Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just a Simple Walk

Life is always springing surprises. It wouldn't be able to do this if we knew everything, but none of us does know everything.  We could be the most cluttered mind in existence among men, the greatest depository of Jeopardy! answers in the history of Alex Trebek and Art Fleming combined and we'd still know less than we don't know.

I learned something this week, which perhaps everyone else would say, "You didn't know that?", but I don't care, I am happy to have discovered it.

It's a trail, like big deal, huh?

A nice trail is a treat to a walker and I am a walker, have been all my toddling days. I sort of sat on my feet in recent days, combination of the pains of age and a medication that wasn't working. I wanted to hike, but I couldn't face the jolts and so I abandoned one of the delights of my life.

And then my Doc switched my pills and I got happy feet again. I began testing them out a month ago. Took little snippets of steps for a while, then went out one day and just hauled off for five miles. And now a couple weeks ago I began early morning jaunts like back in the old days.

I have been going here and there. Some mornings, usually when I am too lazy to move my son's car out of the way of my own, I just amble up or down our street and turn randomly at the corners. (I recently described such a walk in this place.) Other times I would drive to a park here or there.

We have several parks around here, city parks and country parks and town parks and state parks. We don't have a National Park. We have the honor or disgrace, however you wish to take it, of being the only state not to have a National Park. I thought I had heard early this year we finally got one, but I've been Googling like crazy and can't find any evidence of it, so I assume we are still National Park Free.

We got a bunch of State Parks. You've been looking at pictures of one, Bellevue State Park. Consider this the start of this journey, although in reality it was the starting point of my return trip.

Like I said, I learned something new I didn't know, something called the Northern Greenway and it connects a bunch of these state parks. A map of the section we're walking today was at the top of this post. I started out in one of my favorites for walking, Rockwood Museum. I finished up there as well, but since I didn't start clicking off photos until my turn around point in Bellevue we'll pretend we started here.

Bellevue is the largest of these, it has a lot of trails of its own, plus a horse stable, a bandstand, tennis courts and a nice picnic area.

My son and daughters go to Bellevue and play Frolf on its Frolf Course. (I guess technically it isn't really Frolf if it's played on an actual laid out course, but they call it Frolf and so will I. Nitpick if you will. If you don't know what Frolf is, look it up.)

The thing on the right has nothing to do with Frolf. This is along a mile around track in the center of the park. They have several stations where a person can stop and do some physical exercise, like pushups on a log, but I have no idea what that thing is. It has a bunch of chains and hooks. It looks like some medieval torture devise.

I don't know what it is, but here is another one exactly like it out in the middle of this meadow.

What are they up to in Bellevue State Park?

Is this some secret military experiment?

Is there witchcraft afoot?

Will there be crop circles around the next turn?

Let's take a turn and see.

Let's call this a simple walk.

That's right, a simple walk. I'm not into jogging like the lady that sped into my len's range. No, no, no, none of that jarring of the body, that loosing of ligaments, that jolting of the joints, I prefer a more civilized and comfortable brisk saunter through the pathways of life.

By the way, she took a sudden turn off that mile long track I mentioned and down a side trail among the pines, right across my vision as I depressed the shutter button. Now she has her moment of fame on my Blog, lucky lady.

Gonna let the lady jogger jog on her own way. I'm not taking a turn around the track either. Many more joggers that way, been passing me in little herds. I want to get away from all that panting. I head off into the landscaping.

Whoa, am I having a near death experience. Don't those people who claim they kicked off and got kicked back always speak of a tunnel with a light at the end?

Maybe I'm confusing them with those who say the light at the tunnel was an oncoming train, which would be a near-miss experience or real death.

I can do without either right now. What I need do is get on with this little walk. I didn't come here to wander about Bellevue all the live-long day, do-dah, do-dah.

To get you all oriented, take a glance at the map at the top of this scribbling. I am over in the big dark green square to the middle right, walking down that red line from where you see a dark blue oval. Those dark blue lines are trails wandering around in Bellevue and the oval is the track I told you about.

