Saturday. Huntsville is pretty as cities go, and everything is easy to get to. In the morning, we head out to Monte Sano State Park, which we’ve heard is scenic. Both of us are shutterbugs, so this suits us fine. When we arrive we discover that it’s some kind of Arts day at the park – local artists have set up booths to show (and sell) their respective crafts.
After we peruse for a while, we head over to the office to get a map and ask about hikes. The woman at the counter suggests the South Plateau Loop. A man with two small children walks in then, just having come back from that very walk, and tells me that it’s very nice, very pretty, with nice lookout points. It took he and his boys a few hours to do, but they were pretty much strolling it, he says.
Pretty? Lookout points? Relatively easy? OK then!
So we get started, my aunt and I. The first thing that happens is that as we cross from the office to the trailhead, we pick up a stranger. He’s also got a map in hands, has overheard where we’re going, and assures us that it’s a nice trail. (Pause for acknowledgement, pleasant but brief chit-chat, and the apparent end of the exchange.) And relatively flat. (Again, polite exchanges seeming to end the discussion.) And you’ll probably enjoy it…
OK: I am not terribly proud of this, but between my own natural suspicions where strangers and particularly strange men are concerned, and living in the shadow of NYC, and having watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds, I am thinking that we have possibly picked up a serial killer. Because, you know, that might just be friendliness (it was). But we look on friendliness from strangers with suspicion, where I’m from. True story.
Anyway… our new friend takes another path, and we make our way to the trailhead. And this is where we discover that we are about to embark on a 3+ mile hike. It’s the longest trail listed (But, OK, it’s a loop. The others are one-way, then come back. Though this is still a greater distance…) For the record? Three-plus miles feels loooong. Especially when you get started just around lunch time. It feels even longer when all the “lookouts” have been allowed to get so overgrown that they look out on… more trees. You know, the same trees we were just walking in? For three-plus miles? Egad.
Mind you, we are on a mission for a scenic view. So we bypass every shortcut that might bring us back sooner. Nope. Heaven forbid that we skip anything and thereby miss the ONE view that is something other than trees in every direction.
No. Such. Luck.
And then, when we make it all the way around the loop, thoroughly disappointed that not ONE of the marked “scenic vantage points” were at all scenic, we get back to the main road, and discover that we could have simply driven straight into the park, headed up to the oneopen vantage point in the whole park, idled for 5-10 minutes to take all the pictures we wanted from that one spot, and driven back out again.
Live and learn. Note to self: In future, only take advice on what constitutes a pretty hike or a scenic viewing point from someone who is carrying a camera.
A delicious, hard-earned burger later, we head over to the US Space and Rocket Center for the rest of the afternoon (Incidentally? Rockets are BIG, while their capsules are small).
We stop to take pictures of cotton in bloom (they don’t have THAT back at home), and as the evening darkens we are ready to pop in a movie and call it a day.