Secret places to get away from it all.
Outdoor enthusiasts reveal their favorite hiding spots


Secret, special, sometimes surprising personal retreat spots they can be as private as a screened-in porch complete with lazing chair, or as public as a city garden just a blink away from lines of zooming cars.

Five area outdoor enthusiasts have selected quite a range of favorites.

See if their picks offer the ideal place to

Verna Gates, president of the Blanche Dean Chapter of the Alabama Wildflower Society, goes to her favorite place when she's stressed.

     Jacquelyn Martin/Post-Herald
Verna Gates takes a break on
a swing in the Botanical Gardens.
Gates, named Conservationist of the Year by the Alabama Environmental Council, marches or strolls the paths of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

She emerges "feeling like a million bucks," she said.

"The Botanical Gardens are the solution to our ozone problem," Gates said. "Pull off of (U.S.) 280 and walk for about half an hour, and it would take the same time (as sitting in traffic).

Gates has her spots at the gardens. She likes the wildflower garden and the bog for its wildness. She carries a book to the swings near the rhododendrons.

In deeper woods, "You feel almost like you're Hansel and Gretel," Gates said.

Shhh! This spot's a secret.