Spring at Callaway Gardens

Our latest wandering took us on a short trip that was full of excitement. Our first stop was F. D. Roosevelt State Park, Georgia’s largest state park, in Pine Mountain. It was the perfect place for us to use as home base for exploring both Callaway Gardens and F.D.R.’s Little White House in Warm Springs.

After driving in the rain on the winding road through the park we arrived at the Visitor’s Center to check in just after a tornado warning had been lifted. Everything was fine in the campground and we set up camp just before another rain shower began.

“Connecting man and nature in a way that benefits both.” – Callaway Gardens Mission

With the sun shining the next morning we drove about 15 minutes from our campsite to Callaway Gardens.  Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Callaway Gardens opened in 1952. Today, there are many different gardens to explore, a lodge, golf course, swimming beach, and even a zip-line adventure.

Our tour of the gardens began with a stop at the Pioneer Log Cabin. From there we strolled along the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Trail with many Georgia native plants.  The Flowering Dogwoods and many other wildflowers displayed their brilliant spring colors.

Pioneer Log Cabin at Callaway Gardens
Pioneer Log Cabin at Callaway Gardens
Flowering Dogwood on Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail
Flowering Dogwood on Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail at Callaway Gardens
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail at Callaway Gardens
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail at Callaway Gardens
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail at Callaway Gardens
Azalea at Callaway Gardens
Azalea at Callaway Gardens
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail at Callaway Gardens
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail at Callaway Gardens

Next we walked on the trails to the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center for a look at some tropical butterflies. Butterflies of all sizes, shapes and colors fed on the colorful blossoms and sailed by our heads as they flew from flower to flower.

Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens
Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens
Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens
Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens
Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens
Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens

We learned about some of Georgia’s birds of prey at the Discovery Center. As our guide gave a very informative presentation, two different species of owl and a red tailed hawk flew over our heads during the program.

Juniper the Great Horned Owl at Birds of Prey program
Juniper the Great Horned Owl at Birds of Prey program
Barred Owl Birds of Prey demonstration at Callaway Gardens
Willow the Barred Owl Birds of Prey demonstration at Callaway Gardens
Red Tailed Hawk Callaway Gardens Birds of Prey Show
Red Tailed Hawk Callaway Gardens Birds of Prey Show

We must have just missed the Azaleas at their peak because most of the Azaleas on the Overlook Azalea trail had finished blooming. The Flowering Dogwoods and other trees added color to the landscape.

20170404Callaway-Gardens-Azalea-Trail
Callaway Gardens Azalea Trail
20170404Callaway-Gardens-Flowering-Dogwood
Flowering Dogwoods were in bloom at Callaway Gardens
Eastern Redbud Callaway Gardens
Eastern Redbud at Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens Overlook Azalea Trail
Callaway Gardens Overlook Azalea Trail

Our visit to Callaway Gardens included only a few of the many gardens there. It is a wonderful family destination and bicycles are a popular way to get around the park. There are several restaurants to choose from or you can have a picnic in one of the picnic areas.

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – California

State 5:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride! I will be featuring the states alphabetically and next up is

California

California became the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The capital is Sacramento. California is the most populous state and the third largest in area.

In 2007 we spent three weeks exploring California. It wasn’t nearly enough time to see the whole state but the Pacific Ocean, giant trees, five national parks, San Diego  and everything else were all spectacular.

Our first views of California were along the Pacific Coast Highway as we drove south from Oregon. Gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, Redwood National Park, and the beautiful vineyards were a few of the things we enjoyed in northern California.

Our home base for exploring Yosemite National Park was the Wawona Campground inside the national park. We drove through Yosemite Valley, took a few short hikes, made the  the drive to Glacier Point, had a delicious lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel, and felt small as we walked through the Mariposa Grove of Sequoias.

There were many more of the magnificent giant trees in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. We even spotted a bear in one of the meadows.

After all that sightseeing we decided to take a couple of days to relax in a resort near Palm Springs and spent a day wandering through Joshua Tree National Park.

Our final stop was San Diego where we toured Cabrillo National Monument and the USS Midway. Our Labrador Retriever Blondie was in heaven when we took her to the dog beach near Coronado. As we drove east from  San Diego we passed by the Imperial Sand Dunes and the Chocolate Mountains.

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas

December Caterpillars in Coastal Georgia

I’ve been so busy lately with Thanksgiving, cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew, and getting ready for Christmas I haven’t had much time to look at my butterfly garden.

With all our Christmas packages and cards in the mail, I could finally catch my breath this morning so I went out to our porch to enjoy my second cup of tea. As soon as I sat down I saw a Monarch butterfly flitting around our milkweed. I abandoned my tea, grabbed my camera and rushed downstairs to get a picture. The butterfly took off but when I began to examine the milkweed I was excited to find several caterpillars munching away on the leaves.

Monarch Caterpillar on Milkweed - December 15, 2016
Monarch Caterpillar on Milkweed – December 15, 2016
Monarch Caterpillar on Milkweed - December 15, 2016
Monarch Caterpillar on Milkweed – December 15, 2016

Lakefront Campground, Award Winning Barbeque, Scenic Drives, and Delta History

Our next destination was Mississippi River State Park in Marianna, Arkansas, about 150 miles north of Lake Chicot. When we stayed here two years ago we traveled on Arkansas highways between the two state parks. Since we had never traveled on the Mississippi side of the Mississippi River we took the long way and drove through Mississippi on Highway 61 (also known as the Blues Trail). Almost every town we drove through had some kind of Blues museum and signs pointing to historical sites.

