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Fabu!

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This afternoon, Reed and I went to the State Botanical Garden so that I could watch for a new bird for my list, and he could read. We were so lucky! As we walked down a shaded trail, there was a commotion and a hawk flew by. I followed the hawk, but Reed went to look at the commotion. After much arguing, we’ve decided that we saw a Cooper’s Hawk–and!!! it’s nest with 3 little hawks. Well, they weren’t so little really–but they weren’t full-grown, just streaky brown hawks without their grownup feathers. It was so fabulous! Now I know what I’ll be looking at for the next couple of trips to the garden!

Reed is such good luck–when he goes birdwatching with me, we always see something really fabulous.

Evil Horsies

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This one’s for 007.

Evil Horsies

(From the May 20, 2005 News & Observer, B1 cover photo by Harry Lynch)

And this one’s for me.

North Carolina Cont'd

We found our way to UNC’s law school (again, no thanks to the directions) and wandered into the NLG talk about Military law. Mostly a very basic understanding of the military court system and ways to help people get out of the military. Listening to the torture trial news is a little odd now, because phrases leap out to my ears like they are familar {Article 32 investigation!)–but in reality, not so much. Apparently, I didn’t learn as much as I thought–although I did take notes (as always).

A social was planned for about an hour and half after the talk ended, and 007 and I decided to find it on our way downtown to eat. Which is good–because it was on the West part of Rosemary, not the East–and the numbers start all over on West Rosemary. It was just a tad confusing. Then, when we found the Skylight Exchange…we were worried. The sign was between two empty storefronts off the beaten path. It looked a bit too adventurous for our tastes–seeing as we thought it was probably a bar.

So, we ate dinner and walked back there–down the little alley to the entrance, although we were cheered by the promise of milkshakes. We walked in. There were two unknown people eating, and the waitron (I love this word, it sounds like a robot–which of course is so much better than sounding like a gendered waitstaff). It was small. The walls were covered by shelves of used books, and the booths and tables looked like they were recovered from a diner that got them second-hand in the early eighties. We were still very weirded out. But, the waitron said that our group was expected and we sat at a booth with menus (?) and tried to think happy thoughts. Haha. It was like the people who work at the Grill, but imagine them as decor.

Eventually, the rest of the group arrived en masse–which I thought was totally weird. I didn’t feel like we rushed out of the meeting at the end, but apparently we missed the memo saying what the group as a whole was doing. Whatever. Everyone pushed the tables together and started ordering drinks and…dinner. Which was a bit awkward, but 007 and I had milkshakes and Cheerwine (which almost makes up for all the Pepsi). We chatted with the people sitting around us, and listened to them talk about labor unions, moving to Eritrea, music festivals, and Cuba. It was fun–and the food looked very good. Our milkshakes were great, and the scary little hole in the wall place didn’t seem so bad after all.

On Saturday, we got up early and headed back over to Chapel Hill. We endured two panel discussions, one about labor unions/organizing and the other about disability rights as a civil rights issue. Endured because the a€?moderatorsa€? didna€?t really keep time for the panelists, so of course they went on and on and on and on. And ON! Which meant that since we started late, and then took an unscheduled and overlong break, we ended getting out an hour late for lunch. Lunch was provided, but the speaker who was scheduled still hadna€?t arriveda€”which was fine with me since the Erin-Brockovich-like topic was not really what I would have considered appetizing.

007 and I decided to skip out for the afternoon session, because our brains were threatening to turn to mush and run out our ears if we didn’t escape. I feel like Ia€?m being overly negative about the conferencea€”especially given that I only really attended half of it. And Ia€?m glad that I went to the disability rights discussion, because it was interesting (and depressing, and not because one of the panelists reminded us that the vast majority of us were merely experiencing temporary able-bodiedness) but also because Ia€?m taking a Law and Disability Seminar in the fall and Ia€?m glad to get a preview somewhat. But, the timekeeping aspects of it were pretty disheartening.

So, we escaped.

We found a letterbox, passing by Charles Kuralta€?s grave in the process.

We then drove around campus and downtown. We wandered through the old part of campus and saw the Old Well, which is now UNCa€?s symbol.

There was a beautiful rose garden surrounding this sundial outside the Planetarium. So gorgeous!

