Birmingham, AL.

By Maggie -- Jun 03, 2014

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If you noticed we haven't written anything in awhile, it's because we've been too busy eating!

The food in the South is something to behold. The flavors are different than anything on the west coast - they're bolder and saucier and spicier, and we can't help but want to eat in every small town we drive through. It's almost torturous to drive around with your windows rolled down - the smells just creep in and suddenly your car is cruising off the highway and into a parking lot! The only real way to keep this from happening is to stay put in our campsite, which can be difficult if the weather is nice (aka no rain in sight!). So far we've only gone out to a few places in Alabama, including Saw's BBQ and Durbin Farms. We're learning about the differences between Texas BBQ and Louisiana BBQ and 'Bama BBQ, and feeling more and more confident when we talk about these differences. Ryan has said more than once, "what if we got one of those smokers?". Yeah, we're hooked.

I decided after we left Florida that it was time to get myself a bicycle. Ryan has one that we bought ages ago at a yard sale, and he's been able to use it for things like long trips to the bathroom, running to the ranger station and getting ice at the corner store. At the campsite in Florida it seemed that I was the only poor loser without a bike, and I wasn't going to be that person again if I could help it. All the little pre-teen boys on mountain bikes were practically pedaling laps around me as I walked to the showers. It would have been amazing to just plow right through them on my big girl bike. Anyway, as we drove up through the Alabama countryside, I discussed what my options were with good old Craiglist. We found a guy about 45 minutes outside of the city that was selling his vintage German cruiser, a Kynast (never heard of it before but apparently they're a dime a dozen in Germany) for $70. We picked it up and it's a real gem - it even has a built-in lock, a bell, a big cushy seat, and a headlight that is powered by the front wheel turning against it. Those crafty Germans! 

The city of Birmingham is charming despite being so old and run-down, and we can see it becoming a new "it place" to live, just like Nashville and Austin are right now. The downtown area is several city blocks of early 1900's buildings, some refurbished but most with original signage and structures. It's fun to sit and think of the possibilities for each building. If you put any of them in DTLA, they'd be inhabited by some kind of chic restaurant, or performance space, or artist lofts. Because it was a Monday, the town was quiet and peaceful, and it was relaxing just shopping in antique shops and wandering the streets. Until recently, the area next to Saw's BBQ was not an area you'd walk around alone. The area is now bustling with people, mostly younger, and it feels a lot like areas of Silverlake or West LA. We went there specifically to go to Avondale Brewing, which did not disappoint - the place is huge, the beers are great, and the vibe & branding are on point. Their logo is an Elephant, stemming from a historical tale of  Miss Fancy the Elephant who was a real attraction at the Birmingham zoo in the early 1900's. Appropriately, their slogan is "Trunks up". We were inspired by Avondale Brewing and would highly recommend it. Great vibes overall, Bham!

And yes, in case you're wondering, that IS a ginormous baked potato topped with bbq pork and bbq chicken, cheese, onions and sauce, with a side of deviled eggs. Oh, and peach pecan ice cream!