Thursday, May 25, 2017

Perfect for a Picnic

Calhoun County and the northeast Alabama region are filled with beautiful Appalachian views, perfect enough for a picnic.

Anniston Museums & Gardens are surrounded by beautiful hillside property, including Lagarde Park. This area features a playground, a track, small pond and picnic tables. Don't forget to stop by the Anniston Museum of Natural History and the Berman Museum of World History while you're there.

Choccolocco Park is surrounded by the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, including Cheaha State Park. The Park Grounds feature playgrounds, paths of varied distances, a lake, the ball parks, pavilions and picnic tables. Take the family to a ballgame while you're there.

Germania Springs is quaintly located adjacent to the Ladiga Trail, Roy Webb Road and Highway 21 in Jacksonville. This park features a dog park, playgrounds, baseball and football practice fields, and the longest paved Rails to Trail path, the Ladiga/Silver Comet. Be sure to take your bike, since the Alabama "skies are so blue."

The Chief Ladiga Trail Campground is ideally located where the Ladiga Trail meets the Pinhoti Hiking Trail and Terrapin Creek. So, take your bike, your hiking boots and your kayak, and you're set for the whole weekend.

Ohatchee Beach is conveniently located on the Neely Henry, so bring your boat and your water skis or a kayak and enjoy the serene rolling hills along the lake, complete with great fishing spots, picnic tables and boat launches.

Elwell Park, much like Germania Springs, is perfectly located along the Ladiga Trail, complete with picnic pavilions, basketball courts, a BMX track, dog park and playground. The area is ideally shaded to block of the occasionally brutal sun and heat.

J.R. Striplin Park in Hobson City is perfect for grilling out, taking a walk around the track and watching the kids play on the playground and ball courts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cheaha Cometh

This Sunday, May 21st, Jacksonville, AL will host an estimated 800 cyclists from 9 countries and 26 states for the 25th annual Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century & Ultra, as well as the 3rd annual Chief Ladiga Cruise. To get insight on what this ride is like from the cyclist's point of view, we spoke with Steve Vinyard, a seasoned cyclist who has participated in the Cheaha Challenge several times.

When did you first hear about/start riding the Cheaha Challenge?

I first heard about the ride in 1993, when the Cheaha Challenge first started. I was not able to ride that year due to a neck injury, but started that next year in 1994.
Since starting in 1994, I have participated in the Cheaha Challenge about 14 or 15 times.

Tell me about the Ultra. What made you want to go to that next level?

The Ultra began in 2005 when Brooke Nelson became director. She wanted to add a level of difficulty to the Cheaha Challenge. I had ridden the 100 + mile course before and wanted to challenge myself. I wasn’t able to ride the Ultra last year, but I will be returning in 2017.

What do you do to prepare for the ride every year?

I make sure I have the right equipment. I make sure to check the weather forecast, just in case I need specific gear or need to adjust your tire pressure. I train and ride the hills beforehand. I like to pay attention to my diet and health, maybe dropping a little bit of weight, if needed.

When riding, what is going through your head?

It is a long time to be on your bike so you have some time to reflect. It is very important to remind yourself to eat and drink during the ride, as your body will need the calories. Keep your cadence while riding and save your muscle strength for the end. Be sure to ride the course properly and to stay as cautious as possible. This is especially crucial when riding in a pack. One wrong move can send you into a collision with another cyclist.

How do you stay motivated during the ride, especially during the extra challenging parts?

It’s a big event. You spend a lot of time and energy preparing. Sometimes things happen that prevent you from finishing the ride, but there is a natural motivation that keeps you going. Also, knowing that Brooke Nelson will burn your finisher shift if you don’t complete the ride will keep you motivated!

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in riding the Cheaha Challenge for the first time?

Know your course ahead of time and ride the hardest parts so that you know what to expect.

What is the best part of the Cheaha Challenge, in your opinion?

It is the most organized ride. The support from the community is felt throughout the entire ride. You feel safe on the road knowing how well everything is put together. I have participated in several rides, and this is one of the best.

To kick off this exciting weekend, on May 20th, Jacksonville State University is welcoming the cyclists and their families to the area by holding the first Jacksonville Arts & Music (JAM) Fest on campus. This family friendly event will showcase what Calhoun County has to offer with music and drama performances, several food vendors, and local artists.

Blog Interview by: Mackenzie Harris Corbin

Thursday, May 11, 2017

History comes alive this weekend in Calhoun County!

Two exciting events will take place on Saturday May 13th, celebrating part of the history and heritage of Calhoun County.
Legend of Lick Skillet Music & Heritage Festival
From 10 AM to 4PM, residents and visitors will come together in Downtown Oxford to celebrate the history and growth of the city once named “Lick Skillet”.
This annual celebration includes many food vendors (BBQ Boss, Southern Girl Coffee, and Hubbard’s Off Main- Just to name a few), arts and craft booths, live music from several local artists, and more! Gomey the Storyteller will join in on the festivities, telling his tales every hour, on the hour. There is even pie eating contest scheduled for those who are up for the challenge!
This festival is fun for all ages. Admission is free.
Freedom Riders National Monument Community Celebration
On January 12, 2017 President Obama declared two sites in Anniston, the former Greyhound station and the site of the Freedom Riders bus burning in 1961, National Monuments. The community will celebrate this proclamation on May 13 from 3PM-7PM outside the historic Greyhound bus depot on 10th and Gurnee Ave., Anniston, AL.
Included in the celebration is special announcements from the National Parks Service, a meet & greet with Freedom Riders, food and craft vendors, live music, and performances from local youth.

Presented by the City of Anniston, Calhoun County Commission, and the Freedom Riders Park Board, admission is free to the public. 

Blog by: Mackenzie Harris Corbin

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Family Fun in the Sun

"A family that plays together stays together."

Looking for summer fun ideas? Have we got a list for you?

1. Climb Every Mountain
Calhoun County is in the heart of Mountain Bike Country. From Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail to Cheaha State Park, and other trail systems in between, there is everything for beginner to the most advanced.
Calhoun County is also home to the Cheaha Challenge, this year's only UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Gran Fondo World Championship Qualifier for the United States. Don't be deceived, there is something for everyone, 24 miles, 44, 62, 84, 100 (Century) or 124 (Ultra).
If cycling isn't your thing, we have great hiking trails, from Mountain Longleaf to the Museum of Natural History, Pinhoti and more.

2. Ford Every Stream
Terrapin Creek is perfect for everyone, all ages and all levels of experience. Outfitters like No Worries Kayaks provide shuttle service and rentals to make your float easy, ideal, and for the whole family. They've got kayaks, double seaters, and canoes, or free parking and shuttles if you bring your own boat.
We also have the beautiful Neely Henry Lake in Ohatchee, perfect for skiing, boating and fishing with public boat launches, picnic areas and piers.

3. Follow Every Rainbow
With a little bit of luck, you'll get a hole in one if you play all of our golf courses. From the world renowned Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail to beautiful hillside courses like Cider Ridge, we have something for everyone, including local favorites like Cane Creek & Pine Hill.

4. Till you find Your Dream
If you didn't read something that caught your eye, keep searching on!