Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Drive To Destin

It is almost back to school time here in North Florida.  School will begin in about two and a half weeks.  With that thought in mind my daughter Sharon and I decided to have a little mother/daughter time together while driving from Tallahassee to the shopping outlets over in Destin.  We found out there was a  huge sale going on, plus we had a card for an additional 40% savings for all sale items for one of her favorite stores for her boys.  Can you have anymore incentive than that!  Plus we both love to go to beautiful Destin.
 Highway 331
Bridge crossing over the Choctawhatchee Bay toward Highway 98.

We meandered around the shops and my daughter was successful in finding some nice sales and some nice items for her boys for their first week back to school.  They are going to look so cute!  After all these years,  I can still remember that special feeling of having something pretty and new to wear when school began again after the Summertime.  Oh! what fun memories!

 A peaceful evening at a boat dock along the Bay.

Since us girls were on a serious mission,
I did not grab my camera as I usually would have done for a drive over to Destin.

As we began our drive back home I was so disappointed not having my camera.  We brought the iPad for information and directions and decided to try to see how it would do in  capturing  some of this beauty along our route.

It was such a beautiful evening and I think the iPad did a very nice job
capturing this flaming sunset.

As I look at this sunset I am reminded of the beautiful lyrics of "Taps"  
we sang in our Girl Scout troop many years ago:

"Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh."
Author Unknown

Wishing you much happiness and many blessing wherever you may be.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lake Iamonia in Tallahassee

It has been a busy Summer not leaving too much time for venturing out to try to capture pretty pictures with my camera.  We have had lots of rainy days,  but yesterday afternoon the sun was out and there were pretty white puffy clouds in the sky.   It was a perfect picture taking day.   I decided to drive down to Lake Iamonia, which is not too far from our home,  to try to get a nice photo of the lake.  You would not believe how many cars and boats were surrounding the area yesterday in the below photo, so I decided to wait until Monday, today, and hoped it would be less crowded.  As you can see there was not even one car/boat around today.

If one likes to fish you can't blame them for enjoying fishing in this beautiful lake.  One of the main attractions of Lake Iamonia is sport fishing for large mouth bass.

Lake Iamonia is located in what is called the Red Hills of Tallahassee.  It is a big lake with 5,757 acres and is 7 miles long and up to 2 miles wide.  I found myself wondering if God made this lake or if it was man-made.  So often you hear of lakes that were man-made to help with the drainage in the area.  So I checked in with Mr. Google and found out some interesting information.

Map of Lake Iamonia
From the Internet

Lake Iamonia was definitely not man-made.  It was formed many thousands of years ago.  It was home to Native Americans from approximately 200 BC to about 750 AD.   Later the banks of Lake Iamonia became home to the Seminole Indians.

Can't you just imagine seeing the Indian Villages along the banks of this beautiful lake.  
What a peaceful life they must have had.

According to Mr. Google there were many ancient fossils found all along the lake.  There were fossils of the early bear-dog, plus fossils of an early horse relative and even fossils of an ancient camel.

Later, in the antebellum 19th century, Lake Iamonia was surrounded by large plantations which included the Burgesstown Plantation, Pine Hill Plantation, Oaklawn Plantation and G.W. Holland Plantation.  Some of these were cotton plantations.  

Today the lake is home to a lot of wildlife.  There are Beavers, Bobcats, Coyotes, Gray Fox, Red Fox, Gray Squirrels, Fox squirrels, Marsh rabbits, Armadillos, Opossums, Raccoons, River otter and White-tailed deer.  There are also Alligators, Turtles, Snakes and Frogs.

Today, like yesterday was such a pretty day, and I love to see that beautiful blue sky,  and the pretty white clouds reflected in the lake.  Now, when I visit this lake from time to time I will always think of those Native Americans who lived along these shores so many years ago.

I hope it was a pretty day wherever you were also,  and hope it was a day filled with lots of beauty and many blessings.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Gold Coast of Florida

The beautiful state of Florida is an amazingly diverse state.  Here in North Florida where we live there are rolling hills, huge old live oak trees with Spanish Moss, a Deep South feel, and a much slower pace of life.  Travel down to central and southern Florida and the terrain is totally different.  There is a much more dense population, and a faster pace  of life in most areas.

My husband was scheduled for a meeting and dinner speech in South Florida last week,  so away we went driving South down the center of the state on the old Florida Turnpike, which is a toll-road that feels like a huge conveyor-belt all the way down.  There are several service-plazas along the way where gas and restaurants are available. It  is a comfortable and stress-free road to take down through the state.

