Wednesday, May 25, 2011

36 Hours in Central Alabama

A friend was in Alabama for a day and a half, so in the spirit of the New York Times travel section's “36 hours in…,” here’s an accounting of our whirlwind day and a half.


9 a.m.
1) Selma

First stop was the tiny but historic city of Selma. We did the usual – walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, went to Brown Chapel and strolled by the homes in the historic neighborhood – and as a first for me, went to Live Oak Cemetery which is a picturesque southern Gothic cemetery overflowing with Spanish Moss.

12:45 p.m.
2) Mobile

Our pursuit of authentic southern food led us to The Brick Pit. It was simply the best Bar-B-Que I’ve ever had. The ribs melted in my mouth.

According to the menu: "We Smoke our chickens for 6 to 8 hours, our ribs for 12 hours and our pulled pork for up to 30 hours all over a blend of Hickory and Pecan."

2:00 p.m.
3) Dauphin Island

On impulse we decided to drive as far South as you can get – Dauphin Island. I’ve been before, but a first for me was going into Fort Gaines. If you’ve seen one Civil War fort you’ve pretty much seen them all, but the exhibits there depicted its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay, and the Fort’s latrine used the tides in a pretty clever way to remove waste.

Here's a fun little plaque about the cause of the Civil War.

Last time I was at Dauphin Island I noted how many oil rigs you could see. This time not only could I see more, but they appeared to be even closer to the island – only a mile or so away.

4 p.m.
4) Mobile.

Back in Mobile we walked around Dauphin St.

6 p.m.
5) Monroeville

For the second year in a row I attend Monroeville’s community product of To Kill a Mockingbird. Last year I sat in the balcony during the courtroom scene (which is staged in the Monroeville courtroom); this year I sat on the main level. While I wanted to go back to the balcony, because it filled up fast so I was forced to sit down stairs. However, I felt it was a more involving experience sitting in the main level. At times it felt like I was watching an actual trial unfolding in front of me.


9 a.m.
6) Montgomery

In the morning we hit the highlights of Montgomery: Civil Rights Memorial, Dexter King Memorial Baptist Church (where MLK was pastor and organized the bus boycott), Court Square (site of the city’s slave market), Capitol Building steps where Jefferson Davis was sworn in, and Hank Williams’ grave.

11 a.m.
7) Red’s Little School House

For an early lunch we went to Red’s where I got in my once a month serving of fried chicken, fried corn bread, fried livers and fried gizzards.

1:30 p.m.
8) Downtown Birmingham

On the way to the airport we swung through downtown Birmingham. As always, I was impressed with its many well preserved turn of the century buildings. If there is any Alabama city that could have a vibrant downtown comparable to a northern city, it’s Birmingham. The infrastructure is there, but people and businesses just need to relocate downtown.

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