Finally, spring is here! One of the 9 million reasons this makes me happy is that I can finally get out and use my balcony. This weekend, I made my first foray into gardening. It went pretty well. I got dirty, it rained a little, I realized I bought way too many flowers and not nearly enough soil or containers….and then when I proudly told my Mom about it all she told me I was probably a little early in the season (by 2-4 weeks). But hey, it was a first step in the right direction.
Here’s some visual evidence of my gardening prowess/learning curve, depending on how you look at it:
Below: This is just half of my gardening store purchase. As you can see, I bought about 6 gazillion petunias. Everyone loves petunias!
More petunias, this time for an old planter that was just waiting to be livened up.
Petunias and dianthus in my planter boxes.
I’m most excited about growing food. Here I’ve got swisss chard, tomato and rosemary. I also bought seeds for basil, parsley and oregano.
My window box! (Petunias, of course.)
In addition to filling out the rest of my balcony plantings, I’m also working on this sunny little corner of my kitchen. It’s an odd space for any useful furniture, but it’s perfect for plants. Until I get it organized, these plants are just happy to be hanging out in the sun and enjoying the view of the Licking River, of course. (Note the slightly droopy lily and sad orchid below it. I have high hopes these plants will make a full recovery soon.)
For the last leg of our trip, we stopped at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for some easy hiking and spectacular views. I hadn’t been here in years and forgot how beautiful it is. Literally every turn you make there’s a new postcard-worthy vista.
It’s our last full day in the Florida Keys and we’ve returned to one of our favorite spots, Bahia Honda State Park. It not only has one of the most beautiful, natural beaches I’ve ever seen (think of it as a more tropical Cape Cod), but it’s blissfully uncrowded and teeming with wildlife. We saw ghost crabs scuttling in the shallow water, an iguana, conch, a bigger red crab (scientific names only here, people) and again a million birds I don’t remember but definitely lots of giant pelicans.
Here are some photos to illustrate this park’s beauty. (By the way, we scoped out the booked-months-in-advance tent sites and must return to camp here. Mangrove-shaded, private spots with a wide open view of the ocean and just steps from the beach. Just sayin’!)
Below: A view of the Atlantic from Sandspur Beach.
An iguana sunning itself/hiding from me.
A conch – look at that crazy eye!
Night four of our expedition through Florida, and we’re spending some time at Everglades National Park. We arrived around 3 pm and just on the drive in and initial exploration of our camping area, we’ve seen an alligator, two crocodiles and a million birds (more on that in another post because I’ll have to get Brandon to remind me of which birds we saw, and he’s currently fishing for tonight’s dinner).
Let me just say, two crocodiles?! Every guidebook I read had prepared me to leave the park without seeing any of these “elusive” and “secretive” creatures. But let me tell you, they are feeling quite outgoing this week! (By “outgoing” I mean sitting next to the water, hiding and not moving at all but letting us glimpse them as they sun themselves.)
With that brief update, I leave you with some photos of our first afternoon in the Everglades.
Below: View of one of the ponds we stopped by on our 38-mile drive in from the park entrance to Flamingo.
Same pond, we saw an alligator!
Pre-dinner relaxation (though I’m clearly blogging from my iPhone instead of reading, although I am happy I’m finally reading that book!
View of our campground, Flamingo.
Pecans are everywhere in Georgia. Even in grocery carts outside gas stations.
Handwritten note circa 2005, on flight to NYC
This weekend I began the dreaded, often-ignored task of cleaning out old files and folders tucked away in my storage closet. I loathe the thought of yet again wondering what to do with my retired cell phones or whether I should keep those 10-foot ethernet cables, if that’s even what they really are.
The bright side of this drudgery is uncovering the fun things that are tucked away between the pay stubs and check registers. Pictures, journals, video tapes. My boring old files turned out to be a goldmine of memories of the past five years or so.
Reading through my old travel notes and looking at the printed out pictures, I realized how nice it is to actually have these things in paper form. Sure, I back everything up to the cloud and treasure the instant access to information that the iPhone affords me, but there’s no way I would have kept this travel note if it had been on my phone.
The note here is from one of my first trips to NYC, in 2005, three years before I moved there. I went with two of my best friends during what we thought was “spring break,” and realized that on the east coast that can and did involve blizzards. It didn’t stop us from trekking through the Gates in Central Park, though, or hitting up happy hours. (Since we were on a budget, much of our pre-trip planning involved scoping out cheap happy hours.)
As I plan for an upcoming trip to Florida, I think I may just go back to this old-school way of taking notes. When I clean out my closet in 2018, I’ll be glad I did. (And then I can officially make the theme of this blog “handwritten travel notes.”)
A handwritten notes of what to see and do in Mississippi and Tennessee, from the manager at Rowdy’s in Vicksburg.
I just came across this note, filed away in a book. It’s a handwritten list of sights to see in Mississippi and Tennessee. The author was the manager at Rowdy’s in Vicksburg, Miss., where we were filling ourselves up on iced tea and catfish (and the mysteriously sweet and spicy house “nosser” sauce) after a long day of driving during our road trip through the South this past fall.
We didn’t ask for suggestions, but we gladly took them. He said he knew we were travelers by our accents (from our point of view, lack of accents) and tried his best to talk us out of driving the Great River Road. It was overrated, he said. We figured he was taking for granted the sunny Southern skies and billowing cotton fields and winding roads dotted with charmingly ramshackle country stores.
So we didn’t listen to him…until we had followed the Great River Road for two or three long hours the next morning and discovered for ourselves how the beautiful first glimpses of cotton fields eventually turned to monotony. By the time we changed course and made it back over to Hwy 61, we wanted to make up for lost time and get on to Oxford. So while, in our haste, we skipped over most of our friend’s suggestions, we did visit Rowan Oak, the William Faulkner estate.
If I end up in Mississippi again, I’ll certainly be taking the manager’s list with me – and taking it a little more seriously.