Thursday, July 17, 2008
Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama
“Do you realize”, John asked me one day, “That we have our Jeep registered and insured in Georgia, we have an Georgia address, we have our RV registered and insured in Florida and we have a Florida address, we have an address in Alabama, you see a chiropractor in Biloxi, Mississippi, I go to my doctor’s appts in New Mexico and we have a storage unit full of furniture in Atlanta?” He spoke the truth. Our lives were, technically, all over the place. But I’ve never felt so together, so free and so comfortable as I do with this apparent dichotomy At least for now. Most of the spread-outed-ness is a result of finances or convenience or both. It is also the willingness of my ex-husband Timothy to let us use his (and my old) address as a home base and because of the fact that my mother and brother, once freed from Katrina-dom, had settled in Birmingham, Ala. Then my mother died when finally the ravages of that hurricane proved too much for her. I miss you, Momma.
Despite having more addresses than a Hollywood mogul, and decidedly less money, I am happy. I like the simple pleasure of getting up to meditate at 5 am and going outside to a wide-open sky. In Alabama there are several really nice RV parks we've stayed at. At the park in Hoover I liked the nearby nature trails that led to the Cahaba river and beyond, to a beaver pond you could walk across, making your path right over the mammal-made dam. Located next to a minor league ballpark where the Birmingham Barons play in the spring and summer and local football teams play in the fall and winter, it's very lively when it's lively and extremely peaceful when it's not. Fireworks nights at the stadium are great fun. You can sit outside your RV and watch the show and listen to the crowds cheer.
I enjoy the mountains of North Alabama and the friendly people. People in Birmingham hands down were the friendliest folks I’d ever met in my life. Kind and attentive and decent people live there. Stellar personalities that concentrate on the individual, and look at quality of life as a prime reason not to get away from oneself when it comes to bigger and better. The city of Birmingham, I noticed, did not want to be Atlanta. They like being Birmingham. Truly, they are some of the nicest and most genuinely good-hearted people I’ve ever met in my life. That is.... until they get into their cars. Then they, as a population, rise up as one and try to kill you with their driving habits. No wonder Nascar, in it’s fetus days, started as Southern moonshine runners out-driving the local cops. These people have to be their modern cousins. I’ve never seen people drive like this in my life (and I used to live in New Orleans!) If you stop too soon, too short or even if you obey the law and stop at a stop sign, you are going too slow for them and they perform the maneuver I have named “The Birmingham Go Around”. This means, no matter the weather, terrain, the written road laws or even the laws of physics, they will go around you with nary a touch of a brake pedal. Sometimes they don’t even slow below 60 mph. And that’s in their driveways. They don’t--usually--yell or beep at you, curse or make faces. They just go around like you are standing still, even if you are doing a respectable 55-65 mph. They drive like the hounds of hell are chasing them down neighborhood streets with looks on their faces as if they are simply strolling in the park enjoying a spring afternoon. When my friend Sherri, a long-time Birminghammer, took a new job and moved to North Carolina she called me on the phone to tell me about her new life in NC. "They obey traffic laws here" she said with wonder - and some confusion - in her voice, " All of them."
I highly recommend Birmingham, Alabama, for beautiful vistas, nice libraries, friendly folks, great food (do not leave the city without eating at Jim n' Nicks) and wonderful music venues and festivals. I highly recommend the state of Alabama's gorgeous beaches, lovely mountains and unique museums. But just remember, those people who almost ran you over on interstate 65 are probably some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
MY ALABAMA FAVES:
The Anniston Museum of Natural History
The Shrine of The Blessed Sacrament (truly you have to see this place to believe it)
Orange Beach, Alabama
JOHN SAYS YOU GOTTA GO TO:
Ave Maria Grotto
Jim n Nicks
Oak Mountain State Park