Tom Bevil Trail

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Today we decided to hike the Tom Bevil trail at Lake Guntersville State Park. Whoo boy.

We expected a little over three miles, but somehow missed a sign and kept going. I saw a spot that seemed familiar and told my husband to stop, but he, knowing I am the one with a very poor sense of direction, told me to focus and keep going. Then, we passed another spot that I knew I ‘d taken a picture of, and this time I pulled out the map on my MapMyHike app, that was sorta working when the gps had not been lost. That’s when we knew we’d overshot the mark and had to turn around. This is in about 95 degree weather and we were running low on water. AND this is after we’d come across a rattlesnake on our path! My husband hates snakes. He says the only good snake is a dead snake. Well, this guy was about 3 1/2-4 feet long and very much alive. After that encounter we were walking very slowly, about negative one mile an hour, looking left and right in case the rattler had any siblings in the area. Which was another reason that the Tom Bevil nearly did us in. I think it should be renamed the Tom Devil Trail. Just sayin’.

Last time we were on a long hike and struggling, we were with our daughter. She is so wise. She got us playing a  word game that made us think about the game instead of  how long we still had to get back to the car and it worked.  This time, though, hubby was not interested in games. So, I thought of a few songs along the way to distract myself, while he took the lead taking care of all the spider webs ahead of me.

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“Every move you make… Every step you take I’ll be watching you”

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Wise Purchases

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I don’t always make wise purchases. Like the time I got gallons of peachy paint only to get them home and realize it would make my house look like Publix.

Or the time I went along with my husband’s idea of buying a double kayak, which he went out in with me maybe three times in the water behind our house. It was too large for me to tote anywhere on my own and we eventually ended up selling it to someone who bought it as a graduation gift for her son.  I don’t remember whatever became of all the peachy paint.

But, I want to tell you about three things that WERE wise purchases and have and still are serving me well.

First is my trusty backpack. I have had it for 15 years and it’s still going strong. It was first purchased for a trip to Ireland, and has been put to use ever since for hiking, carry-on for plane flight, trips with grandkids, to the library, and even to work some days. It’s thin enough to flatten in the bottom of a suitcase it needed. I purchased it from the Rick Steves website, where you can find the updated version.

Second is my Brita water bottle. I’ve had it for about three years, not sure exactly. I actually found it marked down at Publix, but it can be ordered online. It goes with me when I travel. I take it empty through security, then fill it on the other side at a water fountain.  I’ve ordered refill filters via amazon. It’s also used when I hike.

My most recent wise purchase is a hiking stick. I ordered it for hiking, but soon after had knee surgery. I used it to hobble around at work for a short while and now use it whenever I hike up and down any inclines. It’s super lightweight and folds up into its own little bag.

Today I await delivery of what I hope is another wise purchase – a new laptop.  I don’t have a desktop, so it IS my desktop.  My old one (Asus) has served me well but in laptop years I think it’s older than me. If it’s like dog years it’s 70. I use my chromebook (Lenovo now) on a very regular basis, but there are somethings I just can’t do on it, such as edit photos. I’m excited to see if this purchase (Lenovo) will magically improve my writing and photography skills. Time will tell.

 

Habitude

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I can not recall ever seeing this word before today.  Websters has this to say: habitual disposition or mode of behavior or procedure.

To me it’s like a portmanteau. Like a Spork. Like Forky. But, I digress.

My husband is a man with definite habitudes. I see it more every day. The tomato juice every morning. The laying out of clothes in the evening. Those unsavory (to me) two – just lasagna or chili – Atkins meals for lunch.

But it’s funny how I am wondering what my own habitudes are. I like to mix things up. Try new items on the menu. Rotate my perfume. But and yet, I have a few habitudes. Like the way I vacuum the house on a rotating basis. And carry my iced coffee in my favorite insulated cup to work. And take photos of little plastic toys when I hike.

But I think I’ve overlooked the first part of the definition – the habitual disposition. Oh boy, that’s a hard one to talk about. That’s where I know I need a “Habitude Adjustment”. But for now I’ll leave you with a gallery of my little plastic guys. Maybe one day you’ll find one on the trail somewhere.

Bell Camp: Days Six/Seven

Our last two days went by too quickly!

Day Six

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Today we went for a short hike at Moss Rock Preserve. I think the kids knew we’d do at least one hike while they were here since we’ve done several with them in the past. We took a trail that I knew would take us to a mini-waterfall. There we all took off our socks and shoes and splashed around, and ate some snacks we’d brought along in my trusty backpack. It was really quite perfect!

In the late afternoon/early evening we went to the Ross Bridge Farmers Market. This was another WIN. We got a little produce, the kids got free balloon creations, bounced around in the bounce houses and rolled around on the lawn. We then got our meals from the food trucks. The kids had some chicken tenders from Eugene’s Hot Chicken, while Grandpa  and I got sandwiches from the I Love Bacon truck. Chuck got the The BLT of Curtis Loew and I chose the Miami Sound Machine, a Cuban sandwich made with beer braised pork belly.  We all polished it off with some shaved ice. E and I both got Vanilla Cream, while JuJu and Grandpa got Cherry Limeade.

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Day Seven

Our last day was rather low key. JuJu and I met a few ladies from church for breakfast at Panera, then made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. In the afternoon the kids’request was a return trip to the library. That night we had breakfast for supper per JuJu’s request, then a fairly early bedtime so we could be out the door by seven the next morning.

In addition to “Field Trips”, our days were filled with math, maps, and language arts; screen time; playing with, feeding snacks to and walking Ruby; reading and coloring; card games, board games and puzzles; Legos and scooters; telling family stories.

