Tag Archives: Travel Series

America’s North Country Trip~Part 6

18 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 6 (Wednesday)

 

I headed southwest on I-94 this morning. I had been noticing, for the last couple of days as I traveled through the North Dakota and Montana plains country, that the round hay bales were everywhere I looked! They were all over the fields, in huge stacks (40-50’ high & 200-400’ long) and even in the right-of-ways along the Interstate. This was a very unusual site for me, as I was used to the right-of-ways in Florida mostly being swales full of water.

 

 

My first museum visit today was the Range Riders Museum located in Miles City, MT. This was one of the most amazing museums I have ever seen! There were some 20 separate galleries under one huge roof, with 8 additional buildings outside. Every inch of every wall was covered with Indian, Pioneer, Homesteader, Westerner and Rodeo artifacts. I was informed that every single item in this entire museum had been donated by someone over the years, including the large main building.   I couldn’t begin to explain all there is or to try and show you about this museum adequately. Just Google “Range Riders Museum” and click on “Exhibits” to get a slideshow for a better idea of just how much there is to see.

 

 

On down the road a ways I saw a sign advertising the Brinton Museum Store located in Hysham, MT and decided to run up U.S. 10 a couple of miles to check it out. This turned out to be a one-room museum store consisting of a beautifully restored antique soda fountain and some local historical artifacts. The museum was closed but I was able to get a photo thru the front window.

 

 

Next I took a small side-trip, south on SR-47, to visit the Big Horn County Historical Museum located in Hardin, MT near the Crow Agency Trading Post. This museum is another frontier type museum with 24 relocated and restored buildings arranged to represent a 1850s Montana frontier village, with artifacts depicting those of that era in each building.

 

 

Another few miles down the road I visited the Battle of the Little Big Horn Monument, commonly known as the location of Custer’s Last Stand. This monument was packed to overflowing with visitors. At the battlefield there is a monument commemorating the 1876 engagement between the U.S. Army and the combined forces of the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian tribes. There are headstones positioned on the hill where the 7th Cavalry solders died and were originally buried. There is also a new section set aside as a National Cemetery.

 

 

I was interested to learn that several relatives of General Custer were among those who died with him during this battle. There was Captain Thomas Ward Custer his younger brother, Boston Custer his second brother, 1st Lt. James Calhoun his brother-in-law, and Henry Armstrong Reed his 18-year old nephew. History seems to indicate that most of the Custer relatives (including General Custer) looked upon this trip as an opportunity to experience the west in all its grandeur and beauty. I think they got a lot more than they expected!

 

 

Now I headed northwest on I-90 to visit the Moss Mansion Historic Museum located in Billings, MT. I thought this was going to be a museum I could just walk thru, but no, it was a one-hour guided tour and I didn’t think my knees would be able to handle all those stairs. So I just took a couple photos and went to find the next place on my list.

 

 

That turned out to try to find the Boot Hill Cemetery there in Billings. When researching this trip I had discovered this location was going to be a little difficult to find, but I thought Greta (my Garmin) could handle it. However, now that I was relying on her to get me to the exact location, she was confused and was leading me in circles. I finally found it, using my trusty paper map, and was not impressed. I’ve seen much better Boot Hill cemeteries on other trips.

 

 

I tried to find the Rimrocks there in Billings, but here again Greta was unable to locate a specific address. I thought it was a city or county park, but as it turned out it was an area of high cliffs cut into the mountain side by the Yellowstone River that borders the east side of Billings.   I finally found the right road and enjoyed the natural beauty as I followed the road from the river level to the top of the high plateau.

 

 

By now it was time to head for the motel there in Billings, get checked in and relax while I enjoy my leftover CC’s Ground Beef Steak dinner which included green beans, mashed potatoes & gravy with Apple Crisp for dessert. Yummm!!

—–To Be Continued—–

 

America’s North Country~Trip Part 4

4 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 4 (Monday)

 

Before I left Fargo this morning I stopped for a quick visit to the Fargo Air Museum, just a few minutes from my motel, located at the Hector International Airport. This was a nice museum consisting of many aircraft which the museum keeps in flying condition. Their collection included the famous DC-3 “Duggy” and a full-scale prototype model of the Northrop-Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk.

