Over the weekend, we attended my Brother-in-Law's wedding in Andalusia, Alabama.
Having never been to Alabama, I wasn't sure what to expect. And honestly, spending only 2 days there did not give me the full picture, I don't think.
We flew into New Orleans and drove the 4 hours to Andalusia with just enough time to check into the hotel, get dressed and head back out to the wedding.
We stayed in the Best Western Andalusia where my in-laws also stayed. We chose this hotel bc it was the only one in the area with a pool. Very important, of course!!
The hotel is also very centrally located in the small city. It's in a busy, commercial area, but only minutes from the town center and square.
The wedding was held at the Sweet Gum Bottom Bed and Breakfast, which was about a 20 minute drive from the hotel. It was a very quaint and lovely spot! In addition to the B&B, it also housed a small, simple chapel, and a small reception hall. One stop shopping for your wedding local in Andalusia.
The wedding ceremony was lovely and brief with the bridal party wearing white and cream, and the groomsmen in light grey. A dear friend of the couple officiated and the groom's brother and father stood by his side. White flowers and babies breath decorated the hall.
The reception was held next door and catered with traditional Southern cooking; black eyed peas, bitter greens, and rutabagas (all drowned deliciously in butter and bacon!) as well as fall off the fork, melt in your mouth, stuffed pork chops and beef brisket both with their own gravy. Mashed potatoes, a veggie mix and fresh rolls were used to sop up every bite. There was enough sweet tea to satisfy any trip to the South.
The wedding cake was simple and super tasty and apparently procured from a cake baker who works out of a gas station. Alabama seems to love combining businesses where ever possible. We passed a shop proclaiming "New Fashions" on one side and "Used Autos" on the other.
In the morning, after a quick dip at the hotel pool, we checked out and went to the town square. A tiny old town, Andalusia boasts one of the oldest existing Dairy Queens. The town must once have been a really lovely place to live, the remnants of business, commerce and industry can still be seen. But everything there now is only the leftover hollow shell. Very few small, unique businesses now exist in town centers but chains, discount shops, and big corporations abound by the highways. Alabama was very sad in this respect, depressing. We drove through many such towns, which once must have been thriving communities but we had long since missed them and were left only with their ghosts. Andalusia was at least still trying, painting murals and advertising attractions such as the gas station where Hank Williams got married (falsely married, however).
After our brief tour, we headed back to the lake. More swimming!
Like most places I have visited in America, I was interested to see how Alabamian's live, and I would love to see more. Driving thru only gave me a small glimpse of what life there must be like. I was very happy to be in a place I've never been (albeit a downtrodden, depressing one), and see things Ive never seen before (an armadillo! Albeit a dead one).
What struck me most about AL, was the changes and diversity in landscape. From the piney stretches, to wide open fields filled with hay rolls or cotton (beautiful!!!), to the cheesy chain lined highways, and near abandoned brick towns, to the shimmering lake and waterways, I was never sure what I was going to see next. And Alabama is full of butterflies!
Bc we now have a brother and sister who live there, hopefully we will be back to do more exploring of life in Alabama. Even though it was a depressed and depressing place, one that time seems to have either forgotten or sped over, Alabama seemed to be brimming with potential. Andalusia seemed to me to be just waiting for the next thing to restart it's dying culture and community.
Potential is always intriguing.