September 22nd, Trip to Cedar Glades 1
Not long after the first time I met Shane in person, during the Ice Bucket Challenge, he sent me a message on Facebook saying that he was about to go hiking and that I should come with him. I didn't know how serious he was about the gesture, but I jumped on it immediately. He was riding with Wayne and Misty, so it was my first time meeting them as well. They picked me up and I got so busy gabbing that I had no idea where we'd ended up when the vehicle came to a stop... turns out, it was a little offshoot of a park called Cedar Glades.
The area didn't seem as if it was frequented... the trails were rough and fairly overgrown, winding around near the city dump. Across from the tall barbed-wire fences of the landfill was a beautiful pond, though, as pictured above the blog title up there.
We were having a great time talking about lord only knows what as we explored the woods. At one point, we came across a cairn of rocks with a creepy word spelled out in stones to the right of it... but of course, I either didn't take a picture of it or I've managed to lose it and I can't remember what it said. Ah, well.
Shane almost stepped on a small snake beside the stream on the left, but we couldn't get it to stir up again for a picture. That began the tradition of spotting a snake on each adventure ( at least, for awhile. After the third time, we stopped seeing snakes, which is probably a good thing because every time we'd almost step on them.)
And every time, I'd get the Badger Badger song in my head. For those who don't know what I'm talking about:
My apologies in advance for subjecting you to that earworm. Anyway, midway down the trail, we had to turn around and come back, as someone had to pick up their kids from daycare. We marched on back and stopped at the restroom units before leaving, which lead to us uncovering the very comical faucet unit pictured right.
We were cracking jokes like "What, is this designed to only clean the fingertips?" and "Maybe it's a coin slot. Maybe you have to pay for full faucet privileges."
That ended the hike for the day, but I have to cover one honorable mention from the drive out of Cedar Glades. Some vehicle had, at one point, had yellow paint spill out of the back and it made a long yellow splattered trail down the tarmac. Misty and Wayne were joking openly about how it looked like someone had hit Big Bird and dragged him a ways. If that didn't have us all cracked up enough, at the end of the paint trail, there was a cross that someone had left on the side of the road. Misty pointed to it and exclaimed: "THERE HE IS! THERE'S BIG BIRD!!" ... My face hurt from laughing.
October 8th, 2014 Ceder Glades Trip 2
At some point, I became Shane's "Pocket Plant Prospector." He'd text me photos of plants and I would do my best to identify them. At some point, he sent me a picture of this super bazaar specimen that looked like a cracked spiky pink nut with red jelly beans hanging from it. I'd never see such a thing in my life. From that day on, and I don't remember how long it took to mount a posse, I urged Shane and my Mom to take me to Cedar Glades so I could find where the original discoverers had found it.
October 8th, we headed out in search of the alien thing, thinking it was going to be something rare and crazy hard to find. Could not have been more wrong. Following the trails (and only having a vague idea of where the other folks had found the thing) we made it to the creek site. Not long after the picture on the left was taken of me gawking and taking pictures of the water, I walked back toward where Mom was standing to take this picture and found the first specimen!
|Behold! Euonymus americanus, or Hearts-a-Bursting plant!|
See how alien these things look? It's insane! Apparently, they're native here and very common. We found SO many specimens along the waterside and in the lowlands.
Those are only some of the other specimens found. I weeded through a lot of others to find the ones I liked best. Anyway, they were everywhere. Since we found our objective so soon, we decided to wing it and roam around some trails until the sun was closer to setting, which lead to some interesting pictures of the naturally exposed rock faces and other plants scattered about. One of the rock face looked like a little troll cave.
Speaking of classical trolls, we came across a bridge that mom regarded as, to say the least, questionable in stability. It was composed of numerous small planks wired in even intervals to two sturdy logs that were suspended from bank to bank. It looked a lot less questionable than some of the other things I've monkeyed across, though, so I gave it a try.
I felt right at home, troll that I am. It didn't take long to appeal to Shane's sense of adventure, and soon we were both standing on the bridge, staring at the water below.
Mom crossed reluctantly and we wandered the trail until it came close to dark, so we headed back to the truck. I think this was my third excursion with Shane in tow, and it proved to be so much fun that we went on lots more after it. ;) Anyway, here's a roundup of some of the things found out there at the back entry of Cedar Glades:
The star of this journey, at least the second one. These beautiful capsules were bearing seeds all throughout the wet lowland vales between the knolls and foothills of the southern lower Ozarks. Deer love to eat these.
A common variety of dogwood found all throughout these woods and Hot Springs in general! The berries were fruiting bright red!
I don't know which cultivar it is.
Sweet Birch, Black Birch
If you've ever been around me long enough to get me talking about trees, you'll probably know that birches, or the Betula family, are my favorite trees. Check out the aging process of the bark of the Black Birch HERE.
Plain Brown Bracket/Shelf Fungi
These were devouring several dead trees out in the woods. It was one of the prettiest shelf fungus clusters I've seen.
French Mulberry/American Beautyberry
A fall favorite, these are not actually related to standard mulberries at all. Berries of this vivid violet-magenta are only found naturally on this plant, making the purple variants of Beautyberry hard to misidentify. The berries are edible, but not typically palatable, being bland and better suited for birds. There are ways to turn them into a nice floral tasting jam, though.
There's definitely no getting this type of goldenrod confused with ragweed. They grow in chains over the ground, which isn't something you usually see goldenrod do. That is why it took forever to figure out its name.
I honestly don't know what this solid orb of a red berry is. When I took the picture, I was debating on it being a squaw berry/partridge berry, but that certainly doesn't seem to be right.
Sadly, I didn't get any other pictures of it, and this one isn't that great. Ho hum.
If this is a wrong identification, let me know. These were massive polypores, probably three times the size of my hand, and seemed old, dry, and hard.
The link leads to the picture that made me settle for the Bitter Bracket ID.
White Oak Acorn (About 80% Sure)
The acorn of the white oak tree... I'm pretty sure. A big old nut, it was the only one of the acorns found that had made it to this diameter before falling. How cool!
Southern Leopard Frog
A common little leopard frog. It's a wonder he's not still in metamorph stage being that small!! This was Shane's little buddy that he caught (and released soon after.)
Young Hornbeam Tree
The smooth, twisting bark of a young Hornbeam tree. There was another of similar age beside it. They are really fun to run your hand along!
A native southern firestone in its natural habitat---look close.
As an honorable mention, here is a picture caught of mom practicing some kind of witchcraft to levitate a leaf from the palms of her bare hands.
The force is strong in this one.
To see the rest of the pictures from this trip, you can view the album here!