MMAP Shocco Springs, Talladega, AL; Surrounding areas!

Our last week, we really worked hard.  The camp decided to have us paint the trim on Twin Lodge where they had been replacing the floor.  Out of  34 windows, we painted the trim on 26, trim on three doors, all 215 feet of facia, and railings on four porches, totaling about 90 feet.  

 As the painting of the facia was being completed our last day, new gutters were being installed!  

The building had a fresh new look….. ready for quilters to come for the weekend!
We had another great crew to work with!
The first Sunday, all of us usually try to go to the same church.  It is  a good time to get the “official” picture of the group!
For relaxation, we were able to use the onsite miniature golf course….
Had the traditional hot dog and smores supper around the campfire, 

with a slightly formal flair!
And even played cards one night!
During our weekends, we explored Talladega’s surrounding areas:


We needed to find an Apple store, and the closest one was in Birmingham.  So that was the city we visited first.  
I did not know the steel manufacturing history of Birmingham, but learned about it at the museum at Vulcan Park. 
The statue of Vulcan is 56- foot high and is the largest cast iron statue in the world
The statue was made for the 1903 World’s Fair in St. Louis then moved back to Birmingham.  The floor and walls of the ground level of the towers are of Sylacauga marble.
One weekend, Nate and Chris were returning from a vacation in Florida and stopped to spend the night,
It is always fun to have the grandkids in the RV!!
We played a round of miniature golf with them, 

 and DJ enjoyed the slide!

They also joined the group for lunch at the Cheaha State Park Restaurant.

After lunch, they took off for home; and we went searching for waterfalls in the Talladega National Forest which surrounds the state park, with one of the MMAP couples, the Grants.
Devil’s Den from afar,

Very little water flowing, but there was a great pond for swimming!

Cheaha Falls had very little water flow as well.

At High Falls, there was a warning about bear encounters, and how to deal with  an encounter.  It was a little eerie, cause I felt like someone/thing was watching us…maybe a bear!  (And another couple that visited the area later that day said they felt the same way).

after walking a while, we came to steps and a trickle water fall into a small pond

Then more steps…. but no water or falls at the top!

But, in spite of the fact that there was very little water due to the ongoing drought, we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our hikes!


As a group we also went to Sylacauga, known for the white marble found in the area.  There is a 32 mile long vein which has the strongest and purest white found in the world.  Many statues are found in the town,
including the falling star, 
and one that was just unveiled the day before we were there to honor the miners.
We visited the Blue Bell creamery, 

and had ice cream for our 10:00 break,

We went through the Comer Museum, 
which had a room to honor their favorite son, Jim Nabors!

as well as some other interesting displays!

and stopped by the library to see more of the marble statues displayed.

After some effort (with directions like, turn where the dealer used to be and follow the road to somewhere…..) we found the observation deck to view one of the quarries…..


Just outside Childersburg, a town close to Sylacauga, (claims to be the oldest city in America…since 1540) is the  Kymulga Grist Mill 

and covered bridge, 

are still standing; however, we could not go into the mill due to concerns about the stability.  This is one of the support beams!
They are in the midst of fundraising to stabilize it.
Now on to Maryland, to Child Evangelism Fellowship headquarters.   But we have a week to get there, so we are going to check out the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, on the way….. yes, I know…..we probably won’t get to see all of it in 4 days!

MMAP Sept, 2012, Shocco Springs Conference Center, Talladega, AL

Wow, we are already into our third week here at Shocco Springs Conference Center, in Talladega, AL!!  
This is a great facility, and is used by several organizations!  From dogs to choirs and ladies group to motorcylists!  I have to digress at this point:
A Flyball dog competition group was here with their dogs on the first weekend….. ever hear of it?  We had not, but watched them for a while…..they were in teams, even one from Nashville,
The dogs would run and grab a ball and head back, having to jump over several fences.  They were timed, with the smallest dog determining  the height of the fence (so every team had a short one to get the block down to the lowest level!).  It was quite fascinating!
And last weekend the Christian Motorcyclist Association was here!  There were at least a hundred cycles…….nuff said.
I am glad to see it is being used in what I would consider to be off season.
They have a long list of projects here, and during our second week, seven couples from Alabama Campers on Mission, a Baptist group similar to MMAP, were here for the week.  They  remodeled some bathrooms in another building, while our guys were assigned  to the Twin Lodge.  
Twin Lodge is a U-shaped, one-story building that had a minor leak under the floor, which was not found until damage had been done.  By the time it was discovered, they found the underside of the floor full of black mold which penetrated and became white mold in between the floor and subfloor of the large meeting room.  

The result was removing the carpet, floor and subfloor, 

having the existing mold on the joists professionally sprayed, 
and replacing it with new subfloor and sheeting,

then replacing the carpeting.
Part way through, they found the problem extended to an adjacent room as well, so half of the flooring in that room was also replaced.
They also replaced the railing on the steps of one of the sides.
All that in the first two weeks!
The ladies also were kept busy!

The first week we were here, we helped with the laundry, folding the towels and sheets.  

One of the other ladies and I were able to paint a newly installed railing on a new building (a one bedroom apt.-size duplex) built for volunteers who come to help who do not have a camper….. no excuses!!