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Our first Bell Camp was a success and we look forward to many more to come!

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Outake – LOL!!!

Out and About in Bham

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In finalizing the cessation of my other blog, I thought I’d put together some bits and pieces about things to do outdoors around Birmingham.

Moss Rock Preserve

Looking for a spot to get your Saturday morning hike on? Moss Rock Preserve is the perfect place. Situated only minutes from John Hawkins Parkway and Shades Crest Road in Hoover, this 349 acre preserve is a great location for hikers and nature lovers of all ages and skill levels. This is where my husband began getting in shape for a trip to Montana a few years back. There are 12 miles of trails to explore. And it’s free!

Tips:

  • Bring water
  • Leave no trash behind
  • Bring snacks if you have a 5-year old – “I’m hungry” is a common refrain
  • A walking stick comes in handy
  • Watch out for wet, slippery rocks (I speak from experience)
  • Don’t forget your camera

 

Oak Mountain Park

This 9000+ acre park in Pelham, the largest state park in Alabama,  has so much to offer in addition to hiking. There is a beach and swimming area,  boat rentals, camping, biking, golf, nature programs, basketball courts, horseback riding –  and that’s just some of what you’ll find here – whew!

The trails are clearly marked ; when our five year old grandson hiked with us he was a great scout, keeping us on the white and yellow trails. Along the way there was a creek flowing through – a great spot for a break.

Tips:

  • Bug spray is helpful
  • Hiking shoes – it’s not about the looks, it’s about the ankle support
  • Buy a map at the park office and use it
  • Bring water
  • Don’t overdo it

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

bbg1Another beautiful and free place to visit, with so many varieties of roses! I discovered that there is a library at the gardens – mostly botanical related items. I was able to use my library card to check out a few magazines and I can then return them at the Hoover Library – sweet! There is also a wonderful gift shop that has delicious smelling soaps and candles and lots of unique items.

Pepper Place Market

This outdoor market, held on Saturdays,  has not just produce, but lots of local crafts and ready-made food items. There is music to enjoy and on hot days a mister for the kids, or hot adults.

Railroad Park

This 19 acre park along 1st street is right next to Regions Field, home of the Barons. It has numerous paths to walk, water features, two playgrounds, grassy areas for play  or picnicking and even a designated areas for skaters.

Birmingham Zoo

The Zoo is great for all ages. Your best bargain is to get a Membership for a year. This will also get you discounted admission to reciprocal locals across the country. Besides the animals, there is a train ride, carousel, playgrounds,and water play area for the kids. There are also numerous places to get a bite to eat, and also a gift shop.

Tips:

  • If you want to save money, go on half-price Tuesday
  • If you want to avoid crowds, don’t go on Tuesday
  • Use sunscreen
  • Take your time; go with your kids’ pace. It’s better to savor the moments than to try to see everything
  • May is prime Field Trip time for schools

The Vine That Ate the South

I first became aware of kudzu traveling the highways and byways of Georgia. It was a mystery to me; I just knew it grew like crazy and looked lovely. I even included it in a poem I wrote back in September of 2012; a play on Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

The Roads Taken

Two roads converged in a Georgia town

And seeing that both I could travel

At the light I looked around

Nothing there could make me frown

But my plan would soon unravel

Mapquest said there would be a turn

Trusting still I ventured on

Many were lessons I had to learn

Though blessed by views of kudzu and fern

I felt my path was lost and gone

Backtracked that morning more than twice

Turned around on roads of clay

The air still crisp and oh so nice

With music as my only vice

I saw how way leads on to way

I am now telling with a sigh

At last I made my destination

O’er valleys low and hills so high

Beneath a cloudless southern sky

I found a bit of relaxation

 

Two months ago, as I explored a new trail at Red Mountain in Birmingham, I came upon an area covered in kudzu. This was my first real close up and I discovered the blooms that are lovely.

 

 

Right after this I realized that it was overtaking the fence that runs across the back of our yard. Sitting outside this week I kept smelling a wonderful scent. I went to investigate and it was the kudzu blooms. They have the most wonderful aroma – correctly described by others as smelling like grape soda.

 

I did a little research and found out that many parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can be eaten like spinach and the blooms are used for jams. Bees frequent the blooms more during a drought and it is believed they are the reason for a rare purple honey. I may try a recipe one day; a few years ago after reading about dandelions I did eat them. Once.

Known as “the vine that ate the south”, kudzu can grow up to a foot a day. Originally meant to feed livestock and fight soil erosion, it has outgrown its initial usefulness. I’m sure there are many metaphors that can be made of kudzu. Here’s one: facebook is kind of like kudzu – it looks good and smells good, but it can choke out the the things it wraps it tendrils around. So take care – whack away at it when you have to!

The Nose Knows

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Today I went for a hike at Moss Rock Preserve with Loretta using mapmyhike – a super cool app I just put on my phone. I’m a novice hiker and user of this app, so excuse my exuberance, but it really is cool. It not only told me how fast and how far I went, but it also shows my route and the elevation! And this is the FREE app; I can just imagine what the MVP version can do!

One thing it could not do that my dog could do was find my way back. On the return trip, when we came to a fork, I was about to hesitate but she didn’t – and then I’d look up and see a tree with a red mark on it and knew she was taking us the right way. This got me to thinking how awesome it is that God created His creatures with such fantastic inborn abilities. She had never been on this trail before; in fact she’s done very little woodland hiking. I assume it was her ingenious sense of smell that told her where to go.

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I am excited to use my app again. It is encouraging to me since I don’t often have anyone to walk with. I think it’s the motivation I need!

Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.-Psalm 158:5

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.- Revelation4:11