I've made my turn about and am going to walk back to where I started following the red line to the left. I really don't have a lot of alternate choices right now, not good ones anyway. I could keep walking the red line to the right off into the sunrise and eventually drop from exhaustion or dehydration or I could sit down where I am and rot away in the heat of the day.

I chose to go left through this gateway to the West and out of Bellevue State Park.

Here I pause momentarily.

Not just to snap a picture of the walls and posts and fences, but because this chicken has to cross the road and traffic goes by pretty fast here, never mind the signs saying, "people crossing" and yield to bicyclists and pedophiles...

I mean pedestrians. There may be pedophiles, but it'd probably be a waste of their time. I never see any kids our on these trails, except ones in jogging strollers being jostled along by fitness-freak parents. If there are any pedophiles crossing the road, you don't have to yield for them. Park on a pedophile is always in season.

This is Marsh Road, a main thoroughfare.  If this weren't early Saturday morning the traffic wouldn't look so sparse. It'd be backed up nearly to here with cars waiting to turn on to I-95. That overpass yonder is the infamous interstate.

I double time across while the double-timing is good.

Now I am entering the first of those lighter green blotches on the map.

This is Bringhurst Woods Park.

First thing you get as you enter here is a map of the Greenways. Actually the map looks a bit intimidating with all these blue dots covering its surface. Shows you how extensive this trial is, though, and what to see as you go. It's nine miles long so maybe you wouldn't want to do a lot of wandering about its edges sightseeing. I'd like to walk the whole thing some time, but I may do it in chunks. I think I could walk the nine miles maybe, but making the other nine back to where ever I parked, I doubt. I walk this thing one end to the other, I'd have to get a motel for the night. You don't want some of the motel choices around some of the end points. Too many rent by the hour, if you get my drift.

You don't need a map to find your way in Bringhurst Woods. There isn't much here but trees, accounting for the "Woods" as its middle name. My path, that red line, which hugs the upper border, which in turns hugs the shoulder of another road, is the only route.

Before entering the "Woods", I linger long enough to snap this old stone house and guard shack. I had to linger a bit because just as I raised my camera a bus pulled up to unload. Despite the length of time it took, only one woman de-bussed and then slowly ambled pass the stone wall.

The house has some historic significance I am sure; I just don't know what.

Turning back to the path ahead, we bravely journey into Bringhurst.

They said bring Hurst, but brought a lot of wood to the woods instead. You get a lot of wooden fence along this trail in here.

Gives it a nice finished look, don't you think. It kind of invites you to come in and see what this fence is protecting you from.

Is there a deep chasm on either side this barrier is protecting you from, not going to let you fall over the edge?

Yeah, that's probably it.

But you don't go far and suddenly you are on this doubly fortified bridge.

 Oh man, is this Jurassic Park?

Is that the Tyrannosaurus Rex cage down below?

How deep is the canyon? How far away is the beast or how deep the gorge or strong the current of the mighty river you are being so protected from?

With fear and trepidation we approach the railing and prepare to peer into the mouth of doom.

And there, there it is!

A quiet little stream, still and as smooth as a mirror and a whole lot of rocks.

Nothing particularly scary here, it isn't even up a great height.

Oh well, we can go on pretending danger still lurks in the silent deep of the still water, slithery monsters or mutant crocodiles kept at bay by the reinforced sides of the little foot bridge.

Hey, I'm an old horror story writer, I gotta have something to believe in here. What's the fun in an idyllic scene off a Hallmark card?

Off the bridge and though the woods to wherever the fence leads we go.

Hope you like trees because that is what you will see here.

Some people do love trees. I don't mean tree-huggers, I mean those who got merit badges for knowing every type of tree from its leaf or nut.

I liked trees because woods had snakes in them and I liked snakes and I got a merit badge in snakes when I was a Boy Scout. Didn't come across any snakes on my walk.

Ooo, a fork in the road. This is exciting. Maybe there are other trails here after all. Let's go exploring.

I go off down this fork to the right and I loop a short semi-circle right back onto the main path.

Hmm, a path to nowhere. Must have been a politician who designed this.

