Running in Birmingham

Running is a sport for everyone. It’s a sport that becomes more popular every year, especially living in a city like Birmingham. Throughout the city, there are so many options of beautiful places to spend your time on the trails.

  • Lakeshore Trail: Located in Homewood along Lakeshore Parkway. This paved trail offers 2.5 miles of flat, paved surface without any worry of motor vehicles.

  • Vulcan Trail: Located at Richard Arrington Blvd (near Vulcan Park), Birmingham and 11th Place South. The mile-long trail scales the ridge of 1,025 ft. Red Mountain. The south side runs below 10-acre Vulcan Park

  • Jemison Park: Located in Mountain Brook. This 3 mile trial takes you through the hills and trees of Mountain Brook.

  • Rotary Trail: Located in Downtown Birmingham. This trail ends at Railroad Park and Sloss Furnace. Enjoy running through downtown on the concrete trail underneath the 46-foot sign that reads “Rotary Trail in the Magic City.”

Runners dream big and tackle new distances. They become morning people and make it a routine. One of these trails becomes their friendly southern neighbor. Try something new, go on a run and try out one of Birmingham’s scenic trails.

Birmingham the Beautiful

Take a drive in downtown Birmingham and you will experience a vibrant city full of hard-working individuals. There is growth on every corner, like the newly renovated Pizitz building that consists of over 15 food compartments, Sidewalk Film Festival and several shopping options as well as condominium living upstairs.

While there is growth, there is also tradition like the “It’s nice to have you in Birmingham” sign outside John’s City Diner.

Take a walk down any street in the Historical District and you’ll find a new appreciation for this city with every step you take. With the old, there is also new. Take the new home of the Birmingham Barons, Region Field.

Summer mornings are spent doing yoga at Railroad Park, afternoons hiking at Red Mountain Park and nights are spent at Regions Field cheering on the Birmingham Barons.

Whether young or old, this city has something for everyone at every walk of life.

Look out because Birmingham is quickly growing into a must-see destination!

 

 

 

These movies were filmed in Alabama. Are they on your watchlist?

From “Selma” to “Sweet Home Alabama,” there’s a wealth of movies that Alabamians can boast were filmed in their home state. However, some viewer favorites were filmed closer than you think, and you might not even know it. Check out these three blockbusters that you might not have realized were filmed in Alabama.

  1. The Final Destination or Final Destination 4 : The opening crash sequence of this horror movie was filmed at Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, Alabama.
  2. 42: The 2013 release starred Chadwick Boseman, who gave a powerful portrayal of Jackie Robinson. This movie was partially filmed at Rickwood Field in Birmingham.
  3. Friday the 13th Part VII: This 1988 horror film starred Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhies. It used Byrne’s Lake in Stockton to film.

Directionally Challenged

If you were to ask my sweet, sweet girlfriend, Tori, for one of my biggest flaws, she would undoubtedly tell you that I am directionally challenged. And she would be absolutely correct. So much so, that when I first started driving I needed a GPS to find my house even when I was in my own neighborhood. So I don’t know why I thought that hiking a trail marked “most strenuous” without a map was a good idea, but nevertheless I did.

Leading up to the hike, I was very proud of the day I had planned for us. We were supposed to go on a 5-mile trek over the Black Balsam Bald near Asheville, North Carolina, and then head down into Asheville for dinner. She had no idea of our plans, and I jokingly said on the ride up, “Don’t worry, today will have enough excitement for today and tomorrow.” I had no idea how true this statement would turn out to be.

It was an amazing day for a hike, and I was so thankful to be able to take in the Lord’s wonderful creation with Tori. We did our devotional together on top of the Tennent Mountain, and we talked about surrendering our lives/relationship fully to the Lord. We discussed how this can be difficult and, as our devotional put it, that “surrender goes against every fiber of our being.” However, when we do surrender to Him we experience peace and joy, and our relationships are truly more secure because they are rooted in God.

It was a great devotional, but we had no idea how real all that we had discussed would become in a few, short hours.

Around 4 p.m., after we had hiked a little over four miles, we came to the end of the Art Loeb trail, which I thought was a loop. This is when the problems started appearing. The loop was nowhere to be found, and we were left guessing which way to go. I quickly realized that I did not do enough research on the trail we were hiking because I had no idea which way we were supposed to go at this point. All we knew was that we didn’t want to turn back and hike four more miles to get out. So, we decided to embark on a trail that we thought might lead us back to our car.

