By John Dersham
Tis mid-February, daffodils are blooming, rivers are racing, ponds are overflowing, and despite record rain we are already getting visitors coming in fairly large numbers to our parks, to Mentone, and throughout the county to enjoy mild temperatures, slightly longer days and that first feeling of spring in the air and the knowledge that winter will be giving birth to spring over the next 30 days.
I went to DeSoto State Park and Mentone last Saturday. The parking lots were full at the Tallmadge Butler Trail and at the country store. Mentone was packed with people walking the streets and in the shops; out of towners coming from nearby cities, just wanting to get outside and enjoy nature.
From this point forward, our visitor numbers will slowly increase, getting larger and larger as we move into spring and spring break for the schools. Our winter business was softer than last year, much in part to the Government shutdown, which technically closed Little River Canyon National Preserve and took out government workers travelling around and staying in hotels while working.
Cloudmont Ski Resort has suffered from heavy rains and not many days in a row cold enough to blow snow and keep it on the ground. There were some good days there and some can be in the future even as late as March in some years. Cloudmont is the only ski resort in Alabama or within 150 mile radius so we get lots of visitors when it is open.
Provided our economy stays healthy, we are looking forward to another record year for the 10th year in a row. We leveled out and went down slightly in the great recession of 2008 and 2009.
If you are tired of gray wet days, you will be ready for some outdoor activities. Become a staycationeer and enjoy our wonderful area and go out for a hike or go sightseeing and enjoy the beauty we have right here at home.