Lens Artists Photo Challenge # 227 – Home Sweet Home

If I had a visitor from another country who wanted to see my home country in a week or a month, where would I take them? This is the challenge Tina has given us.

I live in the United States. Many visitors from other countries are surprised by how huge it is. It would take more than a lifetime to see it all.

Instead, I will take the time we have to see the many beautiful sites in my home state of Georgia. There are mountains, farmland, friendly small towns, the Okefenokee Swamp, historic cities, barrier islands, salt marsh, beaches, lakes, and the city of Atlanta.

I’m not sure we could even cover the entire state in one month but we could give it a good try. We’ll start our tour in coastal Georgia where I live. We would visit at least one of the three inhabited barrier islands that can be reached by road, go on a dolphin tour to look for Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins, walk on an uninhabited island that can only be reached by boat, and take a ferry ride to explore Sapelo Island or Cumberland Island National Seashore. We would catch blue crabs from the local waters and steam them for a delicious meal, snack on boiled peanuts, and feast on low country boil with shrimp fresh from the sea.

We would visit historic Savannah and enjoy a family style lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.

We could take a ride to Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge to see nesting egrets, herons, and woodstorks in the spring. We could continue farther south for a boat ride through the Okefenoke National Wildlife Refuge.

We would take a road trip on back country roads to north Georgia. We would stop to explore Athens, the home of the University of Georgia, go to the top of Brasstown Bald, and look for waterfalls. We would pass by fields of cotton, corn, and pecan orchards along the way.

We would take another road trip to see the western part of the state and stop to explore Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain and President F. D. Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs. We would drive by peach orchards and watch the sunset at one of the many lakes in Georgia.

There is so much more to see in Georgia. Sadly, I don’t have photos of some them. In Atlanta we could see the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, Stone Mountain, the President Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. We could visit the Providence Canyon, also called the grand canyon of Georgia in Lumpkin and beautiful Rome in northwest Georgia, and too many more places to name.

I can’t end a post about Georgia without including the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team. Go Dawgs!

If you would like to see more about my home state of Georgia please visit visit this post I did a a few years ago Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Georgia.

Many thanks to Tina for her Lens-Artists Challenge #227 – Home Sweet Home

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #188 – A Special Place

Our host Karina asks us to show us the places that are or were special to you and tell us why. I’ve chosen to feature two National Wildlife Refuges located in Southeast Georgia.

Working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mission

The National Wildlife Refuge System is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These public lands and waters across the United states are set aside to protect many species. They are special places to experience nature and to view wildlife. There are over 560 National Wildlife Refuges in the United States.

The Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America’s most unspoiled natural wilderness areas. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge web page, “the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area within the refuge boundaries.  In addition, the refuge is a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention – 1971) because it is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems.”

The refuge headquarters are located in Folkston, Georgia. There is also access to the refuge in Georgia’s Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo and the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross.

Alligators in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Turtle in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Swallowtail Butterflies in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Wild Turkey in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Snowy Egret in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Located just a few miles east of I-95 in Townsend, Georgia, Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including nearly 350 species of birds. In the spring, hundreds of wood storks, egrets, and other birds can be seen building their nests in the trees on Woody Pond.

Great Blue Heron in Flight at Harris Neck
Pair of Wood Storks building a nest at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond
Baby Alligators at Woody Pond

Many thanks to our guest host Karina of Murtagh’s Meadow for the challenge Lens’Artists #188: A Special Place

Lens-Artists #119: Hideaway

For this challenge Ann-Christine has asked us “where or what is our hideaway”. Her description of hideaway says “A Hideaway, is a place to which a person can retreat for safety, privacy, relaxation, to seek seclusion or refuge.”

When I am at home I can hideaway for a few moments by getting out in nature or by reading a book. But for me, a true hideaway is a wilderness area far away from civilization, somewhere with no robo calls, internet, or other interruptions.

Three of my favorite destinations immediately came to mind – the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in south Georgia, Denali National Park in Alaska, and Everglades National Park in Florida. Although these are three unique protected wilderness areas, what they have in common is that they are miles away from civilization and the wildlife is free to roam.

Okefenokee Landscape
Okefenokee Landscape

Of these three areas, the closest to my home is the Okefenokee Swamp. When we get to the end of the 17 mile road from the main highway and arrive at Stephen C. Foster State Park I feel like I am in another world. This image and the one at the top were both taken in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge near Fargo, Georgia.

Mount Denali in Denali National Park, Alaska

To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.

John Muir
Sunrise in Everglades National Park in Flamingo, Florida

There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth; remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Thanks to Ann-Christine for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #119: Hideaway.

Lens-Artists #108: Sanctuary

This week, our guest host Xenia of Tranature has chosen Sanctuary for our challenge. She reminds us that “Sanctuary can be found and created in a garden, a park, a field of wild flowers and by the sea …… watching wildlife, listening to birdsong …… along the forest trails and in the mountains.” She has asked us to show where we find it or how we create our calm and healing.

America’s National Parks and Wildlife Refuges are national treasures and wonderful places to find sanctuary.

Pa-Hay-Otee Overlook in Everglades National Park
Pa-Hay-Otee Overlook in Everglades National Park
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Cypress Trees in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Polychrome Overlook, Denali National Park, Alaska
Polychrome Overlook, Denali National Park, Alaska

Closer to home, I can find my sanctuary watching the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean on one of Georgia’s barrier islands (image at the top of the page), walking on the beach, or watching the birds and butterflies in my backyard butterfly garden.

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Waiting for Tropical Storm Isaias

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Xenia, thank you for this weeks Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Sanctuary

The Land of Trembling Earth

Okefenokee – “the Land of Trembling Earth”

What better way to begin our winter southern adventure than a stop in one of our favorite state parks, Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Much of the swamp is covered with thick peat deposits. The early Native Americans named the area Okefenokee which means “land of trembling earth” because  they felt the movement of the peat beneath their feet as they walked.

There were deer in the campground every day. One day we took a walk on the boardwalk nature trail near the marina and watched an egret searching for food.

The Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America’s most unspoiled natural wilderness areas. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge web page, “the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area within the refuge boundaries.

We always enjoy going out in a boat to explore the swamp. On our last visit we enjoyed our ranger guided boat tour so much we decided to go on another tour. While waiting for the tour to begin we wandered around the boat ramp and discovered Mama gator Sophie lounging by the ramp with some of her babies hanging out nearby.

As we rode through the man made canal into the swamp we spied more young gators on the bank enjoying the warm day.

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Young alligators on the bank

A large gator checked us out as we exited the canal into the swamp.

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Alligator in the Okefenokee

After a few days of cloudy skies and chilly days the sun was starting to warm things up. The warmer weather brought out plenty of  wildlife.

The water winds through ancient cypress trees and water lilies.

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Beautiful day in the Okefenokee

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Cypress Trees in the Okefenokee