Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 3)

Savannah, GA

Well, Savannah just happens to be on our way home from Jekyll Island, so it seemed like a perfect place to stop to eat…and take pictures, and visit churches, and see parks, and get chocolate! What can I say? We’re women. We need chocolate.

Now, after the adventures of the previous two days, you would think we would have no energy left for walking. Well, you would be right…but we mustered some up anyway. We thought we might indulge in a carriage ride, but apparently it was necessary to book those in advance if possible, so we had to pass. I did, however, get a couple of nice photos of some carriages and horses…

…and a dog poking his head out of a second story window where some construction was in progress.

April 07, 2016Jekyll 2016309

And of course, the squirrels couldn’t let the dogs and horses take all of the camera time, so a couple of those little guys posed for photos too.

The flowers were in bloom, so the parks were dotted with lots of beautiful colors.

And my beautiful daughter…well, we had to purchase a souvenir T-shirt to cover her sunburned shoulders.

April 07, 2016Jekyll 2016312

And a fountain seemed to be a great place for two girls to stop and rest their feet (and text I suppose).

April 07, 2016Jekyll 2016368

Now this was rather a rushed trip, as it is impossible to see all there is to see in Savannah in an afternoon. I, however, did my best to provide a speed tour. The Lutheran church, the Catholic church, and Forsyth Park made the list for the day to introduce my family to the beauty of Savannah.

We stopped in at the Lutheran Church first. I had visited this one in the past and wanted to show my mother the stained glass windows.

After visiting here for a few minutes, a nice gentleman who was a member of the church told us a little bit about the history of the building. Then he recommended that we take a short walk to the Catholic cathedral to see its beauty. The last time I was in the city, we didn’t make it to the Catholic church before the doors were closed to the public. This day, however, we were lucky enough to get to go inside. And what a sight it was!

It felt a bit irreverent walking around taking photos in the church like that, but there were others there admiring and taking photos as well. I hope we didn’t disturb those who had come there for more spiritual reasons.

Our next stop was Forsyth Park which is the largest of the parks in Savannah. We were greeted on entering by a young barefoot man playing his acoustic guitar and singing.

April 07, 2016Jekyll 2016380

I think perhaps he was one of the college students.

Finally, we headed to LuLu’s Chocolate Bar to indulge in a decadent chocolate confection. I, unfortunately, have no photos of that wondrous dessert as we ate it…all. ┬áNow, though this is the end of this adventure, there is still one more to come. About a month later, my daughter and I traveled to the beautiful city of Charleston, so stay tuned for that adventure!

 

Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 2)

Jekyll Island, GA: Day 2

Day two of our adventure found us in the historic district of Jekyll Island on the north end of the island. My niece wanted to see the nature center, so it was just me and my daughter for the first part of the morning. Nothing was quite opened yet, so we walked around a bit and took some photos.

There were several beautiful old buildings, and it was nice and quiet beside the water. But eventually the hour neared 10am, so we headed back over to the benches in front of the fudge shop. Yes…we were waiting for the fudge shop to open, because one must have some chocolate to begin one’s adventure. As we waited patiently for that door to open, I spied a squirrel in the tree above busily building a nest. He was quite fun to watch, though not quite that easy to capture in picture.

When lunch time rolled around, the rest of the family joined us. They were coming from the turtle center, so we were trying to meet them near there. I, of course, got out the handy-dandy brochure with a map. Apparently, I am no good at reading handy-dandy brochures with maps, because I took us the long way around to go right next door. But, we did eventually find one another. I got a few good photos on the scenic route to the turtle center as well.

Now the trees in this area were perfect for photo ops, so I, totally to the dismay of the younger of our party, delayed lunch for a bit to take photos.

Though I was met with some complaints, I think in the end she enjoyed monkeying around in the trees. In fact, she even made a friend. And in the end, we did make our way to fill our tummies. After lunch, my daughter and I decided that we wanted to see the Sea Turtle Hospital, so we went and visited the recuperating sea turtles before we left.

