Tag Archives: tour

Christmas in the Nation’s Oldest City

I promised a post about our trip to St. Augustine and I really want to share this with you before Christmas. St. Augustine is a city in Northeast Florida and the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. It was established in 1565.

I know there is dust on European book shelves older than that, but that’s old for North America. When you think of Florida, which really didn’t boom until the 1950s, it’s really historic.

When we first arrived in St. Augustine, it was daylight and the entire city was decorated with Christmas charm, including Casa Monica, our downtown hotel in the historic district. Being the old fogies that we are, we took a quick look around and then flopped in the plush bed to read and nap.

Casa Monica

When we awoke it was nighttime, and the city was festively lit up for the Holiday. Our first order of business was the trolley ride around town to see the lights.

trolley

The town square was lit up as bright as day.

One of the most delightful things to see were the quaint Bed and Breakfasts all decorated in the Christmas spirit. There were Santas and elves, snowmen and princesses, we even saw a Christmas Elvis. Although the light display was a little underwhelming after visiting Disney’s show, the charm of the historic city really shined through in the garlands and wreaths on display. It was all picturesque, but sometimes a little difficult to see from the back of a trolley.

 

 After the trolley ride, there were sugar cookies and hot apple cider for all of us tourists, then it was off to the Christmas Regatta. If you have never seen a boat display of Christmas lights you should put that on your bucket list. These pictures don’t do it justice. The lights sparkle down reflecting across the water and shine brightly into the night sky. The boat parade made me think of Santa’s sleigh. Boats appear beneath the Bridge of Lions over the ICW Matanzas River and make their way in front of the crowd along the city walls.

We missed our dinner reservation due to the long line waiting on the trolley, but ventured north up San Marcos to La Pavillon for fine European dining in a Victorian home. The RS selected a seafood and pasta dish.

I had the rack of lamb and it was scrumptious.

St Augustine and Flager Beach 026

Then it was back to the hotel to read ghost stories….oooo. An added treat was waking up and getting to see the Huguenot Cemetery near the oldest wooden schoolhouse. I don’t know why, but old cemeteries fascinate me. Part of my fascination with them might be seeing how young people were at time of death. Mosquito borne disease, childbirth, and influenza killed so many back then. There’s a huge cemetery in Key West and the eldest person buried there was thirty-seven at time of death.

It was also kinda creepy to see the mannequins in the old schoolhouse. Some of the other historic houses were a little brighter.

A short walk took us to the fort on the Matanzas River, The Castillo de San Marcos.

Castillo_de_San_Marcos_NPS

This was right up the RS’s alley. I was fascinated by some of the history and the architecture.

The RS was intrigued by its strategic location, just in front of the Atlantic Ocean inlet, the weaponry and costumes on display.

I’ll leave you with one last cheerful photo. Every town should have a store like this:

St Augustine and Flager Beach 021

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Callaway Gardens: A Virtual Tour

I have a small image of the setting of “Red Clay and Roses” on my blog site in a slideshow  that shows a few images of Callaway Gardens, a place mentioned a couple of times in the novel.  Although the novel only offers a slim glimpse of Callaway Gardens through a couple of references, I thought I would give you a virtual tour. As a side note to the book, Callaway Gardens was a “whites only” resort until the 1970’s due to segregation policies. It is now enjoyed by all.  Pine Mountain has its own airport, even though it is a small town of only 700 residents in the town proper. There are many antique malls and quaint shops in Pine Mountain. I have many of my own photos but most of these are from TripAdvisor show much more than mine.  If you are looking for a nice vacation spot for spring or fall, Callaway Gardens is the place to go.  It is located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, about 100 miles Southwest of Atlanta, and 40 miles North of Ft. Benning, near Columbus, Georgia.  I raised my family on a farm near Pine Mountain, and there was always something to do there.

CALLAWAY GARDENS HISTORY

Open since 1952, Callaway Gardens is nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Founders Cason and Virginia Callaway longed for a place where man and nature could abide together for the good of both. More than six decades later, their retreat continues to offer solace, inspiration and discovery for all who come here.

