Welcome to McDowell Nature Preserve, an 1100 acre park along the banks of Lake Wiley in Mecklenburg County. Despite being just 15 minutes from Uptown Charlotte, a ninety minute hike left us convinced we were far, far from home.
The plan for the weekend was to work on Saturday (me at the hospital, my parents painting my bedroom) and then have fun on Sunday. Since I'd been busy working the during the week, I had never quite defined what our "fun" would be. After a lazy morning and a tasty and filling breakfast (Gooey Banana Bread Batter Steele Cut Oats), I did I quick web search to find some local hiking trails. I considered Crowders Mountain based on recommendations, but wasn't excited about the 35 mile drive. Looking at a map, I discovered that Lake Wiley was just a 15 mile drive and shortly the plan was made - we were headed to McDowell Nature Preserve.
The weather could not have been any more perfect! The combination of upper 70 degree temperatures, bright sun, and a light breeze left us feeling it was April. We hiked for ninety minutes along trails that varied between narrow paths through thick forests and gravel pathways along the river.
We saw several trees with these huge knots in the side. Does anyone know what they are? I'm not sure if they are a natural part of the tree trunk or an indication of stunted growth due to some prior damage.
There were some beautiful homes along the banks of the river. It certainly wouldn't be a bad location for a lake house.
Bailey had a blast running along the trails, sniffing out all of the scents, and then running back to greet us. Here she is showing you just how much of a water-hater she is as she jumps back to avoid getting wet from the small ripples in the water. Crazy dog!
The biggest thing that Dad misses from Florida is having is having a boat and spending time on the water. He enjoyed watching all of the boats come and go from the boat ramp, but I know that what he really wanted was to be in a boat himself.
Here I am together with my partner in crime enjoying a break along the side of the river. I love spending time with Bailey! Her energy is infectious.
After our hike, we set out to find a picnic area to enjoy our lunch. Not a bad view, right?
Lunch was a selection of refrigerator and pantry odds and ends. We re-energized with hummus, home-grown cherry tomatoes/carrots/snap peas, rich and savory cheddar cheese, melt-in-your mouth pineapple, and Rice Works tangy barbecue chips. It was a light, yet satisfying, lunch of munchies that were enjoyed while soaking up every minute of the glorious weather.
Don't think for a minute that Bailey was neglected. Her hard work was rewarded with a bone and a carrot. She still managed to convince her Daddy that she needed more love and attention, so the following massage and pampering session took place. She's got a really rough life!
The rest of our Sunday afternoon included a trip to the farmer's market, installing new light fixtures, replanting some vegetable plants, and a short run to and from Yoforia for a mid-afternoon treat.
At the end of the day Mom, Dad, and Bailey packed into the car and made their way back to Atlanta. I, on the other hand, hit the YMCA pool for a swim workout. T-minus 4 days until I race my first triathlon in over a year. Yikes!