After this adventure, I took everyone to my favorite place on the island…the Driftwood Beach. It proved to be the perfect place for portrait photography.

I think my models had a bit of fun doing the shoot, and I might have had a little fun too. The only challenge was that it was a bit windy…

April 06, 2016Jekyll 2016234-2

…just a little bit.

I was amazed by the patterns the water had carved into the driftwood, and there was one stump on the beach with some particularly interesting patterns and a little puddle of water standing beneath it. Of course, we all had to dip our toes in the little puddle of water, but I’ll spare you the feet pictures.

Well…maybe I won’t spare you the feet pictures…

I will, however, spare you the photos of me dancing around on the beach. That’s just not pretty. No one wants to see that…except my daughter, who may blackmail with them later in life.

Later in the evening, we returned to the nature viewing area and fishing pier. I did capture a few photos of some of the fishermen’s catches, but seeing as how the photos made me nauseous later (and were only taken at the request of my niece with the somewhat morbid sense of awe)…I’ll not be including them. I did manage a few shots of some noisy gulls and some lovely shots of a couple of brown pelicans…and one little boat-tailed grackle who managed to get his silhouette in the mix.

And the final joy was watching a dolphin play near the pier. This was the second dolphin I had seen on this trip. The first was playing near the beach on our first morning there. With all of the natural wonders to be seen, this is the perfect vacation destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers. I know it is one of my favorite places!

April 05, 2016Jekyll 2016463

But don’t go away yet! There are still two more destinations I have to share with you, so stay tuned!

Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 1)

Jekyll Island, GA (Day 1)

Nothing says “Fantastic Spring Break!” like having the privilege of taking your niece on her first trip to the ocean. This year Spring Break was supposed to hold the bittersweet adventure of sending my son off to the Coast Guard, but that adventure was delayed and another began. I called my mother, and by the end of the day, she, my sister, my niece, my daughter and myself were packed and off to the beach. My almost seven year old niece had never been to the ocean before, so her Aunt Athenia was very happy to take her and prepared to take lots and lots of photos. And yes, I do intend to share many of them with you.

Of course, the first photo has to be a child’s first view of the ocean…

April 05, 2016Jekyll 201643

…but she didn’t quite cooperate on the waiting for me part, and she really didn’t want to turn around for a picture either. But as soon as she made her way down to the water, we were in for a solid morning of exploring the beach ecosystem and getting our feet wet in the waves.

It was such a joy searching for sand dollars, crabs, shells, and other beach creatures and watching my niece enjoy the beach with her mother.

We even chased a few birds here and there.

And as for me and my daughter, well we found a few minutes to have a little creative Whovian fun.

April 05, 2016Jekyll 2016283114

And of course, it is always a joy to watch a teenage girl hang out with her grandmother.

April 05, 2016Jekyll 2016241

Later in the day, my beloved family managed to find a furry beach goer to hang out with. Of course, they made friends with the human beach goers as well.

By the time evening rolled around, the youngest two girls of our party needed a Disney fix, so they lounged in the suite while us old folk went for a little walk. And by little walk, I mean something in the range of a 2 to 3 mile hike through the marsh! A certain photographer/blogger forgot that the last time she took the trail she did it by bicycle. That little nature hike was quite a bit longer than memory recalled. It was, however, quite worth the trip.

For the first time ever, I saw a bald eagle in the wild! That alone was worth the hike!

However, many other natural beauties graced our vision along the rest of the hike, and the golden hours of the evening were the perfect time to witness them. As the temperature cool and the sun begins to set, the wildlife either comes out to dine or settles down to sleep (or roost as the case may be). We watched as deer nestled into the marsh grasses or grazed amongst the foliage.

We marveled at snails clinging to the marsh grasses.

And we watched in awe and wonder as the ocean birds flew about the marsh and settled down to roost for the night.