A 13,000 acre, year-round horticultural display garden that offers the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, Birds of Prey Show, Day Butterfly Center, Sibley Horticultural Center, Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden, Walking Trails, Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel and Pioneer Log Cabin as well as golf, tennis, fishing, fly fishing and biking. Seasonal events and educational workshops are offered throughout the year. Four lodging types, a spa, nine restaurants and two lounges are available.Golf Courses; Gardens; Nature/ Wildlife Areas.

Golfers seeking a real test of their abilities look forward to playing 7,057 yard, par 72 Mountain View, designed by world-famous golf architect Dick Wilson. Tight, tree-lined fairways are characteristic of this true championship course. Mountain View was home to the PGA Tour’s Buick Challenge for more than a dozen years. One of Mountain View’s most intriguing holes is the par 5, number 15 where the threat of water looms over both tee and approach shots. This hole was ranked as the fourth most difficult par 5 on the Tour by USA Today.

All but a few Photos are courtesy of TripAdvisor.  The Chapel photos and some others of flowers and the bike trails are my own.

View from the top of Pine Mountain over Callaway Gardens.
View from the top of Pine Mountain over Callaway Gardens.
Entrance sign to Callaway gardens.
Entrance sign to Callaway gardens.
The Mission sign from the early beginning.  there are now 17,000 acres.
The Mission sign from the early beginning. There are now 17,000 acres.
These pink and whites are the azaleas that The gardens are famous for, they bloom in march and April at their peak.
These pink and whites are the azaleas that The Gardens are famous for, they bloom in March and April at their peak.
There are eleven miles of drive through the shady woodlands, around the lakes and streams that are patched with azaleas.
There are eleven miles of drive through the shady woodlands, around the lakes and streams that are patched with azaleas.
You can stay in one of the delightful cabins or condos.
You can stay in one of the delightful cabins or condos.
Or in the hotel across the hwy.  It used to be a Holiday Inn until Callaway bought it.  It has several restaurants and a couple of lounges in it.
Or in the hotel across the hwy. It used to be a Holiday Inn until Callaway bought it. It has several restaurants and a couple of lounges in it.
My favorite place to stay are the cottages because they are inside  The gardens, nestled in the trees, within walking distance of most of the attractions.
My favorite places to stay are in the cottages because they are inside The Gardens, nestled in the trees, within walking distance of most of the attractions.
One of the first things you will see is the beach at Robin lake, It was one of the largest man made beaches in the world for many years.  there are little ice cream shops, beach gear shops and sunwear botiques all along the sidewalk by the beach and a huge pavillion just east of it.  The Masters water ski tournament used to be held here annually.
One of the first things you will see is the beach at Robin Lake, It was one of the largest man made beaches in the world for many years. There are little ice cream shops, beach gear shops, and sunwear boutiques all along the sidewalk by the beach and a huge pavillion just east of it. The Masters water ski tournament used to be held here annually.
Children love the beach in summer.
Children love the beach in summer.
You will start your drive through the azaleas in spring.
You will start your drive through the azaleas in spring.
And pass the many glass still lakes with the arched and meandering bridges.
And pass the many glass still lakes with the arched and meandering bridges.
The green golf courses attract a lot of attention. The Gardens hosts many renowned golfing tournaments.  this is the famous Mountain View course.
The green golf courses attract a lot of attention. The Gardens host many renowned golfing tournaments. This is the famous Mountain View course.
Lake View course has many water traps and is the location of The Veranda Restaurant overlooking the greens.
Lake View course has many water traps and is the location of The Veranda Restaurant overlooking the greens.
The FSU Flying High Circus is there under the big tent every year near the beach for the kids to enjoy.  Also around the beach are the choo-choo train, putt-putt golf, and playgrounds.
The FSU Flying High Circus is there under the big tent every year near the beach for the kids to enjoy. Also around the beach are the choo-choo train, putt-putt golf, and playgrounds.
Independence Day brings the fireworks display on the beach, which you can look DOWN on from the mountaintop.
Independence Day brings the fireworks display on the beach, which you can look DOWN on from the mountaintop.
There are many arched stone bridges across the several  lakes on site.
There are many arched stone bridges across the several lakes on site.
Fishermen can rent boats for the day or half day.
Fishermen can rent boats for the day or half day.
Canoes are also available for going out onto the water, a lovely way to see  The Gardens from a different perspective.
Canoes are also available for going out onto the water, a lovely way to see The Gardens from a different perspective.
The peddle boats are fun.
The peddle boats are fun.
Probably my most favorite way to view The Gardens is by bicycle.
Probably my most favorite way to view The Gardens is by bicycle.
The boardwalked bike trails through the woods are nice any season.
The boardwalked bike trails through the woods are nice any season.
When leaves are out or not, they meander through the woods and over bridges crossing the lakes and mountain streams.
There are lacy shadows over the trails whether leaves are out or not,.The trails meander through the woods and over bridges crossing the lakes and mountain streams.
A pretty way to see the wild azaleas that bloom along the water's edge.
A pretty way to see the wild azaleas that bloom along the water’s edge.
