I told you in last week’s column I was going on a cruise with my daughters, and I did. Did you know the two best days of any vacation are the day you leave and the day you come home? Because no matter where you go or how enjoyable it is, there’s really no place quite like home. So, I was delighted to see the “Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama” sign on the way home yesterday.

My vacation is officially over, but summer definitely is not, so I took a look at what Americans celebrate in July. I was amused at some things on the list, like National Unlucky Month for Weddings and National Cell Phone Courtesy Month (only this one month?). But I also found some great things to celebrate in July.

July is National Hot Dog Month, so why not fire up that grill? And while you’re planning what else to cook, include some Royal sausages, which are made right here in Pell City. Include chips and cold drinks (usually on sale at our Pell City stores) and a BOGO or two, and you’re all set.

It’s also National Blueberry Month. I found two local places for “You Pick” blueberries. Mike Wadsworth from Wadsworth Blueberries (330 Wadsworth Road, Cropwell) told me they still have blueberries, but the heat has shortened the season. He suggests getting them this week if you want to be sure of finding them. The cost is $12 a gallon.

The other “You Pick” blueberry farm is Mae-berry Blueberry Farm (515 Happy Hollow Road, Odenville), owned by Nancy Crutchfield. She said they still have plenty of blueberries. The cost is $10 a gallon, and she supplies both pails and plastic bags. Both blueberry farms are open from sunrise to dark all week.

July is also National Ice Cream Month. That gives you the perfect excuse to visit Blue Bell Creameries. Conveniently located at 423 N Norton Ave, Sylacauga, it’s not much of a drive to get some of the best ice cream ever made. Although they don’t offer tours right now, they do have observation windows. You can also buy a dish of ice cream in their old-fashioned ice cream parlor for $1. One dollar? Count me in! They are open from 9:30 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

While you’re in Sylacauga, take time to visit the Comer Museum & Art Center. They have a wonderful collection of Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle) memorabilia, and there is no entry fee. However, they do welcome donations. They are open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday from 2 – 5 p.m.

July is also National Picnic Month, and if there’s a better place for a picnic than our own Lakeside Park, I haven’t found it. The handicap-accessible park is open from sunset to sundown all week long, and they have most anything you’d want in a park. The Kids Kastle playground is a favorite of my younger grandkids. They also have walking trails, swimming, restrooms, and picnic tables, all at no charge.

If you try out some of the things listed, you’ll be taking advantage of another national monthly celebration because July is also National Anti-Boredom Month. While you’re out and about doing some of these fun things, keep in mind how hot it can get in Alabama. While “Mr. Google” says our average summer temperature is about 90, you and I live here and know better. Temps have averaged 95-97 degrees with a heat index of well over 100 so far this summer. So, take along plenty of water and don’t forget the sunscreen.

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