August 5, 2014

Huntsville, Alabama Tour Part 1

Huntsville, AL  - Eternal flame for prisoners of war.
Huntsvlle, AL is a nice town with some scenic surprises, history, and fun things to do.  Beaver and I are going to try and explore the area as much as possible whenever I'm there.  When I was there in July it was just too hot.  I was pretty disappointed in that since I had hoped that going north (12 hours' drive from Melbourne Beach) would put me in an area that provided some relief from the heat and humidity of tropical summer in Florida.  Despite the heat I made myself get out and walk the trails and streets of Providence in the mornings, getting in about 3.5 miles before dragging myself up the stairs and back into the air conditioning.  And Beave and I had a nice day touring downtown together over the Fourth of July weekend, though by the end of our walk I was dripping sweat and dreaming of winter.

Beautiful crape myrtle and abundant blooms in downtown Huntsville.
John F. Kennedy said, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."  With two sons serving in the US Army, Beaver and I appreciate and like to visit monuments and tributes like the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial, which has been a source of civic pride since it was completed in 2011.  After seeing the memorials at our nation's capital in Washington, DC, I would compare this to any of those.  It honors the area's fallen sons and daughters in a park-like setting with polished marble, quotes, inscriptions, and subtle touches like a central fountain in the shape of a pentagon.

Walking up the hill from the Memorial brings you into an area of downtown Huntsville called Central Square that has bars and restaurants, many with sidewalk tables.  Gas streetlights have hanging planters overflowing with flowers, and the streets are lined with crape myrtles.  There are shrubs and flowers everywhere, making this section at least more like a neighborhood and less like a city.  In Twickenham we walked up and down shady streets where every house is on the National Register of Historic Places, but they are all private homes and they are all meticulously restored.  Markers in each front yard indicated the year the house was completed and the last name of the original owner, with dates from the Antebellum era ranging from the 1830s to the early 1900s.

The old Huntsville United Methodist Church.

Having worked our way up hill (believe me, in that heat I noticed every incline) we decided to look inside Harrison Brothers Hardware, a store that has been in operation on Huntsville’s historic courthouse square since 1897.  It's no longer a hardware store so we were disappointed.

Finally it was time to make our way back to Below The Radar, a brewery and restaurant in Central Square. We met a great server, Krys, who was enthusiastic about Huntsville nightlife and wrote down a number of clubs and eateries for us to check out.  We had lunch and sampled a couple of excellent house brews, and then it was time to head home and catch some World Cup soccer on TV.

Our own personal fireworks show, as seen from the balcony.
Independence Day was celebrated in Providence with its own fireworks show, a top-notch display made even more brilliant because we didn't have to leave home to enjoy it.  It was a great evening amid that hot and sultry three day weekend, and I hope I can return to Huntsville every Fourth of July, not just for the fireworks but for the chance to continue exploring the beautiful, walkable downtown in the summertime.


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