This trip was not planned as an escape, but that is what it became. I will forever remember this trip as a breath of fresh air after nearly drowning. I had just dropped out of school. I wasn’t sure if it was for the semester or for good yet. I just knew that I needed out and I didn’t really want to talk to anyone about it yet.
Cathedral Caverns is one of those places that you never know about unless you did some research, live in the area, or know someone that went there. Cody and I were looking for a place to take a small camping trip in early November 2019. We wanted to go somewhere nearby with interesting scenery and plenty of things to do. We were not expecting to go tent camping during a hurricane or to find a beautiful cave in the middle of the Appalachian mountains.
We planned on staying for 2 nights, but it somehow ended up being a week. We never really reached a point where we wanted to come home, but just got to a point where it was necessary because we had jobs. We had my car loaded down with all of our camping gear and even decided to bring both of our dogs along with us. We knew we would be there late, but that didn’t bother us. Later that night we found ourselves coasting through the winding roads of northern Alabama in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. It was pouring outside and even with our headlights on, we could barely see the roads.
Once we finally found the state park, we drove around aimlessly looking for a spot to set up camp. The rain did not seem to be letting out and with no lights anywhere, it was hard to see what spots were open for camping.
We finally wondered up on a decent looking piece of land and waited for the rain to ease up…it didn’t. After waiting in the car for an hour, we decided to toughen up and pitch a tent in the rain. Once all the necessities were loaded into the tent ( both dogs, the sleeping bag, and our blankets) , we found out that the zipper was broken. That’s right! Our tent was wide open allowing all of the rain to pour into our tent. Once we realized that it wasn’t going to fix, we huddled up in our sleeping bag and under our blankets to stay dry and warm.
When I woke up the next morning, I extended my foot into a puddle of ice cold water. I immediately shot up to see our entire tent under 2 inches of water. Everything was wet: our towels, blankets, and clothes. We got dressed back in our freezing, soaked clothes and started packing everything up.
After everything was packed up and we had changed into dry clothes, we headed off to a lauder-o-mat to use the dryers. It took hours and half of our money was eaten by dryers that didn’t work. It was an experience that I never want to re-live. We decided to take a trip to Wal-Mart afterwards to buy a new tent. The tent we found was MUCH nicer than I ever expected. It is a 6 person tent that stands at about 5 feet. It is complete with LED lights and an IPAD holster for when we want to watch shows before bed. We went ahead and got a small space heater to keep the tent warm and purchased a campsite with electric, too. We were now glamping and did not care one bit, because we deserved it after the night we had just endured.
The rest of our trip went pretty smoothly. We would drive up to the main office in the morning to sip on a cup of coffee on their porch while using the signal to get in touch with family and friends. We took a couple of small hikes around the park during the day, took naps in the after noon, and collected fire wood in the early evening. Over all, it was just a much needed, relaxed trip.
We didn’t leave the park much, but when we did, we found some diamonds in the ruff. Huntsville isn’t a very large town. There aren’t many great places to go, but we did happen across 2 great restaurants in our time there. We ate at Joe’s Pizza one day, which didn’t look like much, but it had some of the best pizza we have ever tried for a great price. When you go inside, it looks like a run down pizza hut on the inside, but the pizza had a great flavor and had just the perfect amount of cheese on it. We chose this place because it was the closest restaurant to the Cathedral Caverns State Park, but we were not disappointed with it at all. We even left talking about how we would recommend it to anyone in that area.
The other place we ate is somewhere that I would personally travel all he way to Huntsville to visit again. Pints and Pixels is a restaurant, brewery, and vintage arcade. We split a burger for lunch and each got a flight of some of their tasty beers before hitting the games. The arcade has every game you can think of from pac man to mario cart to pin ball and they even have a wreck it ralph game inspired by the movie. It is a great place to grab lunch and spend the day as a family and after dark it turns into an arcade bar for adults only.
The park has some fun things to do there as well. There are a few easy walking/hiking trails you can stroll down during the day, but the main attraction is the Cathedral Caverns. Cave tours are open and can be purchased during the day. The tour lasts about 2 hours and goes through the fun history of the caves while letting you see its beauty.
I haven’t found an excuse to stop by Huntsville, Alabama again, but I always check to see if it’s on our route! If you’re looking for a little escape or just want to make a pit stop during a long trip, I highly recommend stopping by the Cathedral Caverns or Pints and Pixels. All of the locals are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to welcome you and show kindness. (The best example of southern hospitality) Thanks for reading along!