Rattlesnake Saloon, Palo Duro, And Looking Like A Giant Frog
It’s not every day you can send the grandparents pictures of your children at a saloon. Sure enough, we took them to Rattlesnake Saloon in northwest Alabama, about 20 minutes from Tuscumbia, a place that despite its name, is purely family at least in the daytime. As expected, it was a unique experience, mostly because a.) we had to ride in the back of their truck to get to it (you can’t drive there yourself) and b.) the restaurant is situated under a giant rock overhang (like a large cave entrance). Only after five do they serve beer.
I don’t know what a saloon atmosphere is, but on a random Saturday afternoon, this was just a cafe with outdoor seating. There were several other families in attendance.
The dining area of the cave is wired for electric lights and ceiling fans, and there’s a band stage for nighttime performances. From the menu, there’s a lot there that’s fried. I got the fried mushrooms and just peeled the fried coating off each piece. Meh, not great. Not that I really expected them to be.
I had a daydream/fantasy while looking over the menu, wondering if they were on one of those restaurant reality shows where some celebrity chef swoops in, would they expose an overstuffed freezer with bag after bag of fried, frozen Sysco. Not sure. I like fried food, but just wasn’t in the mood and for whatever reason there was not much un-fried that appealed. Here’s an overused, nothing phrase that sums it up perfectly though: it is what it is. Nobody’s aspiring for Michelin stars here, but nobody’s expecting them to. It’s just a good place to relax under a giant rock.
Still, these two little boys found it to be very enjoyable and were pretty sure they were the only ones at their schools who had eaten at a place like this over the weekend. Probably!
On the way back to our car, we passed a gentleman who offered the boys a ride on his horse (there are thousands of acres to ride on there around the restaurant), and Shugie loved it!
My first horseback riding was when I was seven, at Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Tennessee. I was put on a true trail horse; it did whatever the horse in front of it did. I had to do nothing. I went riding a few times other places (once or twice at the beach), and most memorably at Palo Duro Canyon, when living in Texas, in elementary school (I even had a name belt with an oval silver-and-gold horse-themed belt buckle, collected Breyer horses, had a subscription to Horse Illustrated, dreamed of having both a blood bay horse and a Shetland pony, the list goes on…).
Palo Duro — it’s the second-largest canyon in the US — was my favorite place to ride horses (always trail horses for me, I was never great or completely confident although I tried to fake it as everyone knows horses can sense that kind of thing. Pretty sure I never fooled any horse.). Fox just did a list of the Nine Best Places to Camp in the US, and Palo Duro was number three. Definitely want to take the boys there.
My last horseback riding was in college one weekend when a group of us had a free weekend. We went horseback riding nearby, and since it was South Alabama, the ground was very sandy. Going down one steep embankment, me and my horse were going too fast (again, not the greatest rider) and he slipped. My friends said it was *hilarious* because first of all, the horse thankfully was fine and unfazed, but I went flying over his head and through the air looking like a giant frog because my legs were behind me and still slightly bent from the saddle. It really was funny!
Just to see, I’d love for us all to visit Assateague Island on coast between Virginia and Maryland, where there are wild horses on the beach. Yessssss.