Today we journeyed 50 minutes northward-ish to Birmingham in the rental car and after finding the CLOSED (permanently) West Marine where we had hoped to find more doodads and thingamajigs to add to our collection (including a new flag pole thingy for our Looper burgee/flag on the bow), we continued on to the Civil Rights District of Birmingham and were steeped in impressions that left me as sad as the Holocaust Center in Jerusalem but still with some hope too and thanks for all the work of those who went before.
First we visited the very well laid-out tons of meaningful exhibits at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. No words nor amount of pix I could put here can approach the impact. Please go if you ever have the chance. But here are a few:
I know this might look boring to most, but as a “recovering lawyer” this whole section of the summaries of over 20 landmark decisions and court battles meant a lot to me: I thought of all the pain and humiliation, the leaders’ fights and doubts, the citizens’ guts, the bad guys and why they felt so compelled to fight so hard to perpetuate the indignities, the amount of work and sweat in each lawsuit, the joys of the wins and too frequently the compounded pain of the losses and, all while still always knowing there was more to be done to erase the invisible lines/barriers/sentiments even if the legal ones were straightened out.
They had a board like this for a handful or so of other countries with historic landmark rights demonstrations, etc.
Aside from visiting the Civil Rights District, the whole point of our venture to Birmingham was to check in and visit Vicky, our “chinese daughter,” who lived with us a year or so ago. She is now attending University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
So Vicky took a break from her studies and joined us for a few hours of lunch and more site seeing (and dog walking/chatting):
After saying good bye to Vicky (and thank you for the nice little gifts she brought), we made it back to our boat zone and Ziggy and I walked down the mile via this little country road.
We were greeted on the dock by the shaking not-scary-but-rather-chilled Snowman and the wiggling and bending big bass…
It was about an hour before dark and we decided to undock and jump across the river/lake to a cove and anchor for the night. It was the right decision and an indulgent way to escape/heal/rejuvenate the emotions of Birmingham (and the country’s) past.
Nothing like a small college town (remember how fun Marrietta, Ohio was way back on Day 4 Sept 6?)
We’re spending 3 nights here (and maybe, hopefully, getting out of the pack of boats we were bound up with earlier in the week). So we’ve rented a car to tour around a bit. We remain in Mississippi (always fun to spell!!) which is why I wonder why the original founders of Columbus thought they were Alabamans?!?! Apparently it took a few decades for them to realize they were actually in Mississippi and then all sorts of legal petitions had to be done to get the mailing addresses and naming all straightened out.
Regardless of the state, glad we are in Columbus because it is notable for several things:
Here’s Friendship Cemetery (altho only white folks are buried here… not very in-line w/ it’s name.)
Here’s the cemetery for the African-Americans about a mile out of town:
Home of Henry Armstrong: First boxer to hold world championships in 3 different divisions at the same time
First public college for women (didn’t sound too southern of an idea to me….so maybe I need to re-think MY thoughts! Welll..unless the curriculum was limited to darning socks, etc) (it’s co-ed as of 1980’s, btw)
We actually ate out TWICE in one day! One of the good things about the boat is we don’t get stuck eating in icky restaurants and instead we get all our good salads, veggies and grilling every day…..but a college town usually has some pretty good spots and we were not disappointed!
We said goodbye to Florence midday. Really a great town with lots of things on the tourist calendar: from mega-golf to a storytelling extravaganza (and lots in between—including all that music!). After yesterday’s tourist extravaganza, here are a few parting shots:
We stopped at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame- very long list of successful and famous Alabamans in the music industry. And did you know the first Rock and Roll song was from here?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0mhgyTgxtw
Can’t forget Sam Phillips the Father of Rock and Roll (with Elvis, duh!):
So aside from being the birthplace of Rock and Roll, Florence is also the birthplace of W.C. Handy, Father of the Blues:
By now you know we’re in Florence, Alabama which is the reputed birthplace of the blues and just across the river from Muscle Shoals where many big names like the Rolling Stones, Cher, Aretha Franklin, The Osmonds, Little Richard and more recently, Alicia Keys have recorded hit songs. Literally hundreds of hits have been created with the mixing board above and it continues to be used.
The interesting thing about this river cruising is you can easily crossover from boating to land exploration at the drop of a hat. Today we rented a car and decided to do some touring. Nick agreed to good naturedly go with the flow and visit the spots of interest Barb wanted to see (seemed only fair since he’s playing golf on 2 of the four days we’re here!). First there was the dirt pile…..
