Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Windermere and Settles Bridge

Yesterday (well, a couple of days ago now) I needed some serious recovery. I was feeling Saturday's 6 hour late into the evening and even when I'd wake up at night. Recovery be damned though, I'd been looking forward to spending the day with the girls, and though it probably wasn't going to be strenuous in the absolute sense, it probably wasn't going to be what you'd call rest either.

We slept in a little bit, 'til 10 I think, then headed over to Windermere park again. Actually, wait, first we went to Dick's Sporting Goods and got some softball-sized wiffle balls, or wuffle balls as Sophie pronounces them, then we went to Popeyes for some semi-early lunch, and THEN we went to Windermere park.

At Windermere they have a bunch of soccer fields with many different sized goals. The kids are getting good enough to actually kind of play now. They took turns trying to score on each other.


We eventually had to move up to the next larger sized goal. I taught them what little that I remembered from playing goalie when I was a kid. Iz kept accidentally kicking the ball directly at Sophie and knocked her down a few times.

 Dead Sophie

It looks bad, but they were just playing. She was actually unhurt and laughing.

I played with them too; made them try to get the ball past me and vice-versa. It was so fun that we actually lost track of time. When we first arrived, we had the park entirely to ourselves. Now, suddently there were hundreds of people there for a soccer game, and dozens more at the dog park.

Eventually the girls got tired of soccer and we threw the softball for a while, or actually the wiffle ball, which they have no fear of and actually started learning to catch for real. Ahh, finally, we're making some real progress there.

We set up some bases too and did some batting. If they hit the ball, they'd run while I tried to convince my legs that it was a good idea to go pick up the ball. Iz got to where she could consitently knock the wiffle ball way past second base, so I switched her to the softball, which she almost immediately line-drive'ed into my face. You know how, if you chase a kid around the house, they laugh, almost hysterically. It's one of my favorite things. It was like that when they'd hit the ball and run the bases. Again, we lost all track of time.

Sophie is semi-ambidextrous, and as it turns out, can throw a good bit better with her right hand than her left. But, unfortunately, she can't catch very well with her left hand. Also, she can't bat right handed, but she can kick about equally with both feet. So weird. Neat, but weird.

The wind was really gusty and tended carried the wiffle ball to the inside. Sophie, refusing not to swing at everything, got hit in the fingers a couple of times. After a few of those, she'd had enough and we proceeded to our next adventure.

Settles Bridge:

 Settles Bridge

The girls and I have explored the heck out of the Bowman's Island unit of the Chattahooche NRA. Settles Bridge is a little further south. I think, actually there's another unit between Bowman's and Settles, but it's little and narrow. We'll come back for that one, Settles looked a bit more interesting.

Settles Bridge itself was once used to cross the Chattahoochee but apparently fell into disuse when the Hwy 20 bridge was built a little bit further north. The boards rotted away, some of the bridge was dismantled for scrap. I've seen some old photos of it on the internet though. Now it's an artifact.

There were a few fishermen in the river, trying to catch trout. The girls wanted to catch some trout too. We've tried, but we need lighter rigs. We'll have to get some of those soon. I want to catch some trout too.

There were a couple of trails leading along the river. We followed one for a while and found some rocks to walk out on.

 Girls on the Rocks

There was this cool little loop you could make around a pool.

 Girls on the Rocks Again

The girls did it twice and dared me to, so I did it and Iz chased me like she was going to push me into the water.

Back on the main trail, the girls both stepped over this little snake.

 Juvenile Hognose (Maybe)

I always tell them to look closely when they step over logs. Maybe this will drive that point home. It was small though. I thought it was a shoelace at first. I'm still not 100% sure what kind of snake it is. It was very aggressive, especially for how small it was, but I didn't recognize the markings at all. I first thought it was a juvenile cottonmouth, as it was kind of heavy-bodied, but that didn't seem right. The closest thing me and Iz could find on the net was a juvenile Eastern Hognose. I've seen adult Hognose before, and it's really obvious what they are, but I didn't recognize this little one as a Hognose when I saw it. This one was very aggressive, which Hognose are, but it's all an act, they play dead if they feel threatened. If I'd known, I might have poked at it. The girls were cautious, but fascinated.

After a mile or so, we hit a big creek crossing with a lake just upstream. The trail seemed to end. There might be a trail on the other side, but we left it for next time. We cut cross country to the east and picked up what I guess is the right-of-way for a drainage line.

Some kids had built a clubhouse nearby.


Man, we built a lot of clubhouses when I was a kid, but they never had siding. Luxury.

The hike back to the car was uneventful.

On the drive in, we noticed a new park - Settles Bridge Park just before the NRA boundary. There might be trails there, so we stopped in to look at the map. There were trails, but more importantly, there was all of this radness...

 Skatepark 1

 Skatepark 2

Concrete bowls and obstacles with inset, painted box-tubing coping. Somebody knew exactly what they were doing when they built this. They have a new skatepark in Baton Rouge, but it's in a park with a Velodrome and BMX track. I've seen a few parks here and there with steel ramps and other obstacles, but nothing like this, and nothing in a random public park. I wanted to run home, grab my bike and buy a skateboard on the way back over. I'd have killed to have this near my house when I was a teenager. If a man from the future had come back to the year 1989 and told me such a thing would exist, I simply wouldn't have believed him. I love it.

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