Red Mountain Is Calling And I Must Go

After this week’s wonderful online Kindred Spirits Book Club chat about Lassoing the Sun, a chat that included the author, Mark Woods, I was inspired to come up with  my own take on John Muir’s quote: Red Mountain is calling and I must go. And go I did, for a little hike on a beautiful Alabama  morning.

I headed towards the Smythe trail, labeled “difficult”, and  yes, I was breathing a bit heavy  on that portion of my hike. Then I hooked up to the north trail. I am a terrible map reader, so even with the map and signs, I ended up in a different spot, but mainly because a portion of the north trail was closed off. So, I only hiked 2.2 miles, but it always takes a while as I stop for photos along the way.

 

On my route I met with people running, biking, hiking, walking the dog, and segwaying.

 

 

Red Mountain has a lot of lovely pieces of the past, bits of buildings left from the mining days.

I also spotted a sort of cairn on a picnic table- I’m so proud I now know that word!

cairn

 

This is Muir’s full quote, which appears in an 1873 letter from Muir to his sister: “The mountains are calling & I must go & I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.”

I didn’t like what I read about Muir’s view of Indians, so I decided to do a little research on the man. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Muir founded the Sierra Club
  • He often expressed the idea that humans had no more intrinsic value than any creature of nature; this is known as a bio-centric view.
  • “All in all, there seems to be in Muir some grudging respect for Indians, but it is often masked behind the institutionalized racism that underlies his writing.” –
  • John Muir could not see the Indians for the trees. – Roy Cook
  • Although Muir claimed to oppose the oppression of Native Americans, he fully supported the extraction of Miwoks from Yosemite, referring to them as “dirty,” “deadly,” and “lazy.”
  • Muir was more concerned with human perfidy toward bears (“Poor fellows, they have been poisoned, trapped, and shot at until they have lost confidence in brother man”) than with how Native Americans had been killed and driven from their homes.
  • .. in his writings, Muir said the squirrels he killed on his ranch in Martinez, Calif., were disgusting pests out to ruin the orchards. But he described the squirrels living in his beloved High Sierra as hard-working creatures like those later popularized in the Disney classic “Snow White.”

 

So, after reading around the internet a bit, I have come to the conclusion that Muir, like the rest of us, is flawed. Yes, he did some great things and he had some noble goals. As for his view of Indians, it seemed to changed over time and not for the better. My takeaway is this: Be aware of others. Love and protect God’s creation, but not at the expensive of man, God’s highest earthly creature.

Third Quarter Recap

 

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October is almost over and I just realized I didn’t write a third quarter recap at the end of September. So, for what it’s worth, here are the highlights of my third quarter:

  • We kept our daughter’s dog, Poca, for over a month while she was in Columbia, South America. Things started out well, but after the second fight, in which Loretta received a puncture wound, we kept the two dogs separate. It was fine, though, as each one got special attention.
  • I went to McAlister’s Deli for the first time. The Orange Cranberry Club was delish!
  • Joined Grace Covenant Baptist Church and began making new friends
  • Subbed in some new schools. including McAdory Middle, McAdory High, Pleasant Grove High, West Elementary, Hueytown Middle, Oak Mountain Middle, Helena Middle, Helena High
  • Attended a few Saturday Write Club meetings at the Hoover Library
  • Went on five hikes
  • Took lots of pictures around Bham
  • Went to Jacksonville and squeezed in a lot of visits. Got to see my  cousin Paula for the first time in over 15 years
  • Spent a morning at Jacksonville Beach
  • Started the Kindred Spirit Book Club  – it’s online, so if you are interested, leave me a comment or email me.
  • Started Round Two of the Capture the ‘Ham Small Group/Photo Group3q2

And now to finish the year well!

 

Boots

Back in April I wrote  a poem a day  for PAD, Writer’s Digest’s Poem A Day challenge. The prompt for day 23 was “footwear”.  I instantly thought about the excitement of my first winter in Birmingham when I got to wear boots day after day. And then I thought of last August  when I was hiking in Montana. After a hard trek to Iceberg Lake, I took off my hiking boots and plunged my feet into the water that was about 40 degrees. Needless to say, I barely lasted 15 seconds.  Now, in this hot June, I could use that refreshing plunge once again!

Boots
I was so pleased to move
to a place
where I could buy boots
and actually wear them
That first boot winter
was so much fashion fun
Those boots gave me
warmth and style
Gray, brown, black –
I loved them all
But by month six
My Florida feet were
longing to be set free

Landscape or Suburbscape?

Photography Challenge Week Two

This week’s challenge was to capture a landscape. My plan was a walk at Red Mountain with Loretta. Since she gets so excited on walks, I find it’s usually best to use my cell phone instead of my Canon Rebel.

Even in bleak January there is always a view to be found outdoors. I wish I could capture the fresh air and the energy that even a short hike gives me. Just use your imagination while you view a few landscape shots.

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Red Mountain ~ January, 2016

 

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When I got home I went out in my backyard with the Canon and took some suburbscapes as well. Here’s one-

suburbscape

 

I got an extra surprise shot as a plane came in for a landing at the nearby Bessemer Airport.

Bessemer Airport

 

If you missed week one, you can see it HERE. And if you’d like to read my take on  unexpected moments in photography and life, such as the plane flying by, you can read HERE.

Red Mountain Park

Grace's Gap Overlook

Grace’s Gap Overlook

Our first visit to Red Mountain this past Saturday was a success. By that I mean:

  • We didn’t get lost
  • We hiked 5 miles
  • We met friendly volunteers coming and going

We liked it enough to be headed back today.

