Summer fun immune to rain

By on June 12, 2013
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For many, summer is a time for recreation and the thrill of the great outdoors. Most students are out of school and people take vacations to enjoy their surroundings with family and friends.

Recent rains have put a hold on many outdoor plans, threatening events as large as the US Open golf tournament. On a smaller scale, the deluge has also caused some to stay indoors and hope for a reprieve. Still others have been longing for this kind of downpour for weeks.

personal flotation devices are a must for recreational water sports. (File photo)

personal flotation devices are a must for recreational water sports. (File photo)

Matt Lathrop, a UAB student studying computer science and math, has been waiting for rain so he and his friends can go canoeing along the intricate and complex Alabama waterways.

The Cahaba River, which cuts a jagged swath through the beautiful terrain of the state, is one of his favorite places to go. But low water levels make traversing the river difficult, even for seasoned paddlers.

“I’d say it’s all about preparation and planning,” he said. He often checks the water levels of the Cahaba and other local rivers on his smart phone or computer, calculating when the best times to go would be. It can be a difficult task, but the reward is worth it.

The recent rains have been perfect, and he hopes to get out on the river as soon as the sun sneaks out from behind the clouds.

But canoeing and kayaking aren’t the only available options for someone looking for outdoor recreation. Lathrop himself enjoys a mixed bag of activities outside of canoeing. “I like to play ultimate Frisbee, bike and go hiking,” he said.

You can do many of these activities year round, but most people use the freedom of summer as a catalyst to get them outside. But this can be hard for people who work or attend classes over the summer.

Lathrop’s advice was sound on this topic. “You have to organize your schedule in ways to make time for course work and optimize the fun you have in doing other activities,” he said.

He would know—he’s taking classes this summer while also preparing for a series of actuarial exams he has to take before going abroad in the fall. But he still finds time to enjoy the outdoors, good weather or bad.

It goes beyond looking for the silver lining on storm clouds—an easy metaphor for summer rain. Lathrop knows that enjoying the weather is about knowing what resources you have available to you.

Birmingham is home to many parks, including The Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, which boasts 1,011 acres of conserved wilderness, trails and forest. It’s also just 10 minutes from downtown, according to their website.

There are numerous other parks in the city, but for those who prefer something less physically taxing, the new Regions Field in downtown also provides a nice, relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors.

Not everything about Birmingham is perfect for this kind of lifestyle, though. “In the city there should be more bike lanes,” Lathrop said. The fact that the demand is there, however, shows that something might soon change in that respect.

Above all else it is important to know that UAB students and others in the Birmingham area have a plethora of activities to enjoy this summer, and rain shouldn’t stop anyone from getting outside and experiencing them.

Ramsey Archibald
Features editor
features@insideuab.com

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