Monthly Archives: November 2014

A day on the beach.

At last the weather in Panacea Florida has cleared up and we got to go for a nice long walk on the Alligator Point beach. We walked with Jack, his friend Mary Scott who has a home on the beach, and our dogs, Jack’s Lily, Mary Scott’s Jet and our Trusty and Fred. A walk of sun, surf, sand and happy dogs. It doesn’t get much better. Happy American Thanksgiving to all from Panacea, Florida.

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Fred loves to chase his ball. Trusty was the smallest dogs and the others were exuberant so she stayed close to Fred and her people and avoided the wrestling matches.

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Fred Trixie and Jet race ahead chasing Fred’s ball. Fred usually won all the races.

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The beach is alive with creatures especially ghost crabs. We didn’t see the crabs but there were tracks everywhere of their coming and going.

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Fred often chooses to wade/swim along the beach instead of walking as in this picture. Lily runs like a madwoman but always comes back to check in.


Trusty is unhappy in this picture because I am telling her to stay and she does not want to stop for pictures. The beach is full of wonderful stuff to sniff and explore there’s always the fun of rolling in the sand. Who wants to pose for pictures?


We arrive in Panacea, Florida

Oh yes! We have arrived to the closest place to home we have outside of Manitoba, Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea Florida. Dick does volunteer work for them. I write and hang out. One year I did a bunch of programming as a volunteer training project for learning to do html. It is good to be back and get reacquainted.

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Here we are touring the lab again and getting up to date on what is new and what is the same. The kiosk I programmed is still there and still working.

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More students this time. There was a Florida State University project on what different sponges like to eat.

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The sharks were bigger and we were astonished to see how big Little Girl is now. She is almost big enough to be returned to the wild.

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Here Jack checks up on another FSU student doing a project on sponge regeneration. It’s sure great to see all the research going on.

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Some horseshoe crabs on display and the view from the corral where the trailer is parked. It is nice to see the sea again!

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And of course it is rainy and wet and foggy and we arrived to a series of thunderstorms, some of them severe, and a couple of tornado warnings. Imagine a prairie thunderstorm that lasts for days.

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The dock the children have their lessons in marine biology on was all fixed up after a storm tore it up. We could see the repairs. Jack looks great.

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Jack demonstrated how they lift net works. And we got to meet what I suspect is a good part of the reason Jack looks so good and is smiling so much. HIs new friend Jane.

Sirens Sounding

We are sitting in a Milledgeville restaurant in downtown Milledgeville called the Local Yolkal. I woke up and saw an approaching storm system and it was aimed right at our little, totally vulnerable, camper. We were also under a tornado watch. The storm seemed to me to be increasing in intensity and I could see the beginning of the radar hook. So we decided to abandon our home and move to a safer location in downtown Milledgeville where the buildings are sturdy and there are basements. Just as we entered the cafe the sirens began to sound. The locals are calmly alert and ready. One fellow told us to move indoors now and suggested the Local Yolkal for breakfast and storm shelter. The waitress told us the place has a shelter big enough for all the staff and guests so if it gets ugly we can move downstairs. And so we now wait out the tornado. On its current track the storm will go between our present location and the trailer to the north. The biggest problem we may face is getting home if it damages stuff on the highway.

This challenging weather is why America will never be defeated. There is nothing any ISIS or Al Qaeda can produce that is as bad as what Americans regularly deal with from Mother Nature. Listen, react, take shelter, wait and then deal with it when its done.

Epilogue: The storm broke into two cells and one went between the town and the campground. The cell with the tornado passed to the southwest of us, veering that direction as these storms so often do. We saw a lot of heavy rain and a lot of wind but that’s all. Locals watched closely but made no move to head to the shelter so we just watched as well. There are some reports of an eighteen wheeler blown over and some reports of minor damage but not affecting us here in the restaurant.

We returned to our trailer to find the area littered with pine needles and pine cones and lots of running water on the hills and in the ditches, but otherwise no damage. Score one for Mother Nature.

We call them ‘caw-lumns’ not ‘pill’ahs, dear.

So we are in Milledgeville Georgia in our favourite campground on the riverside. It’s actually chilly because the whole polar vortex/former pacific hurricane has caught up with us but it has been considerably moderated traveling over the continent to where we are. The high today is forecast to be 54F/12C. Sweater weather. Our trip from Alabama to Georgia was interesting. What struck me was as soon as we crossed the border we began seeing pillars, arches and artwork. This is not to say that we did not see such things in northern Alabama, but Georgia clearly takes special pride in the their pursuit of neoclassical architectural highlights. Even the poorest trailer park had porches with Greekish pillars.

Last night we attended a play put on by the local society. It is comedy set in Tennessee, a traveling singing family, and most of the jokes centred around how uncultured but musical the good mountain people are. There was also a lot of warm fuzzy, “we are all Americans in this together” stuff too. And of course endless bible quotes and talk of Jesus. There was a medley of Christmas around the world that was hilarious because it was so appallingly ignorant that even the Americans understood it was a parody of the widespread ignorance of the outside world Americans are famous for. A people who can make fun of themselves will never do poorly.

The church was lined with historical photography and I was looking at the pictures during intermission and a local woman approached. She proudly told me she had been born and raised here. She asked me for my impressions and I commented on all the pillars. She went on to give me a detailed explanation about how every town of any note in Georgia has a distinctive form of this architectural highlight.

“And we ca-ah them caw-lumns not pill-ahs, dear.”

Milledgeville has the distinction of combining Doric columns with Iconic scrollwork. I wondered if the Greeks would approve. She then went on to describe three other towns’ inferior distinctive style in terminology I had only the vaguest awareness of.