We also had a wonderful time visiting the Ackland Art Museum. Their collection is very diverse, with everything from stunning illuminated manuscripts to statues and sculptures from the Far East to North Carolina pottery. We discovered Julie Heffernan, since her a€?Self-portrait as a Dirty Princessa€? is on display. Ita€?s not a huge museum, but I wouldna€?t miss it if I were in the area. There was also a gallery of Christian religious artwork, with probably at least one painting of Jesus in the clouds (which is suddenly a really big hit for me search-term-wise). In that area, there was also a painting of Saint So-and-So with a a€?liona€?. a€?Liona€? because the painter probably had never seen a real one back in the 1300a€?s or whatevera€”its head/face was eerily human like, and its mane started way in the back, like it had severe male-pattern baldness. It was very disturbing, and Ia€?m glad that the label told me it was a lion since otherwise I would have thought it was some poor soul God made into a gremlin or something.

After tooling around on campus a bit, we went back to Raleigh and decided to check out artsplosure. Ita€?s a downtown arts event with booths, and kids events, and music! Back to the giant acorn we wenta€”and Ia€?m so glad that we did! There was so much beautiful stuff to look at! Local artists with their paintings and jewelry and prints and (because wea€?re in NC) pottery and lots more things I cana€?t even describe. When I have a job and a home of my own, it is totally going to be decorated solely with art bought from artists at places like this. I want my house filled with stories about where this or that came from, so that even at home I can be surrounded by past adventures.

This one, I’m sad to say, would not be able to come home with me:

After the booths began to close up for the evening, we found a delicious restaurant right off the square, called Caff?? Luna. YUM. I had fabulous spicy shrimp pastaa€”and it was piping hot. It was a beautiful experience, although it was a little loud because it was so very busy.

Sunday, we gathered ourselves together and vroomed on home, after having a lovely adventure weekend!

Adventure Weekend!!

Wheee!! Poor little blog, I’m so sorry you’ve been neglected again while I’m off roaming aboout and semi-stressing out. I promise to find new things to write about at least twice a week from now on!

Well, this past weekend, 007 and I moseyed our way up to Raleigh, NC for a weekend of fantabulousness! We had two purposes: one was to visit 007’s friend…darn it with the overlapping initials!…well, we’ll call her M since M the first has been transformed, and the other was to attend the National Lawyers Guild Southern Regional Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill. But, of course, adventure was never far from our minds.

We left Thursday morning, and made our way to Raleigh without incident. We spent the afternoon visiting with M, in her very lovely apartment and then went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory with her and R, her boyfriend. Yum! I’d never been to a Cheesecake Factory, and it was a nice experience–and also the first dessert of a multi-dessert weekend! Delish, but so much food!

Friday morning, we had to find a shipping/mailing place for 007 and during that adventure I spied with my little eyes a raven! I heard this very strange gurgly croak sound, and looked around to see a large black bird perched on a lamp post. It obligingly made the sound again, while I looked at it. Ravens don’t appear to be very common in urban areas, especially this far south–but the Jan 05 birding bulletin for the Chapel Hill birding club notes a couple sightings of ravens in Chapel Hill late last year. I would have thought it was a crow, since I didn’t get a very close look at it–but no crow that I’ve ever heard sounds like that.

Then we picked M up and went to see the townhouse she and R have bought! It is a really beautiful place, in a new development. So gorgeous and lovely, and I hope that they will be very happy there. I’m really glad that I got to meet M and R, they were both so nice to be around.

After touring their fab new place, 007 and I semi-abducted M and we took off to downtown Raleigh to see what we could see. We headed toward the City Market, which sounded like a fun place to wander around a bit. It’s a downtown revitalization project, with the accompanying little shops and restaurants. It was nice to wander through, although it needs a little something more (in my opinion). They are having a Twilight Criterium race, and have outdoor concerts in the park across from the market.

We wandered through the park as part of our adventure, drawn by the giant acorn.

Raleigh is the “City of Oaks”, and this was apparently a gift to the city as part of its bicentennial. (I love Google.)

After wandering through Moore Park, we sauntered down to the state capitol–where we were enchanted by the statue of Zebulon Baird Vance and how, um, unflattering it was of him. What do we know, though, he could have been much bigger in real life–and we also know that he was very important, since besides his giant monument on the capitol square we must have seen his name ten million times during the week. (Google tells me that he was governor of NC and US Senator for three terms each, among other things.)

We also noted how handily the people in North Carolina label their buildings–around their capital are administrative buildings, each with their department carved way up at the top, where only those people strolling around on the lawn can see them. The Law and Justice building has this person, who looks kind of like Moses (haha).

Right off of the square, this fab old water tower stands–although we’re not quite sure how the windows all the way to the top and water tower really worked.

