Although most of the plants in my butterfly garden are finished blooming for the winter, some of flowering plants continued to bloom in late December and early January.
Mexican Sunflower in December
Hibiscus in December
Sunflower under bird feeder in January
The milkweed is blooming and attracting Monarch butterflies. Because Hurricane Irma destroyed my butterfly garden in 2017 there were no butterflies or caterpillars last winter. I replanted the garden in the spring of 2018 and in December, 2018 I was thrilled to find monarchs and caterpillars on the milkweed once again.
Two days later, this caterpillar had changed into a chrysalis.
I checked on the chrysalis every day. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, it was starting to change.
I continued checking on it daily and I could see subtle changes each day. Just when I knew it wouldn’t be long before a butterfly emerged, I found it lying on the ground the morning of January 5. We did some research on the internet to find out if there was anything we could do to save it. We tied it to a branch with piece of thread and let it hang in a jar. It’s been over a week since then and still there is no change.
I wish there had been a happier ending to this post. I’m sad to say that our butterfly didn’t make it.
These days we are taking shorter RV trips and staying close to our home state of Georgia. It’s no wonder that this year our top three parks are either in Georgia or Florida. All three campgrounds are parks we have returned to numerous times during the years.
Number 3 – Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, FL
We’ve been returning to this park over and over since we first discovered it in 2009. This year we camped here twice. Spring flowers were blooming in late February and the Festival of Lights were the highlight of our December stay.
February Azaleas blooming in White Springs
Festival of Lights at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center
All of the sites are large with water and electric hookups, a fire ring and picnic table. The bells from the carillon tower can be heard all through the campground.
Located on the Suwannee River, the park has a museum honoring Stephen Foster, hiking and biking trails (currently closed for maintenance), a gift shop and craft village with local artisans. Just outside the park is the historic Spring House and the town of White Springs.
Number 1 – Silver Springs State Park in Silver Springs, FL
By far one of our favorite Florida state parks, we have returned to Silver Springs State Park a number of times since we first discovered it in 2009. The sites are all very large with fire rings, picnic tables, water and electric hookups. A few of the sites have been upgraded to full hookup. The bath houses are clean and each one has a washer and dryer.
Located close to the three campground loops are hiking and biking trails, an educational center, and observation decks on the Silver River. Just up the road at the Silver Springs Historic Entrance are the famous Glass Bottom Boat Tours, canoe and kayak launch and rental, more walking trails, a gift shop and snack bar.
Many birds and other wildlife can be seen in the park. Watch out for the monkeys!
Monkeys in Florida?
Gopher Tortoise by our campsite at Silver Springs State Park
River Vista Mountain Village, Dillard, GA – This large, well maintained private park in the north eastern Georgia mountains is a great location to use as a home base to explore the area. There’s more about our latest stay at Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2019 filled with safe travels and happy trails!
Nearly 50 years ago I first stepped foot on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia as a freshman. Through the years I have returned to Athens too many times to count. I have so many wonderful memories of Athens – walking through campus on my way to class, meeting my husband and getting married in Athens, eight years in a row as parents of UGA students, and many Georgia Bulldogs home football games.
We recently enjoyed wandering around Athens and the University campus on a beautiful late fall afternoon.
Brilliant autumn colors on the UGA campus
Vibrant autumn colors on the UGA campus
We stopped to see two interesting sights unique to Athens. A double barrelled cannon, the only one known of its kind, stands in front of City Hall. The Tree that Owns Itself grows in the middle of a quiet neighborhood.
The only known Double Barrelled Cannon
The Tree that Owns Itself
The Tree that Owns Itself
Athens has always been famous for it’s music scene. Bands like the B-52’s, R.E.M., Drive By Truckers, Pylon, Love Tractor and many others performed at the 40 Watt club in their early days. Widespread Panic played at Fraternity houses back in the early 1990’s. When the Georgia Theatre, a beautiful historic concert hall, burned in 2009 it was restored and reopened in 2011. Wuxtry Records, opened in 1976, is still selling vinyl records.
40 Watt Club
The Georgia Theatre, a popular concert hall, was destroyed by fire in 2009 and rebuilt in 2011
Wuxtry Records since 1976
The University of Georgia is the birthplace of higher public education in America. Established on January 27, 1785, the University of Georgia is the nation’s oldest land grant university. North Campus is right across the street from downtown Athens.
When I was a student, freshman weren’t allowed to walk under the arch
Herty Field, the location of the first collegiate football game played in the state of Georgia in 1892
After a Georgia Bulldogs football win, the chapel bell rings all night
The chapel bell
Down the hill a short way from north campus is Sanford Stadium, home of the Georgia Bulldogs. We’ve seen several expansions to the stadium over the years and have spent many Saturday afternoons and nights in the stands cheering on the Dawgs.
Greek life is a big part of student life at the University of Georgia. As we drove along Milledge Avenue we passed by many of the beautiful fraternity and sorority houses. The Theta Chi house is my favorite. I’m a little biased because it’s Henry’s fraternity.
Through the years many restaurants have come and gone. These are three memorable places to eat in Athens.
Diners at The Grill in downtown Athens have been enjoying the 50’s diner decor, huge burgers, thick milkshakes and more since 1981
Since 1962, customers at the Varsity have been greeted with “What’ll ya have… What’ll ya have?”
Last Resort Grill serves delicious food using fresh grown produce from local farmers
A lot has changed in Athens over the years but a visit there will always bring back good memories for me.
Our seats were in an open air car for the hour long ride beside the Toccoa River. The train departed the station right on time at 11:00.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Blue Ridge Depot
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Open air seating on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
As we traveled along at a whopping 10 mph we were able to enjoy the scenery and snap a few photos. A few trees were starting to show signs of autumn but we were too early for the brilliant oranges, reds and yellows that will come later in the season.
The V in the river is a fish trap made of piled rocks by Native Americans over 500 years ago
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
We rode beside the Toccoa River for most of the trip
The track follows the Toccoa river
It was starting to look like fall
The Toccoa River
The track follows the Toccoa river
Our destination was McCaysville, GA/Copperhill, TN. There was plenty of time to explore the town before the scheduled 2:00 departure. It’s hard to tell which town is which since the state line runs right through the middle of town.
As we wandered around the town we crossed back and forth between Georgia and Tennessee several times. The state line even runs through the middle of some buildings. “Dine on the Line” is the motto for the Copper Grill restaurant where we had lunch. Their address is Tennessee but the state line goes right through the restaurant.
The GA/TN state line runs through the towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN
It was nice to sit back and relax on the return trip to Blue Ridge. Before driving back to Dillard we walked across the street from the depot for some fried apple pies from the Mercier Orchard downtown restaurant and store. These pies have been featured on the Food Network and are melt in your mouth delicious!
What’s not to love? A scenic train ride, cool mountain air, beautiful scenery, fresh trout and catfish for lunch, going back and forth between two states just by walking through town, and delicious fried pies! A great day!