Watson’s Mill Covered Bridge

Watson's Mill Bridge

Watson’s Mill Bridge

The bridge is still used by vehicular traffic.  The vertical clearance is 9'.

The bridge is still used by vehicular traffic. The vertical clearance is 9′.

Today Peggy and I took the trail from the campground to the covered bridge.  Although they have 7 miles of trails, it was only 3/4 to the bridge.  But it was narrow, steep and rugged in places.

I was delighted to realize I could do it without getting winded.  My recovery after quitting smoking last September is phenomenal! We did cheat and take the road walk back to the campground to avoid tripping on roots, though.

Bridge interior

Bridge interior

We could not have ordered more beautiful weather.  Warm, sunny, gorgeous, with a gentle, refreshing breeze and low humidity!  Spring at its very best.

I took tons of pictures of Peggy’s cute little 17′ Apex trailer.  She has done a beautiful job personalizing and decorating it.

I’ll post those pictures tomorrow.

closeup of joining pegs

Closeup of wooden joining pins

 

Peggy on trail bridge

Peggy on trail bridge

rugged narrow trail

Along the trail

 

Smooth, scenic trail near the old gristmill site

Smooth, scenic trail near the old gristmill site

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park

Foot bridge at FDR State Park

On the way up on 27 south of Columbus, a big, shiny red motorcycle pulled up and yelled something and pointed at the trailer.  Afraid something was wrong, we rolled down the window.

Stream flowing into and through an old hollowed out stump

“Did you wax that trailer?” He called.

“Yes,” Ron replied.

The biker gave us a thumbs up and a huge smile, then sped off.

It makes me feel so good when people comment on the Poliglow.  My favorite so far was when the guy at Cotton Hill asked me if my 2005 Casita was a new trailer!

The Casita at FDR State Park

We are only two hours from home tonight.  When I bought a Friends of Georgia State Parks membership, I got a coupon for one free night’s camping.  So we decided to enjoy our freebie at FDR instead of going home.

I love this park.  It’s an old park.  We don’t see many big rigs here.  It just has water and electric — no sewer.  And some of the sites would be difficult for a big rig to get into.  So it’s mostly moderate sized

Tent campers

RVs, along with a few popups, a hybrid or two, and tents.  Maybe it’s just my perception, but this group seems to be friendlier campers than the big rig crowd.

There are a tremendous amount of things to do and see in this area.  There’s Calloway Gardens, FDR’s Little White House, Warm Springs, the Pine Mountain tourist area, and 24 miles of hiking trails.  The brochure says that some of the trails have panoramic views from Pine Mountain along with several small waterfalls.

Sunny looks like we feel this evening!

The last time Ron and I hiked here, we got lost and had a LONG road walk back.

This trip, we have both come down with a stomach bug, so don’t have energy to do anything but relax and just enjoy being here in these peaceful, rustic surroundings.

Sunsets at West Point Lake, GA

Sunset 1 at West Point Lake

A sunset at West Point Lake

We are home from our camping trip to West Point Lake now.  Since the days ranged from the low to high 90’s, we couldn’t do our normal camping activities like hiking, so we got bored.  It was the first time I have been anxious to return from a camping trip.

Sunset 2 over West Point Lake

Another glorious sunset

My best memories of the trip are the glorious sunsets.  All were shades of orange and mauve, but each was distinctive and unforgettable.  Long after the sun set, the gleaming colors lingered on the surface of the water.

One of three sunset shots over lake

First of three photos of this sunset

Shot 2 of 3

Second of three photos

Final shot of sunset 3

The last photo of the sunset the night before we left

On the shore

persistence

Persistence under adverse conditions

It is still far too hot for hiking and, despite a brief afternoon thunderstorm, still too dry for mushrooms.

So we walked along the lake today to explore the shoreline.

I was intrigued by the way the plants there have adapted to adverse conditions in strikingly beautiful, creative ways.

I also came across a litter of feral kittens.  I only got a brief glimpse of them before they raced into the culvert that was their home.  One looked like a siamese — beige coat with dark ears and

adaptability

Adaptability

tail.  One was charcoal gray striped.  And I don’t remember how the others were marked.  I went back later to see if they had emerged from their hiding place, but saw no sign of them.

