I woke up in a fog, rubbing my tired eyes. The once-white comforter was now a glowing orange, as light seeped in through the window. Yawning as the sky beckoned me to come say hello, I inched my way down toward the shoreline. We were staying in a cabin on Smith’s Lake in Jasper, Alabama. The night before, the neighbors all had a chance to meet us Wisconsinites as our two-person canoe adventure turned into Alabama Outcasts: Episode 1.

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Now, looking across the lake, we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the area. A fish jumped, sending fuchsia ripples across the surface. These ripples soon met an opposing force: a beaver, who was taking an early morning lap around the lake. It’s funny how, no matter how crazy the world gets, there will always be these little glimpses of peace scattered about.

We kept this in mind as we pulled into Sipsey Wilderness, relieved to see a well-marked trail for a change. Following the dirt path, the babbling brook seemed to be getting louder and louder until Parker Falls finally presented itself.  Trickling over the edge of the cliff, the droplets formed a stream throughout the air, pounding down and continuing on their way below. This pattern repeated itself over and over as the trail continued. Sipsey Wilderness truly was a fitting name for the place.

Cheaha State Park was our next A.O.T.D. (adventure of the day) and, though this didn’t feature any more waterfalls, the views were absolutely unmatched. Tiptoeing out to the edge of the peak, the turkey vultures took flight beside me, soaring above the trees. I felt as if I was out there with them as my legs dangled over the cliff’s edge.

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Wow….so this is what it feels like to truly encompass my name [Raven]— not bad.

Suddenly, I was jolted back to reality by a sound that nearly sent me flying on a shortcut to the trees below. Sirens pierced through the air as I turned and made a WTF face at the hikers below me, who mirrored my look. None of us had the slightest clue what a siren in the middle of the woods meant. Ambulance? Tornado? Ideas spiraled through our heads until our thoughts were interrupted by, “THIS IS ONLY A TEST.”

Well, gee, it would have been nice to start with that.

With the vibe sufficiently killed, we followed the lizards back to our car. Tonight, we were sleeping in “The Cotton Pickin’ Little Farmhouse” situated in the middle of–you guessed it–a cotton field. Though the plant wasn’t fully in harvest season yet, the sun shimmering over the field was a sight to see in itself.

Accompanied by a glass of muscadine wine and a bowl of popcorn, we took our seats, patiently awaiting for the night and day to cross paths. That night, we went to bed with our windows open, being lulled to sleep by a chorus of crickets.

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