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!
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
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.
Red Mountain ~ January, 2016
When I got home I went out in my backyard with the Canon and took some suburbscapes as well. Here’s one-
I got an extra surprise shot as a plane came in for a landing at the nearby 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.
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.
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.
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
- Bug spray is a good idea
- Bring water
- Bathrooms are porta-potties, so be warned
- Go early to beat the crowd on a Saturday
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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!
School will be out soon and it will be a good time to hit the trail! 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!
I went for the first time last week with my husband, son, and his family. We went for the hiking, so I have lot more to check out! It was a great experience and I will definitely be going back.
Once more, the backpack came in handy for the little one. There were some really steep spots, but we soldiered on and got to the more level areas. The trails are clearly marked – our five year old grandson 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.
I can’t wait to go again!
- 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
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. There are 12 miles of trails to explore. And it’s free!
I went with my husband on a few Saturday mornings back when it was still cold. We are so out of shape and need to remedy that before August when we are going to Montana. In the parking lot there was a handful of cars.
Fast forward to the first weekend in May and WOW! The parking lot was packed. This time I went with my son, daughter-in-law, and two grandkids. Fortunately they had borrowed a backpack carrier for the little one – it was perfect. She sat up there like a princess and was a trooper when she got slapped a few times by low hanging limbs. Her 6’5” daddy forgot she was up there as high as him!
Climbing around the massive limestone boulders is fun and the 5-year old really got into it. We chanted “going on a bear hunt” a few times as we explored. We stumbled upon a group of guys playing with fire – Up in Flames – quite entertaining.
I plan to return soon with my dog, Loretta. Pets are allowed on a leash – just clean up behind them.
- 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
- Be sure to go in November during the Moss Rock Festival