Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30, 2012 - Golden Flake, Birmingham Zoo

Back in June of '09 the whole five of us and a few friends took a tour at the Golden Flake plant in Birmingham. Yes, you can actually do this and it's free. Some pictures I took on that trip can be seen here, which is a good thing because they changed the rules and don't allow photographs inside the plant at this time. It's always good to learn where your food comes from and the big bonus to the tour is the free bags of chips and getting to eat some of the foods fresh off the conveyor belt. You haven't had a cheese curl until you've had one that's still warm from being baked.

Today we returned with more of our friends to get our cheese the way nature intended- recently puffed.

Entrance to the company store

After the tour our crew took advantage of that North Carolina Aquarium membership and its reciprocal benefits, yet again, at the Birmingham Zoo.

Why did the chicken cross Alabama?

One of my favorite parts of the zoo has been and always will be the "petting" zoo section which is usually filled with common barnyard animals or at least domesticated breeds. I'm a sucker for goats.

I pet this very pig...

...and this sheep...

...and naturally, this goat
Jake had to make a pit stop along the way. It's best we not talk about it.

The red fox was as interested in us (Chan in particular) as we were in it.

I wish my brother George was here

The fox checking out Ben

The zoo was dressed up for Halloween and several character stand-ups were in place around the grounds. This one of Robin was... interesting. Robin looks about 7 months along. Batman, you scoundrel.

Okay, these are my new favorite pig. The red river hog is the Yoda of swine. These are awesome for their ears in much the same way that Inca tern are for their magnificent mustaches.

My girl on djembe

Hand of a dusky leaf monkey

I told her "run like Velma"

Rut-row Raggy
These Flamingo were so close that I could have reached out and touched them- but I didn't. Mostly because I don't know much about the beaks of flamingos and how much they might resemble the bills of geese, with which I am much more familiar having been chased by them as a small child. Also geese live to bite small boys right in the wingdango and for all I know flamingos have the same predilection and also some type of exotic double-jointed super power that lets them jump on your head and bite you in the wingdango. Better safe than sorry.

Come closer, we are peaceful flamingo... OR ARE WE?

Full picture gallery of other animals whose names I did not learn.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28, 2012 - Yellow Bluff and Aldridge Creek

Esther and I started off the day revisiting a trail that I mentioned in this blog post last year located under the cliff of Yellow Bluff, a local overlook. A new geocache has been placed there and I wanted first stab at finding it. We didn't find the cache, but we did see some early season leaf changing and some climbers from the club that owns the land.

Wanting to get many more steps under our shoes we then moved on to walk a few miles on the Aldridge Creek Greenway that I've mentioned here before. We found some very ripe and very sweet wild grapes growing there.

Train trestle that the greenway passes under

Tracklog of the Yellow Bluff trail
Tracklog of the walk on the greenway
Gallery of pictures

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27, 2012 - Alabama Renaissance Faire

Every year in October Florence hosts the Alabama Renaissance Faire at Wilson Park. We usually try to make an appearance and hey, it's free. Finding a parking spot is half the adventure.

Esther finally gets her comeuppance

43° and a kilt, better you than me, brother

Some of the more questionable characters at the Faire
There was a group of "live blade" performers (demonstrators? duelists?) that took turns sparing in twos and threes with pointy metal objects of different styles and forms. I'll be darned if I can remember their name or find any information on them.

The root beer and cream soda vendor is a favorite for us. You pay from $3 - $15 for your first glass bottle (or jug) and then your refills are significantly less for the whole day. The glass Esther is chugging below was a $3 size and $1 refill every other time. The stuff is homemade and extremely yummy.

Again, near-freezing temps and kilts
After consuming a couple of baskets of ribbon fries, Chan was brave enough get a slice of chocolate-covered cheese cake and then nice enough to share with the rest of us. My arteries clogged and my taste buds exploded. 

Gallery of pictures

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19, 2012 - Andersonville

In the Fall of 1994 I was fortunate enough to be hired on as part of a core group of 200+ extras for the filming of the TNT mini-series Andersonville about the Confederate prisoner of war camp by the same name. Here are some screenshots in which you can see me on the set dressed as a Union prisoner:

Yours truly in the light shirt and dark hat right behind the actor's shoulder

Me on the far left with my arms around my knees
On a different day of filming I was a Confederate soldier marching prisoners (myself included) into the prison.

Me, way in the back above Frederic Forrest's wrist

Left side, in back again with my head turned to the right
I mention this because as we were driving home from our weeks at the beach we passed very near to the actual location of Camp Sumter, aka the Adersonville Prison.

Recreation of a portion of the stockade

The "deadline" an interior prison boundary

Monument to the soldiers from Wisconsin

One of the many old tunnel sites

Entrance to the Andersonville National Cemetery

The deaths in Andersonville reached of peak of around one hundred men a day. At this point the bodies were put to the earth in long trenches, shoulder to shoulder to conserve space in the cemetery. 12,913 died due to starvation, disease, abuse and executions in Andersonville.

Gallery of pictures