Sunday, December 12, 2010

Burruss, Life, Wildwood and North Cooper Lake

Well, my mountain bike's busted again. I had it on top of my truck, whacked the front brake lever on a low-clearance pipe and blew out a seal in the piston. I'm a klutz.

For some reason, I had little-to-no interest in the running around in the mountains today. Maybe because I was up late last night. Maybe because I've been up there a lot lately. Who knows. The road bike wasn't looking too interesting either. It was too late in the day to fish. Eventually I settled on doing some recon. I've been looking for new places to ride with the kids and there are a few parks around town (Atlanta being town) that might fit the bill. Yeah, I'll check some of those out. I need to jog more anyway.

First up: A. L. Burruss Park. I have no distinct memory of how I found out about this place; either on the Sorba forum or maybe from one of the Pauding Sorba folks. As I drove up, judging from the number of dudes sitting alone in their cars, I was pretty sure what this park was all about. The strategically placed hole in the port-a-potty leant further credit to my suspicion. I stumbled onto this particular subculture while Googling for info on the Mount Tabor Park a while back, and now I see it everywhere.

There are 4 bike trails at the park, all pretty short. All pretty wide and clear...

 Red Trail

I'd jog until something hurt, recover and jog again. I ended up doing that all day. My left knee hurts a little right now, but not bad. I got devastating shin splints early on, but they eventually went away. Is this progress? I have no idea, but it was kind-of fun, so at least there's that.

I'd bet that the girls could easily ride the Green and Blue trails and probably the Main Trail. Iz could ride the Red Trail but with no gears, Sophie would be pushing a lot. The park was a little boring, scenery-wise. No obvious points of interest, at least along the trail, and I didn't see any wildlife. Still though, the trails looked fun.

On the Red Trail, I got a call from my buddy Brooke. She'd just finished up a ride. I could barely hear her though so we didn't talk long. Immediately upon hanging up though, I realized I'd lost my map. It had apparently worked it's way out of my pocket while I was running. Dammit. That always seems to happen when I'm running but it never happens when I'm walking. I guess it's that extra little bit of momentum or something. Fortunately the trails were really simple and well marked. I did need it for later, but I figured I'd find it on the way out.

There's a connector trail over to the Life University Wellness Center trails at the north end of the park. You can't ride bikes on those trails, but hey, what the heck, I'm here, might as well check it out. The trail paralleled Rottenwood Creek, but the creek looked kind of nasty and stagnant, and it was littered with old garbage. It was a different story on campus. The trail led around the sports complex and further up along the creek, which, at that point, was rocky, clear, shallow and flowing.

 Eagle Trail

 Rottenwood Creek

I explored those trails too. There's this cool 19th century village...

 19th Century Village

with a dam and a mill...

 Dam and Mill

and a ton of old equipment that people dumped in the woods way back...

 Old Wagon Parts

 Old Mill Parts

 Old Machinery

 More Old Mill Parts

 Old Saw

There's a fine line between unsightly garbage and precious artifact. I guess it has to do with how deteriorated it is, whether anything like it is still in use, or how different its construction is from that of a modern equivalent. I thought about that a lot today.

Here and there I saw what appeared to be little bits of evidence left behind from the cyclocross race they had a few weeks back; a bunch of parallel cross-tire tracks in a soft spot, the remnants of an arrow painted on the ground, a leaf-blown trail, a shred of marking tape. Ahh, cyclocross. I need to get a cross bike and do some of that. It's starting to look fun.

Eventually I found a trail with a bunch of exercise stations leading west, off of Life U property and over to Wildwood Park...

 Wildwood Park Sign

...which I explored thoroughly. There's a dirt/gravel road, turned jogging trail leading around the perimeter of the park with a few innocuous-looking trails leading into the interior. Those trails though, as it turned out, were quite the spiderweb. It took a long time to sort out. Apparently, there was, at one time, a totally different set of trails out there too. I kept seeing old signs...

 Trails End Loop and Homesteaders Trail Sign

 Trails End Loop and Old Jonesville Road Sign

 The Meeting Space Spur Sign 2

 The Meeting Place Spur Sign 1

Some of them were kind-of along existing trails, but others were off in the middle of nowhere and there was nothing even remotely discernible as a trail nearby. There was an old and busted ropes course with only part of one segment still intact. Near a pavillion, there was a rectangle on the ground, apparently marking the location of an old homestead.

 Old Homestead Site

I also found an old cemetery off of the jogging trail that somebody had just been out caring for.

 Wildwood Cemetery

The ground was sunken in over each grave. Shallow graves and collapsed coffins?

It looked like they'd used some of the Wildwood trails in the cross race too.

After spending way too much time exploring miles of trails that had nothing to do with why I was out there to begin with, I headed back. I eventually found the maps I'd dropped earlier, lying in the middle of the trail, not 100 yards from my truck. As in, I'd gotten out of my truck and only walked about 100 yards before losing it. Wee.

I confused one of the dude-cruisers too. I walked off the Main Trail, crossed into the lot, then took a little side trail back out to the Blue Trail. I guess he figured I wanted him to meet me out there because he waited a minute, then sort of cautiously strolled out, following me and kept glancing over at me. I guess he realized I wasn't into dudes, because he pretty quickly turned around and just sat back down in his car.

Next up: North Cooper Lake Park. It's only a few miles from my Dad's place and you could spin a quick lap through there if you're on the silver comet, on a mountain bike... for some reason. Again, I have no distinct memory of how I found out about the trail, but apparently I put a placeholder for it in my trails site, and it's been there ever since, waiting patiently for me to explore it.

 North Cooper Lake Park Sign

I'm guessing this park is a work-in progress. The parking lot is large, and there is plenty of land for a playground and ball fields, though none are currently present.

The bike trail is less than a mile long, but surprisingly hilly. And there are at least two bridges.

 North Cooper Lake Park Bike Trail

Probably a bit too challenging for the girls right now.

There is one really cool thing there though... The Smyrna Community Garden. If you don't grow in your backyard, you can grow here, I guess.

 Smyrna Community Garden

Some guys were out there cutting wood and building something. I figure there's a 50/50 chance that they thought I was out looking for manly love.

When I got home, I Googled "Wildwood Park Marietta" to see if there's a site for it, possibly describing some of its history, and wouldn't you know it, 5 links down the page: that park is a popular dude-cruising zone too. So, now I have this nagging curiosity... How prolific is this? Where-all is it done? Are there dudes chilling at the Yellow River parking lot right now? How many times has it been going on around me and I just didn't notice? So many questions.

Man, I wonder if there's ever been some dude with pull in the local legislature that managed to get a park built with the specific intent of creating a local cruising zone. And like most of the people involved are oblivious and they're all thinking what a great thing this guy is doing, you know, for the community, but then there's that one dude on the planning commission that's down and the two of them are always exchanging sly smiles. Ha! Oh, man I'd have to give that hypothetical dude a high-five for pulling something like that off!

You know I'm not going to be able to help but scan the cars in every parking lot I drive into now too, right? If I see a guy sitting alone in his car, my brain's just going to automatically begin calculating the % chance he's trolling. So I have that to look forward to. Awesome.

Keep in mind though, while it's not my thing, I'm not judging anyone here. People are people, they do what they do. It is shocking though, how every now and then I stumble onto a subculture of some kind and it changes my world view, sometimes by a good bit. I wonder what the next one will be.

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