Well, this is officially my last Take it from Snee as a Huntsville, Alabama resident. On Friday, I return to Northern Virginia, from whence I came, with a new job.
I’ve ragged a lot on Huntsville my years here, from her lack of a decent rock radio station to her jarringly loud tornado sirens (the latter proving to be entirely necessary). And let’s not forget her attempts to make me fat or give me STDs with her drive-through sex toy shops. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t loved her and the people here. Believe you me, once I’m back in NoVa, you’ll hear plenty about that region that just thinks it’s DC.
No, I do not come to bury Huntsville, but to give it to her one last time. Lovingly.
While rock music remains safely 10 – 15 years removed from Huntsville, they did reform in one very important way: beer. And, brother, when I say this place has reformed beer, I mean they fought for it, continue to fight for it and make the hell out of it now that they’ve had their way.
When I first arrived, there was only one brewery in town, Olde Towne. If that name sounds as appetizing as drinking from a puddle next to a narrow brick bar, then congratulations, Alexandria residents who I will soon be haranguing in person. Also, yes, it wasn’t very good beer, but that was because of beer laws on the books in Alabama since the repeal of Prohibition.
With new laws allowing higher alcohol by volume, some of my favorite breweries opened, including Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer and Blue Pants. Straight to Ale even took over Olde Towne’s facility and opened up a bar on site, complete with pinball and drunken tours.
I’ll miss stumbling through the annual Brewfest, waiting for StA to tap their limited edition Unobtanium. I never got to try Illudium (as in the Q-36 explosive space modulator), but that’s what Christmas is for, people I’m leaving behind.
The Saturn V
Every town has its landmark. Seattle, its Space Needle. San Antonio, its Tower of the Americas that looks an awful lot like the Space Needle. Toronto, that built a metric Space Needle and doesn’t have San Antonio’s decency to at least build an Alamo next to it. Huntsville, on the other hand, has a life-size replica of the Saturn V rocket from NASA’s Apollo missions, proving just who has the spaciest of needles. (Eat it, Seattle.)
The rocket stands At Huntsville’s Space and Rocket Center, which features the real rocket in an adjacent museum, hanging whale-style from the ceiling. Before the real rocket was housed, it laid on its side in the museum’s yard, where it was allegedly used by Space Camp councilors to go “all the way.” Fortunately, it was hosed off before it could get the Davidson Center, where it’s housed today, pregnant in the world’s largest metaphor for sex in a mostly Baptist state.
It’s gonna be tough navigating in an area where the largest visible landmark on the skyline is a Mormon temple. Saturn V, I’ll miss you.
My Friends and Family
Of course, you can’t be one of The Guys without a Booze Team, and the Huntsville Chapter is one of the liveliest crowds I’ve ever yelled at after too much Rumplemintz. Micah, J.D., DeAnna, Dani, Kieran, Ken, Jason, Alexis, Shawn, Mark, Kerry and anyone I left out: thanks for not calling the cops.
And, finally, there’s the reason Huntsville ever appeared on my GPS: my parents. It’s not the first time I’m leaving them (not that my wife and I have been living with them), but it’s the first time where I feel like an actual adult doing so and not just an overaged college freshman.
You’ve all heard me make fun of Huntsville. Now it’s all of your’s turn to visit where I come from and take it down a couple of notches.
As I mentioned in the opener, Alabama has tried to put me in the ground for about six years now (counting summers when I visited). Well, this is it, Huntsville. You have until Friday to finish what you started.
Oh, wait, there it is: you’ve broken my heart. I’ll miss you, worthy adversary.