Friday, May 29, 2015

Gratuitous Kayak Beavers and Tour of Curse Inc.

We have discovered kayaks. We've been in canoes plenty of times over the years but I've always wanted to give kayaks a try. Oddly enough I don't have any pictures of me kayaking around, shirtless, like an Amazonian river guide (those are on Esther's blog) but I do have a few of Ben and Chan in the water. The kayaks were by virtue of friends that had borrowed them from yet other friends and brought them along to hang out at a little known campground on Smith Lake.

Right next to the campsite we were visiting were these two little (think large Guinea Pig) beavers that were incredibly oblivious to us standing only a few feet away. They were so unafraid of us that it makes me cringe imagining that somebody will someday take advantage of them in some horrible way. I sat in the grass for maybe half an hour watching one of them that had come up on land to munch on sorrel. I was probably two feet away from the little dude the whole time.  

Mid way through May, by virtue of the same friends, we joined in on a tour of Curse Inc., a native Huntsville company known for several game wiki sites, custom downloads, and their flagship product, Curse Voice. If you can't tell from the pictures below, this place looks like a cubicle drone's dream come true. They have a GAME ROOM with every console imaginable. The offices were full of all the limited edition, pre-order bonus versions of games. Swag. Such swag. A dragon's horde of swag. 

Green screen room? Sure, why not.

Kids, learn to code. Like right now. For really realz.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wrapping up April; Retreading Familiar Hiking Grounds

Back at the end of April we revisited two trail that I've blogged about several times before; the Richard Martin Trail in Elkmont and the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Arrowhead Landing. Both trails offered some Spring wildflower viewing. 

First up, Richard Martin with guest hiker, Nia the Border-Beast Terrier. On this particular day we started at the north end of the trail on the Tennessee/Alabama border (in the defunct town of Veto) and hiked south into Elkmont (for goat cheese at Belle Chevre) and then returned to the north.


Lamb's ear

May apple

Phacelia (scorpion weed)



Creeping Buttercup



We stopped coming and going at the covered bridge so Nia could indulge her otter genes in the creek. That dog loves to swim. I've known dogs that would on occasion swim if there was a reason, but Nia freaking loves the water.

Dogs are terrible about bringing beach blankets so Nia did her best with the available twigs and leaves along the trail.

Just down from Belle Chevre is the recently opened Artisan South art gallery.

Don't tell anybody, but I went in for the gelato...

...which I may have shared.

There are good hikes and there are "SO GOOD IN THE MUD I MUST BATHE" hikes.

Tracklog of this hike can be viewed here.
All the pictures from this day are hiding right here.

Next up was a trek around the refuge that we took on a day that we thought would be warm enough to heat up a pizza in the van while we hiked. It was warmer, but probably not heated to health code standards. We ate it anyway; all the toppings were pre-cooked. Still not the "OMG THE VAN SMELLS LIKE LITTLE CEASAR'S" moment we were hoping for.

Leather flower

Hop clover

Rough bedstraw (?)

Blue-eyed grass

Morning star sedge

Horse nettle

Oak gall

Osprey nest alongside the Tennessee River

Black racer (identified by Dr. David A. Steen via Twitter)

I-565 bridge over the Tennessee River floodplain in the distance

Esther thought it would be great to set up the hammocks under the I-565 bridge and hang out in the shade for a while. It took her about 5 minutes to get hers anchored and me about 20 minutes to decide that I wasn't all that into setting up a hammock. This is a recurring theme with me and hammocks. 

All the pictures and hanging out in a hammock that I didn't hang RIGHT HERE.