And besides the wildlife, there were beautiful landscapes to behold as well.

And the most amazing scenic landscape of all was the sunset.

April 05, 2016Jekyll 2016200-2April 05, 2016Jekyll 2016204-2April 05, 2016Jekyll 2016219-2

And that beautiful sunset was the end of Day 1 of our adventure. Stay tuned for more!

Christmas Memories (Part 1: Decorating and the Parade)

Christmas is over and a new year has begun, so we are left with but memories of the special things that happen at this most wonderful time of the year. Old traditions mix with new memories to say goodbye to one year and issue in the next.

So, with that being said, I will trot down memory lane and tell you about my Christmas. This year was a little different than most. My daughter turned 16 this year near Christmas, so a Sweet 16 Birthday Trip was scheduled during this holiday season. Because of this, we skipped many of the family gatherings in favor of a trip to Disney World. Yes folks, we skipped Christmas…but not entirely. Some traditions must be kept, and some traditions were sadly missed, but Christmas was still fun and exciting and especially special this year.

Now the tradition that always brings in the holiday season is of course the decorating. Every year on Thanksgiving Night we begin decorating the house for Christmas. When the guests are gone and our bellies are stuffed with turkey and all the fixings, we put on the Christmas music and bring the decorations down from the attic.

And of course, no Christmas tree is complete without a cat sleeping under its branches.

Every year we each get a new ornament, so each one we place on the tree has a special Christmas memory attached.

This year the nativity went up on the mantel.

And after all was said and done, we had a beautifully decorated tree…if I do say so myself.

Even the sock monkeys helped to decorate this year.

Then the day after Thanksgiving, we finished up the decorating with the outside lights.

The next big Christmas tradition is the local annual Christmas Parade. Each year my husband’s workplace has a float in the parade, so usually, we are all in the parade in some fashion. This year, only my daughter followed the float while I took pictures and my husband prepared for the after-parade kids’ party.

There were so many beautiful floats this year, and everyone seemed to be having such a great time. Like with every year though, I think half of our town was in the parade leaving the viewing audience a bit thin. But it’s all fun!

And that is the end of Part 1. Be sure to keep your eyes open for Part 2: Twilights at Chimney Park.

Girl’s Trip! (Part 2: Chattanooga)

Wow! So part two only took a month to get written. It is that crazy holiday time of the year, so as usually happens, life gets in the way of writing. The good news, however, is that I now have several wonderful events to write about. But before I move on to holiday cheer, it is time to finish my Girls’ Trip blog.

Now where did I leave you? That’s right…after we finished our hike at Cloudland Canyon, we drove over the mountain to Chattanooga. Thirty minutes later we were checking in to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. This historic location was once the train station in Chattanooga. Now it serves as a hotel and historic attraction. The main lobby where you check in is in the old rail station and is quite lovely. You should definitely drop by and take a look if you’re ever in the area.

They have rooms in some of the old rail cars which might be an interesting overnight experience, but my daughter and I stayed in the standard hotel portion. Apparently the site was under a major restoration, so it didn’t prove to be the best time to stay. As for location, however, we were in a prime area for visiting this lovely city.

On our first morning, we found ourselves in need of something warm to drink. Lucky for us The Hot Chocolatier was right across the street. We started our Chattanooga adventure off with some of the best hot chocolate we’ve ever tasted…and a couple of truffles to accompany the delicious beverages. My truffle was lavender. I didn’t even know you could eat lavender, but now I know what lavendar tastes like (just like it smells by the way). Interesting.

Then we headed off to the aquarium. We decided to get passes for the Behind the Scenes Tour. We arrived at the aquarium approximately an hour before the tour began, so needless to say, we were unable to wander far. The tour was in the ocean aquarium, so we started out on the top floor of this building. To my delight, at the very top of the escalator was a sign pointing to the butterfly sanctuary! I didn’t even know they had one of these, so I again found myself in butterfly heaven on a trip. Yay! Before we entered Butterfly Heaven, however, we were greeted by two large blue Hyacinth Macaws who found great pleasure in laughing at all passers-by.

