While we were waiting out the rain peacefully in a cafe in Nashville, we talked about how close we were to other states. If you’ve been following us for a while, you know 1. We love traveling (of course!) 2. We’re trying to cross off at least 30 states by the time Amanda turns 30. We can only cross off the state if both of us have been to that state (even at separate times).
Amanda had been to Russellville, Alabama for a missions trip a few years back, but Matt had yet to experience the Deep South in such a way. Birmingham was only a two and a half hour drive from Nashville, so we decided we’d dip down on our drive back to Ohio so we could see what life is like there and cross the state off our list!
We had originally made plans to go to a free yoga class at Railroad Park, but when we arrived it started to rain. All we saw of the class was sweaty people smiling at each other with their mats rolled, walking back to their vehicles. We decided we’d get out anyway and see what the park was like. We ran into dog trainers, trick skaters (and one almost trick rollerblader), and families out for the evening trying to enjoy the outdoors.
While we love people watching, this wasn’t really the experience we were hoping for in Alabama. We wanted to talk to people, to hear them and listen to what they say and how they talk, what things they think are important.
Because our time was running out and we didn’t have lodging planned, we decided to go for dinner and see what kinds of culture we could pick up there. We drove 15 minutes across town (Birmingham is spread out way more than we anticipated) to Milo’s, an Alabama fast food joint. Right when we pulled in to the parking lot, Amanda remembered a BBQ joint she read about—15 minutes across town, right where we just were. Thankfully, Matt had a laugh about it and we were on our way!
That BBQ joint turned out to be the best decision we made in Alabama.
As we walked up to the door, there was a police officer on the phone. He looked at us and said, “Hey y’all,” and held the door for us. Good sign #1.
Have you ever had something placed in front of you and you think to yourself, “What do I do with this?” That’s 100% what happened when our server came out with two empty styrofoam plates and one styrofoam plate with four slices of white bread and two full styrofoam cups of BBQ sauce on our table.
We looked at each other and had a serious of words along the lines of: what? Appetizer? What do we do with this? We decided it could be an appetizer of sorts, like breadsticks at an Italian restaurant, where they just bring it out by default. We tore one of the slices of bread and dipped it in the BBQ sauce (can you tell what we were actually supposed to do with it?) . Cultural experience where there’s a possibility of doing it wrong: good sign #2.
Our server was an amazing gentleman, one who was attentive and kind and stopped for extended periods at people’s tables just to chat with them. As we talked with him, we learned he was from Kenya and moved to the south a decade or so ago and never looked back. His observations about the south were humorous but respectful, and he asked us about Ohio and what we thought of OSU football and our southern experience.
The service was surprisingly fast for what we had expected, and our BBQ sandwiches (and slaw and Mac and cheese) were DELICIOUS. Amanda also got sweet tea, which did not disappoint! If we’re ever down this far south again, we’ll be sure to stop by Dreamland BBQ.
We started our ten and a half hour drive back up to Ohio and took a short sleep/extended nap in Kentucky…who needs formal lodging anyway? 😉