After leaving Sewanee we decided to make our way further south in an attempt to chase down some warmer weather. We chose Talladega, Alabama as the next destination.
In the middle of the drive we both started to get a little hungry and wanted to pull over to find a spot to cook lunch. I saw some signs for De Soto National Forest and figured why not.
We headed over there and came across the De Soto Falls. At first I was a little disappointed in them. There is an area with picnic tables that overlooks a manmade concrete waterfall. That is all you can see from the tables so I figured it was a bit dull, especially after Foster Falls. Maria and I made our lunch and then she was pretty tired, having not slept very well the night before. She took a nap in the van and I decided to work on writing some more blogs. Once I was caught up on the blogs I figured I would go and walk around for a bit and oh boy am I glad I did. I didn’t even bother to grab one of the good cameras, just my old iPhone.
A short walk down a flight of stairs past the manmade waterfall was a beautiful and real waterfall and another 20 or so yards past that was another beautiful waterfall with at least a 50’ drop into a big pool of water. Unfortunately, there was no path to get down to the bottom (at least not without trespassing) but the view was gorgeous. I hung out there for a bit before heading back to the van as Maria was waking from her nap. We went back to the falls together and enjoyed them for a bit before heading off to Talladega.
By the time we made it to Talladega it was already nighttime. We drove around for a bit but there didn’t seem to be much going on in town unless you’re into racing, which neither of us are. We had something to eat then headed out to find a spot to sleep.
The next day we got to work on chores. We found a Laundromat and put a load in while doing more work on Houdini. We fitted some curtains for our windows and attached a line for them to make setting them up and taking them down easier. We replaced the battery terminals, cleaned and reorganized everything again and then headed over to Birmingham.
We found a bar called Iron City, which was broken up into two areas the bar/restaurant and the concert venue. We hung out at the bar where they had a nice assortment of local brews and they live streamed the concert in the next room on the big screen (a free, sort of live, show), the food and the beer where both delicious. We spent most of the time looking for things we wanted to do the next day. We called it a night after that.
In the morning we headed over to a camera spot to buy a new tripod (haven’t been able to find ours since we left my brother’s so we probably left it there someplace) and some other stuff as we learn more about this whole photography thing. Then we headed over to Sloss Furnaces.
Sloss Furnaces, a national landmark since 1981, are the remnants of a large pig iron-producing blast furnace. It was built in 1881 and in operation for 90 years. Now, it serves as an industrial museum where people can walk through and read not only about the machines but also the working conditions and the racial divide between workers as well.
After the furnaces we headed over to the Civil Rights Institute. This place is a very well done and powerful museum, representing the history of the civil rights movement and difficulties faced in one of the most racially divided areas during the civil rights movement. The museum is right across the street from the 16th St Baptist Church which in 1963 was bombed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, killing four innocent girls and injuring many more (it took decades before the perpetrators were finally brought to some sense of justice). The park nearby is also the site of many protests and demonstrations.
As we walked through the museum it was very sad to see the horrible display of a complete lack of humanity that happened not that long ago and how many of the techniques to dehumanize black people (and middle eastern people, and well any other group not in power) are still being used today. It was a very sobering moment.
Luckily, it isn’t until near the end of the tour that they play a video of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech, which still manages to instill a bit of hope that maybe one day there will be some form of equality in the world.
While in Birmingham still, we decided we needed to get some authentic southern food and found this little hole-in-the-wall place and enjoyed some good eating. I had some delicious BBQ meatloaf with black-eyed peas, cornbread and mac and cheese while Maria (who has completely fallen off the whole vegetarian thing by now) went with the fried chicken and collard greens. Why does everything so bad for you taste so good!!!???
The next day we made our way up to Vulcan park to see the statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metalworking (it is the Iron City after all) which had a nice view of Birmingham. We hung out there for a little bit, overlooking Birmingham and then headed over to Railroad Park.
Railroad Park is a nice park with play areas for kids, a workout area for adults, restaurants and walking areas right across the street from a minor league baseball stadium. It was a very well done park, which we walked around while taking some pictures before making some lunch and heading out of town. Next stop Biloxi Mississippi.