I don't know what that fork was about. Perhaps just to let you get a closer look at the creek running through the woods. It was the same little stream full of rocks under that bridge. Not much worth a side trip to see.

Speaking of politicians and off to the side. This path does run just off a road and peeking through the brush is the corner of a large business complex, about the only thing along that road other than trees.

I mention politicians, because that complex use to house offices of AIG. remember AIG? One of the first big bailouts of this bailout binge of the last two years. Their offices are no longer here.

I guess it is just a general corporate mall now. I don't know what operates here anymore. It's got a new name, Rockwood Office Park, come park an office here.  I wonder why Rockwood? Why not Bringhurst? Maybe that sounds too much like bring hearse in this depressed time of dying businesses.

Bringhurst Woods Park is a little depressed itself. I remember many moons ago bringing the kids and the Little Woman here. We parked in the parking lot and wandered down into the picnic area. Something had attracted us to explore, although I forget what it was.

What ever it was it probably isn't here anymore. I'm off that main path here and standing up in what was the parking lot. I suppose it still is the parking lot, but it is deserted and closed off from the road above. There are long metal barriers across the driveway preventing anyone from driving down here to park. Seems a shame to me.

There is still a small pull-over of gravel along the road. There was one car parked there this morning belonging to a lady walking her dog along this trail. I passed coming and I would meet her again going back. By the second time the poor dog had its tongue dragging the path. It seemed fairy warm this morning and humidity must have been up. My tongue was beginning to droop as well.

The one lone picnic pavilion was forlorn and lonely looking. The inside was dirty and had some debris scattered about. The door toward the read side was sealed up.

I kept hearing a strange banging as I stood in this area. Gee, I hope no one was sealed up behind that door. It was a green door, were they making porno movies in there?

There was a sign of life here. The trash can had a fresh plastic trash bag draped inside it. Someone cares.

Well, some more fencing and pathway beckons me to traverse this way so we go to see what we can see.

We see joggers and we let them pass. It is a young couple. They are a handsome couple. The woman is certainly picture worthy, but her boyfriend/husband is all rippling sweaty muscle. I resist the temptation to photograph them as they bounce and jiggle away, him is his large and tight muscles and she in her tiny and tight shorts.

I turn around a bend before raising my finger to the shutter button again and snap this not much of anything. There is the path and there is a big rock and there is a broken off branch of one of the many trees.

Yes sir, what you see in Bringhurst Woods is many, many trees.

Ant then again, many places with some wooden fences.

Are these fences holding you back from the trees or holding the trees back from you?

Ah, a question for the ages.

Much better than that silly, "If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Who comes up with these profundities? People sit around and argue this? They need to get out and take more walks. Of course a falling tree makes a sound. Sound is physics, it's a wave, put a tape recorder in the woods and when you play it back the sound will be there even though no one was in the woods to hear it when the tree fell.  If a deaf person is in a concert hall when an orchestra plays, does it make music? Come on.

Killing time because there is just trees to see. But there ahead are the posts that mark this end of Bringhurst Woods where we will exit for the next phase, the next light green splotch upon the map.

First though another road to cross.

This is Carr Road. It isn't as busy as Marsh was. Right now it is devoid of cars. I can stand on the yellow line and snap a picture and not be flattened by a FedEx truck or something.

The path has been paralleling this road and now it bends some and crosses the road.

Why did the walker cross the road?

To get to the other side, like the chicken?

No, to eventually get back to his car.
This next patch doesn't seem to have a name. I just refer to it as Carr Park. Kind of reminds me of my home in the sixties in Philadelphia near Clark Park.

Speaking of parks, there is a park bench at the entrance into this next section. There will be at the next as well. Maybe they stick these benches thinking we older seasoned citizens need to park ourselves on park benches to make it through parks.

Maybe it's for hobos to sleep the night.

Oh well, these park benches make more sense than some things I've seen in State Parks. The Little Woman and I have often hiked a State Park not on this particular trail and at the very end of the parking lot, right where the hiking trail begins, is a handicap parking space.


If a handicapped person can hike a rutted, gravel covered mud hiking trail, surely they can walk across a parking lot.

