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Posts from the ‘weird and unusual’ Category

Happy Birthday From The Big Cave in Kentucky- 7 Ways That Mammoth Cave Humbled Me.

A place that takes on shapes and forms of another world and my imagination went in many directions.

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What Does A Rattlesnake, A Burger And A Cave Have In Common? 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.

MEGabite # 29 or #73 on the countdown of “The !00”  On Tasty Tuesday

The Duke Rustler burger with apple wood bacon and fried snake eyes (jalapenos) at the Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia. Folks, this isn’t a burger, this is an outing with a burger served in one heck of a setting.

Leaving Tuscumbia, I turned onto a windy but gorgeous road in the Alabama countryside, I came across signs for The Seven Springs Lodge and Rattlesnake Saloon. The same family has owned this spot of gorgeous land since 1935. The Seven Springs Lodge was built and later, The Rattlesnake Saloon. During the 48 days that the lodge took to build, one of the workers reportedly found a rattlesnake den that housed a mother snake and her 12 babies. In the nicely decorated saloon there are “The thirteen deadly skins” said to be that fanged family who apparently did not live to see the saloon thrive.

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I parked in the parking lot next to a group of folks who had RV’s and horses. To get to the saloon, you may walk, horse or take the “Saloon Taxi. ”DSC_0151

I met people from a few different states, and an excited 8 year old boy who came from Tennessee to have his birthday dinner. We were driven a short distance down a very steep and winding hill. The “taxi” stopped and we climbed out to one of the most unique and interesting dining settings that I have ever visited.

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I met people from a few different states, and an excited 8 year old boy who came from Tennessee to have his birthday dinner. We were driven a short distance down a very steep and winding hill. The “taxi” stopped and we climbed out to one of the most unique and interesting dining settings that I have ever visited.

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This inside of the cave is decorated in a western saloon style. More seating is found across a small road

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There is also an area on top of this rocky outcrop and named Lover’s Lane. Of course, I chose to dine in the cave like area, where there are about 30 tables. At 7 p.m., there is live music or karaoke. After 5 p.m. you may purchase alcohol.

Interior of the saloon

Interior of the saloon

The monster half-pound burger with cheese, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and pickles. Topped with crispy apple wood bacon and fried snake eyes (hot jalapenos) this MEGasandwich comes served on a Kaiser roll, with a fried snake eye on top and a choice of french fries or onion rings. The other food items have creative names such as; snake eyes and tails, skunk rings and bronco bits.

Rattle me

Rattle me

MEGastars; Let’s face it, this is a hamburger The hamburger was a bit above your average burger but the setting was awesome. Because of this unique setting, I give this dish/experience 5 stars.

  • *** for a good burger with a little extra something.
  • *star for highlighting Alabama pride.
  • *star for one heck of a setting that you can not get anywhere else.

More about this burger. Featured recently on Food Network’s “Craziest Restaurants in America “The Rattlesnake website said the Gigantor  — a $45 meal featuring a two-pound beef hamburger, pound of fries, half-pound of onion rings and a beverage pitcher — is free if eaten within 45 minutes. And the wild bill cody wings. Also, featured on AL.com 9 most unusual restaurants.

The lodge has many acres, for recreational activities such as; horse riding trails, fishing, hiking, swimming, ATV trails. There are native American shelters and 8,000 year old burial sites. The lodge offers camping for the refined and the rustic as well as cabins and converted silos for rent.

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MEGatips:

  1. The 6 mile road in is extremely curvy and can test your driving skills on a good day. If you are going to get your party on, don’t drive.
  2. Bring your ID, this is Alabama folks. They will do their job and card you.
  3. I understand it gets busy in the evenings. Want to get a seat? arrive before 5 p.m.
  4. Under 16 must be accompanied with an adult. After 5 p.m., the kids must leave.
  5. There is no bad weather, only bad clothes. Dress right for rocks, cold or hot weather.
  6. I advise visiting website or making a call before you travel.
  7. Closed November-January.

This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each post. If you are new to my 100 Dishes in Alabama escapade, this may be helpful.  

*100 Dishes to eat in Alabama before you die is a compilation of food to chow down on Bama style. Thanks to Tourism Alabama, www.alabama.travel my Alabama bucket list just became a little easier. I am going to have some fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home.   You too may pick up the brochure at Alabama Tourism stops or download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbeville and ends in York. From the little old diner to the white cloth joint, it is an opportunity to explore and experience pride in the food from restaurateurs who are dedicated to local food with some Alabama style. From the local BBQ cook to James Beard recipients, you too will take a culinary trip across scenic and historical Alabama.