Rain stopped us from painting for a couple of days, so I and another MMAPer helped the ladies from Campers on Mission make “salvation dolls”.  They will have a necklace with the colored beads to explain the gospel message….green, black, red, white and gold.  They are headed for Guatemala with a group from here.
They are definitely keeping us busy, and making us feel very welcome and appreciated.
The wife of the director took us ladies on a day out to tour the city of Talladega.  It was great to see everything and hear about the history of not only the town, but some of the buildings.
The 1836 courthouse is the oldest one in continuous use in AL.

The town square was quaint, with the Ritz theatre being the centerpiece.

but just off the square shops were closed. 
The Institutes for the Blind and Deaf here were started in the early 1800’s.  They have huge campuses!  
We did not go to the race track… it is 12 miles out of town and no races til next month.
She also teaches a water exercise class twice a week at the community center, which we all decided we could benefit from.  So we joined her a couple of times.
Paul thought if we worked with the guys, we would not need the exercise… he understood the concept of using different muscles after he was bending and twisting and using some of his unused muscles!  But we had more fun in the water.
And of course, MMAPers do socialize and rubberneck…….
that will have to wait for the next blog!

Northern Alabama

Our next MMAP project is in Talladega, Alabama, about a four hour drive from home.  It is close to Anniston, where I was working with the youth group from church (see July blog).

 Alabama is so close, but we have spent little time there, and have seen very little of it.  So I decided we needed a little vacation on the way. When I did some searching for campgrounds, I found Point Mallard in Decatur.  Over the Labor Day weekend,  Civil War Re-enactors were going to be there.  So we left a week early so we could be there at the same time.  It was a beautiful park, with the Tennessee River bordering it.

We visited the encampment, where they had several demonstrations,

joined the ladies tea (and even won a drawing and received a pint of home made Muscadine Jam!) at the open air chapel

and watched the re-enactment of the October 26-29, 1864, battle at Decatur.

On this day, the confederates won the battle….
and at the end, both sides saluted all fallen soldiers, from all wars, with 21 guns.

                        We attended Sunday morning service, conducted by the                 re-enactors, at the open air chapel at the park.

The songs we sang were from the confederate songbook; accompanied by two violins and a cello; and the preacher had a good old-fashion sermon!

When we disconnected the jeep, it was making a high pitched squeal from the rear left tire.  But Friday afternoon of a three day weekend is the worst time to find an available mechanic!  I talked to the service manager at a local Jeep dealership who told me they were open on Monday, but had a full day of work already, but he would listen to the noise to determine if it was something major or not, and if needed, they could work on it on Tuesday.  We decided not to drive it around, but just sat and relaxed at the park the whole weekend.  With the activities going on, it was nice not to leave anyway.  Monday morning we took it in (and of course it did not sound as bad as the first day) and they drove it and told us it was dust from the road that accumulated and crystalized, and after a while it would subside!  (And it had!)  We do hear it a little once in a while still, but at least feel like we can drive it!  They didn’t even charge us for their time.

Monday afternoon we left the mid state area and headed east.  On the way, we stopped at the Unclaimed  Baggage Center in Scottsboro.  A very interesting place!   It was very large, and very crowded!  We were amazed at what they had in there!  Some of it is from unclaimed freight as well as personal luggage and belongings. 

We spent the rest of the week at DeSoto Sate Park, located on Lookout Mountain.  I thought the majority of Lookout Mountain was in Tennessee, but 80% of it is in Alabama.  We really enjoyed the cooler, low 70’s temperature!!

On Tuesday we drove along the Little River Canyon Rim Road, 700 foot above the river.  This rift is a National Park canyon area, and is the deepest east of the Mississippi.

Besides taking some short hikes, we stopped at turnouts to capture the magnificent views of Little River Falls,

including view from the top loooking down the river,

and from the north side, looking up the river, 

and Grace’s High Fall, a seasonal waterfall, and Alabama’s highest waterfall,

and the river far below.

Birds flew out from the cliff below us,

and Mushroom Rock in the middle of the road…..about 30 foot high!

On the way back, we drove through Dogtown. Besides old buildings like this,  

on three different occasions within a few miles, groups of dogs were just meandering down the middle of the road.  They knew they owned the road, and there was no question in our mind where the name originated!

We also stumbled across the BBQ Place.  It was a very small cafe, but super busy…. found out why!  Great food, including the batter covered fried potatoes called JoJo’s which were fantastic!  Found out they are on the list of 100 dishes in Alabama to eat before you die!  

Wednesday we checked out a small town called Mentone.  Paul’s uncle and aunt live in Mentone, CA, so we had to check it out.   
On the way, we stopped to see the DeSoto Falls.

We stopped at Miracle Pottery, just to check out the unique pottery (no pics allowed), and stopped at the Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel

It was built by Colonel Milford Howard as a memorial to his wife, around a huge boulder.  

Thursday I promised Paul he did not have to go anywhere.  But close to the campground, we did take a walk on a trail to check out the Civilian Conservation Corp Quarry 
(Paul’s idea, really!).

The park was developed by the CCC during the 1930’s, and it is evident that a lot of the buildings in the park were built with rocks mined here!

Miles of exploring, three books read by Paul, one by me (almost!), and vacation is over.  Time to report to the project!