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…

Uh huh.

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.

Choose one :)

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.”

My boy :)

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.

DANGEROUS OVERLOOK

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.

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Comments

      • Michelle Garringer says

        aww Christy once again you got my tearducts leaking, your Katy Rose is a hoot! and she SO takes after her pretty Mama! i just was thinking that your Brady was almost as tall as his Daddy when i read your comment! you have such a lovely family and i very much enjoyed this post seeing the Alabama fall leaves, if it helps up in Kansas we look the same!

        • says

          Michelle, I’m gonna tell you, My grandmama says “That Katy Rose is a real stemwinder!” LOL. She keeps us hopping, well they both do really :).
          It’s so funny how our thought processes as Mama’s just kinda go along the same lines!!! Thank you so much for your sweet heart, you’ve just warmed me from the inside out!
          Gratefully,
          Christy
          P.S. Kansas is on my list to get to one of these days, too! We hope to take our kids to all fifty states. It’s a lofty goal and we’ll likely not reach it, but it’s fun to plan :)

      • says

        Christy, We just got back from Fort Payne,Little River Canyon & DeSota State Park. It is just beautiful up there. This was my 3rd time. We live on the
        West side of the state and it is worth the drive. I ust go my first copy of Taste of The South magazine,it’s more like a cook book. I’m enjoying it so much. I also enjoy your website and your e-mails.

        Thanks again,
        Shirley Guyton
        Sulligent, Al. 35586
        sguyton63@centurytel.net

    • says

      Hey Sandi!! We sure did. Oh my goodness, it was so relaxing. I think you have to get outdoors in order to keep things in perspective. When you see how much bigger the world is than all of your problems and stressors, it just kinda helps me keep things in their proper perspective, you know? Hoping I make it up to your neck of the woods someday!
      Gratefully,
      Christy

  1. says

    I loved reading this! Your “family adventure” posts are some of my favorite posts. Days like that are the best in life. We just moved down to Florida and while I am on your Mom’s side of things (dreaming of someday going to Hawaii) I have to say I have missed the Autumn colors this year and would love a day like this. Also that is super cool about the accessible walkways.

    P.s. I love taking pics from behind too for the same reason.

    • says

      Meridith, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who loves those kind of pictures! If you do it, too, then I can’t be weird, right? Well, at least not in this case :) If I ever get rich (beyond being able to pay for my mortgage and put food on the table – I realize that IS rich), I’ll just charter a big old cruise ship and personally take you and Mama down to Hawaii. Maybe we’ll even rent out a whole island! :)
      What part of Florida are you in? You know we’re Disney nuts in this family :)
      Gratefully,
      Christy

      • says

        Oh my goodness now you are talking my language – a cruise to Hawaii is my dream. :) If I win the lottery some day I’ll do the same. How about a Southern Plate themed cruise, that’s an idea!

        We just moved to Titusville, FL from Columbus, OH because my husband got a teaching job here. I grew up down south in GA and FL so it is so wonderful to “come home” to the south and be closer to my family. We are about 45 min from Orlando and we are Disney nuts too! In fact I think a large part of the reason my husband applied for the job down here is because it’s so close. He is a bonafide Epcot nerd. He used his birthday money from his folks to get us “After 4pm” Annual Passes to Epcot and it is the best gift ever for our little family. Marlo loves it so much. We feel so beyond blessed to get to do that with her every couple weeks. There is so much you can do for free at Disney that people don’t realize!vWe spent the day this weekend at Downtown Disney . I LOVED your Disney post. We are hoping that Uncle Sam is good to us for our tax return and we can take Marlo for the first time to the Magic Kingdom on Spring Break and I am going to be looking for that dining plan deal!

        We love it down here. Next time you come visit look us up. :) We are only about 30 min from the beach!

  2. Kay says

    Beautiful Christy, I know what you mean about handicap accessible. I was a nurse for over 35 years and most of my patients were in wheelchairs. They want and deserve to get out and go where we do and see God’s beautiful work.

  3. Marianne says

    Oh Christy, I have to find this place, my Mom is unable to walk but just a few steps, she would LOVE this. Also the waterfall that one can drive close too. She will be in heaven here on earth! Thank you so very much for sharing this. By the way, Brady is growing up too fast.. put some books on his head or else he will soon be as tall as his Dad!! LOL. Beautiful family as always! Hugs, Loves n Prayers!!

  4. susan yarbrough says

    Thank you for sharing your family day with us; I find myself coming ‘here’ a LOT lately for more than a recipe; I take ‘comfort’ and joy in your happy, uplifting posts! Sincerely….

  5. Linda J. says

    Lord, those pictures bring back memories! We used to travel from KY to Fort Payne every year in October to visit friends. I’ll never forget my first experience with Desoto Falls. I’m not good with heights but I really wanted to see that view, so I ventured out almost to the rail. Needless to say, I literally had to CRAWL back up to the steps! People were looking at me real funny. lol.

  6. Debbie Strum says

    What a wonderful post, Christy! Love all the pictures. I enjoy the ‘from the back’ photos for the same reason you take them. Can’t believe how much the kids have grown since June!! And how neat that you were able to meet Marion Wynn! I’m sure she was just as thrilled! Thanks for sharing your Mentone Family Adventure Day with us. How blessed you are to have such a beautiful place to take your family to enjoy God’s beauty.

  7. Hillary Golson says

    Yes Mentone is beautiful! Me and my hubby got to spend the night at a bed and breakfast in Mentone for our anniversary! IT WAS WONDERFUL! Has your son ever camped at Camp Comer the scout camp up there? We recently took 3 of our boys to Cub Haunted.

  8. Reidith says

    I am originally from Attalla Alabama. The last time I was home during the fall was 2002. I went to Mentone then.
    These pictures make me so homesick ! I am sitting here with tears
    I am out here on the prairies of Nebraska wishing with all my heart Icould be back home in Alabama. sigh……..

