Life Verse:

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mountain Creek - Late Autumn Hike with Gracie - 12/19/2017

Hike: Alabama Historic Commission, Confederate Memorial Park, Mountain Creek, AL; Tuesday, 12/19/2017 08:45-11:20CST
Distance: 4.13 miles   Rating: 5.0/5.0   Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Trails wet with standing water.  Mild temps.  Calm.  Foggy to cloudy.

Gracie did very well in her SAR vest.  I did not notice any decrease in her physical activity level - running or jumping.

Passerines, crows, and squirrels were quite busy.  Gracie gave chase to a few.

"Signs of Christmas:  Love" is the message for Sunday.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hiking Mountain Creek - 12/16/2017

Hike: Mountain Creek, Alabama, Saturday, 12/16/2017, 09:05-11:30CST
Distance: 4.25 miles  Rating: 5.0/5.0  Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Crisp, cold, and clear morning.  Calm.  Temperature in low 30s at start.  Trails in good shape with a few eroded areas.  Some tree/bush falls due to recent heavy snowfall.

Wonderful morning hike at this favorite spot of ours.  This is Gracie's first hike after a three week convalescence from surgery.  She certainly seemed to enjoy getting out on the trail!  Except for woodpeckers, hawks, crows, and passerines, we had the trails all to ourselves.  Did not see any deer today.

Message for tomorrow:  "Signs of Christmas: Joy".  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Verse of the Day

Colossians 3:16-17 
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hiking Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends - 25Nov2017

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends (Upland section), Sat. 25Nov2017, 09:10-11:30CST
Distance: 4.3 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.9/5.0
Conditions: Clear. Calm. Upper 40s to Low 50s.  Trails in good shape.  


Gracie and I had the upper trails largely to ourselves.  We did encounter one mountain biker as we were exiting the trail (after playing frisbee).  Gracie did not think too much of the bicycle.

Trees displayed more color along the banks of Lake Jordan than we had seen at Cherokee Ridge or Mountain Creek.  The orange, red, yellow, gold, and green were a treat for the eyes.

Gracie did extremely well off leash, though I was always listening out for mountain bikes.  

A wonderful morning for a hike and a fantastic hiking buddy.  Thank YOU, LORD.

Friday, November 24, 2017

#OptOutside - Hiking Mountain Creek with Gracie - 24Nov2017

Hike: Various trails - Mountain Creek Park; Friday, 24Nov2017, 07:50-11:20CST
Distance: 4.1 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.8/5.0
Conditions: Beautiful clear blue sky.  Calm.  Mid 40s to low 50s.  Trails dry and in good shape.  No other trail users today.


Quite a few squirrels scampering across the forest floor.  Gracie gave a good chase to one along the Nature Trail!

We were serenaded to bird song throughout the hike and even the cadence of a woodpecker on one occasion.  Robins were abundant near the Pine Upland Trail.  

Gracie enjoyed the frisbee time in the Pine Upland clearing as always.  How much slobber can one dog get on a frisbee?... 

The forest was bathed in a beautiful golden hue with the mid-Autumn morning sun.  Long filaments of spider silk glistened like Christmas tree icicles.  Hardwood leaves and pine needles blended together to make a soft, silent carpet as we hiked and played frisbee together.  Except for bird song and woodpecker percussion it was quiet enough to clearly hear Gracie's footfalls as she ran back and forth along the trails and off-trail into the forest.

A beautiful day for a hike with my Best Trail Buddy.  Thank YOU, FATHER, for YOUR love and blessings.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hiking Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Monday, 11/20/2017

Hike: Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Monday, 11/20/17 09:20-11:30CST
Distance: 4.5 miles  Difficulty: Moderate  Rating: 5/5
Conditions: Mostly sunny to partly cloudy.  Low 40s.  Calm.  Trails in good shape.
Hiking with Gracie.  This was her first "serious" trail hike; plenty of rocks, boulders, steep up and down-grades.  She handled them all well!  Gracie is such a great trail buddy.  We played frisbee twice during the hike.  Once near the Chimney Rock viewing area and then on the beach near the confluence of the Chimney Rock Trail and the North Cherokee Ridge Trail.  I believe Gracie enjoyed the trail hike greatly -- lots of new smells and sounds. 

The trailhead area has been remodeled -- new picnic tables and concrete handicap access to the picnic area. 

Thank YOU, LORD, for this beautiful day and this gracious creature -- Gracie is such a blessing.