After talking to and laughing with the macaws for a little while, we headed to the butterfly room. To my daughter’s dismay, we ended up in this room before and after the tour. Though she enjoyed the butterflies, she was afraid I might decide to spend too much time there dooming her to miss the rest of the aquarium. Her fears were unjustified, however, as we did see all of the aquarium.

Inside I managed many wonderful shots of these beautiful lepidoptera. And after the tour, we enjoyed the pleasure of releasing some newly hatched butterflies into the habitat.

The Behind the Scenes tour was equally amazing. We were able to see the penguins up close and learn about them and their habits and habitat.

Did you know they raise one arm to regulate their body temperature? And their normal body temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit? Those are just a couple of the cool facts we learned about these interesting creatures. Penguins are awesome!

After visiting the penguins, we headed to the large saltwater tank. We were taken into the room where the divers enter the water and the sea creatures are fed. We met the divers and learned a bit about their job. Then we met with the people that feed the animals. We learned about their diet, where they get the food, and which creature eats what.

Then we were given the pleasure of feeding the sea turtles!

Then we had an animal encounter with a glass lizard. This particular lizard is legless and looks disturbingly like a snake. He wouldn’t stay still enough for me to get a good shot, so I will be unable to share a picture of this amazing creature.

The rest of the ocean aquarium was typical for a saltwater habitat.

After we finished the ocean aquarium, we took a walk to find some lunch. We walked under the bridge and found a hidden park. It was like a secret world. We didn’t actually find any lunch. Instead we found ice cream at The Ice Cream Show. It was enough to tide us over until dinner. Then it was back to the aquarium to visit the river side.

Now, I must admit, I am not a fan of river fish…except for eating. They aren’t the loveliest of fishes. There were some other interesting aqueous inhabitants, however.

My favorite river buddies live around the water on the banks of the river and use the waters a food source and place to play. Say hello to the River Otter!

And of course there was the regular array of reptilian, amphibian, and avian riverside inhabitants.

Unfortunately, our river adventure was cut short due to caterers setting up for an after-hours party.

On our last day in Chattanooga, we headed across the river for a shopping trip. Our first stop was in Coolidge Park for a ride on the carousel.

And of course any good shopping trip starts off with coffee, so we hunted down a great little coffee shop called The Stone Cup. We hung out at the coffee shop for nearly an hour sipping Peppermint Mocha and enjoying art. By the time we left, it was lunch time, so we picked up some sub sandwiches and headed to the Walnut Street Bridge to eat. Then we made our second trip to the Ice Cream Show for coffee and ice cream. We spent the rest of the afternoon inspecting the record and book collections of several shops. Our only find was a Disney trivia book that kept us occupied while at the ice cream shop.

We ended our day with a little down-time in Coolidge Park. My daughter played her guitar while I walked around taking photos.

A perfect end to an amazing Girls’ Trip.

 

 

 

Chasing Trains

There’s just something mesmerizing about that low rumble and faint whistle in the distance. What kid doesn’t eagerly wait for that engine to pass, hoping to catch sight of the engineer waving back as he rolls by on the rails? In fact, even as adults we still find it fascinating and exciting.

031415_Chasing Trains_002-Edit-2

A few weeks ago, we traveled out to Perry to set up a booth at the Peaches to Beaches yard sale. On the way, we stopped in Juliette to eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Yes, the same one featured in the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”. It was a cute little town right beside the railroad tracks. We wandered around, and I took lots of photos. Many were of the cats that hang out on the porch of the Whistle Stop. I also got a few of the tracks and the corn mill between the tracks and the water. Unfortunately, these were among the pictures I lost. However, I now have an excuse to go back out there soon.

