Sleeping at home during the weekends is always a fantastic idea, and I never seem to get enough of it. However, this being the summer break week, and a desolate town tempted me enough to hit open roads and drive to Birmingham in Alabama. Now I must agree that Alabama is not a really enticing place overall, in the middle of deep south it feels more like midwest, with sheer nothingness for miles and miles.
The rapidly spreading forest fires made northbound freeways smokey. In fact while coming back, I could not use them at all and drive all the back using obscure state roads. I decided to make my pit stop at the quiet little town called Eufaula in Alabama, just across the Georgia border. This is one of the few towns in the these parts which were left alone by union troops during civil war, so this still town is home to an unbelievable number of grand old mansions and walking past them is a different experience altogether. Travelling northwest from Eufaula, I came upto Montgomery, the state capital and drove a little while on the highway 80, which goes upto Selma, the town better known for the civil rights movement demonstration and marches.
Driving further north, a part of it in blinding rain, I reached Birmingham, the biggest city in the state. Like most of southern cities I have seen, it is unevenly parsed with magnificent architectures and not so inviting areas. And it kind of has an identity of its own - the industrial revolution which made it the so called "magic city", the tumultuous civil right movements in the sixties which shaped the city's character and later came the University. The civil rights institute in downtown should be a must visit attraction for anyone interested in that part of of American history and the adjacent Kelly Ingram park houses often disturbing sculptures depicting the violence from the movement. A giant statue of Vulcan towers over the city atop the hill, and a view of the downtown from high up there is pretty neat. The restaurant scene (well, good food is a must in any of my trips!) is pretty vibrant and diverse too, specially the "Fish Market" was awesome.
After exploring the city, it was time for some outdoor activities. Little river canyon and De Soto state park was an hour or so up northeast and provided some nice scenic views and hiking trails in the forest. Nothing extraordinary, but a pleasant nevertheless. The drive back to "home" was pretty uneventful, passing through little sleepy towns with perhaps more churches than shops, and sometimes with funny names like Ty Ty.
The photos tell the story, and they are at, as always,