Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rattlesnake Saloon

You spend the better part of the past decade hardly having any plans at all.  Then, with no warning whatsoever, two different friends invite you to do something.  On back to back days!  Well, that weekend is shot.

Such was my lot recently.  One Friday night, we went to see the new "Vacation" movie, marking my first trip to a theater since 2013.  The following afternoon, we ventured out to a little place I like to call... 'Murica.


The Alabama boondocks.

Our destination was the Rattlesnake Saloon.  I don't know why it's called that -- though I have at least a faint idea -- and I was not about to ask.

To get there, you head out U.S. 72 West, past the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Cold Water Inn, and Dry Creek -- the latter turned out to be a blatant misnomer.  If you get to the Natchez Trace, you've gone too far.  (That sounds like a euphemism out of a bad abstinence education class.  "If you reach the female's 'Natchez Trace,' turn back immediately, cease heavy petting, and repent!")

Actually, you turn on the very same road that you do to get to the Coon Dog Cemetery.  No, that wasn't just a scene in "Sweet Home Alabama."  It exists.  And we're pretty proud of it.  If you travel there, you can see heart-wrenching epitaphs like, "He wasn't the best, but he was the best I ever had."  So carry a handkerchief.

But digress, I have.  Let's get back on our way to the Rattlesnake Saloon.

Traveling south, you'll pass "I think we're lost" and "I no longer have cell service."  About five miles after that, you take a right at "This looks like a good place to dump a body," and you're almost there.

Seems like a lot to ask, of a horse.
The parking lot is a field with an eclectic array of motorcycles, pickup trucks, people on horses, and soccer mom SUV's.  From here, you can see horse stalls, rows of campers, a general store, and two silver grain silos, which have been converted into two-story bunk houses. 

The Saloon itself is located down in a hollow.  You can walk down or ride your horse (there's a hitchin' post).  We chose option three: the "Saloon Taxi."  It's a white Ford F-250 double cab customized with wooden benches on each side of the bed.  As we left ground level and headed down a steep, winding gravel road, I thought "This must be how the Clampetts felt."   I hoped it would not be my last thought ever.

I feel like we're putting a lot of trust in the sedimentary rock
here. Rock that is obviously not averse to chemical erosion.
A kindly old gentleman drove the Taxi.  I called him "Paw" and "Jed."  I assume he was employed by the Saloon, but maybe not.  Maybe he was just an entrepreneurial old-timer out to make a buck.  So I tipped him.  A buck.

We got a table for seven and were seated outdoors.  There were about twenty-five tables located in the coolness beneath a large rock shelter.  While it was 2 o'clock on another stifling 95-degree July afternoon across most of Alabama, it must have been 15 degrees less where we ate.

The menu is fairly limited, but the food was decent.  Passing on the Skunk Rings, Snake Eyes and Tails, and Bronco Bits, for obvious reasons, I settled on the Polish Trail Dog with a side of onion rings and a lemonade.  The onion rings were a highlight.

Saloon Taxi track, BFE Alabama, circa AD 2015
For those who require a heftier portion, there is the Gigantor -- a 2 lb. burger served with a pound of fries and a half-pound of the aforementioned onion rings.  It's 45 bucks, but if you eat it all in under 45 minutes, it's free!  Then I suppose you can use the money for some Pepto, or start saving for that angioplasty which just got exponentially nearer.  So, win-win.

Now I did find out from another friend who went  later in the evening that there's really no seating policy.  If all the tables are full, you evidently have to share a table or, worse, hover behind someone and wait for them to leave.  So I'd recommend going at an odd, less crowded time.  But that's just me.  You know how I am about being around people.

After a filling meal and some good conversation, we decided to walk back to the top rather than wait for the Saloon Taxi.

There was some mention of going to visit the Coon Dog Cemetery, but I'd had enough socialization for one fiscal quarter.

So, modern day John Wayne that I am, I saddled up my soccer mom SUV and rode for home.

"Alabama, when red leaves are falling, I'll roam through your pastures with fences of rail / Alabama, when possums are crawling and hound dogs are whining and wagging their tails..."