Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Panini Pete's and Tolstoy Park - All in One Day!!

Entrance to the eating area at Panini's
A trip to Fairhope wouldn't be complete without a trip to Panini
Pete's for lunch!!  We visited Panini Pete's for the first time in February 2010 when our son, Stephen came to visit us during our winter stay at Rainbow Plantation.  We were very fortunate that on this day Pete himself was present at the restaurant located in the French Quarter area of Fairhope.  We got to meet Pete and talk with him and even got him to autograph our book by Guy Fieri, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, in which he was featured.  

On this visit we didn't see Pete but found the area still as quaint as ever and the food excellent.  We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table but got lucky and landed a table in the courtyard area outside!!           

 We both ended up ordering the Turkey Panini sandwich with the homemade fries.  Lunch did not disappoint us and we enjoyed sitting in the courtyard in this beautiful area!!     

Another place that we discovered the winter of 2010 was Tolstoy Park.              

There is an amazing story about a gentleman named Henry Stuart who lived in a round house that he built himself and he named it Tolstoy Park.      

The story goes like this -

Local author Sonny Brewer tells the true story of 62 year old Henry Stuart who was living in Idaho when he was told that he was dying and had about a year to live.  It was recommended to him to move to a warmer climate so that the "end" wouldn't be so painful.  This is when he made his journey to the quaint city of Fairhope.  It is said that he "left his shoes out west, and lived barefooted in a round concrete house made by himself with his own two hands."  He lived beyond the predicted one year, he lived twenty-two years in his handmade round house and yes, he was barefooted.  Clarence Darrow, who was his friend, visited him many times in Fairhope.  Henry named his house after his favorite writer Tolstoy.  Henry was a poet, writer, a gardener and above all self-sufficient.  A man after Thoreau's own heart.  Sonny Brewer tells Henry's story in his book, The Poet of Tolstoy Park.                      

The first time we visited Tolstoy Park it was a bit difficult to find since there have been many buildings erected around it.  This time we knew exactly where to look and as soon as we entered the parking area we saw it....the sweet little round hut built by the hands of Henry Stuart.  The little hut sits beneath a huge live oak tree.  As we walked inside it was difficult to imagine living such a simple life in such a small area but it obviously gave him much happiness and joy! It is said that he tied a hammock up inside and slept in it. It was here in this hut that Sonny Brewer lived while writing this amazing story of Henry Stuart.   

Looking up to the top of his home inside

Interesting facts on this if you click on, the pic will get bigger so you can read it
What a nice reminder that life can be lived simply and beautifully!!
I purchased the book, The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer when we visited last time but now I am thinking I should read it again.          
On every downtown street corner in Fairhope 
Baskets like this were hanging all along the downtown sidewalks
We are having fun getting our cameras out and discovering all the beauty that is around in this area!!  There is so much to see and do that we stay pretty busy all day!!  Sadly we realized today that we have less than a week left here.  We will be returning to our "home" base to spend the holidays with our son, Stephen!!  Looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas....what a wonderful time of the year!!!  


  1. We have never been to Panini Pete's. We hope to spend the month of October there next year. Panini Pete's on my list!
    Sonny Brewer lived twenty-two years could the doctors be so far off. I added Tolstoy Park to my Pinterest. Thanks for the heads up.

    1. Thank you for your comments. Sonny was the author of the book, it was Henry Stuart that built the house and lived 22 more years. He was always barefooted as well. If you make it in October, let us know and maybe we could meet you down here and meet you guys. We LOVE the Fairhope area.

  2. You are showing me so much that I'd never even heard of before and making me really want to visit this area. Love all the photos. The Tolstoy Park information is intriguing.

    1. Thank you for your comments. The story Tolstoy Park is very interesting and Henry Stuart was a very remarkable man bed on what we read and what was in the book "The Poet of Tolstoy Park". It was a very interesting read.

  3. We have been to Fairhope several times, but looks like we missed some interesting parts, guess we will have to go back

    1. We fell in love again with is so quaint and with the pier in Mobile Bay. Someone told us about Tolstoy Park at the bookstore, otherwise we would not have known about it when we were here a few years ago.

  4. That is both interesting and amazing. Obviously this gentleman lived a life of contentment, something I could learn better.

    1. Ruth, I think we could all stand for a little better at contentment. This was an amazing story.

  5. Sounds interesting wish I knew what part of the country this is in.

    1. This was in Fairhope, Alabama. Thanks for your comment.

  6. What a neat story!!!!! I guess if we want to live a longer and healthier life, we need to move to Fairhope, build a round house and stay barefooted.... ha ha .... Love it!!!!!

    Bet your Paninis were delicious --and eating outside would make them taste even better.....



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