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: January, February


What do you love about Alabama State Parks? Maybe it’s the serenity of a good resting place near a waterfall, or the perfect hiking trail to enjoy after a busy day at work. Perhaps you use the parks as a gathering place for your friends and family to enjoy the great outdoors. Do you love the warmth of a good campfire on a chilly night? If you are anything like me, you may not be able to identify just one thing you love about Alabama State Parks. There are so many reasons I enjoy being in our parks, and my list grows with every visit. This month I spent time at Lakepoint State Park for my Eighth Day Escape. I was reminded that not only are Alabama State Parks worth celebrating, they are the perfect place to host a celebration.

Lakepoint State Park borders the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge and is nestled on the banks of Lake Eufaula, a reservoir on the Chattahoochee River. The park is picturesque with stately pines providing homes to an array of wildlife, and the park’s geographic location gives a Southeastern Plains snapshot of where rolling hills meet river floodplains. It was the perfect setting to host a birthday party for an adventurous twelve year old. 

I came to know the Walters family a while back while serving as a forestry intern in Wilcox County. They took me in as family for the summer, but didn’t realize they would be stuck with me for years to come. I love any opportunity I have to visit with them, so joining them as they celebrated Emma’s twelfth birthday at Lakepoint was the perfect way to spend a weekend with the girls. Emma, the birthday girl, was accompanied by her younger sister Edie and their mom Tiffany. My mom and little boy tagged along with me for the trip also. We started the celebration with a big dinner on Friday night in our cottage. Emma requested her favorite casserole for dinner along with birthday brownies and ice cream for dessert. The full kitchen in the cottage was well suited for the big birthday dinner, and was the perfect place to catch up on what’s been going on with each other’s family. Our society moves so fast sometimes, it’s nice to have an escape set aside to cultivate friendships.

With so much to catch up on, Friday evening flew by. Saturday morning came early, but Emma and Edie agreed to go with me over to the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge to see what cool critters we could find. Mark Jackson, a park superintendent at Lakepoint, joined us for the adventure and brought along his toolbox of nature knowledge. The refuge is a great place to see alligators catching rays, songbirds dashing from limb to limb, and birds of prey soaring overhead. As we drove in on Wildlife Drive, we were greeted by a red-tailed hawk in the distance. A red-headed woodpecker was also part of the welcoming party as it worked away on an old pine snag. As we walked out to one of the overlooks in the refuge, we talked about the aptly named yellow-rumped warblers that were flitting about. Once on the overlook, we had a good view of a few oak trees that had toppled in a recent storm event. We walked down to get a better view, and discovered a group of green anoles had made the upended tree roots their home. Many wildlife species have a knack for making use of damaged trees like this (e.g. Barred owls, eastern bluebirds, and many other bird species will nest in cavities of damaged trees). Down trees also make for good exploring grounds for a couple of adventurous preteens. With a little convincing, Edie caught a green anole for a closer look while Emma watched (from her opinion of a safe distance). Emma was much happier spotting wildlife signs instead of catching the critters. I had a blast watching them explore -- nature is truly the best playground and classroom, all wrapped into one. 

  
 

After the ENWR adventure (and a change out of muddy shoes), we made the short drive back to Lakepoint for lunch in the Water's Edge Dining Room. We wrapped up the birthday celebrations with another round of desserts and lots of laughs. Visits with friends always seem to come to an end too soon, but I'll take quality over quantity any day. Lakepoint was the perfect place for a birthday adventure, and was a great reminder of why Alabama State Parks should be enjoyed by all!


Suggestions for your next trip to Lakepoint State Park:

  • Relax on the back porch of a Lakeside Cottage at Lakepoint State Park
  • Rent a boat and enjoy Lake Eufaula
  • Go adventuring at the Eufauala National Wildlife Refuge. Check them out on Facebook!
  • Attend the 51st annual Eufaula Heritage Association Pilgrimage April 1-3, 2016, or visit the Shorter Mansion year-round
    The pilgrimage features 7 home tours, featuring private homes and candlelight tours! Brunch and tea tickets are also available for reservation only-events. 

Keep up with what's happening at Lakepoint State Park on Facebook!


Enter to WIN a Lakepoint 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. This month's prize pack includes:

  • Stay one night in lodging of your choice at Lakepoint, receive second night free! 
  • Dinner for 2 in the Water's Edge Dining Room 
  • Family pass to the Shorter Mansion in downtown Eufaula
  • Apparel 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): 
APRIL WINNER (entries received 4/8 - 5/7): 
MAY WINNER (entries received 5/8 - 6/7): 
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!

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016