Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 17, 2011 - Pillows, Wade Mountain, and Banana Catchup

Esther and (to a larger extent) I needed to go out into the woods and take pictures of something. It's really that simple. She's had a few day trips with the kids but I haven't been in the trees and the leaves anywhere near as much as usual for this time of year. Also, I haven't been really geocaching since October. This past year has been tight due to increased fuel cost, braces payments for the kids (well worth it) and our normal level of camping and hiking has suffered for it. A quick look at the statistics tab of our geocaching profile page tells the same story.

Before setting out for our ultimate destination, there were a few diversions and pit stops to make along the way. First we stopped at Old Time Pottery and shopped for cushions and pillows.

It's like millions of grandma's couches cried out at once...
Thousands of pillows and cushions were there for the picking- all of them hideous and none of them a matching pair. Somewhere a vast vault of poor pattern choices from the last 100 years has been unearthed and the unholy reams of fabric have all been made into pillows that are being sold to the unsuspecting customers of Old Time Pottery.

I couldn't stop looking at these. I don't know why. Maybe it's the crazed look in the mother's eye. Maybe it's the wild wind blown look of her hair and dress.

From there we made a stops at the library and Kroger to pick up a meal of bread, Super Hummus, and Zevia root beer. Food secured, we pointed the van onward.

The destination: Wade Mountain Preserve just north of Huntsville. Wade Mtn. is part of the Land Trust of North Alabama. I've found a few different "portal" web sites for it but the one with the most current map and information is the Land Trust page for Wade Mtn.

We hiked about 5.25 miles over roughly three hours of slow walking, stops for pictures, plant identification (crossvine and more witch's butter!) and geocaching. Here is the track log of the hike.

The first geocache hunt of the hike provided a good example of what to avoid when selecting a cache container. These look to be somewhat waterproof and sturdy, but the plastic tends to break on the hinge and then the whole thing falls apart. The top half was attached to a tree branch so the bottom, including the log book was on the ground below. You can see were a previous finder tried to patch things up with tape of some kind. The right thing to do when you find a cache in this condition is to leave a "Needs Maintenance" log when you log your find at to let the hider know what happened. Emergency repairs are appreciated, but contacting the owner and flagging that cache will allow the mechanisms in place do their job.

These things happen.
The trail is usually covered in snail shells among the karst topography at the top of the hill.

Esther tries to remove the deadly brain parasite.

Dew on Lamb's Ear
We stopped at our usual picnic spot on the rocks overlooking the Devil's Racetrack Trail. See the silver thermos in the picture? Esther picked those up from They are Stanley Utility travel mugs and did a great job of keeping tea that I made around 10:00 AM warm until around 2:30 PM. Even better, they never dripped a drop into my backpack during the two mile jaunt to the rocks. We're both very happy with the purchase.

What? Product placement too obvious?

Esther cursing me with her woman magic.
Due to the storm damage from way back in Spring (see previous blog entries) a large swath of forest near the parking lot and trail head was felled either by the storm winds and tornadoes or in the clean-up the following months. The last cache of the day isn't as well secluded as it might have once been and it looks like some non-cachers have found it. The last online log was the find on 11/1/11, the finders later in November may have stumbled upon it by chance.

Hike over! There was a message from the boy about needing to resupply his pizza stash so we made a second Kroger stop on the way home- but got derailed when I remembered that Far East Market on South Parkway was supposed to carry banana catchup. More on that later. Among other things, I picked up some aloe vera drink and Esther grabbed some ginseng tea.

Juice fit for a King, ha!

How was the aloe drink? Quite tasty.

Also: mushrooms.

I can haz 1-up?

YES. Catchup from BANANAS. Crazy. Cray. Banana catchup (ketchup, whatever) is so awesome it has it's own Wikipedia article. (No relation to banana spring rolls, also pictured.)

The product of a tomato shortage during World War II, this stuff is so unbelievably good it's almost as good as...

Daddy doesn't play favorites. You two be nice.

We also scored some apricots! They are so soft, they look and feel like little baby butts. Esther loves them.

Wrapping up the whole day with a big pot of cabbage, okra, peas and tofu soup. The tofu at the Far East  Market was about half the price as we usually find it.

Gallery of images from the day.

Other Wade Mtn. trips:

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