Oh look, more wooden fencing. Perhaps it is for the handicapped hikers to hold on to.
Sorry for the sarcasm. It's not aimed at the handicapped; it's aimed at the silliness of the politicians who make laws requiring handicap parking spaces at hiking trails.

Now guess what we are going to see along the path through Carr Park?

Same thing we saw along the path through Bringhurst Woods.


Joyce Kilmer would be oh so happy here.

Did you know Joyce Kilmer's actual first name was Alfred? I wonder why he choose to go by his middle name? Of course if he hadn't, then we would have never had Shelley Berman's famous words:

"She said Joyce Kilmer wrote trees and I said, 'Who's she?' and totally embarrassed myself."

Shelley Berman said that a long time ago so if I said Shelley Berman and you asked, "Who's she?" Well, go look it up.

Jogger alert!  Jogger alert!

Wow, look at him go.

He should slow down and walk. You run all you can think is, "When am I done, when am I done, when am I done, am I gonna die, am I gonna die!"
You can't see the forest for the pain.

When you walk you wander and when you wander you wonder and when you wonder your mind can wander and ponder about what Shelley Berman said about Joyce Kilmer. This is all good. You exercise your body and you exercise your brain.

When you walk and don't run, you can enjoy the light patterns through the trees rather than the spots before your eyes.

When you walk and don't run you can breathe in the fresh country air rather than gasping for air, any air, to breathe.

You also have a better chance of noticing the bicyclist bearing down on you in his or her funny hat and indecent shorts. You can get out of the way before being flattened. You can jog, but you can't out run those demon bicyclists.

If you can avoid bicyclists, you have a much better chance of seeing the little posts ahead that say you are almost through Carr Park, you have lived to wander some more through the indigenous trees of the northern south.

Yeah, I know, some may think of us here as Mid-Atlanticers and some, with long memories, as Border States, but officially to the U. S. Government we are Southern ladies and gentlemen, y'all.

So here we are, we have officially crossed Carr Park or the no-named land, successfully.

We Southern ladies and gentlemen stand poised on a new frontier, a new place along our path to explore.

But first we must do something.

Not that! What are you thinking? I told you to do it before me left.

No, we must cross another road.

This is Shipley Road. It had a few more cars on it than I expected this early on a weekend, especially this far down the road. Further north it gets pretty busy.

That is the ubiquitous I-95 on the overpass.

I'm not sure what to make of the jogger. She came up the path out of Carr Park behind me and paused at the entrance. I greeted her with a good morning, which she returned. I expected her to jog on up into the next park once traffic cleared, but instead she headed down Shipley. Maybe that is the way home. I hope I'm not so scary looking she was running away.

I'm no predator or pervert. I'm no threat to anyone as far as I know. I have my faults and flaws and fantasies like anyone, but I'm not going to be  chasing women through the woods. I'd be like the old car chasing dog anyway. If I caught one, I wouldn't know what to do with it.

I just assume she was running her usual route. I can't blame any woman for not taking chances these days, though. The Little Woman told me she wouldn't go down any of these trails alone.

I've had some times I felt the same way. Usually I don't give it a thought. I've been walking solitary trails a long, long time; a very long, long, long time.

I'm still not ready to sit down in the benches they keep providing at the entryways of these parks.

When I die I'd like one of those benches though. Not to be preserved and sat upon. Ugh, there is a bizarre and morbid picture. Me corpse sitting on a bench at the entrance of a park, perhaps with one hand raised in greeting.

No, no, no, I want a bench in place of any tombstone. It doesn't even have to have my name on it.  It can have engraved upon its back, "Sit and rest your weary legs a moment. No one will bother you here."

The is the lower entrance to Rockwood Museum. Sigh, I fear it is all uphill for a ways into this park. People think of our tiny state as flat. Much of it is as you roam south, but up in this neck of the woods there are hills and a lot of them.  I came down this hill on my way out this path and what comes down must now go up.

And up we are going.

Let me ramble a bit about Rockwood Museum. First of all I used to get it mixed up with Rockford Park, which touches this trail further along on the western end. Rockford has the tower, Rockwood has the mansion.