We are both looking forward to a cheeseburger for an after-hike treat!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fall Hike / Frisbee Play - Mountain Creek -- Saturday, 11/11/2017

Hike: Nature Trail and Pine Upland Trail @ Confederate Memorial Park, Mountain Creek, AL; Saturday, 11/11/2017, 08:30-11:00CST
Distance: 4.25 Miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.8/5.0
Conditions: Clear skies.  Calm.  Moderate temps.  Beautiful conditions.  Trails in excellent shape.  No other humans in the park.
Today was an absolutely gorgeous day for a hike.  Though in truth any day is a "gorgeous day" to go hiking!  Especially when you have a fantastic Hiking Buddy like Gracie! 

We were on the trail by 08:30 and had the trails completely to ourselves.  At least there were no other human trail users.  Chipmunks, squirrels, and two large whitetail deer were our companions this day.  Gracie chased chipmunks but they were just a bit too quick.  The two large doe made better chase prey but they were on the other side of the fence -- sorry Gracie!

Birds serenaded us throughout the hike and witnessed Gracie's athleticism with the frisbee.  The open patch in the Pine Upland area was discovered as a great frisbee play area today.  I do not know why it had not dawned on me before that it would be a great place to chase the frisbee.  It might be even better than the grassy area behind the church because it is more remote.

The peace and solitude of this wonderful little park was greatly appreciated.  The companionship of my Trail Buddy was wonderful!

Thoughts on Romans 10-12.  Preparing for "Treasures in Romans - Salvation & Sanctification".  

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hiking @ Ft. Toulouse State Historic Park - 9/9/2017

Hike: Ft. Toulouse State Historic Park, Wetumpka, AL, Sat. 9/9/2017, 09:30-10:45CDT
Distance: 2.3 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 5.0/5.0
Conditions: Perfect! Bright blue sky.  Lower temps (70s) with lower humidity.  Nice breeze.  Trails were in good shape.  A few other people in the park, but Gracie and I had the trails largely to ourselves.

Perfect day and spot for a hike.  One could not ask for better weather, or better companionship!  Gracie did magnificent off-leash!  She seems to enjoy the hiking (maybe not as much as I do) and certainly is enthusiastic about frisbee-play time.

The Coosa was a little choppy from the breeze.  The Tallapoosa was surprisingly brown -- presumably from recent rains.

The trails in the area of the confluence of the two rivers has changed due to the Tallapoosa undercutting the banks.  Several areas have fallen into the river.  It is still a magical place.  Gracie seemed to enjoy the view of the Coosa more than the Tallapoosa.

Some tall, purple wildflowers were showing off.  It's early for Fall, but the weather and these blooms certainly put me in the mood for my favorite time of year!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hiking/Frisbee @ Mountain Creek - 8/26/2017

Hike: Mountain Creek Historical Park, AL, Sat., 09:30-12:00CDT
Distance: 2.2 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.8/5.0
Conditions:  Overcast. Hi 70s to mid 80s.  Humid.  Light breeze.  Trails in good shape - some slight washing from recent rains.  A few other trail users encountered.
Gracie and I shared our customary "All American Omelette" breakfast under one of the pavilions before hitting the trail.  I hiked Gracie on-leash at the start since there were a couple of other hikers on the Nature Trail and she did wonderful.  She played off leash in the creek (as usual) and then we spent some quality frisbee time under the Sycamore Tree below the church.  I believe Gracie would play frisbee until she dropped from heat exhaustion!  I finally made her quit, stowed the frisbee, gave her some more water, and we resumed hiking on the Pine Upland Trail.

It was a beautiful day.  The overcast clouds hid the sun and reduced temperatures.  No wildlife observed on this outing.

Thank YOU, LORD, for times like this and for My Trail Buddy!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hike & Frisbee @ Mountain Creek - 7/29/2017

Hike: Mountain Creek (Confederate Memorial Park), Sat., 7/29/2017, 09:00-10:30CDT
Distance: 2.4 miles  Difficulty: Easy, though humidity was extremely high! Rating: 5.0/5.0
Conditions: Cloudy.  Temperature in upper 70s to low 80s with very high humidity.  Calm to light breeze.  Trails mostly in good shape with a few eroded area due to recent rains.  Some standing water.  No blow-downs.

Today was another combo day, with hiking and frisbee play.  I was particularly pleased with Gracie's behavior on-trail.  She was off-leash for frisbee play and for the last 1/3 to 1/2 of the hike (no one else on trails).  She was incredible, staying within eye-shot of me and coming when called.  I have always desired a dog that I could depend on to come when called and that I could trust off-leash.  Gracie seems to be developing into that dog!  One could not ask for a better hiking buddy.  She is always ready for an adventure - always has a positive attitude.  Her jubilant personality is infectious!

