Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Come walk with me

No post yesterday since we were without internet for most of the day. By the time we got it back, I was too tired to write up the post I had in mind, so I'll give it to you today.

A couple of days ago I took my phone/camera with me on a walk through the nature preserve and I invite you to come with me on this little hike.  First is the view as I drove into the parking area. Proportions are difficult but trust me when I tell you these trees are the biggest I've ever seen and so beautiful.

Before we head out on the trail, it's a good idea to check the map to see where we'll be going. I've walked this trail dozens of times and I've studied this map as many times, but one can always learn something new. A fellow walker pointed out to me that the map is reversed from the direction we were facing. In other words, the top of the map is North, while as we stand looking at it, we're facing South,  I don't know about you but for me, that's confusing! I like to hold a map so the direction I'm facing is the same on the map.  Anyway, now I understand why the side trails always were on the opposite side of the main trail as I walked along. Sheesh! Today, we're going to walk from the large red dot near the "top" of the map to the water, so lets get going.

One of the things that tells me I'm truly in the South is the sight of the magnificent American Magnolia!  There's one along the trail and I'd love to see it in bloom, but even so, the shiny, glossy leaves are beautiful in their own right.

Not much is in bloom at this time of the year, but I did spot this little flower. The sign called it "Conradina" which I've never heard of. The flower looks like a tiny snapdragon, the palest lavender with almost microscopic purple dots.  Each flower is smaller than the fingernail on my pinky finger.

Next I spotted some Deer Moss.  This is the stuff that kids use in making trees in dioramas for school projects. These Deer Moss were rather small--about 1-2 inches in diameter--but I've seen much larger ones in other areas here on the Gulf.

The sign describes it as a lichen, a combination of a fungus and an algae living together symbiotically.

This is the view as I walked along--sopshady and cool.  I went on this walk around 4 pm and the sun was still so bright, it kind of messed up my photography some times, but I'm not complaining about having too much sun! You can see that the trail is graveled and actually is a road, but traffic is restricted to the few residents who live at the far end of it.  Before the preserve was created, there were a few homes out at the end, on the Gulf. These residents were grandfathered in and were allowed to continue to live there, using this road to drive to and from their homes, so every once in awhile, a vehicle will come along, but it's really very seldom.

Along the way, we pass two ponds. Below is Pond 1, 

 and this is Pond 2.  These ponds are just about across from each other on either side of the trail.  I always look to see if I can spot any alligators in there and so far, I haven't.  I'm happy about that.  ;-)  I look for turtles as well but again, no luck.  I think we are here when it's still a little too chilly for those critters to come out and sun themselves. That's okay with me.  

All along the trail we see multiple clusters of Saw Palmetto.  I haven't discovered for myself, but the angular leaves look rather sharp and sword-like, and I wouldn't want to have to make my way through these fellas. But they are quite pretty to look at. Whenever I think of Saw Palmetto or see it growing, my brain automatically thinks, "Caramello," and Artie Johnson from Laugh In, as in, "Would you like a Caramello?"  I loved him and the entire show!

And there are these bushes all along the trail as well. They are a variety of holly and some of the bushes are simple loaded with tiny red berries, and some have no berries.  I know other varieties of holly have male and female bushes and I think that must be the case with these as well. Below is a picture of a full bush, 

and this are my fingers near some of the berries. They are so very small!

Ah, here's the sign.  They are called "Yaupon," another plant I've never heard of before.  According to the sign, and who am I to disagree, the berries are filled with caffeine and the Native Americans brewed a tea of them to drink before going into battle or on a long journey. It also says that the tea would induce vomiting and was used to purge them. Um, thanks, but I'll stick to my morning coffee for my caffeine. 

Walk, walk, walk, and look what we see up ahead!  It's an observation platform! This is at about 1 mile into the hike, and I always have to climb up and take a look around.

To the left is "Little Lagoon," a salty body of water that's fed from the Gulf through a man-made inlet farther to the left.  If you look closely, you can see the high rises of Gulf Shores on the distant shore.  

And to the right from the observation tower, is "Gator Lake," a freshwater body. The Lagoon and the Lake are connected by a narrow stream and during high tides or storm surges such as after a hurricane, the lake becomes salty.  The sign said that over time, with the rains, the water gradually becomes fresh again.

On today's walk, there was little to see other than a nuthatch nesting in a dead tree near the observation tower. Sometimes, I've spotted waterfowl swimming along, and heard other birds calling out, but on this day, it was very quiet. So let's turn around and head back to the parking lot. We've walked about a mile already and my creaky old knees will be just able to make it back,

And look at the trees draped with Spanish Moss, another sure sign that I'm in the South!  We're just at the edge of the parking area--in fact, you can make out my gray colored car parked there--so a few more steps and we'll be finished with today's walk.

I really enjoy going on this walk through the preserve, and I hope you enjoyed it too.  There is another trail that I take sometimes, in a different part of the preserve, and if you like, I'll take you along with me when I go the next time.  

But enough of walking.  I actually worked a lot yesterday on quilting--Jo's T shirt quilt.  What a pain this thing is turning out to be!  Only about half of the blocks are the same size and the rest are smaller except for one that's an inch bigger all around.  I've had to really put my math skills to work, giving thanks for whoever invented the calculator, figuring out how wide I need to make the framing around the small blocks to bring them up to size. As for the one that's bigger than all the rest, well, it's going to get a smaller sashing around it, so it'll fit in with the others.  I managed to frame up most of the smaller blocks and hope to finish the rest today. One thing I've learned is to make them larger so I can trim them down to size.  I also was able to begin stitching some of the blocks together along with the sashing.  This morning as I lay in bed, I figured out some ideas for quilting it up. This T shirt quilt will be machine quilted, and not tied as I've done before.  I want it to be really special for Jo, since her T shirts commemorate many of the milestones in her life so far.  I hope to have it done enough today that I'll have pictures of it to post tomorrow.

Today is a grocery day, so I'd better make up a list and get a move on.

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