We ate lunch in the City Market–where we were sneakily given Pepsi products instead of COKE! Oh, the horror. Then it was time to get on the road–we dropped M off and hustled over to Chapel Hill, no thanks to the directions from the conference website.

Our conference adventures and whatnot will have to wait til later, since I’m tired of typing!

A semi-ordinary day

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Not much adventure today, but that’s ok. I have a whole weekend of fun planned, so a down day here and there won’t hurt any!

I did manage to take some more pictures of what’s blooming right now. I have lots of little cosmo seedlings peeking up here and there, and I am looking forward to seeing them come in.

The irises seem reeaally purple in this picture to me, but I don’t know what the camera’s problem is. Maybe the overcast weather has something to do with it. This stalk has already had one bloom fade besides these four.

These roses send out crazy stems everywhere and then bloom once during the year. I don’t know anything about roses, so I don’t know if that’s what they’re supposed to do or not. The first two years I lived here, I don’t think they bloomed at all–then Reed’s brother chopped everything down to the ground in the flower bed (that was the fall I started law school, so I just let the garden go wild) and apparently that was just what the doctor ordered.

My “garden” is not much, but I really like it. Having flowers around is fun.

Walking in Wonderland

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Today my adventure was an early morning training walk with 007! We walked about 9 miles, and it was a lovely route around town. 007 had mapped out a beautiful route through campus, down Milledge and Prince, and through downtown. It was really interesting to walk a new route, and we had a great time! I think it has lots of possibilities for adding extra miles within the loop that we did, so I hope we can walk it again!

Of course, since we walked by Big City Bread, I suggested we take a break and use the gift certificate we won during the Greenfest kickoff. Neither of us had eaten there before, but everything looks so yummy! We bought drinks and a fruit tart and a dulce de leche tart covered with all sorts of nuts. They were delicious, and we are certainly going to have to go there for lunch sometime soon!!

We also saw where Marti’s at Midday is located. I’ve seen so many commercials for them, but I never knew exactly where on Prince they were. And now I do! Plus, they have parking so no worries about that. I’m looking forward to stopping in there also!

I love food, even though Reed (and probably everyone else) would say I’m a picky eater. Athens is a good place for that, I guess–little funky restaurants popping up all over the place. It’s strange, but I’ve lived here for about 8 years now (oh my goodness) and I still haven’t eaten at some of the places that Athens is known for–like Weaver D’s and The Grit. I’m going to have to put those on my to-do list.

In other news, Georgia’s legislature passed and Gov. Perdue signed the law creating a “Share the Road” specialty license plate. Revenue generated from this plate will go to fund cycling safety and awareness projects. One thousand of them need to be pre-sold in order for them to be produced. I think it would be neat to have one. Georgia Bikes has more information about this, and I’ve added them to my links section.

Smaller Adventures

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Well, yesterday was rainy and blah, so no outdoor adventures for me. I did go to Commerce with 007 obstensibly to look for shoes, but I came home with a sundress and skirt. Hmmm.

In other news, today Reed and I went to Watson Mill State Park and had a picnic for breakfast. (Entries about other visits to this park are in my September 04 and November 04 archives.) We sat on the rocks and watched the water spilling over the mill dam. It was a very peaceful morning. There was a little pool of water full of tadpoles, which was neat.

Then we walked the Ridge trail, which is .8 miles long. This is where I saw the Pileated woodpeckers in the fall, and I wanted to see if they were still flying around. Unfortunately, I didn’t snag any new birds, but Reed saw this very fab black runner sunning itself. (Edited to add: apparently black runner isn’t the snake’s “real” common name–it’s an Eastern Racer. Learn something new everyday.)

I wouldn’t let Reed poke it with a stick, because I was afraid it would “run” over at me! I probably would not have seen this if Reed weren’t with me, so I’m extra glad that he went. We had a good time hanging out together, although the mosquitos feasted on us some.

This reminded me that I didn’t write about the snake 007 and I saw on the Panther Creek Falls trail. It was an eensy, pencil-sized snake, crossing the path. After looking it up, I know that it is a Southern Ringneck Snake.

Adventure the Second!

After hiking yesterday, you would think that I’d have a little break between adventures–but you’d be wrong! Today was the Wildflower Celebration on Barnett Shoals Rd., and I noticed that the local bike club would be riding some shorter loops so I worked up all my courage and packed myself off to the meeting point this morning.

Turns out that they had changed the start time to 10 instead of 9:30, so I was there at 9am just like the info on the website said! Ack! But, there was another cyclist there as well and we talked and hung out for a while while a few other people drifted in. Most of us were newbies, which was neat. I had decided that I would only do the 10 mile option, since my legs were tired from hiking, and another woman said she would too! The rest of the group did 14, which I could probably have done but I just didn’t want to push it too much and totally fizzle out.

