Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Welcome to Huntsville, Alabama!

Welcome to Live the Adventure! Not only I am celebrating my one year blog anniversary here on Blogger, I am also the featured blogger at Blog-Trotting, a virtual travel blog where you can stop in and learn about US cities far and near. Today I’m thrilled to be your tour guide. family picture

                                                A family picture with my mother-in-law 

My name is Tonya and I was born and raised in the Buckeye State. I’m married to my high school sweet heart, Rod, and together we have three awesome teenagers, Nickolaus, Joshua, Chelsea and our rescued four-legged fur baby, Vincent.

Five years ago, my family embarked on a special adventure when we began traveling with my husband’s job. The fact that we have always homeschooled the kids and loved to travel motivated us to take the family on the road. It didn’t take long for us to tire of our travel arrangements, a mix of hotel rooms and temporary apartments. We longed for something that felt a bit more ‘homey’. Last year we bought a 31 foot Class A motor home and excitedly moved in.

As you can imagine, living in such close quarters had its ups and downs but overall I think we survived quite nicely. I couldn’t imagine not having the experiences that we had. Finally, it became clear that our time on the road was drawing to a close and we were excited to once again put down roots. In July we moved into a house again, for the first time in over 18 months. But we didn’t return to Ohio…our adventure led us South to Huntsville, Alabama and this is where your tour will begin.

                                   Welcome to Rocket City USA!

co-op 014You can ask anyone in Northern Alabama what Huntsville is known for and they’re likely to mention Redstone Arsenal and the US Space and Rocket Center in the same breath. Redstone is a US Army post and home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center where the local iconic Saturn V rocket was built.

Today a replica of the Saturn V can be seen from I-565, outside Alabama’s #1 Tourist Attraction, the US Space and Rocket Center. The Davidson Center, the newest edition to the museum, holds an actual restored Saturn V rocket which is now a National Historic Landmark. Though the rocket center has amazing exhibits, simulators and an IMAX theater, perhaps it’s best known for Spacecamp.

botanical garden butterfly house 052 Though technology abounds you’ll find plenty of other attractions that beckon. Just down the road from the US Space and Rocket Center you’ll find another of our favorite attractions, the Huntsville Botanical Garden. No matter what season you visit, you’ll find something going on such as the annual Scarecrow Trail each fall or the Galaxy of the Lights, guaranteed to be one of the best Christmas light displays you’ll see. You’ll also find the largest open air butterfly house in the nation right here at the botanical garden.

Of course, I know some of you like to shop and I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest a quick stop by the Bridge St.Town Centre Mall for some of the finest shopping in the city. Make sure you take a break from your shopping and grab a bite of a chocolaty goodness at The Chocolate Crocodile. The specialty caramel apples are the BEST! If you’re looking for something unique and romantic be sure to schedule a tour on the gondola before continuing your tour through Huntsville.

mooresville 070If you’d like to learn a bit of local and state history while you’re in the area, you’ll find nearby Mooresville a must stop! The entire town, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, is a fun side trip. Of course you certainly won’t be the first to visit, Disney beat you to it when they filmed the “Tom and Huck” movie in the very same town. Can you believe that Mooresville was a town before Alabama was a state?

Harrison Brothers StorefrontIf you’d like to dip a bit deeper into the history of the area, you’ll enjoy Harrison Brothers Hardware Store, the oldest operating hardware store in the Yellowhammer State. Within blocks of downtown you’ll also find Constitution Village, Earlyworks-an amazing children’s museum, The Huntsville Museum of Art, Big Spring Park and a particularly special treat, Weeden House, one of the oldest antebellum homes not only in Huntsville, but in the state as well. It is currently operated by the most engaging curator. You’ll leave not only entertained but with an incredible appreciation for Southern Life.

