Florida Travel Series~St. Augustine

27 Jun

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

St Augustine. This is one of my favorite places for photography.

 

https://www.visitstaugustine.com/venue/visitor-information-center

 

Go to the visitor center when you get there or online and make your plans for the day. It will save you a lot of walking and help you discover the tours and unique places and restaurants to visit. I recommendthat you get the trolly for the day. It’s a good way to get around. You cannot see everything in one day.

 

 

There is so much amazing history here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_St._Augustine,_Florida

 

 

 

 

Painted ceiling and dome inside Flagler College

 

There are other great places in the area too, like the St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

 

https://www.alligatorfarm.com/

 

If you go in the spring you can get close up images of nesting birds and their young. You can safely get very close ups of alligators and other wildlife.

 

 

The beaches in St augustine are quite beautiful.

 

There are many nice hotels to stay in right on the beach or you can camp at Anastasia State Park. The beach and sand dunes are gorgeous

 

 

and be sure to visit the lighthouse and museum.

 

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/anastasia

http://www.staugustinelighthouse.org/

Back on the road again, we will be heading west across north Florida to the Suwannee River.

 

 

Our stop is a quaint resort I have gone to for years. There are many nice places to stay, but River Rendezvous is very special to me.

http://www.suwanneeriverrendezvous.com/

 

It is now a wonderful rustic family resort right on the Suwannee, but when I stayed there many years ago it was a resort for scuba divers.

You see this area of north Florida is the cave diving capital of the world because of an extensive cave system of porous marine limestone. The underground limestone has miles of “Karst” cave formations where cool crystal clear water flows from the Floridan Aquifer through numerous springs into majestic Suwannee River.

 

and other scenic rivers and streams.

In my younger, adventurous days I came here many times to scuba dive in these amazing caves. It was thrilling.

I would like to describe this adventure to you and take you with me. It’s an experience most people have never lived.

It was so long ago that I do not have pictures to share unfortunately.

There are many beautiful springs in this area. Peacock Springs is one of the popular springs and is now a state park.  The link below shows fantastic pictures of the springs and underwater caves.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/photo-gallery/peacock-springs

Check out those pictures, then let’s go diving. Are you ready?

First we put on our wet suits and gear in the parking area and walk down very uneven ground to get to the waters entrance. This is most exhausting from the heat, struggling to get into your wetsuit and the weight of the tank and equipment. Before we go in, everyone must spend time checking each others equipment. You don’t want anything to go wrong down there. Safety is top importance. Once you make it in the water, the 72 degree water rushes in your wet suit. It is really cold at first, but will warm and insulate you the rest of the time. We put on our mask and fins, regulator in our mouth and lower ourselves into the crystal clear water. Looking around you are mezmerized by the fish, rocks, vegetation and sunlight making the water sparkle. You feel that you are totally weightless and have a sense of flying. You see the cavern entrance and go inside. You stop and look around. It is dark, but is illuminated by the light streaming in from the entrance. Fish are swimming in the sunlight outside and inside around you. The plants are undilating from the current of water flow from the cave. The water is gently flowing across your skin. It’s a beautiful sight and you are flying around in it. Your dive buddy signals to head inside the cave tunnel and attaches his line to a connection in the rock.

This line is life or death. It goes with you and you follow it back out. It is totally dark ahead. You turn on your flash lights and you can see the porous limestone, perhaps an albino shrimp or catfish. You may even see an eel laying on the rocks. The whole area looks like honeycombs as you fly through the cave tunnel. At some points along the way, you are only feet from the surface and you become lighter, other times you are deep and a great distance from the surface and you become heavy due to the pressure. You adjust your boyancy and continue. Sometimes the tunnel opens up to a large room. The tunnel  ends and before you realize it, you are past it and you’re looking down 50 feet below you. Like a cartoon charactor that runs off a cliff and realized they are suspended in mid air. It’s a frightening feeling at first. But then, it is so cool to be hovering in space. The water is perfectly clear and it looks like air.

