Monday, September 23, 2013

Bays Mountain Park

What a beautiful day! I had to take my car into Johnson City to have some work done on it. This will hopefully be the last major work on this car before I'm ready to buy a new one. I'm hoping to get 60,000 more miles out of it before we part our ways. Anyway, we saw this as an opportunity to check out Bays Mountain Park in nearby Kingsport.

I dropped my car off at the shop just before 10, but Sierra was taking her time eating and so I had to wait about an hour for Noelle and her to pick me up and head to Kingsport. We stopped for lunch and then headed to the park. The weird smell of chemicals permeated the Kingsport air thanks to the Eastman chemical plant. The air up on Bays Mountain, however, was cool, fresh and invigorating.

Our first stop in the park was the aquarium area where we saw lots of fish. They seemed to like being seen  by us and even posed for some photos.
Fish in Aquarium
From the aquariums we headed to the bobcat habitat. We saw one lazy bobcat lounging in a sunny spot in its enclosure.
Bobcat Licking Paw
Next we visited the herpetarium where we saw all kinds of reptiles
White snake
and amphibians including several California Kingsnakes. I was a bit surprised to see the kingsnakes as I thought they only had native animals at the center. There were a bunch of turtles in a small enclosure just outside the building.
Turtles all Lined up
From there we went to the deer enclosure and then over to the aviary.

Lots of birds of prey were on exhibit including an American kestrel, a black vulture,
Black Vulture
a screech owl, and a red tailed hawk. After viewing the birds (Sierra really liked the owls) we headed over to the wolf habitat. Sure enough we saw four wolves lounging on the ground. Our last stop amongst the animal exhibits was the otter habitat. We did not get a good view of the otters as they refused to swim in their small pool and instead hid in their den made of logs.

From the animal exhibits we headed out for a walk on the beautiful Lakeside Trail.
Noelle on the Trail
It is a short loop trail, only 2.3 miles total. It is, however, a very pretty lake especially on a beautiful day like today. We crossed the small rock dam that formed the lake and headed into the woods.
Noelle on Dam
Most of the time the trail stayed relatively close to the lake, though it sometimes strayed from the water. We crossed several bridges along the route.
Eric and Sierra on Bridge
One of the more interesting ones was a floating bridge.
Noelle on Floating Bridge
We didn't see much wildlife, other than a few squirrels. We did see lots of evidence of beavers including a bunch of dams and a large lodge.
Beaver Lodge
The views out to the lake made the walk worthwhile.
Noelle at Lake
Lake and Tree Arch
By the time we completed the loop Sierra was all tuckered out.
Sleepy Sierra
We walked past the animal exhibits again to see if the raccoon was out. It was not but some of the other animals seemed a bit more active than they had when we walked through earlier. Then it was back to the parking lot for one of the more interesting scenes of the day. We were treated to a family of rednecks feeding a deer in the parking lot.
Redneck Feeding Deer
They were an interesting bunch. One, a little boy, had a mullet. One of the adults, a female had an eye patch, while the other female adult had a bunch of cotton stuffed in her ear. I think they were feeding the deer peanut-butter crackers. Not too smart, but entertaining nonetheless.              

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