HARTSELLE, Ala. – Local writer Connie Pearson will be celebrating the release of her new book “100 Things to do in Huntsville and North Alabama Before You Die,” on April 21 at the Hartselle Chamber of Commerce starting at 10:00 a.m.
In the book, Pearson shares things to do in the area this spring/summer and reveals hidden gems even long-time locals may not know about. Her newly published book covers food/drink, sports/recreation, history/culture, music/entertainment and shopping/fashion, and is full of insider’s tips Connie has learned during her seven decades as an Alabama resident (except for four years serving as a missionary in Ecuador).
The Tribune spoke with Pearson about her inspiration and writing process.
When asked why she took on the endeavor of this book, Pearson shared, “There were several reasons. 1) After being a travel writer for the past seven years and going all over the Southeast, I realized that the attractions and attributes of North Alabama ranked up there with the best I’d seen. We live in a gorgeous part of the country, and visitors from other places would enjoy visiting if they just knew about it. 2) This was something of an emerging-from-the-pandemic project for me. I worked on it for much of 2021 after we’d all been cooped up for most of 2020. I recognized that most people were still staying pretty close to home, so I wanted to uncover as many gems within an easy drive as I could.”
The book includes activities for people of any economic background. “Free activities include Depot Days in Hartselle, Friday Nights in towns across North Alabama, catching beads at Carnegie Carnival, listening to Sacred Harp singing, Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic, watching the artists at Lowe Mill, finding the covered bridges or barn quilts, enjoying the public art, observing the wildlife at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, climbing to the top of the Indian mound in Florence, etc. Cheap eats can be found at Trowbridge’s in Florence, Penn Hamburgers in Decatur, or Kreme Delite in Athens,” Pearson explained.
“For splurges, you can’t beat Cotton Row or Commerce Kitchen in Huntsville, Tom Brown’s in Madison, Simp McGhee’s in Decatur, or 360 Grille in Florence. Spend a romantic weekend at Gorham’s Bluff Lodge. Buy yourself something amazing at Alabama Chanin, Billy Reid, Southern Accents Architectural Antiques, or Orbix Hot Glass.”
Pearson has lived in Alabama her whole life except for her four years spent in Ecuador. “Before my husband and I moved to Ecuador to be missionaries, we sold our home, his vet practice, our vehicles, our furniture and either gave away or stored pretty much everything else. We figured that we’d just pick a new place if we ever moved back to the States. As the time drew near, we knew we had to get back to the place that spoke our ‘heart language.’ That, of course, was North Alabama.”
Pearson has been all over the Southeast, Hawaii, Alaska, Maine, New York City, Ireland, etc. for her freelance writing/blogging. Before she ever started blogging, she and her husband did short-term mission work in Venezuela, South Korea, Kenya, Guatemala and Brazil.
Despite difficulties faced while travelling including being robbed in Italy, food poisoning in airports and airplanes and gallbladder surgery in Ecuador, she does not plan to stop travelling any time soon. Pearson says she did not start travelling until she was collecting social security, so she plans to keep going during her retirement.
Pearson has endless tales to tell about her travels. She also uses the trips to have fun and spend time with her grandchildren. “We took a vanload of grandchildren to Harmony Park Safari in Huntsville and listened to squeals of delight while animal food pellets scattered everywhere. We also took 11 (out of our 15) grands to Rattlesnake Saloon and loved the thrill ride on the back of a pick-up truck and to the Jesse Owens Museum and watched them attempt his legendary long jump. We loved taking them to Cook Museum and to Helen Keller’s home. In other words, much of our fun has happened when we’ve shared many of these ‘100 things’ with grandchildren.”
She added, “There is still much I’d like to see, taste and experience in North Alabama. This book hits the high points, but I’m still actively digging out new places.”
Pearson stated that only one of the 100 activities is out-of-date currently and will need to be changed when a second edition is printed. After her book had gone to print, she learned that A Touch of German in Cullman had closed its store and would be displaying its wares at area festivals like Oktoberfest and the Bloomin’ Festival.
Currently, the best way to buy her book is by going to her website — https://www.theregoesconnie.com/ — and clicking on “Books.” She will happily autograph books and share a list of additional suggestions. She would also love to have readers follow along with her blog. On Monday, the themes are travel related. On Friday, the themes have a spiritual nature.
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