BLOT: (28 Nov 2010 - 11:36:42 PM)
The first Black Friday Hike was on Monte Santo. Did something like 6 miles. Second year, roughly the same thing, except on Thanksgiving Day itself (I was back in retail). Third year, which was last year, the much more strenuous Walls of Jericho. Basically, then, we have three years with three roughish hikes with Sarah and I accompanied by at least one other person. This year? Well...didn't happen.
We were down in Evergreen, visiting my mom, and there is only real hiking location on the South-side of the State not the Gulf Shores State Park: the Conecuh National Forest (despite the name, it is about an hour away from Conecuh County). I have been there before, hiked the "Crystal Springs" trail which ended up being far too long to bring three youngish children along with and expect to be back before dark. I've wanted to repeat it for some time, more proper hike style, but one downside is the old CNF allows hunting during open season (and the day after Thanksgiving is something of the most open hunting day of all). Which is also why Sarah and I did not get out and just "make our own trail" since so much of the South-'Bama landscape is just trees and old dirt roads.
Also, the weather wasn't the best for hiking. Pop-up storms and fairly consistent drizzles meant anything with a chance of being muddy probably would be and there was a chance of worse weather brewing at any moment. I had a backup plan of getting out and walking around Evergreen itself for a few hours, but we ended up going to the Park. I have been there before with a camera, and in fact, the first 14 pics of this earlier Evergreen photo gallery are of the Park.
The Evergreen Municipal Park is kind of small, maybe about 15 acre park located a mile or two South (and East) of 31 on what might still be called "Main Street". Looking around for some official facts, this one picture of the opening sign and staff is the only thing I found. Here's a Google Maps sattelite view of the Evergreen City Park (as we all called it). Gives you an idea of the layout. Maybe 1500ft at the widest axis either way, surrounded by a single-lane paved trail that doubles as a road and goes on for maybe a mile. The park's lake dominates the southern section, along with two playgrounds (one older and metal, one newer and wooden) and a log cabin about the center. The northern section has a series of ball fields.
One of the salient features to making the park worthy of photography is the fact that it has several renovations over the years, usually at a time after the other renovations have started to show age. This means you have some sections that look kind of new, and some that look old and decayed, and then some sections that are even older that look relatively ok. When I was young, there was a metal playground that still is around. About, ooo, maybe 15-20 years ago, they built the wooden playground. I'm not sure when the Cabin came about. The pavilions have been around for a bit, but I think have been recently redone. At one point a dozen or two concrete park benches were laid out, and now half of them are collapsing but some are holding up ok. Sometime in there, they put up a couple of wooden walk bridges over to the side of the road, maybe implying there was going to be a more legitimate trail made, but nothing seems to have come of it. Then you add in the fact that the one side, the more Northern angle, of the park has some clearcutting or something going on, and the North-Eastern edge has some sort of factor building right there, and it is an odd overall sight.
Picture of a mixture of standard city park natural hints mixed with urban decay, out of season trash, graffiti, grey skies, unraked leaves, and leaning signs and you have a good idea of what Sarah and I were looking at on November 26, 2010. Don't get me wrong: I have played and had a good time in this park for many years. It is just, well, it has seen better days and the overall dreariness of the day (including distance crow caws and only four other people, total, the time we were there) added to a nice, dystopian flavor. Seriously, a post-apocalyptic live action RPG would have been right at home, here.
As a final warning, there is something like 120 pictures in this album. I normally cull down any album to about 20-30 shots but this one kind of took more to get the point across. If you want to see it in Picasa Gallery Form: Evergreen Municipal Park. Or, you can look at the slideshow, below. In general, the pictures are clockwise around the park, starting in the South-Eastish end. Rain increased steadily from about the last two pictures of the playground (see gallery) so the last quarter has only a couple of shots (though some of my favorites). The last few shots, and the first few, are not in the park, but are on the way towards, or while leaving. The very first shot is my mom's backyard, that looks all nice and grown up (and at night has tons of rabbits). The last shot is a strange oddity called "The Pepto Bridge". I don't know.
And for those who don't have time to see the gallery, or watch the slide-show, here are my three favorites: the disused fire hydrant by the lake, the metal versus wood walkway, and the shot of nature trying to find a way (but overall failing). The two that probably best capture the dystopian feel I was talking about? Probably the decaying parking lot leading up to the playground and the thick plank wired to the boxsprings.
Written by Doug Bolden
For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".
"The hidden is greater than the seen."