Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Bama Bound and Babe Business in Birmingham

Today I was on a mission to get to Mini Birmingham. I needed to extend my maintenance agreement soon or my oil changes, air filter and the like would no longer be 'free'.  I would have just paid the fee to Seattle Mini, but my representative there told me I had to go in physically because they needed to scan my key.

Well, that wouldn't be possible, considering I wasn't planning to be home for months, and I was about to go over the maximum 36,000 on the basic maintenance agreement. So I started contacting Mini dealers and giving them my situation and my schedule to see if i could come up with a match.

And, on a whim, I also decided to make a bee-line for the Mini Dealership in Birmingham, where I was staying that night, and seeing if someone could squeeze me in without an appointment.

US-98, FL-85, US-331, US-31, I-65, I-459
Fortunately, it was doable. The guy was busy with someone, but that gave me some time to feed River his dinner out on the lawn while he finished up. And then I got my turn. He ended up telling me that he didn't even need to scan my key. If I had elected to upgrade to the full warranty, then he'd need to scan it, but just to extend the maintenance, he only needed the mileage.

So we think that Kayle, from Seattle Mini, told me a fib so that I'd go in and she could upsell me the warranty. But what ended up happening was it cost her the commission for the sale, since I was forced to look elsewhere. Thank you Gareth at BMW of Birmingham. (BMW owns Mini).

Destin, Florida, where I was yesterday, was calling itself "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village" which is cool. I also passed through a town today called Lucerne, AL, which, according to the sign is "The Friendliest Town in the South."  It was a superlative day.

I took mostly farm roads and there wasn't much of note. I wasn't really motivated to take any pictures, except on one road that was shaded by the big trees lining it on either side. It was a nice break from the relentless  sunshine, but I don't think it would have photographed well. My phone was in my bag, anyway, and I didn't feel like fishing it out.

If I were to give each state I've been in recently a driving quirk, I'd say:
Florida - Speeding and Tailgating
Mississippi - Talking on Cell Phone and Driving 10MPH below the flow of traffic
Alabama - Household Pet Road Kill

Yesterday, I was in Alabama for only a couple of hours at the most and I saw a dead dog and two dead cats on the side of the road.  Today, I saw another squashed cat. I almost never see household pets, though I do see my fair share of road kill on my travels.

The thought entered my head today.  Why do we have to add a "U" after "Q"? It makes no sense to have a letter than needs another letter to appear with it every single time. Why not just make the Q into a letter that doens't require a U. If it's required every time, then it's pointless. And what happens if you don't use the U? Qite a perplexing qestion.

I only stopped once, to give River a pee break and to stretch our legs at a Rest Area off US-331, just north of the Florida/Alabama state line.  And on my way from the Mini dealer to the motel, I stopped to get gas in Bessemer.

Bessemer is a suburb of Birmingham, and might be the saddest place I've ever visited. Entire shopping centers of vacant stores. And the signs indicate that the stores that couldn't survive were pawn shops and dollar stores. I don't think I've ever seen more vacant buildings than I've seen since entering Alabama. Lucerne, that friendly town, had a store that was out of business with a sign in the window saying, "This Sign is For Sale".

When I pulled into the Motel 6, or what I thought was going to be the Motel 6, I found myself in a private condominium driveway.  So I turned around and noticed another car pulling in as I pulled out. I got back on the street and took the next driveway instead.  I could see the sign, and my navigation had told me to turn, so I was a bit confused. The second driveway I pulled into seemed to be a vacant lot. I stopped and took this picture of the elusive Motel 6 from this parking lot.
Not Motel 6; a school. 

As I was driving out, a fellow stepped out of one the bungalows and asked "can I help you?" I told him I was looking for Motel 6 and he pointed to the obvious sign. "It's right there." I laughed,
"Yes, but I can't find the driveway, I thought this was it." I was actually surprised to see a human being. I thought maybe he was a homeless squatter.  "No, this is a school." he said to my surprise. I thought, really?  With all the grass growing through the cracks in the asphalt? I thought no one had been here in years.
Anyway, I kept it cool and he gave me extensive directions, which basically amounted to telling me it was the next driveway, just passed the closed down bank. "But you can still see the sign so you'll know it's a bank. "

As I pulled out of the "school" I saw that same car that had followed me into the condo. He had stopped in the driveway of the school and was talking on his phone, gesturing toward the monolithic Motel 6 sign that seemed unreachable. I almost called out to him, "follow me!" but I figured he'd find it, since it was just the next driveway.

 I got back to the motel room and found a BBQ place that got decent reviews on Yelp. I have been having good luck simply asking Siri, "What's the best BBQ place around here?" And he answers with one selection. I usually end up going there. Today was no exception. And the BBQ must be slim pickin's around here because it was not good. It didn't warrant the high marks, in my opinion. I wrote about it in more detail on my Burger and BBQ blog, but I will say this here: I am not a fan of food that makes my hands messy. Just a qirk of mine, I guess. This is why I almost never get ribs, and had I known the combo platter included both ribs and fried chicken, I might have gone a different direction.

Another peeve of mine, which is weird, considering my lifestyle. I usually don't like eating outside. If the sun is directly on me, I hate it. If there are bugs, I'm annoyed. I don't like wind blowing things into my food or blowing my napkin away. I don't like eating near traffic, a la sidewalk cafe, or near pedestrians for that matter. I don't like to eat where it's very noisy, and I dislike eating in dark, shadowy places where I can't see my food. I don't like having the TV on while I eat, but I don't mind soft, peaceful music. I'm not fussy.



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