Thursday, October 23, 2008

At home in Birmingham

Have arrived in Birmingham, and staying with my friend Allison.  It's been a good two days since my last post.  Corinth, MS, and Huntsville, AL, are now on my list of cool places I've managed to visit.  Corinth, for those who don't know, was the all-important spot of the crossroads for the Ohio-Mobile and Memphis-Charleston railroad lines.  These were the only lines that connected Kentucky and Tennessee to the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean.  Very important strategically during the Civil War.  The Union's victory here allowed Grant to eventually attack Vicksburg and gain control of the Mississippi River.  It was one of the most important spots of the western theater during the war, and didn't get as much attention as bigger battles like Gettysburg and Antietam, but 8,000 men died in the Battle of Corinth.

Some random observations as I headed through upcoming vote in Blount County apparently about the purchase of alcohol--one campaign sign says "Vote No to Alcohol Sales.  Keep Blount County Special."  The oppositions' sign says "Vote Blount County WET!".  I leave it to you to make your own judgments.  :)  Another sign simply said "SARAH!" in support of the McCain/Palin ticket.  It was not a hand-made sign, so I can only assume there are more out there.  I will need to see if I can get my hands on one.  So far, my un-scientific poll of signs along the road have Obama/Biden leading McCain/Palin 178-103, with Ron Paul coming in third at 5.  And Dennis Kucinich with 2.  Just kidding.

Space Camp didn't work out like I wanted, couldn't get in for a variety of reasons.  But basically, it's for "trainees only" and my friend's boss is sort of a jerk.  But really, doesn't the fact that it's exclusive like that make you want to do it even more??  Next time, I'm signing up for a day camp.  Anyway, I did get into the museum for free, and that was awesome!  Those Saturn rockets look small on tv, but when you stand next to them and realize just how big they really are, it makes you appreciate how much work went into making that program successful.  We built that!  The sheer creativity of how they were able to make that work is inspiring.  I also got to see the original lunar lander and rover.  Sorry to geek out on some of you, but yesterday was a dream come true.  I'm a huge space nut, always have been, and it was great to finally visit that place.  That, combined with the Civil War elements of the trip, have really satisfied an unfilled need that I've had for a long time.  I felt like I was 5 years old again, but could appreciate with adult eyes.

If you're following this to make sure I'm alive, I'll be wrapping up my trip here in Birmingham.  I got here earlier this afternoon, after making a stop in Pinson, Alabama for Ken's BBQ (Thanks Jim!  They were tickled that someone from Seattle had stopped in based on a recommendation!!).  Allison has some fun stuff planned for me while I'm here, and then I'll be heading back to NOLA on Saturday morning.  My flight back to Seattle leaves early Sunday.  Then it's back to work on Monday, and figuring out how to post photos.  

I don't think I'll be posting again before I get back to Seattle, so here are a few final observations about this trip:

Don't dismiss the importance of making eye contact and nodding hello to people.

In MS, they have "corp" limits instead of "city" limits, as in Tupelo Corp Limit or Jackson Corp Limit...don't know why.

People can tell I'm not from around here before I even open my mouth.  It's helpful to remember my first observation about eye contact, and to be willing to tell people where I'm from and why I'm here.

Coffee is NOT a universal constant, at least in terms of strength.  However, I did find a Starbucks in Tupelo the other day that really hit the spot (sorry Marshall, but I had to do it.  Tupelo is not New Orleans.)  Most smaller towns won't have anything besides what's served at the gas station.  For an addict like me, it might be helpful in the future to bring some with me, and brew it in the hotel.

This has been great.  Next time, I want to do a musical history tour.  And have a travel companion.  I need someone to talk to when all I can get is religious channels on the radio. 

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