at the gate. We were given free tickets to the tasting in exchange for this post.

Smith Farms Store sign. You see it when you get off at the exit.

Smith Farms Store sign. You see it when you get off at the exit.

The Smith Farms Store has been in business since 1955. The sell smoked meats, cheese, candy, jams, jellies, imported beer & wines, and spices and sauces.

Inside Smith Farms Store

Inside Smith Farms Store

Their advertising says it is the home of the best smoked meat, wine, and cheese. You can see more about the store at their facebook page.

Bamawise had products for tasting from Holmsted Finest; Merry Cheese Crackers; and Pickled Pink

Bamawise had products for tasting from Holmsted Finest; Merry Cheese Crackers; and Pickled Pink

There were several tasting booths at the festival. One of the first ones Linda and I stopped at was Bamawise. Bamawise is a specialty food supplier that believes products made in Alabama are the best available. They represent some of the finest products from small businesses from all over Alabama. We tasted some Peach Chutney from Holmsted Finest; some Watermelon Pickles from Pickled Pink; and some Cheese Cookies from Merry Cheese Crisps. We talked for a few minutes with Patrick Davis, who is one of the owners of Bamawise. He said they help individuals with a good recipe or idea for a product get it produced and into stores so they can make money. With this arrangement, the small producers can focus on their products, while Bamawise helps them get sales. It’s a win win partnership. All of the products we tasted were very good.

Patrick Davis and his partner

Patrick Davis and his partner

Next, Linda and I went on to what we went for–the WINE! And, there was plenty of that. We tasted wines imported from Italy, wines made in California, and wines made in Alabama. All were good, and I would have bought a bottle of each one I tasted if I had had a pocket full of money, but alas, I did not. So, here are the ones we tried and loved:

From World Wine Imports: Mango Moscato Premio Italy: An aromatic Sweet sparkling wine with natural mango flavors.  A very sweet, bubbly wine that I loved. But then I love sweet wines.

There was plenty of wine to taste

There was plenty of wine to taste. This group had a Riesling and a red wine, Gemini.

I also like a good Riesling, which is a white, sweet, bubbly wine. Can you see a pattern here? My sister and I both tried the Northport Gemini, because we are both Gemini’s. It was good for a red wine.

Jules J. Berta Winery from Albertville, Alabama. They have the Smith Farms, SF label on their wine.

Jules J. Berta Winery from Albertville, Alabama. They have the Smith Farms, SF label on their wine.

We talked to Jules from Jules J. Berta Winery in Albertbille, Alabama. They had many varieties of wine available for tasting. Jules, show in the blue shirt above, said the winery has been in his family for over two hundred years. He and his wife, Becky were representing the winery at the festival. I tried their Riesling and loved it. We may go to Albertville for a tour.

The last booth we stopped at was for the Fruithurst Winery. This winery is just a few miles from my house, and I will be going there for a tour soon. I met Joshua and Dylan Laminack who own the winery and make the wine. They were fun to talk to, and posed for a picture for me:

Joshua and Dylan Laminack of Fruithurst Winery

Joshua and Dylan Laminack of Fruithurst Winery

Their wine offerings include several Muscadine wines, Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry, Blush and Blackberry wines. I tried the Sweet White Muscadine and it was so delicious. It tasted just like white muscadine grapes picked from the vine.

All of the wines, cheeses, and other treats we tried at the East Alabama Wine, Art, and Cheese Festival are for sale at Smith Farms Store in Heflin and Cullman, Alabama. For more information:

Smith Farms Store in Cullman, Alabama is located at 1-65 Exit 308  256-737-0505

Smith Farms Store in Heflin, Alabama is located at 1-20 Exit 205    256-463-4400

Oh! I did bring home one bottle:

Moscato D'Asti Viva Italy, a sweet fresh wine low in alcohol and considered a great dessert wine.

Moscato D’Asti Viva Italy, a sweet fresh wine low in alcohol and considered a great dessert wine.

