Brief road trips

Miss D. and I hit the road yesterday.  We spent the night in Birmingham, Alabama, about three hours south of Nashville, and we hope to be back home by tonight.

The main purpose of our trip was to see our buddy, Joe, who works as a gunsmith here.  We last met him at Blogorado in October, where I discussed some gunsmithing work with him.  Now it’s time to drop off the guns and let him work his magic on them.  He fixed one problem in two minutes while we waited, and four more firearms will receive his ministrations over the next few weeks and months.

We joined Joe for supper at what he tells us is the original or ‘starter’ branch of Jim ‘n Nicks Bar-B-Q, which appears to be something of a Birmingham institution.  The food was certainly worth the trip.  After a shared starter of the restaurant’s justly famous hot sausage links and deviled eggs, Miss D. managed to get the last cut of prime rib available that evening, while I enjoyed a plate of beef brisket and BBQ chicken, accompanied by potato salad and baked beans.  (It contained no calories or carbs, of course – holiday food never does, right?)  We shared a slice of lemon pie for dessert.

Sunday morning we’ll take a quick look at the Birmingham Zoo before heading for home.  We both enjoy animals, and a good zoo makes any city more interesting.  Joe assures us that the art museum is also worth a visit, so we’ll plan to see it in January when we come back to pick up some of the guns he’ll have completed by then.

Next week we’ll be making another road trip to Huntsville, Alabama, which was an early home to Dr. Wernher von Braun and his former Nazi rocket scientists when they were brought to the USA after World War II under Operation Paperclip.  It’s now the home of the US Space and Rocket Center, dedicated to the early history of the US space program culminating in the Apollo program and the moon landings.  I’m taking a scrapbook to the Museum to see if it interests them.

Back in 1969 I compiled a scrapbook in South Africa of the Apollo 11 mission and the first moon landing.  It was a pretty good school project (largely due to a lot of help from my late mother – most of the credit should be hers, I’m afraid!), and won a couple of prizes.  All these years later, while sorting out all our belongings in preparation for our forthcoming move to Texas, I found it at the bottom of a tin trunk I’d shipped across the Atlantic back in the late ’90’s.  I’ve no idea why I brought it with me, but for some reason I did.  I’ve no particular reason to keep it, but I remember the excitement and awe of that period in history, and the scrapbook’s a valued memento.

The Museum is interested in taking a look at it, because it provides a foreign perspective on the moon landings that adds a new dimension to the one familiar to most US citizens and residents.  (For example, I have an entire section dedicated to cartoons about the moon landing in South African newspapers, most of which are written or drawn from a very different cultural background to that of NASA or Huntsville.)  If the Museum finds it of value, they’ll add the scrapbook to their research collection.  I’d like to see it still of use to someone, rather than merely discarded with the rest of the detritus of my life at some future date.  We’ll see what they have to say when we take it down there.

Other than these quick road trips, it’s onward with the packing and sorting.  All being well, by the end of next month we’ll be in our new home.



  1. Oh come on! You CAN NOT just tell us about this Apollo 11 project and then not let us see it.

    I was on a camping trip with my family during the first landing.
    My Dad brought out his (big) portable radio and 10 or 15 people from neighboring campsites all gathered around to hear.

  2. I was deployed to Vietnam when the landing happened. While it happened on July 20th, it was July 21st where I was so I've always viewed the moon landing as NASA's birthday present to me.

  3. Hey Peter;

    You HAVE to hang out and check out the museum at Huntsville. It is actually very good. I remember a quote that Dr Von Braun said about the United States "I want to devote my future work to the progress and strength of Western Civilization and I consider the United States to be their bulwark." The trip is well worth it. Canaveral has it beat, but not by much.

  4. Sounds like you're running through a bucket list of locations within a day trip of Nashville before your emigration to the wilds of Texas.
    Hope your mission to Huntspatch turns out well and they give your school project the home it deserves.
    That would be Lemon Icebox pie, flaky crust, tart lemon filling, and meringue piled high on top. Just as God and all good southern cooks intended.

  5. The rocket park in Huntsville is pretty nice, though like many such things, the older they get the less nice they are. The new display area they've built to house their Saturn V is really well done, though, and worth the visit alone.

    Jim and Nick's is decent, but nothing special, as far as Birmingham BBQ goes; their menu diversity is greater than most of their competitors, though, and everything is pretty decent. Dr. Wife, who grew up in north AL, really like Bob Gibson's BBQ.

  6. When dad was in school at Redstone Arsenal back in the 80's, mom, my brother, and I joined him for the last week or so. I think we spent at least a couple of days at the museum at Marshall. That was back when you could take a tour bus out to the giant water tanks and watch the astronauts training. Last time we were there, they said they had to shut those down due to terrorist attack concerns.

  7. Huntsville Stuff –

    +1 for Larry's

    – BBQ – give Little Paul's BBQ a try (across the street from the Emergency room enterance @ HSV Hospital) […only emergency you might have is if you keep ordering & eatin'…]

    – FIL worked for WVB directly and has nothing but good things to say about the man.

    Enjoy your trip & visit.


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