Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Freshman 101

They're back! Move in day was Saturday, and we love our college students! Here are some tips we wish we'd been told before freshmen year.
1. Venture off campus for food. 
Calhoun County has tons of great restaurants that are affordable for the college budget. Break away from the typical chain restaurants we all know, and eat like a local. Then, you can impress your parents when they come visit!
2. Be a part of something. 
Get involved with campus and community organizations because you never know the doors of opportunity that will be opened. Go out and make new friends!
3. Go to class
We know it sounds like your parents talking, but creating good relationships with your professors can actually come in handy one day. They have students in high places, and they can be great references.
4. Explore
Get outside! Fresh is great for you, and there is so much to do within an hour's time that is budget friendly. So, grab your roommate and check out area sites.
5. Check out other majors. 

Take a variety of classes, and don't be afraid to change your mind more than one time. Find a career that you love, so you never really have to work a day in your life.
6. Show Team Spirit 
Get involved in game days. Take advantage of the excitement and tailgates at football games and sporting events. It only adds to your experiences.
7. Try an internship
Want to add to your resume and make great contacts while you're still in school? Apply for student worker positions and search for community internships. It's a great way to try careers before graduation.
For more information, check out www.VisitCalhounCounty.com.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Great Trips off the Ladiga Trail

The Chief Ladiga Trail currently runs 32.5 miles from the Alabama/Georgia line into the City of Anniston. The City of Anniston recently acquired more land for the trails extension into downtown Anniston. As Alabama’s first Rails to Trails project, this paved recreational trail follows the former Seaboard/CSX Railroad and connects to Georgia’s 63 mile Silver Comet Trail, making Ladiga part of the longest paved rail trail in the U.S. This recreational opportunity can be enjoyed by walkers, cyclists, skaters, strollers and more. Beautiful sights like area forests, farmlands, streams, and mountains provide picturesque scenery for each and every visit. 

Here's some sites to take in as you travel along the trail:

As you enter Piedmont, turn north onto Center Avenue to enjoy downtown Piedmont at its best. Indulge in the ice cream, coffee or smoothies of the Solid Rock Cafe and explore downtown shops. If you stop by Solid Rock, you must try their chicken salad sandwich or Sunday Buffet. 
Also, just outside Piedmont, you can stay at the Chief Ladiga Trail Campground and float Terrapin Creek to cool off during the hot Alabama summers. 

Near the trails Mile 24, you enter the City of Jacksonville. If you pack a lunch, stop in Germania Springs Park to cool off and rest, or continue to Hwy 21 and head west on 204 about a mile to Cooter Brown's Rib Shack, the best ribs around. 
One can also head to Mountain Street toward Highway 21, and try local eats like Cecil's, Roma's, Java Jolt and more shops or stops around Jacksonville's Square. 

In Weaver, take a break at Elwell Park, or continue through to Anniston's Mike Tucker Park. 

When you reach the Anniston Trailhead, your adventure doesn't have to end. If you are on your road bike, there are several great area climbs and routes. Many cyclists have taken their trek to Anniston's Weaver Road to Highway 21. 
Known as one of the toughest climbs in Calhoun County, if you turn left off Weaver Road and take Hwy 21 north, the turn right onto Baltzell Gate Road, you can cycle through Anniston's former Fort McClellan via Berman Road and right onto Bain's Gap Road. Once you reach the Bain's Gap zenith, you can turn around and return to Anniston or continue. Take a left onto Choccolocco, right onto Hwy 9, left onto Hwy 78, left onto Skyway Drive, the foot of Alabama's Highest peak, and climb to Cheaha State Park. 
Each spring, cyclists come from all over peddle in for the Cheaha Challenge and Iron Mountain Challenge
Cyclists have also continued south on Hwy 21 into downtown Anniston, stopped by Wig's Wheels on Noble Street, rented a mountain bike, and explored area mountain bike trails like Coldwater, Iron Legs, and more. There are also plenty of delectable restaurants downtown to fuel up for the next trek. 
For more information, visit www.chiefladigatrail.com
For maps, hotel accommodations, and lists of restaurants, check out www.VisitCalhounCounty.com

Monday, August 10, 2015

Top Sunset Spots in Calhoun County

Alabama's known for its skies being "so blue," but in the evening, the skies transform to vibrant hues of purple, orange, pink, and more. Some days, you have to pinch yourself and ask, "Is this real or a painting?"
After each day's 9 to 5, the sun starts to set and evolve on the trek home, but there are spots where that setting takes your breath away.

