Mentone Family Adventure Day
Family Adventure Days began when my husband and I realized that while we were all together at home on the weekends, we weren’t actually tuning into each other as a family. With the temptations of video games, tv, and the internet at home, we decided to set aside one day each weekend that we are able to leave the house and get out and have some inexpensive fun together as a family. This began in September of 2009 and has been the best thing that ever happened to the Jordans!
Fall is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE time of year. The land cools down a bit and we can come out of our humidity induced hibernation to get out and play! Our colors are so gorgeous this time of year.
I still have it on my list to take the kids to North Carolina to see the leaf change (one of the best spots in the world for fall, in my opinion) but that was not to be again this year so instead we decided to head on out into one of the prettiest spots in Alabama to see the changing colors, Mentone.
Mentone, Alabama is a beautiful little community on top of Lookout Mountain, near Fort Payne, and home to DeSoto State Park. All of our Alabama State Parks are just gorgeous so if you ever get a chance to visit any, don’t pass it up!
Mentone is a little less than a two hour drive from where we live, so we like to venture up there a few times a year if we can make it. Summer is also a wonderful time because it is almost as gorgeous in Mentone as it is in the fall.
We started out at the Boardwalk Trail in DeSoto State Park, which is something I’m just thrilled to death over. This ENTIRE trail, leading into some of the most beautiful fall foliage you’ve ever laid your eyes on, is wheelchair accessible. I know a lot of us don’t really think of things like that because, well we don’t have to. It’s not a part of our daily life so we don’t consider it. BUT, just think about if someone is confined to a wheel chair, or even requires a walker or heavy use of a cane to get around, getting to actually get out into nature is something that just isn’t possible beyond looking out of a car window.
This boardwalk trail gives people who might otherwise not be able to, the ability to be out beneath a canopy of leaves and to really experience this. – And I think that is just awesome.
It is also a very easy way to introduce young kids to tromping in the woods.
I know Brady isn’t really classified as a “Kid” anymore but I’m thinking if you have toddlers and such.
The boardwalk trail goes on a good bit. We went at a leisurely pace, stopping to look at leaves and pose for some fun pictures along the way, and spent about an hour and a half on it.
We like to take a lot of pictures
Along the way there are little bench areas to sit a spell and even picnic tables and a gazebo.
Here, from left to right we have: Katy Rose, Sweetie, Ricky, Zoey, and Brady.
We usually try to switch up so we end up with both of us getting in photos with the kids
I’m just tickled to death about this boardwalk trail! You know, my mother was in a wheelchair for quite some time several years back and she and I saw firsthand how many things aren’t available to folks who don’t have the ability to walk. We really do take it for granted.
FYI: Most handicapped bathrooms are actually not handicapped accessible if you are unable to walk.
As we were walking along the boardwalk we passed lots of folks out enjoying the colors just as we were, and at one point we walked past a couple and I heard “Well there’s Christy Jordan!” I turned and got the treat of meeting Marion Wynn, who is a member of our Southern Plate Family! I’m so glad you said hi Marion, and gave me the chance to hug you!
Marion was smarter than us, they had camped the night before in the middle of all this glory.
I just love photos like this of my babies.
See how loving and sweet they look? Such a devoted brother and sister…
On the other hand, you can look at it and see the twinkle in Katy’s eye with a mischievous grin, knowing that her brother hates for her to love on him like this, especially in photos, so she’s squeezing him and hamming it up for all it’s worth just to torture him. Brady, on the other hand, is offering up a halfway smile because his Mama might have just told him that she’d stand right there taking photos and letting his sister love on him until he did.
Never miss a chance to get an up close shot of your kids faces. or any family member for that matter.
This is sooo Brady.
There are also several opportunities along the boardwalk trail to get off the trail and venture off a bit, which we did.
I think I finally managed to drive home to Katy Rose how you walk in the woods on a mountain trail after saying “Katy Rose, you have to pick your feet up like this, pick your feet up-up with every step because there are tree roots all along the ground.”
Our dogs, Zoey and Sweetie, really enjoyed getting to go with us on this trip. It’s so easy to take them on day trips in the fall because we can easily leave them in the car if we need to run in anywhere. This was Sweetie’s first Family Adventure Day with us but she caught on quick and had a ball getting to sniff a gazillion different leaves.
I take a lot of photos of my family from behind, and every now and then someone asks me why I don’t have them turn around before I take the picture.
I think it’s because I like getting these little moments without them realizing the moment was being captured.
And then you have moments like this where you look up and realize that your thirteen year old son, who was just a baby yesterday, is now almost as tall as his daddy.
Katy was beside me when I took this and said “Look Ma, they’re wearing the same kind of jeans, the same kind of shoes, and the same kind of jacket. Brady is turning into Daddy”
I said “I know baby, but let’s not tell them because they haven’t noticed that yet.”
Look at that face. Heart of gold, brain of brilliance, and that smile to boot. Steals my heart every day.
Me and my gal. She’s her Mama’s girl for sure.
And she has such a fun and happy spirit that you can’t help but join in!
After our tromp through the woods we got back into the car for a short drive to DeSoto Falls.
There are several waterfalls you can hike to in the area and the hikes range from easy to difficult.
This one, though, you just drive up to and park
It’s hard to see from this picture but this is a very deep area, with high cliffs. Okay so not high like some of them in say, Hawaii or something, but high enough - and I’ve never been to Hawaii so this is plenty high for me anyway.
My Mama has always dreamed of going to Hawaii.
I mostly dream of going to a small cabin in the woods, in a place like Mentone, with a fireplace, a creek, big old trees, and a rocking chair.
There are a series of waterfalls.
That get progressively deeper into a canyon.
And just in case someone doesn’t have sense enough to be able to tell that this is dangerous – I mean just in case you’re the sort of person who sees a 40-50 foot cliff and it never occurs to you that falling off of that onto the rocks below would probably not be a good idea, they have these signs here.
DO NOT CROSS RAIL
Just in case you couldn’t have figured that out on your own.
I’ve never had a problem figuring things like that out on my own. I’ve also never been surprised when I ordered coffee and discovered it was hot. I know you’re the same way but I have an odd feeling we’re going to be in the minority in the very near future
So I kept my distance. Not only was I not going to cross that rail, I wasn’t even getting remotely close to it.
I don’t care for heights … or cliffs…
So as I’m hugging the rocks behind me, staying as far away as I possibly can while still taking pictures, I look and Ricky and Katy have walked down to another area and while Ricky is taking a photograph for a couple, Katy is doing this…
Right by the DANGEROUS OVERLOOK sign.
I would have never been able to get that close even if I crawled, and she’s standing there all “LOOK MA! LOOK AT ME! Wooohoooo!“
The child is going to be the death of me.
Sometimes it’s best to just take a deep breath and look at the trees…
On the road home we saw more beautiful colors.
I told the kids it was like God took out His paint set and colored the leaves with one of his favorite palettes,
and we got to spend all day walking around in His masterpiece.
Sweet Home Alabama.
We had a wonderful day and the total cost of this adventure: half a tank of gas and the price of a pizza on the way home.
I hope you get to go tromp in the woods soon.