Savannah Scottish Games and Celtic Festival

Celebrating Scottish culture and history, the  42nd Annual Savannah Scottish Games and Celtic Festival took place this year on a warm and sunny May 5.

The festival was held on the beautiful grounds of historic Bethesda Academy. Ancient live oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss surrounded the event field. The salt marsh was a perfect backdrop for Highland Dancers. Scottish clans, societies and organizations had their tents set up under the trees. And of course there were food trucks and vendors.

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Beautiful location for the Savannah Games

With so many events going on at the same time, we had plenty to keep us entertained. Pipes and Drums music, Border Collie demonstrations, Highland Dancing competition, and Celtic music performances were all taking place at the same time as the Heavy Athletics. In addition, there were tents with information about genealogy and many different Clans.

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Border Collie Demonstration
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Border Collie Demonstration
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Highland Dancers
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Highland Dancers
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Opening Ceremony
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Pipes and Drums

The Heavy Athletics competition included several fun events to watch. The Caber Toss is a fan favorite. In this event the athlete lifts a twenty foot caber weighing over one hundred pounds, runs a few steps holding it upright, and then tosses it. The object is to have the caber flip once and land straight in front of the athlete at the 12 o’clock position. We also enjoyed watching the Clachneart (Stone Put) and the Sheaf Toss. We didn’t get to see the Throwing of the Weights or the Hammer Throw.

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Stone Put
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Stone Put
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Sheaf Toss
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Women’s Caber Toss
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Caber Toss
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Caber Toss
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Caber Toss

The Pipes and Drums were beautiful to hear.

I have Scottish ancestors on both sides of my family. I enjoyed stopping at a couple of tents to see if I could learn anything about my families. I found out a little about my father’s side of the family but didn’t discover anything new about my Scottish roots on my mothers side. And I still don’t know what our Tartan is. A little more research is in my future.

After the games we stopped to check out the roses at the Savannah Botanical Gardens. Stay tuned for more coming up about that in my next post.

Daytona Speedweeks and the Great American Race

Henry and I have only been following NASCAR for two years. Ever since the first time we watched the Daytona 500 on TV in 2016 I knew I wanted to go. So this year we went. And it was even more fun than I thought it would be.

NASCAR stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The biggest race of the year is at the beginning of the NASCAR season. Every February, the Daytona Speedweeks is held at the Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500 – the Great American Race- ends a fun filled week of entertainment on the midway and qualifying races for the Daytona 500 as well as two other NASCAR races.

We arrived in Daytona on Thursday afternoon. During the next few days we went to three races, drove along A1A on the way to lunch at Racing’s North Turn restaurant in Ponce Inlet, had lunch at Caribbean Jack’s on the Intercoastal waterway, watched the Thunderbirds practice, and didn’t have time to catch our breath until Monday morning.

Our first NASCAR race was the Can-Am Duel on Thursday night. Here’s a short video to give you an idea of how fast these cars are going and how loud they are.

Our second race was Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night. We arrived at the track early so we could wander around the midway to see some of the exhibits and do a little shopping. We entered the grandstands with plenty of time to walk around for different views of the track.

The trucks were fast and loud and the race was exciting. A great way to spend a Friday night!

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Panoramic view of Daytona Speedway from near start-finish line
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Daytona Speedway
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Trucks lined up before the race

After two night races in a row, we decided to take it easy and skip the Saturday Xfinity series race. Instead, we watched the United States Air Force Thunderbirds practice in the morning before enjoying lunch at Caribbean Jack’s on the Intercoastal Waterway.

Sunday was the day of the 60th Daytona 500 and a long day at the track for us. We had tickets for the Fanzone so we arrived in the morning to have plenty of time to go out in the middle of the track and get up close to the pit area, see the cars, and enjoy some of  the pre-race festivities.

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A look at the stands from track level
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Cars lined up before the race

We had a great view of the whole track from our seats in the upper section. After a concert by Rascal Flatts and the driver introductions, each driver rode around the track in a pickup truck.