So, we set off at 10 am, and rode past the Montessori school where most of the festivities were and then back down Barnett Shoals. The road was fairly busy, but it’s a very pretty ride looking out over pastures and a few nice old farmhouses. J, the woman I was riding with, and I simply rode to the end of Barnett Shoals and back, which my computer says was about 9 miles. She was nice to talk to, and gave me her number if I wanted to ride some more short routes some time.

She also told me about a trail that Reed and I were interested in, since she lives nearby–so that was totally a bonus! J stopped off at her house instead of returning to the starting point, so I rode the last half a mile (if that) on my own and was completely fine and not at all freaked out by the traffic.

I got back about 3 minutes before the group that rode the 14 mile option, and talked to them some more. Someone gave me advice about which group leaders lead slower paced rides, so I’ll have to check them out! I’m glad that I went–although now, my legs are really sore! I don’t know when I’ll ride with the group again, but I’ll definitely give J a call and try to ride with her some!

Oh, and I’d be a complete stinker if I forgot (again) to say a huge thanks to my Aunt K and Uncle B who have decided to sponsor me for the 3Day! Woohoo!

Adventure the First!

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Today marks the first of an entire week (and then some) of adventure! And, let me tell you, it was a fabulous day! I actually had a hiking partner, although 007 has now earned complete immunity from hiking-related craziness and the next time I talk about hiking she will probably look around for a giant stick to whack me over the head so that she can run away! We had a beautiful day for being outside, even though it got a little warm there at the end.

We hiked Panther Creek Falls trail in the Chattahoochee National Forest, which was about seven miles for us. The trail continues past where we stopped, but we just walked to the falls and back. The trail was rated easy-moderate in my hiking book, but I think that if you consider the whole trail that it is at least moderate. There are some areas that are rocky and steep and require some work–and there are lots of trees down, which looks like the result of pine beetles. Also, some bridges were out over little tributaries to the main creek–but that was not a big deal since they were neither wide nor deep. The trail was well-marked, even if it did need some maintenance.

The trail runs along Panther Creek (surprise!), which is very pretty and noisy for the most part.

There are lots of rocky outcrops, which I love to pieces.

At what is supposedly the third outcropping, you turn left and scramble up through the crack in the rocks to higher ground.

It really was a nice walk for the most part on the way in, when we were fresh and it was cool. Easy would definitely be a descriptor to use when you’re going in, since it’s really just rolling hills or level ground for the most part and mostly shady. The first footbridge is about a mile and a half, and it hadn’t washed away. (I’m guessing that the bridges went out during the hurricane related rains and storms, since this part of the state was really deluged. Yeah, that was in the fall, but trail maintenance doesn’t rank high on the Forest Service’s priority list appparently.)

This is the view from the first footbridge.

Luckily, we crossed the footbridge before the GIGANTIC dog at the campsite on that side of the creek saw us. All of a sudden, we have this huge dog barking and growling and running straight at us, right down to the edge of the creek. We froze. After what seemed like forever, the girl camper walked down and grabbed him by the collar and made him walk a few steps back toward the campsite they were packing up. At which point, she let go of him and he ran back toward us, barking in a very unfriendly way, looking determined not to let the water stop him this time. Then the guy camper came down to the creek and dragged the dog away. I don’t think I have ever been that afraid on a trail before in my life. I’ve seen lots of dogs on trails, and we saw three more later in the day who were very friendly, and none of them have ever acted like that dog did.

I’ve also read several threads on hiking-related boards about people with dogs on trails and people who don’t like dogs on trails–and after today I can totally understand those who are all for bans on dogs. Big dogs can be very intimidating, and people who think otherwise are idiots who can’t understand why people who only know Giant Barking Pookie as a strange dog who is loose might be a problem. Big dogs that act like they want to rip you to shreds don’t belong on trails. Period. That goes for little dogs, too, but I’m much less scared of a dog that I could punt than a dog that could easily knock me over, like the dog today.

Anyway, after our heart rates and blood pressure came back down out of the stratosphere, we continued on along the creek enjoying the little rapids and mountain laurel.

After a while, we came to the first large shoals area on the creek.

The day really started to warm up by the time we reached the top of Panther Creek Falls. Poor 007 thought we’d come to the end of the trail, but Nooooo, all too soon I realized that the trail continued down a few hundred feet further and that I had to have a picture of the falls if we were so close.

