Well, I've been absent from the computer again, but for a very good reason. Last Wednesday (July 8) was our 8th anniversary, but since we had just been camping and Jeff was leaving to present a paper at a week long conference in Ottawa soon after, I didn't expect anything special. But Tuesday evening, Jeff told me I needed to start packing! He gave me guidance on what to pack but no other details. Wednesday morning, he drove me to the shoals area of Alabama, a beautiful location about an hour west of us right along the river. There are four small cities all grouped together and so many things to see and do. We stayed at the Marriott Golf and Spa resort and had dinner at their revolving restaurant up in the tower; who knew the only such rotating dining experience in Alabama was in a little town overlooking the Tennessee River?
We spent a leisure Wednesday afternoon strolling through the old downtown, browsing antique stores, driving through historic neighborhoods, and seeing the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alabama (another one and only for Alabama).
But Thursday was my favorite. Jeff took me to Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia, one of the four cities in the shoals. The original house, cottage/school room, and water pump are right there on 10 remaining acres of the former plantation. I've always loved the history of Helen Keller; she was such as incredible woman and an inspiration, especially to those with disabilities. To be deaf and blind in rural Alabama in the 1800's would be a tremendous obstacle for anyone, but she used the opportunity to grow personally and teach and enrich the lives of others.
The water pump where Helen learned her first word
If that wasn't enough, we then had lunch at a little outdoor cafe just outside the city park beside the largest man-made natural stone waterfall and saw the tributes to the Trail of Tears, as Tuscumbia was a stopping place for the Cherokee on their way from Georgia to Oklahoma and they had been well treated and cared for by the residents of the town.
All in all it was a relaxing, educational, incredibly enjoyable surprise. I can't wait to find out what he has planned for next year!