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Day 7 – Saturday May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop Here?

• CATEGORIES: Features, Museums • TAGS: .

<– Day 6 – Friday May 4: Parker To the Rescue! | Day 8 – Sunday May 6: Somber to Soda –>

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Geoff and David in front of the Ford GPs at the Alabama Veterans Museum.

Day 7: On Saturday, we spent a pleasant morning with Geoff and Kathy, then drove down to Alabaster, Alabama.

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A short drive today from Huntsville, Alabama, to Alabaster, Alabama.

Today began with a 10am rendezvous with Geoff and Kathy at the U.S. Veterans Museum in Huntsville, Alabama. On our way to the museum we spotted this CJ-5 on the side of the road advertising a tire shop. It’s the first ‘feral’ jeep we’ve spotted during this trip:

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We arrived at the U.S. Veteran’s Museum to find the museum already open and our entry fairs pre-paid (thanks Geoff and Kathy!!).

A docent welcomed us to the museum and proceeded to show us around, telling us stories. When we first met him, I specifically mentioned that Ann was an Air Force veteran and that she’d been a weapons specialist. I’ve learned to do this because the older docents often assume that it’s the men that served and the men who know weapons (I can’t tell you how many folks assumed that I was the veteran when we used to drive around in Ann’s old Mustang with the Purple Heart plates).

I don’t believe the docent meant any harm and Ann claims it doesn’t bother her (I think it in fact does), but multiple times the docent assumed it was Geoff and I who knew things about guns such as the carbine vs. the rifle (Geoff did, but I didn’t have a clue; I could hear Ann under her breath answer his question) or his comment about our boys and the Purple Hearts (Ann’s received the medal, but it’s not a point of pride for her …. In fact, women have been awarded Purple Hearts since the first winner, a nurse from Pearl Harbor in 1941.) Eventually, Ann excused herself and wandered about on her own for a little while.

Apart from that minor issue, it was fun to wander around the museum with Geoff and Kathy. Of course, I enjoyed the jeeps the best, especially the Ford Pygmy and later Ford GP. It was the first time I noticed just how different the Pygmy was to the later models. Geoff knew enough about early Ford trucks to point out some of the parts Ford had used on their prototype Pygmy. Here are some pics:

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Ford Pygmy, Ford GP, Bantam BRC-40, Willys MA, Willys Slat Grille

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Ford Pygmy

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Ford GP

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Ford Pygmy (has dash glove box)

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Ford GP (No dash glove box)

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Differences include windshield, hinges (Pygmy has 3), bumpers, fender width, minor grille differences. The nose may even be wider, but I didn’t measure it.

Bantam BRC-40:

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Willys MA:

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Willys MB Slat Grille:

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There were several more jeeps, including an M-38A1, and M-38, and a MB or GPW (can’t remember). A good looking Dodge Command car is the left:

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There were display cases of history on one side of the museum. One display for the Flying Tigers included these remarkably similar Ford GPs (one drawn and one photographed). I could not figure out whether they represented the same jeep or not. The markings sure looked the same:

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Of course, there was much more in the museum to see, so I highly recommend visiting the museum if you get a chance.

Upon leaving the museum, Geoff was kind enough to present me with a wooden jeep made by his friend, Fred (the wheels allow it to roll, too), one I mentioned people could order back in March. We should have gotten a picture of it with Geoff and I holding it, but somehow Ann and I didn’t think of that! We did take a couple pics when we got the motel Saturday night:

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Many thanks for the wonderful gift!

Geoff suggested we get a bite to eat, but I’d already had some breakfast and Ann wasn’t hungry (The fact is, we’ve been eating very light on this trip). As an alternative, I suggested we go get some coffee. Geoff and Kathy agreed. Since they are not local to Huntsville, I hopped on Yelp to locate an interesting coffee shop nearby called Alchemy Lounge. That turned into an unexpected adventure.

The directions took us to an industrial building surrounded by fencing, obviously some kind of old production facility. The only sign was on the fence. There were no additional signs indication 1) where to park and 2) where the coffee shop was, other than “Door 30”.  Eventually, we drove inside the fence, parked our cars, and looked for Door 30:

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We saw a few different doors, but kept walking to the opposite side of the complex, where we spotted “Door 30”. Yet, there was zero indication a coffee shop was inside. I was pretty sure that Geoff and Kathy had wondered just what they’d gotten themselves into by follow us. I wouldn’t have blamed them … I often feel that way about our adventures!