I use a 5 MEGastar system. I am not a food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods and sharing my two cents on my experience. I try to follow my star system so that I may be fair to the wonderful dishes on this list.

  • *meh food. Just wasn’t good. Maybe the food came from a can. The place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in Alabama.   This has happened to me a few times and it is a difficult write.
  • ** passable – the food was ok and above happened but the place or vice versa
  • *** good but not outstanding or unique
  • **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Alabama Foods/Tourism, of local food and/OR highlights Alabama Pride.
  • ***** I actually died, went to heaven and came back when I ate the dish. OR, something is very unique, something you can not get anywhere else.

Prattville Alabama, Just The Usual Historical, Haunted and Paranormal Southern Golf Town.

I love when I am driving along and fate chooses me to take a closer look at something really interesting. Such was the case when I was playing “100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.”  I checked out a restaurant called Jim’s Place, which ranked due to home style Southern cooking. Jim’s did not rock my world, but led me to barbecue nirvana at Fat Boy’s Bar-B-Que (see two prior blogs).

I had fun here. So bear with me as I travel “near.”  I saw Prattville Alabama the Meg way.  Aside from being owned in a game of golf, I found some off the beaten path and freaky places; A haunted factory and swamp, a curious cross garden, a well that holds healing powers.

GOLF

There is this lil golf course in town.  Namely, The Capitol Hill Golf Course which is on

Playin til dusk

Playin til dusk

the Robert Trent Jones Trail. This course is on the radar of worldly golfers and wins many “bests.” It get’s nods from the likes of The N.Y. Times and was named the number two public golf site in the country by Golf World readers. This little attraction has hosted the Navistar LPGA and this past week, Alice Cooper so that’s cool.   Three complete 18 hole championship golf courses.  The Senator is a Scottish links style course. The Legislator is traditional and plays along a scenic bluff and dips into a beautiful SWAMP.   The third course is The Judge, which has views along the winding Alabama River. The first tee has a spectacular view of both the river, the Montgomery skyline and on the first hole, a sign which dares you, “Prepare To Be Judged.” SNAP!  Difficult, beautiful, public and at a reasonable price, this lil place brings in over 100,000  people per year.  It’s impressive. If you golf, put it on your damn list.

DOWNTOWN

Fat Boy’s Bar-B-Que is near the historic downtown. There is a short trail along the Autaugua Creek with great seating and picnic areas.  On the quiet day that I was there, there was outdoor action;picnickers, fly fishing, bikers and walkers.  A canoe/kayak map is available on the trail along with some of the key historic points.  It brings you into downtown with an awesome view of an old brick complex which was home to the First Industry in Alabama.   Revitalization is happening.

Looking for a new home?

Looking for a new home?

Myself, I saw a lot of great buildings just waiting to be used in creative ways.

The place reminds me a bit of the paper mill industry where I grew up.  In the spirit of revitalization, an old mill was turned into hip condos with a restaurant overlooking a dam and river. A museum with the history of paper sits adjacent to these places. People love it.  I would think that model would work very well in this spot.

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ARCHITECTURE

Before I get to the weird, hang with me.  The downtown is on the National Historic Register.  If one is an architecture buff, there are some cool buildings in this area to see.  From the Southern Antebellum Mansion, Greek Revival, to the Italian style. Prattville was settled pretty early, 1833, and by a dude from New England.  New England +Alabama+ industry = interesting.

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"Shotgun House"

“Shotgun House”

 

 

 

Myself, I enjoyed learning about cool old “shotgun houses” on Hunt’s Alley.  I thought they were awesome.  There were old outhouses out back surrounded by tall bamboo.

Now is this  the place to sit and think- or what?

Now is this the place to sit and think- or what?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GHOSTS

If architecture and history doesn’t make you quiver, or you are into the paranormal, there is a haunted old cotton mill in downtown Prattville. Daniel Pratt Cotton Gin Mill Company is reportedly the subject of a haunting.  Some say it is haunted by the workers who died in the mill. Others say it is most definitely a woman, a mother, aka “The Lady in Black,” who looks for her child, Willie Youngblood. Poor lil Willie reportedly died in an elevator shaft after a fall. And his mama, who was widowed, threw herself in the creek and drowned.   Apparently, now wanders there in eternity looking for her Willie. Some say the ghost of the founder Daniel Pratt walks there.

A Ghost lives here

A Ghost lives here

SyFy channel recently visited Prattville to do a story aired on “Deep South Paranormal,” entitled “Got them Lady In Black Blues.” Now, I did not see this show but I was able to read about the episode and watch a short clip.  You too can recreate this moment. All that you apparently need is to recreate the Blair Witch dolls, get in the creek on a boat with some candles, special potions, a mirror and a ghost vibe.

