Sunday, April 29, 2012

South & North Carolina

Monday: We climbed the tallest lighthouse in Florida, Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum. I can’t imagine climbing all of those stairs several times a day. The museum was interesting, but we didn’t have very much time to explore.

After the lighthouse, we drove to Daytona Beach. Six miles with parking right along the beach. Just pick a spot and park. The first spot we tried, the sand under the back wheels felt a little soft, so we drove a few yards down the road and parked just fine. The water was warm, but there was a chilly breeze, so I didn’t get to swim as long as I would like. It was great anyway.

Tuesday: Back to Georgia! We went to St. Marys (no apostrophe, look at a map). It’s a quaint old town with interesting old buildings, but the best part was taking a ferry over to Cumberland Island.

They had wild horses and turkeys. The horses are used to people, so they remain calm, but we were told not to get too close, they are wild nonetheless. While there we also saw the ruins of the Dungeness Plantation, sand dunes, and the Atlantic. Swimming was allowed, but we didn’t have our bathing suits. It was too cold anyway.

Wednesday: We stayed at Pedro’s South of the Border a ... I’m not sure what to call it. It’s in Dillon, SC. It contains a motel, campground, truck stop, amusement park, shops, and restaurants. All with a Mexican theme—we had planned ongoing further, but it was something different and a lot of fun, including some tasty Mexican food. They used ground beef instead of shredded beef, but the price and flavors were good.

Thursday: Today we visited the grounds around Raleigh, NC Museum of Arts. They have 103 acres of trails that lead to artwork. Some of which is really weird, but then I’m not into modern art. Some were intriguing especially the Cloud chamber. The only picture we took was from the outside, but the interesting stuff was inside. It has a small hole in the center of the top, but the rest is dark inside. After your eyes adjust to the darkness, first you see the reflection of clouds in a tiny spot on the floor. Then as they get even more used to the dark, you can see the reflection of clouds all around you on the walls. After that we went to the Raleigh temple.

Friday: We started out the day in the AAA garage because of engine trouble that started last night on the way to Wal-Mart after the temple. They didn’t find any problems after checking the sparkplugs and such. Compared to some of the repair bills we’ve had along the way, we got off without it costing too much.

Saturday & Sunday: Nothing exciting picture wise, but we had a blast with old friends. Dan has known Don since junior high, and I met him and his wife when we were first married.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Amazing Florida

Monday: Florida! But before we left Georgia, we visited the Ocmulgee National Monument near Macon. Ancient mounds built by the Muskogee Indians, part of what white man called Creek Indians. We went inside their lodge, and hiked along a lovely trail. I could almost sense the ancient peoples.

Tuesday: We drove to the Orlando temple which is in a town outside Orlando, so we never went there. Then we drove on to Long Point Park in Melbourne Beach, FL. We didn’t get in until after 8:00 because of a 2 ½ hour delay due to brake trouble. That happened in St. Cloud, within a couple of blocks of a brake and tire store, and they were able to get the parts. We could have been in the middle of nowhere or on the island, so we feel blessed.  We looked around the next morning.

Wednesday: Stop-over outside Miami Florida. None of the Wal-Mart stores in the area would allow us to spend the night, so we stayed at a truck stop.
Thursday: We drove all the way to the southern-most point in the USA in Key West, FL. Okay, we parked and walked the last couple of miles, but we made it! Then we drove back to Key Largo and stayed in a campground we want to visit again. It has so much to offer, but we only had time to spend the night and move on. This side trip wasn’t on our agenda, so we have to make up time. It’s okay because we were a few days ahead of schedule. Anyway, our schedule is only a guideline.

Friday: Mostly a driving day, but we did stop mid-point to see the bunker they set up in 1961 for Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. It’s on Peanut Island near his father’s home. Even the people at the Florida information center had to look it up. We spent the night in West Melbourne, FL.

Saturday: Kennedy Space Center, so much to see, so little time. So many things I remember seeing on TV while growing up and into young adulthood. When we got to the building where they house the Saturn V rocket, the others gasped at the size. It was old hat to us. Remember we saw the one in Houston, and at the information center in Alabama (the state where it was built). It was easy to tell they have a lot more money for this display compared to Houston, but then it cost nearly twice as much to visit. No tax dollars involved. They had the most amazing 3-D IMAX movie about the last trip to repair the Hubble space craft you can imagine among other things. What an amazing experience.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alabama & Georgia

About Hidden Heritage, my LDS romance novel. It came back with a rejection letter. That's simply part of the writer's life. I'll look at it again, and make improvements, and try another one. I'll have it ready to print out and send by the time we get home.

Monday: Mostly a travel day, arriving in Alabama! I’m always surprised when I look at the map and see how far we have come. We are ahead of our flexible schedule, which is a good thing. We visited the Stone River Civil War battlefield along the way. So many lives lost on both sides.

We also visited the Ave Maria Grotto. A priest named Brother Joseph, created miniature religious sites and a few buildings of historical interest out of shells, junk, marbles, and items people donated. It was a life time of meticulous work and was amazing to see.

Tuesday: Today we visited what is now a historical landmark, but was once a 24-7 operational steel mill. It was amazing as I thought that family members never trod where we were walking among the now silent machinery. It’s the only one in the USA that hasn’t been torn down.

After that we went to a beautiful camp ground amongst trees. We walked along the creek for almost an hour. I never get tired of looking at greenery. They also had some historic cabins that have been saved and moved to the property. They are actually rental properties now. It’s interesting to see these antique houses with air conditioning units attached.
Wednesday: We took a side trip to see the covered bridge at Kymulga, AL on our way to Wal-Mart at Oxford, AL. It’s the oldest city in the USA that’s still around. Of course it was far from what would become the 13 Colonies at the time.

Thursday: We took the Talladega Scenic Drive in the Chia Mountains near Oxford, AL to the highest peak in Alabama on our way to Georgia. It’s all of 2,400 feet. It was gorgeous as all of the forests have been. It’s in the Talladega Forrest.

Georgia! We arrived in our campground in the early afternoon. It includes two lovely small lakes, and more forest.

Friday: A slow down day. After a relatively short drive, we attended the temple then came to the campground for an afternoon off.
 Saturday: Our biggest day, and the reason we took Friday afternoon off (that and laundry). We went to Stone Mountain. At the highest it’s 1,686 feet (513 m) above the surrounding area, and at the lowest part, 825 feet (251.5 m) and extends 9 miles (14 km) underground.  We took the tram up to the highest point, and after looking around, hiked down to ground level 1.3 miles (2.09 km). It was then a 2 mile (3.2 km) back to the main attraction.  While there we also took a train ride, saw the museum, and more. We also wondered at the workmanship it took to create the Confederate Memorial carved out of the mountain of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and “Stonewall” Jackson. It covers 3 acres (12,000 m2). In comparison, Mt. Rushmore is 60 feet (18.3 m) high, and the Sphinx is 66 feet (20 m) high. The highlight of the day was the laser show on the face of the mountain.  It was almost an hour of lights and fireworks. This is the only place we’re going to repeat going to. We went there over twenty years ago when we tented it across the country with 7 of our 8 children. Wish I could have taken pictures of the laser show, but our camera battery was dead. I don’t know if they would have come out well anyway.