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Filtering by Tag: art

Eccentric Excursions: Southern Alabama

Emma Wilson

Southern Alabama is most known for its beaches, but there are lots of other neat stops along with way to Gulf Shores or Orange Beach! Here we’ve listed five unique road stops for your next road trip!

In any other circumstance a 15 foot rooster would be something to avoid. But in this case, this rooster made of car bumpers is a neat place to snap a picture and possibly talk to a rad artist. Larry Godwin built this 15 foot statue in 1962, and now it sits off the roadside in Brundidge, Alabama.

 

Another interesting photo op takes us to a cemetery Clayton, Alabama. There is a unique gravestone shaped as a whiskey bottle! This was once featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. There is an amusing story along with the shape of this headstone. Read more about it here.

 

Ever been to Stonehenge? Well no need to book a plane to England, just drive to Elberta, Alabama and head to Barber Marina. Bamahenge is a fiberglass replica of Stonehenge built by Mark Cline for George Barber, tucked away along the road to enter Barber Marina. If you look closely you might be able to see DINOSAURS in the woods! Four fiberglass dinosaurs are hiding in the trees along the road to the water. These are built by the same artist. Another art piece, the Lady in the Lake can be seen floating in the harbor at the end of the road.

A cool museum to check out is the Mobile Carnival Museum, teaching people where the real birthplace of Mardi Gras is. Here you can see crowns, scepters, and robes of past Mardi Gras kings and queens, as well as floats, and learn the rich history of this fun holiday!

Tolstoy Park has plenty of parking, mainly because it’s in the middle of a parking lot. This circular, domed house was built by Henry Stuart in 1925. Stuart was told he had one year to live, so he moved from this home in Idaho and moved to the South for the warm climate. He built the one-room home in less than a year. Despite what the doctor diagnosed, Stuart lived for another twenty years! It is said the house holds a special energy, and people have been known to bring sleeping bags and spend the night at Tolstoy Park to gain inspiration.

Make sure if you’re exploring the coast to stop by the Serpents of Bienville Gallery. We have Old Towne Daphne Guides so you can find even more cool places to visit! 

Eccentric Excursions: Central Alabama

Emma Wilson

Lots of people I have met from central Alabama say there isn’t much to do. Well here are a few wacky places to go visit next time you’re looking to make a day trip!

First stop is Oakwood Cemetery. Yes, a cemetery. The trip will be well worth it! In this cemetery is one of the most visited graves in the South. The deceased is not an incredibly notable person, but the grave marker is. A five-foot-tall dollhouse, completed with windows, a small brick-lined lawn, and rooms filled with toys, marks the grave of 4 year old Nadine Earles. It’s a rare site, as there are incredibly few dollhouse gravesites. To learn more about Little Nadine’s Playhouse Mausoleum click here.

About an hour from Nadine’s Playhouse, on the border of Georgia and Alabama, is a neat little museum that could really bring some nostalgic feelings for some. In Columbus, Georgia is the Lunch Box Museum! This holds the collection of Allen Woodall Jr. While he does not have an exact count of how many lunchboxes he has, he knows it’s in the thousands. If you carried a metal lunch box in school, Allen likely has that very design in his collection. The best part? This is one of those cool museums where touching is encouraged!

 

We have another museum on the list: the Museum of Wonder, also known as Butch Anthony’s collection of oddities. This museum began as Butch’s taxidermy and artifacts, but has now grown to include folk art, antiques, and overall strange items, mostly from Alabama. Part of the museum can be driven through, but it is suggested you park, exit the car, and explore!

We have another place to get out and explore. If you’ve ever seen Tim Burton’s movie Big Fish, the Town of Spectre may sound familiar. The abandoned movie set from the movie lies on an island just outside of Montgomery. To gain access to the property you will need to contact the owner, but it’s well worth it. You can get the code by calling the number on the gate of the property. If you’re a Tim Burton fan, like to explore abandoned properties (with permission), or just like offbeat places, this stop is a must.

Now it’s time to relax. Lucky for you, a hidden gem in Prattville is a 26-acre park containing a bamboo forest! Some of the largest bamboo stalks are as tall as 60 feet, and as thick as 6 inches in diameter. The park doesn’t only have bamboo, but lots of other plants, including one of Alabama’s largest beech trees. This park was used by the US military in the Vietnam era as a training site, as the climate and vegetation were as close to that of Southeast Asia as US soldiers could find! Instead of a training site, it is more of a place of relaxation today.

No longer will I hear the dreaded words “There’s nothing to do there,” in regards to an area that has lots of quirky places hidden away, all you need to do is look! 

Authentic "Southerness" with J.D. Wilkes

J.D. Wilkes

J.D. Wilkes is a talented musician, film maker, writer, and visual artist.  As an accomplished harmonica player he has worked with the likes of Merle Haggard, John Carter Cash, Mike Patton, and Hank Williams.  His song "Swampblood" can be heard on the Grammy nominated "True Blood" soundtrack.  The list of accomplishments and creations by J.D. can go on for pages, most recently in 2014 he was selected by mayor Gayle Kaler to represent his home city of Paducah, Kentucky in a cultural exchange with The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ireland.  

In many ways J.D. embodies a lot of what the Serpents of Bienville project is all about, the preservation of Southern story telling and working within our community.  Through an introduction from our good friend and contributor Vernon Hightower, J.D. has been an encouraging voice to our project and to us.  We have been fortunate to have a back and forth with him that is constantly enlightening, informing, and entertaining.  We will be working with J.D. on an exciting upcoming project for Serpents of Bienville, one that we can't wait to tell you about soon!  In the mean time, here is the first of what I am sure will be many insights to the mind of J.D. Wilkes.  This exert is from a conversation on authentic "Southerness", and it was so good, we had to share it with you guys. Enjoy!  

-Sean Herman


"One exploited band that embodies "southernness", but not in an overt, political way, is The Flat Duo Jets. 

But Dex Romweber's caustic lifestyle and weight gain kept him from being a superstar (despite appearing early-on in an episode of Late Night with David Letterman.) 

Then along comes carpetbagger Jack White to capitalize on the gothic/rockabilly duo thing, shitty guitar, Edward Scissorhands look and all (which Dex rocked a decade or two earlier) and cleans up.

Dexter Romweber of the "Flat Duo Jets"

Dexter Romweber of the "Flat Duo Jets"

 

Sure Jack gave Dex credit for the influence but it barely did any good. I've never seen more than 12 people at a Dex show. And the gall of Jack White to move south and insist that Nashville is HIS town now. Now I hear he's laying down roots in Muscle Shoals! (Alabama)

As far as NPR goes, yes, the only southern music we're allowed are faux-Appalachian songbirds (Gillian Welch copycats), bearded Southern Rock posers w/smarmy jabs at the south, and hipsters aping the blues. 

If somehow transplanted into today's market, a young Jerry Lee Lewis couldn't BUY his way onto NPR, what with his criminal record and religious issues. But since he was "made" in an era when PC didn't exist, he's an icon!"