Built initially as a two story log cabin, Jackson later built a mansion on his farm. It is very impressive from both the front and back and laid out on a very expansive lawn.
The grounds around the house are beautiful, especially the garden. In the garden you will find three graves. Those of Andrew and Rachel Jackson and Alfred “Jackson.” Alfred was a slave born on the estate. He was freed after the civil war, but stayed on with the house until he died at 99 in 1901. His log cabin is close to the house and remains as he left it. He was the first tour guide of the mansion.
Wikipedia describes glamping as a combination of “glamor and camping with the amenities.” It is usually associated with tent style of camping and in some cases retro style RVs. My definition of glamping is more for the “average Joe.” For us, it is an RV, trailer or motorhome, with flush toilets, bath and showers, hot and cold running water, a fully functioning kitchen with at least one bedroom. Prices for this type of new home on wheels may run from $15,000 to hundred’s of thousands of dollars. Within a few minutes we were set up with all of the amenities of home, albeit smaller.
During our first trip we stayed at KOA’s. They are all different, but also have basic minimum standards. One had a beautiful pool, offered live entertainment in the evening and a pot-luck every Tuesday. The same venue had shuttle service to the honkey tonk district of Nashville. All had many amenities for outdoor games, snack bar, easy access and friendly people.
I captured some of the RVs that were in the campsites where we stayed.
We took a drive to Orlando just to hang out for a few hours. We avoided the big theme parks, Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios and went to a building near International Drive that housed the Orlando “eye,” Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the Orlando Aquarium. At first I was a little underwhelmed based on the size of the building.
The first thing we did was ride the “eye.” The most interesting thing to me was to look over part of Orlando that was packed with touristy things do do, like go to a bone museum, restaurants (some excellent, some fast food and everything in between), water parks, and lots of shops.
It is easy to see why Walt Disney changed his approach to building Disney World. The original Disney Land is locked in by the types of business we say in Orlando, but far away from Orlando’s Disney World.
Weedon Island is a nature preserve along the coast of St. Petersburg,FL. Full of mangroves and open areas, the area is rich in natural wildlife, both in the salt water, on the ground and in the trees. There are guided tours, and kayak rentals to go out on your own, however, if you chose this rout, make sure you know your way around the mangroves or have a good map and sense of direction.
Our weather was cloudy with some sprinkles, good weather for kayaking in FL where it can be very hot and humid from May through September.
If you are from or near the east coast and traveled south of the Mason-Dixon line or headed north from Georgia you will likely have seen signs for “South of the Border.” I remember stopping there with my parents on trips to Florida and the Carolinas. Back then, in the 1960’s it was a booming tourist attraction with humorous billboard signs north and south announcing it destination several hundred miles away. With each passing billboard our anticipation grew. As a pre-teen, it was exciting and fun when we stopped.
Turn the clock forward about six decades and the place is still there. I was heading to Florida from Virginia, probably my last driving trip on this stretch of highway. As I drove into South Carolina, I began to see signs for “South of the Border.” I decided to stop and check out the place. Over the years it had shown wear and tear. It sure had a different feel for me now than when I was a youngster. This time it looked run down and tacky. Some of the fiberglass figures spread about needed repair.
The giant “Paco” looked like a sad image of the past. For the most part, our society has moved on to more ethical treatment of diverse populations. I think that it is going to continue to decrease in popularity for the millennials and their children. There isn’t anything there to compete with the technology that they hold in their hands for entertainment.
My stop became a trip down nostalgia lane It was still fun to remember what it was like, the excitement I had at the time and being with my family. I bought a t-shirt with “SOB” on the front for “South of the Border.” If I got the chance to stop again I would visit “South of the Border” to be reminded of the fun we had.
We visited the Manatee viewing area in Apollo Beach, FL the last week in December. There were some manatee spotted about two hundred yards from the boardwalk. The weather was still warm then, in the 70’s.
With the national cold snap, bringing snow to northern Florida and the ocean water in the mid 50’s we went to another manatee area in Homosassa at the Florida State Park. Here we were able to see dozens of manatee relatively close in crystal clear water. The spring in Homosassa runs about 73 degrees; creating a nice warm environment for the fish and manatee. We some an excursion boat with people in wet suits attempting to swim with the Manatee.
My wife and I have been fortunate to live in a resort retirement community. Every day we walk our dog two to four miles in the neighborhood and see different flora and fauna. Here are some of the things that we found in “our back yard.” What’s in yours?
The University of Illinois has had a bell tower with 15 bells since 1920. It is part of Altgeld Hall on the north west corner of the central quad. The chimes weigh over seven and a half tons with the largest bell weighing in at one and a half ton and measures five feet across. There is a Seth Thomas clock that mechanically enables the chime to automatically strike the hours and quarter hour to the tune of the Westminster Chime. This runs continuously day and night.
There is also a clavier or keyboard used to play many types of music from the alma mater to Christmas, to star wars themes etc. It is fun to hear the mini concerts during the lunch hour. Sue Wood is the current chime master. She oversees students from a variety of disciplines who play the clavier each day. The clavier keys are connected to cables that strike the bells when a handle is pushed down about four inches. The longest cable runs 68.5 feet.
My colleagues and I took one of the last tours of the “performing room,” the place where the clavier is located along with a practice keyboard, music and chairs for visitors. We were also allowed to climb the tower to see the bells. I had done the same at Notre Dame in France, these were much smaller.
After escaping Irma and returning home, it was heartwarming to see how the government (federal, state, and local) and private enterprise worked together to prepare for and clean up after Irma. It was also rewarding to see people behave themselves when stress levels are high and gas in limited supply.
Heading back south, we saw convoys of US Army troops. Some of them worked with local police blocking highway exits into areas that were flooded (around Savannah, GA).
We were very fortunate leaving FL on Saturday, before the hurricane hit our area. Traffic moved freely and we had plenty of gas. However, the return was much more frustrating, driving ten hours to go about 250 miles. And with the people came some closed gas stations and lines at others, but we made it back to the Tampa area without any problems.
We were very fortunate as was the area where we live. We had a downed tree that leaned up against our neighbors house but there was no damage. Some other trees were down in the neighborhood and that was about it. I was told that we got somewhere between one to three inches of rain, far less than projected. Our grass had not been cut in three weeks which is nothing compared to people who are still without power nearly ten days later in our hot and humid environment. We are slowly getting back to normal. Children started school after a week’s respite and everyone is back to work around the Tampa area.