Friday, April 29, 2016

On the Road Again

It is certainly getting warm again down here in Florida.  Time to head north, which a lot of winter residents in our mobile home park have done.  Local weathermen in the Tampa Bay area claim that temperatures quickly jumped from springtime into summer levels, apparently not the usual pattern.  John and I have gotten a little peek of Florida springtime, however, when we visited Sawgrass Park a couple of weeks ago. 
We were most fortunate to see three nests belonging to anhingas,  In one of the nests a mother bird was busy feeding her young.  The little ones in the nest pictured above seemed quite contented, Mom must have already visited and fed them.  The nests were tucked into low-hanging branches of trees located along the shoreline of a lake.  How exciting to see the young birds, we generally just see them as adults.
And we are usually never fortunate to see more than one evidence of wildlife at a time!  In the picture above we caught a turtle hanging out with a little blue heron.  Both seemed oblivious to the presence of the other.
The picture above is that of a yellow-crowned night heron.  We were happy to see him, as you can see, he is quite hidden among leaves and brush.  Every time we have hiked in that park we soon find ourselves talking to strangers and sharing the sightings of wildlife which we see, otherwise we would miss a lot.  Another time we were able to see a mother alligator and her little ones because had someone had told us where to look for them in the swamp.
I spent one more time at the beach with Melissa and Nathan before we left the Tampa Bay area.  I could tell a difference in the ocean now, it is definitely getting warmer!  We will miss Nathan, as well as his Mother and Daddy.   And will also miss the story hours which we have attended with him at local libraries.  In the picture below the children are enjoying the thrill of popping bubbles.  
As you can tell, because of our young grandson our experience this past winter here in Florida has been most different than past winters.  We had to take time out of our usual touring around to do the things which are more to his liking, and we have enjoyed doing them with him.  Not sure now whether I am happy to be on the road again, what with having to leave our grandson behind!  However, our plans are to return to Florida by August to welcome the birth of Nathan's sibling.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sugar Sand Festival

This festival is currently being held in Clearwater, Florida.  It is a popular resort city, as well as retirement community, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.  This week it is a destination place because of the Sugar Sand Festival.  One thousand tons of the white sugar sand from its broad beaches have been used to create sand sculptures, as the one below.  The theme of this year's festival is All Out Music.
Pictured above is Bob Marley.  Below is the Police, and next to them is the Yellow Submarine, which has each one of the Beatles staring out the windows.  Overhead lighting frequently changes the color of the sculptures, which makes for some interesting effects on them.  I would have liked to have seen a bright yellow on that submarine, but it never happened.
It took ten artists nine days to create the different musicians, as well as a variety of bands and one symphony.  There are certainly a variety represented, from Louis Armstrong to Lady Gaga, Janis Joplin, Grunge, to Glenn Miller- to name but a few.  One group familiar to me are the Beach Boys.
Prince was not included, until this week.  Because of his untimely death many felt he should be included.  An artist was working on him while we were there, which gave us an opportunity to watch a sand sculpture being created.  Pictured below is Patrick Harsch.  Off to his left side is a photograph of Prince during his classic Purple Rain years, which Harsch is copying from.
The festival has lots of things going on this week, in addition to the sand sculptures there is live entertainment, and on Pier 60 (pictured below) there are artisans and craftsman as well as street performers.  A children's area with sand hills to climb, and sand boxes to play in suited Nathan just fine.  Unfortunately it was a bright sunny day, standing in any of the lines for food or drink could get very uncomfortably warm.

Winter Haven, Florida

We have ridden one train with Nathan while here in Florida, it was an old steam driven one dating back to the 1940s.  So we thought that he might enjoy a more modern ride, faster if you will.  His new word is "zoom".  We decided that Winter Haven was the perfect distance for a day trip.  Unfortunately we had forgotten that Amtrak is not known for being on schedule.  We boarded the train close to an hour later than expected.  Consequently it was late afternoon by the time we arrived in Winter Haven.  We had an hour to explore the town.   One taxi driver was around after we got off the train.
We peppered the man with questions like where is the nearest park, or just the downtown area, and could he take us to it?  He seemed clueless regarding any of our questions, so Melissa pulled her phone out to learn where we could go, as well as the distance.  Once we had the information, the taxi driver said that where we wanted to go ( a park in the downtown area), was too far away for us to get back in time to catch our train.  We convinced him to drive us to the Fountain Walk downtown, it was only three miles away.
Nathan has seen fountains before.  This one, however, totally mesmerized him, maybe because it had a bright blue color.  This park in downtown Winter Haven is quite beautiful with a shady walkway, as well as sculptures and plants lining its borders.
I let Nathan do his thing, like staring at the fountain, running down ditches and swinging on small fences, while his Mom and John strolled the length of the walk.  I figured that if all that failed, there was a place to get a book and read to him.  We have seen similar book stands, pictured below, in other towns we have toured.  It is one way of sharing books without needing a library card!  There are usually books for young and old alike, and cost nothing-  and do not have to be returned.
We made it back to the station in time to catch our train.  Our taxi driver claimed his was the only taxi in town, but we found another taxi to take us back to town (using Melissa's smart phone).  Our first taxi driver seemed to have no clue that there are such conveniences as smart phones nowadays!
One final note here about Winter Haven.  It has 50 lakes within its borders, and is called "The Chain of Lakes City".  It has two prominent chain of lakes, and a 30-mile waterway connected by channels.  Most unfortunately the Amtrak station is not located in any of the prettier parts of the city.  We later discovered that had we taken the train to Lakeland we could have gotten off the train and walked around a lake nearby the station.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Brooksville, Florida