You turn to go back and it’s hard to tell where you came in, openings in the honeycomb all look the same. Oh, but you have the line to guide you back.

The cave is full of silt. Like years of dust on the floor. Once we took a side trip off the main tunnel. We got too close to the floor and stirred the silt with the kick of a fin. In seconds, we could no longer see our hands in front of our face. Because we were weightless, we didn’t even know if we were upside down or not. Luckily, we had our hands on the line and knew it led out. I was following the line out, totally blind, I hit a rock. The line had slipped under a large rock and it took me a while to figure out how to get around it. This was a dangerous moment, but thank the Lord, we came out ok.

Cave diving is extreme, but if you would like to experience it in a better way, try Snuba. Dive in the Keys the easy way. I have tried this and it is truly the way to enjoy the liquid world underwater.

https://www.snuba.com/the-florida-keys/

Please join me next week to a trip to Panama City Beach

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

31 Days of God’s Comfort~Day 30

26 Jun

Painting and paraphrase by DiVoran Lites

 

 

Day 30

Acts 20:24

Generosity

 

Beloved,

What matters now is the job

Jesus gave you of radiating My

Incredible generosity

And extravagant caring.

I have designed you as a chalice

To carry My Kingdom to friends and family.

I want you to experience good health,

Right-thinking, peace and joy.

The Door~Part 2

25 Jun

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

If you recall, back on December 13, 2015, I wrote a post about “The Door.” I began that post with:

Many years ago, I came upon something my Father had saved. It was an ‘etching’ of an ancient doorway, with lantern overhead to light the way. There was a description attached to it, explaining where and what the door was all about. Somehow, I have misplaced that etching – every once in a while I come across it, but can’t seem to find it when I’m looking for it.

As I recall, that door was somewhere in the ruins of an English castle or cathedral….”

Well, I am pleased to say – that I have found that “etching” and here it is.

 

 

As you will see, it really isn’t anything like the one we saw in Rothenburg, Germany – and no lantern overhead.

 

 

And rather than being in England, it is German – and from the Heidelberg castle. I wish I had known that when we lived those three years in Heidelberg! We walked through that lovely castle so many times, but never found this door – nor did we know it was there.

 

The title on the back of this etching is : The Doorway of Memories, and the subtitle is “From an Original Etching by Paul Geissler [1881-1965].” That’s a surprise, because we have several etchings by Paul Geissler – usually of Rothenburg.

 

 

While lengthy, I would like to present you with the description given with his “door” etching, as I find it quite interesting:

“One may well look down the vista of centuries in viewing this beautiful old ivy colored doorway. For it is part of the famed castle of Heidelberg which was first built more than six hundred years ago [now over eight hundred years ago].

Mounting guard over the picturesque German town of that name, the grim battlements are located on the high promontory of Jettenbuhl. The castle is now mostly in ruins, and presents an interesting study in architectural trends down through the ages. Originally erected through the effort of Rupert III, the building was constantly expanded as each new monarch took over the reins of government. Otto Henry, ‘The Magnanimous,’ built an important wing in 1556, while yet another was added under Frederick IV in 1601-1607.

It was from Old Heidelberg that the leading German princes of their day sallied forth on journeys of peace and conquest. Possibly on the very steps pictured by the etcher did the fair ladies of the court stand to wave a last farewell to their loved ones as the knights rode down the rocky trail. Those steps so worn with years of use, have now remained idle and dust-covered. Only the shades of those who departed centuries past still hover around the deserted castle and make this in truth ‘The Doorway of Memories.’

The etcher has accurately caught the spirit of antiquity that haunts the place. The proud coat of arms appears above the door, and the lions, ever a symbol of royalty, guard each side of the arch. Rich with lore, rich with romantic associations, here is indeed a subject which stimulates the etcher’s pen with inspiration.”

