We started out yesterday by leaving Austin and flying to my old stomping grounds of Birmingham, Alabama. Yes, I accidentally planned our trip to take place during the Texas/O.U. football game, but luckily I had asked rabid Longhorn Fan Lee to text me at the end of every quarter with the score, and he politely obliged. And we also managed to watch the latter half of the 2nd quarter at the sports bar in the Nashville airport. Luckily, by the time we landed in Alabama, Texas had won it. Barely.
We got our rent car and then turned around and returned it almost immediately because before we'd even left the airport, the "check engine" light was coming on. So after we'd switched from a Toyota Matrix (yay!) to a red Dodge Avenger (boo!), we headed into town and checked into our hotel.
It was cloudy, cool and breezy. After we got checked in, I drove BH and I around, checking out my old city. I was amazed by how melacholy the whole thing made me. I only lived there for a few years, but I really, really loved Birmingham. It's a surprising jewel of a city--sort of like Austin, believe it or not--and this time of year is simply spectacular there. The leaves haven't started to change yet because of the unusual amount of rain they got late this summer, but they're right on the cusp.
Saturday evening, we hooked up with a friend of mine from my days working at Southern Progress. We had drinks and dinner and lots of good conversation.
This morning, we woke up to glorious blue skies and crisp fall temperatures. We drove through my old Southside neighborhood (beautiful!), visited Vulcan Park, of course went here, and then went and hooked up in Crestline with another old friend of mine (who I hadn't seen in ten years) and her husband for brunch. After chowing down and catching up, I drove BH through the winding, hilly streets of Mountain Brook to look at the amazing homes. Finally we visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute before leaving town. It is a powerful and humbling reminder of how fragile and important human rights can be. I highly recommend it.
This is the 16th Street Baptist Church as seen from the Civil Rights Museum.
For only being in Birmingham for 24 hours, we did a lot. But still, I was sad to leave and hope it's not another 10 years before I return.
We drove north and east on the backroads, heading through small towns like Oneonta, Geraldine, and Fyffe, Alabama. We went throught the northwest corner of Georgia, and then reached our current location: Chattanooga, TN around supper time. Tomorrow we'll spend the day exploring this adorable little city on the banks of the Tennessee river before we head out toward the Appalachians and Great Smoky Mountains.
More to come.