There is more to Melt than grilled cheese

Melt's fried Oreos

Melt’s fried Oreos

Melt has been bringing decadent and unique grilled cheeses to the streets of Birmingham since 2011. Recently, the popular food truck decided to open a brick-and-mortar establishment in the Avondale community. The restaurant serves all of your food-truck favorites and much more, including desserts.

Any fan of fair food must add Melt’s fried Oreos to their list of top Birmingham eats. The crispy batter mixes with the warm Oreo to create an indulgent treat. Five to an order, they’re perfect to share!

 

Melt’s restaurant is located at 4105 4th Ave. S. in the Avondale community. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The food truck, also known as Matilda, is available for private parties, events and catering. Find more information at meltbham.com.

Sweet tooth still not satisfied? Keep an eye out for more Birmingham desserts featured in the next print publication of Exodus.

Ruffner Mountain: a close escape for Birmingham

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When the hustle and bustle of city life becomes too much, there’s always Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.

Just ten minutes from downtown Birmingham, Ruffner Mountain, Alabama’s oldest nature center, is one of the largest urban nature centers in the United States. But despite its convenient proximity, Ruffner Mountain offers all the seclusion one could demand from a park.

In addition to seclusion, the certified wildlife preserve also affords visitors 12 miles of hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty. The trails also give hikers a peek into Birmingham’s history, as they bypass the sites of the iron mines used to craft Sloss Furnaces.

Ken Sransky, a native of Trussville, Ala., first came to Ruffner Mountain with his son Jamie to birdwatch. Today, he’s visiting because the park is hosting a special event – a birthday party for his 10-year-old grandson Sam and his Boy Scout troop.

“My son Jamie is an artist and an architect,” Sransky says. “He likes to get the kids outside so they don’t watch television all the time.”

Sam, his troop and most of his classmates are unavailable for comment. They’re on a scavenger hunt with one of the park’s rangers – one of the many events Ruffner Mountain provides.

One of Sransky’s favorite aspects of Ruffner Mountain is its proximity to downtown.

“I’m from Trussville, so it’s really nice having something so close,” he says. “It’s very peaceful.”

His wife, Patty, seconds his opinion.

“I love it here,” she says.

Reed Books

Almost everyone has that one person who is most difficult to cross off his or her Christmas shopping list. However Jim Reed, owner of Reed Books, has a pretty simple Christmas wish.

“Find something that makes you smile and bring me that thing and your smile and that’s my present,” Reed said about receiving presents from his children.

Reed opened his shop, Reed Books: The Museum of Fond Memories, in order to get “away from the corporate world and the things that people do to each other in the corporate world.”

His shop is full of thousands of items he finds in a variety of places, each with a different story. He has purchased items at yard sales and customers have brought in stuff to sell.

“My favorite part is what people bring in here — not the things they bring but the stories they bring,” Reed said.
Reed’s items appeal to a large variety of hobbies and interests. He has brand new books and novels that are more than 500 years old for purchase. Reed has books on every topic you can imagine, perfect for the bookworm on your Christmas shopping list.

If you have a movie enthusiast on your shopping list, Reed has hundreds of theatre posters and publicity photos from films, comic books for the super hero fan and records for the music lover.

Reed Books has it all. The price range of items is anywhere from 50 cents to $9,000.

“There is no way to tell what something is actually worth because everything has an intrinsic value, and everything is worth a million dollars to me,” Reed said.

When you look around though, you cannot help but notice each of the many Santa’s adorned in various spots around the shop.

“Every day is Christmas here,” Reed said. “It is a secular thing with me. It has nothing to do with religion. It can depend on what society you’re in, but it’s a time when people are nice to each other. That’s what I like about Christmas; it’s that feeling that I had when I was a kid.”

You will surely find the most unique gifts this holiday season at Jim Reed’s Books. You will come away with a few items crossed off your list and an amazing experience in his shop as well.

“This is a place where I want you to feel like you have sanctuary from the world, even if for a couple of minutes. Come in here, you’re safe. That’s what I’d like it to be. That’s an ideal shop to me,” Reed said.

Check out Reed Books: The Museum of Fond Memories on 2021 3rd Ave N Birmingham, Alabama 35203.

by Madison Miles

Moss Rock Preserve for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike

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Just 12 miles from the towering buildings and busy streets of downtown Birmingham lies a scenic outdoor escape with a quiet forest, peaceful streams and the most noticeable feature — magnificent, lofty boulders.