 

 

Now I headed west on I-94, about 25 miles, for a quick stop to visit the Cass Regional Airport in Casselton, ND. As it turned out I couldn’t find a museum at the airport, but I saw an open hanger door and ducked in to ask about a CAF Squadron. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a Japanese Zero getting a touch-up paint job by Roy Kieffer. He informed me that he had painted several Warbirds for various people and organizations there in that one-plane sized hangar. Who would have guessed?

 

 

On these trips I am always on the lookout for brochures advertising museums that I might be interested in visiting. That is how I came across a brochure for the Rosebud Railroad Visitor Center located in Valley City, ND. This turned out to be a very small museum (one restored 1881 Superintendent Rail Coach) housed in a replica of a 1850s freight depot. There wasn’t much to see, but they had a very nice restroom.

 

 

Now I made a short side-trip, off of I-94, northwest to visit the Midland Continental Depot located in Wimbledon, ND. This turned out to be pretty much a waste of time, since the museum was a very small restored depot building, which was closed, and a caboose out front.

 

 

On the way to Jamestown, ND to visit the National Buffalo Museum, I stopped to get a photo of the World’s Largest Buffalo Monument (26’ tall, 46’ long & 60 tons). I can’t imagine why anyone would put together something like that! I guess it is an advertising gimmick for the buffalo museum there in Jamestown.

 

 

However, one of the things I was most looking forward to seeing on this trip was the large herds of buffalo that the TV documentaries have been showing for the last few years. So here I was at the National Buffalo Museum to checkout that herd of buffalo. Well, you guessed it. There was not a single live buffalo to be seen. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see the first live buffalo during my entire trip. My friends tell me they are all somewhere in South Dakota. Right!

 

 

After leaving Jamestown I picked up I-94 and headed west again to visit the Historic Town of Buckstop Junction located on the outskirts of Bismarck, ND. This was another tourist trap setup to look like an early North Dakota pioneer town. One look at “Main Street” of the town and I was ready to mosey on down the road.

 

 

My first stop in Bismarck was to visit the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, located at the Port of Bismarck on the Missouri River. This turned out to be a dinner cruise type riverboat that took people and groups up and down the river daily and by charter. Since I wasn’t interested in a dinner cruise, I took a couple pictures and headed into downtown Bismarck.

 

 

I almost missed the Camp Hancock Historical Site there in downtown Bismarck. The original site was built-up as an infantry post in 1872, to help guard the construction of the railroad thru that area of North Dakota. In later years it was used as a quartermaster’s station and then as a weather station. The small site now consists of a restored church, weather station building and a locomotive.

 

 

I stopped at the Former Governor’s Mansion long enough to take a photo, and then swung by the North Dakota Capital for another photo.

 

 

Since it was after 5:00, I thought I would look up the local R/C Model airplane flying field to see if anyone was flying this afternoon. Even though it was a beautiful evening, no one was at the field, so I headed for my motel there in Bismarck.

This evening Greta had no trouble finding the motel and, after getting checked in, I settled down to enjoy my leftover Denny’s Ground Turkey Meatloaf dinner with all the trimmings.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—-

 

 

Circuitous Travel~Part 6

1 Oct

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

The following day was a busy one for us, as we made our way to London and the B&B where we were scheduled to stay for a week.

We left Llangollen and drove to Bath.

 

Credit Google Search and All That Is Interesting

 

We were fascinated by the Roman ruins of Bath. We didn’t know a lot about Bath – except for the fact that the Romans built public baths – but from Google search, I found:

Bath is a town set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture. Honey-coloured Bath stone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including at Bath Abbey, noted for its fan-vaulting, tower and large stained-glass windows. The museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths includes The Great Bath, statues and a temple.

 

Credit Google Search and Everything Everywhere Travel Blog

 

 

I’m not sure we even knew there was Bath Abbey, universities, and other sites to visit. If we were to visit there now, we would take more time to see everything we could.

