Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Evening surprise

I wasn’t going to go down to the Gulf Shores beach to watch last night’s sunset because I figured it would be the same as the night before. The day’s sky had been a similar, boring and cloudless blue after all.

But just to be sure I took the camera out to the beach balcony here on the 5th floor of my hotel. And saw this.

Where did those clouds come from?

Uh oh, I better get out there, this could be good!

Looking east with the sun at my back.

In the end the sky wasn’t spectacular, but the subtle colors were.

My favorite shot. Look at those colors!

So I enjoyed my last night on the beach, reveling in the 60 something degrees, the gently rolling waves, the moon being quietly swallowed up by clouds.

The pelicans were enjoying the evening too.

I’ve got so many photos to show you from my two days here, but nothing as crazy beautiful as that last night on the beach.

That’s a wrap on a good mini vacation.

So that’s what you get to see. If I get to the rest, you’ll see more, but I sure didn’t want you to miss that sunset!


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Mountaineering

Today, after our regularly scheduled morning rain, I decided to climb Smith Mountain. This is something we always do at least once when we’re here at the lake.

The goal on top of the mountain.

You have to climb the mountain before you can climb the fire tower. It’s a long way up.

At the beginning of the trail I encountered this sign.

Well darn. But the access road will get me to the same place.

Huh. I like going up the trail, it takes longer than the access road but it has some ups and downs. Unlike the access road which goes up. And then it turns a corner and goes up some more.

Just the beginning of the upward climb.

Along the way I stopped, ostensibly to take pictures of pretty things.

Luckily there were plenty of pretty things to stop and take pictures of. Like this orange lichen on a big rock.

But really I stopped so I could breath. Did I mention that the access road goes straight up the mountain?

As I was walking a work truck crawled slowly past me, headed for the top as well. I seriously considered jumping on his tailgate.

I thought this stone, embedded in the asphalt near the top of the mountain, looked like a sketch of a girl hiking. I might have been delirious from lack of oxygen.

Once at the top I read some of the newly placed signs, about the wildlife, the birds, flowering shrubs. Anything that would stall the hike to the top of the fire tower.

But it turned out to not be that difficult. Guess the mountain warmed me up for 111 stairs. That’s one of the numbers I stopped to read about on the way up.

This sign was about 1/3 of the way up. Lots of interesting facts. Like the gazillion gallons of water in Lake Martin!

Once at the top I spent some time just enjoying the lake. I love being up there. I especially love being up there when there aren’t a lot of tourists around.

That little spit of land, with the trees reflected is on the back side of the mountain, where I walked my first week here.

Unfortunately, on this Monday there were workers down below, complete with generator going full speed to power up their tools. They’re fixing the stairs you’d climb at the end of your trail hike if you came up the mountain via trail.

Three guys and their generator sure can make a lot of noise.

I guess that’s nice. But it sure would have been nicer to listen to the wind in the pines and the birds calling. But I’ll be back, once they’re done with their project. Meanwhile I enjoyed the lovely poofy clouds and the red-ringed lake.

The Sandy Creek Narrows (I only know that’s the name of it from the new signs on the way up the tower) out to the ‘big water.’

I love this lake, it’s so beautiful, and not completely built up like most lakes are.
Sure, it’s more crowded than it was when my folks moved here in the 80s, but it’s still has a lot of empty land filled with trees and wildlife.

I loved the stripes of green fur trees against the empty limbs of the deciduous trees. Also the two turkey buzzards flying below me.

The clouds were beautiful, and sometimes the sun would peek out.

Bits of blue sky.

As I walked back down the 111 steps and started my way back down the access road I was happy that I’d made the effort to climb the tower on a beautiful afternoon. Even if it wasn’t as peaceful as I’d have liked.

It’s always a good feeling to see the world from way up high. If you’re ever this way you should definitely climb the mountain!

Standing tall, waiting for my next visit.


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Surprise around the corner

I went out this week intent on getting images of a couple barns I’d seen on my way back from Selma. It wasn’t a great day for photography, grey with a flat and boring sky. Not great light. Kind of drizzling.

I took a picture of this barn 2 years ago, through my car windshield. This time I parked in it’s driveway and got out.

But it wasn’t a great day for hanging at the lake or hiking up a mountain either, so I figured what the heck, I’d go get those barns.

I almost didn’t get out of the car for this one, but it turned out to be pretty interesting with it’s drooping roof and missing siding.

And after that second one I headed down an unfamiliar road in the direction I figured Auburn would be. I turned left when the road ended because that felt like the right direction to go.

Such stately buildings, all red brick and white trim.

And noticed all these beautiful buildings behind a black wrought iron fence. I figured it was a military school of some sort. And then I saw this house and the sign in front of it.

This is Booker T. Washington’s home. Can you guess, now, where I was?

I began to look for a place to turn around and park. Because it’s not every day you accidently stumble upon Tuskegee University.

The entrance to the university.

And you for sure as heck can’t just drive right on past it. Even if it is drizzling and cold and getting dark. I would love to go on a tour of the house, and the university. I need to do some investigating and find out if there are such things.

Did you know he had 3 wives?

Meanwhile I’ve ordered Booker T. Washington’s autobiography. I want to know more about his children too, and what they did with their lives. I hope I can find that.

This woman sounds fascinating too.

You just never know where you’ll end up when you go barn hunting.

That’s for sure.

Barns, barns, everywhere a barn.


