Thursday, September 27, 2007

SawGrass Plantation

Justin and I spent this past weekend with 9 awesome couples from our church at SawGrass Plantation in Gainesville, Alabama. Rachel forwarned us that it was a “step above sleeping under the stars,” so our expectations were low. I mean, l-o-w. A hunting lodge in rural West Alabama is not exactly the Ritz-Carlton. We brought our own sheets and covers and were told not to walk in the home barefoot, and that the showers weren’t even really worth the effort. So, we were pleased when we pulled up to a country home with a huge cedar A-frame addition on the front and a big horse barn to left – a far cry from the grim picture Rachel had painted.

Gainesville is about 2 hours or so from the big city of Birmingham, and is in one of the poorest counties in the state of Alabama. Sumter County is a part of Alabama’s “Black Belt.” Originally named for the soil ideal for growing cotton, it is better known these days for the slave descendants who remain on the land. SawGrass Plantation is used by Rachel’s family as a hunting lodge. With around 2000 acres, including 6 ponds, it’s perfect for tuning in with Mother Nature and… being a redneck. For those of you who know me personally, being a redneck is not exactly what I do best. Although growing up in Alabama my entire life, I am a city girl.

We made the trek to SawGrass with our friends Maghan and Hal. Justin loaded the console in the back with a gallon of Milo’s sweet tea and Zapps potato chips for a snack. We were just getting geared up for a week end of un-healthy eating. After polishing off the last of the sweet tea, we were more than ready for a “pit stop.” Out of pure desperation, we stopped at a gas station on the Boligee exit of I-20/I-59. Maghan and I shared the ladies’ room with a woman with a very lit cigarette hanging out of her mouth, and upon leaving the store, Maghan overheard her say, “Look at them white folks!” We rushed back to the car practically holding hands, and looking out for each other, and for our husbands. We survived. ;-)

After about 30 minutes or so of driving through “the sticks,” we were glad to see our friends Martina and Camron and Rachel and Jared already getting things settled in at SawGrass. Over the next few hours, Bret and Lanie, Ben and Bethany, Michael and Martha, Ben and Jamie, and Mike and Jessa arrived and claimed their beds. After pigging out on Dreamland barbecue and the amazing snacks that everyone brought, we settled down long enough for Bret to bring us a great lesson about God’s plan for our marriages and where we fit into the journey through His story. While everyone else drifted off to sleep, Jessa, Justin and I stayed up until 3:30 discussing human anatomy and quantum physics… ha! That would be really funny if you knew us.

Saturday morning breakfast was as good as any I’ve ever had. Rachel made an amazing sausage and cream cheese casserole with crescent rolls as a crust and a topping. YUM! Afterwards, we “suited up” for horseback riding (I even wore my cowboy boots), but the weather had other plans for us. Just as 5 of the horses were saddled up, the heavens opened up and the rain came down in sheets.

Me and Buddy, the horse.

Maghan, me and Jessa during the rainstorm.

Justin waiting the rain out.

The rain set the stage for some good ole redneck muddin.’ This was a first for me. The sport of muddin’ consists of riding around on a 4 wheeler and/or a stripped out Suzuki Sidekick (in my case), splashing mud on the other vehicles around you, and getting covered in mud in the process. Being in the Suzuki sidekick, I was somewhat shielded from most of the mud, but I still pulled mud splatters out of my hair for hours. For those of you who aren't familiar with this sport, let me help you with a pronunciation guide. Muddin' is pronounced "mudn"... almost as if it's one syllable. If you say "mudd-ING", you will be made fun of in the dirty south. I know this from experience.

Me and Jessa after muddin.' Believe me, this picture does not do it justice.

A big thank you to Camron for your amazing driving skills, to Ben F. for riding the racing 4-wheeler and getting the ultimate mud award, to Jared for paving the way for a good afternoon in the mud, and to Justin, Michael and Jessa for being such great partners in this adventure.

Mike, Jessa, Camron, Me, Justin, Ben and Jared

After tossing around a football with Justin, Michael and Jessa, we relaxed in front of the television to watch some football. Then we watched some football. Then we watched some more football. Then we listened to football AND watched football at the same time. After Auburn beat New Mexico State and Bama lost an SEC heartbreaker to Georgia (sad), we all gathered in the cedar room for a great time of singing in the dark. “Dark” at SawGrass was darker than any “dark” I’ve ever experienced. It was great to be able to worship with friends who share our love for Christ.

After such a nice worship experience, we could have never predicted the highly intense game of CatchPhrase that followed. Allow me to give you some background. For as long as we’ve had a Sunday night small group of young married couples, no matter who is present, the guys ALWAYS win EVERY game. I seriously don’t think there has been one single solitary game that the girls have won. Nevertheless, the girls will not give up the competitive spirit. A few highlights include Rachel’s valiant effort to describe the famous actor Hairy Armpit and the moment when Mike Mullen stopped the game because, even though we were on the wrong track, he liked the energy he was getting from all the answers. For those that were not there, I cannot describe how much fun we have playing this game. It’s truly an experience in itself. Oh, and by the way – guys won. Again. HOWEVER, the girls have put together a “stratego” for victory which is destined to be foolproof!

The Sunday morning biscuits were delicious. Am I the only one out there who has never heard of putting Caro syrup on biscuits? This was another first for me, and not one I’m likely to repeat for a very long time. I’m not even sure what Caro syrup is actually used for, but I’m pretty sure it’s NOT to put on biscuits. ;-) Everyone chipped in to help clean up the cabin, and with so many hands, it didn’t take long.

After one last trip to the barn to see the horses, we were off. Headed back to the big city. The “real” world.


Stacy said...

Loved your story. Sounds like you had a great weekend.

It is such a blessing to have great friends who we can share everything with!

You definitely have a way with words!

katherine said...

So even city girls from the south wear cowboy boots? This I did not know. Here in Kansas it's only the country folk that do that. Or maybe you own a pair that you just pull out for special occasions like riding Buddy the horse. Sounds like a fun group of people and I'll be rooting for the girls at the next Catchphrase faceoff. And I'm with you on the Karo syrup on biscuits. I'm a believer in the "don't knock it til you try it" philosophy, but gross!

Whitney said...

Katherine, I actually bought a pair of authentic cowboy boots when I went out West last summer. Justin and I stopped in Cheyenne, WY on our way to Idaho and the boots we bought didn't leave our feet the entire trip. I now drag them out for special occasions like muddin' and Halloween!

Michael and Hannah said...

Okay, that girl Meghan looks totally like Ashley Whitaker... at least in the photo provided. I'm going to have to read all of this tomorrow. I've been up writing press releases after the kiddos went to bed and it's late and my mind is mush. Looking forward to reading it tomorrow!

Kimberly said...

I love biscuits and Karo. Cornbread and Karo is good too.

Lindsey said...

"Look at them whitefolks"?!?! Wow - that comment made for a good laugh! Thanks for sharing! So glad you guys had so much fun actin' like make muddin' look very stylish! Oh, and I've never heard of syrup on buscuits either...I think I'd rather stick to plain-ol' butter! :)

kristy patterson said...

I agree with the comment you left on my blog--we DO need to get together!!! What is your schedule like for the next few weeks (or do you even know yet)? I work M-F 8:30-5:30 (leave the house at 8 and get home at 6). We travel a lot on weekends, but maybe you and I could catch lunch or supper one day. I love to eat, and getting to do it while catching up with you would be awesome! Love ya!

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