No, I’m not talking Dickens here. I’ve never been to London or France. But, I’m talking Jacksonville, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama. Two cities of the south , one dear to my heart and one growing on me.
Safe cracking in underground Jax
Before I left Jax, my BFF and I did as much exploring as we could. We’d both grown up there, but never knew there was a small underground tunnel downtown, originally built to transfer money between banks. And now I know B’ham has walkable/drivable tunnels with lights.
Both cities have grand old theaters. The Florida Theater, a lovely art deco masterpiece, was where I saw many a performance, from The Nutcracker on field trips with my students, to Leo Kottke with my daughter, to Boz Scaggs, The Temptations and The Four Tops, and Loretta Lynn with my BFF. I have yet to visit the Alabama, but it’s high on my list. The cool thing is they were both built in 1927.
St. Johns River Railroad Park
The music scene flourishes in both cities, as well as Minor League baseball. There are lovely old buildings and modern ones, including a Wells Fargo in both as you can see in my pictures above. What Jacksonville has that Birmingham doesn’t is the St. Johns River flowing in it’s midst. But, B’ham has numerous well kept parks and more restaurants that attract people. The downtown doesn’t shut down at 5pm, as I discovered on Thursday when I met my #capturetheham group at Urban Standard for a walk-about in the area. I look forward to more downtown exploring in the months ahead!
Railroad along park perimeter
Thursday night I met a group of people for an enjoyable evening in Railroad Park. This was my first time there and I was super impressed! I didn’t know what to expect from a park in the middle of downtown, so I was pleasantly surprised.
This 19 acre park along 1st street is right next to Regions Field, home of the Barons. It has numerous paths to walk, water features, two playgrounds, grassy areas for play or picnicking and even a designated areas for skaters.
Small group practice Softball practice at the park
The landscaping is gorgeous and I was there during prime photo time, just before sunset. I joined a “Capture the ‘ham” small group hosted by Jamie Golden. You can see our pictures under #capturetheham on Instagram. We will be meeting five more Thursdays this summer at a different location each time. Jamie gave us some great photo tips as well as some inspirational thoughts on capturing moments, but not just with our cameras. I hope to capture some moments with my heart as well.
Parting shot on my way home
My brother-in-law and niece are in town this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. She has
no little interest in baseball, so she and I set about exploring Birmingham.
We were out the door by about 9:30, headed for Pepper Place Market. It seems every time I go the crowd gets larger – we had to park a little further away, but that was just fine.
I was more into shopping at the market than the niece was, but she helped me carry my bags. I got tomatoes, peaches, radishes, a basil plant, farm fresh eggs from free-range chickens, a t-shirt, and a nice cold peach tea.
One new feature at the market is the mister. What a great idea for a hot day!
Back home, we had burgers on the grill, then the hubs, brother-in-law, and niece went to the Florida vs. LSU baseball game at the Hoover Met. I stayed back to catch up on chores and such. They were happy when they got home – Florida won!
Today we enjoyed a trip downtown. First we went back to Pepper Place, our first trip this season. There I bought some Strawberry Preserves from Jim Suttle of Mountain Meadows Farms. As an organic farmer, Mr. Suttle knows how to “make lemonade out of lemons”. He uses no pesticides, so when this year’s strawberry crop had problems because of the excess rain, he salvaged some of the berries to make preserves. I then visited Red Rubin Nursery where I got a Chocolate Mint plant and some advice on how to keep it alive.
After a few more purchases, we went on the Magic City Art Connection at Linn Park. There we found a huge selection of art for every taste. Some favorite artists were Marcus Ryan, Walt Stricklin, and Rick & Linda Bachman, Sarah Bean and Julie Schwarz.
Out last stop was the Birmingham Public Library where we happily stumbled upon a book sale! I got two: Once there Was a War by John Steinbeck and The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes which held a sweet surprise – a letter to someone named Sarah. I love when I fall upon such treasures. I once found a baptismal certificate and a photograph from the 1940s in a book I bought at a different library’s sale.
The rain held off while we were out, so all in all it was a good day!