Monday, February 18, 2008

Family Weekend at the Lodge

I have an obvious affinity for one of my new favorite places, Guntersville. Six months ago, I had never even been to Guntersville. This weekend marked my forth trip up-but this time with my entire own circus as well as my parents, my mother and father in law, Big Daddy's grandmother and my brother in law and sister in law with their two children. Only my mother and I had been to Guntersville previously, for the others it was their first trip. A couple weekends ago, I talked about going to the state park lodge and being so impressed with the natural beauty and the wonderful restoration of the lodge. That week I made reservations for this family get together at the lodge. With rooms at the lodge just $98.00 (year round!) it was a steal. Our room sat right on the bluff/ridge with a terrific overlook at Lake Guntersville below. This was the view from my balcony...
The purpose of the trip was for everyone to feel relaxed and do things at leisure. When we first arrived, my circus and my parents had a hiking trip planned. The lodge provides a map (though it could stand to be more clear) of hiking trials as well as recommended eagle vantage view points. With map in hand we set out for the Moonshine Trail, named so, for the rusted out remnants of the formerly working steel. The hike was considered "moderate" and consisted of mostly walking the mountain downhill.

The kids really enjoyed it. On the trail we made use of some vines hanging from one of the trees, fashioning a "rope swing" from it. The kids (both "BIG" and small) had alot of fun on that.

We also went on the Cave Trail , where there is a small cave.

I was glad that I had packed and brought flashlights because the kids and Big Daddy and I crawled inside the cave to take a look around. We spotted some stalactites that had formed and ones in the midst of forming.

The kids really were excited to see that. But that didn't hold a candle to the deer we spotted, five of them. Remembering all the deer from my last visit, I was sure to pack carrots in the event we did cross paths with some.
...........................The deer were cautious, but not spooked off my our presence. And as soon as the carrots were thrown the deer inched closer and close, finally to within 4 feet of us, munching on the carrots.
After the hike we headed back up to the lodge to find the rest of the family, who were hanging out in the lodge. There were pick up games of checkers, children games of ball and shadow puppets, reading by the fireplaces as well as global exploration (or was it planning of the next vacation?)...all made possible because of this little weekend overnight trip.

We had supper at the lodge's dining hall, which on this evening was only serving buffet style service. That was a bummer for me, being a vegetarian, the buffet consisted of about 6-8 choices of entrees with meat or seafood, and only 3 vegetables. Not worth the money for a buffet for me. I asked my waitress if I could just get a salad and be charged accordingly for that, to which she agreed...and in the end, she said she didn't even charge me or my children for the buffet meals because we were staying at the lodge. Big Daddy and the rest of the family did get their monies worth, with selections such as catfish, beef stroganoff, fried shrimp, BBQ ribs, chicken wings, fried chicken among other selections. I will say though, that despite our waitress giving us my meal free (so I cannot complain to much) our wait service was poor. There were several members in our party who did not receive drinks, until it was time to pay for the meal (!) and after being told it was buffet only (and that we could not order off the menu) the table behind us did order off the menu, additionally the waitress seemed very "flaky". We were not as pleased with the supper.
After supper we crossed the hall and went inside the Hickory Room, which has a big fireplace and many cozy seating areas with over sized leather sofas and chair. The children seemed to be in awe of the "ghost piano" that "magically" played tunes by such artist as the Eagles and James Taylor without having a pianist.

The men gravitated to the large screen TV, where they watched the UAB basketball game, plopping down on the furniture like dead weights.

I worked off some energy at the hotel gym on the elliptical machine. The children also took full advantage of a small arcade that was situated between the Hickory Room and the gym. Soon after, Calling it a day, we retreated to our rooms, which were very comfortable with equally comfortable beds.
The next morning I met my mom and Dad at 6:45 AM in hopes of spotting a bald eagle. We had tried the day before (after a hike) to spot the symbol of our nation in it's freedom flight. While we had three unconfirmed spotting, we left without confirmed spotting. It wasn't due to lack of trying, going from vantage spot, to the next with binoculars and spy scopes, bird books, maps and snacks in hand.

During our hike the day before my Dad and I feel certain that the very large bird that flew through the woods was an eagle, but it flew so fast that we were only able to see the back of it. Later that day at the lake's edge, we spotted a suspicious bird, which we were later told was a juvenile eagle (lacking the white head). On Sunday, with the weather quickly deteriorating, we spotted a large, very large bird in flight. We packed up heading for the direction of the bird, and never did see it again. So sad. We all so wanted to be able to have actual confirmation of our spotting by seeing the white head and tail feathers of an adult resident bald eagle. We were able to see countless coots, loons, and laughing gulls of the water fowl variety.
As the rains came, so we all went, driving back home in literally blinding rains. So grateful to be home safe. We had a really nice trip and look forward to future visits to Guntersville State Park.

For more information on Guntersville, or to read more about my visits to Guntersville:

Resort Hotel Lodge and Suites Reservations800-LGville & 256-571-5440


Charnita's Xpressions said...

I am glad you had a great weekend! You make me so homesick!
It certainly is beautiful there and I guess you don't appreciate it until you are gone....

Mrs. Jules said...

What a great family trip! You've reminded me that I haven't explored our local hiking trails in awhile. Thank you!

Welcome to Our Lives... said...

How fun!! That looks awesome- I loved the slide show pictures. :)

"J" said...

I'm Jeannie...Frannie's friend!!! I just wanted to swing by your page and say HELLO!!! I was in the Valentine's Day swap as was sooooooooooooooooooooo MUCH fun!!!! =) I love what you bought hooked the GIRL up!!! lol =)