After taking a red eye flight out of LAX, I arrived in Huntsville, Alabama around 930am (630am my time). I was soon greeted by Bobby, a good friend of Mike Reilly with Truly Cigars. Bobby was kind enough to drive me and my partner the hour distance into Florence, Alabama where we would be staying for the weekend. The drive there was quite a shock to me, as I had missed a pretty large tornado only a few days earlier. The destruction path of the twister looked like a scene out of a some scary end of the world movie! What stood out the most was how many people were around helping clean up the mess and assisting those who had been affected by force of nature.
We drove around Florence a bit to get aquainted with the area, and was pleasantly surprised to see my face on promotional signage all around the town! Next we arrived at our destination point: Truly Cigar's Lounge. I was immediately greeted by the lovely and very sweet Ms. Debbie. We chatted for a bit as I anxiously cut and lit up a Namakubi and sipped a fresh brewed cup of joe. About half way through my cigar, Mike Reilly, owner of Truly Cigars walked in to greet us and take us back to the resort for a little rest and refresh before the events of the evening.
The excitement of walking into the nicest Marriott resort I had ever seen was overshadowed by my surprise to see a two large signs in the lobby of the hotel with my picture again, promoting the weekend long events at Truly Cigars! We took a tour of the infamous Swampers Bar in the lobby of the resort and just when I thought things couldn't get any better, we were escorted to our rooms. Mike Reilly was gracious enough to put us up in the Governor's suite, a large two room suite with a complete dining and kitchen area and balconies overlooking the Tennesee River! I couldn't believe my eyes!
After recharging my battery for a bit, we were off to the first event in downtown Florence called First Friday. A large, smoke friendly, street fair with multiple vendor booths and live music on every turn. Our booth definitley rocked with our live band and table full of cigars and accessories to sell.
From there we were off to the Red Elephant Club cocktail party where I learned all about the pride and culture of Alabama University. The party was full of alumni, former football players, coaches, etc. The bar was well stocked, as was the elaborate southern style buffet of the best fried chicken, cornbread and slaw I had ever had! I was privileged to smoke and pass out the exclusive RTR cigars made by Perdomo.
Time for the main event back at Truly Cigars! Sean was there with an impressive display and lots of great swag from La Flor Dominicana. I lit up an airbender and enjoyed the sweet smoke filled aroma in air as I made my way to the bar for a shot of moonshine. Immediately tipsy, I continued my cigar with the crowd out on the patio as we listened and sang along with the live band PB &J's swanky blues sound. We partied there until about 2am.
Saturday afternoon I was off to the Red Elephant Club annual golf tournament with even more University of Alabama alumni and players than I could count! Miss Kellony and I headed out on our golf carts and visited every hole, passing out more RTR cigars and taking photos with each group. Afterwards it was lunch time where I had my first Alabama smoked ribs and delicious coleslaw!
With a full tummy and a lit cigar I was off to change clothes and head back to Truly Cigars for the Kentucky Derby party. This time we had Heath with Rocky Patel with quite the spread of cigars, Johnny Walker platinum, and some awesome new lighters to play with! We all started our bids for the winning horses, lit up and started drinking mint juleps. After the excitement of the race, I switched over from mint juleps to beer and continued smoking and jamming outside with the band as more and more people made their way to the party. Another awesome night ending around 1am this time!
Sunday, my last day of the trip, began with a relaxing drive through Muscle Shoals and then to a quaint café for brunch with friends. Three mimosas later and my plate of deliciously fluffy pancakes arrived with just about the best maple syrup I had ever tasted! Slightly buzzed and with a bit of food coma, I was honored to have a home tour of a local and very talented artist by the name of Tommy Mathis. His artwork and picturesque home was a real treat for the eyes! Running a bit behind schedule, I made my way over to the last stop on my itinerary; Truly Cigars' lakehouse lounge. Talk about my kind of event! La Aroma de Cuba was the cigar of choice for this afternoon, paired with chilled Chardonnay, warm sun, great crowd and awesome live music, all alongside Muscle Shoals creek! Time flew by entirely too quick, as it does when you're having fun, and before I knew it my precious time in Alabama has ended.
All in all this was one of THE BEST trips I have had the pleasure of taking. Mike Reilly, Gene Brown and all the folks I met in Alabama showed me the utmost hospitality and a great time. I know I have made friends for life and look forward to the next time I can visit! ROLL TIDE ROLL!