Friday, March 19, 2010

2010 USA Tour : March 18th, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

JapanesegardensBald Rock

Though the morning was misty Claire and I were determined to walk the Bald Rock Trail at Cheaha State Park, as it was misty when we visited and camped last year. An hour later the mist started to rise and sun tried to break through. Our visit there was a moderate success. It was beautiful to see the trees growing out of the rocks like big bonsais. The view was largely overshadowed by the missed but there was a strong sense of height and wonder there.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Our adventure on Bald Rock delayed our leaving from Cheaha State Park and threatened our time for having lunch at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We made it to their Garden Cafe 10 minutes before their closing time at 2:00 pm .

The Cafe experience was incredible! So beautifully presented with classic tablecloths and silverware, lots of flowers, and an extreme ambient elegance. The staff are wonderful and the background music is classic Alabama blues.

Claire went for the bean soup of the day and a salad while I pitched for a bowl of sweet potato fries, a huge bowl which Claire shared, plus I had seafood over fried green tomatoes salad. The whole meal was so superb, and again low priced for us. Wonderful, wonderful.

After lunch it was at last a walk in the Japanese Gardens in warm sun, as during our last visit last year it was bitter wind and heavy rain showers.

The pool there was fascinating with the different huge fish of many colours and the turtles bobbing up their heads to stare at visitors or sunning themselves on the rocks.

An abundance of spring flowers greeted us everywhere and several trees and shrubs were in blossom. It was fun to use the big garden bell again with its relaxing hypnotic tone. The wind chimes at the gift shop stunned us too, all so perfectly tuned. If you bought three sets of wind chimes of different sizes they would be in tune with each other and play a wonderful tune in harmony through the wind. This experience was very two worldly.

Overall, a perfect visit and with our Bald Rock visit heading towards a perfect day.

To Louisiana

A long freeway drive was ahead of us, and a certainly late arrival at Jamie Haeuseur’s, our host and venue for tomorrow evening.

We had to shop for supplies, which we did at Piggly Wiggly’s, a store that is apparently owned and profited by the employees. Though large in selection this a good ol’ American diet store and very few brands and items within the modern health food and wholefood ranges. An excellent produce section, though, but surprisingly very expensive too. Prices often higher than in Ireland, and that’s the first of this we have discovered in the USA. We just had to shop at a Piggly Wiggly though.

Our journey, through Mississippi now, was at speed limit or below as it seemed that at every mile or two there was a hidden patrol car ready to pounce on speeders. To afford to pay for so many police officers it seems they have to catch an incredible number of speeders. Sure enough someone was pulled in, every mile or two, surrounded by blue lights being recruited to pay a speeding fine of between $100 to $200. I suspect every patrol officer rakes in at least $500 per hour for the department. Its a huge business here.

A stop to fill up on gasoline slowed us down too, but we needed to fill as the night ahead would be powered by our on board generator rather than a hook up, and the night did get surprisingly cold.

We arrived at Jamie and Bob’s at around 11:00 pm. It was brief “hello’s” as Jamie had to be in bed ready for a 5:00 am awaking to get to her work. It was very kind for her to stay up to greet us in Louisiana.


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