Last week I posted some pictures and teaser about this park. So here we are, back again to flesh this park out for you.
There’s a lot that can be said about this park. Enough that I’m doing two posts about the area (hopefully will have the second one up in a few days). This one is so stinking long and I’m sorry. Those of you who know me know I don’t know when to shut up. It’s something you have to either learn to love about me, or forgive lol!
Some of us grew up swimming in places that weren’t “official” parks. Just places that seemed to be no mans land that everyone knew to use as public land. You went there and swam and picnicked and hiked. Sometimes these places became official parks (like Garden City River Park). Sometimes they become swallowed up in the realm of privately owned property (like the now inaccessible Bangor Cave with it’s big NO TRESPASSING! signs).
We traveled from Palisades to our second stop of the day- Garden City River Park. There’s an official park, but I want you to know of another place you can park and go down the water. I’ll do that in the next shorter post. Supposedly GCRP has 20 acres, a natural spring, and has a steam engine pump house on the property. I didn’t see any of this, but maybe it’s still there.
First I can’t tell you how excited I am that Whiskey swam! We’ve taken him to the water about 3xs and he’s refused each time. I mean- he’ll get in, but he wouldn’t “swim” but this place was perfect for it! It has a gentle slope into the water so there wasn’t any need to leap in. Also I could go out first and be really deep so he could see I didn’t die haha! Then we had two dogs with us who do great in water and swim like fish. It’s really amazing to see how excited Quinn gets in water. Jennie assured me that Quinn is one of those dogs that isn’t motivated by toys or treats much. Then they took her water and BOOMthey saw what made her get excited. She pounces like a mad cat chasing the best catnip toy ever. She careens around imaginary corners, daring you to keep standing in her path as she barrels past. She’s beautiful to watch in the water. She really does bounce! Imagine the motion when a child rides an old fashioned rocking horse and this is very similar to what she looks like in the water. Bain is more reserved but you can still tell he likes it.
Whiskey watched the dogs and slowly ventured in. Then back out. Then back in. Round and round he went for almost the whole time we were there.
Pros: Easy to get into the water, lots of river front to swim.
Clear views of the bottoms when we went.
Covered Picnic pavilion.
Plenty of parking.
Cons: It obviously got hit by the storms and it busted up the pavement.
Bridges are down in some places (see pic below).
Paths are crazy messed up. I have no knowledge of whether the city intends to repair it.
There was a lot of trash from people camping there. I’m not sure you are supposed to camp there, but they were and the left all their stuff that they didn’t want to take home I guess..(dirty clothes, spoiled food, trash). At first I had thought it was just trashy, but then a guy came up and asked if we’d seen the couple who’d been camped there. He said it was all their junk. Nice.
Apparently this articlestates that they had flooding damage in 2009 so who knows when all the damage happened. Tornadoes of 2011? or flooding in 2009. It seems like the river is protesting against any solid structures remaining. Sad too, since originally they said they had used bricks from a 100 year old kiln to create walkways.
Tips: Bring lots of towels, and lots of water to pour over your feet and legs when you get back to your car. There was a serious amount of sand to trek through and it all wanted to go home with me. Glad I had lots of water bottles!
Things to do while there: White water paddling hot spot (see this site for more info on paddling/kayaking this part of the river), train watching, picnicking, hiking (they do have 20 acres to explore..), swimming, fishing if the water’s low enough, several geocaches within 5 mile radius.
Directions: From Birmingham, take 65 North to exit 287. Turn Right onto HWY 31 and follow that for “about” 10 miles. Turn R onto 10th St. SE, then R again on Old US HWY 31. I don’t remember if there was a street sign there or not, but just turn R after one block and you’ll be okay 🙂 Just a ways down you’ll pass a sewer water treatment plant on your left, yeah, that’s a little more than scary to be swimming downhill from but I tried not to think of it, especially whenever Whiskey went for a drink of the rivers water. Shortly after the sewer place turn Left at the sign for the park. If you hit the dead end where the old why 31 bridge is out then you’ve gone to far. Turn around and backtrack a block or so. This will take you to a marked google map of the area. Where “B” is marked is the turn off where you turn left to enter the park. Good luck! I have no idea why it’s so hidden, so hard to find, why it doesn’t have a freaking address. I’ve no clue.
If you want to see more pictures of Whiskey at the park visit his facebook page. While I only took a few, Jennie, a talented graphic designer, took a TON which I love her for. To see these click on the photos link then scroll to the bottom to see the pics he has been tagged in. I hope you’ll take a minute to “Like” us while you’re there.
Also, if you’d like to see some examples of Jennie’s work (she is for hire!) at the college where she teaches check out this site she designed, or her own blog, which she admits hasn’t been updated lately (for shame Jennie!).
Oh! And a video (Whiskey swimming is at 1:36) Which I’m certain only Whiskey’s human grandparents will even click to watch. So- Mom, Dad, this video’s for you! Enjoy.