Navigate / search

New Gulf State Park Lodge is making impacts, large and small

The lobby of The Lodge at Gulf State Park.

Story and photos by Colette Boehm

The newest lodge in Alabama’s state parks system is open on the Gulf Coast. With summer approaching, the Lodge at Gulf State Park aims to introduce guests to new facilities and provide family-friendly beachfront lodging delivered with sustainable practices at the forefront.

The 350-room lodge, which operates under the Hilton brand, opened to much fanfare in late 2018 and has been a welcome addition on Alabama’s beachfront. The November ribbon cutting was billed as the opening of the “reimagined” Gulf State Park Lodge, a nod to the previous facility that served as a centerpiece for both tourism and community activities until it was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The view from the lobby porch at The Lodge at Gulf State Park.

As Gulf Shores and Orange Beach dive into their most popular season, the lodge is welcoming guests and offering a few surprises. In both look and operations, this is not a typical Hilton property. It sits on 16 of the park’s 6,150 acres, and overlooks a restored dunes system, beautiful beaches and blue Gulf of Mexico waters.

The lodge was designed and positioned to be both ecologically friendly and energy efficient, as part of the vision for the park to become “an international benchmark for environmental and economic sustainability, demonstrating best practices for outdoor recreation, education and hospitable accommodations,” according to the park’s master plan.

“It was designed to be as least impactful as possible,” says lodge general manager Bill Bennett, of Valor Hospitality. “They didn’t want to build a big, giant building.” The design of the lodge was just one of five elements of the park’s masterplan. Elements included dune restoration, trail enhancements and the building of an interpretive gateway to the park, a learning campus and the rebuilding of the lodge.

Bennett says the lodge was built to support three pillars of sustainability: environmentally friendly operations and facilities, support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage and direct and tangible social and economic benefits to local people.

“You look at environmental sustainability, you look at economic sustainability, they go hand in hand,” he says. “We need to be responsible. We need to be responsible to the environment, to the waters, to the people of this great community.”

The zero-entry pool is just one of the popular amenities at the new lodge.

A sustainable environment

Ensuring the lodge lives up to that responsibility is a big part of Chandra Wright’s job. She is the director of environmental and educational initiatives and is coordinating the lodge’s sustainability efforts, from sourcing of materials to eliminate single-use plastics to designing tours that inform guests of the strides the property is making. And those strides are many. Among them are green building and resilience certifications for the lodge and the other new facilities.

Upon opening, the lodge earned the distinction of being the second (second only to the park’s new Interpretive Center) FORTIFIED Commercial building in the world. The designation of the Institute for Business and Home Safety and is based upon a building’s resilience to severe winds and weather.

In addition, the lodge is pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification and SITES certification for the property’s landscape design. SITES-certified landscapes are designed to reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat and more. The aim is to be the first hotel in the world to achieve SITES Platinum certification. Attaining these benchmark certifications means implementing sustainable practices that may be surprising to some.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park offers beach access and views of the Gulf of Mexico and the park’s 1,540-foot fishing pier.

“You don’t see manicured green lawns here at the lodge,” Wright says. “We’re built into a dune environment, so we’ve respected that by using native species that belong here and don’t need a lot of watering or chemicals to grow. We also try not to use harmful chemicals in building materials or cleaning products,” she continued, “and we are a 100 percent non-smoking property. We don’t want all the chemicals in cigarette smoke to harm the people who are here.”

Wright also noted other sustainability practices. “We try not to use any single-use plastics. So, in our guest rooms, you won’t find the little plastic containers of shampoo and conditioner. Instead, we have very nice bulk dispensers. We don’t use plastic water bottles.” Instead, they offer a plant-based, refillable bottle.

In the cultural sustainability arena, the lodge supports the local arts community by displaying myriad works by Alabama artists throughout the lodge and conference buildings. In its restaurants, they focus on locally inspired and sourced food and drinks.

Value to tourism

In addition, the combination of environmental and sustainability designations has the potential to draw world-wide attention. Locally, the tourism industry is thrilled to welcome the new facilities, with leaders recognizing its year-round value.

