Editor's note: This post is part of the Eighth Day Escape adventure series and contest by Parks Explorer. Throughout this year, Parks Explorer will share trip ideas, staff stories, activity suggestions, and much more from each Alabama State Park. These monthly posts will be personal accounts of traveling Park Naturalist Emily Vanderford, where she details her park adventures and experiences in the unique natural areas across the state. While reading about park adventures is not nearly as meaningful as experiencing them first-hand, Parks Explorer wants you to know just how many opportunities there are for you to enjoy Alabama the beautiful.

The Eighth Day Escape Contest began January 8, 2016 and will conclude January 8, 2017. Monthly winners will be randomly selected each month and the grand prize winner will be drawn January 8, 2017. Click here for contest entry forms and more information. Be sure to enjoy previous monthly adventures also: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay (Part I),May (Part II), June

 


Wind Creek State Park is best known for its public access to 44,000 acre Lake Martin and its fantastic campground of nearly 600 sites, but it also offers a great place to hike, bike, horseback ride, bird, geocache, and so much more. Thanks to working with a group of great park naturalists, I have been introduced to the worldwide game of Geocaching. Until recently, my understanding of Geocaching was limited, and all I really knew was that it was a scavenger hunt of sorts, and that there were caches in all of our state parks. Last year at an Alabama State Parks Environmental Education Workshop, park naturalist Kelly Reetz taught a class on Geocaching and I learned some of the basics. I learned even more this week while I was at Wind Creek. Tasha Simon, Natural Resource Planner for Alabama State Parks and experienced Geocacher, joined me for this month’s Eighth Day Escape and shared some of her knowledge with me. It was a good reminder that Alabama State Parks really have something everyone can enjoy. I hope this account of my day at Wind Creek will encourage you to visit a park and try something new. 

The great thing about Geocaching is that anyone can do it! According to Geocaching.com, "Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location." There are different kinds of caches rated for a variety of skill and experience levels and terrain. The video below gives a quick explanation of how Geocaching works.

A favorite Geocache at Wind Creek is a multi-stage cache called "WCSP - Rock, Paper, Lizard," and that is where we started our Geocaching for the day. The cache is located very near to the park office, and we weren't the only ones looking for this one. Wind Creek State Park Volunteer Marijean and her grandsons were also taking on the challenge of this Geocache! Some geocaches are simple finds that simply require you to navigate to them and sign the log. Others take a bit more effort and may require you to solve a riddle to get from one stage to the next, until you finally navigate to the Geocache. You can read all about the different kinds of Geocaches and how they work in this printable Geocaching information booklet. 

In addition to finding several great Geocaches for myself, I also tagged along with Tasha as she took care of the geocaches she has hidden in the park. In one instance, that required a cordless drill and plastic insect. There really is no limit to the imagination that goes into creating Geocaches across the world. Some people even prefer creating and hiding geocaches more than finding them. Just remember to check with a park manager to obtain a permit before hiding caches in any Alabama State Parks.

We took a break for lunch at Creem at the Creek where we enjoyed the lake view and nice summer breeze. If the other items on the menu are anywhere as tasty as the corndog and cheeseburger we enjoyed, I think it's safe to say you can't go wrong. The milkshakes were right on the money, too! Before we left, we watched a bald eagle soar overhead and talked with some other park guests about the thrill of seeing these once threatened birds thriving in Alabama. 

Before the day was over, we also made the climb to the top of the Silo for an unbeatable view of the lake. The Silo is located in the picnic area at Wind Creek which makes for a great place to spend an afternooon, especially in the summer. Several folks were taking advantage of being in the water as they floated the day away on their inflatable rafts. If you have never been to Wind Creek, please make plans to visit and spend the day relaxing on the shores of Lake Martin. There is endless opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors in Alabama, and Wind Creek is a great place to start!

    

 


ENTER TO WIN THIS MONTH'S WIND CREEK PRIZE PACK:

Have you visited an Alabama State Park in the last 60 days? Submit a photo from your trip along with a contest entry form and you could win (be sure to save a copy of this form before completing it). This month's prize pack includes three nights of FREE CAMPING at Wind Creek State Park, gift pack from Wind Creek Country Store, Sweet Home Alabama gifts, and more.


EIGHTH DAY ESCAPE CONTEST WINNERS:

JANUARY WINNER (entries received 1/8 - 2/7): Cathy Struntz
FEBRUARY WINNER (entries received 2/8 - 3/7): Chelsea Gathers
MARCH WINNER (entries received 3/8 - 4/7): Cathy Goss
APRIL WINNER (entries received 4/8 - 5/7): Lamar Johnson
MAY WINNER (entries received 5/8 - 6/7): Maila Ragan
JUNE WINNER (entries received 6/8 - 7/7): 
JULY WINNER (entries received 7/8 - 8/7): 
AUGUST WINNER (entries received 8/8 - 9/7): 
SEPTEMBER WINNER (entries received 9/8 - 10/7): 
OCTOBER WINNER (entries received 10/8 - 11/7): 
NOVEMBER WINNER (entries received 11/8 - 12/7): 
DECEMBER WINNER (entries received 12/8/16 - 1/7/17): 

GRAND PRIZE WINNER (all entries received 1/8/16 - 1/7/17):

Go Explore!

 

Friday, July 8, 2016