We started the morning with a trip to Tropical Smoothie Cafe for an Island Green smoothie and our normal All American Omelette.  We shared the omelette at one of the picnic areas in the park before beginning our hike.  After a brief warm up with the frisbee, we hit the Nature Trail.  

No wildlife was encountered during our hike though Gracie seemed to be interested in smells throughout much of the time.  She particularly enjoys the small creek area off the nature trail, eagerly going down into the creek and splashing around in the water and sand.

After hiking the Nature Trail we spent a little time on the grassy area downhill from the church.  This  is our prime frisbee play portion of the park.  Gracie can chase long-throws at full speed without interference here.  We encountered a family of three as we hiked to the grassy area.  The young teenage girl asked and petted Gracie.  She attracts attention wherever we go with those gorgeous eyes.

With the frisbee play complete we packed up and hiked the horse trails along the creek and into the pine upland area.  Gracie enjoyed laying in the rain cooled sand as we prepared to climb the small hills into the pine upland.  Since she was so well behaved today, I let Gracie off-leash for the last 1/3 to 1/2 of the hike.  I am absolutely thrilled with Gracie's demeanor, intelligence, and actions on trail.  She is a wonderful blessing - a wonderful Hiking Buddy!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Urban Hike/Frisbee Play - Overlook Park - 7/27/2017

Urban Hike: Overlook Memorial Park Thu 7/27/2017 18:30-19:10CDT
Distance: 1.2 miles Difficulty: Easy Rating: 5.0/5.0
Conditions: Just after thundershower. 
Wonderful time in park with My Buddy. She did fantastic off leash playing frisbee. I launched the frisbee to great lengths at times. Each time she chased & retrieved at full speed. She was beautiful!  Her behavior off leash could not be better. I am so pleased with her development. Gracie is such a blessing to me. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Morning Urban Hike - 7/27/2017

Urban Hike: Thames to Overlook Park & return; Thu, 7/27/17 05:27-05:57CDT
Distance: 1.2 miles. Difficulty: Easy. Rating: 4.8/5.0
Conditions: Mostly cloudy. Mild. Some light fog. 
Quiet morning hike. Serenaded to bird song. Enjoyed the milder morning temperature. 

Gracie did very well. Took her off leash near Dennis' house. She is very behaved without distractions. 

Psalm 121 was morning verse. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Urban Hike (Morning & Evening) - Tue., 7/25/2017

Urban Hike: Thames to Overlook Park & Return (via Daniel Pratt Elementary in A.M.); Tue., 7/25/2017; 05:14-06:10CDT & 19:24-20:00CDT
Distance: 2.8 (1.6 and 1.2)  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.5/5.0 (both)
Conditions: Just getting light on morning hike.  Mild temps.  Relatively quiet.  Evening hike: mostly cloudy (just dodged a summer thundershower), light breeze, milder temps.
Had to divert through Daniel Pratt Elementary School grounds on the morning hike due to darkness.  We had the park largely to ourselves.  No cats seen today.  Nice way to start the morning.
This evening we enjoyed cloudy skies, cooler temperatures, and a gentle breeze.  Thunder could be heard in the distance.  There were a few people at the park but nothing distracted Gracie.  The cicada choir was especially vociferous near the entrance to the park.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Morning & Evening Urban Hike - Overlook Park - Monday, 7/24/2017 - w/ Gracie

Urban Hike: Thames to Overlook Park & Return (05:30-06:00CDT & 19:00-19:30CDT)
Distance: (Total) 2.4 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.5/5.0
Conditions: Nice morning weather.  Little traffic.  // Evening: Mostly cloudy, temps in low 80s.  Thunder in the distance.  Evening traffic and noises distracted Gracie several times.

Great to be able to get a morning and evening urban hike in today.  I needed it.  Gracie seemed to warm to the idea of the leash much better this evening.  I left the halter on her all day.  There were little distractions on the morning route.  Quite a few loud noises this evening distracted Gracie.  She behaved quite well though.

Gracie was introduced to cats this morning on the wooden bridge between Overlook Park & Jenny Dr.  This evening she met two teens on skateboards.  I'm not sure which she disliked more!

