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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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.


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Feeling a bit suspicious

Katie here. I had to borrow daddy’s ‘puter cause I can’t find mama’s laptop. To be truthful, I can’t find mama either.

Morning

But I don’t want to admit I’ve lost her. After all, it’s my job to know where she is all the time. And trust me it’s not easy, especially with my propensity to nap and her propensity to wander. Mama’s always moving around on me. I rest my eyes and when I open them again she’s in some other part of the house.

Only this time I looked in all her favorite places and I can’t find her!

Clouds

I think she’s playing hide and seek with me, and I think she seriously needs to cut it out! There must be a secret room somewhere in this house, and I’m going to find it.

Right after I rest my eyes.

Barn

So anyway, it’s a good thing I can find my dad. He’s been really good about taking me on walks and making my supper and stuff. But I still wonder where mama is.

Visitor

Hey! I just had a thought! Do you think she’s off adventuring without me? No, that can’t be it. Mama would never leave me behind.

She’s not off taking pictures of stuff that’s not me is she?

Artsy-fartsy

Making new friends?

Horses

Exploring new places? Or…..no this couldn’t possibly be it….she’s not off exploring some of my favorite places without me.

Road

Is she?

Reflections


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Take a walk with me. But bring the map.

As you know I’m in Alabama. You’d think it would be warm being in the South, and it sort of is. It’s warmer than up where I came from. But it’s not really warm.

Looking at both sides.

I arrived late Friday night. Saturday was cold and rainy, but Sunday the sky brightened and turned into big puffy white and grey clouds and it got way up into the 60s! I just knew I had to take advantage of the weather, so I headed over to Smith Mountain.

The beginning of the fire road around the mountain. One of Katie’s favorite places to walk. Mine too.

You’ve heard me talk about Smith Mountain before. You can climb up the mountain and then climb up a fire tower that sits on top of the mountain and you have a glorious view of Lake Martin.

From another year, another hike up the mountain.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, but I didn’t do that on Sunday.

No, Sunday the parking lot was full of cars when I arrived and I didn’t want to deal with a fire tower filled with masked or unmasked people. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to climb the mountain.

So I took the walk around the base of the mountain. It’s one of Katie’s favorite places to walk, a big fire road that circles around to the back of the mountain.

The water is low, but the area behind the mountain is still beautiful.

She and I never tried to go all the way around the mountain, because I wasn’t sure if the road actually did that and I didn’t want to get stuck with her and have to make her walk all the way back. So we usually turned around on the backside of the mountain.

She was never happy about turning around.

Little stuff caught my attention too.

So this time I thought I’d just see if the road (which I used as a trail, though it is not part of the trail system, went all the way around. It made sense that it might end up right back at the parking lot.

Lots of interesting shapes and colors.

I was so confident I didn’t look at the map posted at the beginning. I figured it would all work out. I also didn’t take any water. And I accidently left my phone in the car. But I had my camera, so all was good. Right? Of course right!

Such pretty colors on Sunday!

I stopped and got lots of pictures, and when I got to the spot where Katie and I always turned around I figured since the road/trail continued, a nice wide path that had obviously been used, I’d just keep going too.

Hmmmm, are the clouds looking kind of stormy?

Eventually I got to a spot that said “To the tower this way,” and “To the parking lot this way.” Bingo! The parking lot was only .4 miles away! (disclaimer, I was already sort of tired and was disappointed it was .4 miles away, I figured it should be around the next corner.)

This looks promising!

So I kept going on the nice wide path, covered in pine needles. Which got narrower and narrower and there were no more signs and it didn’t seem to be going in the direction that I thought the parking lot should be.

Eventually I saw a pink mark on a tree, and I thought “GOOD! At least I’m on some sort of trail. Maybe I can figure out where this goes!”

Is this trail really going anywhere I want to go?