Stopping To Meet Old Friends Again

Rachel and me at Ruby Tuesday

After we left Wet Memphis, we only drove about a hundred miles the next day, to Corinth, Mississippi. We have stayed at the Gun Club RV Park near Corinth before, and that is where we parked for the night. We stopped in Corinth so that we could meet up with my friend, Rachel, who write a blog called Yellow Tennessee. We have been online friends for several years, and finally got a change to meet.

Leaving Huntsville, Alabama

Fabgrandpa and I met Rachel and her family at Ruby Tuesday in town for dinner. Rachel has two children, who are 5 years old and 20 months old. Her baby girl is adorable! Well, so is her son, but that little girl was so cute. She was wearing pink cowboy boots that zipped up the side. If I could find boots like those in my size I’d get some for me! Rachel said Josephine would not wear shoes, would fight to take them off the minute they went on, until she let her pick her own shoes out at the store. And she picked the pink cowboy boots.

Hwy 278 East near Piedmont, Alabama

The next morning, we got on the road for the last day of our trip home. Driving through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in the fall is such gorgeous scenery. The best thing about crossing the Georgia line meant we’d be home in less than half an hour.

The Georgia line: Almost home!

Tripping Again IX

Yesterday was the last day of our roadtrip. We started out in Corinth, Mississippi, getting a late start because we slept in. We got all the way to Tupelo before stopping for breakfast at the Cracker Barrell there.

Mississippi countryside along Hwy 72

The leaves are just now starting to change around there, so it looked very autumny all the way. We took Hwy 45 to Hwy 78, and followed that all the way to Birmingham. Ah, Birmingham. I could have done without going through that city! So much traffic, going so fast, and right through downtown! At least it wasn’t at the lunch time rush.

Acckkk! I hate all that traffic in Birmingham!

Once we got on I-20 eastbound, there was lots of construction. I was kind of hoping it was finished–my daughter went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa from 1992 through 1997, and I can remember the roads being under construction back then, too. But no–it was torn up in many places between Birmingham and the Georgia line, with signs out for “Trucks Use Left Lane” every time there was construction going on. I was never so glad to get off a highway! (well, except for that bumpy one in Oklahoma City).

Construction--just one of many places along I-20 east of Birmingham

We arrived at Jellystone Campground in Waco, Georgia around 4:30 p.m. eastern time. This is a really nice campground, only three years old, and most of the sites are long pullthroughs. The monthly rate is $300 plus electricity deposit–not bad at all.Oh, and it is only about 3 or 4 miles from Cracker Barrell, Wal-Mart, and Ingle’s Grocery Store.

Fall color along I-20 Eastbound in the Talledega National Forest

I haven’t been to see any of the family or friends yet. I haven’t had a hair cut since February, except for when I cut my own bangs at the entrance station when they got too long for my hat. Becky is coming to spend the night with us on Saturday, and she will give me a great hair cut. Can’t wait!

Our home for the next month or so at Jellystone Campground.


Fungii On A Log

I took these photos last winter at Payne Lake Campground in the Talladega National Forest. I thought they looked interesting then, and when I came across the photos today, they still did. So, for your viewing pleasure:

Downed wood at Payne Lake hosts many lichens and fungi

These fungi are really pretty to me

Payne Lake Campground

These fungi have some elegant ruffles

I love the unusual shape of these fungi

Storms In Tuscaloosa

Fabgrandpa and I spent the winter in Alabama, just 35 miles south of Tuscaloosa. Today, while I am so glad we left there two weeks ago, my heart goes out to the people who are still there. Yesterday, a tornado not only touched down, it wiped out a major portion of the town.

This was an F5 tornado, about a mile wide. The area where it hit, around 13th Street and McFarland Blvd, is one of the busiest areas of Tuscaloosa at any time of day. We shopped at that Big Lots. Bought donuts at that Krispy Kreme! We have eaten at Full Moon Barbecue. Both of those businesses are gone. Just a pile of rubble. But the worst part of it is not the homes and businesses lost. It is the people who were killed. It is just so sad that they could be gone just like that! More than 600 people were admitted to the hospital in Tuscaloosa, and at least 50 were killed across the state of Alabama.

