i need to wake up early tomorrow so i better get some sleep. i'll finish writing my birmingham travel blog and post the rest of the photos. i also noticed my commenting page is a little wonky. i'll fix it when i get back home.
on my third and last full day in birmingham i woke up and went downstairs at 8am to hitch a ride with andy to the museum. i had some orange juice and half a muffin while waiting for andy to finish printing out some documents on the hotel inkjet printer. i asked andy if he slept well with the sounds of street paving going on throughout the night (i myself barely noticed, maybe because i had a corner room). he said besides the road crew noises, the people directly above him were having loud sex. martin left him an e-mail message asking if we wouldn't mind looking around for his rental car keys which he seemed to have misplaced. he ended up taking a taxi to the airport earlier this morning. andy checked his own rental car and sure enough the keys were in the backseat.
we didn't get to the museum until 8:30. i didn't have too much work, mainly to build a new attract loop for one of the interactives. it still took longer than i anticipated and i wasn't finished until 1:00. i went out for lunch and to do some exploring around the area. i went to a barbecue restaurant a block away i saw earlier on the ride over to the museum. i bumped into the museum receptionist, who was also getting some lunch, and who happened to a friend of the owner. i got the rib sandwich with a can of grapico. i'd never seen grapico before but it seems to be popular because the receptionist bought a can too and a few other folks sitting along the counter were drinking grapico as well. the sandwich itself wasn't what i was expecting, some ribs on top of two slices of bread. the ribs were okay but not very memorable. "this is great!" i embellished when the owner asked me how was everything.
with my appetite satiated, it was now time to do some exploring. a slight drizzle threatened more rain but soon stopped despite the perpetual overcast. the temperature was in a comfortable 60's.
the first thing i did was to visit the electra statue standing on top of the alabama power company building, this anatomically-correct golden art deco monument brandishing lightning bolts in her hands and in her hair. over one of the entrances were three more art deco statuaries, each representing an element of the utility company: power, light, and heat.
i then started wandering around in search of more interesting architecture. i really got a sense of birmingham's former glory, now mostly left to ruin. i especially like the numerous art deco and neogothic buildings dotting the city. it made sad to them not better preserved.
back at the museum there really wasn't anything more for me to do. during this downtime i took the opportunity to actually see some of the exhibits. church bombings, attack dogs, water hoses, cross burning: it all seems so unreal, but it all happened here. and not like the revolutionary history we have back in boston; this all happened not too long ago, just 40-50 years. just ingesting it all, it was some pretty powerful stuff. i left around 5:00, returning to the hotel. andy asked if i wanted to get some dinner later on but i told him i wanted to do my own thing.
after dropping off my bag back at the hotel, i went right back out again to explore more of birmingham. i didn't notice it on my first night, but there was actually a small family supermarket nearby. i made a mental note of it, hoping to get some snacks when i came back. there was also the fife restaurant, which was closed on that first night, but was now opened. i was determined to revisit five points south of the city. i thought about taking a bus but according to the schedule they only come by once an hour and not really knowing which one i should take, i didn't want to get too lost. i decided to walk it instead, figuring it'd be about a mile at the most. the trek turned out to be over 2 miles through some very desolate and shady streets in the dark. what would've taken but just a few minutes by car took me almost an hour. i thought i saw a thai restaurant the other day but i couldn't find it. none of the handful of restaurants there interested me either, so i decided to return to the hotel, maybe go to fife, then get some snacks from that supermarket.
to my horror, by the time i made it back (7:30), both fife and the supermarket were already closed. and when they close in birmingham, they mean business, shuttering the doors and windows, almost made me fearful for staying out so late (after 7pm). by then i was utterly exhausted and my legs were throbbing from all that walking (4 miles by that point, not to mention about the 2 miles worth of wandering i did in the afternoon). utterly defeated, i went to john's city diner, just about the only place that was opened (and even they close at 9pm). i knew they had some delicious-looking ribs from what martin ordered last night and i was determined to get some of the same. i opened the menu and ordered the prime rib, not realizing i'd be getting a very thick slab of steak instead of actual ribs. utterly disappointed, i had no choice but to eat this expensive steak i didn't want. at least the sodas were unlimited.
when i got back to the hotel, i asked the woman at the front desk if the airport shuttle would be running at 6am. she said no so and booked me taxi instead. this being my last night in birmingham, and knowing how i operate, i figured i'd be lucky to get just a few hours of sleep, if any. i filled the bathtub one final time, pampering myself with one last soak. i unhooked a wall mirror and angled it on the floor so i could watch television (life on NBC) from the bathtub. i packed up all my stuff so i could just pick up and leave tomorrow morning. getting late, i crawled into bed and fell asleep watching television.