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The stages are set for the pre-race entertainment and driver introductions
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The cars lined up before the race

After the national anthem, the USAF Thunderbirds performed a flyover.

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U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds flyover before the race

Drivers, start your engines!

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Start/Finish line at Daytona 500
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Daytona 500
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Pit stop for Kyle Bush #18 and Joey Lagano #22
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RV’s filled the infield

The race was exciting with the lead changing several times. A huge wreck near the end of the race knocked out all of the leaders and #3 Austin Dillon was the winner.

Watching a race on tv is fun, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. I was fascinated seeing all the things that go on before the race, at how well organized and perfectly timed everything was. The sight and sound of the cars going by at almost 200 miles per hour is mind boggling. Most fans have a favorite driver and it was fun seeing them all decked out in their favorite driver’s gear.

In case you are wondering, our favorite driver is #78 Martin Truex, Jr. He was in second place until the last wreck but he did finish the race.

I’ve already made reservations at the RV park for next year!

Saturday in Athens

On Saturdays in the fall when the Georgia Bulldogs have a home game, all roads leading to Athens are lined with vehicles flying their Georgia flags and the entire campus is filled with red Georgia tents and fans dressed in red and black.

We have had season tickets to Georgia’s home games since 1980 and our fall weekends revolve around home football games.  This past weekend was the SEC showdown between UGA and visiting University of Missouri. We usually stay in a town about 50 miles from campus but we decided to take the fifth wheel closer to Athens for this game. Last year we discovered Pine Lake campground in Bishop, about 15 miles from the UGA campus. With spacious wooded campsites, a lake, and even a small waterfall it is a well run private RV park that feels more like a state park.

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The lake at Pine Lake Campground
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Waterfall in the Pine Lake Campground

The SEC Nation pregame TV show was broadcasting live that morning just behind our tailgate area. Crews were in the process of breaking down the set when we arrived. Several semi tractor trailers were still there but we just missed seeing Tim Tebow, Paul Finebaum and the other announcers. It’s amazing how much equipment is required for these broadcasts.

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SEC Nation was live on campus before the game. We arrived as they were tearing down the set.

After a fun afternoon visiting with friends, eating delicious food, and enjoying an adult beverage or two,  we headed to the stadium for a 7:30 kickoff. It was a great night for the Georgia Bulldogs as the Dawgs won and went on to become the number 3 ranked team in the country. Go Dawgs!

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The teams take the field for pregame practice before a night game in Sanford Stadium
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Homecoming pregame show
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Georgia Bulldogs vs Missouri in Sanford Stadium
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The fans light up the stadium at the beginning of the fourth quarter

 

SEC Football at Ole Miss in Oxford

We had just returned home from our fall football road trip when three days later we evacuated for Hurricane Matthew. This post has been on hold ever since.

If you follow SEC college football you know that our favorite team, the Georgia Bulldogs, are not having a good year. That’s all I have to say about that.

I have to say that except for the game on September 24, we had a great time in Oxford during the weekend of the Georgia – Ole Miss football game. The people of Oxford were gracious, the Ole Miss fans friendly, and the atmosphere in town on Friday and as we wandered through the Grove on Saturday before the game was like no college football game I’ve ever attended.

Our home for the weekend was John W. Kyle State Park on Sardis Lake, about a 30 minute drive from downtown Oxford. All through the campground were RV’s displaying their team colors. We didn’t spend much time in the campground but I was able to get a sunset picture over the lake on the first night.

Sunset over Sardis Lake
Sunset over Sardis Lake

Friends of ours were staying in Oxford within walking distance of downtown and the stadium. We met them Friday afternoon to browse the shops around the courthouse square and have a fabulous lunch at City Grocery. As we were enjoying our meal we noticed not one but four James Beard Awards on the wall! The food, service, and company were all excellent.