Which was followed by a 20 minute drive to a rock pile…..
…and then a 45 minute drive to a cemetery on “Coon Hound Road”. 5 minutes into it, WAIT…Nick realized it was not A cemetery on Coon Hound Road, but a coon hound cemetery! Nick had been doing so well, but reached his limit and was not up for a long trip to a doggy cemetery specializing in coon hounds…famous ones, but dogs. Instead we went bypassed that one and continued on the route to some other cool spots celebrating the musical history of the area:
and at FAME:
the birthplace of Helen Keller (another famous local).
We also went to see the lions at University of Northern Alabama. It’s the only university with a live mascot living on campus. In this case it’s in an actual lion compound. (no lion picture as he wasn’t out!)
We’re starting this blog to facilitate sharing our latest adventure –the Attack of the Great Loop–with family, friends, and apparently strangers lurking on the internet (welcome, btw!). Out of the chute, it’s felt almost as nerve-wracking and strange as the locals must have felt as the Brits pressed in to their towns. But we’ll see how it goes and perhaps add other adventures on land too–hence the name of the blog! ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY SEA. (Well, technically anything involved with water will be under the “By Sea” category.) So tip of the hat to Longfellow for coining the phrase that we’ve picked for more trivial and fun communications than rebelling against taxation without representation.
For the current adventure, here’s the general map; however, we aren’t starting close to the main Loop route. The prologue to The Loop for us is to approach it via the Ohio River (beginning at The Point in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). Well, actually we started a few miles up river. (See Red Dot for starting point) Hope you check in often and enjoy the posts! xo
THE GREAT LOOP: Over 5000 miles long (depending on side-trips…did you say Cuba?….well, we DID say it ( as well as the Bahamas!)….but that will have to be another trip!)
MAP UPDATED:: SEPT 21,2017 !!!!!!
We started Sept 3, 2016, just North of Pittsburgh on the Red Dot with a 922 mile prelude/side trip down the Ohio River (all WHITE LINES ARE SIDE TRIPS! — ie NOT technically part of the Great Loop) to get to our official beginning start point on the Loop (Green Dot at Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, Kentucky). The GREEN LINE represents our Loop trip. In addition to the Ohio River prelude/side trip, other side trips (WHITE) were: A small leg up and back the Tennessee River to Florence, Alabama; leg up and back the Black Warrior River in Alabama past Tuscaloosa (and nearly to Birmingham); up and back the Potomac to Washington DC; and up and back the Sassafras River (at the north end of Chesapeake Bay). All DOTS (except the pink one at Chicago) represent times we’ve flown home for 10-18 days (one dot for flight home is missing–right about where the “S” is in the word “Severn” in northern Canada). As of September 20, 2017 we have traveled 7,827 miles and are a stone’s throw down a section of the Mississippi River and a turn toward the east) from completing our Loop back at the green dot (Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky!) [Any route marks that are not GREEN or WHITE are simply the possible routes of “The Great Loop.”]
UPDATE (10-19-16) The Second Leg: We left Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, Ky which is just east and south of Paducah on the map below (and marked w/ a big green oval dot on the map above). As of 10-19-16 we are at the top (north end) of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (in dark purple on the map) where it branches off of the Tennessee River (which flows downstream to Paducah/the Mississipii –hence we were going UPriver from Green Turtle Bay to the head of the Tenn-Tom Waterway…which will then be “DOWN-river”
UPDATE (9-19-16): THE OHIO RIVER: Which we have now completed as of Sept 15, 2016! 922.5 miles (We started just north of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River and we did NOT go that tiny little end knob section to the Mississippi River but rather turned left (aka east) (towards Nashville up the Cumberland River)
UPDATE: (5-15-2017) Chesapeake Bay Area. By the way, Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the USA….followed by Puget Sound, Washington.
UPDATE: JUNE 8, 2017:
At my request, Nick revised Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere with a little artistic freedom to fit us:
LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear Of the great boat trip that started this year, On the fourth of September, in 2016; Nick and Barb got on the Loop Knowing not what to fear.
Nick said to Barb, “When running the river Let’s look out for barges and whatever might be Keeping red buoys to right while not missing greens, Failure to do so will leave props obscene And we’ll finish the trip by land not by sea.
Passing through locks with nary a shiver Slowly but surely we’re learning the river. Bollards are watched and lines always kept free Passing through locks with nary a shiver Slowly but surely we’re learning the river.
For the original see: http://poetry.eserver.org/paul-revere.html or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4hUMQG3MI8 for a live reading and cool old prints