Most of the bike trails are paved for a smooth ride, and if you just can't do the full eight miles, you and your bike can take the ferry back to the boat house.
Most of the bike trails are paved for a smooth ride, and if you just can’t do the full eight miles, you and your bike can take the ferry back to the boat house.
As you pass by the serene lake pools you will come upon the Sibley Center.
As you pass by the serene lake pools you will come upon the Sibley Center.
The Sibley Center is a hug open air glass walled greenhouse with several conservatories to show off the beautiful plants.  Here is a nice place to sit down awhile and relax.
The Sibley Center is a huge open air glass walled greenhouse with several conservatories to show off the beautiful plants. Here is a nice place to sit down awhile and relax.
There are water features upstairs at the Sibley Center, and it will cool you off just to look at them.
There are water features upstairs at the Sibley Center, and it will cool you off just to look at them.
Another view of the waterfall.
Another view of the waterfall.
The water flows to the goldfish and koi ponds below.
The water flows to the goldfish and koi ponds below.
You don't want to miss Cason Callaway's vegetable gardens and orchards.
You don’t want to miss Cason Callaway’s vegetable gardens and orchards.
The Victory Garden TV show on PBS was filmed here.
The Victory Garden TV show on PBS was filmed here.
Another place to see is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.
Another place to see is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.
This is the back view of the butterfly house.
This is the back view of the butterfly house.
There are many unusual butterflies in the Butterfly Center.  They import the chrysalis and place them into special windwoed chambers where you can watch them emerge and then they set them free into the Conservatory.
There are many unusual butterflies in the Butterfly Center. They import the chrysalis and place them into special windowed chambers where you can watch them emerge, and then they set them free into the Conservatory.
In the conservatory the butterflies  are free to fly around and feast on flower and fruit.  the children and adults alike love it when they land on their noses.
In the conservatory the butterflies are free to fly around and feast on flower and fruit. The children and adults alike love it when they land on their noses.
These are the wild yellow azaleas from Texas, but the pink ones are native to georgia.  They have a different flower that looks like a honeysuckle bloom up close.
These are the wild yellow azaleas from Texas, but the pink ones are native to Georgia. They have a different flower that looks like a honeysuckle bloom up close.
The mountain laurel blooms all around the embankments  surrounding the chapel.  There is a rocky creek that runs nearby.
The mountain laurel blooms all around the embankments surrounding the chapel. There is a rocky creek that runs nearby. They are hard to see in this photo, but the wild dogwood and azaleas are all blooming at the same time as the mountain laurel. It is a gorgeous sight to behold.
The chapel is a spot you don't want to miss as you drive through.  You can spot it across the lake before you make the turn to drive up close.
The chapel is a spot you don’t want to miss as you drive through. You can spot it across the lake before you make the turn to drive up close.
The Callaway Chapel is one of the most photographed sites at The Gardens.
The Callaway Chapel is one of the most photographed sites at The Gardens.
Ida Callaway, whose inspiration initiated the gardens, has her portrait hanging in the chapel..
Ida Callaway, Cason’s mother, whose inspiration initiated the gardens, has her portrait hanging in the chapel..
Stained glass image from inside the chapel.
Stained glass image from inside the chapel.
Stained glass image from the opposite end of the chapel.
Stained glass image from the opposite end of the chapel.
Little stony  brook flowing over stone near the chapel.
Little stony brook flowing over stone near the chapel.
Blossoming mountain laurel outside of the little Callaway Chapel.
Blossoming mountain laurel outside of the little Callaway Chapel.
Native azaleas.
Native azaleas.
Azaleas that line the walkways and bike trails of Callaway Gardens.
Azaleas that line the walkways and bike trails of Callaway Gardens.
There is also a small pioneer cabin near the chapel and the butterfly center that often has shows on how to make soap, candles or spin yarn.
There is also a small pioneer log cabin near the chapel and the butterfly center that often has demonstrations on how to make soap, churn butter, dip candles or spin yarn.
From Thanksgiving through New Year's there is a display called Fantasy in Lights.  You can take a trolley car or drive the 8 mile drive through display after display of colorful brightly lit Christmas shows that are spread out between the trees, like the Winter Wonderland, the Poinsettia Show, Santa's Workshop, and the Manger Scene.  The forest comes alive with the multicolored Christmas lights hanging from the trees and the displays set up along the roadside.
From Thanksgiving through New Year’s there is a feature called Fantasy in Lights. After dark, you can take a trolley car or drive the 8 mile drive through display after display of colorful, brightly lit Christmas scenes that are spread out between the trees; like the Winter Wonderland, the Poinsettia Show, Santa’s Workshop, and the Manger Scene. The forest comes alive with the multicolored Christmas lights hanging from the trees and the displays set up along the roadside.
Jonquils and pansies on display around the gardens.  I just had to leave you with one more picture of the flowers that make The Gardens so special.
Jonquils and pansies on display around the gardens. I just had to leave you with one more picture of the flowers that make The Gardens so special.
Hope you enjoyed your virtual tour of lovely Callaway Gardens.
Hope you enjoyed your virtual tour of lovely Callaway Gardens.

