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Evil Raccoon

I found this cartoon in Birmingham’s Black & White paper. I love it, especially the first panel.

For more cartoons by these people, visit Slow Wave.

Birmingham

I love traveling, and not just “great outdoors” traveling, but really any kind of exploration of a new place. This week, I was lucky enough to get to do a little everyday traveling of my own while I attended the National Lawyers Guild convention in Birmingham, Alabama.

I spent the night with my parents, so I set off on Friday from the Columbus area, up through Montgomery to B’ham. My cousin, C, and I had lunch in Montgomery–dee-lish meat and three dining at a restaurant called Southern Pleasures. Yum, especially since my diet hadn’t seen anything resembling a real vegetable in a week or two. It was great to see C, and we had a fun time catching up and talking politics.

After lunch, it was off to Birmingham to try and find my way through a city I’ve never really visited on my own before. I had the good fortune of my exit occurring before the exchange where a tanker truck had burned and demolished a bridge on the Interstate, so I didn’t have to deal with any detours.

Alabama is really a beautiful state, and I couldn’t help but think that again and again as I drove up the highway. Maybe it’s so lovely to me because it reminds me of the region I grew up in, since both my home-region and the area I drove through are piedmont areas.

I found the Radisson where the convention was located without any problem whatsoever, and moseyed around, getting registered and looking at the information tables set up in the foyer. Not too exciting, since most of the workshops had ended for the day, but after the other UGA students arrived, we did attend the student party at Burly Earls, where we met some of the students from the Vermont School of Law chapter. รูเล็ตออนไลน์Meteorite played for us; a jazzy band that appears to make the Alabama college town circuit. (I hope you note my fantastic musical criticism skills which that sentence showcased. Ha!)

Saturday, I attended two of the workshops–one on police use of unreasonable less than lethal force, and the other about radio-frequency ids and privacy issues. These were interesting presentations–more like jumping off places for learning more about any of the issues discussed than in-depth coverage, but still very interesting topics.

In between workshops, I set out to explore a bit. Birmingham has a pretty walkable downtown, at least around the UAB campus where we were located. Public transportation also seemed to be readily available, with schedules posted at each stop, and I saw several buses and trolleys run by during the day. I hadn’t been able to do much research, and although I like adventure, I prefer it with a crowd, so I decided not to jump on a bus and travel wherever it went. But I’m really aggravated that I didn’t get to ride a trolley, so I will have to return to B’ham just to ride them.

I tore the map out of the Yellow Pages and set off to find the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which I did pretty easily. This is a great place to visit, and I spent well over an hour there, moving through the exhibits and seeing the introductory film (although I watched this at the end of my tour since there was a large school group ahead of me, so the docents let me go ahead without watching the film first).

Sometimes I think it’s incredible how different life was when my parents were children–the desire to live in an absurdly segregated society, and the ferocity that it was protected and upheld. I have a hard time comprehending it, even though it’s not as if there is perfect racial harmony and a de facto integrated society today. But it’s not like I’m going to be arrested on trumped up vagrancy charges for sitting at the same table with a person of another race either.

Besides the wonder about the way things blatantly were, the other predominant thoughts were about the determination and dedication of the people who worked for equal rights and liberties. Despite the hero-making that appears to be common to the US and our sound-bite society, the reality seems to be that an enormous amount of ordinary people surrounded the extraordinary few, and that mass of people attempted, and in no small part succeeded, in conforming the world to their point of view. And if that is not an idea that gives people who hunger for change hope, I don’t know what will.

The Civil Rights Institute is located across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church, where a bombing on a September Sunday in 1963 killed four young girls and was a catalyst for a greater awakening of the nation to the civil rights struggle.

At the end of the day, after attending the RFID session and another (rather dull) session about radical lawyering in a hostile environment, I set off to walk to the Five Points South area of town that was a couple of blocks away from the hotel. It’s a quirky little bit of town, anchored by an interesting-looking UMC church, which is hard to get a good picture of due to the trees.

Most of the buildings in this area have fantastic details–which either belong to the Art Noveau or Art Deco style. I can never remember how to tell these two groups apart, but I like what ends up in each of them. I’m in desperate need of a good education on architecture. Right now, I just know what I like when I see it.

In front of the church, there is this fountain, which I don’t really understand, but I like. A goat is reading a book to a group of other animals. I didn’t see a sign explaining this, but I like whimsical things so maybe I’m better off without an explanation.

I grabbed a barbeque sandwich at a restaurant in the area, which was pretty good. Very smoky pig, but the sauce was a little too sweet for my taste. I could have had a full dinner, but I didn’t want to be caught out having to walk back by myself in the dark. There were other restaurants in the area; some pretty pricey.

On Sunday, I got up early, leaving the other two sleepyheads in the bed, and walked back to Five Points. I ate breakfast at the Original Pancake House and then wandered around some more in the area. Although usually wandering by myself is a lonely occupation, I had a good time exploring on my own. I could go wherever I felt like, and do exactly what I pleased. Plus, there were other people around–getting the restaurants ready for the day or going to church–so I wasn’t really alone, like I would be off in the woods. Here’s picture of another church I discovered while on my ramblings.