Here is the top of the falls:

This was what I would call the strenuous part of the trail, because I don’t really think it was moderate at all. It was steep, and rooty, and rocky, and muddy–not all at once, but it was like a little obstacle course with one after the other. Plus, there was a giant tree across the path–and this wasn’t the only tree that was this huge on the path. For most of them, the only way past is over the tree on the trail–which isn’t a problem if you have long legs. Both 007 and I are under 5’5”, so for me, at least, going over these trees meant sort of hugging the tree and inching over and over, until my foot touched down on the other side. Not a whole lot of fun, and really not a whole lot of fun when you have to do that six times in an afternoon.

So, along with all of these little obstacles, the trail is only a few feet wide, bounded on one side by a double-cable railing. Which would be lovely, if the cables weren’t slack in some areas, and if the posts weren’t pulled out in others. A bit treacherous and pretty stressful if you’re hungry and getting tired, which we both were at that point.

The area at the bottom of the falls was nice though, with the falls and a little beach like area where you could wade into the icy cold water. It was lunch-time, and although I had said we would be eating lunch off-trail (like in a restaurant or something), well we ate what we had right there. Which, to tell the truth, wasn’t that much because I’m a total nitwit and didn’t think it would take the forever that it did to get where we were going. I think that if we had brought more substantial food and drinks that our energy levels wouldn’t have been as sapped on the way back, even with the warmer weather.

But, we had a nice break and refueled the best we could. Then we waded around in the fa-reezing water some. I think it would be nice to swim here, if you could stand the cold! After a bit, we decided to head back–which meant navigating the obstacle course back to the top of the falls, strolling a bit on the even parts, and then facing the rolling hills all the way back to the car. Oof. It was tiring, to say the least.

007 was fantastic, though–I felt bad because I screwed up with the lunch-time, and by winding up on the most adventurous-type trail that I have walked in a really, really long time, but she was so great that she didn’t even try to push me off a ledge once. Even though I’m sure she felt like it. It’s strange, we’ve walked for longer distances, but this was seriously harder than the 10 miles we do in town. I think it’s because hiking (and especially this trail) turns out to be more of a full-body workout than walking is. Trekking poles would probably have helped us out some today.

I think I would walk this trail again sometime, especially if I were going to camp along the way. And I would bring my bathing suit and pretend that I would swim in the ice water. And I would bring a giant steak to eat or to throw at scary dogs that were trying to get me. Mmm, steak!

I came home and told Reed that 007 would probably never talk to me again after being subjected to so much of the hiking-crazy, so he called her and “apologized” for my insanity and we all went out to dinner. A wonderful way to end Day One of Adventure Week.

Ok. I’ve neglected my little blog as a result of my crazy final exams. BUT they are now done and I have almost two weeks before my externship starts, and it’s all going to be devoted to having fun!

First things first, I will be cleaning our little home and doing all the things that I have been putting off here and then I’m going out to have adventures! Bright, shiny, happy adventures!!!!! And I will tell you all about them.

I hope that I can get in one good hiking journey in this time frame. I don’t have anything to say, but wanted to explain my sudden absence. See you around!

Cars and Catfish

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It’s that time again–goal review. I sort of dread this, since I haven’t done much this month–but we’re working on things. (I suddenly have become plural.)

Here were my goals: 1. Dollars raised for the 3-Day: 850. 2. Letterboxes found: 15. 3. Pounds lost: 5. 4. Birds seen: 50. 5. Trail Miles: 60.

Totals as of today: 1. $291 (But I’ve sent my first round of fundraising letters out, so there has been progress.) 2. 12 (Haven’t gotten out much this month.) 3. 3 (Look, I lost another pound since January! Ha.) 4. 36 (Also under haven’t gotten out much.) 5. ~47 (Not bad for not getting out much.)

For June: 1. $470 for 3Day 2. 15 letterboxes 3. 5 pounds lost 4. 45 new birds 5. 55 trail miles

I’m being a little more realistic since I don’t want dread to be the primary feeling about the beginning of a new month! We’ll see how we do–I have about a week before I have to start work, so I should be able to get out and about some before I have to buckle down again.

007 and I walked today–and we saw the goats! Bwhaha. We shouldn’t have because I didn’t think we would end up there, but the map from which I crafted my brilliant plan was old and we ended up at least a half mile from where I thought we were going to be. But that’s ok. I don’t remember how far we walked, but I would think at least 7. It was a good walk–I liked the part through the neighborhood, except for the complete lack of sidewalks.

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