Sunday, March 23, 2014


For reasons I'm not going to go into but which aren't a huge mystery, I find myself in the Deep South. Birmingham, Alabama, to be precise. This is not a place I thought I'd ever find myself on purpose, yet here I am. I blame the vortex.

Landed on Wednesday the 5th, went out to dinner in a hipster area which could have been in Portland or Seattle or Brooklyn. Well, maybe not Brooklyn, but when I asked where the cupcake bakery was, since there had to be a cupcake bakery nearby, my date for the evening pointed down the street. On Thursday, we drove to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Atlantic is beautiful, there's no doubt about that, but Myrtle beach is a town full of strip malls and miniature golf. Seriously, I have never seen so many miniature golf courses in proximity to one another. The 7-hour drive from Birmingham to Myrtle Beach was as nondescript as could be (but the company was delightful). I wish I'd counted the number of Waffle Houses on the way; I'm guessing 25 but it could have been 100.
Myrtle Beach
Friday was spent working all day in a very nice hotel room with a view of the white sand and surf through the sliding door, but on Saturday there was a long and lovely walk on the beach. The spring breakers hadn't yet arrived in full force and the water was still way too chilly for swimming - I'm assuming... I didn't actually dip a toe in, but only a brave few kids were paddling in the surf and digging in the sand while plenty of adults were out sunning themselves. We went to dinner at a restaurant called Vintage 12 to celebrate a variety of things (vacations, the vortex...) and had a lovely meal.

crab cakes

rib eye

grunt fish (huh?) on a bed of grits (who knew I'd like grits?)

bread pudding with chocolate, caramel sauce, and ice cream
Sunday it rained relentlessly which totally foiled my plan to have a few cocktails and hit the mini-links.
Long stretch of Myrtle Beach, and a guest appearance by someone from a previous post.

So that was all a couple weeks ago.

I've spent this week in the suburbs of Birmingham. I don't think we actually made it into Birmingham proper (except for a on a little driving tour) but the suburbs - Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Hoover, and other surrounding neighborhoods were a lot less... je nais sais quoi (but whatever it was, it wasn't good) than I expected. In fact, aside from the proliferation of southeastern strip malls, the neighborhoods were perfectly nice. There was another long walk through a very cool stream-side woodland park (complete with resident owls) which ended with a stroll through an extremely swanky neighborhood which showcased some spectacular mid-century architecture, along with cute shops and nice restaurants a-plenty. So yeah, Birmingham.

 a trail in Jemison Park

Chez Lulu

cinnamon rolls from the Continental Bakery; I think they're deep fried; look out cronuts.
I liked the white-modern decor at Flip Burger

One of my new friends in Alabama; he ordered the Krispy Kreme milkshake (right);
it was dreadful.
The vanilla with Whoppers (left) was much better.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seriously, I'm not at Liberty to Say

fake Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas Hotel 

Photo courtesy of Gary
I went back to Vegas to give the vortex another chance to come through for me; this time, it totally did.

Chihully ceiling at the Bellagio

Photo courtesy of Gary