It was actually a big three day weekend. First, we got the car Saturday. Then we headed off to Birmingham, Alabama in the new adventure wagon on Sunday morning. Our reason for traveling to Birmingham was Kelly's interview with a professor for graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on Monday. Along the way we stopped at a very interesting natural landmark in Alabama. Interesting in part because it is not a public (state or national) park. It is privately owned and very quaint.
|If they say it's the longest, I guess it must be.|
|Kelly striking a pose... sort of.|
|The Alabama Natural Bridge... admission $2.50.|
The Natural Bridge park is also home to another geological attraction... or oddity?
|The Indian Face... do you see it?|
While we were at the Natural Bridge site we also did a little salamander searching. We found a few Spotted Dusky Salamanders (Desmognathus conanti), and a bonus Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris), but they weren't what I was hoping to find.
|Two amphibians under one rock... score!|
I admittedly didn't see the frog sitting there motionless until after I had snapped about three photos of the salamander... that camouflage actually works.
We arrived in Birmingham around 1 PM and drove around the UAB campus. We decided it was time for lunch, so I introduced Kelly to a local eatery popular with UAB students. My friend Don (Birmingham native and UAB alumnus) took me to The Purple Onion for the first time over 10 years ago. It's still good.
|The new Outback takes a break at The Purple Onion.|
Of course, being the "outdoorsy" couple we are, we camped at Oak Mountain State Park just outside of the city instead of staying in a hotel. We arrived at Oak Mountain on Sunday afternoon a little after 2 PM and quickly set up our tent so we could begin enjoying our limited time in the outdoors. Actually getting to set up our tent in daylight was a rare treat for us. We've done a lot of late Friday night trips to the river to camp so we could get an early start on Saturday morning fishing.
After we got our campsite set up, we went to look for these...
|Salamander of the genus Eurycea, Oak Mountain State Park|
|Kelly demonstrates careful rock turning technique to find salamanders.|
I'll be writing a lot more about salamanders in an upcoming post... so, if you would like to know more, I'll get to it soon enough. At this point I'll just say I needed a few photos to support this forthcoming piece, so we went "salamandering" where I knew I could find the species I was looking for.
|The Outback near the salamander stream at Oak Mountain.|
So, I know all five of my readers are wondering if we did any fishing on this trip. Well, we did some fishing. Casting practice would be a better description of it. (I like to think I got something positive out of it.) We certainly didn't do much catching.
|The deceptively named "Lunker Lake" at Oak Mountain.|
While Kelly was at UAB for her meeting, I went off to find a place to fish. I ended up on the upper Cahaba River in the town of Trussville. The river was really too shallow at that point to offer much fishing, but I had fun exploring. I caught one 3" sunfish, but the best thing I captured was probably this photo of the river... which isn't saying much.
After I picked Kelly up, she told me about her interview and I told her about my dismal hour of fishing the upper Cahaba. Since neither of us had
|Does one tiny Bluegill equal success?|
At least I can say my newly created craft foam cricket works... sort of.
All in all we had a fast-paced, fun-filled weekend. We enjoyed putting over 600 miles on the new Outback. The fishing could have been much, much better. I don't really want to admit just how bad it was, but let's just say we did a lot better "salamandering" than we did fishing. I'd like to think the unseasonably warm weather had the fish "confused," but I honestly can't explain it. I couldn't tell you how many fish we had follow our flies for three feet or more just to turn up their noses at our offerings... and believe me, we offered them plenty of variety to choose from.
If you ever have any doubt that warmwater species (bass and panfish) can be extremely selective, I've got a couple places I'd like to take you fly fishing in Alabama on a warm day in February.