After another workshop, this one about human rights violations in the post-9/11 US, it was time to make my way back home. It was a great day for a drive, with the bright blue sky, and fluffy white clouds. And miles of rolling hills.

Sunday!

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This afternoon, RA, N, and I had lunch dowtown and then went to the Classic Center where Eyes Wide Open was being held. It is an incredibly moving exhibit about the Iraq war–especially the representation of our fallen soldiers. War is such a waste, and this one more than most, if that’s possible. The horrible thing is that we’re there now, and I don’t know how we can leave without dealing with the mess we created. But how to deal with the mess we created?

How do you go about living in harmony with people that you’ve antagonized and hurt? So few people even attempt this, I don’t even know where to look for an example. I’ve a feeling that the first step would be to admit that the wrongdoer did wrong, but that’s about as likely to come about as me sprouting a new nose.

GARR.

Anyway, after dealing with those kinds of thoughts, as well as feelings of outright despair and helplessness, RA and I drove up to the mountains just to get out of town and have some refreshment. We were aiming at buying a pumpkin, but we only saw one farm stand selling them and it was too early in the trip to think about pumpkins at the time. So, we’re pumpkin-free still.

We trudged through Helen at a snail’s pace–silly me for forgetting what a Sunday afternoon during Oktoberfest is like in Helen. Good gracious. Our plan was to zip up highway 17 to 180, and then back down the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway. With no other delay besides Helen, we had a really lovely drive. I always love looking out at Unicoi Gap, and seeing the hills and mountains rolling away–it really is a refreshing experience.

Most of the time, we spent in the car–but once we made it to the Russell Scenic Highway, there were overlooks that were quite beautiful.

We argued over the gazetter which mountains these two below were, but I think we finally settled on the right one being Yonah Mountain. It’s beautiful, and reminds me a bit of Pilot Mountain in North Carolina. We ended up driving much closer to it, and really envied the people on Joe Black Road who have built their homes so that Yonah is their front porch view.

On our return, we couldn’t resist Dukes Creek Falls. It’s about a mile hike one way, and I would suggest it to anyone. I think that this trail might be my favorite short hike. Dukes Creek Falls is actually two falls where two creeks converge to create Dukes Creek. Most of the hike, you are walking along one of the streams, which is constantly babbling and falling. The water is so clear.

Of course, because I didn’t want to be late meeting N for lunch, I hadn’t changed out of my church clothes and this means that I was wearing my knee-high boots which hurt my feet during regular wear! I can be an obstinate little mule, though, so I tromped off through the woods. It’s rare that I get to spend time in the outdoors with my sweetie, and silly little shoes aren’t going to get in the way! In the end, it was worth feeling every piece of gravel through the soles of my boots to see the falls. I wish that I’d charged the camera before we left so that it hadn’t been on it’s dying breath when we got there, but that only means that we will have to revisit! I’m forever an optimist.

Fall Picture

Just to feel like fall instead of summer:

This picture was taken a couple of years ago at one of the overlooks in my previous post. It looks like the trees in the foreground have grown substantially since then!

Retrospection

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Since it doesn’t appear that I’ll be able to run off to the woods for a decent amount of time in the near future, I’m going to console myself with posting about some trips I took earlier in the year. I hope that I’ll be able to get in at least two half day trips this month, but in the meantime past trips will have to do.

When I first marked this hiking goal on my “to do” list, I set out on a small trip on my own. I also changed my approach to hiking partners from “Would you like to plan a hiking trip?” to “I’m going hiking, would you like to go with me?”–and I was surprised that I became a little more successful. Not for this trip–no one could go with me, and I decided to be stubborn and go on my own.

Using the notorious Forest Service trail guide, I settled upon two rather short waterfall trailsa€”Minnehaha Falls and Angel Falls. Both were within the Rabun Beach Recreation Area, which was not very far away. So, I set out with my camera, map, and trail guide. I decided that I’d look for Minnehaha Falls first. The trail guide’s directions state:

Take U.S. 23/441 north from Tallulah Falls for 3 miles to the Rabun Beach Recreation Area sign. Turn left on an unnumbered county road and follow the signs to the recreation area. Continue west past the recreation area for l mile and turn left on Flat Creek Road across the river below Seed Lake Dam. Follow the left fork of the road for 1.7 miles to a sign marking the trail on the right side of the road.

Well, to make a long story short, I made it to the Rabun Beach Rec Area without too much trouble, even though I had to backtrack due to missing a sign. No big deal. Then the hunt for Flat Creek Road, and we meet up again with poor directions. I don’t know if Flat Creek Road existsa€”or if it does and has no sign, or whata€”but I could not find it. Oh, well, I thought–I’ll try to find Angel Falls.

The directions for Angel Falls state:

Take U.S. 441 north from Tallulah Falls for 3 miles and turn left on old Highway 441 (sign for Rabun Beach Recreation Area). Proceed to Lake Rabun Road and turn left. Go 4.5 miles and turn right into parking area adjacent to telephone station.

