Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pine Mountain Animal Safari

Today was a special day for me - I believe for Kathy and Diane as well.  This was one of the few Saturday's available before Diane's wedding that we could have a Family Day.  Diane wanted to see the Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, GA - so we headed over about 8:00am.

The day was fantastic!  Mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures graced our picnic at the visitor's center as well as our zebra-van safari ride and walk through of the park.  There seemed to be even more animals than I remember.  Long horned cows, other African bovine, and bison were waiting just inside the gate as I drove our zebra stripped Dodge minivan into the park.  They were all eager for a tasty treat and did not mind in the least sticking their massive heads inside the window where they would accept their snack and maybe drool on you at the same time.  We were feeding, petting, and scratching huge bovines from all over the world as well as Kathy's favorite:  the bison.  Diane and Kathy both were squealing and laughing like little girls.

Various deer also graced our ride-through safari.  They were more timid than the huge bovines and would not stick their heads inside the van.  They would come up to the van though and accept a snack from your hand.  Except for the occasional elk, all the deer in the park were of the small, delicate type (Fallow, etc.).  Their eyes and expressions reminded me of Gracie (yes, I fed a lot of them).

Zebra, donkey, and zedonks were also present but they got their treats tossed to them (they will bite!).  Ostritch, Emu, and Rhea also have a tendency to peck and poke at you - so they got their treats tossed as well.

The star of the show had to be the small, pot-bellied pigs.  Diane literally squealed with delight at seeing them.  She would call "piggy piggy" and they would come running from all directions.  We were even blessed to see a group of four newly born piglets near the roadway.  "Oh they're so cute" was an often heard phrase from Diane and Kathy.

Seeing, feeding, and experiencing the animals was a thrill, but nothing compared to the thrill of sharing this special day with Kathy and Diane.  Soon Diane will be married and in her own home.  I am so thankful for this time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Celtic Woman Concert - BJCC

How can I describe this special anniversary present?  Wonderful, inspiring, encouraging, a treat of sound and sight, a sweet melodious treasure – all of those words come to mind.  Perhaps the best description would be that Celtic Woman makes “my heart sing”.  This event left me with a smile on my face and in my eyes, a song in my heart, and a spring in my step.  You could not ask for much more in a concert.
These young women, as well as the musicians that back them, are remarkably talented.  The choreography, orchestration, and visual effects combined to make a stunning and vivid impression of sound and sight; an impression that will long linger in our minds.
All of my favorites were included from “You Lift Me Up”, “Orinoco Flow”, “Spanish Lady”, and of course “Amazing Grace”.  I was thrilled that the bagpiper for Amazing Grace actually entered the arena right by Kathy and me!  Nothing quite touches my spirit like the haunting shrills and strains of this simple hymn played on the bagpipes.  The sopranos and orchestration of Celtic Woman swirled up and around, mingling with the mystic tones of the bagpipes, culminating in a deeply-touching rendition that moved the audience to a total standing ovation.
This is one concert, one wedding anniversary present, that I will long remember.  Thank you, Kathy and thank you Celtic Woman.  I was absolutely blessed to witness this event.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Expedition #19 - Noccalula Falls

Hike: Gorge and other trails @ Noccalula Falls, Gadsden, AL, Sat., 4/10/2010, 10:30-14:00
Distance: approx. 2 miles  Rating: 5+/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Bright, sunshine.  Temps low 60's to mid 70's.  Light breeze.  Trails in main park well maintained and mostly gravel.  Gorge trail natural surface.  Markings adequate though not the best.  (Note:  Trail maps were not available on entry.  Perhaps due to the distraction from the BBQ Festival.)  Finding the trail was more difficult than negotiating the trail.  Neither was greatly difficult.

C.O.M.E. #19:  Had a wonderful time!  Gadsden's Annual BBQ Festival was held on same day (of which I was not aware until we got there) but the crowd was mostly confined to the parking lot and vendor areas.  We were not crowded at all in the gorge or our hike to the falls. 

It was amazing to hike behind the 90ft waterfall and peer out through the dazzling curtain of water.  The flow is signifcant and the crash of the water is certainly audible - though it is not oppressively loud.  It felt as if we were entering a secret world as we descended into the gorge and especially as we entered the cavernous area behind the fall.  Cliff swallows plied through the mist (chasing insects I presume) as we were misted by the wind-blown fog from Noccalula Falls.  Rocks all around the falls were slippery necessitating the careful stepping from rock to rock.  It was best to step on soil rather than rock if you could. 

The water flows down the gorge from the pool, often dropping through slots and small waterfalls.  Massive boulders line both sides of the creek and oten intrude into the water.  I don't believe this is water you would want to find yourself in - at least not in this area.  Wild hydrangea lined much of the downstream side of the trail (though it is not in bloom yet).  Other wildflowers joined the Redbud trees in wonderful displays.  The purple wisteria in this park is particularly showy - giving the hiker not only a visual treasure but also bathing him/her in a sweet perfume.  Kathy, Liz, Jon, and Amber joined me on this expedition.  I hope everyone else had as great a time as I did.  It ended much too soon.

To be able to appreciate GOD at work in HIS Creation at such a visceral level and share it with people I care about greatly makes for an unforgettable experience.  Thank you guys for coming with me.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Scouting Hike Mountain Creek

Hike: Mountain Creek, Sat. 4/3/2010 08:45-10:45
Distance: 4 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Mostly cloudy (big change from yesterday!).  Mild temps.  Light breeze.  Still a gorgeous day.  Just a hint of heavy clouds in the area (30% chance of T-storms this afternoon).

Did not bring my camera today - just the lightweight binocs.  Wanted to scout the trails and around the pavilions in preparation for our church-wide, after-Easter-service picnic tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to having a great afternoon of fellowship and sharing in GOD's creation.

Some things I hope to be able to share with others tomorrow:
  • A disappearing stream (that's right!)
  • Dogwoods are beautiful
  • Red Maples are in vivid display (some a little past prime)
  • Many, many small wildflowers are showing off
  • Honeysuckle is lovely, though not as showy as that at Cherokee Ridge yesterday
  • Bird song filled the air today.  I hope they are as melodious tomorrow.
  • Cottontail rabbit and many gray squirrels were scampering about.
  • HUGE tadpoles at the pool
Since I did not bring my camera today, you'll just have to join us after church tomorrow and see for yourself!

Cherokee Ridge (All Trails)

Hike: All trails at Cherokee Ridge, Fri. 4/2/2010, 10:15-14:45
Distance: 7.5 miles  Rating: 5/5  Elevation: T/H 764' to 540' at lake shore
Conditions: Sunny.  Beautiful day.  Light breeze.  Upper 70's to 82 degrees. 


"In CHRIST Alone" kept going through my head a great deal (last night) and today as well.  I open my spirit and mind to YOU, LORD.  Please lead and guide me to be the man YOU are calling me to be. 

How I wish Kathy could share in these hikes with me.  There are so many wonders to be discovered and treasured.  Many passarines, coots, crows, turkey vultures, lizards, and ground squirrels seen today.  Violets are amazing!  How I enjoy and relish these simple woodland wildflowers.  Took many pics.