Not a lot to say today.  I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Another lesson in adaptability

Another lesson in adaptability

driftwood

Driftwood

A critter home

Some critter's home

Feral kittens' home

Feral kittens' home

Canada geese

Geese on the lake

Chanterelles!

golden and smooth chanterelles

First day's find -- two smooth chanterelles and one golden chanterelle

The camping trip to Talladega National Forest rated a 12 out of 10 to me because we found… to my extreme delight….. wild chanterelle mushrooms!!!

On our first day’s hike, I only found three — two smooth chanterelles and one golden chanterelle.  But I was ecstatic.  I have searched for them for years, but before this had only found the small orange cinnabar chanterelles.

The second day, lightning stuck twice for me.  I found FIVE chanterelles…  4 smooth and one golden.

chanterelles 2nd day hiking

Chanterelles found our second day of hiking

On our third day’s hike, we found enough to make a wonderful side dish with dinner.  Again… beyond my wildest expectations!

Finally, the day before we left for home, we went hiking one more time.  This time we were staggered by what we found.   We found chanterelle heaven!

chanterelles - third day of hiking

We found enough for a real side dish our third hiking day

We discovered three huge patches of them.  They were on a very steep, rocky bank and I was afraid we would lose our balance and go crashing to the bottom.  So we gingerly descended the slope, using our hiking poles to keep us from falling.

Then we sat on the ground with our feet wedged against rocks to keep us from sliding… and we picked and picked mushrooms!

We ended up with around 4 pounds!

chanterelle heaven

Hiking day 4 -- Chanterelle heaven!

Talladega National Forest

our Aliner campsite

Our campsite

We just got back from a week at Coleman Lake Campground in the Talladega National Forest in the Alabama hills.

The sites are spaced pretty far apart in a heavily wooded setting, so we felt like we had our own little hideaway in the woods.  A short trail led to the lake’s fishing, swimming, and trail areas.

The plant diversity is astounding.  I took

primeval looking forest

Primeval looking forest carpeted with bracken fern

hundreds of photos of plants suited to many different environments… from low,  almost primeval looking fern swamps to steep, hilly hardwood and pine forests.

A small swimming beach was usually host to children and young people early in the day.  Later, when the people left, Canada geese brought their families out for leisurely paddling around the lake.

A few people rowed out on the lake to fish while we were there.   And one couple went

hilly trail

Trail through the hills

frog gigging and came back with seventeen bullfrogs.  Ron chatted with them as they were skinning and cleaning the frog legs.

Can’t say that’s my cup of tea, but it is nice that there is an area where those who enjoy such things can pursue their interests.

Past the swimming beach on the lakeside trail, we took a side trail and stumbled upon a beautiful little hidden grotto complete with small waterfall.  Screened by rock walls and a profusion of tall flowering shrubs and trees, we felt as though we had stumbled upon a secret hideaway.

hidden grotto with small waterfall

Hidden grotto with small waterfall

Coleman Lake swimming beach

Coleman Lake swimming beach

For the first time ever, we had camping equipment stolen this trip.  Saturday night (with the campground full of weekend campers) our Weber Baby Q gas grill disappeared.  We went into town Sunday to replace it, but couldn’t afford another Baby Q, and I didn’t like the cheap, flimsy model that Walmart had available.  So we returned to the campground without one.

Then Sunday evening the camp host stopped by our site carrying our grill!

“Bet you’re glad to see this!” they announced.

They had found it abandoned against a tree in the overflow parking area.  Another camper told them ours had been stolen, so they knew who it belonged to.

I had been pretty sick the first few days we were out, and the frequent rain was starting to wear on my nerves.  But I bounced back and felt a lot better so I could enjoy hiking.

And…. we found a huge amount of chanterelles!  And they wouldn’t have sprouted without all that rain.

I’ll save the chanterelle pictures for the next post.

pipsissewa

Sweet little pipsissewa (medicinal) was blooming all over the forest.

tiny islands

Little micro islands are forming on a submerged log in the lake

unknown showy white flowers

These strikingly beautiful shrubs with large, showy flowerheads were all over in the lower areas. I later identified them as Alabama's state wildflower, the oak leaf hydrangea. They are gorgeous!

common milkweed

Common milkweed were in full bloom. We only found one unopened flowerhead with the mild, broccoli flavored buds.

water arum

Water arum - wild calla

white bell flowers

Another small tree that I was not familiar with. The flowers are like small white bells. I later identified it as a sourwood tree.

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