Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday's Big Adventure

A few weeks ago, I had a work day that involved a meeting in a small town, and field reconnaissance of a potential project site. On the way to the meeting, my boss and I drove through the countryside, over rolling hills, forested and agricultural. We passed a deer farm that raises red deer, which I believe are actually more like elk than deer. And we drove through a windfarm. I was in awe.

SodaBoy and I had driven through a smaller windfarm before, but the scale of Acer Ridge is enormous. There must be 200 turbines. I immediately wanted to share it with him. So yesterday, after consulting the internets, we found a state park near the windfarm that we hadn’t yet hiked, and set out for a multi-purpose adventure.

After driving through the turbines for a while, we turned off the main road and stopped to take photos. These structures are amazing, just gorgeous, all clean lines and beauty. They are HUGE, about 400 feet tall. I have a visceral reaction... I love them. Part of it is what they symbolize, of course. Zero emissions, clean energy. And they support family farms through lease payments to the landowners who can continue to farm the land all around them. Wind, win.

Then we continued on the state park, which promised a long narrow gorge lined with 350-foot vertical stone walls and a 50-foot waterfall. Due to our late start, long drive, multiple turbine photo stops, shitty park maps, and another distraction I am about to describe, we never actually saw the waterfall. But that’s OK, because we had a much more intimate experience with the park than simply viewing some falling water.

We started our hike by walking along the gorge trail, ignoring the sign that warned “trail not maintained.” Babbling brook, beautiful northern hardwood forest, native wildflowers (Tiarella cordifolia or foamflower below). Simply lovely. Then we came to a spot where a small tributary joined the creek, and decided to follow that for a spell. Remember the vertical stone walls? Yes. That is from where the small stream runneth. We ended up scaling the entire 350-foot vertical wall, in the exact spot where running water and algae covered rocks made it the most slippery. Brilliant!

It was pretty harrowing at points, with the sliding shale and the water spray and the swarming bugs. We got bit to pieces during that climb, because all hands were focused on clutching the cliff face for dear life. We didn’t get many good pictures on the ascent due to the lack of solid ground, weak lighting, and again, the bugs.

SodaBoy took this one of me scaling the stream cliff near the top, when it got easier and we knew we were going to make it. There were plenty of other sections where we were literally hugging the cliff face. In this shot, SodaBoy had already climbed the section I was climbing, and was at the top, but the picture shows some of the steepness. It was getting late when we finally got to the rim trail, so we didn’t get to explore the rest of the park.

On the way home we made one last stop, of the totally incongruous and utterly unplanned variety: a casino resort. I had never been to this facility before, and it is enormous. We did not gamble, but ate dinner at their huge buffet and then walked around taking in the sights. The buffet was of the variety where you wish you brought a book so you could hang out and eat all day. We mostly focused on the seafood and Mongolian grill. The gambling areas stretched for acres, and were thick with smoke and jammed with people. This place does a great business.

It was almost 10 pm when we arrived home from our adventures, happy, tired, and eager to download the cameras.


Nadine said...

I can't believe you stopped at the casino after such an outdoorsy day. Yick. That place made me feel dirty the one time I went. And I didn't even gamble.

Aliki2006 said...

I love the turbine pics! We went hiking this weekend and it was so wonderful--makes me eager to do it again.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Love the pictures! Fun adventures!