MonteSanoStatePark015 Of course you don’t want to spend all day inside museums! It’s time to enjoy some of spectacular scenery and hiking trails that make Huntsville great. Our first stop is to Monte Sano State Park which happened to be the first place we parked our home on wheels. Though we loved our home on the mountaintop, with no internet access it didn’t appear to be the best fit for an active blogger.

monte sano sink trail 081 Our two favorite spots in the park would be the scenic overlook which will give you a breathtaking view of the Tennessee Valley and the trail that leads to the Stone Cuts. The exposed and weathered capstone of the mountain has resulted in an interesting passage through rock and a natural tunnel that is perfect for the explorer in you.

green mountain 059

Another outdoor favorite is the Madison County Nature Trail located on Green Mountain. This retreat like setting boasts a wooded 1 ½-2 mile trail that meanders along a beautiful, fish stocked lake. Of course, if you’d rather relax and enjoy the view you’re welcome to grab a seat in one of the many Adirondack chairs or wooden gliders at the covered pavilion where you can feel the breeze off the water and watch the playful ducks and visitors as they enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of the world at the base of the mountain.

Have I talked you into a visit yet? Of course I could spend all day telling you why I have grown to love Huntsville but  I’ll leave you to explore on your own at this website. Let me just say that if we can’t live in Ohio- there is no where else I’d rather be. Not to mention the winters are definitely more pleasant! 

Blog-trotting features a different destination each day and would love to eventually highlight each state. Would you like to be the next featured blogger? It’s easy, just go to the destinations page and leave a message. It’s that easy. Oh, before I forget, Carabee would especially love to feature someone from Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Connecticut and West Virginia and I know that some of you live in these states. Interested? Stop by Blog-trotting and check it out.  


  1. I think it's so neat that you guys traveled around and lived in your RV for 18 months. I'd imagine that's an adventure the kids will never forget!

    I'd love to take my husband to the Space and Rocket Center, he's still like a little boy when it comes to rockets and spaceships *L*

  2. congrats on your one year!!! and thanks for the tour around alambama! :)

  3. I'm an Ohio girl myself (though I live in Chicago these days), but you've definitely made a case for Alabama as a nice alternative to the Promised Land (what my sister and I jokingly call Ohio). I love the idea of visiting the historic sites and getting a fantastic caramel apple to boot!

    You must have the most amazing kids after all your awesome family travel experiences! Enjoy this next stage in your "stick house."

    Thanks for a great tour!

  4. Can I just mention how many times I saw Space Camp when I was younger? A LOT. Boy howdy, did I want to go there! I would definitely have to stop by there, if only just to relive those childhood dreams.

    What an interesting experience it must have been for all of you to travel around as you have. I'll bet you have some amazing stories!

    Thanks for the fabulous tour! And for being a part of BlogTrotting!

  5. Another fellow Ohioan here, but one that has never left (except for vacation). Your adventures sound wonderful, but make me realize what a homebody I am!

    The photos of the parks look inviting...we love to hike and explore new places with the kids; better put Huntsville on our list :)

  6. When we lived in the UK we'd come 'home' to the US each summer, and travel around visiting family. I used to joke that it was like The Partridge Family Traveling Bus. But you REALLY did it. Glad you all came through still a family. Our summer adventures together tested us!

  7. Ah, Huntsville! When I was growing up, we moved every year, sometimes to a different city, sometimes to a different state. We lived in Huntsville twice and just outside, in Harvest also. My father was an editor of the Times and later, the director of the Huntsville Community Action Committee.

    I adore Huntsville! I would have been in the first class of Ed White High School, had we not moved again. Thank you SO MUCH for letting me relive the memories of my favorite "big town" in the world!

  8. I guess a "welcome home" is in store.

    I can't wait to go through and read the rest of your story. We are an adventure seeking family too, having recently sold everything we owned for life in Bush Alaska. I love to read about other families who choose the less traditional routes.

    Thanks for the tour!

  9. I have a friend in Homewood that I'm dying to visit. Great tour!


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