Friday, August 8, 2014

A Weekend in the Woods

Eric's approval for our cabin at Monte Sano State Park.

We couldn’t get out of town fast enough this past Friday.  A very late birthday trip for Eric and a week made of Mondays were the occasions.  Monte Sano State Park was our destination.  I had discovered their rustic cabins during a search for Civilian Conservation Corps buildings in Alabama (this search prompted by a discussion with a coworker during which we both expressed our desire to see the revival of FDR’s New Deal public works programs to relieve, recover and reform our nation…a discussion that led to many digressions on my part, thus my ending up reserving a historic cabin in a state park). 

Monte Sano State Park is located on a mountain in north Alabama that overshadows the city of Huntsville.  The park is home to fourteen Arts & Crafts stone cabins, most with working fireplaces and original hardwood floors, and all with stunning views from the attached screened porches.   There is no real roughing it in these cabins.  Although it was small, our cabin (Cabin #1) came fully furnished with the same amenities (or more) as a hotel:  two beds (one full –sized, one twin), a dining table with four chairs, stove, oven, refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave.  The bathroom was stocked with plenty of towels, wash cloths, soap, shampoo, lotion, and a hairdryer.  On our porch, we had two chairs and a table which we moved from facing the view of the woods to face the view of the bluff overlooking the valley where the chocolaty waters of the Tennessee  River flowed.  There was air conditioning (which we didn’t even have to use, the temperatures were so unseasonably cool) and cable (which we DID use ever so sparingly since we do not have cable at home and it is a novelty to us), and a blessed quietude that hung on the bluff that entire weekend, a quietude that was not even broken by the pulsing chorus of tree frogs that began to sing at nightfall.  And the fireflies…they danced out of the trees to the rhythm of the tree frogs’ song and surrounded the cabin like twinkling Christmas lights.  It. Was. Perfect.

We fed ourselves with blackened tofu salads and fresh spring rolls with bee sting sauce from the amazing Chef Will, whose food truck is located in the Lowe Mill Arts district of Huntsville, and other treats that we picked up at the Whole-Foods-on-steroids store Earth Fare.  One evening was spent at Below theRadar Brewhouse, which claimed to have gluten free options, but clearly didn’t fully grasp the meaning of gluten free by offering bangers boiled in Guinness and covered in Stout gravy as one of their safe options.  Yeah, nothing about Guinness-boiled sausages and Stout gravy sounds gluten free to me.  Because it’s not.  And the wait staff were a bit independent, if you know what I mean (they disappeared for no apparent reason for long periods of time).  But they did have an amazing array of beers. 
Chef Will, Lowe Mill, Huntsville, AL

Blackened Tofu Salad, Chef Will

What time not spend eating and sleeping was spent walking trails (or, if you are Eric, running), reading (The Body by Stephen King for me, California by Edan Lapucki for Eric), yoga-ing on the porch, or meditating (again, on the porch).  At one point, while the voice on Eric’s iPhone app urged us to listen to the sounds around us while concentrating on our breathing, a squabbling ruckus from an unidentifiable bird broke from the trees.  The squabbling ruckus was immediately meditated away.

View from our cabin.

Our cabin from a trail head.