But shortly after that I saw houses off in the distance where there should be no houses, and water on my left when it should have been on my right. And I knew this was not going to get me to the parking lot. Plus I’d been walking a long time and surely had traveled .4 miles by now.

So I turned around and went back and eventually crossed a trail that had a blue mark painted on a tree and I figured maybe that was a good sign (if I’d looked at the map I’d have known I needed to stay on blue!) Using the sun as a guide for which direction I was going I headed out, hoping it was toward the parking lot.

Maybe THIS is the right way.

A fisherman came the other way and I asked him how far to the parking lot (acting like I KNEW I was on the right path) and he said about half a mile. Sigh. But at least I knew I’d get there eventually!

I see a car!!

When I finally made it to the parking lot I smiled a lot, and then I studied the map, and figured I had taken some of the blue trail, some of the fire road, some of the pink trail and a whole lot of who knows what. I wasn’t at all sure where I’d been, but it sure had been pretty!

When I finally got home I had sweated through my shirt, sweatshirt and jacket. I opened all the windows, and enjoyed the lovely breeze.

After a long drink of water I decided to download the pictures, and noticed that the memory chip that belongs in my camera was sitting on the kitchen table. Which meant it wasn’t in my camera during that walk. Sigh. Double sigh.

I was really sad.

Monday it was very cold, no sun, sleet and rain. No walking around the mountain for me.

But Tuesday, oh Tuesday was bright and sunny! Not a cloud in the sky. I set out for the mountain, determined to retake the best of the pictures I’d gotten on Sunday. And ready to figure out the right way to walk around the mountain.

OK. Here’s the map. I’m sure you’d have had no trouble figuring this out. But most of the fire road isn’t even ON this map.

I studied the map again before I started out. I even took a picture of it in case I needed it out in the field. I am a slow learner, but I eventually figure it out. The fire road isn’t on the map, but it connects two sections of the blue trail and you need to stay on the blue trail to get back to the parking lot…except when it’s a white trail. Either way, DO NOT GET ON THE PINK TRAIL.

Tuesday was windy, with no clouds. The tall pines were waving in the breeze.

And just before I started I checked my camera to make sure the memory card was in there. And remembered this new camera has 2 slots for 2 memory cards. And guess what? There were two memory cards in there.

It was a beautiful day, not as warm as Sunday, so I wore my winter coat.

Which means there was probably a memory card in the camera on Sunday. Which means that the pictures I took on Sunday were probably on that other card. Which means that I really didn’t have to walk around the mountain again.

Pretty stuff everywhere. But pay attention to where you are this time.

Except I really wanted to prove to myself that I could figure out the right trail.

So I did.

And here’s what I learned. It might apply to life in general too.

When you come to an choice of paths to take and there are no signs, and one path seems easier, wide and sunny and covered with soft pine needles, and the other path looks tough, uphill, rocky and narrow, take the harder path, and look for signs that you’re on the right one.

This is where I made my mistake on Sunday. See that path to the left? I never saw it. The sign that says parking lot .4 miles? It has an arrow that points slightly UP. The correct path is the one on the left. The easy path is the one on the right. But that takes you to the PINK trail! WRONG WRONG WRONG!

The easier path will never get you where you need to go.

And that’s the truth. Every place I had to make a decision, if I took the easier choice I never saw a blue (or any) mark on a tree denoting the correct trail. So I’d backtrack and try the other option and there would be that comforting mark.

Even when it seems like you need to be a mountain goat, follow the harder path, it’s the right one.

Every single time if I took the harder option I soon learned I was on the right trail.

Keep your eye out for trail markings, those blue rectangles mean you’re heading in the right direction.

Let that be a lesson for us all.

If you just look there are always signs to point you on your way.

And may you always find your way, following your own personal markers in life.

Signs of spring.

PS: Happy birthday, Dad. I’m at your house, adventuring in some of your favorite places. I know you’re with me. But you would have looked at the map first. I know. Lesson learned. 🙂