Tuesday, August 24, 2010

~taking detours off that long paved road called an interstate~

on the road blured and edited w contrast

On the road to Destin, Cigar Man and I decided to take our time, make some stops and smell the roses along the way. You know, there are some interesting places to see off that long dull paved road called an interstate!

One of the most interesting stops we took was in Cullman, Alabama at St. Bernard’s Abbey. I’ll have to say, a monk’s abbey is not a typical stop for us and may not be for you either, but it was well worth the visit!

village 2

Walking through this miniature village called the Ave Maria Grotto, we couldn’t keep our jaws from dropping to the ground! The Grotto, stretching across a two-block pathway, consists of a landscaped hillside of 125 small stone and cement structures built over a lifetime by Brother Joseph Zoetl, affectionately called “Brother Joe” by the clerk at the visitors center. I can truly say, I’ve never seen anything like it!

bro joe We were told the story of “Brother Joe” by a friendly man at the visitor’s center. It seems he came to America to be a monk at the newly founded St. Bernard Abbey from Landshut, Bavaria in 1892. Soon after arriving, he was in an accident that resulted in existing in an iron cast. He lived in pain much of the rest of his life, but was still able to create all of these elaborate replicas from all over the world.


village w cat and me

With the calico cat and me in the pic,

you can get an idea of the actual size of the structures.

(After seeing this pic, these are not my favorite pants - just saying.)

san juan


house 2

I would really recommend this hidden treasure

off that long dull paved road called an interstate any day!


The friendly man I mentioned also told us about a restaurant in Cullman called

All Steak.

The story goes, at its origin in 1934, it was supposed to be called

All Steak Hamburgers but the owner ran out of money.

(You can’t make this stuff up.)

restaurantGood thing we were hungry and just had to stop cause it was southerly divine!

(Well, we were pretty much hungry through the whole trip. LOL! )

food Doesn’t this look delicious?!

Fried tilapia, fresh squash, and purple hull peas! YUM!

orange rolls Their specialty?

Orange rolls!

They’re brought to you at the end of your meal.

As you can see, we tore into ours!

Going on down the road, one more stop I want to tell you about is…

They have peaches, of course, and all kinds of locally grown veggies and fruits and the best country kitchen with all kinds of “tried and true” goodies.

What do we stop for?


They are to die for!

In fact, we stopped on the way back and brought a couple home.

Listen…I think I hear one calling me from the frig now.

Stop by later. I’ve got more pics and tales from our ROAD TRIP.

Linking to Susan’s Outdoor Wednesday.


Olive Cooper said...

The Abbey is lovely and very interesting. That Grotto is pretty and fun. Your pants are just fine. I am also critical of myself. I have some capri's my daughter detests...what does she know? Thanks bunches for following I will do the same. hugs♥olive

Olive Cooper said...

blogger is not letting me follow...will try later=)

Kate said...

Looks intriguing! I have been to Mission San Juan Capistrano...pretty good replica!

The peaches sound delightful. Enjoy your trip.

eileeninmd said...

The Abbey looks like a cool place to visit. The miniature village is stunning. And the detail is amazing. Loved the pictures and the dinner and the peach dessert. YUMMY!

Blondie's Journal said...

You can find some of the greatest things taking detours and yours was this abbey. How beautiful and fascinating! And your meal looked delicious. BTW...I like the pants!!


Ginny said...

What wonderful pictures, all of them! Whimsical and offbeat things on your trip. Yes, the interstate is fast if you're in a hurry, but my, what you can miss! I love the way you've set everything up by coming out of the fog. The little Grotto is divine! And you doid an excellent job showing us from all kinds of angles. I'm glad for you in the pic so I can see the size of it, and I love the picture showing the little jewels he set into the stone. Were you allowed in the monestery? I'm thinking even if you were, there would be no pictures allowed. And I always love pics of food!!! Next best thing to eating it! The tilapia looks so good! My husband worked on a peach farm for a coiuple summers, so he knows his peaches and is picky about them. We went to a peach orchard a few weeks ago and I posted that, none in the grocery stores suit him. Can't wait to see more of your trip!

podso said...

Enjoyed your stories and pictures. We also love back road trips. I saw a little village like that in Holland once, but not two blocks long. If we are ever in Ala. again we'll have to visit. I bet it was peaceful there.

Hope you are getting the refreshingly cooler air that we have today! Loving it.

NCmountainwoman said...

Interesting the things we encounter when we move off the beaten path. Fascinating Abbey. Oh, and the food...the food.

Cabin and Cottage said...

That first photo on the highway is so dramatically beautiful! Looks like a lot of good times going on!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

ALl those little buildings are fascinating.OK the peach park sounds pretty good too,and delicious.

Dianne said...

Oh, I should have read this post earlier in the day. I had dinner about 4 hours ago and am so hungry after seeing that squash and purple hull peas--Your trip sounds fabulous! Love the buildings by Bro. Joe.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

I have never heard about the Ava Maria Grotto - beautiful! The work that went into that is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Fried squash and purple hull peas - Oh my! I need to go to the farmers' market this week! :D

Tales From My Empty Nest said...

What a wonderful time you are having on your trip to Destin. Loved all the pictures and the food looks divine. Fried pies are my favorite. Love 7 blessings from NC!

Mary said...

What a fun Road Trip! Those miniatures...what detail~ All Steak, that so makes me laugh...Orange Rolls & Fried Peach Pie, Oh My!

Privet and Holly said...

What a delicious
road trip, Marsha!
Such an interesting
story about the grotto....
It's amazing the cool
things that you stumble
upon when you take a
driving trip, versus
flying. I'm now dreaming
of peach pie!!
xx Suzanne

Jane said...

What a cool place! Your meal at the steak place looks yummy! I've never seen orange rolls. but they look delicious.

We've driven from FL to TN a couple of times to visit our son after being on vacation in FL. The next time we do it, we'll have to check these places out.


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Marsha, We like to get off of those ole interstates also -and drive on the back roads...

I'm amazed at that Abbey---and specifically the Grotto... WOW--I'd love to see that. Maybe someday we will... I'll keep this idea on my 'list'....

The eating place and those peach pies sound wonderful also. Thanks for sharing.


Atticmag said...

You've taken me along on your vacation and it's so much fun, now I don't need to go! Great pix. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Good news! We're staring a Friday Giveaway link-up party this Fri. 8/27 plus we have an amazing giveaway. Please join us. Jane F.

Tallulah's Antique Closet said...

What a great roadtrip! It all looks like it was a fun trip. Thank You for stopping by. Have a great week....Julian

Linda said...

That looked like a wonderful time the two of you had. The mineratures were amazing...and the dinner...oh my! Thanks for sharing!

Wanda Stricklin Robertson said...

I love "All Steak". The orange rolls are worth the stop!