Over the last year-and-one-half, my family has not traveled much or far. Lately, we’ve traveled some and near. We’ve done what I call mini vacations.

One Saturday we spent the day in downtown Wetumpka. I liked the drive time. Wetumpka is only about 60 miles from Opelika. Wetumpka is enjoying a revival. No, not a church revival, but a town revival. Since Ben and Erin came to town, so has almost everyone else. Ben and Erin are hosts of the popular television show called “Home Town.” Now they host a show called “Home Town Takeover.” In the new show, they go to a town to renovate the entire town, or at least give it a facelift. In September of 2020, they came to Wetumpka for a 4-month long project. I had been to Wetumpka before, but recently, Jean and I went back to see what they had done. We strolled down the streets, browsed the shops, thought about lunch at Coach’s, but couldn’t get in, had lunch at Copper’s, and desserts at the coffee shop and the toffee shop. We saw the house where the movie “Big Fish” was filmed. That night we watched the movie. The movie was rather strange, but it was fun to see locations we had seen in person that day. I browsed inside Sweet Home Bookstore. I introduced the owner to my books, and you will find them in their “Local Authors” section soon. We drove across the beautiful bridge, and then looked at the town and the Coosa River from the other side. For those who saw the movie, I did not fish in the river with my golden ring. We drove out a couple of miles and toured Fort Toulouse. The original Fort was founded by the French, in 1717. It was a fun day, well spent.

We also made a day trip this summer to Newnan, Georgia. That too is about 60 miles from Opelika. We have visited Newnan numerous times. I love to eat at the late Louis Grizzard’s favorite barbecue place, Sprayberry’s. I usually get the Louis Grizzard special, and a fried peach pie for dessert. A great time to visit Newnan is the first Saturday of the month, April through December. That is when they have their “First Saturday on the Square.” On that day, all around the courthouse square, visitors can shop for arts and crafts items, vegetables, honey, and other nutritious foods like fried pies, peanut brittle, and caramel corn. There is also Pickin’ on the Square. No, not corn picking, but guitar picking…or banjo, mandolin, bass, fiddle, etc. Well, actually, you don’t pick a fiddle, but you know what I mean. Pickers usually arrive around 10:00 and pick until their fingers get sore. Anyone who plays or sings can join in…without audition! There is actually no definite time for the music to begin or end, however, there is definitely a specific time for the overall event. I remind you it is called, “First Saturday on the Square.” On our most recent trip, I noticed the strangest thing when we got to the square. Nobody was there…no vendors, no pickers, no lookers, no one. I said to Jean, “Today is Saturday, isn’t it?” She replied, “It is, but isn’t the festival on the first Saturday of the month?” Do you know that July 10th is never the first Saturday of the month? I do too, now! What was I thinking? Or not? The day wasn’t wasted. We strolled the square and had lunch at The Redneck Gourmet. I felt right at home!

An old adage says, “Look before you leap.” I might add, check the calendar before you go!

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Tuesday edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.

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