The boulders of Moss Rock Preserve draw all types of people in. Avid climbers make the trek from various parts of the Southeast to face these rocks. Families enjoy fresh air as they take family portraits or let their kids climb. Young couples walk with their dog. College students take a study-break from classes. The wonderful feature of this getaway is that whether a first-time guest or a regular climber, each trip to the boulders of Moss Rock Preserve offers a challenge and thrill.IMG_2642

Colby Tindle, a 25-year-old painter from Hoover, first came out to Moss Rock in high school. He said it was much less crowded back then. Tindle speculated that word of mouth has made the spot more popular over the last few years. Tindle first came to the preserves with friends, and since then he has introduced his brothers and others to these boulder adventures. So what exactly draws people in? The natural landscape and beautiful scenery are certainly appealing, but for many people it really is about the rocks. Bouldering, or rock climbing without a harness, is a culture in-and-of itself.

Garrett, Tindle’s brother, is a recent high school graduate that climbs in his free time as well. Climbing for him is a relaxing, free way to get out. He says it’s his favorite thing to do. Garrett likes the thrill of knowing there is a possibility of falling and also the ability to conquer new rocks.

Being out on the rocks makes him feel closer to nature. Tindle really enjoys finding new rocks and new paths to conquer. Regulars like him often have their own climbing shoes that let them grasp the rocks better and give them the ability to do more difficult climbs. He also has a crash pad — which he puts under the climbing path in case he falls.

Tindle said that he likes the people he meets out at the Moss Rock Preserve. Bonded by a love of climbing, he gets to make connections with all types of people. Strangers have tips to offer, climbing paths to point out and stories to tell.
Climbing at Moss Rock Preserve offers a unique outdoor experience for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike.

Homewood decor shop ‘specializes in rustic’

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Seibels brings the great outdoors to the heart of downtown Homewood.

Pedestrians might easily miss this furniture and home decor store, camouflaged among the many shops of Homewood’s quaint 18th Street shopping district. But inside its blasé exterior lies a unique, eclectic wilderness wonderland.

Originally founded in 1994 as a catalog, Seibels offers home furnishings and accessories used primarily for camps and cottages. After opening in 2000, Seibels began building clients customized beds, swings and tables — all with a country-style twist.

“We specialize in rustic,” manager Trissy Holladay said. “That’s our niche.”

But rusticity isn’t the only thing that makes Seibels’ merchandise unique. Holladay explains that most of the shop’s offerings are handmade, giving them an unusual level of quality.

“[Our merchandise is] not made in China, it’s made here,” Holladay said. “That means you can get the exact size and color that you want.”

Holladay says one of Seibels’ most unique and popular offerings is its custom-made beds, which are constructed with pallets – or platforms used to ship furniture.

And with the holiday season fast approaching, Seibels is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Large Christmas trees dominate the store’s floor space, adorned with ornaments resembling fishing boats, campers and antlers.

“We also have a niched Christmas,” Holladay said, showing off the different ornaments.

Holladay emphasizes that, despite Seibels’ rustic theme, the store is meant to be for everyone.

“We’re not just for lake and mountain homes,” she said. “We’re for everyone who loves rustic.”

By Jonathan Adams

Rickwood Field: America’s oldest baseball park

This free option to explore Birmingham is a great place to take any sports buff or enthusiast. Rickwood Field is America’s oldest baseball park and it is full of history. Built by A.H. “Rick” Woodward, the park’s opening day was on Aug. 18, 1910.

According to Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Birmingham Barons won five pennants during Woodward’s 1909-1937 ownership. The Barons reportedly sent more players to the majors than any other team during Woodward’s ownership.

The park allows you to explore the area with self guided tours. You can walk through the main entrance to see photographs of old teams and famous players.

The park has seen many greats of the game like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. The history does not stop there – you can enter the field and walk around the grounds, that is, if a game is not going on. Rickwood Field hosts multiple games throughout the year for local high schools, colleges and even private events.

The Friends of Rickwood, a non-profit organization, takes care of the stadium while the City of Birmingham owns it. According to Sports Heritage, The Friends of Rickwood was established in 1992 for the preservation, restoration and revitalization of Rickwood Field.

Field groundskeeper Alvin Harris said, “We have a lot of people come here from all walks. I was a little surprised when I started working for [Friends of Rickwood] because we never had a sign-in book, we got it now – a sign in register book – and we can look back and see where all people come from. They come from Japan, China, from all over.”

Check out more about Rickwood Field and Friends of Rickwood here.

By Madison Miles

George Ward Park: disc golf course for players of every skill level

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Looking to take up the exhilarating sport known as disc golf? Or are you already a seasoned pro? In either case, George Ward Park in downtown Birmingham is the perfect place to spend a fall afternoon. Tom Monroe, the course pro and a multi-world disc golf champion, calls George Ward Park Birmingham’s best kept recreational secret.