Bad idea.

I always thought that getting lost in the mountains with minimal water, dying phones and without flashlights would never happen to me, but indeed here we were. We realized we did not know where we were so we would take trails that we thought would lead us back to the parking lot, but that never happened.

A few hours earlier, we had joked about getting lost in the woods and having to spend the night out there. Now it was a real possibility, and we were definitely unprepared for that. We started praying that the Lord would lead us out.

Tori was ready to be back in the car, and I felt like an idiot for getting us lost in the woods. We were asking ourselves, as Taylor Swift says, “Are we out of the woods yet?” around every bend. The answer was “no” every single time.

Now it was dark, and we were no closer to being on the right trail. I began praying that the Lord would supernaturally direct us. I did not have any idea what that was going to look like, but I knew we needed direction. We were completely lost, and without Him we were not going to find our way out that night. Sounds a lot like our need for a Savior, doesn’t it?

Fork in the road

In this moment of prayer we came to a fork in the road. We decided to go straight, which was actually the wrong choice. However, we walked a little ways and literally stumbled upon two people camping for the night. They asked if we were okay, and I had to swallow my pride and admit that we were most certainly not okay.

They were able to refill our empty water bottle, give us headlamps and point us in the right direction thanks to their maps. Finally, we were headed on the right path.

At this point, Tori was extremely frustrated with me, rightfully so, because I got us into this mess. This was definitely the biggest trial that we had faced thus far in our almost-six-month relationship. I hated that I had gotten us in this mess, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the faithfulness of the Lord and how He always provides for us. He literally was the lamp unto our feet and light unto our steps on this night.

The Father’s presence was so real to us. I kept telling Tori how crazy it was that we tried to find our own way and only got more lost, but in those moments of complete cluelessness the Lord provided for all our needs. We might have skipped church to go hiking, but we definitely got our dose of church and learned so much about how amazing our God truly is.

It was through recognizing this truth about the Lord — and many, many apologies on my part — that Tori and I were able to reconcile. I was so thankful for the reconciliation. I figured that since we had made up we could enjoy the millions of stars we saw as we hiked back.

All of the happiness of making up and awe of the stars vanished in an instant when we saw four glowing lights floating on the trail in front of us. They were not stars, but four eyes staring directly at us. The eyes were silver, which we later learned, is common among wolves. My prayer in life is to have a heart like David, but I did not mean that I wanted to kill predators with a slingshot, or in my case, a tiny, hiking knife. Again, the Lord was watching out for us, and the wolves disappeared into the thicket.

At this point in our hike we still had about an hour and a half of hiking left to do. That was definitely the most uneasy hour of hiking I have ever done in my life. We spent the rest of the hike yelling in hopes that the animals would leave us alone, which they did. During this time we were hiking through the valleys of the mountains in thicket that rose above our heads. Every step was not a matter of life and death, but it was a very real reminder that the Lord does watch over us in the valley of the shadows of death.

We made it through the thicket and over the balds and the trail started to look more and more familiar. Then, as we walked through the trees we could see the road; we had made it out of the forest!

We still had to walk a mile down the pitch-black road to our car, which was nerve-racking in itself, thanks to the heckling campers we passed just as we were exiting the woods.

Thankfully though, nine hours and over 15 miles later, we reached the car.

Never in my life have I been more excited about Taco Bell and getting stuck at red lights as I was when we made it down the mountain and into Ashville.

Looking back, that hike certainly produced copious amounts of tears and basically every emotion in the books. However, it also gave me a deeper understanding and thankfulness for the Lord as my provider, and encouragement for my relationship with the always-forgiving Tori Stoenica. Because if we can remain rooted in the Lord during our trials like the ones we faced on the hike, than our relationship will continue to head in the right direction.

Finally, in life, when we remain fully dependent on our Heavenly Father, we can have full confidence that He will always lead us on the right path; it doesn’t matter how directionally challenged we might be.

