Friday, July 23, 2010

My Bonnie lies over the ocean

We are at the Elks lodge in Birmingham, Alabama (map). We have not seen a soul since we arrived yesterday afternoon; the lodge has limited hours, and the property, while large, is rather run down.

We had a nice stay in Huntsville, and we ended up extending our stay there at Monte Sano State Park until yesterday morning. I managed to get several errands done, including topping up the reserve oil reservoir and changing the engine air filter. We also had a nice dinner with the parents of one of our close friends from California, who live in town.

We never made it to our club there, because they are in the process of moving from their downtown location to a new facility out at one of these newfangled mixed-use malls called The Bridge Street. They're closed until September, so we'll have to catch them on our next visit. We did end up eating right next door to the old downtown facility, at a place called The Chophouse. It was quite nice.

We enjoyed riding our scooters around Huntsville. One thing we noticed right away is that it is a good ten degrees cooler at the park, which is not only heavily wooded, but also about 1,000' higher in elevation than most of the town. We never did make it to the space center; after I learned that you can't actually see any of the Marshall Space Flight Center, I lost interest. I've already seen two real Saturn-V rockets, so seeing either a standing mock-up or a set of test stages was not reason enough to brave the heat or the crowds. The fact that the place sports both a drop-tower amusement ride and an exhibit on Star Wars (the movie, not the missile defense system) speaks to the highly commercialized nature of modern science museums, and I prefer old school.

Last night we had a nice dinner at the Summit Club here in Birmingham, with a panoramic view of the city. But we have been eying the tropical system in the Caribbean that started out as Investigation Area 97, had morphed into Tropical Depression 3 by yesterday morning, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Bonnie by the time we arrived here. Before we left Huntsville the Disaster Operations Center called us to check on our status.

Although we had planned to leave here this morning for Montgomery, where we have more dinner reservations, we've been holding here in case we were sent to Baton Rouge, rendering Montgomery a bit out of the way. Bonnie unexpectedly sped up this morning, however, meaning it will not have as much chance to intensify over the gulf, and we are not being sent anywhere, as yet.

Absent direction to go to Baton Rouge, we will resume our plan to continue to Montgomery today. The Red Cross has a "hot site" there and we will check in on that facility while we are in town, which means we'll need to be there early enough this afternoon to pick up the key at the chapter.

With any luck, Bonnie will fizzle out to mostly a non-event, although I am afraid on the current track that it will churn up a lot of the spilled oil from the Deepwater Horizon.

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