Monday, June 16, 2014

Camping! in Florence, AL

Since all my vacations revolve around half marathons this year, I took a quick weekend trip north to Florence, AL on May 30th. 
When you camp in a tent, chances are good that you will get the choice location.  I didn't have water or electric next to me, but that didn't matter at all.

I was right on the Tennessee River.  I took this picture while sitting inside my tent (obviously looking out though).

When I camp, I bring the rain (instead of pain, get it?).

But that means I also bring the rainbows, so Win.

There are big bluffs on the other side of the river.  This house happened to have a place to walk down.  Many of the others didn't.  I'm not sure I would swim in this stretch of river (because fast boats and barges), but it could be nice if you like to fish.

Oh yeah.  This is why people are assholes.  You have to know plastic isn't going to simply go away from heat, right?  You can't kill everything with fire.

Unless this is your fire.  This might kill plastic and/or assholes.  Two birds, one stone. 

I had a guard crane throughout my stay.  I did not try to kill this bird.  (S)he was awesome.

I tried to take a photo of the sunset.  Not prime sun watching territory here at McFarland Park.

I bought a new cookstove set and got to test it out on this trip.  It was crazy windy and I didn't have a windscreen on my stove.  It took a solid 30 minutes to boil water, no joke.

Worth the wait though.  I made parmesan chicken pasta for my pre-race meal.  It was good.  Whole-grain pasta, about 6oz chicken breast, 3 tablespoons basil and oregano parmesan cheese, and a touch of butter.

Shower facilities left something much to be desired. The water was push-button activated and it only ran for 10-15 seconds at a time.  It was annoying. I will say that when one is desperate for a shower, after a half-marathon for example, one does not care so much about icky shower facilities.  The more you know.
I walked uphill (both ways, in the snow) from my campsite to downtown Florence.  This fountain was in the main park.  There was a statue of W.C. Handy in the park too.  He is the father of the blues music genre. 

Then I got a double scoop of ice cream from Trowbridge's:  Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Cheesecake.  This cost $2.30.  So much ice cream.

I wandered around downtown and made my way to the Rosenbaum house.  It's a Frank Lloyd Wright house done in a minimalist style.  It was about closing time at the house and they require you to arrive 45 minutes before close to do the tour, so I didn't go inside.  Next time!

My tent made a great resting place for the local birds.  You probably can't tell, but this bird has a bug or spider in it's little beak.
After I wandered around downtown Florence for a few hours (side note:  it seems people don't walk there and can be dangerous because of the lack of sidewalks??  Street metered parking is ten cents an hour, so that might have something to do with it?), I went back to the campground to watch the sun set while knitting on a new sock project.  I ended up watching the baby birds try to fly instead.

Here's one of those birds now!  They could just barely fly.  They were adorable to watch skit around the grass.

After I got all packed up Sunday morning, I headed south again and made a pit stop in Birmingham.  I had never been to Birmingham before and I think I made a couple great choices to figure out how B'ham got started.

First stop was the 1/5 scale Statue of Liberty.  This park was hard to locate on my Tom Tom, but if you search for the Boy Scouts of America headquarters, the statue is right there.  You can park in the Boy Scouts parking lot and walk 50 feet to the statue.  If you want to get a more frontal view, you have to walk down the hill towards Urban Center (no sidewalks, but the shoulders are huge and elevated) and to the left.

Then you can get a fancy frontal view!  I was amazed by this statue and it's only 1/5 the size of the one on Liberty Island in New York.  I can only imagine what my great-great grandparents thought when they immigrated to the US in 1903.
After visiting small Lady Liberty, I went a few miles down the road to The Vulcan.  This guy is a huge statue made out of iron.  It was Birmingham's contribution to the 1904 World's Fair and put the city on the map as a major player in the metal works industry. 

This is the view of downtown Birmingham from the viewing area.
I wish I was in this picture for scale.  I could sit just on the big toe.  This is the actual size of the Vulcan's foot except not made of metal.

There was a snake visiting the Vulcan too.  I think this is a harmless (to humans) grey rat snake.

The snake business made me hungry, so I grabbed a "pulled" pork sandwich and sweet potato fries from the Saw's food truck.  Not enough sauce for me and not really pulled.  The flavor of the meat was great though.

Take notice of the rain clouds.  It's always raining in Florida.  The real reason I took this picture is for the "Open for Business" sign.  I'm sure this is related to the BP Oil Spill and people coming in from Alabama, but really?  A state can be open?  I think of states as being more like an idea.  Sure they are places too, but they don't just cease to exist because of a bad thing happening.  Big News Event!  Let's shut down the state!  And this "Welcome to Florida" sign is 2.9 miles from the actual state line.  It was more important to put a sign for Beaches of SoWal than it was to welcome people to the state.  Sheesh!


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