We were headed toward Palm Beach County to a town called Manalapan, Florida where the meeting was being held.  This part of the state is often referred to as the Gold Coast of Florida.

State of Florida
Gold Coast is highlighted in red.
Photo from the Internet

After exiting the Turnpike we headed east toward Highway A1A which would take us along the coast and finally to our destination.  We were driving along in the car as I took the below photo, but you can still get a feel for how beautiful the Atlantic Ocean was on this particular day.

Atlantic Ocean

The rounded-leaf plant seen in the background in the below photo is a Sea-Grape plant. They are native to coastal beaches and are very plentiful in South Florida, often being used as a landscape plant.

Driving along Highway A1A on both sides in the below photo you can see Sea-Grape plants.  Plus take a close look at the large Coconut Palm tree on the right and you can see the coconuts growing about a third of the way down the tree,  just at about the same level as the power lines.   See those little round clusters ... they are coconuts!

If those Sea-Grapes were not planted there on the right in the below photo, you would have a clear view of the Atlantic Ocean.  It is so beautiful traveling down Highway A1A. and often getting to see the Ocean along the way.

In this Palm Beach County there are so many amazingly beautiful homes on both sides of the highway.  This particular home is located on the beach side of the highway.  Can't you just imagine the view they have from the back of their home as they look out over the Ocean.

Another view of this beautiful home!

On the other side of Highway A1A in some locations you are traveling past the Intercoastal Waterway which is shown in the below photo.  My husband found a pull-off on the highway and I was able to jump out and grab a few photos of the beautiful Intercoastal Waterway. 

There are some amazingly beautiful homes along the Waterway and lots of those homes are complete with boat docks as seen in the below photo.

This below photo gives you a good idea of the Intercoastal Waterway there on the left and across the street and through the trees are homes with the Atlantic Ocean behind them.

In the below photo is another view of the beautiful home on the Ocean side.

We arrived at the hotel where the meeting was being held.  It was called the Ritz Carlton Hotel until this recent July 1st when the name was changed.  It is located in what is called Manalapan, Florida, which is a small coastal town with only 2.4 square miles.   It was a very pretty hotel, but  I did not take many photos because there were so many guests around the hotel and it was necessary to  respect their privacy.

I was able to take this photo of the pretty hotel lobby in the below photo.  It would have been so nice to have been able to take lots more pictures to show the beauty of this hotel, but at least I got this one,  plus one out on the back patio.

From this patio you can see the pool area and beyond the pool you can just barely see the Atlantic Ocean out on the horizon.  During our visit it rained a good bit, but on this particular day there was not a rain cloud anywhere to be seen.

This photo was taken off the dock behind a seafood restaurant where we enjoyed dinner and met with one of our daughters who lives in the South Florida area.  As you can see the rain was coming, but it was still a peaceful, beautiful evening.

This little fella was so cute walking all around the dock which was close to the outside dinner tables of the restaurant.  I bet he gets lots of snacks to eat from folks at those dinner tables.  Look at those cute little delicate toes and his unusual head feathers.

He was tame and did not seem bothered by our presence at all.  He is SO adorable!

The day was coming to a close and the sail boats were resting for the evening.

It was great to have a nice visit with daughter Carmen and three grandsons Connor, Casey and Carter.  This part of the family had not been able to join us for the mountain trip a couple of weeks ago and it was wonderful to be able to visit with them during this trip.   They live over in Palm City which is not too far from were the meeting was being held.

We also were able to have a short visit with daughter Debi and twin grandchildren Ethan and Elly who also live not too far from this area down in Davie, Florida

Daughter Carmen and grandsons Connor, Casey and Carter

The end of a wonderful day!  The sun was setting behind the rain clouds.

It was a nice meeting in a lovely location.   It was great being able to see two of our children and some of the grandchildren.  It was nice traveling down to South Florida and seeing a different kind of beauty and it was fun trying to capture some of that beauty with my camera.

Thanks for joining us on our trip down to the Gold Coast of Florida.  

Wishing you many blessings and good wishes for a happy last weekend in July.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Sights

Summer in the mountains of North Carolina is so beautifully lush and green.  It was especially so this trip due to all the rain each day of our visit.  Fortunately, it only rained for a short time and then the sky would clear nicely.