Alabama artists’ work is displayed throughout the lodge and meeting.

“The lodge’s beachfront location and easy access to family-friendly activities within Gulf State Park are huge selling points for spring and summer family business,” says Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. “The park is a destination within a destination showcasing coastal Alabama’s diverse flora and fauna, and the lodge does a great job of expanding the family experience.

“Adding the lodge to our destination’s existing full-service meetings facilities allows us to pursue new groups,” Gendler says. “Now, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach can compete for more meetings, conventions and corporate retreats, particularly outside of summer.”

Beyond the lodge, Gulf State Park is home to 2.5 miles of beachfront and 28 miles of trails through its nine ecosystems. On the beachfront, visitors can enjoy the interpretive center, beach pavilion and 1,540-foot fishing pier. Inland, they will find freshwater Lake Shelby, a Learning Campus, Nature Center, cabins, cottages and a 496-site campground. Bicycle and kayak rentals are available as are Segway tours and a slate of Nature Center programs.

While the master plan may have called for The Lodge at Gulf State Park to be designed with low impact to the environment in mind, it seems a positive impact is growing for the park, as a whole. If winter and spring visitation are any indication, the amenities and facilities of Gulf State Park are becoming more popular than ever.

A photographer’s visual journey across the state

For this unusual shot of Noccalula Falls in Gadsden in Etowah County, Dersham used a three-second exposure on a tripod behind the falls on a foggy fall morning.

John Dersham pays tribute to Alabama in new book for the Bicentennial

By Lenore Vickrey

Imagine paddling up the Cahaba River on a spring afternoon, then walking through one of Alabama’s spectacular waterfalls. Gaze in wonder at the giant sycamores in Pickens County, and admire the native rhododendron ablaze with color in Cherokee County. Stroll down a dusty road in rural DeKalb County, and then kick off your shoes and scamper down the sun-warmed beach at Gulf Shores. 

Those settings and hundreds more are all part of the visual feast prepared by John Dersham and shown off in his new book, My Alabama: John Dersham Photographs a State, published in collaboration with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. Dersham, who has been photographing sites in Alabama for more than 20 years, had a long career in the photo industry with a Kodak subsidiary, and now is president/CEO of DeKalb Tourism. 

The book is available through bookstores and online or through its Montgomery publisher, NewSouth Books, He answered a few questions for Alabama Living.

A giant sycamore at the Natural Bridge of Alabama Park in Winston County. There are several photos of similar majestic trees in the book.

How did the idea for the book originate?

I had done quite a bit of photography for Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, and I began talking to (director) Tami Reist, Jay Lamar (Alabama Bicentennial Commission director), Lee Sentell (Alabama tourism director) and Nisa Miranda (director, Center for Economic Development, University of Alabama). The idea was to show the world what Alabama physically looks like.

My photographic vision is to craft a body of work that is beautiful, expressive and visually impactful. Whether the subject is a landscape, an old building, a still life or a cityscape, I want the viewer to sense the visual excitement that I felt in capturing the image. – John Dersham

We spoke about the fact that in tourism and economic development we are continually speaking with potential out-of-state visitors or business clients who have a total misperception about what Alabama physically looks like. Many think we are a flat state; many do not realize we have mountains (southern Appalachians) or beaches. Almost no one knows we have one of the premier river systems in the world and are the fourth most biodiverse state in the country.

We all agreed there needs to be a photography book that shows the scenery of Alabama that includes all the different regions of the state, and that includes our great variance in topography, flora and fauna, rivers, mountains and farm lands. This book would make a great book for consumers, libraries and for the tourism and economic development industries. Jay Lamar wanted it to be a Bicentennial book and with the support of Lee Sentell and the tourism office, which the Bicentennial Commission is managed under, it became a reality.

How did you come up with the idea to organize it seasonally, rather than by region, or some other way?

We struggled for a while to figure out the best way to lay it out. The publisher at NewSouth Books, Suzanne LaRosa, and editor Randall Williams thought the seasonal approach would work really well, and I totally agreed.

