Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama

(Ken) April 27, 2013.  Oh, to be in the South; in the springtime! I think everyone knows what I am talking about; just before the Mosquito larvae hatch and become the state bird, just before the daily temperature reaches 90 and just before the jet stream reaches its southern most dip and brings 7 million percent humidity to the area with it!

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The weather was perfect so we decided we would head to Gulf State Park for a bike ride.  While checking the web site about the park, we noticed they also had a pier, but not just any pier: the longest pier into the Gulf of Mexico.  Nearly 1.25 miles into the Gulf, it attracts thousands of fisherman daily and especially on a Saturday!

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From the novice to the most elaborately equipped, the only fisherman to land a fish during our journey to the end of the pier was a 12 year old boy using a $10 combo rod & reel by Zebco!  I wasn’t a monster, but it sure made him happy amongst all the ‘professionals.’

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From the pier we took a short stroll on the beach and headed off to the bike trails.  Stopping at the visitors center, we got a map of all the trails and chose to ride the Backcountry Trail.  A short 5 mile trail through the southern Alabama woods.

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As you can see from the pictures, the trail is just beautiful.  Full of old oaks covered in Spanish Moss, bogs with Alligators, large wetland areas and paved the entire way.  This was going to be a piece of cake!

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Whoever let me believe that southern Alabama was flat sure fooled me good!  Don’t get me wrong, going down hill was a snap; it was the other side of the coin that caused all the fires of hell to burn within the muscles in our legs.  But hey, its only 5 miles; can’t be uphill ALL the way – right?

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Shortly after we bought our bicycles I picked up one of those fancy computers that mounts on your handlebars.  It’s a little larger than a postage stamp and tells bits of information: current speed, distance traveled, even tells you how many calories you’ve manage to burn while travelling at 3 miles per hour for 10 minutes……..zero!

When we came up on the “Field of Dreams” sports complex in the middle of the woods, I noticed we had already biked nearly 4.5 miles so we decided to take a closer look a the map.  Sure, the trails in the park made a loop around the park, but each trail was only a segment of the loop!  Backcountry Trail was 5 miles long; in that, it took you out 5 miles and turned into a different trail.  The entire loop was 22 miles long, so we turned around after the 5 miles and headed back to the car.

With fingers on the keyboard and the text on the screen, you can see that we made it back safe and sound.  Neither of us exhausted ourselves and fell into the alligator pond or passed out and sunk in the bog; but we did learn a valuable lesson – look at the map thoroughly and not just read the legend.  Because 5 miles can easily turn into a grueling 10 if you don’t pay close enough attention!

So, getting wiser my the adventure until next time………………..cheers!

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