Orlando Tour For Busy Mind Thinking

For Belinda of BusyMindThinking.  Since my header shows the Orlando skyline at night, I thought I would give you a glimpse of Orlando by day.  Who doesn’t know Orlando, right?  I live in the Lake Conway area near the International Airport,  just on the edge of the downtown area of Orlando.  Not so touristy over here.  More like a small town within a big city.

This is the downtown area by day.  We have a population of about 250,000 metro and 2 mil in the surrounding areas that include the resort areas South to Longwood North.
This is the downtown area by day. We have a population of about 250,000 metro and 2 mil in the surrounding areas that include the resort areas South to Longwood North.
The flora, foliage  and flowers are fantastic here year round.
The flora, foliage and flowers are fantastic here year round.
This is my cousin's nudist resort, Cypress Cove Resort.  This is why I came to Florida 16 years ago.
This is my cousin’s nudist resort, Cypress Cove Resort. This is why I came to Florida 16 years ago.
Everyone knows Disney and Epcot, but there are many other parks here; Universal Studios and Citywalk, Islands of Adventure,, Sea World, Aquatica and Discovery Cove, The Holy Lands,  Olde Towne, Harry Potter's World, Legoland and many more...never a dull moment. Over 52 million people pass through the gates at Disney annually.
Everyone knows Disney and Epcot, but there are many other parks here; Universal Studios and Citywalk, Islands of Adventure,, Sea World, Aquatica and Discovery Cove, The Holy Lands, Olde Towne, Harry Potter’s World, Legoland and many more…never a dull moment. Over 52 million people pass through the gates at Disney annually.
The new Amway Arena draws a crowd for sporting events and music concerts
The new Amway Arena draws a crowd for sporting events and music concerts
There are literally hundreds of resorts like this one.  We have over 400,000 hotel rooms in Orlando.
There are literally hundreds of resorts like this one. We have over 400,000 hotel rooms in Orlando, and 37,000 restaurants.  That makes for a lot of traffic..
Most hotels have a water feature of some sort, like this lazy river.
Most hotels have a water feature of some sort, like this lazy river.
One of the nicest benefits to living in Central Florida is that the beach is only an hour away in either direction,  East and we have the sunrise over the Atlantic, West and we have the sunset over the Gulf.  It is fun to try to do both in one day.
One of the nicest benefits to living in Central Florida is that the beach is only an hour away in either direction, East and we have the sunrise over the Atlantic, West and we have the sunset over the Gulf. It is fun to try to do both in one day.
Good night Belinda.  I hope you enjoyed your tour!  Sorry I was so late getting this up.
Good night Belinda. I hope you enjoyed your tour! Sorry I was so late getting this up.