She apologized about the cold and I remarked how my husband and I had gone for a walk the night before because the air was so fresh and lovely. I did not mention how much we felt we needed that walk after a typical deep fried everything dinner. We actually took food home there was so much, and we were so stuffed. When I say deep fried everything I am not kidding. Even the pickles were deep fried.

She laughed, delighted with this example of northern hardiness. She was suitably impressed with Canadian tolerance of cold since, as far as she was concerned, the evening before had been so cold as to be unfit for man or beast. She then made this funny wistful comment about how fragile southerners must seem to me. I replied with what has become a standard reply for me. It invariably delights southerners.

“Yes, but in Canada as soon as the temperature goes above 80F [27C] people begin to wilt and the radio and TV have warnings on how to avoid heat stroke, so it is all what you are used to.”

By then we were part of a group as several more of these aging Southern Belles had joined our circle and my comment brought delighted twitters about the poor fragile northerners.

“Why, we don’t even say hot here, until it’s at least 90 dahgreez!”

They asked what part of Canada I was from and I said Winnipeg. That brought the usual blank stares. I added north of North Dakota. I saw a slight reduction in number of blank faces. One of the women commented about how her next door neighbour, one of the university people, was from up north as well, somewhere in Ohio. They took me to the refreshment table and I asked what a particular funny looking cookie was and they tittered again and told me it was a “corn wire” cookie, a southern delicacy. I purchased one to help support their theatre group and tasted it. Corn, salt, sweet and American processed cheese, deep fried to fluffy flakes. Ah yes, the south, land of the extra wide rocking chairs. They were delighted as I exclaimed how good the cookie was while I worried how many calories that one cookie meant. I actually detest American processed cheese but the cookie was salty enough I could barely taste the cheese. As I ate the cookie, I got many more lessons in the wonders of the illustrious history of Milledgeville, which has been present since Georgia was first settled by Europeans, and how it was once the capital of Georgia. I didn’t bring up the Africans by whose forced labor much of this settlement occurred. That was over a hundred years ago and really shouldn’t matter anymore. I looked around and there was not one black face in the audience so although one can see many blacks among the “university people”, in the stores and in restaurants you are as likely to be served by a black as a white, some separations remain here in the south. Such separation are the exceptions now, and not the rule and their bastions are aging. I saw almost no young people, except for a few grandchildren accompanying a family member, and the median age of the players was above my own. All the more reason to not bring up the past in this polite and charming company.

Overall I must say I do love Georgia. I wish we could stay longer. But I’ll skip the heat though. Manitoba summers are hot enough.

I am including some pictures of a particularly stunning bit of Georgian art we came across on our trip. It is family watching murmuration represented by a twirling wind chime decorated with metal birds. I was stunned by the beauty and joyousness of the piece set in a park with multiple columns (not pillars).











Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls is located in Gadsden and we stopped in here. This is one of those “wonders” which everyone is supposed to see on the one wonder per state list. Again the same cavern underneath the falls, the same general shape but this one was easily the highest and biggest of all the ones we saw. There is the inevitable legend of the Indian princess who leaps from the falls into the water to avoid a marriage she can’t stand. What was interesting is this legend is supposedly true. The Cherokee were forced eastward and were crowding and fighting with the Creek so the wedding was to make peace. She jumped instead. The statue has a maiden ugly enough that it should have been the Creek warrior she was betrothed to who would have been the one jumping. No matter. The park is lovely and has a campground. The problem is they were all closed up for their break between Halloween and the preparations for their Christmas festival so we could only see the falls and then leave. The cold arctic air has arrived and after days of T shirt weather we had to bundle up warmly. We will spend the night in Oxford and move along to Milledgeville Georgia in the morning.





Desoto State Park

We spent the night in Desoto State Park. This is a large park near the falls. It has it’s own multiple waterfalls. We went to see all the close by waterfalls. After a day of walking the Cathedral Cavern we weren’t going to try walking miles and miles to see all the falls. In Desoto State Park we visited the Azalea falls, the Indian Falls and Lodge Falls. Lodge falls was just a trifle.


The State Park is up high on the Tennessee Hills plateau. The ride was up long and slow to spare our transmission. At the top the foliage was in full fall glory and a pleasure to see.



Indian Falls from the top.


Indian falls from below. All the waterfalls here have this characteristic cave underneath.




Azalea falls.


Fall reds.



Lodge falls was dry.

Cathedral Cavern

We stopped on our way out of Huntsville to do the tour of the Cathedral Caverns. This is the nicest cave we have ever been in. We have been to Carlsbad and it is bigger but there are extended stretches of nothing pretty. This cave had lovely stuff all around. It took us almost two hours to walk the mile and a half into the cave while the guide showed us all the various things. We had a very good guide who knew all the history of the cave and had many things to tell us. We enjoyed this stop.









This one was fascinating because it was a piece of the stalagtites hanging down and they had a hole in each on where the water ran through.



Huntsville Alabama


Serendipity strikes on the road. It was after dark and we were looking for an open campsite and we landed here. Imagine our delight to discover just where we were! I knew the name of the town was bugging me for some reason. We stopped for an extra day and visited this wonderful museum. It was full of fun things to do. I got to try rock climbing and it was great fun. We saw a lot of fascinating rockets and memorabilia from the the Apollo missions I watched as a child. There was also a lot of stuff from the shuttle program.












New Madrid Missouri

This was one of those “ah hah” moments. I had read a book about the great New Madrid Earthquake and a survivalist screed about what would happen to the USA if another quake like that happened today. We did not plan to go to New Madrid and visit the great earthquake’s site but we passed it by and so took a brief stop. We also saw that iconic crop of the south, cotton. We stopped and had a close up look at the cotton which was being harvested as we passed. Fall flocks of birds were busy all along the way. I got to use one of my new vocabulary words, murmuration, a flock of moving birds making patterns, a lot.