I went during the day and the Lady in Black did not show herself. Just for fun I checked the death records and census in Alabama. I found no matches, but I did find a Drucilla Youngblood, Wana Youngblood, a Ferral Youngblood and and I-da Youngblood. I swear that I am not making that up. I am going to start a rumor with these names. *Disclaimer, if these are your relatives, no offense intended.

Ghostly

Ghostly

Just for kicks, I dug through the Alabama genealogy websites and found a story of a man who was paralyzed at work, the wife treated his bedsores with acid, kid drinks the acid and dies. His name of course was Willie Youngblood.

 

 

 

CROSS GARDEN

Just out of town and on the way to the swamp, I saw a cross garden that I had read about. No words needed.   This scared the beejeesus out of me.

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THE WELLS

Artesian Wells are the reason that Prattville is called the fountain city.  To my shigrin, these now mostly capped off wells are consistently listed as an attraction. Now, I don’t know about you but looking at a drinking fountain doesn’t exactly tickle my fancy.

 

 

 

However, I checked out this well in a haunted swamp which reportedly has magical powers.  Now THAT is interesting. Apparently, this area was settled by a group of Native Americans called The Creek Indians. The Creeks were in this area until about 1814 and used this well for legendary healing properties. The county is named Autauga which gets its name from the creek word “Atagi” which was the word for pure water.  The healing powered well, is a pipe, in a grubby swamp with water running supposedly from an artesian well, I drank from it.

I actually went swamping because I had heard that there was a cat like Chupacabra, or a witch (apparently the same thing.)  I had been watching too much “Finding Bigfoot.”    What I did find by a quick search, was that the stories seem to be more about; little people, strange creatures, phantom lights, orbs, unusual amounts of snakes and lizards, unusual sounds, Civil War soldier ghosts, The ghost of a woman who killed those who have wronged her, Indians, settlers and soldiers.  Also, the ghost of a mother looking for her child and if you are brave enough to say “we have your baby” three times, she may appear. That should cover the urban legends. It is my understanding that there were no civil war encampments, nor battles in this area.  It has been suggested that perhaps soldiers from the Creek Indian War are the apparitions. The paranormal researchers seemed to zero in on the phantom lights.

Bear Creek Swamp

Bear Creek Swamp

The cypress swamps are so freaky that if one had an altered state from polluted well water or whatever, I am certain that little people and cat witches could appear.     Other fun killers who were with me, just thought it was a swamp, with garbage in it.  I took photos in different lighting and I really grooved on the place.  Now, I would not want to be out there alone, especially at night.   I could totally imagine how this was a serious creep out when it was more primitive, or if you were a kid playing Bloody Mary.

Megatips-*When in Prattville, eat at Fat Boy’s.  Take a walk downtown and don’t miss the photo ops. Checkout the Shotgun Homes. Don’t be a buzzkill if your friends want to see the swamp.   http://youtu.be/9KYTpF5mYyE

I give this place about 4 ****megastars.

Make out in an Iowa City graveyard and drop dead

There is this thing that I have for graveyards; I like them, a lot.  As someone who loves history and most especially family history, I find them peaceful and interesting.  I am also superstitious.  Once, I have had a black cat cross my path and admittedly did not walk in a circle 13 times, walk backwards over the place that it happened while chanting bible verses, because I did not want to look unusual, but then bad things happened, three of them including a bad fall off of my bike and an incident with the garage door and a truck.  And this is why it took me so long to cross this “Odd things in Iowa” and “Weird US” destination off of my Iowa bucket list.  Well that and I don’t live in Iowa anymore.

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Random fact,  Iowa City is a UNESCO city of literature. U of Iowa was the first to offer a Master in fine Arts for creative writing, which is modeled throughout the scholastic world. Call me a skeptic but it is not surprising to me to that in a cemetery where there are Pulitzer Prize winners and poets that there are interesting legends.