Chimney Peak, Jacksonville
In Jacksonville, as you head north on 21 but before reaching the college, between Effina's and the Post Office, turn onto Mountain Street. It is a Mountain Street indeed, climbing to the top with its tower overlooking campus and a view than spans north, south, east and west for miles. The best sunsets often come with some clouds, sometimes even just after a storm.

Ladiga Trail, Piedmont
There are several spots along the trail, with its picturesque fields, streams, lakes and creeks that offer the perfect setting for a sunset, but a favorite spot is just outside Piedmont, heading south on the trail. Where Highway 21 crosses over the trail, the substructure beams and surrounding vast farmed fields, create a picture worthy canvas backdrop for anyone visiting the trails.

Neely Henry Lake, Ohatchee
This 11,00 acre lake is not only perfect for skiing and fishing, but its location along Highway 77 is the perfect setting for a sunset picnic. Alabama Power's Ten Island Park is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday. I think you'll agree the image looks like something you would imagine as a setting for "The Notebook."

Buckhorn, Weaver
At Zoe's on the Lake, you can grab a bite to eat, and sit back and enjoy the view of the sun setting over the lake. Located off the Alexandria/Jacksonville Highway in Weaver, this area's surroundings almost seem idyllic, especially when the sun starts to set. You can opt for indoor dining in the air-conditioning or outdoor seating on their Angel Lake pavilion.

Oxford Lake, Oxford Civic Center
A walking track that almost encompasses a mile around the lake, offers a playground for the kids and great pavilions and settings for picnicking before sunset. Its also a great background for one of Alabama's oldest covered bridges, the Coldwater Covered Bridge.

Anniston By-Pass/Bain's Gap, Fort McClellan 
With encircling views of Cheaha, Anniston and Calhoun County, as you climb the mountain sides, the views get better and better. For many, it's the road home, and its surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The Mountain Longleaf Wildlife Refuge and Talladega National Forest paint hillsides of vibrant greens and glowing trees each fall.

Other Sites Nearby:
Cheaha State Park, Delta, Alabama
The highest point in Alabama never disappoints, not even on a cloudy day.
With majestic views of surrounding counties, including Calhoun, Cheaha State Park has great sites for camping, picnicking, and hiking. The Bald Rock overlook is also handicap accessible for a beautiful breath-taking sight. The best view comes each fall to the lodge. Wait just around the pool for a one-of-a-kind scene, encompassed by the Talladega National Forest.

Pinhoti Trail, Piedmont, Alabama 
This southern Appalachian Trail connector has a total of 339 miles,
171.2 of which are in Alabama. This trail offers expansive views of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range and striking sunsets. There is a trailhead along Hwy 278 north of Piedmont, almost to the Georgia line, and the Davis Mountain Shelter is a two mile hike from the north trail head with a great view.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Things to do before the summer's gone!

August is Family Fun Month, so here's a list to check before summer's gone! 

Cheaha Lake
Soak up the rays at the beach at Cheaha Lake, a 6 acre man made lake, complete with playground, diving platform and paddle boats.

Desoto Caverns Family Fun Park
Retrace Hernando DeSoto’s expedition through the south over 450 years ago. Explore DeSoto Caverns, the Lost Maze and pan for the real gemstones DeSoto never found. The park also features over 25 wacky attractions, picnic area, camping, hiking and playground facilities.

Alabama’s ‘Premier Tube Trip’ with many tubes in stock, offers a floating fun trip down Choccolocco Creek, with a variety of rapids and a steady current to enjoy.

This trail meanders along the Tallapoosa River from the Georgia line to Highway 431.

Gaze upon this beautiful waterfall that plunges 90 feet into a rock gorge. This landmark is named after Noccalula, the legendary Indian Princess, who leaped to her death into the waters below. Other features include the Pioneer Village, a train ride, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Stretch your legs on this paved and gravel track around the lake or spread out a picnic for the whole family, while the kids play on the adventure park playground. This area also houses tennis courts, a swimming pool, baseball complex, indoor basketball courts, a newly renovated and expanded civic center space and more. It is also home to one of Alabama’s oldest remaining covered bridges, moved from Coldwater Creek to Oxford Lake and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ten Island Park at Neely Henry Lake
This beach provides a place to relax, launch boats, picnic and enjoy the lake. They're open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily.

Canoe down the beautiful Terrapin Creek, located in Piedmont, Alabama, and take in the scenery of Alabama like you’ve never seen it!

Weiss Lake 
This 30,200 acre impoundment of the Coosa, Chattoga and Little Rivers offers 447 miles of shoreline. The popularity of this location is reflected in the fact that more out-of-state fishing licenses are issued here than any other location in Alabama.

Zinn Park
Once the front lawn of the Anniston Inn and named for early business leader William H. Zinn, it is the location of a great playground, including a splash pad.