Monday, October 5, 2009

Random Topics du Jour

Here's this Monday's handful of random topics: porch patio swing, hummingbirds, & local trails.

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Donald finished and hung the swing last week-- well, finished except for one more slat across the top that's more for decoration than function. We were short one board (or at least one deemed straight enough to use on this project), so one of these days we'll get one, paint it, and attach it. It works just fine as it is, though, and we've been enjoying it. I find sitting outside so much more pleasant when I'm in a swing than in a plain chair-- or even a rocker or glider. Swinging is just better-- a more soothing motion.


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We recently noticed a hummingbird checking out our flowers, so we dug out our feeders, filled them, hung them from the patio arbor (or whatever the proper name for that structure is), and have been enjoying hours of entertainment. There are usually at least three of the birds in the area, hovering in mid-air, perching in a nearby cypress (or on the fence or a shepherd's hook), fighting fiercely for use of the feeders, weaving around obstacles at break-neck speeds, and making their funny squeaky noises. They definitely earn their sugar-water with the amusement and sense of wonder they provide! (We even saw one eating a mosquito the other day. Now that's the way to my heart-- rid our yard of those horrid mosquitoes!)

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Thursday, we had a little outing to a few local spots we'd never visited before.

First, we tried the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge-- particularly, the Jeff Friend Trail and the refuge's portion of beach on the Gulf. The trail was nice enough, but the mosquitoes were positively awful. We spotted them almost immediately and sprayed ourselves with repellent, but I guess that wasn't enough, because they were still landing on and biting us-- sometimes right through our clothes.

(I cannot express how much I hate mosquitoes. I mean, I know no-one likes them, but I have a special loathing for them, because I'm one of those unfortunate people who seem to have a special attraction for flying blood-suckers. I don't know why, and I probably don't want to know why-- as I suspect it's nothing good-- but the nasty little monsters find me every time.)


The mosquitoes cut down on the pleasure of the trail. Maybe it'd be nicer later in the year... Fortunately, the second half of the trail seemed less of a mosquito haunt than the first half had been. I managed to take a few photos, instead of giving (more of) my crazy lady impression (swatting at seemingly invisible assailants).


The beach was... the beach. We didn't stay long because it was hot and we hadn't planned (or packed) for a day on the beach. It might be a good spot to go if you want to avoid crowds at the more familiar (more popular) stretches of beach, but the trade-off is that there's no public restroom.

Beach Dream

Later, we checked out the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, which is actually a whole system of trails through the wilderness just north of the busy beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. We only walked a small portion of the trails available, but I was very impressed. Apparently this is a fairly new project. I think the trails (at least one of which follows what was once an old, disused road-- Highway 182) were christened just a couple of years ago, and there is still more work planned. The trails we walked (Twin Bridges and part of Catman Road) were very nicely paved-- ideal for biking or rollerblading-- and of course for walking, too. I find that it's so much easier to not worry about stepping on snakes when you're on a wide, paved path. ;o)

Spanish Moss & Oak

The only possible complaint I can see is that some of the trails (or combinations of them) would be pretty long walks-- especially considering that they're not loops. That's probably not an issue for cyclists, but casual hikers might find some of them a bit much. I guess you just have to walk until you're approximately half-way exhausted, so that you'll have enough stamina to make it back to the car. ;o)

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised, and I'm glad to know of another local spot for hiking and photography.

Fern Fronds Love Mr. Orton

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It seems like there were other things on my mental list of blog topics, but they've disappeared...

(For those interested, there are more photos of the trails and the new swing on my Flickr photostream.)