 

Credit Google Search and Pinterest

 

Being a great King Arthur fan, I was interested to learn, again from Google search, that

Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Badon ©. AD 500), in which King Arthur is said to have defeated the Anglo-Saxons. Hmmm.   I also found: Edgar of England was crowned king of England in Bath Abbey in 973, in a ceremony that formed the basis of all future English coronations.

I also found that Jane Austen lived in Bath with her father, mother, and sister Cassandra for five years – 1801-1806, and several of her books take place in Bath.

I really love this history stuff!!

Moving on…we had heard of/read about Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain for many years, so that was a “must see” on our list of things to do while in England.

 

Credit Google Search and EnglishHeritage.org

 

And so that was our next stop – Amesbury and Stonehenge. After having the stones described as “monoliths,” we were a bit disappointed to find that they weren’t as enormous as we thought they might be. Yes, they are huge, but not the towering stones we thought they would be. However, they were still quite impressive to us.

 

 

 

According to Englishheritage.org, Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. It was built in several stages: the first monument was an early henge monument, built about 5,000 years ago, and the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC. In the early Bronze Age many burial mounds were built nearby.

 

Again, being a King Arthur fan, I was amused to see that many say the magician Merlin built Stonehenge. However, other sources say that he just added the headstone, and honored Ambrosius with it. So many speculations.

They also mentioned that Stonehenge has been the site of burials from its earliest time. It was also mentioned that the Salisbury Plain has been a sacred site in England for centuries.

While we weren’t able to walk around and through the standing stones, we were able to get more up close and personal that if we visited today. We’ve seen pictures of the area with a fence around it, to protect it from vandals. Pity.

Following our time at Stonehenge, we headed on to London. We dropped off our luggage at the Allen’s house, then drove to Heathrow to turn in our rental car. We then had supper at Heathrow and took the Tube to Kew Gardens, where the Allen’s house is located.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

America’s North Country Trip~ Part 3

20 Sep

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

Day 3 (Sunday)

 

This morning I headed north on I-29 and west SR-34 to visit the Historic Prairie Village located in Madison, SD. This is a reconstruction of a turn-of-the-century South Dakota village, with some 40 antique-filled buildings, located on 120 acres. The buildings were rescued from the surrounding area and maintained as museum pieces. The village was too spread-out for me to walk around the whole area so I asked the lady, where I bought my ticket, if I could drive slowly thru the area and take photos. She agreed, and that allowed me to see the entire village from the comfort of my car.

 

 

Now I continued north on US-81, across the border, to visit Bonanzaville USA, sponsored by the Cass County Historical Society and located in West Fargo, ND. This museum consists of some 47 buildings moved from the surrounding area and placed to form a frontier town. Situated on 12 acres, the homes and buildings are furnished with period items. I was overwhelmed by literally hundreds of thousands of artifacts that make up the museum’s collection. There are displays of antique horse-drawn vehicles, firefighting vehicles, medical and dental equipment, law enforcement items, a telephone exchange and a small newspaper office. There are also buildings filled with antique aircraft and automobiles.

 

 

Several years ago I watched the movie “Fargo” and was not prepared for the difference between what I saw in that movie and what I experienced of Fargo today. The movie was filmed in the winter with snow everywhere and people bundled up in heavy clothes. Today in Fargo the temperature was 94 degrees (it felt like 104) and I was looking for places to cool off. The air conditioned portion of the Bonanzaville Museum wasn’t cool enough in my opinion, and most of the “Frontier Town” was outside and open to the hot air of the day.

 

 

On today’s segment of this trip I had traveled a lot of miles (275+), and was looking forward to visiting the Fargo Air Museum to cool off. However, Greta

(my Garmin) was having issues with locating the address, and by the time I finally found the museum it was closed. So I headed for the motel there in town, where I knew I could get a shower and crank down the A/C. After cooling down, I went looking for a place to eat dinner. I finally found a Denny’s restaurant where I enjoyed one of their delicious Ground Turkey Meatloaf dinners, which came with green beans, potatoes & gravy and a home-made biscuit with honey for dessert.