Because I love history it is difficult for me not to expand upon this story but for the non history buff a shortened version.  Among the many graves, there are three dead people buried in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.  Mysterious Teresa Dolesal Feldertova, her son from her first husband, Eddie, and Nicholas Feldevert (Feldevertova). Teresa was a physician turned Midwife from Bohemia (Czech Republic). Cool,  I can imagine that this made her stand out.  She emigrated with her son Eddie to Iowa City.  Eddie dies in 1891 of meningitis and Teresa marks his grave with a tree stump marker. She marries Nicholas Feldevert and moves to Oregon where he tragically dies and she brings his ashes back to Iowa City.  Teresa hires a famous Chicago sculptor by the name of Mario Korbel, also from Bohemia, who then sculpts the glistening bronze Angel and sends it by rail from Chicago to Iowa City. Reportedly Teresa was unhappy with the statue as it did not follow her specification to include a replica of the tree stump which was on Eddie’s grave and refused to pay him $5,000.  Korbel sues Teresa and wins.  This is important to the story because it is unknown exactly when the Angel moves to the grave and may have been stored in a barn for six years, causing the later color change to black. What is known is that Teresa dies in 1924 and the Angel began to turn a more ominous black every year since that time and every attempt to restore the statue to glistening bronze has failed.  Oddly, there is one story that I read that has Teresa in her wheel chair wheeling to the graves, and scraping at the statue. So get this, an eccentric Teresa wheels into the grass of a graveyard and can reach the Angel which is atop a four foot pedestal.  I have been a Nurse and have had experience with women in wheel chairs; I can say that for sure she had power.

Seeing the statue in person, I must say, is pretty awesome.  The statue itself is large, about 8.5 feet tall, stands upon a 4 foot pedestal. It is black, foreboding, ominous and certainly, capable of superstitious mischief. Her arms are outstretched holding up her large wings which tilt downward hovering over the graves which seems to suggest heaviness, as if holding the dead downward into the earth.   This contrasts to the white stone angels with their wings uplifting towards heaven, which dot older Midwestern graveyards. Her gaze is eerie, solemn and downward. Many say that her eyes follow you as you walk. When looking at it for the first time it is truly breathtaking, which makes you pause and think of how you might lie in eternity with this angel over whatever it is that you believe is left behind.  To me, only knowing the lore did I find it foreboding.  Except that I actually had bad luck after looking at her eyes. But, I did not fully know about the hex and that should have precluded me from harm.  It made me wonder, how the many legends got started from this beauty?

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The stories of why the statue is black are numerous:

  • Teresa  was actually a witch, capable of evil powers, the Angel turned black to keep people away from her even in death
  • Teresa murdered Eddie, in guilt commissioned the glistening statue only to have it turn black in a reminder of her sin.
  • Teresa made a promise to Nicholas that she would never “have” another man. After taking a lover, the statue turned black due to her broken promise.
  • There was a storm the night that Teresa died and lightening hit the statue which turned it black.
  •  Natural oxidative process possibly having been stored in a barn for six years.
  • The Sculptor cursed the statue during the lawsuit. **To note, I started this rumor.

Exactly what will happen when you find yourself involved with this Atra Angela varies.

  • touch or kisses at the statue’s feet by moonlight, will be struck dead, unless that person is a virgin.
  • The statue will return to its glistening state only if the above happens at moonlight. This is six of one, (and) half a dozen of another since legend also has it that with a kiss, death will come within six months.
  • That if a pregnant woman walks beneath the Angel’s wings, she will miscarry.
  •  That if one man foolishly kisses the statue, death will come instantaneously by cessation of heart beat.
  • Gazing upon her eerie eyes at midnight will cause harm and death, talk about looks that could kill.
  • That if on Halloween, she is touched, one will die within seven years and that each Halloween the statue turns darker because with each killing that it has caused.
  • That just the mere touch of her, or looking directly into her eyes, will curse you with incurable and mysterious diseases.
  •   A young man who cut off a finger of the angel and ended up insane and found dead in the Chicago River and the finger turned up at the foot of the angel.
  •   A group of young men went to the statue; all of them urinated there and of course were met with a fiery car accident on the way home.  So call me a skeptic but who lived to tell this story?

The inscription upon the Angel is in Bohemian and speaks of a life journey under sun and clouds, of days which are good and bad with everlasting reward after hardship. The inscription upon Eddie’s grave speaks to life coming to an end abruptly and without mercy, without time to bid adieu, yet at peace in a cool grave.  When reading up on this legend, I learned that there are actually two black statues in Iowa, the other located in Council Bluffs and that the legends have been a bit mixed together.  However, in my reading, I note that the Council Bluffs Angel was involved in positive spiritual apparitions. So there is that. To me, this Bohemian Angel that oxidized in an otherwise Protestant American cemetery, is simply a striking contrast and is truly beautiful and unique. Weddings have been held at this statue, I don’t get that but that’s cool weird stuff in Iowa and who knew?  I can’t help but think how great it would be to photograph in all seasons, in the daylight and by moonlight.  Apparently,quite a party on Halloween and hopefully not further defaced. The Angel and her lore was one of the most beautiful markers that I have ever seen and will remain etched in my memory as I ponder life and death at other grave visits in the future.   I would want her protective wings over my grave. Definitely worth the “trip”

*Disclaimer.  Although this dress may appear to hold a baby, there were no babies harmed while writing this blog.

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