Thursday, October 11, 2018

Prepping for Michael by Chilling with those Kirby Kids

With the second hurricane in a month bearing down on
 the Sandhills, we squeezed in our regular playdate with
Claire, Evan, and Ryan in advance of Michael's arrival.

First order of business in any hurricane is to make sure you have
secure shelter.  Evan and Ryan constructed this in the living room.
Conveniently located in front of the TV.

This is Roy Rogers and son Dusty showing how you "ride out"
a storm in style.

You still snoopin' around?

It took every available blanket and fleece to cover the walls,
ceiling, and floor.  I counted seven.

Later, the boys sample some of my vintage 1960's comic books.
Ryan has "Spiderman Meets Frankenstein" and Evan has Buster Bear.
Hmm.  Maybe I should have had them swap.

Meanwhile, Judy and Claire created another lovely snake,
enjoying a game of  HISSS!  For us it's actually DOUBLE HISSS!
We combine our TWO games for double the fun.

In the comfort of their tent, the boys don 3-D glasses to view
a video of the world's greatest roller coasters.  Amazing what
you can find at the Sandhills Coalition (10 cents!).

Vicarious thrills are fine when it's too wet to be outside.

Amanda Talbert, does this look familiar?  I never played this game
with you, but as of now, I have played it with Claire. We had to
draw cards that directed us to do dances like The Bump, The Dippy
Whip, The Egyptian, and The Ballerina Spin. 72 dance choices in all.
Each had to be done with a partner (we had each other). We ALSO
had to draw a card that modified the dance.  We might have to do it
back to back, with arms linked, while squatting, or with a hand on
the head (which made it harder to slap your knees . . .). And I mustn't
forget the Moonwalk.  We paused to look up Michael Jackson moon-
walking on YouTube. Impressive.  Us?  Not so much.  But what fun!

In the other room, Judy and Evan had several highly competitive
rounds of "Rebound." Ball-bearing sliders have to bounce off an
elastic band and score points without sliding into a pit. The Pit
of Death, to be exact.  Or Doom. Or something.

Ryan wasn't napping during all this.  He was on Judy's hope chest
playing The Magic School Bus on the laptop.  He also joined me
and Claire for the ending of Dance Party.

When Ryan brought out some dinosaur puzzles, Claire offered
to help.  We were missing a few pieces, but it didn't matter since
the directions said you could mix arms, legs, bodies, and heads
in any combination to create NEW dinos.  But they went after
the authentic look.

Here's "Happy Ryan" with his creations.

Here's "Fierce Ryan", growling with his creatures.

Claire has put together quite a Jurassic menagerie.
It was a great afternoon with the Kirby grandkids.
None of us were thinking about or worrying about
Hurricane Michael.  That was 18 hours ago.  Now the
rain has started to fall and the wind should pick up soon.
But don't worry about me and Judy.  We can always set
up that tent.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Virtual Tour: From the Bear Creek Trail to a Rufus Burger

I invite you to follow along as I show some glimpses 
of my and Judy's first-ever hike on Moore County's
Bear Creek Trail.  This was less than two weeks after
Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc on this area and the
signs of destruction were everywhere.

Yet, the waters had receded and there was surprisingly 
little mud.  Plant and animal life were getting back to normal.
Take this tour at your own pace-- take a minute or twenty.

Parking area at the old Robbins water plant on Salisbury Street.
You can follow this road to enter the Bear Creek Trail OR . . .

You can head DOWN to Bear Creek.

Clearly marked trail shows alternate route to go directly to
Bear Creek for the first part of the trail.

Don't these mushrooms look like they were planted in a semi-circle?

Mushroom closeup

Unidentified herb, springlike green

Our first sign of hurricane damage was this uprooted tree in the
trail.  Fortunately, it created its own detour-- just walk around.

This bridge had not washed away.  Maybe it's anchored.

A view downstream of Bear Creek, back within its banks.


As the waters subsided, mud and leaves had settled on this bench.
The leaves left sand imprints almost like plaster casts.  Amazing!

Continuing upstream.

The first of many yellow wildflowers we sighted.

These black oak leaves are still covered with mud since we haven't
had more rain since the storm.  They and everything else were
submerged by 20, 30 or possibly more feet of water.

Florence's waters displaced this picnic table.

Some creative folks have added a disc golf course on high ground.
You can drive right to it on the road beside the railroad tracks that
I showed earlier.

Judy heard some plaintive "meows" and then
 detected a young cat sheltering under a rock ledge.
It had a flea collar and looked well fed, but seemed alone and afraid.

She petted it, but we felt helpless to do more than comfort it. We
hope it can find its way home-- there were residences not too far away.

The trail led back toward Bear Creek and soon we approached
an old low dam.

This was associated with the nearby Robbins reservoir which
is no longer in use.

A view of the falls through the trees.

Our trail went back up toward the old railroad line and we saw how
flood waters had washed dirt, gravel, and ties right out from under
the train track.  A workman was near with a grader to try to repair
a road, but he said the train track was someone else's responsibility.

Up close and personal with the dam.

This old trestle spans Bear Creek upstream from the dam. Tons
and tons of rocks and boulders are there.

This is a concrete spillway which still had river water well up
on it.  We had to navigate it to continue on the trail, but it was
no big problem.