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Besides being free to get in and having well-marked trails, Red Mountain also has some other plusses. There is a dog park which I hope to visit soon with Loretta. There are several activities (for a fee) for the more adventurous, such as The Zip Tour and the Adventure Tower, an 80-foot climbing tower for those with strong arm muscles.  Discounts for the activities are available for groups.

Adventure Tower

Adventure Tower

On Saturday we went from the entrance to Grace’s Gap Overlook where you can get a view of Downtown B’ham. There is a picnic table there at the top, which will be good to know for next time.  On our way back went out on the swinging bridge to the Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse.

Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse

Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse

Tips:

  • Bug spray is a good idea
  • Bring water
  • Bathrooms are porta-potties, so be warned
  • Go early to beat the crowd on a Saturday

Cahaba Lilly Park

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Cahaba Lilly Park in Shelby County has a lot to offer, from pavilions that can be rented to lovely walking/hiking trails that are even lighted to make them accessible at night. The park is located just north of Helena Intermediate School on County Road 52. There is plenty of parking, restrooms, playground equipment and swings, and a large grassy area for play. The four pavilions also have grills.

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The trails are easy to walk and pets are allowed on a leash. I went on a Monday morning with my dog, Loretta, and we had the place to ourselves. I plan to go again soon!

Address: 3200 Co Rd 52, Helena, AL 35080

Phone:(205) 620-2877

Vulcan Park

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This past Thursday was my first visit to Vulcan Park – another gem of a park in B’ham! I met with my #capturetheham group and got some great photography pointers. Then we tried to put our skills to work.

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Vulcan Park is definitely a place where I want to return. I want to stay a little later next time to walk the trails and capture the full sunset.

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What you need to know:

The Vulcan Park is located at 1701 Valley View Drive and is open 10am-10pm Monday- Saturday and 12pm-10pm on Sunday; the museum closes at 6pm each day (the park also closes at 6pm on July 4th). Parking is free.

DAILY ADMISSION RATES  10 A.M. – 6 P.M.:

  • Adult $6
  • Seniors (65+) / Military $5
  • Children ages 5-12 $4
  • Children 4 years and under free

EVENING ADMISSION RATES 6 – 10 P.M.:

  • All ages 5 and up $4
  • Children 4 years and under free

Tips:

Bring your camera!

Don’t go up the Vulcan if you are afraid of heights.

If you are a AAA member, you and a guest will get 20% off (I didn’t see this before !!)

Pets allowed on a leash – you must clean up after them, of course.

A Busy Day at Oak Mountain

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We stumbled on quite a crowd today at Oak Mountain. We were headed to the parking lot atop the mountain to walk the trails to Peavine Falls, but were told we may not find a place to park – there was a big bike race going on. Since the crowd at the top would be gone in about an hour, we decided to start with the Treetop Trail . This one started out easy on a boardwalk past  some interesting caged birds.

treetop1

We followed the trail until we got to the Alabama Wildlife Center. There everything was ready to go for the Bird Baby Shower. I took  a quick look around, deciding to come back again soon to take it in slowly. We went back the way we came, then drove up the road to the falls parking lot.

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This time I was able to get to the bottom and see the beauty of the falls. My goal for my next trip here is to pull off the boots and step into the waters.

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On our way out the park was even fuller. Between the Bird Baby Shower, the Bump n Grind bike race, a Chili Cook Off and a birthday party, there was quite a diverse crowd at the park today.

ADVENTURES WITH A 17 YEAR OLD IN B’HAM – DAY 3

My brother-in-law and niece are in town this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. She has no interest in baseball, so she and I set about exploring Birmingham.

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Day 3

The day started out nice at Oak Mountain Park, but the niece got to feeling sick, so we had to cut the visit to the great outdoors a little short. We stopped for a beautiful view from Ada Overlook on our way up the mountain.

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We were able to get in one hike to the top of Peavine Falls. It’s always beautiful outdoors enjoying God’s creation, but I was expecting to see a bit more water in the falls. Maybe next year in April after the rains I will try it again.

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There was a Senior Picnic going on at the pavilion area, with quite a large group of senior citizens in attendance. I’m sure they had a lovely day!

We took it easy the rest of the day, and then picked up pizza from Johnny Brusco’s on John Hawkins Parkway for supper.

Adventures with a 17 year old in B’ham – Day 1

My brother-in-law and niece are here this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover; she tagged along to hang out with me.

Day 1

We headed out in the morning for a little hike at Moss Rock Preserve. We both had our cameras and were hoping for some good nature photos.

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We saw a few squirrels, a chipmunk, and a cardinal, but the coolest thing I saw was blooming cacti growing out of the limestone rock. It was an unexpected sight .

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Our adventure kicked in later, as we were on our way back and got totally turned around. After backtracking several times, I finally had to admit we were lost. I spotted a trashcan and shouted “Yay, civilization!” thinking we were at the other edge of the parking lot where we’d started. Turns out we were at a parking lot alright – at the back of what I figured out later is Simmons Middle School. So back into the woods we went. We finally popped out again at a Firehouse!! The kind firemen pointed us in the right direction – about a half mile further down the road and we finally got back to the car. You can check out our route HERE.

After a break at home for food and showers, we headed out for a book adventure; first stop – 2nd & Charles on Montgomery Highway. This unique bookstore buys and sells new and gently used and it has lots of non-book products, also. I got a book for myself and a gift, the niece left with an armload.

Second stop – the Hoover Library. After giving my niece a brief tour, including the Cone of Silence, we stopped at Coffee-ol-ogy where I got an iced coffee and she got a delicious chocolate milkshake.   She then scored three books she’d been wanting at the Friends Bookstore, all for under five dollars.

Hoover library

On the way home, we made two stops at Target and Kohl’s. I was glad to get back home and rest my aching knees!