 

So that’s the story of “the door” that has fascinated me for so many years. Not at all what I remember about it, but wonderful, all the same. I hope you enjoy it, as well.

 

 

The best gifts of life.

24 Jun

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

 

His Way

 

 

 

Doesn’t it feel good when we help another person? A friend visited from Cuba and lamented on the condition of her hair. I took her hand. “Look, you don’t need to worry about fixing your hair,” I said. “We’ll go shopping and get you a lovely wig.”

She hugged me. “In Cuba, we could never afford a haircut, much less a wig…thank you!”

We walked in the store and she chose one to match her natural hair color. As she stood before the mirror, she put it on. Her gasps of delight were heard all through the store. “I don’t want to take it off, “she said. “I look so pretty.”

Then weeks later she wrote me from Cuba. “I’m sorry. I can’t wear the wig because the weather is so very hot here. I put it away in my drawer.”

Did she say she put the gift I gave her in a drawer? She sure did. And that’s exactly what the enemy (the devil) wants you and I to do. He wants us to –put God’s gifts in the drawer of our emotions.

When and how does he do that? He does it each time we face adversity, struggles, conflict, or bad news. He does it by distracting us so we forget God’s gifts.

And the gifts are many. Each one is suited for the situation we face. Each gift is prepared with the answer we need. Each is molded to fit the longing in our heart.

And when we receive them, unwrap them and use them, here are seven results:

  1. When unfair accusations create wounds, we’re protected as we say, I am free from any charge against me.” (Romans 8:31-34)
  2. When life seems uncertain and shaky, I have access to God through the Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:18)
  3. No painful experience is a match to God’s love. I cannot be separated from the love of God.” (Romans 8:35-39)
  4. The world’s evil cannot affect me because I am established, anointed, sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
  5. When I feel confused about all that’s going on, I remember that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
  6. When feeling empty and unable to give, my spirit is revived because I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16)
  7. When no one listens or has any advice, I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)

Ready to pull out those gifts from the drawer of your heart? They’re yours. They’re ready to be used. They’re offering the power to ease the pain. To deliver you from strongholds. To bring peace to turmoil. And to erase fear.

Father, when life becomes so very difficult, help me to open my heart and receive these gifts. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Which of God’s gifts will you unwrap today?

Janet

Video sneak peek: (fun, family traditions) https://youtu.be/11HB26idG-8

 

Source: The best gifts of life. ~ Janet Perez Eckles

Surely There’s an Easier Way

23 Jun

From the Heart

Louise Gibson

 

 

 

 

Before I was afflicted
I did go astray,
but God wanted my attention
to walk in His way!

 

God gets our attention
through suffering and pain.
To be His obedient servant
is truly great gain!

 

I now have a more teachable spirit,
but it came at a price.
Remember your dad’s admonition?
“I’m not going to tell you twice”!

 

Thank you, Lord, for your patience.
It takes awhile to learn your way.
Help us to keep our eyes on you, Lord,
As we strive to be obedient each day.

 

 

 

Repurposing Christmas

22 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

We have been enjoying visits from family the past two weeks and I haven’t had much inclination to spend time on the computer. I do want to take a quick minute to share my latest repurpose project.  I fell in love with this gift bag at Christmas and purchased several to tuck Christmas gifts for my friends into them. When we returned to the mountains in May, I spotted one that I had left on the table when we closed up for winter. It brought me so much pleasure, I set it on top of our tea box as a decoration.  When I cut some hydrangea blossoms to enjoy in the house, I decided the Christmas bag would be a perfect way to dress up the plain vase.

 

Florida Travel~Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

19 Jun

A Time to LIve

Melody Hendrix

 

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a Florida State Park located near Palm Coast, Florida, along A1A just a short distance north of Ponce Inlet .

 

 

 http://www.washingtonoaks.org/

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

6400 N. Oceanshore Blvd.

Palm Coast, Florida 32137

(386) 446-6780

 

The park is most famous for its formal gardens.