City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
Two of the Four James Beard Awards at City Grocery
Two of the Four James Beard Awards at City Grocery

Kickoff was set for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday so we left the campground early in hopes of beating the traffic. We planned it perfectly and met our friends in time to eat a quick breakfast before heading to the Grove.

The Grove is a large area in the middle of the University of Mississippi campus. On game days it is transformed to a sea of tailgate tents lined up side by side with fans from both teams walking elbow to elbow on the pathways between the tents.

Tailgating Tents as far as the eye could see
Tailgating Tents as far as the eye could see
A few Georgia fans were tailgating in the Grove
Fans from both teams were tailgating side by side
The Ole Miss band marched by before the game
The Ole Miss band marched by before the game
Georgia and Ole Miss Fans getting ready for the game
Georgia and Ole Miss Fans in the Grove before the game

Did I mention it was HOT the whole time we were there? The temperature was in the upper nineties on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.

If your favorite college football team ever plays against Ole Miss in Oxford, get some tickets and go! It’s a one of a kind experience. And hopefully, your team will do better against them than my team did. And I hope I never hear the Ole Miss Hotty Toddy cheer ever again!

Flashback to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games

I am having a great time sitting in my living room cheering for Team U.S.A. at the Rio Olympics. Twenty years ago I didn’t get to see much of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta from my living room. Instead, I was volunteering with the Yachting events (now called Sailing events) near Savannah, Georgia.

Before the games began, we saw the Olympic Flame arrive in Savannah on the Schooner America. After torch bearers ran through Savannah  they wound their way around Georgia to the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta. The world then watched as the final torch bearer Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic Cauldron.

1996 Olympic Flame arrives in Savannah aboard Schooner America
1996 Olympic Flame arrives in Savannah aboard Schooner America

Two of our friends participated in the relay through Savannah. It was such a thrill to see the Olympic Torch relay in person.

1996 Olympic torch relay in Savannah
1996 Olympic torch relay in Savannah

For the Olympic Yachting events, a Day Marina was constructed in the waters of Wassaw Sound near Savannah.  To get there, we had to drive a few miles, ride on a bus, and ride a shuttle boat to the Day Marina along with other volunteers and athletes. For two weeks, Henry, our daughter, and I got up at the crack of dawn and put on our volunteer uniforms to help with the launch and recovery team of volunteers on the Day Marina.

Volunteers arriving by shuttle at the day marina
Volunteers arriving by shuttle at the day marina

Tents were set up on the Day Marina to provide a home for the athletes during the long days on the water. The larger countries had their own tent and ramp to launch their boats while smaller countries shared a tent. I was assigned to work with Fiji, Guam, Jamaica, and Thailand who were sharing a tent between Team USA and Team New Zealand.

1996 Olympics Yachting Day Marina in Wassaw Sound near Savannah, Georgia
1996 Olympics Yachting Day Marina in Wassaw Sound near Savannah, Georgia

Our days were long and hot but it was worth it to be able to meet athletes and trainers from all over the world. I was even able to do a little pin trading and get a few autographs.

1986 Olympic Pins
1996 Olympic Pins

There was a flurry of activity as each team prepared to launch their boats to go out to the race course. Things got busy again when the sailors returned after their event.

USA Atlanta Olympics Bronze Medal Soling
USA Atlanta Olympics Bronze Medal Soling
USA Olympic Bronze Medalist Courtney Becker Day returns to the Day Marina
USA Olympic Bronze Medalist Courtney Becker Day returns to the Day Marina
1996 Olympics Mistral Gold Medal winner from Greece
1996 Olympics Mistral Gold Medal winner from Greece

The races were too far away to watch from the Day Marina. One day we got to ride a boat out to the race course to see one of the events.

1996 Olympic 470 yachting race
1996 Olympic 470 yachting race

Being an Olympic volunteer was a once in a lifetime experience. Meeting these amazing Olympians and watching them prepare for their events was something I will never forget. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do it.