The course is direct evidence of the passion alive in disc golf professionals—all the equipment was bought and paid for by local golfers who take pride in the immaculate course. The greens are always in great condition, which makes it easy to get from hole to hole.

At each hole, disc golfers will find a bench to rest on, a tee sign with hole information and a cement pad for the first drive. Each hole also has three pin positions and two baskets, which vary in difficulty.

The multiple baskets allow beginners and intermediate players to learn by practicing, while the further baskets give experienced players more of a challenge. The closer the basket, the easier the hole.

And if you ever need any tips, you can usually find Monroe in the parking lot. His passion for the sport is contagious: “If you haven’t played, come try!”

Because the first nine holes are on one side of the parking lot and the back nine are on the other, golfers have a chance to rest or grab a quick drink between the two halves of the courses. “It’s the most user-friendly course in the area,” Monroe said.

So, even if you’ve never played disc golf before, give George Ward a try.

For directions and reviews, visit this website.

By Abby Colella

New LightRails underpass adds life to downtown

Downtown Birmingham now features an LED-lighted tunnel.The tunnel can be found at the 18th Street underpass on the east side of Railroad Park.

But this tunnel isn’t just a bunch of lights and a few hundred tons of concrete. It is actually a light sculpture called LightRails by artist Bill FitzGibbons. The computerized LED lights morph from one color to the next in a seemingly supernatural way- creating a life-like color show that will capture any observer.

Junior JMC major Taylor Vassey was amazed by the new addition. “I was very impressed with the design and thought put into the light tunnel,” she said.

The tunnel, finished this past June, is just another addition in Birmingham’s effort to revitalize the downtown Birmingham area. “It definitely adds more value to the city and it shows the leaders of the city are working to improve it,” Vassey said.

Sophomore JMC major Corry Mulligan said, “I had seen a lot of pictures of the tunnel, but I didn’t really know what to expect. I was blown away when I saw it for myself. I really like the fact that you can either walk or drive through the tunnel, and the way the colors change is really cool.”

While pictures and wonder-filled words from Samford students may build a respectable case, the best way to appreciate the tunnel is to go and experience it for yourself. Grab some friends, head downtown and go explore!

By Katy Flinn

Antique Roadtrip

“What’s on 2nd?”What's on 2nd?

“What’s on 2nd?” is a vintage thrift shop located on 2nd Avenue North in downtown Birmingham.
Here you can happily hunt through three stories of items that tell tales of the past. The rafters are filled with unique objects ranging from vintage records, old school cameras, historical documents, trading cards and more.
Since 2007, the shelves have been filled from “an army of pickers who are constantly bringing in new items,” co-owner Steve Gilmer says.
You may not visit “What’s on 2nd?” with any intent of making a purchase, but any shopper is bound to make a connection with a nostalgic item to take home.

Unclaimed Baggage

Unclaimed Baggage is tucked in the small mountain town of Scottsboro in the northern corner of Alabama. The family-owned business has been thriving for more than 40 years.
Here you can discover other people’s treasure as you browse unclaimed luggage from all over the country.
The store covers an entire city block with more than 40,000 square feet of unclaimed airplane luggage. Items range from laptops to top-of-the-line cameras, designer clothes and purses and everything in between. All of the products are available at discounted prices.
Their huge selection of unique products draws customers from all over the map. Unclaimed Baggage is sure to keep any thrifty shopper busy for hours.

Homewood Antiquessshomewood5

Homewood Antiques and Marketplace is a family-owned business in Edgewood with an always changing, never ending stock of rare and fun antique pieces.
The store supports more than 50 vendors that supply a variety of merchandise. These vendors have created homemade items and several refurbished antique pieces. Other pieces sold in Homewood Antiques are ready for their purchaser to fix them up and show them off.
When you make such a purchase, owner Chris Collins bids you farewell with one request: “Make sure you send us pictures showing what you do with this piece!”

Charlotte Woodsen

Charlotte Woodson is a local antique store nestled in Mountain Brook Village that offers high-end antiques.
Owner Dinah Toro buys most of her products in France. She is available to answer any questions you may have about antiquing along with her dog, Mr. Foxie.
Although he isn’t for sale, shoppers can find almost anything else in Charlotte Woodson including books, pictures, large furniture and home décor.
The atmosphere of the shop is conducive to getting lost in a beautiful store while hunting for items with a rich history.

By Stevi Sappenfield

Photos by Kaitlin Bitz and Stevi Sappenfield