 

It also preserves the original habitat of a northeast Florida barrier island.

 

The park has such amenities as beaches (on both the Matanzas River and Atlantic Ocean), bicycling, fishing, hiking, picnicking areas and wildlife viewing. The original residence has been converted into a visitor center with interpretive exhibits.

The Park’s eastern boundary holds  outcroppings of coquina rock , creating a picturesque boulder-strewn beach. It is full of swirling, sculptured coquina rocks piled along the beach, some sporting circular holes, others forming bowls that create tide pools for snails and anemones.

This unusual beach in Florida is a well-kept secret, hoarded by the locals who refer to it as “The Rocks”.

 

 

One quick stop just before Matanzas is Marineland. Hurricanes Floyd and Irene in 1999 forced the park to close for two months. In 2003, all of the park buildings west of Highway A1A were demolished leaving only the original structures along the Atlantic Ocean. In 2004, the park closed completely for renovations, and reopened on March 4, 2006. In January 2011, Marineland was sold again and is currently being operated as a subsidiary of Georgia Aquarium. The facility, now named Marineland Dolphin Adventure, offers several dolphins encounters, educational programs, and conducts research to help care for marine life in human care and in the wild.

The park has a nice boardwalk and restrooms. The beach is also strewn with outcroppings that appear at low tide.

 

 

A little farther north on A1A is Matanzas Inlet. 

It is a channel in Florida between barrier islands connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the south end of the Matanzas River. The inlet is not stabilized by jetties, and thus is subject to shifting.

 

The above picture shows the inlet at low tide and across it is the Matanzas Monument location. It was designated a United States National Monument on October 15, 1924.

Below is a link to the forts history

https://www.nps.gov/foma/learn/historyculture/the_massacre.htm

Hurricane Matthew caused damage. Below, shows (Sept. 6, 2014) and after (Oct. 13, 2016)  the damage hurricane Matthew did to this area. The storm cut a new inlet between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River near St. Augustine, Florida, stripping away a 12-foot dune and carrying sand into the estuary and altered a part of the northeast Florida coastline.

 

Matanzas Inlet is still a beautiful place. One of the treasures that draws me to this place is the sand. With the changing of tides and blending of the swift moving bodies of water, the patterns in the sand are truly master pieces that are sculpted everyday. Tide pools trap interesting creatures to explore. Lots of birds dine on the abundant food available. This area is loved by fishermen.

 

The rocks that add to the unusual look for a Florida beah appear and disappear with the tide.

 

You must be aware of the tides on the south side of the inlet. You can be trapped by incoming tides and forced to exit through private property.

 

There is beauty in all sides of the bridge. The inlet side, and the beach side. There is also a long boardwalk and parking on both sides.

If you love beach walks, photography, birding,  beaching, hiking or just exploring, this would be an enjoyable little trip.

Please join me next week on our last northern stop along A1A to St Augustine before we head west to the Suwannee River and some visit some springs.

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Father’s Day 2017

18 Jun

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

JUDY

 

 

 Another Father’s Day dawns this morning. As someone recently said, it’s such a pity that in today’s world of TV and comedy, fathers are portrayed as clueless and laughable. How are our boys and young men going to grow up to be the strong men of God that we want them to be, when that is their example? I am so glad that my father, my brother, and my husband grew up in times when men were, indeed, strong men of God, and spiritual leaders in their household.

And how are our girls and young women going to grow up, thinking that all the boys/men in their lives are luckless creatures – only to be tolerated? In watching the TV programs that are out there now – unfortunately including some of the current Disney programs – adults in general, and men in particular – are portrayed as stupid and ignorant, while their teenagers – and younger – are the “smart” ones. It just ain’t so, folks!

And since that was a rather depressing way to begin this post, let me get back to the men in my life who were strong believers in God and Jesus Christ, and were able to be strong, safe, places for me.

Let me tell you about my own father.

