On the road again, this time heading southwest to Birmingham, AL.
Avoiding interstate highways we make a beeline from the north Georgia mountains for Birmingham along beautiful country roads. So pretty is the ride we miss a turn and don’t realize it for long enough that a detour is better than a backtrack and quickly find ourselves cruising along a creek in a tunnel of oaks on a winding back country road in the middle of I don’t know where; hauling a thirty five foot long, thirteen foot tall, six ton trailer. Even so, some mistakes are worth making.
Arriving in BHam, as the natives refer to their city, we find the RV park; I never did feel comfortable with the place even when researching it. A short road, more a pock marked driveway falls from the highway past a fenced car lot patrolled by two really mean looking Rottweilers; strike one. Grass strewn with concrete pads stretches into the distance with a few ramshackle and sagging mobile homes placed hither and yon; strike two. Since the driveway leads to a road that is clearly a loop, providing an easy exit I proceed slowly forward taking it all in. The attendant, a wizened old codger in a sagging neck yellowed tee shirt ambles over to the window in welcome, opening his mouth to speak revealing a tooth here and there; strike three.
All the while John is on his phone and finds another place, we make the loop and exit. There is no way I would have left Heath there, let alone left Buckley in Heath there.
Friends are meeting us downtown for dinner. They will show us the town and being craft beer aficionados are well versed in BHam’s craft beer culture. We end up at Good People Brewing where there is a band playing between the tanks while people play skeeball and darts; Avondale Brewing where the NCAA Basketball finals are on inside and an excellent band is playing out in the back yard; and the J Clyde where we sat in the covered courtyard in a driving rain and warmed up on some excellent local brews.
Morning brings the first hint of sunshine in a week. We set out to Vulcan Park without bothering to check a map. Hills above the city hold the iron statue in memory of Birmingham’s days as a steel city and in many places it’s clearly visible. Our meandering path wanders farther and farther leading us unexpectedly to English Village a beautiful little enclave in the hills. Chez Lulu offers a shady respite under the awning and delicious French lunch with Buckley occupying a chair calmly waiting. In the middle of lunch at Chez Lulu I realized my phone was gone, one of those ‘oh no’ moments. A quick walk to the bakery next door and a shove to the front of the line found the phone had been handed to the clerk. I bought a loaf of olive bread I didn’t need in gratitude.
After lunch we find Vulcan, tour the park, photograph the view and descend into the city to the Civil Rights Institute where Martin Luther King calmed riots following the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 that killed four young girls. Touring Memorial Park I lost the keys to Jake and after some frantic searching John spotted them in the grass; not a minute too soon as the locals had become aware and were beginning to circle.
Generally I am one of those ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ types. I don’t lose things. In the space of two hours in a distant place I lost two critical things and found them both. I should buy a lottery ticket.
THIS IS PART 4 OF A 9-PART SERIES ON TURING THE SOUTHEAST US