Rural Shelby County, AlabamaWednesday, October 03, 2007
Over the weekend, we spent some time in rural Shelby county. We were looking for a couple of covered bridges (the Saunders Family bridge and the Pumpkin Hollow bridge). I know we were super-close to finding the Pumpkin Hollow bridge, but we just couldn't find it - we'll try again later. The Saunders Family bridge is at Twin Pines, a retreat/conference center, but (again) we couldn't figure out how to get to it. We stopped at a convenience store nearby, and they said that they have been asking the state to take down the sign for the covered bridge on 280 because it's one of those things where 'you can't get there from here'. It's something like the road to it is closed now or something like that. They said that they get all kinds of people who see the sign and drive out to visit the bridge, and leave frustrated because there's no way to get to it... we didn't mind, though, because it was still a nice drive.
One thing we found that's really neat is an original gourd tree. William Christenberry takes pictures of gourd trees (they can hang on wood or metal poles - one of his pics is here), and there are lots of them around, but this is the first one we've seen that uses an old playset frame:
It's a little low to the ground for the average gourd tree, but I liked their version.
Another thing we found was a big goat pen that used pallets as the fencing:
On our way back, we found the field where in 1988, a woman saw what the group Caritas calls the "Queen of Peace Medjugorje Apparitions". Thousands and thousands of people flocked to the field where she had this vision, and people still do so today. On the map below, you can see the area to the left that is surrounded with a red line - that is the field.
This is a picture of the field from across the street:
This is called the "Tabernacle of Our Lady's Messages" and inside is a printing operation so that the apparitions can be recorded and disseminated. This is the side view:
...and this is the front - so pretty:
There's also a schoolhouse on the campus, a dairy/hay barn, and a grotto.
I really didn't know that much about this group other than that one of my friends in high school used to get mail from Caritas, and she and her family had been to the field (she also used to make the most beautiful rosaries). When I did a search about them just now, I found out that it seems to be a controversial organization with some...even the Bishop of the diocese wrote his opinion about it.