 

 

I’ve written other posts about my father (June 16, 2013; June 15, 2014; September 28, 2014; February 5, 2017) and the influence he had in my life. He was gone quite a bit – traveling around the state – but I always knew he loved me, and I looked up to him.

 

 

He was, indeed, the spiritual leader in our household.   He always took us to church with him, and our family life revolved around church and our belief in God.

 

 

Fred’s father – a second father to me after Fred and I married – was dedicated to God and His work in this world.

 

 

He was a pastor for a while, but then most of his life was doing God’s work as a military chaplain. And yet, with all that work, he was devoted to his family. He, too, was the spiritual leader in his family.

 

 

Fred and I both look back on our lives, and are so grateful that each of our fathers-in-law treated us like their son or daughter. I never felt out of place in Fred’s family, and Fred has said so many times that my father enjoyed him as if he were another son of his. We were so blest to have that in our lives.

 

And because of that, Fred grew up in a household that showered him with love – family love and God’s love. He grew to be a self-assured man that I am proud to call my husband. He taught our girls what a true man – a gentleman – is like, and what they should expect from their spouses.

 

And my brother, Bill, grew up in a household that taught him how to be a true man of God, as well. He gave his children God’s word, and the strength to be what God wants them to be.

 

Both of our girls have married men who are strong personalities, and are dedicated to the Lord. We pray for each member of their families, as they begin to have families of their own.

 

8

 

7

 

There is a scripture that helps with this:

Start children off on the way they should go,

and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing you must do to be truly happy

18 Jun

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

His Way

 

 

Last week, I followed my nightly routine and fixed myself a cup of chamomile tea; not sure why I filled it to the brim, but I did.

Funny thing is that those of us who are blind tend to bump into things, especially when we’re in a hurry. And that’s exactly what I did. As I carried it from the kitchen to the bedroom, I misjudged the door frame and my elbow caught the edge, causing my tea to spill out. UGH!

That’s what happens to all of us. When we experience bumps in life, whatever overflows in us will pour out. If we carry fear and we hear bad news, fear will spill out. When we harbor anger and someone doesn’t measure up to our standards, rudeness and anger will trickle out. When insecurities overflow, a defensive attitude will leak out. And before we know it, we stand in a puddle of unhappiness.

But there’s hope, and it comes in the vehicle called “change.” When faith, grace, patience, genuine love and gentleness overflow in our heart, no matter how hard the bump, these will spill out. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matthew 12:34b-35).

What we store in the heart is the determining factor between living a marvelous life or a miserable existence.

Father, grant me wisdom to analyze what fills my heart. Show me what I need to remove and replace. Reveal to me what I must store in order to please you; to bring honor and glory to you. Teach me how to store genuine love so it spills out to those around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What fills your heart today?

Janet

Video sneak peek: https://youtu.be/uq9PG0FZjA4

 

To learn more about Janet, follow the link below to visit her website.

 

Janet Speaks

Looking for a motivational speaker? Learn how you can book Janet for your event. She is an international speaker.

 

Source: One thing you must do to be truly happy. ~ Janet Perez Eckles

Hear the Cry

16 Jun

From the Heart

Louise Gibson

 

 

 

 

 

Open your front door-
Just stand there and listen.
Do you hear it?
Believe me, it is there!

 

This time, close your door-
turn off the television.
Listen to the sounds in your own home.
Hear it? Sure you do…it’s everywhere!

 

To be certain, listen to your own heart.
You hear that?
It’s unmistakable-
It’s coming through loud and clear.

 

“I want to be loved!”
But wait, there’s more!
“and I want to love!”
There is no need so dear.

 

The world cries out for love that heals,
unites, and inspires.
To love and be loved
is a basic need that every soul desires.

 

This is no news to God.
He created us for love.
Our love for God and our neighbor
Fulfills the law of God above.

 

Footnote:
“Love is like the five loaves and two fishes.
It doesn’t start to multiply
until you give it away.”

 

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