When that open road starts to callin’ me…there’s somethin o’er the hill that I gotta see
It was a long drive into Birmingham, Alabama. After hours of being snug between rolling green acres with the occasional billboard, sometimes a city comes out of the night and disorients you. Birmingham was faster than I expected. I slept in and slept off my highway stupor and needed a good breakfast to fuel me for the long day of sites and sounds. Luckily there is Golden Temple Natural Grocery & Cafe, the area’s only all-vegetarian cafe inside a limited natural foods grocer. The cafe opens at 11 a.m., which left me some time to browse the arsenal of Wiccan Goddess supplies in the shop.
I tried not to bum-rush the cafe counter at 11 a.m. but I did–just like I did yesterday at Loblolly Creamery. I was elated to see they had a batch of vegan cupcakes freshly made for me to eat. They were supposed to be Red Velvet but the baker had some struggles with beet juice coloring. This she told me as I waited for my juice order. Yes, a cupcake and some fresh-pressed juice. I told you I dance on the poles.
I thought the cupcake was quite good. The texture was very soft. My eager chompers melted through the cake easily. Pretty good, Birmingham!
Oh, what’s that? Lunch happens immediately after breakfast on the road? Sure. I headed to Bottletree Cafe, an adorable cafe/bar/venue that is covered wall-to-wall in the most impressive display of vintage kitsch delights. It reminded me of my teenage bedroom, a treasure trove of thrift-shopped bric-a-brac. Or like Loves Saves the Day in NYC’sEast Village in the 90’s. When I arrived Star Wars was playing on the huge projector screen. I would have loved to eat lunch watching Luke Jedi-train in the Dagobah system, but the lighting would be horrible for pictures.
I came to Bottletree for their vegan wrap option–the Tofu Thai Wrap. Battered and fried strips of tofu, splashed with a sweet chili garlic sauce, sprinkled with chopped red onion and packaged with shredded lettuce, shaved carrot and cilantro. It really hit the spot- sweet, heat, and fried spots to be specific.
Look at this outstanding dense tofu all stark white. And a side of quinoa!
After my morning in Birmingham, the plan was to stop in Montgomery. There were a few food options I wanted to check out, and a few roadside attractions. Two of which had to do with Hank Williams. But the drive to Montgomery was mostly dark grey. With most of the trip to Mobile being alongside these fickle rainy fits, I thought I’d press on south on the Hank Williams Memorial Lost Highway with Hank Williams on the speakers instead.
In and out of heavy downpours, I managed a few scenic stops, one at a fill-up in Clanton when this huge peach caught my eye…
And another in Prattville to see W.C. Rice’s Cross Garden.
This reminds me of the Buddhist hells I visited in Thailand.
“Hell is Hot, Hot, Hot” was all over the place. On ovens…
and old air conditioners…
On pretty much everything.
After Hank Williams on repeat, I was happy to have the chance to stop at his childhood home in Georgiana, Alabama. The home is now a museum, which was closed when I got there unfortunately.
I was happy I was able to see it.
My final stop for the day was in Mobile at the Mellow Mushroom, a “funky” pizza chain with locations all about the south. The place was packed with University kids and yuppy middle aged men in in Denali vests. A bad scene all around. I order a tofu, tempeh, basil, tomato and artichoke calzone to go and made a b-line to Gulfport, Mississippi to settle in for my last night down south.
Goodnight, Mississippi! See you in the morning.