We returned home last Wednesday, and by Saturday we were looking for something to do.  On our way home through Florida we saw a billboard along the way advertising the Blueberry Festival in Brooksville.  It was only about 60 miles from our home, seemed like a good thing to do for the weekend.  As we arrived near the town we soon got caught up in traffic jams and blocked off streets.  We parked at the nearest available lot, not knowing how far away the festival was or the distance we had to walk to get to it.  As we hiked through the town we came to a small park with a cross above the picnic shelter.  The first thing we saw was a statue of the Ten Commandments.
This park is called Brooksville Commons, established in 2013.  Something else which caught our eyes as we entered the park was a large mural titled Brooksfield Raid.  You can see it on the wall of a building behind the sculpture.  I researched this battle later and learned that Federal Troops skirmished with Confederates in this town in 1864.  They fired at each other at long range, one Union soldier was wounded and 7 Confederates captured.  The Union Army were mainly interested in foraging and in getting to Bayport on the coast, before returning to their post at Fort Meyers.  
The commons also has prayer corner as well as a sculpture of the Tree of Life and Living Water ( "if any man is thirsty let him come to me and drink"John 7:37 )   The leaves on it are metal and water flows down its sides.
There were long lines to the ticket booth for the festival, you can see them behind the tree sculpture. 
Shortly after entering the festival we saw a small ice skating rink.  Everyone on it were using walkers to aid them in skating.  Of course, how many people in Florida would know how to ice skate?? 
As we were looking at the living statue pictured above, and I was standing with camera in hand, the seated lady suddenly moved. She extended an arm and pointed to the sign which indicated that I owed $4.00 for the shot.  Yes, I did pay.  The little girl is a real statue.  Their names are Barbara and Ina.
We were soon ready for lunch and could only find a couple of food carts which offered the usual fare of hot dogs and hamburgers.  We later found out that there was a wider selection of food in another section of the festival.   But I did find something which was not meat or fried in a lot of fat- a gran arepa, pictured above.  It is two slabs of corn cakes with melted  mozzarella  between them.  The man selling them said he had an employee from Columbia, South America who made them.  A bit greasy, but good. 
After lunch we felt ready to leave the festival.  It was a bit warm, the crowds and lines over-whelming. There was no place for us to sit and eat our lunch.  Most of the available seating were either at a wine bar or beer garden.  Guess we should have sat and listened to some live music, but we were ready to leave.  We did celebrate all things blueberry- ate a blueberry shortcake, bought fresh blueberries as well as a blueberry pie.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Archibald Smith Plantation Home