 

 

—–To Be Continued——

Circuitous Travel~Part 5 Continues

17 Sep

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

Our next stop that day was Caernarfon Castle. This amazing castle, while mostly in ruins, is a delight to wander through. It is also the sight for the investiture of the Prince of Wales.

 

Credit Google Search and Traveling with Krushworth

According to caernarfon.com:

Mighty Caernarfon is possibly the most famous of Wales’s castles. Its sheer scale and commanding presence easily set it apart from the rest, and to this day, still trumpet in no uncertain terms the intention of its builder Edward I.

 Begun in 1283 as the definitive chapter in his conquest of Wales, Caernarfon was constructed not only as a military stronghold but also as a seat of government and royal palace.

 The castle’s majestic persona is no architectural accident: it was designed to echo the walls of Constantinople, the imperial power of Rome and the dream castle, ‘the fairest that ever man saw’, of Welsh myth and legend. After all these years Caernarfon’s immense strength remains unchanged.

 Standing at the mouth of the Seiont river, the fortress (with its unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements and colour banded masonry) dominates the walled town also founded by Edward I. Caernarfon’s symbolic status was emphasized when Edward made sure that his son, the first English Prince of Wales, was born here in 1284. In 1969, the castle gained worldwide fame as the setting for the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

 History comes alive at Caernarfon in so many ways – along the lofty wall walks, beneath the twin-towered gatehouse and within imaginative exhibitions located within the towers. The castle also houses the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Wales’s oldest regiment.

After perusing other Caernarfon websites, I was amused to find that the original “Prince of Wales” could not speak English – only French, since the “language” of the nobility then was French!

Prince Charles was “crowned” Prince of Wales in 1969 in the castle of Caernarfon.

 

Credit Google search and People’s Collection Wales

 

We had such a fun time exploring through the castle. Here are some pictures we took while there.

 

Investiture spot

 

Our girls in 1983

 

 

We stopped at a B&B in Llangollen for the night.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Florida Travel~Next Stop Great Smoky Mountains National Park

15 Aug

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Smoky Mountains in the fall.

 

                  https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g143031-Activities-  Great_Smoky_Mountains_National_Park_Tennessee.html

I haven’t traveled outside of Florida much, but I will say that The Great Smoky Mountains in the fall is the most beautiful place I have ever been. Being a native Floridian, a flatlander, I was overwhelmed by the mountains and the colors, the rocky creeks and the music of the water flowing over the rock.

 

 

Strangely what I loved the most is looking out and seeing the mesmerizing design from the abstract lines created by the shapes of each mountain and valley. And how each layer is a distinct shade and color. The morning sun outlining it all.  Almost Heaven is the feeling that comes over me. The crisp air awakening my senses. I feel so close to God being in the spectacular beauty of His handiwork. This place the finest candy for my eyes. The images etched in my soul forever.

 

 

We stayed in Gatlinburg, at the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here you will find lots to do if you have kids. It is similar to I-Drive in Orlando. It is also the gateway to 441 the main road through the mountains.

 

 

 

My favorite place here is Roaring Fork, a driving nature trail. This is a must. You drive through it, stopping all along the beautiful creek that runs along most of the way. There are many places to park and hike to falls. This is like all of the Smokies in one gorgeous road through Heaven.

 

 

Also along Roaring Fork are historic buildings.

 

 

 

You can explore them. It’s amazing to see how the people lived. At the end of the trail is a little store you can by goodies.

There are so many beautiful places, but I will tell you about some of my favorites. If you are going there, be sure to do your homework first, make a plan especially if you plan to visit some falls. There are some right on the road and there are some that are very difficult to get to.

Our first stop every morning is one of the few places you can enjoy a sunrise. Newfound Gap.

 

 

It’s an overlook with restrooms and an entrance to the Appalacian Trail.

 

 

Take a walk on this beautiful trail. It’s just beautiful and so are the people you may meet traveling on it.

