Saturday, December 25, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
We arrived in Marietta Georgia yesterday, which is northwest of Atlanta. Our day today started out fairly balmy and warm so we headed out with my sister Linda, her daughter Alison and granddaughter Ellie to a reindeer farm. I know, we had seen plenty of reindeer in Alaska, but it is Christmas and what better thing is there to do at this time of the year with a young child but drive out to see Santa and his reindeer? It took at least one hour drive there, but was worth it because we eventually found ourselves in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. When we arrived at the farm we climbed into a big wagon and were driven to area where we could feed the reindeer and visit with Santa. John was the first one of our group brave enough to offer the reindeer corn from his hands.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
We are now parked close to the Georgia border. Before I write about Hawthorne I first want to mention an animal cross-over which we saw on I-75 today. It was a bit strange to see a forest of small palms and tall grasses on a bridge over the highway. However, we did see something similar to that in Canada. I am glad that the concept is catching on here in the states, otherwise our land development will leave very little space for animals to roam. Later in the day we took a brief jaunt off I-75 and drove toward the town of Hawthorne. Near that town is the small hamlet of Cross Keys. Marjorie Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize winning author, bought land in this area in 1928. The land lies between two lakes, and a forest hammock, also located there, borders her grove of citrus trees. Rawlings' plan was that the grove would support her while she wrote books, most famous of which was The Yearling. The picture below is of the front of the house. It was on that porch that she wrote The Yearling. Her table and typewriter are still on the porch. The house is a typical Florida Cracker home, with its wooden frame, metal roof, central hallway and long porch.
Marjorie Rawlings enjoyed cooking and entertaining. Some of the famous guests who stayed with her were such people as Margaret Mitchell, Robert Frost and Gregory Peck, to name a few. Her writings featured rural themes and settings, primarily the life of the poor back country farmer. On her property is a tenant farmer house. While standing in front of that cabin I had a feeling of stepping right into the setting in which The Yearling had been written. The yard is sandy and has a small amount of scrub brush growing around it.In the carport next to the author's home still sits her 1940 Oldsmobile, looking quite rusty and time-worn.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday we toured not only Ringling's circus museum, but also his art museum and home. He died cash poor in 1936, but was still quite wealthy with his assets of art collections as well as his home, Ca d' Zan (in Venetian dialect translates into "The House of John"). He and four other of his brothers made the Ringling Brothers Circus the greatest show on earth by shrewd management and mergers with other circuses. John also had personal investments in real estate and petroleum. It was the Gilded Age and he had money to burn. He traveled to Europe and over four years bought 500 paintings, becoming a very knowledgeable and cultured collector of art. He and his wife also fell in love with Venetian Gothic palaces and built one as their winter home in Sarasota, Florida. The Great Depression made him penniless, but he refused to sell either his art collection or his home. He willed them to the state of Florida upon his death. Below is a picture of the art museum, it is an impressive place to tour. Ringling's collection of Old Masters paintings is the finest in the country.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
We drove into the west central part of Florida today, to the town of Lake Wales. While traveling toward this area we drove past many orange groves as well as strawberry fields. Our major stop of the day was at the Bok Sanctuary. Edward Bok was a Dutch immigrant at the turn of the twentieth century who lived by the credo of his grandmother: "make you the world a bit better place or more beautiful because you have lived in it". He was a Pulitzer-prize winning author and editor of Ladies Home Journal", as well as a humanitarian. It was during his winter visits to Florida that he witnessed the dramatic sunsets and beauty of Iron Mountain, peninsular Florida's highest point. He wanted to share that peaceful place with the American public, so he commissioned world-renowned masters to create a landscaped garden, 250 foot carillon tower, and a wildlife refuge. The sanctuary was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
We have now moved further north into Florida, the Tampa Bay- St.Petersburg area. We have had several days with temperatures in the mid 50s range so have not been out doing too much touring. I know, for some of you that would be balmy weather. The weather has forced me to stay inside and work on Christmas cookies as well as Christmas cards, which is not all that bad either. Traveling as we do, and now being in a warmer climate, makes it difficult to appreciate the sights and sounds of Christmas. Yesterday we drove into St.Petersburg with the main goal of seeing the Salvador Dali Museum. Some of the downtown skyline of the city can be seen below.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
There has been a white bird which we have seen often along the roadsides. I figured out that it is a cattle egret, and while I have seen so many of them, they have never been cattle! Today on our way to Sanibel Island I saw two of those birds next to a big bull! That was very exciting and confirmed that they are who they are supposed to be. Apparently it is the insects that hang around cattle which attract the cattle egret. Cattle provide a dining pleasure for those birds. The unique features of plants and animals are quite intriguing. On the Keys I saw a fishtail palm, a fascinating tree with very rugged-looking leaves. Even more interesting, is that each leaf has different cuts than the leaf next to it.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Today we left the Miami area and drove north on US 41, which took us through more of the Everglades. We saw about as many of the shore birds on that drive as we had seen when we visited National Everglades park last week. We stopped for lunch in the parking lot of the smallest post office in the United States. In 1953 there was a fire in the local general store and post office, so an old irrigation shed belonging to a tomato farm was pressed into service, and has remained the post office ever since.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
As I mentioned in the last posting, a cold front came in Monday night, but by Tuesday the cold wind had abated and we were quite comfortable touring the town wearing our light jackets.We really can't complain about the weather when it warms up so nicely during the day! Hemingway's home was built in 1851, Hemingway and his second wife Pauline were the second owners and moved into it in 1931. Hemingway and Pauline lived there for 10 years, after which he found wife number three and moved to Cuba. He was a complex man and our tour guide for the house had quite a few fascinating stories to tell about him. Below is the entrance to the famous author's Spanish colonial home.