We arrived in Atlanta by late afternoon last Monday.  One would think we would have been happy to just sit for the one day which we planned to spend there.  My sister Linda knows us better.  As John and I had seen a lot of the attractions in Atlanta proper, she suggested that we drive a short distance out of town to Roswell, Georgia.   The town has several historic homes. 
It was wonderful to see Atlanta and the surrounding area at this time of the year.  After the past couple of days we were through with the winter scene.  The picture above was taken on the grounds of the Archibald Smith Plantation.  Originally the house did not look as it does today, the columns were not present in the old photos we saw of the house.  In 1845 it was a rather plain two story building.  At that time it sat on 400 acres of land.  The family primarily farmed cotton using slave labor.
  We chose to tour this particular historic home because it has retained many of the Smith's furnishings, clothing and personal items.  All total there is 3,000 of them, many of which we saw as we toured the plantation house.  Of particular interest is a Civil War era trunk.  It belonged to William, one of the Smith's sons who shipped it back home when he went into battle.  It remained locked shut, with the contents still inside, until the 1990s when it was discovered in the attic.  The trunk was probably quickly forgotten by the family when, in 1863, they had to immediately leave their home for the low country of Georgia because General Sherman and his army were on the march to Atlanta.  Fortunately the home remained intact through that time and the family did return to it.  Ten of the original outbuildings remain on the grounds today.  Pictured below is a section of the springhouse.  I was more interested in the beautiful azaleas surrounding the building than getting a picture of it in its entirety!  One of the oldest structures of the plantation, a slave cabin, stands close to the springhouse.
 Two of the adult sisters lived in the home until their deaths in the early 1900s.  The house was unoccupied for 25 years.  In 1940 a grandson of Archibald, Arthur Smith and his wife Mary, moved into the house after first remodeling the front part, as well as adding plumbing and electricity.  Mary wanted a plantation home like Tara in the movie Gone with the Wind.   Mary was the last to die, she died in 1981.  She had a servant and companion for her last years, Mamie Cotton, who had served the Smith family for 54 years.  She was still living in the home when tours started there in 1992, and remained there until 1994.  An interesting note here is that an African American was the last to reside in the home, a home built by slave labor!

After our tour of the Smith Plantation we drove down to Old Mill Park.  Pictured above is an old cotton mill, built in 1882.  For over 140 years the town of Roswell has had numerous mills (cotton/fabric and flour) which sat near Big Creek.  During the Civil War the cotton mills were important for supplying the Confederate Army with uniforms.  In 2004 a covered bridge was dedicated over the creek, which was another reason we wanted to see the park.  Quite an impressive waterfall rushes under the bridge!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cafe and Museum of Colonel Sanders

On our return home to Florida we had plans to visit my sister Linda in Atlanta.  We had no plans to stop for anything on that particular route, but we saw signs directing us off the highway to the Colonel's museum.  We turned off interstate 75 unto the "Dixie Highway"- highway 25 to Corbin, Kentucky.  
At first we were not sure what we were doing there, it was too soon for lunch.  Then we discovered, while wandering through the dining area of the cafe, there was an interesting museum in the building regarding the beginnings of one of America's popular food eateries- Kentucky Fried Chicken. 
Pictured above is the old gentleman himself, Colonel Sanders, done by his daughter Margaret Sanders.  As we learned at the museum, his was an interesting life story.  He dropped out of the seventh grade (eventually did attend law school), and over his lifetime was a soldier, ferry boat captain, insurance salesman, railroad laborer, and tire salesman.  In 1930 he bought a gas station across from the present-day cafe, and began pumping gas.  Because of the Great Depression that was not bringing in enough money so he began selling food as well as gas.  In 1930 he built a restaurant and a motel near the present site of the cafe. 
The motel and restaurant burned, but some of the kitchen was restored and rebuilt as it was back in 1932.  While working in this kitchen Colonel Sanders perfected his recipe for fried chicken at the age of 66 years.  In the picture below is one of his barrels of the spices.  The Colonel had removed the label which could reveal any information regarding contents, manufacturer, or location from which it was shipped.
  Interestingly enough, it was his country ham that was at first most popular with his customers.  A reproduction of his cafe is pictured below.  Hutch, chairs and tables are the originals.  A breakfast of ham, biscuits, gravy, grits and eggs cost $1.70.  In the museum is also a replica of one of his motel rooms.
After the motel and restaurant burned the Colonel began traveling America and selling his recipe for fried chicken.  His first franchise of Kentucky Fried Chicken started in Salt Lake City in 1952.
In 1964 Colonel Sanders sold his company for 2 million dollars.  That sale was noted on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  A large fish bowl containing that amount of cash represented the sale of the company. Later the Colonel became a goodwill ambassador and symbol for KFC.
By the time we had toured the museum the smell of fried chicken was getting through to us, and we returned to the cafe for lunch. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Winter's Last Slam