Until I started living in an RV full time, I lived in the south all my life. I used to keep a “storm kit” in the closet under the stairs in the den. It had a flashlight, some extra batteries, a change of shoes, some cash, candles, snacks, bottles of water, a tarp, and other things that I thought we might need if the house was hit by a tornado. Weather still frightens me. If the wind is blowing hard, I have a hard time sleeping. Although I have never seen a tornado in real life, I have no desire to. I don’t ever want to be close enough to one to see it.

I also want to mention that there was a tornado that touched down near Andrews AFB, where my son and his family live. My daughter in law said it was less than one mile from their house. The city of Ringgold, Georgia was hit hard, too.

Let’s all of us be thankful today that we are still alive, and remember in our prayers all those who have suffered such great loss from these storms.

Road Trip Time Again

As you may or may not know, Fabgrandpa and I live full time in an RV and work at the Grand Canyon during the season. It is time again for us to make our migration west for the job. We hooked up the trailer to our new truck for the first time today, and set out with a destination of Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. It is right across the river from Memphis, Tennessee. We’ll be staying three nights here so that we can go down and do Beale Street again.

We LOVE the blues, and live blues is the best ever! Our first date way back in 1991 was at The Blues Harbor Club in Underground Atlanta. I think I fell in love that night, while having dinner and listening to the blues with my handsome guy.

FabGrandpa had a goal of leaving by 9:00 A.M, and we actually got on the road around 9:20. He is in his own little heaven driving the new truck. It has a  computerized diagnostic and information system on the dashboard, that figures the MPG automatically. I know this feature has been in vehicles for a long while now, but we have been driving a 1997 truck since 2001, so this is all new to him. For a guy who loves numbers, he is, well, orgasmic!

computerized diagnostic display panel f0rd f-250

FabGrandpa loves this!

Although we only drive about 55 mph while we are towing our trailer, we were making good time. However, the trailer seemed to be “wiggling” around back there, something it didn’t do when we towed it with the other truck. We pulled over to the side of the highway for a potty stop, and discovered that there had been a blowout on the trailer!

RV blow out

it was blown UP!

That tire was not only blown out, it was worn completely off the rim! So, from now on, if that trailer starts wiggling, we’re stopping to see what the problem is! We have talked about getting on of those tire pressure monitoring systems several times, but never acted on it. I think now is the time to just do it.

This is where I am so glad I have that Droid phone that I got back in November. It has the greatest Map app on it that functions as a GPS. It shows us as a little blue arrow on the road, and shows us moving along the road as we drive. When we pulled over and discovered the blowout, I had no idea where we were, except that we were on the entrance ramp to US Hwy 78 near Holly Springs, Mississippi. I looked back up the ramp, and there was an Exxon gas station over there.

I found the Exxon Station on the GPS app.

Instead of walking back up there in 86 degree heat, I opened the GPS app, went to the nearby places tab, touched “gas stations” and there was the name and phone number of that gas station. I touched the phone number, and the phone dialed the number. When someone answered the phone, I told them I was in the RV on the on ramp to Hwy 78 with a flat tire and needed someone to come and change the tire. They gave me the phone number for Ricky’s Towing Service. I called Ricky, and less than 10 minutes later, someone was there changing our tire. Incredible! Even more incredible when you consider that I had no idea where I was!

Ricky's towing service is great!

James from Ricky's Towing Service

James from Ricky’s Towing Service got the job done in just a little bit, charged us only $35, and had us back on the road in about forty minutes. We’re going to have to find a tire store in the morning, but I sure that Map app will find it with no trouble.

We finally got to Tom Sawyer about 4:45 P.M., and got the very last site with a concrete pad! At least that was good luck! There is only a small part of the park open right now, because the river flooded. They are working to get the sites that were flooded cleaned up and repaired.

It was still hot when we got here, so after we got set up, we went inside for some A/C and a cold beer!

New Grist Beer is gluten free and delicious

My gluten free New Grist Beer!

And just because the rig looks so good:

Jayco 32fks travel trailer

The new truck and the trailer look pretty good together.