We  returned to Arkansas by crossing the bridge into Helena. With only about 20 miles to our destination, on Highway 1 in the middle of a construction zone, we ran right into a powerful thunderstorm. The rain was coming down so hard Henry could hardly see and the wind was rocking us as we slowly made our way north. The shoulder on our side of the narrow two lane road was lined with safety cones so there was nowhere to pull over to wait out the storm. At one point the rain was blowing sideways. We inched along until we finally came to a place wide enough to stop. Once the storm passed we continued to the state park and had good weather the rest of the day.

Beech Point Campground in Mississippi River State Park is located on a peninsula in Bear Creek Lake. Almost every campsite has a great view of the lake.

Early morning on Bear Creek Lake
Early morning on Bear Creek Lake
Bear Creek Lake
Bear Creek Lake
Our campsite was a great place to watch the herons, egrets
Our campsite was a great place to watch the herons, egrets, and turtles in the lake
Great Blue Heron with two turtles
Great Blue Heron with two turtles

On our first morning we drove into the town of Marianna to pick up some of the delicious barbeque we had discovered two years ago. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner serves up James Beard Award winning pulled pork with a vinegary, sweet BBQ sauce and coleslaw. That’s it.  He opens early in the morning and is usually sold out by 11:00 am. As we glanced through his guest book we saw names from Europe and Tokyo as well as closer places like Memphis. You can read about our first visit here.

Jone's Bar-B-Q Diner
Jone’s Bar-B-Q Diner
Jone's Bar-B-Q Diner
Jone’s Bar-B-Q Diner

A drive on the gravel section of the Arkansas Great River Road (also known locally as the Low Road) took us through the St. Francis National Forest beside the Mississippi River. We took a short side trip through an ancient pecan grove to the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi Rivers. The area is undeveloped now but a parking area and overlook are planned for this beautiful, peaceful spot.

Henry and Blondie under the willow beside the St. Francis River
Henry and Blondie under the willows beside the St. Francis River
Confluence of St. Francis and Mississippi River
Confluence of St. Francis and Mississippi River
Beth and Blondie beside the mighty Mississippi
Beth and Blondie beside the mighty Mississippi

Another day we drove south on a gravel portion of Crowley’s Ridge Parkway (the High Road) to Helena for a visit to the Delta Cultural Center. Interesting displays tell about the history of the 27 county region of the Arkansas Delta. Blues music originated in the Delta in Mississippi and Arkansas and one room was dedicated to Arkansas musicians who contributed to the Blues.

Delta Cultural Center
Delta Cultural Center

We planned our trip to watch a live broadcast of the longest running blues radio show in the United States. The Peabody Award winning “King Biscuit Time” radio show has been on the air since 1941. The disc jockey Sonny Payne has been broadcasting the daily show since 1951. We heard him broadcast show number 17,583. Every one of the shows started with him announcing “Pass the Biscuits!”.

Sonny Payne broadcasting the King Biscuit Time Radio Show
Sonny Payne broadcasting the King Biscuit Time Radio Show
King Biscuit Time Radio Show broadcast booth
King Biscuit Time Radio Show broadcast booth

The old train depot houses more exhibits about the region.

Delta Cultural Center Depot
Delta Cultural Center Depot
Old Man River Display at The Depot
Old Man River Display at The Depot

While we were in Arkansas we traveled on several scenic byways. In addition to the Great River Road and Crowley’s Ridge Parkway we also drove on the Levee Road, The Trail of Tears, the Civil War Heritage Trail, and in Mississippi were on the Blues Trail.

First stop on our Fall Football Road Trip

After enjoying a relaxing summer at home, we are once again on a fall road trip to watch the Georgia Bulldogs play an away football game. This year we are on our way to Oxford, Mississippi to see the Dawgs play the Ole Miss Rebels. But in true Wandering Dawgs fashion, we are not taking a direct route to get there.

We started the trip in Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, a few miles south of Birmingham. This is Alabama’s largest state park and it has something for everyone – mountain bike trails, golf course, lake with a beach, hiking trails, a scenic drive, a beautiful campground and more.

Wandering Dawgs in Oak Mountain State Park Site A28
Wandering Dawgs in Oak Mountain State Park Site A28

Every day Blondie and I walked on the trails around our campground loop.

Early Morning at Tranquility Lake
Early Morning at Tranquility Lake
Moccasin Nature Trail behind our campsite
Moccasin Nature Trail behind our campsite
Early morning walk in the woods
Early morning walk in the woods
Spotted this Heron on our last morning
Spotted this Heron on our last morning

One day we drove to the dead end of Peavine Falls Road on Double Oak Mountain. As we wound our way up the narrow road I was reminded of some of the drives we have made in the Great Smoky Mountains.

This sign was at the parking lot at the dead end at the top of the road
This sign was at the parking lot at the dead end at the top of the road
We had a picnic at the Peavine Falls Overlook
We had a picnic at the Peavine Falls Overlook
View from Peavine Falls Road Overlook
View from Peavine Falls Road Overlook

We enjoyed our stay and were even able to do a little shopping in nearby Pelham and Birmingham before continuing our journey west to our next destination.