Kickoff of Summer

Friday, June 19th, 2009 @ 9:35pm

Summer begins this weekend, so to help kickoff summer I wanted to show some of my favorite places around Birmingham. I was itching to ride my bike, and the weather this afternoon was the perfect time to do so. So I got on my bike with my iPhone and took a few pictures for two different spots I want to show you in this post.

Little Cahaba River/Cahaba Beach Road (33.439625,-86.699166)

Cahaba Beach RoadI found this by accident a few years back, and it has become of my favorite places to visit all year round. I was driving around after a long test trying to work off some stress, and decided to explore a few of the back roads I had never been on.

I eventually came upon this old one-lane truss bridge which has long since been shut off to traffic. Around the bridge there are several trails that are well hiked in addition to a rope swing that appears to get a lot of use during the summer.

Cahaba Beach Road BridgeWhile I haven’t done it at this particular spot, there are plenty of geocaching spots and treasures around here if you enjoy doing that sort of thing.

I like to visit this spot in summer and fall, especially as the leaves change into a wide array of colors. Summer is just as nice with plenty of lush green overhang to provide shade on those hot, humid summer days that are common around here. I have yet to go swimming here yet, but with the rope swing and hot days ahead, there’s a good chance I will do so.

Shades Crest (33.460244,-86.777147)

Shades Crest Road Sunset 1As Birmingham is located in the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range, there are plenty of vistas that are worthy of a Kodak moment. As this location was located close to Samford University, I made frequent visits here to enjoy the breeze or watch the sunset over Red Mountain.

Shades Crest Road Sunset 2I managed to time this trip just right to catch the sunset as the sky faded from deep blue to orange.

These photos don’t provide a high enough quality or daylight to really see it, but the coordinates I provided offer a nice view of Samford University’s east campus in addition to the Vulcan and parts of Birmingham through the Red Mountain expressway. Further east is Brookwood Medical Center and Brookwood mall, eventually fading into the Mountain Brook portion of Lakeshore Drive.

In the next week or so, I have a few other locations in mind that are great places to visit during the summer and offer plenty of fun things to do. I’ll just need to remember to take my actual camera with me so I can get better pictures.

Savage Gulf, Tennessee

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 @ 10:29pm

I haven’t been camping in a long time, so this trip has been a long time coming. I don’t think Brett had been camping in a while either, so it was decided that both of us should go have a good camping trip. I had been preparing for this by stocking up on items that I had that were either too old, or didn’t own. Of course one of my “old” items for hiking that I had was apparently too old, as you’ll see below.

We left Friday afternoon after work for a 4 hour drive to Tennessee. Upon arriving at the parking lot, we came across this little monster, which we nicknamed, “Shelob”:


I was kind of surprised at how many people were there, as the campsites were all designated and we had some slight difficulty finding an open campsite. After stumbling around in the dark for about 25 minutes or so we eventually found an open site.

Hammock @ NightHammock @ DayI think by the time we eventually setup camp and got everything ready it was pretty close to midnight at the point. We were at least able to have about 30 minutes of chill time and have some nice fireside chatting to wind down the long drive. To the left you can see my newly bought hammock at night, and then after a decent 6 1/2 hour sleep in the morning to the right. I kind of figured we would get up early with the sun, but was still surprised to find out that we eventually had been able to pack up and start the hike to our next camping spot at about 7:30am. We had a fairly long hike to our next spot, but the weather was very nice and I was able to get some really good pictures on the way there.

This is the “Stone Door” section of the park. Apparently there is repelling, which made me disappointed that we didn’t have repelling equipment.

Stone Door

Laurel Overlook. Probably a good 300-500 feet above the valley where we would eventually hike down to.

Laurel Overlook 3

I was amazed at the variety of wildlife and flowers that were found in the valley. This was the first variety of flowers that we encountered near the trail head of the Savage Creek Gulf.

Flowers around the Path

About halfway through the trail, we eventually stopped to take a break and grab some water. While Brett rested, I took some time to try and take some pictures of the pool, creek, and surrounded areas. To take this picture, I had to forge through the creek several hundred yards up from our stopping point, and even then it was difficult. At the stopping point, the water swirled around into an underground chasm, and somehow by accident I managed to take this picture and really liked how the effect turned out.


Further up the path, these vibrantly colored flowers began to show up.

Purple Flower

And even further, these did as well.

Red Flower

Near the end of our hike, my boots started to fail on me. I had noticed it near the halfway point, and had attempted a crude patch-up of medical tape, but even that began to wear out after the last harsh mile of the trail.

Worn out Boots

Thankfully, I had brought some diving boots because we had planned on swimming, so I at least had some footwear protection on the hike back to the car. Unfortunately, we had to take the easy way back because of my shoe complications, and my diving boots were really not well suited for long hikes.

It was a very tiring, but enjoyable trip and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to go again. I’ve omitted some pictures for the sake of time and space, but you can find more pictures of our trip in my Flickr Photostream.

Snow Day!

Sunday, March 1st, 2009 @ 10:47pm

The streak has finally been broken. After nearly 9 years without any measurable snow amount in Birmingham, we finally got a significant snow event – in March no less! Here are some of my favorite photos, and of course the ones that aren’t listed can always be found on my flickr account.

My car was covered early in the morning. Not that I could drive it anyway…

Snow Car 2

A quick view down the street.