  9. Jan Beier says

    Christie, I just love your family time posts…they make my heart smile. (And I just realized I’m smiling while typing!! LOL)

    Thank you for reminding me we need to go visit Mentone!!

  10. Terri go Dawgs says

    What a gorgeous place!! I love the different seasons and being outdoors. So, being from the manufacturing wheelchairs industry, I have lots of friends in wheelchairs that would love to go there. Plus, I like seeing places where families and their pets can enjoy being together too. Thanks for a wonderful post! Glad you had a great wkend.

  11. Jennifer E. says

    Christy, I am so with you on the cabin in the woods (on our recent vacation to TN/NC/GA my husband found a shirt for me that read “I’d rather be lost in the mountains than found in the city.” That’s me!!). My husband wants to go to Hawaii and likes to vacation on the beach or near the water-me, just give me some mountains and I am pleased as punch!!

    We were in the North Georgia mountains this time last week. Our home base for a very long weekend trip was Chattanooga. We went up to Cherokee and drove all the way through the Smoky Mountains. My boys had never seen the colors like that before. (Hubby got the “smart” idea to try Cades Cove-ummm, not so smart.) We went to Rock City on top of Look Out Mountain (guess there is one in AL and the one in TN/GA where Rock City is) and saw beautiful colors there too.

    I’m so glad y’all were able to get out and enjoy the trail-we ended up in the car waaaaaaay more than I had planned. There was just so much to see, we never took the time to get out and really stretch our legs (that unplanned detour to Cades Cove wasted a LOT of time just sitting-will never do that in October again!).

    Your AL mountains were so pretty to drive through on our way to and from TN (from Texas). I love Texas with all my heart-but not sure how long I can fight the desire to live in those mountains!! God bless and thanks for sharing your trip!

  12. kim stepp says

    Christy, thank you so much for sharing your day with us. My heart ached when you brought out about your baby becoming a young man, as I often too think that when I look at my boys who are now 18 and 14, and both taller than me. Then, when little miss Katy Rose was by that sign, I felt your anxiety, as I could hear myself saying, you need to come over this way. Don’t like heights, can’t swim, and ohhh I could feel the lump in my throat while laughing at her goofiness at the same time. So glad you all had fun.

  13. melanie says

    Christy
    Thank you so much for letting us spend the day with your family walking in the fall.leaves. That is the one thing that I really miss about WV is the fall, the mountains covered in all their beautiful colors. I was already homesick now I am even more so.

  14. Sue Walker says

    Dear Christie,
    Thank you for posting these lovely pictures. It looks as though everybody had a great time ( including the dogs), and as another poster commented Brady and Katie Rose are growing up really, really fast.

  15. Cyndi says

    Wow, what beautiful pictures and this type of outing would be the perfect day for me! Also, thank you so much for your concern and consideration for those with disabilities. My mom has used a wheelchair for several years now , and I certainly agree with you on the difficulty of accessing many places that most of us take for granted! And ugh, the bathrooms…. You are so right. You and your family are so beautiful and such an inspiration to me. Thanks!

  16. Ann says

    We spent a week in Ft Payne a couple of years ago – it was in the summer though – my favorite is the fall – I love the mountains in the fall. We stayed in some old log cabins that had been restored, and I told everyone my Grandma would have been proud of me cooking in that little kitchen – it was so cool!! We spent last fall in Murphy NC and that was cool too. Was disappointed not to go again this year but new floors in my house took precedence! Looking forward to next year, might just try Ft Payne or Mentone again!! Thanks Christie!!

  17. Amanda says

    Brings back memories of when I was much younger and a group of friends would make the annual “chalet-ing” weekend to Mentone and the Little Grand Canyon. Your lil girl saying that your boy is “turning into Daddy” just brought me to tears. How sweet! I’m married now and live on the Cumberland Plateau which to us has some views that rival Gatlingburg. Love reading your site! God bless!

  18. says

    Christy
    Oh what a lovely adventure you and ur family had. I to am a handicap so being able to just see the leaves up close and perhaps to hear there crinkle under foot if i could walk. But through your eyes and the eyes of your family i did see and hear what the walk was like. thanks so much for your kindness to others less able then some.
    friend
    april

  19. Cindy Lamb says

    Christy, Thanks for sharing your wonderful day with us! Almost felt like I was there with you. I might have to plan a little trip there soon for my family. I can so relate to your comments about Brady. Matthew turned 13 yesterday, so I have been a little teary-eyed all weekend. They grow up way too fast! In the pictures I took over the weekend, it was easy to see that he is now taller than me. I also like to take pictures from behind – it just gives a whole different perspective. Glad all of you (including the dogs) had such a great day together!

    • says

      I hope you get to take a trip and have an outing there soon Cindy. It is such a pretty place and we loved spending the day there. Tell Matthew that I said Happy Belated Birthday!! I hope he had a wonderful day. Now you and I should go gather boulders to put on their heads!

  20. Lori says

    This area is my old home! I grew up in Menlo just down the mountain on the Georgia side, worked in a restaurant there, and my husband proposed at Desoto Falls! We’ve not been there in a long time. We may can still make it before all the leaves are gone. This is inspiring me to spend more time with my family. You introduced us to geocaching…….haven’t done that in a while either come to think of it! Glad ya’ll had fun!

  21. Alice says

    Christy, As I was looking at your pictures I thought your family would love geocaching since you like to tromp through the woods like we do. It is a “treasure hunt” of sorts for all ages. Children love it. All you need is a handheld gps or a smartphone and a family outing. The caches are all over the place. My favorites are in parks. Check it out at geocaching.com and if you have any questions let me know.

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