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Selma musings

Staring at the map from here in central Alabama I searched out places to explore nearby. Right away I noticed that Selma was only a couple hours away.

Why did I not know this? Why have we never visited before?

Selma on a pretty Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, predicted to be a day filled with sun sandwiched by days of rain, seemed to be the time to go to Selma. So I did.

Armed with a map of Alabama for backup I memorized my route, I-85 to Montgomery, then highway 80 into Selma. I didn’t really figure how much time either leg would take, just went for the ride. I’m retired, I can take my time.

The trip started in grey fog, cold and damp.

I passed miles and miles of cotton fields, shorn of last year’s crop, waiting in the damp fog for spring.

Let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of nothing between here and Selma. Even the southern part of Montgomery wasn’t particularly interesting. Though I did see a miles long line of cars there, waiting, I’m guessing, to get their vaccines, complete with sheriff’s cars, lights flashing, managing the crowd.

That brought me back to reality. I’d been hanging out at the lake, no national news, sort of losing track of what was going on out in the rest of the world. That line of cars, all those people waiting, woke me up to the fact that things are still crazy dangerous.

Eventually I was driving through an area with strip malls, empty commercial spaces and tiny brick houses. Up a slight rise and I realized, with a quick intake of breath, that I was going over the bridge.

Suddenly I realized where I was.

The bridge where on March 7, 1965, Bloody Sunday, marchers for civil rights were met with violence. The bridge where just last year John Lewis’s body, in it’s casket, paused for a national moment of reflection.

I held my breath as I drove slowly over it and into the town itself.

I took these images after I had parked and walked back over the bridge. I walked over the bridge a total of 3 times, the light just kept getting better.

I parked near the bridge and walked back over it, stopping to take pictures of the backside of town, and of the river.

The Alabama River was still that morning. So was the backside of Selma.

There’s was a moment, at the top, where I had to stop and just be. I imagined what it must have been like, sounded like. Felt like. It seemed like a sacred place, even with cars speeding by only a foot away.

If these steel beams could talk.

Then I walked around downtown a bit. It’s in a sad state of disrepair. The whole place needs a huge cash infusion.

Closed for covid? Or closed forever?

I don’t know why there aren’t tours to be had. (Though there was one young man who offered to give me a tour.) Why there’s not a 1960 diner with chocolate malts or strong coffee.

No diner, but you can get a haircut!

Why there’s not a welcome center with a documentary playing around the clock in a little theatre off the main display hall.

Jubilee headquarters.

There is an interpretive center a few miles away, but I doubt that contributes to the revenue of Selma itself, and of course it was closed due to covid anyway.

A pretty staircase to nowhere.

There’s some beautiful old buildings, some are kind of restored, some are in disrepair.

I don’t think they had a room available. But not because they were busy.

There are several huge beautiful churches.

The Blue Jean church.

There was a bit of eccentric art here and there.

This poor little ghost was the character in a local author’s books, and moved around town as part of a promotional effort several years ago.

In fact there was an air of eccentricity over most of the town.

After market additions to this souped up chevy.

I found a couple of pretty places.

A Rotary Club park, with mural and benches where buildings once stood.

But mostly what I felt was sad. Sad that this piece of history is only acknowledged on anniversaries, or this past year, the death of John Lewis.

I hope this Board of Education building doesn’t reflect the condition of the school system. But it might.

Sad that I grew up during the period of racial tensions (the ones back then, they’re still going on, I know.) and I didn’t really have any idea.

I didn’t see a lot of evidence of living the future.

Sad that, if I’m honest, I still don’t really have any idea.

A little park, also falling into disrepair, at the beginning of the bridge.

The town seems stuck in 1965, it’s moment of fame, but there are people living here that have been left behind, just like people in small rural towns all across the country. People in big cities too, if we’re being honest. Places where money and technology just don’t reach.

I agree, the name of the bridge needs to be changed if this town is ever going to move forward. Doesn’t have to be the John Lewis Bridge, but that would be nice too.

It’s a huge problem with no easy answers. But if more people visited Selma, found ways to spend some money here, maybe at least one historical place would begin to move forward, respecting the past but moving into the future.

Sagging under neglect.


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A fleeting moment

Yesterday started out with fog but ended up warm with sunshine filling my space.

It was 70F with sun by the end of the afternoon!

Like most evenings since I’ve been here, there wasn’t much of a sunset even though there were a few floaty clouds overhead.

Wispy bits float by

The sun quietly slid below the horizon while I was busy talking on the phone.

Evening falls on a fine day.

It was a good way to end a day I’d spent mini adventuring. More on that in another post.

This morning, just like a certain sheltie-girl who will remain nameless, the light woke me at 6 a.m. The strange glow in the room had me leaping out of bed searching frantically for my clothes and then the camera.

Because this was outside:

This hasn’t been edited. This was the color I wasn’t sure I was seeing.

The whole world was orange and I knew it wouldn’t last.

It looks like a sepia photo from my grandmother’s time.

Sure enough, after only a minute or two the grey fog began to creep in, damp on my cheeks and the camera lens.

The fog moves in, obliterating the light.

And the whole world changed to grey.

Turned to black and white.

But wasn’t that orange moment worth getting up early for!

Katie says that would be a lesson well learned.

I have faith the light will return.

Edit: If you want to see an extraordinary sky, check out this post from 3 years ago about now when I was down here with Katie-girl.