2015 Road Trip Photos #50: Outtakes, Alabama

USS Alabama!

My favorite shot of the top deck of the USS Alabama…starring some complete stranger who wandered in the way.

With each year’s travelogue we like to conclude with a second-chance review through the hundreds of photos we took to see which photos were unfairly cut from the final roster, which ones didn’t fit into the narrative but possess their own merit, and/or which ones slipped through the cracks for no valid reason. The twelve pics in this first of two outtake sets were all taken in Alabama, arguably the state where we spent the most time this week, racked up the most driving mileage, and learned the most about through historical immersion.

(As always, photos are clickable for enlargement and resolution and such.)

Right this way for eleven more honorable mentions!

2015 Road Trip Photos #49: The Week in Cityscapes


The New Orleans business district skyline as viewed from the fourth floor of the National WWII Museum’s Boeing Center. At left, one of the exhibit halls; at right, the theater where we watched Beyond All Boundaries.

Throughout our drive from Indianapolis to New Orleans and back again, my wife took pics of each major metropolis as we passed through them. During our walks and our detours we found a few other neat vantage points that let us gaze upon these cities and wonder if the life bustling along their streets is that much different from our own. In most cases probably, but it was fun to contemplate.

Right this way for a few shots on the road and the sight that greeted us at home!

2015 Road Trip Photos #42: Walking, Not Marching, to the Alabama State Capitol

Lister Hill!

Lister Hill was a WWI veteran and a 45-year Congressman whose works favored medical progress and expanding modern amenities into rural areas, but didn’t exactly have a favorable civil rights record.

Anne and I decided to structure the morning of Day Six pretty much the same as we had the morning of Day Two. Whereas the latter was spent walking around downtown Birmingham, this time we’d try doing the same with the state capital of Montgomery. One major Alabama city kind of looked like the other on our maps, so we expected a simple, breezy morning of walking from the hotel to the Alabama State Capitol.

We erred in failing to account for scale and structure. If only we’d known that Montgomery’s city blocks are five times as large as Birmingham’s, and if only we’d known Montgomery somehow abolished all forms of cool, relaxing shade from within city limits, we might’ve taken a different exploratory approach. Say, driving around the city instead of walking its miles and nearly killing ourselves. Advantage: Birmingham.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #41: Black History on Montgomery Streets

Rosa Parks Stop.

A marker for the most life-changing bus stop in America.

Like our stroll around Birmingham on the morning of Day Two, we spent the morning of Day Six walking up and down the much wider, more gleaming, less shaded streets of Montgomery, Alabama. I’m terrible about remembering to check maps for scale and was unprepared for the fact that the state capital’s city blocks were two or three times larger than those of Birmingham’s comparatively claustrophobic downtown. Our walk was consequently longer and more draining, but no less dotted by indelible moments in state and national history.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #40: Southern Cooking Showdown, Round 4


Remember that time we took you on a tour of New Orleans’ own Cafe Beignet — on Day Three and the morning of Day Five, in fact — and failed to show you a photo of a single beignet? That was a rude oversight on my part. Here, have some virtual beignet. I promise it ruled. SUCK IT, Cafe du Monde.

Beyond the French Quarter, we knew Day Five would be one of the most taxing days, a combination of hundreds of miles to travel and several places we wanted to check out. If we’d driven through all the same cities nonstop, it would’ve been six hours’ minimum boredom. With stops, more fun but much longer and a bit more grueling. Day Six held its own set of challenges and fumbles. We tried to make the most of our deep-South mealtimes anyway. I’m proud to say we never settled for McDonald’s or Subway either day.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #39: Scout’s Honor

Scout Finch!

Jean Louise Finch might gladly welcome you, but she’s busy reading.

By the time we finished our exhausting tour of the U.S.S. Alabama on Day 5, rush hour was on and we were still over two hours away from our hotel. We had one more stop on our itinerary that I was tempted to cut because it required a sizable digression off I-65 and I figured all the businesses would be closed by the time we arrived. Getting to our hotel in Montgomery before nightfall would’ve been a plus, but unlikely regardless of whether or not we stopped on the way. On the other hand, it’s not as though we’re in the area all the time and will have multiple opportunities to drop in. The more attractions we postpone to some other future theoretical vacation, the more of those attractions we’ll probably never see.

So by a unanimous vote of 2-0 we threw scheduling comfort to the wind, temporarily abandoned the interstate, and drove the 30-odd miles out of our way to a brief stopover in Monroeville, hometown of author Harper Lee. You may remember her name from headlines last year.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #38: Battleship!

USS Alabama!

In game, you sink Battleship. In real life, battleship sink YOU.

After lunch, Day 5 saw us heading east along the Gulf Coast, back into the state of Alabama, slowly through the city of Mobile in congested traffic, and down to the shore of Mobile Bay, where they’ve docked the kind of enormous boat that would’ve been a big help against Jaws if it would’ve fit anywhere near Amity’s beaches.

Welcome aboard the U.S.S. Alabama.

Right this way for the scenic tour!

2015 Road Trip Photos #11: Lights of Birmingham


“Electra” has stood atop the Alabama Power Building downtown since 1926. Her origins lie closer to Greek mythology than to any similarly named Marvel characters.

Our two-hour walk around downtown Birmingham on a Sunday morning took us from Kelly Ingram Park to Linn Park to the Art Museum and to other parts here and there. We also stopped at their bus station because Anne had it good authority that they had one of those smashed-penny machines. I don’t mention those often in our travelogues, but those are a big, BIG thing for her. You’d be surprised how many of our stops over the years appeared on her smashed-penny machine master list months before they appeared on our finalized itineraries. This time, though, either her informant was misinformed or the bus station management hid it in some far-off back room. We weren’t prepared to go that deeply into the heart of bleakness.

We took zero photographs of the bus station, but other curiosities caught our eye as we traipsed around town. Electra up there, for example.

Right this way for downtown Birmingham potpourri!

2015 Road Trip Photos #6: Faces of the Revolution


During our sobering Sunday morning walk through Ingram Park, we saw small circles of chatting friends sharing the central commons area, while homeless stragglers reserved an errant bench here, inspected yesterday’s discarded leftovers there. All of us were equally surrounded by statues honoring those who fifty years ago walked, gathered, and fought on this very block for a better world. The reminders are impossible to ignore, but it’s up to each of us to heed them.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #4: Cheese ‘n’ Knackered

Adventurer Coke!

At last, it’s our turn for Coke to really speak to us! Or so we tell ourselves.

Not every stretch of highway is an endless parade of merriment. Not every side quest earns us a Trophy or Achievement. Not every minute can be filled with photogenic overstimulation. Sometimes we’re okay with that, because sometimes we need time to relax and breathe on our so-called “vacations”.

Sometimes the clock works against us. Sometimes it’s a choice on our part. One to-do item is sacrificed so another to-do item might see fruition. Failure and compromise play into every road trip.

Sometimes we find little moments between the grand occasions and the oncoming letdowns. And sometimes there are snacks.

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