On the way home, we drove back out to Juliette. I wanted to wait for a train to go by and get some good pictures. We waited and waited, but no train came by. On the way out of Juliette, we took a wrong turn. Or maybe it was a right turn, because as we circled back around, we saw it…the train!

031415_Chasing Trains_008-Edit-2

Now, my husband’s grandfather was quite the train hobbyist. He built models, and he even had a train car that he and Grandma rode down the railroad tracks with a club they were in. He also helped open and run the train museum in East Point. His father also worked for the railroad. So, as you can imagine, my husband’s childhood was filled with trains.

I have my history with trains as well. I grew up with my grandmother’s stories of her father who worked for the railroad out in Montana.

So, with our shared fascination with trains, it only makes sense that we would decide to take off and chase this one. What fun! He drove and followed the tracks, and I kept my eye out for the train. The goal was to get ahead of it and watch it at a crossing. Did we succeed? Indeed we did! We headed it off and made it to a railroad crossing on a backroad in the middle of nowhere. We pulled off the side of the road and eagerly awaited.

Just as I was beginning to get antsy and believe we had missed the train, the lights came on, the bell sounded, and the crossing arm lowered.

031415_Chasing Trains_004-Edit

The train came rumbling around in just a few minutes. And to our delight, the engineer waved as he went by. Our daughter watched as she stood in the middle of the road in front of the crossing arm, and I took as many pictures as I could get. And these were not lost! They were safe on my SD card, so you get to enjoy the fruits of our Great Locomotive Chase (a movie we are most familiar with by the way).

031415_Chasing Trains_011-Edit 031415_Chasing Trains_009-Edit-3 031415_Chasing Trains_009-Edit 031415_Chasing Trains_005-Edit

Lights! Camera!…Back in Actio

Well, in my blogging absence, I have certainly not been idle. One of my recent projects has been to create some lighting. I just love DIY, and from my resources online and a few creative ideas of my own, I have been able to create some light diffusers and a light box with which to work.

The light diffusers turned out awesome! All I needed was some scrap cardboard from my ever-increasing supply, some duct tape, aluminum foil, Pellon interfacing fabric, and a couple of clamp on shop lights from Home Depot. From my research online, purchasing these lights and diffusers would have cost around $100. With DIY, I think I spent less than $50 for the two lights, diffusers, and the creation of the light box. It may not be as pretty as the cute little kits, but the functionality far surpasses what I have accomplished with the cute little kits in the past.

Oh, what is that? You want to see photos of my handiwork? Why sure!

041315_Studio Stuff_002

Ok. So maybe it’s not that impressive. It does, however, provide some great lighting. The first thing I tried it out on was my daughter’s baby doll that was passed down to her from her great-grandmother.

032615_Baby Doll Pics_007 032615_Baby Doll Pics_010 032615_Baby Doll Pics_014

And then, of course, Molly decided she wanted to get in on the action. And I think Angel (the baby doll) had a few words of wisdom to pass down to the pup.

032615_Baby Doll Pics_005-Edit

Then the Holly Hobby doll decided she wanted some tea party pics, but she fell asleep before I could get a good one.

032615_Baby Doll Pics_027

Then I got a photo of my favorite carousel figurine and my tea cup.

032615_Baby Doll Pics_031

A few days later, I was working on my weekly photo challenge. The challenge was “Less is More.” The extra challenge was to get a high key photo. After looking up the how to of getting a high key photo, I headed to my studio and built my light box. I got it built and then spent quite some time in the studio playing with lighting and taking “high key” photos.

040715_Tea Cup_001-2 040715_Tea Cup_011-2 040715_Tea Cup_021-2 040715_Light Box Practice_001 040715_Light Box Practice_021 040715_Light Box Practice_022 040715_Light Box Practice_023 040715_Light Box Practice_026 040715_Light Box Practice_034

I found that you can make just about anything interesting with this technique.

040715_Light Box Practice_060040715_Light Box Practice_047 040715_Light Box Practice_043