Grace’s Gap Overlook
Our first visit to Red Mountain this past Saturday was a success. By that I mean:
- We didn’t get lost
- We hiked 5 miles
- We met friendly volunteers coming and going
We liked it enough to be headed back today.
Besides being free to get in and having well-marked trails, Red Mountain also has some other plusses. There is a dog park which I hope to visit soon with Loretta. There are several activities (for a fee) for the more adventurous, such as The Zip Tour and the Adventure Tower, an 80-foot climbing tower for those with strong arm muscles. Discounts for the activities are available for groups.
On Saturday we went from the entrance to Grace’s Gap Overlook where you can get a view of Downtown B’ham. There is a picnic table there at the top, which will be good to know for next time. On our way back went out on the swinging bridge to the Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse.
Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse
- Bug spray is a good idea
- Bring water
- Bathrooms are porta-potties, so be warned
- Go early to beat the crowd on a Saturday
photo by Ryan McGuire
I realized yesterday as I was reviewing a restaurant, that two of the choices I made from menus in June both had the word REDNECK in them. First there was the Redneck Pot Pie at HomeGrown in Asheville, NC. This dish was suggested by my son and it was delish! It’s a pot pie made with BBQ chicken, cheesy grits, and a buttermilk biscuit – all in one. There is also a Redneck Cuban on their menu – perhaps next time?
Later in June we went to Dave Poe’s BBQ in Marietta, GA. Here I got the Redneck Lasagna. Man oh man was it good! It’s their creamy mac-n-cheese mixed with Brunswick stew. So excellent!
This got me to thinking – what other “redneck” foods have I savored in my life? The first thing I thought of was fried bologna sandwiches. We made this as kids – it was probably one of the first things I ever “cooked”. Fast forward to the microwave age of my kids, and they made bologna bowls. They would put a piece of bologna on top of an inverted bowl in the microwave and nuke it. I can’t remember what went in it, but I’m pretty sure cheese was involved.
Here’s a similar version – The Hillbilly Bologna Pizza – watch below:
Please share your favorite REDNECK foods in the comment section!
This past Thursday was my first visit to Vulcan Park – another gem of a park in B’ham! I met with my #capturetheham group and got some great photography pointers. Then we tried to put our skills to work.
Vulcan Park is definitely a place where I want to return. I want to stay a little later next time to walk the trails and capture the full sunset.
What you need to know:
The Vulcan Park is located at 1701 Valley View Drive and is open 10am-10pm Monday- Saturday and 12pm-10pm on Sunday; the museum closes at 6pm each day (the park also closes at 6pm on July 4th). Parking is free.
DAILY ADMISSION RATES 10 A.M. – 6 P.M.:
- Adult $6
- Seniors (65+) / Military $5
- Children ages 5-12 $4
- Children 4 years and under free
EVENING ADMISSION RATES 6 – 10 P.M.:
- All ages 5 and up $4
- Children 4 years and under free
Bring your camera!
Don’t go up the Vulcan if you are afraid of heights.
If you are a AAA member, you and a guest will get 20% off (I didn’t see this before !!)
Pets allowed on a leash – you must clean up after them, of course.
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
When the grandkids were here we all made a trip to the zoo. This was my first visit to the Birmingham Zoo and a fine time was had by all. Although it was crowded, we were able to get up close to get good views of most of the animals.
Some of the empty cages were a disappointment – I was wanting to see a gorilla – but there were still plenty of animals to keep the five year old happy. He liked the turtles that were right near the entrance and we had to stop by to see them again on the way out.
The orangutan mommy and baby were entertaining to watch, as were the giraffes who seemed to be very friendly with each other. We missed the reptiles, but saw almost everything else.
Mid-morning, we took a break to eat a bit at the Safari Café. This very large covered outdoor area offers a nice reprieve. Everything is pricey, of course, but I had to buy some popcorn. The little one wanted some, and of course I ate my share, too.
Being an LSU alum, by daughter-in law especially liked the tiger, as did the two year old. We kept yelling, “Turn around, Tiger!” and he finally obliged us so we got some good pictures.
Since the kids were getting tired (this was after two days of hiking), we snuck them by the play fountain to take a ride on the carousel before leaving. On a hot day this water area would be a treat for little ones. There is also a play area near the primate area which is a fun place to get the wiggles out.
All in all it was a pleasant day at the zoo. Traffic was a little crazy at the entrance, but hopefully this will improve soon.
- If you want to save money, go on half-price Tuesday
- If you want to avoid crowds, don’t go on Tuesday
- Use sunscreen
- Take your time; go with your kids’ pace. It’s better to savor the moments than to try to see everything
- May is prime Field Trip time for schools
To say I was impressed with the Hoover Public Library would be an understatement. Before I moved to Birmingham I had a library card in two counties, both Duval and St. Johns, but I can say I think Hoover has them both beat.
In Duval County (Jacksonville) the main library downtown was huge and beautiful, but not so convenient. Some of you other Jax transplants may be familiar with it. That is one difference – the convenience. Another is the staff. I was helped by Mary and another employee at the front desk in Hoover. They were both helpful and friendly. Getting my card was easy (so much easier than getting that driver’s license!) and then Mary gave me a brief overview of where things were located. They graciously called a boss to be sure I had permission to take photos as I explored. Even in my favorite little library near my home in St. Johns County I never was met with such southern hospitality.
The layout of the library makes it super easy to find what you’re looking for. The video and music selection is quite large. Audio books are also available, some of which can even be downloaded.
The large Kidzone was very child friendly and even had a fenced outdoor play area. The Teen Spot was a perfect place for study or hanging out. For those who need a hushed place for study there is a Quiet Study area.
The Friends Bookstore, staffed by Friends of the Hover Library, and Coffe-ol-ogy Café are two places I plan to check out more thoroughly on my next visit.
The library has a full schedule of activities and events for all ages, from storytime for those three and under to the Battle of the Bands for the teens to numerous book groups for adults. There are also author presentations and musical events as well.
Some unique features that wowed me:
- The “Cone of Silence” – a futuristic-looking booth that patrons can step inside if they need to use their cell phone
- Book Club Kits- including multiple copies of the book – that can be checked out for six weeks
- To make checkout easy, there are self-check kiosks scattered around the building.
- An online “email a librarian” feature
- Nooks available for checkout
- Laptops that can be checked out for use within the library
- Headphones are sold for $2 and Flash Drives for $5 at the service desk
- The Library Theatre – a venue that hosts World-Class entertainment
Municipal Dr, Hoover, AL 35216
2698 Pelham Parkway – Pelham, AL 35124
Phone: (205) 620-1116
Hours: Sunday noon-8pm; M-T-W 11am-9pm; TH-F-S 11am-10pm
Nino’s Italian Restaurant in Pelham was a treat! A big thank-you to Mel for gathering us together there. The hospitality was great, thanks to co-owner Walter Caron. They accommodated us all at one long table. Walt read off the specials to us and was patient as we asked him to repeat some of them. I enjoyed the Shrimp and Crab Ravioli in Pomodori sauce.
This is a kid-friendly place, as you could tell when Walt held Mel’s little boy, Jacob.
I will definitely go again and would like to try Mel’s fav Hawaiian Pizza.
You can read more here: Ninos Italian Restaurant