 

There’s No Place Like: Pelham

Blue Water Park
Blue Water Park is an escape from the heat of central Alabama on a sunny afternoon without driving hours to the coast. The company that used to be Dive Alabama offers scuba diving training as well as rentals for kayaks and paddleboards. Classes are offered throughout the year for all skill levels, ranging from beginners to experienced divers.

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Oak Mountain State Park
Oak Mountain State Park provides a range of activities for people of all ages and activity levels to enjoy. Hiking and mountain biking trails are the most popular ventures in the park, where you can find waterfalls and scenic views. There are also spaces for camping, fishing and picnics. The state park also offers a cable water playground where you can show off wakeboard tricks as you weave through obstacles in the water.

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Pelham Civic Center
During the winter, the Pelham Civic Complex is a favorite gathering place for ice skating. If you’re not skating-inclined, then the ice arena also offers broomball, a cross between quidditch and hockey. The arena is open year-round for these activities as well as training classes, hockey, and figure skating.

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Oak Mountain Emporium
If you’re looking for a less active afternoon, stop by Oak Mountain Emporium. The antique and collectibles shop features items from 40 area dealers, varying from décor and glassware to chandeliers and porcelain. And just for fun- see how many bird items you can count!

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Hungry? Get a Taste of Homewood

On Thursday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m., all of your favorite Homewood eateries will come together for the 16th annual “Taste of Homewood”.

Hosted by the Homewood Chamber of Commerce and presented by the Homewood Star, 30 Homewood restaurants are gathering in Rosewood Hall to provide food and drink samples to the over 400 hungry patrons they expect to host. New restaurants to the vendor lineup include biscuit specialist Holler & Dash, to-go caterer Lunchbox Express and seafood chain The Shrimp Basket.

Each restaurant will give eaters a glimpse into their cuisines, encouraging them to return for a meal and explore other areas of Homewood. Allen Barlow will provide acoustic music for guests to enjoy while dining and socializing.

To encourage socialization, Homewood Chamber of Commerce communications manager Sarah Anne Elliott suggests using the hashtag #tasteofhomewood on social media posts throughout the night.

“This year we are encouraging attendees to use the hashtag #tasteofhomewood to post on social media and be entered to win a Shop Homewood Instagift gift card and the chance for their photo to be featured in the marketing of next year’s event,” Elliott said. Entries will be taken from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tickets are $30 until the day of the event, when they will increase to $40 at the door. The proceeds go to Chamber of Commerce scholarships and Homewood community development. Brings the kids, too! Children under six enter free.

Interested in visiting one of the featured restaurants ahead of time or stopping for a full meal following the event? Click on the map below to explore the locations of your tasty options.

 

There’s No Place Like Vestavia Hills

Vestavia Hills boasts many simple and natural attractions that will keep both your mind and body active.

Library in the Forest
Wall-scaling windows and colorful leaves invite visitors to take a seat and stay awhile. Located on Highway 31, the Library in the Forest is an urban oasis where anyone can get lost in their imagination or relive history. The public library has thousands of books for visitors to choose from as well as multiple events throughout the week for people of all ages to attend, including 3D printing classes, children’s story times and family yoga.

Klingler’s Café
It’s almost like you’ve jumped the pond and been transported to the world’s oldest region as soon as you enter Klingler’s Café. This local breakfast and lunch restaurant carries European bakery items in addition to their full menu that offers a twist on classic breakfast items. From big breakfast platters and buttery grits bowls to fluffy pancakes and omelets, the small business is packed every time you walk in.

Wald Park
Beautiful afternoons beckon for you, family, and friends to enjoy your time outside, and Wald Park’s facilities allow for all types of activities: playgrounds, baseball fields, a swimming pool and a giant walking loop. With something for everyone to do, it’s easy to get out and get active together.

Shades Crest Road
The best views (and sunsets!) of Birmingham are seen while driving along the top of Red Mountain on Shades Crest Road. In addition to seeing the bustling life below in the valley, you can see the Birmingham terrain go on for miles as the hills roll on out of sight. If you want somewhere to stop and admire the view, try Vestavia Hills Baptist Church to embrace the full ambience.

There’s No Place Like Homewood

Have you ever heard of some of the suburbs of Birmingham and wanted to visit, but weren’t sure what to do there? We here at The Local will take time over the next four weeks to take you to the most popular neighborhoods of Birmingham and highlight the best things to do there.