Good way to start & end the day.  Thank YOU, LORD, for this time and buddy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Urban Hike & Frisbee @ Overlook Park - Saturday, 7/22/2017

Urban Hike: Overlook Park, Sat., 7/22/2017 07:45-08:30CDT
Route: Thames to Overlook Park via Irma return via Jay St.
Distance: 1.2 miles  Duration: 45 min  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.5/5.0
Conditions: Quite warm & muggy even at 07:45 this morning.  Heavy dew.  Yard sale on upper Thames made for more than usual traffic on Thames.  (Gracie does not like traffic!)
Since we have work planned around the house today, I elected to take Gracie on an Urban Hike/Frisbee Play to Overlook Park.  We are certainly in summer -- temperatures are very warm as soon as the sun comes up.  Humidity is oppressive (what's new in Alabama during the summer?).  I did not work Gracie long or hard, letting her walk around the park and then playing frisbee off-leash for a little while.  She drank some water but seemed to want to play IN the bowl and get the water ON herself.  (Can't say that I blame her for that.)
Overlook Park is convenient and well maintained.  (Thank you City of Prattville.)  Gracie enjoys going here and running.  It is well-used however and not always suitable for Gracie to be off-leash.

Thank YOU, LORD, for this beautiful day and this Hiking Buddy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Urban Hike Overlook Park - 7/19/2018

Urban Hike to Overlook Park with Gracie Girl! Since she got me up at 4am to play I thought it was time for some additional exercise at 5! 

She enjoyed the hike as usual. I was amused watching her meet a cicada for the first time. I should have videoed the event!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Archaeological Hike - Old Cahawba - Monday, 7/17/2017

 Hike: Nature Trail at Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, Orrville, AL; Monday, 7/17/2017, 11:00-12:00CDT
Distance: 1.0 mile  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.0/5.0
Conditions: Cloudy to PCloudy.  Light breeze.  Very hot and quite muggy.  Trails/roads were in excellent shape.  (Nature trail is paved walkway.)  Other trails/roads are asphalt, gravel, and natural.
Gracie and I hiked the paved Nature Trail to the Canoe launch on the Cahaba River.  I was surprised at the swarms of mosquitoes that greeted us along the route.  If you took time to stop, you would be lunch!  Gracie did not seem to mind the flying plague, but I did not like them at all.  (Note to self: Bring DEET.)  Due to the heat and humidity, I was concerned that Gracie might overheat if we continued hiking the park.  We elected to explore the rest of the park via the truck.  (So technically this is a Hike/Road Trip.)

Old Cahawba is well maintained.  Roads of asphalt, gravel, and natural surface make travel through the ghost town easy.  Prominent ruins are located on the map and with signage.  We observed one active archaeological dig near the site of the old capital.

Canoe launch on the Cahaba is easily reached via the paved trail.  I did not observe a launch area on the Alabama River.  Adequate picnic tables and restroom facilities make this park a little-known gem.  I highly recommend visiting in Fall or Winter if you intend to spend time in the forest or rivers. 

Lake Jordan Paddle - Saturday, 07/15/2017

Kayaking: Lake Jordan Alabama (Put in at Rotary Landing); Saturday, 7/15/2017, 07:00-11:00CDT
Distance: 8 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.8/5.0
Conditions:  On lake at 07:00CDT, cloudy and mild.  Lake was extremely placid.  The cooler temperatures were greatly appreciated.  Light breeze by end of the paddle had ripples on the lake.  Motor boat traffic produced larger waves nearer the take-out point.  Temperatures were very warm by 11:00am as the sun began to assert its presence.
Enjoyed kayaking with my brother, Glenn, and a friend from church, Brian Goff.  Lake Jordan was unusually peaceful and still at the start of our paddle.  We launched from Rotary Landing without incident though Gracie proceeded to step off the kayak about 5 minutes after launch!  She managed to slip off the yak a total of three times within the first 30 minutes of the trip (one time by stepping off backwards!).  After this last event she settled down and rested against me for the duration of the trip.  (She wears here PFD at all times and is tethered to the yak.)
Observed bass, carp, and alligator gar jumping, as well as heron, egret, cormoran, and osprey.  Lake was about full pool thanks to recent rains.  Water was warm.

I was pleased with Gracie's behavior around other people (she is aloof at the beginning but warms up to strangers) and her actions on the kayak (slips off the yak aside).  She maintained a centered and still position for the great majority of the trip.  As she approaches her mature weight it will be even more important that she remain centered!  

After our paddle, all four of us enjoyed BBQ at Champs!  Great day on the water with friends.  