This region has a myriad of things with similar names. There is like a zillion and one streets, museums, stores, malls and whatevers named Brandywine something-or-other.  Bellevue isn't so uncommon either. We started this post speaking of  Bellevue State Park. I worked for a company on Bellevue Avenue and a former paper carrier I had lived on a Bellevue Road. There's a Bellevue Boulevard somewhere. It can get very confusing for an ordinary mind. You don't want to dwell on it or you may end up in Bellevue, the hospital.

Still walking up the hill, by the way.

Rockwood Museum, kind of a strange name for a park this museum tag. I guess they consider the old mansion a museum.

Oh, we reached the top of the hill and turned down another path. Take a look up here. The hill actually goes up a bit further although the path doesn't continue to the very summit. But can you see the gazebo at the apex.

Yeah, kind of hard to spot it, isn't it?

It's there over toward the right.

There seem to be people think we have more power than the environment, but turn your back for a second and the environment will take over again very quickly.

This photo was taken from pretty much the same spot four years ago. Can you see the gazebo now. Back then you could walk straight up to it across the hillside, now you need search along the paved path for a small foot trail through the brush.

Nature endures when man ignores.

This was once the home of a man named Joseph Shipley, a Quaker and a banker. He apparently did all right for himself as a financier. That last road we crossed was named for him. He built his Rockwood Estate back in the early 1850s.

Today it is a museum and park.

It used to be the home of the annual Ice Cream Festival. The paths on these grounds all have names related to that ice cream theme.

I'm not here for the mansion or the Garden Tours or ice cream. I'm just taking this simple walk and this was my starting point and my ending point.

When I began my walk I came up the trail that you enter here. This is the one going past the gazebo on the hill and then joining the Northern Greenways path.

This is a very long, steep, uphill path. Even though I arrived shortly after dawn, before the temperature could rise and while the park was still rather dark, I was still perspiring by the time I reached this path's end, puffing and huffing, too.

Don't let this tranquil photo lull you in thinking this is a gradual grade, this is a hill to be mastered or to be mastered by.

It was somewhat easier walking down it than up.

I could have continued down to the parking lot, but instead swung right and went along the ridge path toward where the mansion sits.

On the way was this lovely weeping willow.

The mansion sits at a point with a commanding view of the valley.

There it sits in the distance. On this side is a conservatory or greenhouse room, windowed on three sides and full of exotic plants and some high backed chairs.

You can just make it out sticking to the left from the side of the building.

I stood on a platform and looked over the front path I usually come up when I visit this park. I hadn't used it this time because they have been laying new concrete and the bottom portion is still barricaded off.

Instead I parked on the further side of the parking lot and walked up on the circular driveway beyond those trees and wall.

When I had arrived there was a police car parked not far from me. It was soon joined by a second police car as I began my walk up the hill.

I had walked for a good hour and half. I figured these police would be gone when I came back.

They weren't. I don't know what they were doing there, perhaps just hiding out and having breakfast from McDonalds or killing time. They were about to give me a scare.

I always feel nervous around police. Don't know why, maybe I have a guilty conscience, but most likely it is just some paranoid reaction to guys with guns. It makes me nervous to have a police car behind me, even though I know I'm not speeding or disobeying any rules of the road.  Seeing cops gives me visions of those iron barred gates closing behind me.

I came around the bend of the drive and suddenly one police officer starts his car. He was parked facing the opposite direction and he leaves. The other officer, whose car faces my direction, starts his engine and pulls toward me. Then as he nears, he stops and gets out of the car and begins walking in my direction.

I feel like he is glaring right at me.

My heart begins to flutter as if I were a wanted criminal found out and cornered.

He steps ever closer, then turns and steps into a porta-potty.

I walk over and take a last picture of the fountain as the officer comes out, gets in his car and drives away.

My simple walk has ended.

1 comment:

Ron Tipton said...

Nice tour Lar. Great pictures. You have way more walking trails up your way than we do down here in LSD. We have two and not as near picturesque as yours. Thanks for sharing. Nicely written too.