On the second to last day of vacation my mom and I headed to Birmingham, about an hour from Jasper. Our plan to go to Birmingham stemmed from the the desire to tour the potato chip factory: Golden Flake.
I had never heard of Golden Flake, but it truly is "The South's Original Potato Chip." I saw Golden Flake products in every convenience and grocery store in the South. We even had Golden Flake tortilla chips with guacamolly's guacamole!
The tour was awesome, but way different than I expected. First off, my mom and I were the only ones on the tour. Secondly, the tour guide was not a nice women, especially at first. She acted like we committed a crime by being interested in the company. Third, although my mom and I were wearing very similar outfits (I had on shorts and a tank top, my mom had on a short skirt and a t-shirt), the tour guide insisted that I was too exposed (note: there is nothing on the website about dress code). So, the tour guide went to the office and came back with an extra large Golden Flake polo and a pair of men's chinos from the 90s. Unfortunately they don't allow phones or cameras in the factory so we couldn't get a photo of my wonderfully attractive ensemble.
So far the tour sounds fairly miserable, right? Well, it got better as it went on. Apart from starting the tour nearly 30 minutes later than scheduled, the factory was really interesting! From what we saw and heard, Golden Flake treats their employees really well, has a great history, uses simple, fresh ingredients and uses sustainable practices. For example, the potato chips, their bread and butter, are produced in a way that nearly nothing goes to waste; the bad/ugly potatoes are sold to pig farmers and the starch is sold to other companies for many different uses.
One of the highlights of the tour: eating a warm cheese puff. Maybe it's just me, but I feel as if eating a cheese puff straight from the fryer is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not an earth-shattering opportunity, but neat for sure.
After Golden Flake, we got our culture on. We went to the Birmingham Art Museum and did the Civil Rights Walking Tour.
The Civil Rights tour was definitely eye-opening. It's hard to image that only 50 years ago there was so much unnecessary hate and violence in the world. The statue below is commemorating the 4 young girls who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963.
After all the tours we worked up an appetite. We headed to Moe's Original BBQ, a famous spot in Birmingham. I went for the pulled pork with baked beans and macaroni and cheese. My mom went with the barbecue wings. We both went with the bushwhackers. Remember those from Part 1 at Tooties?! These bushwhackers were even better because they were only $3 versus $10 in Panama City Beach!
The food definitely lived up to the hype. It was classic, no frills barbecue with fresh, tender meat and amazing sauces.
After lunch we headed to an awesome wholesale home furnishing/improvement store. It was such a cool place! They had tons of different furniture pieces, decorative items, tile and fixtures, rugs and so much more all for a very affordable price!
I told my mom that when I buy a house I'm going to fly to Birmingham, rent a U-haul, fill it with salvaged goodies and drive it all back to Portland.
Although I wanted to take home half the store, I ended up only having room in my suitcase for a little wood try (bottom right). It's on my kitchen table right now as a catch-all for keys, sunglasses and coins.
After the salvage store we walked around Birmingham's Railroad Park. We woke up a sleeping man on a bench to get this photo.
At one end of the park there was a group of women gathered around for a Zumba fitness class. We ended up joining in for the first half -- flip flops and all!
After all that Zumba-ing we needed to quench our thirst. We checked out two, well-known breweries in Birmingham: Avondale and Good People. At Avondale I had one their special IPAs. It was really great!
Operating a brewery in Alabama comes with a lot of rules and regulations. The bartender at Avondale was telling us that recent law changes have made it a bit easier than in the past, but it still seemed incredible strict to me. Until recently, it was even illegal to brew your own beer at home.
Good People was an awesome space: It was a large warehouse where you could see the entire brewery operation to the right of the bar. They also had cornhole outside and a stage with live music. My mom and I planned on staying for one beer, but I think we had two or three before we decided to head back to Jasper.
The next morning I left the South on an airplane headed west.
Our Southern Adventure couldn't have been better. The food was comforting and delicious, the drinks were cold and the people were some of the friendliest folk I've ever met. I can't wait to visit again soon!