Day Four was a busy driving day for me, trying to cover as much ground as I could before we had to fly home on Day Six. I spent the first half up in Denver and the late afternoon back in Colorado Springs, with a stopover in between to stare for a while at the formidable formation above. Works of God and of Man were each the order of the day.
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.
After spending the first several hours of Day Four walking around downtown St. Paul, we crashed at the hotel for a while. As someone who hates naps, that’s hard for me to admit, but it had to be done. We needed to recharge for the sake of our evening plans, for which we’d be driving into downtown Minneapolis to create a fun bookend effect for our day in the Twin Cities.
That evening we tried something we’ve never done before on vacation: a formal anniversary dinner.
Every empty marquee tells a story:
Once upon a time, there was a community gathering place where citizens and neighbors shared adventure, laughter, heartbreak, tension, jingoism, victory, sorrow, dreams, and amazement in a cozy, rarefied atmosphere bereft of stereo sound, digital imagery, comfortable upholstery, or ads teaching you baseline smartphone manners. Many a childhood memory was born there, many a relationship begun there, many a care in the world set aside for two hours inside a temporary escape hatch offering inspiration or respite.
Something something something, and then it closed forever and now it’s an eyesore, and did you hear about the acrimonious lawsuits raging behind closed doors as we speak, but hey, at least we have a Redbox kiosk on every other corner. And they all lived in isolation ever after.
The name of the town changes like a Mad Libs answer. Sometimes the part about the lawsuits is redacted because no one cares enough to sue anyone else over its demise. But the rest of the story is frequently the same.