Guess you thought I’d abandoned my post and was going to leave you in the dark about the REST of our trip! No such luck!
After a day of rest, some car trouble, and time spent working on articles with looming deadlines, I’m back! (Bet you missed me. You can admit it.)
Now where were we? Ahhh… I remember. The sketchy motel. (let me clarify… motel really was okay, it was just some sketchy PEOPLE who happened to be staying there. Not even together in the same party, just ewwww, several people with questionable characters.)
Okay, this day DID start out in a rather hilarious kind of way.
We got ready to go and went down to check out, and A figured we should have some breakfast first. This little girl, just turned five, hopped up on the stool beside A to start a conversation. She was wearing blue unicorn pants and what she called a “flowy shirt” which she appeared to hold in much disdain. She told A that she needed her black shirts because black was best. Went even further to say that what she really needed was her ACDC shirt with her unicorn pants. She asked A if she thought the shirt would go with the unicorn pants, to which A replied that she was absolutely certain she could pull off that look, no problem. The child grinned and said, and I quote, “Good! Because metal music is my LIFE!!” This was punctuated with some silent head banging, blonde hair flying, hands curled in a rock and roll sign. After a couple of minutes, the girl’s grandmother called her over. The girl did not want to leave her current post but her grandmother told her she needed to take her medicine. The child hopped down, flashed A a look and said, “Don’t worry. My medicine just helps me to sloooowwww dowwwnnnn.” She bent her little knees and made a wave motion with her arms before trotting away.
I just love how our tribe always manages to find each other without even trying.
Of course, A went straight back to the room before we could check out, took off her own “flowy” shirt that she had chosen for the day, replacing it with an Iron Maiden T-shirt. (black of course.) She grinned all the while, saying that encounter had just set the mood for a great day. 🙂
Our first stop on Friday morning was not an odd place, or a hidden place or a little known place. It was a tourist place, an unplanned stop, but when A asked if we could go I figured that’s what road trips were all about – changing your mind and having a good time. So off to Birmingham Zoo we went. (I’m on the fence about zoos, but that’s another story and not the point of this post.)
So we did the zoo in a couple hours. It was hot. It was sweaty. Okay, most everything we did was hot and sweaty on this trip, but maybe I just wasn’t in the zoo mood. Nothing really exciting happened while we were there anyway. Oh – but this was kind of funny. Upon entering, we headed to the African area – elephants, lions, tigers, ect. So we are walking along and this zoo employee smiles and wishes us good morning. He tells us that they are about to start giraffe feedings if we want to see that. We thanked him and then he says, “Oh, but they should be feeding the lions and hyenas soon too. If you are in this area and start hearing the hyenas go wild, they’re being fed, so if you’re close by, go watch.” Okay, thanks. So we are strolling along looking and A actually is a fan of hyenas but we made the circle and never saw any. We never heard a ruckus. So she asks someone where the hyenas were located. The lady looks at her very strangely for a minute and says, “Honey, we don’t have hyenas in this zoo.”
Not real sure what that man is hearing every morning, but maybe he’s imagining things. 🙂
Zoo out of her system, it was time to see the Vulcan.
A had never seen it, and hey, if you’ve never seen an iron man’s tush it’s a must. I realize you may not be familiar with the Vulcan in Birmingham Alabama. So, here’s a bit of history for you.
As you may know, Vulcan is the Roman God of fire and forge. Birmingham wanted to advertise it’s industrial abilities for the St. Louis World’s fair in 1904. City leaders commissioned the giant iron statue. He stands 56 feet tall, and now sits on a 124 foot pedestal and weighs 101,200 pounds. He sits at Red Mountain and is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the largest metal statue ever made in the United States.
Vulcan has a pretty interesting history from his debut at the World’s Fair, to the the thirty years he spent at the Alabama State Fairgrounds, put back together wrong, where he did time advertising products such as pickles, ice cream, and at one point he even wore a gigantic pair of overalls. But he eventually was brought to Red Mountain where he sat regally on his hilltop overlooking the city, only coming down in 1999 when he needed repairs. Repairs completed, he was brought back to his original glory, put atop his brand new pedestal with a new observation deck, and there was the addition of a rather nice museum and lovely grounds
Now – there was a rainstorm coming and it was thundering when we arrived at Vulcan park. I bought our tickets and the man in the gift shop said to just keep watch. They weren’t letting anyone up just then, but depending on the weather it shouldn’t be long. A saw some people going up, so we went over to take our turn going to the observation deck. Okay, this place has changed entirely since I was there as a kid. Used to, you could climb the stairs located inside his pedestal and then there was an enclosed observation area at the top. Now, you can still climb the stairs if you want, or there is a handy elevator and the observation deck? No longer enclosed.
I am okay with admitting this, but as we gave the lady our tickets, and she looked at the sky and said, “Just watch the weather and if there is any thunder or you see lightning come down,” I looked up at the tower, looked at that deck, and I chickened out. The NEW observation deck goes all the way around the tower, just below the Vulcan’s naked derriere. But this deck is steel grate. Grate? As in see through??!! And wide open??!! This girl wasn’t having it, so I smiled sweetly, waved, and pushed A to the elevator.
I watched from way below as she haltingly made her way out of the elevator. Clinging for dear life at the handrails. She gingerly worked her way around and I don’t think she stopped to even see the view, much less enjoy it – before rushing back inside that elevator and getting to the ground.
“It creaks and groans when you walk on it!” She yelled when she got close to me. “It moves! There were like five people standing in one spot and I swear that grate bent!”
Nah, didn’t bend, I told her. “Well you go up there and find out!” No thanks, I’ll stay on the ground and enjoy the museum. Little museum there was nice and informational. She told the man in the gift shop that she just didn’t think that thing was safe. He laughed and told her that the week before the entire Alabama football team was up there at one time. She insisted it wasn’t safe. 🙂
We watched the rain come, and planned our next move.
When I was a kid whenever my mom and I went anywhere, I begged to go to caverns if we could. I loved them. Since we’d visited Rickwood the other day, and since A enjoys the caverns too, we went to DeSoto. I haven’t been there in years, but I remembered how pretty it was. It was vastly different than when I was a kid.
Now, DeSoto Caverns has this one big cave room that is absolutely breathtaking with all the formations. It’s worth seeing for sure – BUT – they charge $25 per person for about an hour tour that only consists of this one room. We went in, and they sat us down, and there was a laser light show. Okay, that’s cool, but really? Then we pretty much wandered to several areas of this one space where they used props to tell the history of the cave. I remembered getting to actually tour the caverns and see more than this one space. Yes, the space is the most impressive area for sure, but I definitely felt cheated here. It was NOT worth the $50 we spent. Honestly, when she gave me the current price I started to say never mind, but I was the one who had driven out there without first checking prices. (We’d paid $17 each for Rickwood and spent an hour walking through the cavern and enjoying it much more.) Anyway…
So, this concludes this segment – good news – there should only be one more installment left in our adventure!