Here is where the old track passes the old reservoir.  It has its
own trail, 0.8 miles, but we opted not to walk it this time, since
we wanted to go as far as possible in the time we had allotted.

No trains have crossed this track for many a year. I think this
western route connected to Star, near Biscoe, in Montgomery County.

The reservoir.

This sign was near the reservoir.  I know you can't read it-- but I
want you to know that everything inside it had a coating of mud!
This was FAR above the river level.  It was hard to imagine what
it had looked like 10 days earlier. Frightening, too.

Another foot bridge led to a brief muddy patch, but the trail
was never difficult.

We had no trouble getting over one or two low fallen trees.

This massive short-leaf pine was a solitary sentinel.  I saw no
other pines anywhere near the stream, only up at the tracks.

It compares favorably with some giant longleaf  pines at
Weymouth Woods and the Boyd House in Southern Pines.

I'm always delighted to see a patch of Galax.

This narrow footpath was probably the most treacherous point
we had to pass.  The bank looked like it could give way any time.
But we made it, going AND coming back.

Another cool mushroom.

It looked strange to see this whole hillside of Christmas ferns
with a coat of mud.

Wild Ginger, another of my personal favorites.

Yet another cool mushroom.

Judy is holding a sourwood leaf.  Both of us had a light
sourwood snack (chewed, not swallowed) on our walk back. It
was refreshing and tasty.  If you like that sort of thing.

After hiking for an hour and a quarter, the trail began to climb to
a high bluff, perhaps 60-75 feet above the streamside trail. That
was our turnaround point.  There were loop trails ahead, but that's
for another time.  IF we could ever get that far, which is questionable.
This view of the creek is on our way back.

This unidentified plant looks a little like mint but has no fragrance.

A display of the power of the flood waters to beat down
everything in its path.

Here's yet another hardy survivor of Florence-- an Eastern Box Turtle.

Back by the trestle once more, and halfway home.

We were glad to see Bear Creek recovering so nicely.

The man was making nice progress with his grading.

We took the high trail back to our car and were rewarded with
this early-turning sassafras.

Uh-oh!  Kudzu had come from the woods to the abandoned
train track.  It has no respect!

Maybe my favorite picture of the day.  Two things I love--
streams and railroads!

This sourwood was much further along than the ones in the
woods that we snacked on.

We actually have some of this yellow beauty at our old property.
I transplanted clumps of it when we moved and they are thriving
in a patch.

This may be goldenrod, but there are SO many yellow wildflowers,
it's hard to be certain.

I once knew the name of these dainty blue flowers but I haven't
looked them up lately.

Lavender lovelies.  That's what I'll call them, anyway.

A different lavender flower that I also don't know.
We departed the Bear Creek Trail, so glad we had gone.
We proceeded on a Gypsy Trip that would end with lunch.
We headed from Robbins past North Moore High School and on
to Highfalls, where we crossed over the Deep River.  Bear Creek
is one of its main tributaries.

The Deep River had also returned to normal levels, but had approached
height of the bridge when at flood stage last week.

I'm sure the local folks are glad to see a semblance of normal again.
From Highfalls to Highway 902, a straight shot to
421, which led us to Goldston and lunch.
Welcome to Rufus' Restaurant, a hot spot in Goldston. We beat
the crowd and got a booth where we could see all the activity.
And there was plenty.

I think the owner's have a deal with Pepsi.  Good for them!

See what I mean?
How did we know about this hidden gem of . . .
maybe not haut cuisine . . .
maybe not fine dining . . .
just "home cooking."
AND the Rufus Burger.  Read on:

This wall map was a reminder that large swaths of Moore, Lee,
Chatham, Randolph and other piedmont counties were once known
for their mineral wealth, including coal and GOLD!
And now for the Rufus Burger.
Both Judy and I succumbed to the temptation. Boy was it Big.
The bun was the size of a pancake. It was loaded with two huge
scrumptious patties of fresh beef, tomato, grilled onions, homemade
coleslaw, pickles, jalopenos, lettuce, cheese, and chili.  I might have
left something out.  After letting us flounder with trying to pick it
up for a while, our server offered a knife and fork.  That is the only
way I could manage it.  So I ended up with a Rufus hamburger salad.
As the article says, they offer many other choices, so we'll go back
one day and try something more routine.  But we'll never forget
our Rufus burgers.

A parting shot.  We couldn't drive away for a few minutes because
this school bus pulled up in front of Rufus's, lights a-flashin.'
After a while, a teenager came out and climbed aboard.  The bus
pulled away and we headed home. The row of cars behind the bus
seemed to think this was perfectly normal, so who am I to disagree?

Back to the Bear Creek Trail.  It was a fun trail and
we were glad to have a new place only 30 minutes from
home.  We would only recommend it to you hikers who
know the uncertainties of trails.  Expect the unexpected.
The worker we saw warned of snakes when the water was
high, but we saw none.  We were aware of the likelihood of
mosquitoes and covered our exposed skin with "Off" Deep
Woods,with 25% Deet.  It kept the skeeters off, but we
took thorough baths when we got home.

I hope you enjoyed the tour and find a good one of
your own as the fall days grow more pleasant.