Saturday, May 2, 2009

Outdoor Alabama Expo

We dodged downpours getting there, but later caught a break from the rain as the kids and I succeeded in our every-other-weekend quest to get out for something we'd never done...the Outdoor Alabama Expo.
Put on each year by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the expo was held this year at Oak Mountain State Park south of Birmingham. Of course I have known about that park since...well...let's just say a kid born the year I first visited is old enough to buy alcohol!! Plus, I have known about what Alabama has to offer with its outdoors even longer. There are always people new to the state, and a new generation of those who have not discovered the outdoors is always growing--and this expo was for them.
The expo was free, which was nice, but we've been places we had to pay admission that were not nearly as fun or diverse. And we did not even get to see and do it all.
Even before we parked the car it was impossible to miss one part of the expo--shotguns and rifles. Since that has been one of my favorite brands outdoor fun ever since I was allowed to play with one, I was proud to see the line to shoot guns was the longest we saw all day. It was packed with mostly teenage boys, but there were also girls and adults waiting, too. So this gun nut was twice proud, even though Griffin and Carlie were too young to participate...but we just might break out Griffin's .22 if the weather is nice...
Wow, quite the digression! But those who know me are grinning all the same.
Elsewhere at the expo fish and wildlife displays made use of the park's lake and pavilion. There were quite a few kids of all ages wetting a line, although I did not see anybody catching anything. That may have been because we spent more time with the hands-on part of the exhibit. In addition to each and every freshwater game fish being displayed on ice, there were tanks low enough for kids to catch and play with fish, crawdads, tadpoles, and snails. Nearby were tables of taxidermy exhibits.
There were other things to see relevant to the way humans use the outdoors, including conservation, enforcement, safety and rescue, canoeing and boating. Also represented were ways mankind is dedicated to making sure the outdoors survives our use and thrives, including the Alabama Forestry Commission, the Alabama field office of The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
I'm gonna be sure and catch this next year, and can only hope those in charge will let me demonstrate how cool it is to shoot pieces of junk from 100 yards away with a 60+ year-old military rifle...hey, we need more gun nuts like me!