Tell me about the process you went through to narrow down your 50,000 photos to just 200.

I had three groups of three to five people, as did the publisher, to help narrow down the vast number of images to a manageable number, which was still over 1,000 images. The process continued for several months with lots of input, to finally get it down to a manageable 200 or so images. The subject matter became critical. We needed to make sure all the Alabama regions were represented and the subject matter was also diverse.

I have to say, Randall Williams, who edited the book and did the layout, really helped me get past some personal image preferences to favor images that needed to be included and not just be there because I thought it was a great photograph.

A farm near Hamilton in Marion County. While the book features some photos taken in metro areas, most are of rural scenes that capture country life in all four Alabama seasons.

Is there a location you have returned to, more than twice, to shoot again, just because you love the way it looks, or it has special meaning to you?

Since I live near Little River Canyon and I teach photo workshops there for Jacksonville State University, I shoot the canyon on a regular basis. I have also shot at many of our state parks multiple times and have shot in many of the same counties and regions of the state many times over the process of this publication.

How did you get Bo Jackson to write the forward?

Randall Williams arranged it with Bo, based on the fact Bo was doing his annual fundraiser where he rides through Alabama on a bicycle. His text deals with viewing the beautiful scenery in Alabama from a bicycle seat.

Do you still take most of your photos in the wee hours?

I leave the house before daylight and shoot pre-daylight till just before midday. I like late afternoon light also, but morning is my preference since not only can I get the sunrise, but often I will have dew, wet roads, frost, fog and other sparkly image enhancers not available at the end of the day.

This month in Alabama History: June 23, 1945

Eugene Sledge on Okinawa, 1945.

Cpl. Eugene B. Sledge helped secure the island of Okinawa on this date after 82 consecutive days of combat during World War II. A native of Mobile, Sledge is internationally renowned for his 1981 memoir With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, which graphically portrays combat in the Pacific Theater. The memoir was used as source material for Ken Burns’ 2007 PBS documentary “The War” and HBO’s 2010 miniseries “The Pacific.” He joined the biology faculty at the University of Montevallo in 1970 and taught for 20 years. As an avid lifelong ornithologist, he led bird-watching expeditions in Montevallo and other parts of the state. His second memoir, China Marine: An Infantryman’s Life after World War II, was published posthumously in 2002, and he was inducted into the Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Electric utility linemen to be recognized June 3

Alabama’s electric utility linemen are on the front lines of our state’s energy needs and are the first responders of the electric utility family. They willingly leave their families in the middle of the night and put their lives on the line each day to keep our power on, safely and reliably.

Alabama will honor its linemen with a ceremony June 3, hosted by Opelika Power Services and coordinated by the Energy Institute of Alabama, which works to build public support for Alabama’s energy industry. Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives and Alabama Power Company will also contribute toward this effort.

Many utilities around the country recognize their linemen in April. In Alabama, the Legislature passed a formal resolution in 2014 designating the first Monday in June as Lineman Appreciation Day, ensuring that linemen are formally recognized in our state every year.

So on June 3, slow down for the familiar bucket trucks on our roadways and stop to say “thank you” for all they do to keep the lights on for all of us.

Beware people pretending to be from Social Security

Social Security is committed to protecting your personal information. We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account information to unknown people over the phone or internet. If you receive a call and aren’t expecting one, you must be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and — if you do need more clarification — contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you.

There’s a scam going around right now. You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from Social Security or another agency. Calls can even display 1-800-772-1213, Social Security’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on your caller ID. In some cases, the caller states that Social Security does not have all of your personal information, such as your SSN, on file. Other callers claim Social Security needs additional information so the agency can increase your benefit payment, or that Social Security will terminate your benefits if they do not confirm your information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from people across the country. These calls are not from Social Security.

Callers sometimes state that your SSN is at risk of being deactivated or deleted. The caller then asks you to call a phone number to resolve the issue. People should be aware that the scheme’s details may vary; however, you should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information.

