Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don't be a tourist, become an adventurer

With the year coming to a quick close, thoughts of where to head next year pop into mind.

Of course, the Smoky Mountains are a given. We just love the area and the experience.

The West Coast, which usually means San Francisco, is a possibility since we haven't been there in a couple of years.

We have gotten away from a stated goal of seeing at least one new country each year.

We could take a cruise out of New Orleans and add Honduras.

But then again, we haven't been to Europe in a long time and Linda, my wife, wants to add London since we've already been to Paris and Rome.

I would like to take a northern Europe cruise which could put us into another six or seven countries. I especially want to visit Russia and once upon a time I wanted to take the long journey on the Trans-Siberian railway. Poland is another possibility since it is homeland to my deceased father's side of the family. 

There is just so much out there.

But one thing I can't seem to wrap my travel mind around is a journey to South America.

I just don't know what it is.

I always thought about visiting Rio, seeing the ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru, and sailing to the Galapagos Islands.

Someday that may happen, but meantime next year we'll just keep on heading down the road, not as tourists, but travelers of the world.

Merry Christmas and happy travels during the new year.

Next post: Not until January 4, 2011

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bellingrath Gardens continues to amaze

Timed exposure while zooming 18-200 lens

Nothing stays the same. Everything changes.

Everything that is  but the beauty that is the decorations at Bellingrath Gardens just southwest of Mobile, AL.

For the second Christmas holiday season in a row, we journeyed to the gardens -- this year with our son, Jeremy, his wife Katie, granddaughter Molly Kate, grandson Walker and my mother "Sugar."

The previous year the temperature was nippy but not bad, the clouds held a little rain and whatever day it was that we went, there was not a great big crowd.

My, how different it was this time -- on a weekend Saturday in December.

The temperature was mild, stars were evident. Vehicles were bumper to  bumper heading into the garden parking area. The parking lot was stuffed . Visitors were directed to park along the roadside.

And the line for tickets was extremely long.

Amazingly, the line moved quickly and before we knew it, we were enjoying the great holiday scenes.

The path was well-marked as we snaked our way through overhanging decorations, alongside majestic trees and great themed areas.

My mother was in a wheelchair which was easily maneuvered throughout the gardens with very little extra effort needed to make it up and down the inclines.

All in all, it takes about two hours to really enjoy the visit and all the scenes. We enjoyed every minute.

Next post: December 14, 2010