Wheeling, West Virginia was our last stop before we reached our final destination of Celina, Ohio.  I awoke about 3AM Saturday morning to see snow coming down fairly hard outside our motel window.  In the morning a couple of inches was on the ground, and it was still coming down.  I overheard an employee comment that her car took one nasty slide when she was on her way to work.  It seemed questionable whether we would make our destination that day.  We had plans that evening to go out to dinner with members of my family.
Fortunately the storm was moving eastward, however we still had flurries through out the day.  Interstate highway 75 was clear and we arrived at our destination on time as planned.  The storm had not affected the arrival of any of the family members.  We had time to even do some visiting before supper at the motel.
Pictured above is the church of St.Paul Rockford, Ohio.  My brother Bishop Marcus Lohrmann led the service there on Sunday morning- it was his final visit there as bishop.  He is retiring this summer after serving 18 years as a bishop for the Northwestern Ohio Synod.  Family members who live nearby in Ohio, as well as others of us who feel strong ties to St.Paul, thought it would be fun to come together that week-end and attend the service on Sunday.  On March 27, 1976 John and I were married at this church.  My Dad was pastor here for 5 years, and he as well as our mother and brother are buried in the St.Paul cemetery.
The church has not changed much, however the ceiling got my attention.  In the past year the church decided to change the color from white to gold.  The church was built in 1903 and nave had an embossed tin ceiling.  Apparently painting it gold brought out the decorative motifs. It is quite beautiful!
The members  of St. Paul were quite welcoming to our family group of 15.   They had helped us with lodging needs and included us for the lunch which they served after the church service Sunday.  I do believe that my Dad would be quite pleased that St.Paul has continued to be successful in its ministry in the ensuing years that have passed since the early 1970s.  It certainly has been blessed to be a blessing to its members as well as the community of Rockford!
Pictured above is the path into Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.  For the rest of our trip we saw the beautiful sights of spring in blooming trees and plants.  Winter finally left us!
On Monday John and I stopped at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, on our way to Atlanta Georgia to visit my sister Linda.  We had taken a detour off our route to Atlanta to visit the museum of Colonel Sanders.  There we found information regarding this park which is located outside of Corbin, Ky.
These falls are called the "Niagara of the South".  It has a wide curtain of 125' and plunges 60' into a boulder strewn stream.  It is famous for its moonbow, the only one in the Western Hemisphere.  On a clear night under a full moon the mist from these falls create a moonbow.  Next time it will occur will be April 19, in case you are ever down this way at that time.  For some strange reason on this trip we saw  four rather large waterfalls, which was great because during the spring months they are flowing heavily after the snow melts.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Falling Water- a House designed by Frank Loyd Wright

Our trip north, whether we traveled it with our home or Honda, was always planned with a visit to Falling Waters in mind.  Just something John had read about, I was not so enamored with the idea until I saw a picture of  the house in the National Geographic magazine Traveler ( Oct. 2001 edition).  The magazine lists the house as one of 50 places to visit of a life time.
This home is so popular that it is necessary to schedule a guided tour of this place ahead of time, which we did.  The day we were there, despite the inclement weather, the last two tours of the day were filled up.  We arrived earlier than planned and were able to take a different tour than we were scheduled for, however.  We were glad that worked out as it then gave us more time to explore the area surrounding the house after our tour before the park closed for the day.
To get to the house we walked on a footpath, along a creek.  Over the driveway are concrete trellis beams, for that time (1939) it was a modern porte-cochere.  The outside stairs, rocks and plantings of the surrounding woods, create a very inviting approach to the house.  And that is only the beginning, for once I entered the house I wanted to sit down and never get up again.  There was a fire blazing in the fireplace, and large flat rocks are placed in front of  fireplace- giving a feeling of the outside coming in.  In this living room area there is also a hatch, which when opened,  reveals cantilevered steps leading down to Bear Run River.  Edgar Kaufmann, his wife and son, used that opening to swim in the river.  Opening the hatch also allowed cool air to flow through the house.  The hatch, as well as many windows and doors keeps the house cool.  We could not take pictures inside the house- but I was able to get a good picture outside of the steps leading down to the water from the living room.
This was a week-end retreat for the Kaufmans.  They were owners of Pittsburgh's largest department store in 1939 and wanted to build a home on their mountain property in Bear Run.  Frank Loyd Wright suggested that they build their home in the woods over the falls. Three reinforced concrete beams were keyed directly into a large boulder.  That and a large tower of reinforced concrete support the home over its watery bed.   The picture below best shows those details.
I like how Marie Ridder in Travler described this home: "an odd combination of strength, fluidity, poetry and earthiness".   Regarding the latter, everywhere I went in this house I could look out at tangled vegetation of the woods with its towering oak and birch trees.  With the windows and doors opened I could hear the water crashing down over the falls as well birds singing and chattering.  I am very sure that given a few more weeks the winter scene would be gone, trees and flowers would be blooming.
Outside of the Visitor Center I found one wildflower in the woods which is presently starting to bloom.  It is called a Lenten rose, even though it does not belong in the rose family.  Someone had thoughtfully placed one open bloom of the plant in a vase in the museum.  I later also found a purple variety of this flower.
One additional note here.  According to our tour guide it was Frank Loyd Wright who coined the word "car port".  He did not like garages, as they were places where clutter gathered.  Falling Water has a car port.