Summer Hike - Mountain Creek - Gracie(#2)'s First "Official Trail" Hike

Hike: Confederate Memorial Park, Mountain Creek, AL; Friday, 7/14/2017 09:00-10:30CDT
Distance: 2.1 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.8/5.0
Conditions: Clear to PCloudy.  Very warm.  Light breeze.  Trails in great shape.  
Gracie(#2) and I had the park to ourselves.  We did not observe any wildlife today but enjoyed bird song and gentle breezes.  This was Gracie's first "official trail" hike.  She hiked on-leash without any problem and then played frisbee off-leash in the grassy area.  She enjoyed playing in the small creek that runs through the park.  Shade and gentle breezes were appreciated by both of us.  Thank YOU, LORD, for this place and this special puppy.  I have a new "Hiking Buddy"!

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Swayback TOLA - May 6, 2017

Hike: Swayback (freestyle) - portions of Red and Black Trails; Sat. 5/6/2017, 10:12-12:30CDT
Distance: 5.3 miles    Rating: 4.8/5.0    Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Met several hikers and bikers on trail.  Weather was perfect and people were taking advantage of the opportunity to get on the trail.  Gorgeous clear blue sky.  Light & variable wind.  Upper 60s to mid 70s.  Trails damp but in good shape.
Hikes to the chorus of Passerines.  Squirrels were busy about the forest floor as usual.  Dragonflies, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies, & Damselflies were in abundance.  Lake Jordan was serene and inviting.  It would have been a good morning to take the kayak out for a paddle.  At least one kayak angler was fishing in the big lagoon as I hiked through the area.  One of these days the turtles will learn that I am not going to bother them -- they do not have to dive back in to the lake as I hike along the shoreline.  

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Early Spring Hike - Swayback TOLA - 4/1/2017 (No April's Fool here!)

Hike: Swayback TOLA; Sat., 4/1/2017, 09:00-12:00CDT
Distance: 5.9 miles  Rating: 4.8/5.0  Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Bright blue, clear sky.  Calm.  Low 70's.  Trails mostly dry with a few muddy patches from recent rains.  Swampy area near trailhead is at full-pool.

Since the weather was so gorgeous, I shared the trail with several mountain bikers, trail-runners, and a few other hikers.  There was plenty of beauty and solitude to go around though.

My mind was on the message for tomorrow from Isaiah 55 -- GOD's Thoughts, Words, & Actions!  I can certainly see and feel HIS care, creativity, and actions all around me.  I was thrilled to witness a pileated woodpecker in flight on a portion of the Black Trail past the slough.  This bird is certainly striking in size and coloration.  The Northern Cardinal is always one of my favorites, and he did not disappoint on this occasion.  Paserine choirs were present throughout the hike.  Butterflies are beginning to make an appearance.  (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail).  Wild azaleas and small purple flowers (that remind me of small irises) were in full bloom.  Dogwoods are beginning to show their color as well.

Thank YOU, LORD, for this wonderful spot and this time.  YOU are magnified in YOUR Creation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hike @ Mountain Creek 3/19/2017

Hike: Confederate Memorial Park, Mountain Creek, AL; Sun., 3/19/2017, 15:00-17:00CDT
Distance: 4.2 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4/5
Conditions: Beautiful blue, clear sky.  Light breeze.  Low 70's.  Trails damp but little standing water.
Cardinals (one of my favorite song birds) and Red Maples were the stars.  Both of these painted the forest with bright red!  Squirrels and chipmunks made a few appearances, mostly near the stream or drainage areas.  I disturbed a large owl (not a clear enough sighting for an identification) near the southern property line; getting glimpses of him flying to a new roost.  A gray titmouse watched me closely as I descended the "hickory trail" to the "Nature Trail".  

It was a beautiful day to enjoy GOD's Creation.  This is a wonderful little park.

Swayback Trail of Legends 3/17/2017

Hike: Swayback Trail of Legends; Fri., 3/17/2017, 10:10-12:30CDT
Distance: 7.0 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: Easy
Conditions: Mostly cloudy. Low 50s to upper 60s. Calm. Trails wet from recent rains.
A few squirrels & chipmunks caught my attention as they scampered around the forest floor.  An Avain Worship Team led praise today - Not quite enough singing to be a choir!  I found myself marching to woodpecker's cadence.

I was delighted to see that Woodland violets were still blooming even after several cold nights recently.  My views into the forest were the deepest they have been throughout the year.  Soon Spring will bring leaves out to once again hide the deep views.