Acton Park

This was in front of the pool patio.


A dead cactus, which for some reason I found amusing…

Dying of Thirst

There is a path that goes down into the woods behind our community, and the walk was just amazing!

Walk in the Woods

I was trying to be all “artsy”, but was having focus issues at the same time.

Walk in the Woods

The iPlunge

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 @ 10:08am

iPhoneEver since the iPhone was initially released, I have had my eye on the newest Apple toy. I initially thought that a plan would be too expensive, but found out that since I was already on my parent’s family plan, it would be just as simple as buying the phone and adding the data. Now one week in with my new phone, I wanted to post my thoughts.

One of the nicest things about the iPhone is of course its OS/software. The standard apps included with the phone are of course great, but the App Store is where this phone really shines. There are literally thousands of free and paid apps in the store covering nearly anything that you can imagine. Of course, having internet on the go is quite incredible as well, since I can now check my email or look up the latest movie times. It’s going to be hard to imagine not having this convenience as it was with my old phone. In addition to replacing my phone, I had been planing on replacing my iPod at some point anyway, considering that its battery life was waning.

Needless to say, there are a couple of things there are slightly annoying about the phone. Without some sort of film or protective case over the screen, this thing picks up fingerprints and dirt like you wouldn’t believe it. I also noticed that if you have two events on the same day at the same time, you only receive notifications for the first event.

With that all said, I must admit that I am very happy with my purchase and considering the small amount that I’m paying for it, the plan is well worth it.

Cell Phone Plans

Thursday, February 5th, 2009 @ 12:14am

Sony Ericcson Z525My 2 year contract with AT&T finally ran out last month, and I’ve been looking to upgrade my old Sony Ericsson phone as seen on the left. It’s been a decent phone, but has unfortunately had the screen go out several times during the two year period that I’ve owned it.

But I must admit, I really want an iPhone. I’d love to have an iPhone. But the plans alone are at minimum $70/month. I’m not sure if I can use my existing plan and just add data plus the phone, but it is something I need to look into. In addition to having internet on the go, gps capabilities, and the app store, I’ve needed to replace my iPod for quite some time. I could easily kill two birds with one stone; provided that I could get an affordable plan integrated into my existing setup without having to split the line off from my family.

On another note, cell phone plans in general frustrate me for the value that is received in the end, especially with text messaging. AT&T at minimum offers 450 minutes for roughly $40. If I was not already with my parent’s family plan, I would’ve considered using a GoPhone plan, especially considering that I likely use less than 100 minutes a month; if that much. Text messaging infuriates me even more. If you are without a plan, AT&T charges 30 cents per text message received or sent! If you consider that AT&T limits characters to 160 per message, allow 96~ bytes for a header, you’re paying roughly $1,200 per megabyte, just for a simple text message! Even if you have their minimum text messaging plan ($5 for 200 messages), you’ll still be paying roughly $100 per megabyte of data. It certainly can’t cost them that much to send a simple 160 character text message!

I’m not saying that wireless companies shouldn’t be in it to make a profit, it just seems that as I look around at plans that they are more or less taking advantage of the situation and overpricing their services well beyond their value. I just wish something could be done about it, but at the rate plans keep increasing, I’m not sure it will…

Lawn Scrabble

Thursday, January 29th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

Lawn Scrabble

A couple in Ohio created a lawn version of scrabble.

This is actually a really cool idea and would be interesting to see this applied to other board games. I can’t imagine how well it would work for games where pieces are required to frequently be moved (i.e. Monopoly) but would work well for games where any assets are visually displayed. Settlers of Catan: Lawn Edition anyone?

Zombie Apocalypse

Thursday, January 29th, 2009 @ 10:51am

Zombies! Ahhh!

It would appear the zombie apocalypse is upon us. Thankfully, there is hope. Check out the Zombie Survival Guide for help!

Park City, Utah

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

SnowmanI finally got around to posting Park City/Salt Lake city pictures on my Flickr account. There was plenty of snow there, at least a good 1-2 feet in some areas enough to make a fairly decent snowman (pictured) and a bunch of angry little snowmen (not pictured).

The snowboarding was pretty good while we were there, although unfortunately we did not get any new snow the whole time beyond what they were snowmaking on a day-to-day basis. The mountain itself is huge and provides plenty of room and opportunities for beginning and advance boarders alike, so we really enjoyed it. The south slopes of the mountain were incredible for several reasons. It was somewhat difficult to reach from the base due to the configuration of lifts, so the snow was much better due to the lack of skiers. Additionally, there were plenty of multi-million dollar homes right next to the slopes that allowed ski-in/ski-out capabilities.

While we were there, Clint introduced us to Settlers of Catan, which is a frustrating (but entertaining) strategy game. There were some pretty heated games as we cut off roads or refused to trade with one another due to other circumstances, but it was all in fun.

Street View Comes to Birmingham

Thursday, December 11th, 2008 @ 9:17am

Google streetview has finally come to Birmingham. Huntsville has been in the system for a while, but I noticed that Birmingham was finally added to the list.

And yes, you can see my house from here.

My $0.02

Friday, July 11th, 2008 @ 6:11pm

Apparently, they didn’t value my work at Samford very much…

2 cents!

Yes, there is a story behind it but I figured the picture was interesting enough. Just my $0.02. Hah.