The Antebellum Trail

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip through Georgia’s “Antebellum Trail”. For those who aren’t familiar, it is a driving route through an area of the south that escaped damage during the Civil War; think stately mansions, charming small towns and beautiful live oaks. You can read more details about it at The southern starting point is Macon, which just happens to be one of my favorite southern cities and home to the wonderful Cherry Blossom Festival. Since we have already visited Macon several times, we decided to begin our journey in Milledgeville. We arrived just in time (around 5pm) to enjoy a glass of wine and snacks (including homemade pimento cheese) at the Antebellum Inn Bed & Breakfast. We received a warm welcome, the room was adorable and the breakfast (french toast with pecans) was delicious. For dinner, we decided on Greek food and really enjoyed our meal on the patio of the Metropolis Cafe. The downtown area had quite a few restaurants to choose from and seemed to be “hopping” on this particular spring evening. To learn more about this quaint university town, check out their website: Milledgeville

The next day, we meandered our way through the other small towns, stopped in Madison to take a few pictures, and ended up in Athens for a quick bite and visit to The State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The pink poppies were simply amazing and very unexpected. It was like finding a treasure! Our lunch on the cozy porch of 5&10 was delightful and can only be described as “fancy southern food”. They served pimento cheese with a spicy jelly on top–so good! (At this point, I started calling it the Pimento Cheese Trail. Ha.)

Springtime is a great time to take the Antebellum Trail! Our trip was at the end of April, so we were a little late for cherry blossoms and azaleas, but the beautiful magnolias and pink poppies made up for it. The birder in me loved waking up to the sound of cardinals each morning and being serenaded by mockingbirds almost every evening. If you are planning a trip, I suggest at least 2-3 days. Make your reservations early if you want to stay in a B&B (really, that’s the best way to go and they are not that much more expensive than a hotel). We used TripAdvisor to find most of our restaurants. Cheers to a great trip!

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One week in Miami, in search of iguanas, orchids and alligators.  I found iguanas at the amazing Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, along with gorgeous lily ponds and an orchid garden! The informative docents offer an excellent tram ride around the gardens, explaining the history of the place and pointing out interesting plant facts. Start with the tour, then walk to the butterfly garden for lunch with the butterflies (the food is very good and the cafe overlooks the conservatory).  You will find huge iguanas around Center Lake, hidden among the mangroves, and many beautiful birds along the ponds.

In the heart of busy Miami Beach, there is a smaller botanical garden called  Miami Beach Botanical Garden. It can only be described as an oasis in the city with its quiet paths, a lily pond (where I enjoyed chasing dragonflies) and a lovely Japanese Garden, complete with red bridge. While there, I had a nice chat with one of the staff who explained that Hurricane Irma had done a lot of damage to the various gardens in the area and that hundreds of volunteers helped with cleanup. Just around the corner from this garden is the Holocaust Memorial.  If you have a chance, please stop and visit this beautiful, unforgettable tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Alligators were on the agenda for a day trip to Big Cypress Preserve. My husband and I drove east on HWY 41, to Big Cypress Welcome Center, taking our time along the way to stop at the various roadside parks (this is where you will find gators). My favorite stop was at Kirby Storter Roadside Park which has a lovely boardwalk meandering over  pinewood flatlands and a lovely cypress swamp. It’s fun to do a little research on swamp wildflowers, spiders and birds before you go, come up with a list and check them off as a kind of treasure hunt. I suggest you bring a picnic lunch (not many places to eat), extra water and bug spray. Heading back to Miami, we took the Scenic Loop Road, which I highly recommend, if  it is open.  At the moment, it is closed due to high waters, so check the website before you visit. It is a one-lane road through the “wilds” of the Everglades. I found it hauntingly beautiful and a great place to see wildlife. One of my favorite photos from the trip is of an “Audubon-like” scene of a Great Blue Heron hiding among the cypresses.

Other highlights from my week in Miami were: walking along Miami Beach boardwalk, eating lunch on Ocean Drive  (people watching is amazing there) and hanging out on Lincoln Street, a lovely pedestrian shopping area with great restaurants, well-known stores and a very cool bookstore called Books & Books. I saw several movies at the theater there, including Loving Vincent. I was so excited to see that it was playing and bought tickets before I arrived.  Very special.

A quick trip to Little Havana was very fun. I enjoyed taking photos of the colorful buildings, walked through the famous Maximo Gomez Park  and enjoyed yummy Cuban food (and probably the best mojito I’ve ever had), at La Esquina de la Fama.  I didn’t have time for Viscaya Museum and Gardens this time, but is an awesome place to visit, as is Biscayne National Park with its beautiful beach and lighthouse. So many things to do and see in Miami. One week is not enough time to see it all, but it is just enough time to have a lovely vacation.

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Beach Theme

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My husband and I visited St Petersburg, Florida last weekend.  We are not your typical tourists.  While others are basking in the sunshine or frolicking in the surf, we go in search of nature – seashells, birds and shade.  We found respite and red dragonflies along the quiet ponds of Bradenton’s Botanical Park, got up-close-and-personal with owls, pelicans and herons at the famed Seabird Sanctuary, stopped for some yummy seafood at Crabby Bill’s and enjoyed the hijinks of egrets on Pass-a-Grille Pier.  All-in-all, a lovely trip. The Gulf waters were especially pretty, with bright blue sky and wispy clouds lending a lovely background to my pictures.

We were being “watched” at the botanical gardens.

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Check out my Beach Theme Board on Pinterest.

Red Dragonfly on Reed


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I set out on my Savannah walk early Friday morning, my destination – Forsyth Park Fountain.  By now, I know the route pretty well and was eager to stop at the many squares along the way, and maybe sit on a bench or two.  As I stepped out of the hotel, something stopped me in my tracks.  I heard the loud singing of a mockingbird! Wahoo! Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I stop to listen to a mockingbird.  And it was beautiful.  And I captured it on video. What a way to start the day!

Meandering my way through the streets, I decided to stop several times just to soak it all in.  I talked “shop” with another photographer and was asked several times to take photos of tourists with their iPhones (which turned into mini photo shoots).  I passed by giggling graduates from the Savannah School of Art and Design, a man on a bicycle blaring out, “I did it my way!”, found some treasures stashed in a hole in an oak tree (went along with the mockingbird theme, love the book) and thought several times to myself, “Phew, it sure is hot in April in Savannah!”  The magnolias, confederate jasmine and gardenias were so showy and beautiful.  It was like passing by someone wearing your favorite perfume, very unexpected and pleasant.  Very southern.

Forsyth Park Fountain just never disappoints.  Against a blue sky and the blooming magnolia trees it was as magnificent as ever.  As always, I wished for less people to get in the way of my photos, but as my new photographer friend said, “It just adds to the experience.”

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