Sunday morning in Birmingham didn’t stay cool for long. We walked away from Linn Park hoping to see art. Before long we were dying for water. North of the park, nestled between the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Boutwell Auditorium, we found a tidy spot that offered and hid the best of both.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
This year’s trip began as a simple idea: visit ostensibly scenic New Orleans. Indianapolis to New Orleans is a fourteen-hour drive. Between our workplace demands and other assorted personal needs, we negotiated a narrow seven-day time frame to travel there and back again. We researched numerous possible routes, cities, and towns to visit along the way in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. We came up with a long, deep list of potential stops, but tried to leave room for improvisation…
This walkway between the two cultural centers had no signs, no claims of ownership, no explanations why multiple waterfalls. As the temperature rose around us, we were in no position to look for clues. Water goes downward; nearby air cools; nearby people cheer. Yay physics! Or chemistry! Whichever! Yay school science!
Above the falls hangs the Birmingham Urban Mural. Constructed between 1996 and 2000 by a local nonprofit art group, the mural stands five stories high, stretches 100 feet across, comprises over 28,000 clay tiles, and weighs 112 tons. (We saw no credits for it, either. I had to look it up just now.)
As you approach and consider the arts and spouts from every angle, you find a third waterfall facing away from the direction of Linn Park.
Here’s the part I don’t get: half the mural is covered by trees. Sure, in this weather shade is a wonderful refuge, but letting that protective canopy obscure fifty feet of blood, sweat, and personal expression seems a shame that could be curtailed with a ladder and some careful pruning. Then again, trapped as it is between two large buildings, it’s basically a really pretty alley, and who wants to spend more money to beautify an alley?
The area around this strip wasn’t exactly thriving with big city life. The art museum’s rear parking lot abuts the eastbound lane of I-59. Festive falls at left; Stygian underpass at right; handy Artmobile as getaway car in case of emergency.
All that shade beneath the freeway looked comfortable till we noticed a couple of guys just hanging around in the dark. We opted to go spend more time melting in the sun and headed closer to the art museum rather than away from it.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]