I’m splitting today’s park adventure into two posts since I went to two parks. Minutes up the highway, and up a loopy road in Middletown, there are two fantastic parks literally across the street from one another. The first is Tatum Park, which I’m a bit ashamed to admit I’ve known about since I was a kid, but never really explored. See, as a kid, I was more picnic, less hike. Now, when the weather’s nice, getting outside for a bit among the trees is basically a little piece of heaven.

I invited friends to join me, but with rain overnight on Friday, a Saturday hike didn’t seem promising. Our normal group hiking area is Cheesequake State Park (I’ll have to share some Cheesquake photos eventually. I don’t think I have yet.), which is great, but after a rain it can get muddy and quite slippery. The long trail isn’t that safe to walk on with those large hills and that much slippery mud.

After last night’s rain, the Tatum trail was damp, but the dirt is really tightly packed so it wasn’t slippery, and was really easy hiking with a few good inclines, but I never felt like my feet were going to disappear from underneath me, which makes it a much better trail for an overcast day.

And, my gosh, guys, the SMELLS. Now, let me preface here for a sec: I have fragrance allergies, which means that I react badly to artificially created fragrances. It doesn’t mean I have a problem with the smells of actual plants. It means ‘artificial fragrance’ and ‘essential oils’ eff me up big time.  But it also means, living in a totally fragrance free house, that in spite of ravaged sinuses, I’ve actually developed a strangely acute sense of smell and really appreciate natural fragrances from real plants.  The short, easy half mile ‘Holly Grove’ trail smells incredible (even if you spend half of it hearing children laughing but having no idea where they are, which doesn’t sound like the intro to a horror film at all! lol. Later you realize this trail ends at a children’s park area.)

After the short trail I went onto the Dogwood Hollow Trail, walking across the grass lot, my nose filled up with the smell of fresh grass, then into the trees again with a whole new set of green smells, birds happily chirping, squirrels bustling about…

I thought I’d have a nice mile and a half walk overall, but, of course I got to a point where the trail wasn’t marked and I had to make a decision…and made the wrong one. I ended up on a bike trail. I knew where the wrong turn was but decided ‘let’s see where this goes!’

So my detour turned into about a 2.5 mile hike, led me out to the street, then back into the woods. Up side, if I didn’t wander out to the road, I wouldn’t have found the big metal fence, or that pretty tree across the street, or the cool, big, old ass tree…

After that hiking adventure, it was across the street to the botanical garden, which I will post separately so I don’t have a crazy amount of photos in one post.

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I like the twisty tree.

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I had to share this one, because that tree looks like a pitch fork, which makes me laugh.
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And that tree in the center kind of reminds me vaguely of Sauron’s tower.

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Were there a lot of people running out into the road before they put that fence up to stop you?
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This tree isn’t actually at the park, it’s across the street from the park at someone’s house, but it’s pretty, so I took a picture of it anyway.

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