Tuesday, July 21, 2009

we went to the ava maria grotto!

it's a pretty nice day for a drive. we see the big rocket as we pass into alabama from tennessee. i wanted to stop there on the way back, but i forgot.

we stop at a rest stop between exits 304 and 299 to do a bit of letter boxing. it is super fun. you should start doing it. we have been to some amazing places near our house that we didn't' even know existed because of letter boxing.

the person who found this one before didn't do a very good job hiding it. i'm glad it wasn't gone!

we also found our first hitch hiker! which was very exciting. a hitch hiker is a stamp someone leaves in another letter box and you take it, and plant it somewhere else, so it moves around the country.

we are here! our destination was the Ava Maria Grotto. A friend of mine had gone here sometime in the spring and I had been wanting to visit ever since.

so excited! basically it's a little path with shrines built by brother joseph beside this monastery. i'm not catholic or anything but love the imagery, and i love miniature things.

first we come to bethlehem. i liked how baby jesus was treated like a wishing well. so much change in there!

that big thing is the ava maria grotto, that the place is named for.

travis read the guidebook out loud. there were actually a lot of people there. i was expected it to be pretty deserted.

just chillin with our lady of guadalupe, my favorite. i restrained myself in the gift shop, leaving with just a magnet (we get one on every trip we take) and a key chain with a cute picture of brother joseph on it.
all of this really wasn't taking as long as i thought it would. we set off down some country roads in search of another letter box.

it's near this neat covered bridge.

we had to be sneaky to get this one, because those guys back there wouldn't leave! travis pretended to tie his flip flops to pull the box out. the guys from before approached us to tell us about some other covered bridges in the area, and about the countries largest structure built entirely of wood. they were really nice. and didn't ask what we were doing. but we failed at being sneaky.

we saw a sign for this orchard on the side of the road and stopped hoping it was a pick your own situation. sadly it wasn't. but the woman in the store was really nice and they had the best smelling fresh peaches ever. they only had one kind of apple though, i think they were ginger gold. she said for the next few months they would have new kinds of apples every week.

here is what we bought. home made strawberry preserves, big red peach jelly, some hand made dried apple rings, and some apples. we gobbled down the apple rings immediately and had an apple each. they were really good. i saved two to make apple turnovers the next morning.

we stopped for another box at the base of a mcdonald's sign by the interstate. it was hidden well and we almost gave up. but eventually found it.

hello again rocket! forgot to stop at you again!

we stopped at our favorite mexican restaurant for dinner. travis got grilled chicken nachos, and i scammed lots of them off of his plate.

we were back much earlier than i had expected. i would have planned more stuff for us to do if i had known. since it was still light i took travis to find some boxes in our town that i had found solo earlier. first stop, the james k. polk. home. there was a 'girl's finishing school" having a dance across the street. i didn't know those still existed. the weather was so nice we walked the few blocks to the next one.

a monument. it's one of the highest points in columbia (where we live). what a nice view! we sat up there for a while enjoying the view and the weather. we went to another park for one more box, but none of the pictures i took were very interesting. it was mule day themed. there is a huge mule festival here every year. i didn't go this year, but next year, definitely.

the sky was so purple on the way home! so beautiful!

for the rest of the night we just lounged around on the computer and watched dvds. it was nice.

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