The Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show is back on Feb. 18-20 and Feb. 23-27. This will be a good time to plan your vacation, and I want to help.
I’ve been to northwest Alabama twice and thought about living there. The area has three TVA impoundments for fishing and golf courses and is rich with history.
In the song “Sweet Home Alabama,” the Muscle Shoals’ Fame Recording Studio house band, The Swampers, is mentioned. They left rock and blues history in two studios where the likes of Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rolling Stones and many others recorded.
Complementing the two studios where the Swampers recorded is the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, where you should be prepared to sing and record your favorite songs. My daughter Jourdan and I recorded “Man of Constant Sorrow.”
In Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia, there is good food, entertainment and places to visit.
The 25-foot Indian Mound and Museum was full of artifacts, videos and art. The Helen Keller Estate is a unique visit Jourdan and I won’t soon forget.
On my trips with Jourdan and later Bob May, we missed eating in a cave once inhabited by Indians called The Rattlesnake Saloon. Customers ride across a field via wagon to get to the restaurant. All is canceled when it rains.
Other places of interest are The Coondog Cemetery, W.C. Hardy’s birthplace (the home of the blues) and the Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House and museum. He was a renowned architect of the day. The home and furniture are magnificent.
Florence had a great Italian restaurant, Ricatoni’s, where Jourdan and I ate before entering a bar featuring a fabulous band. The lead guitar played Free Bird behind his head.
Unlike most vacation destinations, this one is not a rip-off. The food and lodging are very reasonable. Downtown Florence is a throwback to the 1940s.
For the fishing, I like to hire smallmouth guide Brian Barton. He drifts live shiners and shad for huge smallmouths below the Wilson Bam on Pickwick Lake. This is going to be one of your best chances to catch a 4-pound smallie. Jourdan caught four that size or larger. Bob May caught a big catfish. There is no telling what you will catch — blue, channel and flathead catfish of enormous size as well as big largemouth and drum.
To get this vacation set up, you want to visit the Alabama Tourism booth. They can suggest other fishing guides in case Barton is booked. I believe they also offer discount tickets to some of the places I mentioned.
Tidbits from here and there:
• A sporting goods store in Greenfield recently sponsored a coyote hunting contest. Over 200 were harvested in a three-day period. The largest weighed 47 pounds.
On average, a female coyote during denning will kill 19 fawns to feed her young.