Huntsville & Birmingham (Alabama Trip)

Last weekend (July 29-30, 2006) we went to Huntsville and Birmingham in Alabama, which is a neighboring state to Tennessee. The roads were quite scenic and the sites spectacular. In Huntsville, we saw the US Space and Rocket Center where as in Birmingham; we canoed and hiked trails in Oak Mountain State Park. All this was done at a very leisurely pace and with lots of time to enjoy food and dining of international kind. In Huntsville, Sitar (Indian Restaurant) fed us great dinner whereas in Birmingham, we enjoyed poha at Shruti's home (made by her) and Caribbean flavored food and drinks (Ultimate Piña Colada) at Bahama Breeze.

The drive was scenic all the way. Chattanooga to Huntsville took about 2 hours on I-75/I-24/US-72. Huntsville to Birmingham was about 1.5 hours on I-565/I-65. Birmingham to Chattanooga was the relatively mundane 2.5-3.0 hour drive on I-59/I-24/I-75. The roads in Alabama, specially in I-59 were in horrible condition, but the greenery and other scenery made up for all of the deficiencies.

Birmingham was exciting to be in. We shopped at the Summit mall and stayed on Highland Ave near downtown. The Oak Mountain State Park, just outside the city provided lots of recreational opportunities within half an hours driving distance. We canoed (simple boat with hand paddles) in a lake and later walked a trail (Peavine Trail) to the a waterfall (which was quite depleted at this time due to droughts in the area).

Shruti lives and works in B'ham and was a great host. She came to Huntsville's US Space and Rocket Center to accompany us and that was fun. The Space Center has fascinating displays of NASA projects, some real, some replicas. The size of Saturn V rocket is shockingly big when you get so close to it. The IMAX dome movie about Roving on Mars was inspiring. The Dome shaped theatre reminded me of the Nehru Planetarium experience in Worli (Mumbai). I had never seen IMAX movie in a dome shaped theatre before, that was really good.

Now we are back to life in Chattanooga. Looking forward to next weekend when we will hit the road again. This time it will be to Cincinnati and Detroit. More when that happens.