Social Security employees occasionally contact people by telephone for customer-service purposes. In only a very few special situations, such as when you have business pending with us, will a Social Security employee request that the person confirm personal information over the phone.

Social Security employees will never threaten you or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. If you receive these calls, please report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at

You can also share our new “SSA Phone Scam Alert” video at

Protecting your information is an important part of Social Security’s mission. You work hard and make a conscious effort to save and plan for retirement. Scammers try to stay a step ahead of us, but with an informed public and your help, we can stop these criminals before they cause serious financial damage.

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

Everything is better with bacon

Crab Meat Bacon Rolls

Bacon is pretty perfect on its own, but mix it in with other ingredients, and it often gets even better.



What’s better than bacon? More bacon. If you like bacon, there’s a good chance you actually love bacon and wholeheartedly agree with this statement. The smoky, salty pork product evokes a deep, passionate devotion.

But there is such a thing as too much bacon. Maybe not from your taste buds’ standpoint, but the rest of your body sees things a bit differently. Like many, many other things, bacon, when consumed in mass quantities, is not beneficial to your overall health. Does that mean you should stop eating bacon? When pigs fly! (So, no.) Just don’t eat all the bacon all the time.

But there are multiple reasons to eat at least some bacon. Its rich, meaty taste is distinct, and just a small dose provides such a potent punch that even when it’s designated as an “extra,” it sometimes becomes the star. Take a bacon cheeseburger. If one thing had to be removed, how many of us would give up the beef patty before the bacon?

Plus, while you can always enjoy bacon the old-fashioned way — cozied beside some sunny-side-up eggs and a triangle or two of toast — it’s far more versatile. It goes with almost everything; it’s great on pizza, in pasta sauces, crumbled on top of a salad and as a go-to enhancer for Southern-style veggies. Covered in chocolate, it pushes both sweet and savory notes soaring to new heights.

It’s also appropriate at any time of year. In fall, it provides a flavor coat for quail or dove cooking on a grill. Come winter, it’s almost any soup’s best friend. Spring often finds it embellishing deviled eggs or enrobing the Easter ham (cause why not add more pork to your pork?). And in summer, it sings in BLTs. (In this classic, it gets equal billing with lettuce and tomato, but we all know “B” is the most important letter in the trio.)

The ways to add bacon to your life are seemingly endless. Here are just a few more from our readers.

Cook of the Month

Alice M. Hersant, Wiregrass EC

Alice Hersant first made her Crab Meat Bacon Rolls back in the mid-1970s when her husband was stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. She did a lot of entertaining in those days, and the salty-smoky-sweet finger food was always a crowd favorite, so she never stopped making it. “I don’t make it as often now, but whenever we have a special gathering, these are usually on the menu,” she says. “I just love the flavor and how crisp the bacon gets.” She also likes that the rolls can be made ahead. “You can even freeze them, then thaw them and broil them right before your event,” she says. She also suggested subbing fresh crabmeat for the canned when you can get your hands on some. “It’s great that way,” she says.


Crab Meat Bacon Rolls

1/2 cup tomato juice

1 egg, well beaten

1 cup dry bread crumbs

Dash of salt and pepper

1 teaspoon parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon celery leaves, chopped

16.5-ounce can crab meat, drained and flaked

12 slices bacon, cut in half

Mix tomato juice and beaten egg; add bread crumbs, salt and pepper, parsley, celery leaves and crab meat. Roll into finger lengths; wrap each roll with 1/2 slice bacon and secure with a toothpick. Broil, turning frequently, until bacon is crisp and evenly browned. Yield: 2 dozen rolls.

Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots with Chipotle-Mayo Dipping Sauce

24 frozen tater tots

12 strips bacon

Favorite rib or BBQ seasoning

Chipotle-Mayo Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon oregano

1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut bacon strips in half and wrap each tot, placing them seam-side down on a baking pan. Sprinkle the bacon-wrapped tots with your favorite rub or barbecue seasoning. Bake for 30 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Place tots on a platter and put a skewer in each tot. Serve with the Chipotle-Mayo Dipping Sauce.

Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC

Bacon Maple Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix

½ cup canola oil

2 large eggs

½ cup water

1 container white frosting

3 tablespoons Aunt Jemima maple pancake syrup

8 slices pre-cooked bacon, crumbled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12-cup regular size cupcake pan. Combine cake mix, oil, eggs and water in medium bowl. Beat 1 minute with mixer. Pour into cupcake molds 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool 30 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape out frosting into a bowl. Stir in maple syrup until well blended. Spread generously on cupcakes. Sprinkle with bacon crumbles. Lightly press down so bacon won’t fall off.

Barbara Frasier, Sand Mountain EC

Loaded Chicken & Bacon Ranch Potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 boneless chicken breasts

3 pounds red potatoes

1 Ranch dressing seasoning packet

1 pound cooked bacon, crumbled

1 cup shredded cheese

½ green onion, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 380 degrees. Cut potatoes into cubes; place in a bowl of water until ready to use. Cut chicken breast into chunks, season with salt and pepper; place in a bowl until ready to use. Chop green onion; place in a bowl until ready for use. Place bacon on a baking sheet and cook in oven for 30 minutes. While bacon is cooking, toss potatoes and chicken in olive oil, put in a baking dish and sprinkle ranch seasoning packet over it. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Once bacon is done, remove from oven and allow a few minutes to cool, then crumble bacon. Take chicken and potatoes out of the oven and cover top with bacon and cheese, place back in the oven for 15 minutes uncovered. Once it’s cooked, top with green onion and serve. Great topped with sour cream.

Sharlene Parker, Baldwin EMC

Honey Bacon Biscuits

5 strips bacon

6 ounces (1.5 sticks or 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter

2 cups self-rising flour, plus more for sprinkling

3/4 cup buttermilk

1.5 tablespoons honey

1 egg white, beaten

Melted butter for brushing, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the butter into small (1/2 inch) chunks, then place in the freezer while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Fry the bacon until crisped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Once the grease is absorbed, crumble the bacon. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Place the flour in a mixing bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk together the cold buttermilk and honey. Take the butter out of the freezer and add it to the flour mixture. Use two knives or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs. Add the buttermilk mixture, a little at a time, and stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together and form a ball. Gently stir in the bacon crumbles. Sprinkle a flat surface with flour. Turn the biscuit mixture out onto the flour and use your hands to pat it into a thin rectangle. Fold the left side to the center of the rectangle then fold the right side over the left side (think about folding a brochure). Roll the mixture out then fold again. Roll out a final time to ¾ inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or juice glass to cut out the biscuits, making sure not to twist the cutter when you remove it. Reroll the dough with any scraps until all of it is used. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet and brush with a whisked egg white. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top. Serve immediately brushed with melted butter or store wrapped loosely in a kitchen towel for a day. Reheat before serving.

Marsha S. Gardner, Baldwin EMC

Elsie’s Pizza

1 package English Muffins, 8-count or 2 14-inch pizza crusts

1 pound bacon

2 medium onions, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped (2/3 cup)

18-ounce can tomato sauce

16-ounce can tomato paste

1 pound American cheese

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons oregano

Fry bacon. Save 8 slices for garnish. Crumble remainder of bacon. Saute onion and bell pepper in 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings until softened. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, pepper and oregano. Cut cheese in 3 sections, saving 8 pieces for garnish. Blend remaining cheese into bacon mixture to melt cheese. Divide muffins into halves for 16 pizzas. Divide bacon mixture over the 16 muffins. Use the remaining cheese and bacon to place on top of each pizza. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. After cooked, the muffin pizzas can be individually wrapped, placed in a plastic bag and frozen to eat as desired later. Defrost and reheat.

Patricia  R. Cobb, North Alabama EC

Want perfect oven-fried bacon like the photo to the left? Here’s how you do it: Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire cooling rack on top of the paper. Lay strips of bacon across the rack and place in the oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the bacon is crisped and done. (This can vary based on the thickness of the slices.)