 

 

Clingmans dome is a popular stop. This tower is at 6643 feet which is the highest point in the smoky mountains national park. The view is spectacular, but the climb up is very difficult. It is a nice paved walk, but half a mile and very steep.

 

 

 

If you go to Cherokee, be sure to stop at Ocoaluftee visitor center. There is a lot there to see.

 

You can walk the short trail to the river, see historic buildings and you may see some elk in the field by the highway. Also near by is an easy walk to Mingus Mill. It is a working grist mill where you can buy goodies such as freshly ground corn meal.

 

 

There are so many wonderful waterfalls. Many are not easy to get to. So check them out first according to which ones will fit you physically. They are all different and most are challenging to get to.

 

 

 

 

Wildfires in the beginning of this year destroyed a lot, but it is already healing and open to tourism.

Please join me next week. We are going to New Hampshires White Mountains.

 

 

Florida Travel Moves North

8 Aug

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Savannah, Georgia

Exploring Savannah was so exciting. There is so much to see. So many wonderful restaurants and so much history. And of course it is an artist and photographers paradise.

 

 

On River Street, in the heart of historic Savannah, you’ll find everything from sweets to teddy bears, Harley Davidson apparel, and art galleries housed inside restored Cotton Warehouses. The working harbor—filled with ships of all kinds, horse-drawn carriage rides and street performers add to the enticement of this idyllic waterfront locale.

 

 

Stop in for a bite at any of 21 restaurants or simply enjoy the scenery.

Historic River Street, paved with 200-year-old cobblestones, runs along the length of the Savannah River.

 

 

The Port of Savannah is a major U. S. seaport. Savannah had a record year in fiscal 2007, becoming the fourth-busiest and fastest-growing container terminal in the U.S.

 

 

Once lined with warehouses holding King CottonWalk along the Savannah River;  Picture horse drawn wagons loaded with bails of cotton brought to be bid on, sold and unloaded here.

 

 

Follow the link below to discover the many things there are to do in Savannah.

https://www.trolleytours.com/savannah/attractions

Another place that is interesting is Bonaventure Cemetery.  The entrance to the cemetery is located at 330 Bonaventure Road. The peaceful setting rests on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River, east of Savannah. This charming site has been a world famous tourist destination for more than 150 years due to the old tree-lined roadways, the many notable persons interred, the unique cemetery sculpture and architecture.

 

 

We are now headed to Tybee Island only 18 miles away. But we are going to make a stop at Fort Pulaski. It’s on the way.

 

in 1862 during the American Civil War, the Union Army successfully tested rifled cannon in combat, the success of which rendered brick fortifications obsolete. The fort was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp.

 

The brick and honey comb interior is stunning.

 

 

 

On our way again to Tybee Island we go over Lazaretto Creek. We can see the marina below.

 

http://www.tybeeislandmarina.com/

 

 

Tybee Island Light

Tybee Island is a barrier island and small city near Savannah, Georgia. It’s known for its wide, sandy beaches, including South Beach, with a pier and pavilion. In the island’s north, Fort Screven has 19th-century concrete gun batteries and the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum.

 

 

Swings found along the Tybee Island beach offer a great spot to relax and take in the views.

 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g35328-Activities-Tybee_Island_Georgia.html

 

 

Besides the beach there are quaint shops and restaurants. It’s a great destination.

Visit me next week for a visit to the mountains in fall. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

 

Smoky Mountains at sunrise.

 

 

 

 

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

Circuitous Travel~Part 2

6 Aug

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

Circuitous travel, continued. I did want to add this photo – our daughter, Karen, found it on Google Search. This is what travel is like in a C-130; that’s the way we traveled from Germany to England. Fortunately, Fred says it’s only about a 2-hour flight.

 

               Credit Google Search

Okay…on to our travels in England. We left the B&B in Mildenhall, home of Mr. & Mrs. Amber, and started our journey north toward Scotland. Our first day’s travel took us eventually to Durham for an overnight.

 

Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right – York

On our way north, we stopped in Cambridge. Within Cambridge University, we went to Trinity College and walked around a bit, taking pictures of the College.

