Apple Orchards & Cotton Fields

“Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night; and thus he would never know the rhythms that are at the heart of life.”
~Hal Borland

Autumn has arrived a bit late here in the South due our our unseasonably cool and wet summer.  We are just now catching glimpses of color in the trees here in South Carolina, but it is coming, as are the much cooler temperatures and shorter days.  
I do love autumn and all of the wonderful traditions and fun our family enjoys together throughout the season!
Of all out traditions, I do have to say visiting an apple orchard with my Momma is my absolutely favorite.  It has been a tradition of ours for many years now, one that I had to break last year because of the distance between us.  This season I decided, distance was not going to be an issue, so when we discovered an open weekend without football and band competitions we loaded up our car and headed home to Tennessee for the weekend!  Our short road trip was full of surprises and so much fun that included spending the day with Momma driving the country backroads of North Alabama to our favorite orchard; Crow Mountain on top of the mountain in Fackler, Alabama.
“Surely the apple is the noblest of fruits.”
~Henry David Thoreau


Crow Mountain Orchards, owned by Bob and Carol Deutscher, has been in operation since 1974 and is a must-do highlight of our autumn traditions.  It is also very popular among the North Alabama & Middle Tennessee locals as they are packed each and every time we visit!

Mr. Deutscher packing up apples
Selecting the best apples with Momma

One thing I love about Crow Mountain is all the variety that they grow.  Of course their biggest crop is the crazy assortment of apples in the fall, but during the summer months they also have peaches.
Also in the fall you might find luscious Asian Pears, Muscadines (these were filling my palm they were so large, and oh so sweet!), and fresh apple cider!

I do love to buy local and not imported fruit!
Even though our day was very overcast and a little drizzly the orchards were still beautiful and brimming with fresh fruit just waiting to be picked!

Couldn’t you just eat this right off the tree?

We purchased delicious Jonathan & MacIntosh apples for their tart flavor just perfect for baking and making apple butter.  I also bought two gallons of sweet and tart cider to freeze for a little hot spiced apple cider this holiday season.

I can’t wait!

I do love those country backroads and the beauty of our home in north Alabama.  The cotton fields we passed were in full bloom and just captivated me.  Usually the cotton has already popped when I make this trip, but with things just a wee bit behind, I enjoyed the beautiful flowers on each plant.

I asked Momma (who grew up picking cotton in Alabama) why the cotton plants had both pink and creamy colored blooms.  She told me that the petals change from creamy white to yellow, to pink and finally a dark red before they whither and fall off of the plant, leaving behind the green cotton bolls.  All of this happens in just a matter of days so actually catching so many blooms was very lucky!

Love the mountains in the background of this beautiful field!

I have so many plans for my apples…. thinking a pie or two, preserving a few for the winter and at the moment I’m working on apple butter. Honestly, I can’t wait to share my simply scrumptious recipe with you!  
My mouth is already watering and I’m craving a hot buttered biscuit with that fresh fruit butter now!
Have a wonderful week!

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: The USS Alabama

Traveling with my hubby is always an adventure, and when you add Naval history to the mix he becomes like a little boy just waiting for the next adventure.
So was the case with as we made a stop-over in Mobile, Alabama and visited the magnificent battleship USS Alabama and submarine, USS Drum as we made our way to Palm Beach for yet another meeting.
The keel of the USS Alabama was laid in 1940 as hostilities across the Atlantic were heating up in Europe between the British, French and Nazi’s, but America was not yet at war.  This particular ship was the 8th to bare the name Alabama and completed her sea trials in 1942.  Weighing 44,500 tons and 680 feet from bow to stern,  She was immediately put into service in the Atlantic Ocean sailing from Norfolk, Virginia with a job of protecting Russian and British convoys.  After a brief period in this role, The Alabama was sent to the Pacific clearing the Panama Canal in August 1943.

In the Pacific the USS Alabama and her crew of sailors and marines served valiantly in the Pacific war against Japan, accomplishing all of her assigned tasks.  She saw 37 months of action, participating in nine major battles of the Pacific.  During this time she never saw any causalities or suffered damage from enemy fire;  a huge accomplishment!
After the end of the war, the Alabama dropped anchor in Tokyo briefly and then took on 3700 servicemen to travel back to the US arriving in at the Port of San Francisco on Navy Day, 27 October 1945, bringing our boys home form war.

Her service was complete.  Unlike many ships of the time, the USS Alabama only saw action in WWII and was decommissioned quickly; 1947.

Due to the cost of trying to maintain the “Peacetime Navy”, in 1962 it was decided that the Alabama (along with several other great ships) would be scrapped.  Shortly thereafter a campaign was launched to bring the mighty ship to Alabama as a memorial to the many sailors and soldiers from Alabama who had served.

Alabama school children raised almost $100,000 in mostly nickels, dimes, and quarters to help bring her home to her final resting place.

Having parents born and raised in Alabama as kids of the Baby Boom, the USS Alabama means a lot to both of them.  They were two of the school children who donated their hard-earned changed to help with this effort.  They were given a gift for their contributions; each received a lifetime pass to visit the great battleship in Mobile Bay.

In 1972, seven years after the ship opened to the public, they finally got a chance to use those passes for the first time.  It was also my first visit to the beautiful and historic ship.

Dad & Momma were just 22 years old here!

A lot has changed since that 1972 visit which Audley and I were able to enjoy on our own trip.
No longer is the Ship the memorial, but the state has constructed an entire Memorial Park dedicated to all the soldiers and sailors from Alabama who has served and even lost their lives for our country throughout many wars.  There is no way to post pictures of everything, but here are a few highlights of the Memorial Park and the USS Alabama.

The Vietnam Memorial

Replica of the Vietnam Wall containing the names of Alabama’s men and women who were killed in this conflict.  My father has several classmates whose names are etched here.  It’s a very moving and sobering spot to visit.
Seeing the open guns reminded me of how vulnerable of our servicemen really are when they are out fighting for us.

The travels and battles of the USS Alabama

Bunks for the sailors and marines onboard…. close quarters for sure!

Shipboard amenities for servicemen away from home.  
Telegraph/Mail room
The command center of the ship
The Alabama’s service record is permanently recorded on the side of the ship.

While touring the ship I learned so much about the lives of the men on board, how they lived everyday and how they fought to protect our freedoms.

One thing I found so fascinating was the Presentation silver displayed.  While it was removed for it’s own protection during the war, generally it is left on board.

Here’s  little history on the presentation silver:  During the 18th century it became traditional for cities and states to present silver serviced to the warships bearing their names upon commissioning.  This silver service was designed for use on formal occasions such as port visits attended by local dignitaries. The US Navy withdrew silver services from all warships in WWII, leaving Alabama’s service stored in the State’s archives during the ship’s active service.  The silver was placed on board the USS Alabama for display in 1967 but has never been formally transferred from the state archives.

The USS ALABAMA’s presentation silver.

Besides home to the USS Alabama, Battleship Memorial Park is also the final destination of the USS Drum a WWII era submarine that was launched in 1941 and was donated to the USS Alabama battleship commission in 1969.  
Since I married a Submariner, visiting the USS Drum was very important to Audley.  As he descended the steps into her hull he inhaled deeply, taking in the smell of submarine living still in the air after all these years.
I found it all quite emotional actually.
Audley in the control rooms of the sub looking at navigation charts. 
Yes, those are beds, both over and under the torpedo.  Yes, that is how our sailors sleep.
The tiny kitchen where meals were cooked for the men serving on board
The officers were spoiled, just a little, although they still didn’t have much space.
Some of the USS Drum’s presentation silver
The USS Drum’s service record in WWII.

Audley & I on deck of the USS DRUM.
I hope you enjoyed a little of our visit to Mobile and the Battleship Memorial Park.  I know military history can seem rather boring, especially for a female, but I can assure you, a stop at one of our nation’s many military memorials will sure give you an whole new perspective and appreciation on our men and women who have and who continue to serve.
Next on our adventure we enjoyed a little R&R in Palm Beach, Florida complete with dinner by the ocean, shopping millionaires row and some high-end antiquing!