First off, note that these directions tell you which road you are turning onto, and the name for the “unnumbered county road” as opposed to the directions to Minnehaha Falls. Why the difference in directions to the same recreation area?

I’d seen the telephone station driving in, so I drove to it. When I got there, there was the telephone station, a small expanse of gravel where a couple of cars could conceivably park, and a driveway to some family’s lake house. No sign of a trailhead. No sign of a trail. At this point, I was just a wee bit annoyed.

A little bit down the road, however, was one of the camping areas–Camping Area 2, I believe. In a stroke of genius (haha), I decided to just drive through the campground–maybe that is what they meant even though “adjacent” isn’t the word I would use to describe it, even if it is technically true. So, I mosey on down to the marked camping area, turn in, drive to the rear, and what do I see, but a trail! I believe the sign there even says “Angel Falls”!

So, I parked my car, walked over to a picnic table and ate my lunch, trying not to be all that annoyed that any directions leading you to my location would be greatly assisted by stating: turn right into Camping Area 2. After all, there is a sign and everything.

Another person arrived while I was eating, and he tromped off down the trail with his camera while I was packing up. Which meant I’d have some company somewhere along the way, and gave me something to look forward to.

There are actually two falls on Angel Falls trail: Panther Falls and Angel Falls. The trail really isn’t strenuous at all for the portion that leads to Panther Falls. At first, you’re walking along the stream, which is pretty and babbly.

After a bit, you come to Panther Falls.

The hike to Angel Falls is pretty steep, but worth the effort. I wish I knew more about geology, so that I could say what type of rock the falls are running over. I’m guessing (wildly) that it’s some type of shale?

I caught up with the man who started just before me at both of the observation areas. He was hoping to capture pictures of the falls with the mountain laurel/rhododendron blooming, but ended up being a few weeks late. He said he’d been there before when everything was blooming and the falls were lovely. Too bad the weather was warmer this year and they’d all bloomed out a little bit early. I did see a couple of blooms here and there along the trail, but nothing spectacular. Still, I think it would be interesting to return in early summer to see the falls and the flowers–in the picture you can imagine how beautiful it must be to see all the plants surrounding the falls in bloom.

After hiking back to the car, I decided that I wasn’t ready to go home yet, so I drove up to Black Rock Mountain State Park and took some pictures. I didn’t hike anywhere, mostly because I was worried that an afternoon thunderstorm was rolling in and I didn’t want to be caught out in it. Black Rock Mountain was one of the parks closed for a bit after Ivan swept through Georgia, so I imagine they had plenty of trees down. Ivan also has affected the fall color extravaganza for several state parks, including this one, because so many leaves were blown from the trees. Which I thought was an interesting tidbit.

Here is a view from the overlook at the Visitor’s Center:

A second overlook:

And from a short jaunt down a trail, one of my favorite pictures due to the ferny-ness of it:

Catch UP!!

Lordy, lordy! I haven’t written anything in a while, mostly because I’ve not been anywhere too much. But I do have some pic’s to share with you of some beautiful places.

E and I went on a picnic at Richard B. Russell State Park. It was a lovely day, just a few days after one of the hurricanes–I think Ivan. We walked down to the old steel bridge, which was a neat thing to see. I have to say that the map of the trails was not extremely helpful, and once the trail reached the Lakeside Pavilion it really wasn’t clear where the trail looped to. There needs to be some kind of trail markings. The trail (on the park map) looks as if it crosses the bridge and continues, but we weren’t sure, and on the other side of the bridge, the “trail” was a bit overgrown looking. So we backtracked.

After driving to the cottages, we hiked a loop trail whose name escapes me at the moment–and is not named on the park map. An easy trail, about two miles, with nice views of the lake. It was very peaceful.

We saw plenty of crows, all of which were putting up quite a fuss due to the hawk that kept circling. Also, we saw some kind of water bird in the lake that we couldn’t figure out–despite the aid of binoculars, and later a guide. And, to top it all off, a turkey and its half grown babies.

I also got to have an adventure with my parents, who were in the area due to a retreat my mom was attending. We visited Amicalola State Park and had a snack in their beautiful lodge. We also walked down the staircase to the observation deck. Just 425 steps down, and so just 425 steps up! So, while not exactly a hike, it did make you feel like you’d accomplished something.

From the top of the falls:

And from the observation deck:

We weren’t at the base of the falls at the observation deck, but we couldn’t continue down the trail to the base of the falls due to damage to the trail from Hurricane Ivan. The end of the observation deck had been roped off. But it is still a great view.

After leaving the park, we went down the road a little bit to a pumpkin farm! It’s easy to forget the variety that exists in pumpkins and their relatives. The whole experience felt just like fall.

I can’t wait until the leaves begin to change in earnest. From some of these pictures, you can tell that they are about to burst into beauty. I’m sure that I’ll be itching to get out when they do, and then there will be plenty of fun!

Honestly, I will try to update my blog more often in the future. That way it can fulfill its function as an extra conscience, spurring me on to get out more!

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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