Monday, March 10, 2014

The Marturello's Go to Birmingham

     It's a three hour trip from Dothan to Birmingham.  It sounds daunting, but we're learning that in the South, anything under 6 is totally do-able and for most natives, considered a relatively short distance.  The van was loaded with the usual road-trip items.  Pillows, goldfish crackers, and a good audio book.  The choice of our book was obvious. "The Watson's Go to Birmingham-1963".

     There's a lot to see and do in Birmingham.   It's a city I'd never thought about visiting until we moved to Alabama.  As we made our way north, Dean commented on just how much history we were driving through.  Cities like Selma, Montgomery, Cahaba, all places we'd heard about so many times in our high school  U.S. history classes, but never dreamed we'd be traveling through.

   We had an itinerary, sort of.  Kind of like the Watson's in the story, we started out and stopped when we wanted to see something or needed a potty break.  First on the list was swimming at the hotel pool.

The next morning we made time for a quick stop at the LEGO Store.  Someone's birthday money was burning a hole in their pocket...

     As we headed downtown Dean and I were trying to decide whether or not to visit the Civil Right's memorials.  The subject matter is heavy and serious, and we weren't sure whether it fit in on this trip, but the Watson's in our story had just made it to Birmingham and we knew what was coming up, so we made a quick detour at the 16th street Baptist Church.

     I'm ashamed to say I had forgotten the specifics about what happened in Birmingham in 1963.  We were frantically researching on our phones as we drove to the church so we would be able to explain things to the boys.  In the end, we chose to read the markers as we walked around the park and the church.  There's a beautiful statue of the four girls who were killed in the bombing.

The "Four Spirits" sculpture in Kelly Ingram Park is a memorial for the four little girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Source: Melynda Sides/WBRC
     Also, a statue that forces you to walk through ferocious police dogs.  Even at 5 and 8, Ben and Alan grasped the specialness and seriousness of what had happened here.  Ben's one and only question, "why?"  It's a good question and one that has a lot of answers, unfortunately none of them are really good or easy.

     Our next stop was just around the corner.   The McWane Science Center.

An elevated weighted tight-rope bike.  The only thing keeping you from tipping was your own center of gravity and a HUGE weight at the bottom

Mom's turn...

A bed of nails

We made our own robots

"hey mom, it's very wind-ing"

     And last, but not least, a quick run by the temple.  No one believed me when I told them how tiny it was, but Dean couldn't get over the realization that the Stake Center next to it is double the size.  Tiny, but we're so blessed to have one relatively close.  Now if only we could justify a sitter for the 12 hour round trip for a session.  A very dear friend once told me they go to the temple with their little ones just to see it and walk around it so that they know it's important.  We took the extra time to cross Birmingham and see the spire and I heard Alan humming "I Love to See the Temple" as we drove away. Definitely worth the extra mileage.

     The spire all but disappeared in our selfie, but we know it's there and it started a good conversation about forever families, and sealings, and our future.

      Road trips...fighting over whose turn it is to sit where, goldfish crumbs, a van that smells like french fries, pillow fights, singing, whining, traffic, "are we there yet?", and best of all, memories.   We'll keep loading up the van, and checking out new audio books, and knock out a few more places on our Southern Bucket List.


  1. I love the swim goggles! yeah for road trips!

  2. That is definitely a great road trip.