 

    Credit Google Search and UK Fundraising

 

 

After leaving Cambridge, we headed to York.

From Wikipedia I found: York (Old Norse: Jórvík) is a historic walled city at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The municipality is the traditional county town of Yorkshire to which it gives its name. The Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay 207–211 AD, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a colonia or city. Constantius I died in 306 AD during his stay in York.

For a little more history from Wikipedia: In 1068, two years after the Norman conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. Initially the rebellion was successful but upon the arrival of William the Conqueror the rebellion was put down. William at once built a wooden fortress on a motte. In 1069, after another rebellion, William built another timbered castle across the River Ouse. These were destroyed in 1069 and rebuilt by William about the time of his ravaging Northumbria in what is called the “Harrying of the North” where he destroyed everything from York to Durham. The remains of the rebuilt castles, now in stone, are visible on either side of the River Ouse.

 

 

 

York Fire Station

 

So, as you might see, York is a most interesting place to visit. We walked around the town a bit, most impressed with the York Minister Cathedral. Quite majestic and beautiful. It seems to dominate the city. One of the interesting points in York is Clifford’s Tower, which is the “keep” of York Castle.

 

 

It sits high above the street level and is a prominent vista for the town.

 

A reconstruction of York Castle in the 14th century, viewed from the south-east

We climbed the stairs and took this picture of the city of York from there.

 

 

We left York and drove northwest to Harrogate.

 

Credit Google Search

 

From Harrogate we drove again northwest to Ripon and Fountain’s Abbey. From Wikipedia: Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for 407 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

 

 

    Credit Google Search

 

We had a grand time walking through the ruins. Janet, especially, enjoyed running about through the ruins. I remember asking the gentleman at the ticket counter if there was a story about Fountain’s Abbey. His reply? “Yes.” Nothing more.

From Fountain’s Abbey, we drove northeast to Durham, where we spent the night in another B&B.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

Florida Travel~Florida Keys

25 Jul

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

I have been going to the Florida Keys for 40 years. It is so tropical and so different from the rest of Florida. If you love the sun, beach life and water, this is paradise.

 

 

Drive the Overseas Highway across a 113-mile chain of coral and limestone islands connected by 42 bridges, one of them seven miles long.

 

Each Key is a little different and offers it’s own uniqueness.

 

 

My favorite Key is Bahia Honda State Park.

 

 

All of the Keys are made up of hard coral and most first time campers are surprised when they try to hammer their tent stakes in the ground. They are useless. One must buy very large nails and drive them in to hold down the tent ties.  This is true also here, but this park is actually one of the few with stunning shallow white sandy beaches and are awarded the worlds best beach.

Henry Flagler’s railroad to Key West turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Bahia-Honda

The island’s name, Spanish for “deep bay”.

A walk on the Old Bahia Honda Bridge offers a panoramic view of the Gulf and Atlantic waters.

The National Key Deer Refuge On Big Pine Key was established in 1957 to protect and preserve in the national interest of the Key deer and other wildlife resources in the Florida Keys.

 

 

The Refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys and currently consists of approximately 9,200 acres of land that includes pine rockland forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands, and mangrove forests.

Marathon Key – Snuba dive Sombrero Reef

 

https://www.tildensscubacenter.com/

I have been a scuba diver for many years, but snuba is truly the way to go. Anyone can do it. We dove Sombrero Reef with this company and was very pleased. Check it out if exploring the beautiful underwater world is on your bucket list.

Another delightful thing to do in the Keys is to swim with the dolphin. There are a few places that offer it.

http://www.floridakeysswimwithdolphins.com/

Key West  The Southernmost Point Buoy is an anchored concrete buoy in Key West, Florida marking the southernmost point in the continental United States.

 

 

Key West Lighthouse. 

As you walk the shops and restauraunts of Key West,

you can see the lighthouse in most locations.

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_West_lighthouse

 

And don’t forget to end your day at Mallory Square to enjoy eats, entertainment and celebrate a gorgeous sunset.

Join me next week to enjoy Blowing Rocks. An unusual beach for Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Florida Travel~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
%d bloggers like this: