Savannah (Part Three: City Life)

Welcome to the final blog about my wonderful trip to Savannah. Today I will share with you my thoughts on the energy and life of this great city.

I must say, I believe this city never sleeps. There seems to be so much going on day and night. Perhaps it was just because it was summer and the height of the tourism season, or perhaps it is like this always. Either way, this is a city bursting with life. (Maybe that’s why the dead still hang out here for a while 😉 ).

The first night we were in the city, the concierge recommended a few places for us to visit. We were immediately drawn to one of her suggestions–Lulu’s Chocolate Bar! Well, if the name doesn’t say it all, perhaps this picture will.

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It’s called Rapture, and indeed it was…pure rapture. It was meant for two to share, though I would suggest perhaps sharing it with a couple more people. The bowl, if you can’t tell, is made of pure chocolate. It was absolutely amazing and a wonderful way to start off our stay in the city. If ever you visit Savannah, you simply must stop in here.

After this delightful dessert, we headed over to River Street to have dinner with my father-in-law. (Yes, you caught that. We had dessert before dinner. It was vacation.) Just before dinner, I took a few shots of some river boats taking people on sight-seeing tours and dinner cruises.

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The water is quite busy in the evenings, as is the street by the water. While Dawn and I took photos, we got the privilege of listening to a gentleman sing and play the guitar. He had a really nice voice.

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After dinner, I got a few more pictures of boats and some evening clouds.

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On the way back to our condo, we passed some older gentlemen sitting in front of one of the buildings playing chess. I kindly asked if I could take their picture, and they gave me the okay.

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Things like this seem like something from a movie to me. Later on, we passed them again, and a young man had joined them to play for a while. I just love scenes like this. It makes me feel like there’s community and fellowship.

The next day we breakfasted at Goose Feathers. There was quite a line, so it must have been a rather popular place to breakfast. Everyone was really nice, and we got the garden seats (actually, we sat next to the ficus which the waitress had to maneuver around).

Then we wandered around the city. The city is bustling in the day with locals working, tourists relaxing or playing, college students from SCAD trotting around from class to class (and helping two crazy out-of-towners who will not be named who couldn’t find what they were looking for), and lots of people out walking their puppies.

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While we were in one of the parks, a couple walking caught my attention. It appeared to be a young lady and her grandmother going for a stroll. They walked through the park hand-in-hand, a perfect picture of generations finding something common to unite them…a love for family and a love for walking.

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Absolutely precious!

That night we went back to River Street for dinner at an amazing Irish Pub called Kevin’s. Best Irish Beef Stew I’ve had in a long time, and the upstairs has an enclosed, climate-controlled porch to dine on and watch the boats go up and down the river. I recommend giving it a try if you head that way.

No matter where we went in this beautiful city, we felt comfortable and at home. It is a city full of life, beauty, and southern charm.

Savannah (Part 2: Architecture)

After leaving Bonaventure Cemetery, we dined at the Pirate House and then headed to our beautiful condo at The Studio Homes at Ellis Square. The unit was perfect, nestled right in the midst of the city. We could walk everywhere, and that is what we did. The valet parked the car, and we didn’t see it again until we left.

The view from the roof was beautiful…

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When we headed out the next day, the first place we visited was The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension. It was beautiful both inside and out. I took one nice shot before heading in…

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The first thing that catches your attention when entering the sanctuary is the beautiful stained glass window straight down the center aisle.

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More beautiful stained glass windows line the walls on both sides of the room and reflect in the beautiful baby grand piano sitting in the front left corner of the sanctuary.

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The altar at the front of the church is made of marble, as is the checker patterned floor.

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The pews are upholstered in a rich red fabric, and the intricately carved crown moulding looks as if it is laced in gold.

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And it is home to one of the most amazing pipe organs I have seen in person to date.

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And centered to the back of the sanctuary is yet another magnificent stained glass window.

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The Jewish temple was equally amazing, though I didn’t get a chance to visit the inside of this magnificent building.

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We walked along many of the streets and parks in Savannah, and each building and home seemed to me a precious piece of art. So much loving detail was placed into each one, it was awe-inspiring. I will simply show you a few that stood out to me.

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I simply loved the spindle like quality and the scroll patterns in the window pictured above. I took this photo for no other reason than it made me happy. 🙂

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And this building seemed to have a Grecian influence with the beautiful columns, intricate frieze, and blue and gold coloring.

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What struck me most about this particular carving was how far the head of the lady in the center leans out. It looks as if she can see right down to the sidewalk beneath her and watch all of the passersby.

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And all of the homes were simply beautiful. Even the row houses had a charming appeal.

I don’t know many architectural terms, but I do enjoy the beauty and hope that I have conveyed it well through my photographs. And tomorrow, I will give you my reflection on the life and energy of this great city.

Savannah (Part 1: Bonaventure Cemetery)

On July 10th, my girlfriend, Dawn, and I set out on an adventure for my 40th birthday. We headed to the lovely city of Savannah, Georgia. I absolutely love this city. It is so full of history and stories and lovely architecture. I took so many photos on this adventure that I decided to make this into three posts: Bonaventure Cemetery, Architecture, and City Life.

The first place we stopped when we got into town was Bonaventure Cemetery. We headed straight for the older section, but of course, I saw so many things along the way that we made several stops before reaching the historic section.

The first thing that caught my attention was a mausoleum in the Jewish section. It was a magnificent tomb. With the Spanish moss draping around it and the tropical plants surrounding it, it reminded me of an ancient tomb in the jungle somewhere (well, actually it made me think of the old tv show Land of the Lost for some reason).

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After taking a few shots of this tomb and a few others, we moved on. It was a beautiful drive with tree lined roads in places and Spanish moss everywhere.

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The next place that caught my attention was a small section of the cemetery with veterans graves in it. Each headstone had a US Flag displayed, and the graves were in nice neat little rows. I thought it would make a good picture to display on holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day.

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One thing I was curious about, however, were the little stones on all the headstones. I began to notice that they were everywhere. I asked Dawn about it, and she explained that some people believe that you are supposed to leave a gift for the dead when you visit their graves. Having grown up with an old cemetery on our property, which my mother to this day is caretaker of, this seemed very odd to me. I knew about putting flowers or other such memorabilia on graves in memory, but leaving gifts for complete strangers was interesting. So, I decided to research it.

Apparently, this practice stems from a Jewish tradition. Early in history, graves were not nearly as elaborate as the ones we see today. Many times only stones marked the grave-site. Visitors would leave a stone in remembrance and honor of the deceased and help “build” the tomb. Another belief was that the soul of the dead would haunt the grave-site for a considerable length of time, and the stones helped to keep the soul in its place of rest and protect the visitor from any negative emotion from the spirit. So the conclusion I have come to is that the stones represent the number of visitors who have come to honor the dead with a visit. It is a show of love, honor, and respect. And here in this portion of the cemetery, a show of respect for those who have fallen in battle defending our country.

However, apparently the leaving of such gifts has become a problem over the years, as well as the taking of things from grave-sites, so Bonaventure Cemetery kindly asks you to leave the grave as you see it.

After leaving this portion of the cemetery, we headed into some of the historic section. I was immediately struck by how elaborate some of the grave markers were. I determined that some very wealthy people must have been buried here. The first grave we came to was marked by an angel reaching out to put a feather or palm frond onto an elevated cross. (I really must admit that I didn’t necessarily pay attention to who the graves belonged to or know any history about any of those laid to rest here. I was mainly interested in photographing these elaborate monuments to these deceased. After all, I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone buried here.)

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I was captivated by how beautiful this angel was and how detailed the carvings were, and the inscription written beneath was “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Of course, at the risk of sounding disrespectful, the Whovian in me popped out with the next thought being, “There sure are a lot of weeping angels here. Don’t blink.” Way too much Doctor Who in my diet obviously.

The next grave I came to was that of a little girl named Gracie. Apparently, she died rather young, and her parents hired a local sculptor to sculpt her image from a photograph in memory of their beloved child. This is quite possibly one of the most amazing sculptures in the cemetery. It is as if this lovely child sits still to this day admiring the garden that surrounds her.

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As I began to wander around and photograph these amazing monuments, I was struck by another feeling. It was as if you could feel the presence of old lingering spirits in this section of the cemetery. Perhaps it was a combination of the spooky Spanish moss hanging from all of the ancient trees and the warm summer breeze rustling through the leaves and waving the moss, or perhaps there really were some lingering spirits. After all, when you build such lovely and elaborate homes for the dead, it seems that you are inviting them to stay a little longer on this earth. Not a wise invitation, I am sure, but an invitation nonetheless. Either way, I determined that this would be a very interesting and perhaps a little spooky place to visit in the evening or at night. Maybe on the next trip, I’ll visit a little later in the day.

The next group of grave-sites I visited looked like above-ground stone caskets. Having not really researched what they are, I assume they are indeed above-ground vaults or tombs. Many were adorned with crosses across the top of the “casket”. Being a fan of the old monsters, my first thought upon viewing these was, “There sure are a lot of vampires buried in this cemetery.” I am sure you can see what I mean…

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Perfect way to entomb that old monster, Nosferatu, don’t you think?

And then there were a few beautiful, though a bit spooky, enclosed family sites like these…

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These two tombs caught my attention as I walked by. Not because of any ornate embellishments, but from their stately simplicity…

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And for one last showcase of the spooky quality of this section of the cemetery, I present these photographs…

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I do realize they are angels, but they tended to be a little creepy to me.

The next section that we visited started out as a hunt for an angel. I saw her from the road and jumped out of the car in search of her. As I was on my quest, I felt as though I were walking through a Greek sculpture garden. The memorials here were quite stately and ornate. The first one I came across looked like a doorway, and through this “doorway” you could see the most beautiful landscape. It looked as though you could step through to another world. Perhaps Narnia was on the other side.

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The next memorial I came across was absolutely beautiful, though I didn’t appreciate the full beauty until I was going back through the pictures. From the photographs, you can see that the sculptor was adept at perfectly capturing the details of the hands. The intact hand looks like a living lady’s fingers were transformed into stone. It is quite remarkable in photograph.

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My favorite sculpture in this “garden of the dead” was a beautiful lady positioned atop a raised platform. From afar, she is framed by dangling Spanish moss and vines. Her image is so serene and brings a quality of peace to the area as she rests atop her stones in quiet contemplation.

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The rest of this lovely garden I will simply show you in picture…

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And in the end, I did locate my angel before we headed away to the lovely city of Savannah.

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Cloudland Canyon

Two weeks ago, Dixie and I headed for the mountains to hike some trails. We started out early and packed all of the essentials…water, protein bars, a collapsible dog bowl, the camera, and a walking stick. Then we headed off to Cloudland Canyon State Park, just a girl and her dog hitting the rugged trails.

There is nothing I like better than exploring, especially exploring the wilderness. And there is no better place to live than Georgia for a girl who likes to explore. I know I’m a little biased having been a Georgia girl my entire life, but I must say we have some of the best state parks in the country. Well, I haven’t really been everywhere, but they’re the best I’ve seen yet. All the trails I have hiked so far have been clear cut, well marked, and have extraordinary views, and the parks are clean and the DNR rangers and staff are helpful and nice. Of course, I could go on and on singing the praises of our parks, but I’ll save that for other blogs of my amazing hiking adventures. For now, I’ll just sing the praises of Cloudland Canyon.

Dixie and I arrived at around 11 that beautiful Sunday of July 6, and we were greeted with an amazing view.

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Our first hiking venture took us to some lovely waterfalls down in the canyon. Dixie was not a fan of the grated steps leading down into the canyon as they felt a little weird on her feet; however, she was a great fan of all the people we met along the way who gave her lots of attention.

The trail down into the canyon had some of the most amazing rock formations. I couldn’t help but think that, if my daughter had been there, she would have insisted that they were minecraft rocks. There were many that had such perfectly rectangular edges. They looked as if they were carved or as if someone had made a massive stone wall, stone by stone.

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And in other places the stone was smooth and round, like this massive boulder we passed under…

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We could hear water dripping or rushing all around us for the entirety of our walk along the waterfall trails.

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And it was a bit wet, slippery, and muddy in a few places, so my hiking boots were a great footwear choice.

Thankfully, we managed, by a random decision to take the righthand path first, to descend the harder trail to the Hemlock Waterfall. It was well worth the trip as we came upon a breathtaking view of a small waterfall descending straight down into a rocky pool with a large boulder.

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I managed to capture a lovely photo of the bottom of the fall after securing Dixie’s leash to one of the railings (she wiggles a bit much when I’m trying to get photos).

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The pirate in me managed to find the “x marks the spot”. I wonder if there was any buried treasure in that stream…

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After exploring a bit more, consuming water and protein bars, and taking a few more photos, Dixie and I trudged back up out of the canyon. Then we took the lefthand path to the Cherokee waterfall. It was a much easier trail, but the waterfall was just as beautiful. This one cascaded down into a green pool surrounded by the canyon walls. I would have loved to have a house right next to it. It was so secluded and beautiful. The temperature down near the falls was much cooler as well. It was perfect for a hot summer day.

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We stayed here and enjoyed the view for quite some time (along with many other people who were camped out on blankets or hammocks or just lounging on the rocks). Then we headed up and back to the car for a quick break and to restock our backpack before attempting the West Rim Loop trail.

Well, the West Rim Loop is a four mile trail around the rim of the canyon, and I must say, four miles on mountain trails is nothing like four miles in my neighborhood.  Thankfully, I thought to take my hiking stick with me. It proved useful for most of the trip for balance on the steep parts. My knees thank me, I’m sure.

It wasn’t too far into the hike before we reached an outcrop with a beautiful view.

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The rocks up here were very interesting. One in particular reminded me of one of those cartoon eagles blasting off into the sky.

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Or maybe I just have a good imagination.

We walked around on top of the rocks, and there were cracks between them with long drops to the ground below. Yet, even in this rocky terrain, little trees and bushes still manage to take root.

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After stopping here for quite some time, we took off to finish the rest of the trail. I took a few more photos, but eventually the light began to grow dim in the more dense parts of the wilderness. The trail began to seem as if it would never end, and I couldn’t hear the water anymore. I began to get a little nervous, as it was getting late. The trail was quite long, and I hadn’t seen anyone in a little while. In time, however, I reached the bridge where I started the loop and was back to familiar territory. Dixie and I were both getting quite tired by that point, and I was beginning to stumble over roots.

Speaking of roots, I took a photo of these snaky roots before I began getting tired and clumsy…

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Oh, and a cloud, and some vegetation, and the canyon wall across from where I was…

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And in the end, Dixie and I made it out of the wilderness tired but happy. All in all, we hiked over 7 1/2 miles of trails. It made for a full, well-spent day. And we can’t wait till our next adventure.

 

Making a Day of It

What could be better than doing a family photo shoot for friends? Well making a whole day of it, of course!

Last week, I did a photo shoot at Stone Mountain Park in the Grist Mill area for one of my best friends, Melissa. She had not had a family photo done since her son was born, so we headed out to Stone Mountain to take some family pics with a beautiful backdrop, and we made plans to have a picnic and stay for the laser show. It turned out to be a fabulous day for all.

(Melissa gave me permission to use their photos on my blog, so I am taking full advantage 🙂 .)

First we started out with the family pics. I got some wonderful shots of Melissa and David as a couple…

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I also got a few good family shots…

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And some great individual shots and parent/child shots as well…

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And a squirrel and chipmunk decided to get in on the photo action too…

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After the family photos, we took a stroll across the covered bridge for a picnic. It was a lovely day to dine by the lake, peaceful and quiet. Then, we headed over to the lawn to wait for the laser show.

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After two normal hands and one never-ending hand of UNO where we laughed until our sides hurt the laser show began…

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It was a great evening to share with friends, and a wonderful photo shoot. You couldn’t ask for a better day.

Family

 

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Last week I had the wonderful pleasure of doing a family photo shoot for my mother. It was certainly a challenge to get myself into the picture, but we made it happen, and I think we were all pleased with the results. This is the first family photo that Avalene is in and the first one that my father is not, so this is a rather bittersweet photo. My mother stands as the matriarch of our small family as my father watches from heaven, and my husband stands as the sole father figure left to us. However, we stand strong and proud and happy to be a family.

Avalene proved to be quite the little monkey while trying to get the photos. It took a bit of convincing to get her to pose, but we finally managed by letting her hold the bright eyed Furby (which she was determined to turn evil before the night was over…by the way, this is done by overfeeding it). She loves sock monkeys as much as I do, so she got to pose with Gigantor the Sock Monkey. I think he enjoyed having his picture taken with her.

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We also got individual family photos…

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Some cousins shots…

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A mother/daughters shot…

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A few fun shots…

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And a few beauty shots…

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It was a great evening, and now my family has a few photos to add to our collection.