First Leg of Our Journey North

This turned out to be quite a trip, and thankfully we used our little car to travel north- for reasons you will figure out after reading our next few postings.  We covered over a thousand miles and saw the beginning of spring, spring at its peak and at its ending.  We also drove through about 10 states, due to the fact that we wanted to see Falling Waters in western Pennsylvania.  Most importantly we visited with family, many of whom we had not seen for at least a year, some longer than that!
Shortly into our journey, after we had driven from Florida into Georgia, a roadside marker directed us to the museum of Laurel and Hardy.  We decided to drive off from our planned route to check that out.  Unfortunately the museum was closed.  However, there was information posted outside the building regarding Oliver Norvell Hardy.  The historic marker noted that the town was the birthplace of the "rotund member of one of Hollywood's greatest comedy team".   His mom worked at a hotel which often had visiting troupes of performers.  Her son soon got the acting bug and at the age of 26 years left for Hollywood.  He was accidentally teamed with a young Englishman by the name of Stan Laurel.  They were partners and friends until Hardy's death in 1957.
 We drove through just a corner of Virginia.  Of course you know that "Virginia is for lovers".
The second day of our journey brought us into West Virginia, which is touted as being "Wild and Wonderful".  I must add that for us at this time of the year it was wintry and cold. We woke up to find our car dusted with snow.  In the lower elevations we did see red bud and dogwood trees beginning to bloom.
Falling Waters, a home designed by Frank Loyd Wright, is near the Pennsylvania state park of Ohiopyle.  The road into the park is called the Laurel Highlands, a "scenic by-way".  Probably any other time of the year it would be beautiful; it is known for its rolling hills of farmland, as well as its mountains, valleys, streams and waterfalls.  Pictured above is Cucumber Falls, located on the Youghiogheny River.  It was one of the first stops we made after we entered the park.  This area is where Fort Necessity was located in 1754.  We did not have time to visit the reconstructed fort.  General Washington was commander of 400 British troops at the fort.  Not far down the road from the fort is the grave of Major General Braddock, a British officer killed in 1755.  His memorial is located in Braddock Park.
 In 1755 Braddock led 1,400 troops to expel the French from Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh).  He was thwarted in his attempts there, and a month later was defeated at the battle of Monongahela.  He was mortally wounded in that battle and died as the British retreated.  After that brief United States history lesson, I will move on to the point of our questionable meanderings in western Pennsylvania- which is Falling Water.  That is for my next posting.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hops, Hymns, and Holy Humor

Saturday evening was a Hops and Hymns gala at the Bayboro Tavern in St.Petersburg.  Local Lutheran churches have held this event for the past several years now and the tavern owner can count on at least about hundred people showing up.  However there were some heavy rains passing through the area during the day Saturday and the turnout was not so good.
Of course, immediately upon arrival  at the tavern, Nathan our grandson chose to find all the puddles to splash through.  The event was advertised as an invite for everyone from age one to one-hundred.  And, according to Martin Luther: " who drinks beer is quick to sleep, whoever sleeps does not sin, and whoever does not sin, gets to heaven, so lets drink beer!  I must admit that it did seem strange to be singing "Almighty Fortress is Our God" with a glass of beer in my hand!
Musicians from Hope Church led us in the singing with keyboard and guitar.  The bar is located at the edge of the University of  Southern Florida Campus.  So there was plenty of area for the children, including Nathan, to safely roam.  Currently the campus is quite beautiful with red blooming bougainvillea.
Sunday morning at Hope was Holy Humor Sunday.  This old Easter custom ( observed on the Sunday following Easter) was observed by the Greeks in the early centuries of Christianity.  Easter is always well attended, but there is an immediate drop in attendance the first Sunday following it.  So Laughter Sunday was born, after all  "for everything there is a season..a time to weep and a time to laugh (Eccl. 3:1,4).  Our first hymn was" Joy to the World"- the words of that Christmas carol are quite appropriate for Holy Humor Sunday.  Pastor Bresemann certainly kept things lively through-out the service with his knock knock jokes.  Not sure where he got them from but they were good.  Knock knock who is there?  Gladys- Gladys who?  Aren't you glad it is Sunday?  And then there is Oliver- Oliver who?  All of our joys come from the Lord.   During the sermon we blew up balloons and slowly expelled the air- which created a lot of laughter.  There just can not be a better way to celebrate the grace and mercy of God!  
I thank God for blooming flowers, children and animals who do put such joy in my life!  We are boarding our daughter's cat Zelda until she and Spencer can move into a home that will allow cats.  So we are extending our stay here in Florida until the end of April.  However, on Wednesday we are driving north to Ohio to visit family for a week.  Never fear, we will find some interesting stops along the way to share with you ourreaders when we return!