Even when we opened the door and had to decide whether to climb a flight of stairs or open the door to our right, there we no signs. Eventually, Geoff went upstairs and I went through the door. I struck out, but he found it upstairs. Naturally, the stairs were tall and both of our lovely ladies had knee issues, but they troopered on up. After we walked through the fire door and into the open building space, we finally spotted a door way with the name:

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It turns out, there’s a lot of space to explore. I didn’t get a chance to look, but Geoff wandered down and discovered a variety of shops. Meanwhile, inside the coffee shop, we found a fantastic little coffee place atop a vintage wood floor, with tall spaces and industrial touches. I could see writing books in here ….

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Perhaps the funniest part was that it wasn’t until we were inside the coffee shop that Ann asked them if they liked coffee. It turns out they weren’t coffee drinkers. Oops, my bad. But, Geoff and Kathy were good sports and enjoyed some tea.

With our exploration a success, we talked with Geoff and Kathy for quite a while. Eventually, we said our goodbyes, because it was time to purchase a purse. Off to the mall we went!

Let me tell you what I know about purchasing purses:

  1. Never get in between a woman and her purse,
  2. Never try to pick out a purse for a woman,
  3. A woman values many attributes about a purse, attributes that I simply will never understand,
  4. When asked, “isn’t this purse cute” or “does this purse make me look fat” or “how about this purse” my response is always … “I cannot honestly answer because I don’t understand purses”.

Thus, in the act of purchasing purses, my sole participation amounted to paying for the purse. I wish I had this many choices of basketball shoes!!
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One thing I learned on the trip is that the pricing purses is tricky … 30% off plus an extra 30% off isn’t 60% off; instead, it is only 51% off ($100*30% is $70, then $70 *30% droops the price to $49 whereas 60%*100 is $40 … very sneaky).

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Eventually, after an hour of searching, Ann found a purse for only $28. Much better than the $100 or more prices for many purses. Purse in hand, we left for just south of Birmingham, where we stopped for the night.

Tomorrow we’ll go to Montgomery, then head up to Atlanta.

<– Day 6 – Friday May 4: Parker To the Rescue! | Day 8 – Sunday May 6: Somber to Soda –>

 

9 Comments on “Day 7 – Saturday May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop Here?

  1. Joe in Mesa

    Wow: what a great read with my Sunday morning coffee… including the Alchemy Lounge adventure. If I ever get back to Huntsville I’m re-reading this post first, so I find that museum and coffee shop.
    But really: “THIS JEEP MATTERS”? I thought ALL jeeps mattered! 😉
    Now to add that wooden jeep to my gift wish list!

  2. Mom

    Although the atmosphere looked very coffeeish, I just wonder how anyone ever finds the place. I would have given up when I saw the buildings.

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Blaine: Except that the alley was nowhere near the back door!

  4. gmwillys

    Bob in NC,
    The docent was telling us that the majority of the firearms, and vehicles on display were either part of an individual’s collection, or as in the case of most firearms, they are dropped off by widows of the passed owners. With Redstone Arsenal in close proximity to the museum, and a large population of folks that retire in the area, this is the best outlet that people have found to donate their items.

    Joe in Mesa,
    The “this Jeep matters” board sitting on the rear seat of the Pygmy was in regards to a video series done by the Historical Vehicles Association, (HVA) and spotlights a couple of famous Jeep/prototype. The other Jeep featured in the series was the CJ6 that belonged to President Reagan.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIBfU2lSfkY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJxsRatINHM

  5. gmwillys

    Ann,
    Thank you for your service. Your first hand knowledge of how the missile works was exceptional. I enjoyed learning on the different fuel types, and how the guidance system works. Just remember, we were all too young to know who Martha Raye was….

    David,
    It turns out that the Lowes Mill building started off as a cotton mill. Then later on it houses Genesco Inc, who made the majority of the combat boots worn in Vietnam. The building now houses the largest, privately owned arts facility in the nation.

  6. David Eilers Post author

    Geoff: Thanks for doing the research on that. As I was writing the post I was running low on brain power. That’s a cool art fact! Thanks again for joining us!

  7. John Caraway

    My salute to Ann … I’m a Vietnam ground combat veteran … 50 years out now.

    John Caraway
    CDR USNR

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