I love to try to capture some of the beauty all around us with my camera and the beauty in and around the mountains sure does offer many opportunities.   I especially enjoy seeing the rural natural areas in the little town of Robbinsville where we have a mountain cabin.   We enjoy seeing the simplicity of life there.

My husband is always very patient if I see a potential photo I just can't do without.  He very kindly stops and waits for me to return from getting that special picture.  We took an afternoon and drove around the area trying to capture some of the pretty places I had noticed on our way to and from the cabin all week while visiting with some of our children and grandchildren.

How about this old barn ... It looks like it has been here for many years and is still being used.

Growing in front of the old barn was a collection of these very pretty little purple wildflowers.

The Snowbird Creek area is a fun place where the grandchildren enjoy swimming.

The water level increases in the creeks after the rains.

Pretty wildflowers growing along the roadway.

I did not plant a garden this year knowing we would be coming and going so much this summer that there would not be time to take care of it.   It was so nice to see so many other gardens growing along our route going and coming from the cabin. 

With all the corn I see in these gardens I do wonder how they keep the critters out of their gardens.

Last Summer when my corn was just about ready to be picked, some critters, we are guessing raccoons, came in and got every bit of that corn.   I wonder how all these folks handle that problem.

While I was walking up to get this below picture,  one of the local folks was getting his mail from his mailbox, and we began to chat a little.  I told him I was just  trying to get a nice picture of his pretty garden.  He told me that this garden belongs to 4 different families and they all work in it together.  I thought that was so nice.

Beans growing in front of this pretty old barn.

This garden was closer in toward town. 
That is a huge amount of beans, corn and what looks like green peppers.

Someone is going to have a lot of beans to pick.

Another pretty garden.

Someone has been working hard.  This is a huge amount of firewood. 
 Someone is thinking ahead and getting ready for Fall.

Look how nicely all that cut-up firewood is stacked. 
 Someone worked really hard cutting and stacking all that heavy wood.

We drive by this home on our way toward town from the cabin.  It always catches my eye because of the big front porch and the pretty stonework all over.  We see a lot of this type of stonework around this area.  I think it must be North Carolina stone.  It always has a touch of orange-brown stone mixed in, which is so pretty with the rest of the stone.

There are always flowers growing in this yard.  This time the whole yard was full of these very pretty purple flowers.  I love the flag on the porch!

These wild Queen Anne's Lace looking wildflowers were in full bloom all over along the roadways.

We passed what my husband calls wild Daylilies and they were so pretty.

Over the Fourth of July week there were several festivities in the downtown area.

 Pretty hydrangeas in bloom outside of Robbinsville Townhall.

 The main street downtown was blocked off for the holiday celebration.  The band was playing ...

Folks were having a great time clogging in the street,  even very little dancers ...

There was an old-fashioned cake-walk and everyone was having a fun Fourth of July holiday.

A couple of days before we left to come back home there was a memorial service and bridge dedication for a very special mountain man friend whom everyone loved.

He was a simple, kind, good and thoughtful man who always had time to chat with anyone who stopped by his place for a visit.  Often times when driving by his little farm he could be seen sitting under the huge tree in his side yard.  It was not unusual to see anyone of the neighbors sitting and visiting with him.

He often came up to our cabin on his four-wheeler and just sat quietly and visited.  He loved to whittle and often made little keepsake items to give to people.  If someone mentioned anything that needed to be done .... he was there helping out.

This special man was so well loved by all of the neighbors, which included local folks plus the vacationing visitors who officially named him the "Mayor of Upper West Buffalo."   Everyone worked together to get permission to officially name the new bridge over the West Buffalo Creek in his honor.

The huge stone seen in the above photos was moved and placed by the bridge with one of his favorite quotes engraved on the stone.

His big kind heart gave out in his 87th year and he had to leave everyone.  His loss is still felt over 2 years after he left all of us.   He will always be remembered and none of us will ever be able to drive by this bridge without thinking of him.

Rest in peace Ray!

There were many more folks attending the dedication ceremony,
but they all did not get in the picture.

How blessed we are to have people in our lives who are special and dear.  How wonderful it is to have the sweet memories of this special man we all loved.

A day or so after this get-together we headed home to Tallahassee.  It was such fun to be in the mountains with the fresh cool breezes from the mountains and the lazy easy-going days of Summer.  But, as they say,  it is also nice to be home again.

I hope you are having wonderful Summer days and that you have a very nice weekend.