The parchment paper ensures simple clean-up, and, if you want to save the bacon grease for future cooking projects (highly recommended!), carefully fold and roll the paper to form a funnel-like shape and drain the grease into a glass jar. Seal and store in the fridge.


Send us your recipes for a chance to win!

Themes and Deadlines

Sept: Onions | June 14

Oct: Cast Iron Cooking | July 12

Nov: Apples | August 9

3 ways to submit:


Mail:  Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Please send us your original recipes (developed  or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

Snapshots: Old Churches

Milltown Baptist Church, established 1840, near LaFayette, AL. SUBMITTED BY Regina Sanders, Lanett.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at Old Cahawba Archaeological Park in Dallas County, completed 1854. SUBMITTED BY Mark Hilton, Montgomery.

Methodist Church in Elamville, AL. It is no longer standing. SUBMITTED BY Gwen King, Ariton.

The Spoken Word Ministry in Valley Head is an abandoned pre-Civil War African-American church. SUBMITTED BY Charlie Stone, Mentone.

Interior of the Old Pine Torch Church in Bankhead National Forest. SUBMITTED BY Anna-Livia Kirsch, Courtland.

Tabernacle Methodist Church, built in 1846 in Pintlala, AL. SUBMITTED BY Allyson Venable, Hope Hull.

Submit Your Images! August Theme: “My Motorcycle” Deadline for August: June 30

Submit photos online: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Rules: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos.

Alabama Bookshelf

In this periodic feature, we highlight books either about Alabama people or events, or written by Alabama authors. Summaries are not reviews or endorsements. We also occasionally highlight book-related events. Email submissions to Due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to feature all the books we receive.

Lost Attractions of Alabama

By Tim Hollis

The History Press, $23.99 (modern history)

Alabama has had an enviable success rate when it comes to tourist attractions, with some that date back to the 1930s still drawing crowds today. But many others have come and gone. Alabama native Hollis revisits iconic attractions, such as Canyon Land Park and Sequoyah Caverns. The book is packed with photos and postcards that will no doubt bring back memories for longtime Alabamians.

Glory Road

By Lauren Denton

HarperCollins, $16.99 (fiction)

Set in fictional Perry, Ala., the book follows main character Jessie McBride, who has her work cut out for her keeping up with a teenage daughter and spunky mother while running her garden shop, Twig. The novel’s namesake road is the center of events as the three generations of women learn about healing and new beginnings in life. The author was born and raised in Mobile and now lives in Homewood.

The Favorite Daughter

By Patti Callahan Henry

Berkley Books, $11 (Southern fiction)

Freelance travel writer Lena Donohue fled her small-town home in South Carolina to reinvent herself in New York. A decade later, her father’s failing health brings her back home. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals her dad’s memories, she and her siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and photographs, sending her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home. The author attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work and now lives in Mountain Brook and Bluffton, S.C.

Best Dog Hikes Alabama

By Joe Cuhaj

Falcon Press Publishing, $22.95 (outdoors)

From mountain views to the coveted coast, there’s a trail for you and your trusty companions. Throughout are full-color photos and maps, helpful tips and tailored hike specs with information on leash requirements, trail surface, other trail users and more. The author makes his home in Daphne.

Getting Out of the Mud: The Alabama Good Roads Movement and Highway Administration, 1898-1928

By Martin T. Olliff

The University of Alabama Press, $49.95 (history)

The author recounts the history of the Good Roads Movement that arose in progressive-era Alabama, how it used the power of the state to achieve its objectives of improving market roads for farmers and highways for automobilists, and how state and federal highway administration replaced the Good Roads Movement.

Early Alabama: An Illustrated Guide to the Formative Years, 1798-1826

By Mike Bunn

The University of Alabama Press, $24.95 (history)

This work serves as a traveler’s guidebook that traces Alabama’s developmental years. Despite the significance of this era in the state’s overall growth, these years are perhaps the least understood in all of the state’s history, and have received relatively little attention from historians. The book includes a guide for a tour of historic sites that still remain.