Homewood is a thriving suburb south of Birmingham that balances the world of commercial retail and local joints, making this city a unique place to spend the day touring.

When you first arrive in Homewood, shop around and get something to eat on the iconic 18th Street in downtown Homewood. The strip of diverse stores and restaurants will bring the small-town feeling to life as you pop in and out of the locally run shops.

18th Street in downtown Homewood.

Next, drive less than a mile over to Do It Yourself Crafts to immerse yourself in a creative and relaxing environment. From making pottery and painting to glass fusing and decorating ornaments, there are a wide variety of crafts you and your friends can make together. Classes are offered throughout the week and spaces are available for parties and group events.

Urban Air is the next stop, especially if you have kids with you. Let them get all their energy out at the indoor trampoline park as they jump on wall-to-wall trampolines, dunk

Homewood antique store in the Edgewood neighborhood.

basketballs in super tall baskets, play dodgeball and flip into the huge foam pits. The family-friendly trampoline park hosts birthday parties for all ages.

 

When it’s time for dinner, the Edgewood neighborhood of Homewood will satisfy your hunger. With all types of cuisines, it’ll be hard to choose what to eat.

Once you’ve finished up your meal (and ice cream from the local creamery) stroll down to Homewood Park, where you can play ball or watch the sunset.

 

Homewood Park

Let us know how your day in Homewood was in the comments below.

 

Talladega National Forest

“The woods are a nourishing home to me, and the strength I find out there is the same strength I take back into the business of life, and it gives me the motivation to return.” – Jacqueline Taylor

Passing through the hustle and bustle that exists on Interstate 20 on a cool autumn morning, many drivers are unaware of the calm and relaxed experience that lies nearby in the Talladega National Forest. Talladega is not just a superspeedway in Alabama. The natural beauty of the massive Talladega National Forest will bring people into an awe-inspiring, different world that is found off exit 185 outside Oxford, Alabama. Alabama has four national forests that are part of the the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service 191 national forests, national grasslands and land utilization projects. The headquarters, located in Montgomery, are in the early stages of officially linking Alabama’s forest paths to the Appalachian Trail.

 

“Theses are your national forests and they are free for you to use any time,” Talladega Area Ranger Gloria Nielsen said. Into the forest we go, to lose our minds and find our souls as we hope to escape the chaos of everyday life, even if just for a few hours. Talladega is an easy hour and a half drive from Birmingham that takes adventure seekers to the Cheaha Trailhead to start their hike along the Pinhoti Trail. Starting there, people can park their cars for the day at no cost. Hikers then begin along the Cave Creek Trail that will take them to the start of the Pinhoti Trail. The Pinhoti National Trail stretches for 335 miles across Alabama’s Appalachian Mountains and into Georgia. The part of the trail found in Alabama was established in 1970 within the Talladega National Forest. The trail is a loop that leads to one of the best overlooks in Alabama, Mt. McDil (1,730 foot elevation). This is a popular destination for overnight backpacking trips.

Hikers all seem to have one simple thing in common: happiness. When people go to Talladega National Forest, they experience solitude. The forest provides a true escape from city life that can be difficult to find in more urban parks. The trail through the forest is clearly marked and easy to follow. During a recent hike, people could be found on the trail traveling for the day from Alabama. One weekend eight students from The University of Alabama Birmingham went backpacking, and a girls Bible study group from Auburn chose to hike the trail for the day. These people all acknowledge one another along the way on the trail, exchanging well wishes and enjoying the remoteness of the forest. They use this as an opportunity to connect with their thoughts, have conversations with their friends and enjoy the peace the great outdoors brings to everyone who encounters the forest for a day. “The views here are even better than what you see in the Smoky Mountains. I think it’s an easier hike too because it is flatter and it feels much more like the wilderness here,” said hiker Ryan Haskins. Talladega is open year round, but fall can be the most captivating time visually. Shades of red, orange and yellow surround hikers as they step into an enchanting, magnificent world. This is a place where the only noises are wildlife, birds chirping and the gentle breeze swaying its way through the trees. Even the most ordinary, city person who is unaccustomed to being outdoors, can connect with the greatness of the forest. Whether you gather a group of friends or come alone, Talladega can be your gateway to a true escape for the day.