Florida in July!

 

IMG_8198

Me with my son at Camp Jackson Sawyer on Scout Key in the Florida Keys, July 9, 2020

I’ve been very busy with life 🙂 for the past couple of years, and haven’t made very many posts lately. However, I’d like to make this post about a trip my son and I took to Florida this summer.

IMG_7754

My son at Florida Sea Base, Islamorada, July 1, 2020

It was great to get away to Florida for a few days! Of course, it was very nerve-wracking to go in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, but we did it.

IMG_8138

View of Miami from Biscayne National Park, July 8, 2020

My son spent many days at Sea Base in the Florida Keys with his Order of the Arrow honor society through Boy Scouts of America.

IMG_7625

My son and Florida panther statue, Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida, June 2020

It was an experience that we planned on prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and we were still deciding whether or not to go even in the days prior to the trip.

IMG_7986

Key West lighthouse, July 2, 2020

Ultimately, we decided to go and be as safe as possible while wearing our masks, neck gaiters, and cotton gloves as much as possible.

IMG_8107

Royal Poinciana tree with beautiful orange flowers, Key Largo, Florida, July 6, 2020

In my hotels in South Florida and Key West, I also used Lysol to wipe down all of the high-touch areas, including on each occasion after housekeeping came through to clean and tidy up.

IMG_8021

Lizard at Florida Sea Base, July 2, 2020

I’m so thankful and relieved that we could go, have a good time, AND stay safe and healthy, avoiding COVID-19!

IMG_7835

Butterfly at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, July 2, 2020

I must say that I’ve never been to Florida in the incredible heat of July, so this was a first!

IMG_7742

Rhinoceros lizard at The Alligator Farm, Homestead, Florida, June 2020

It was so incredibly hot in South Florida, especially with the Saharan dust blanketing the atmosphere, warming it up like an oven. I knew it would be hot, and it was definitely sizzling!

IMG_8057

Parrot at Theater of the Sea wildlife facility in Islamorada, July 6, 2020

Unfortunately, the beaches were closed from Thursday through Monday for Independence Day weekend due to the Florida governor trying to limit the coronavirus spread, so that put a damper on beach plans.

IMG_8155

Palm tree with coconuts growing, Bayfront Park, Homestead, Florida, July 8, 2020

However, it was necessary. Coronavirus infections continue to rise and break records in Florida. I eventually got to the beach and got my fill of the sun – within one hour! That was plenty for me. 🙂

IMG_8116

Crab at Biscayne National Park, Homestead, Florida, July 8, 2020

In all, it surely was so nice to get away for awhile!

Visiting Ruby Falls in Chattanooga

20191126_123635.jpg

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, TN, November 26, 2019

I can’t believe that almost one year has passed since I’ve made my last post on WordPress!

20191126_121741.jpg

A ceiling view inside Ruby Falls Cave, November 26, 2019

My family and I have been extremely busy this year, and the time has really flown by at an incredible speed – much faster than usual, I’d say.

20191126_124656.jpg

Formations that resemble tobacco leaves. Ruby Falls Cave, November 26, 2019

It has been a great year, however, and my son and I took a couple of days to enjoy the sites in Chattanooga during Thanksgiving vacation.

20191126_121656.jpg

Another ceiling view inside Ruby Falls Cave. Notice that some of the formations have been broken off in the past. Tourists were told that people did that in the 1930s during the Great Depression to sell them for money. November 26, 2019

Posted here are some pictures I took while inside the Ruby Falls Cave on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

20191126_121538.jpg

A formation resembling a leaning tower. Ruby Falls Cave. November 26, 2019

I had never been there before, so I was pleasantly surprised and awed by its beauty.

20191126_125414.jpg

Formation that looks like an elephant’s foot inside Ruby Falls Cave. November 26, 2019

I’ve toured a few caves in the past, but this is one of the best I’ve seen!

20191126_125302.jpg

A famous formation in Ruby Falls Cave that people are allowed to touch. November 26, 2019

Please enjoy the pictures, although they don’t do it justice.

Beautiful Soco Falls, near Cherokee, North Carolina (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Soco Falls, Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Soco Falls, Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Just off of Highway 19 on the Cherokee Nation, near Cherokee, North Carolina is the beautiful Soco Falls.  Soco Falls is a double waterfall that is worth the short trail walk of five minutes or less to view.

Beautiful Soco Falls on the Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Beautiful Soco Falls on the Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

The larger waterfall may be viewed from a deck platform that is well-maintained.  The lower waterfall involves a steeper and more slippery trail walk that is easy for a rugged hiker, though I do not recommend it for novices.

When visiting the Cherokee Nation and/or Cherokee, North Carolina, Soco Falls is a definite attraction to view for its refreshing and re-energizing view of nature’s beauty.

Frosty Oak Leaf (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Frosty Oak Leaf, Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia, December 14, 2014

Frosty Oak Leaf, Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia, December 14, 2014

My son and I enjoyed viewing this frosty oak leaf on the shore of Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia while camping last weekend.  The tiny icicles that formed on the bottoms of the stones were pretty neat, too!  Overnighting in freezing temperatures and taking in the sun’s warm afternoon rays, it was nice to enjoy the wintry outdoors.  I hope you enjoy the photo, too!

“Visiting the Georgia Aquarium” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Dolphin, Playfully Blowing Bubbles, at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Dolphin, Playfully Blowing Bubbles, at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

On July 9, 2013, my son and I visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.  The visit was my third and my son’s fourth.  We had a lovely time viewing the aquatic animals and amphibians that are residents of this amazing water sanctuary.  On this visit, my son and I viewed every area, looking at and/or experiencing each display.  On past visits, there was so much to see that we did not have the opportunity to see everything.  This time, however, the soreness of our feet and ankles told us that we had walked far and had seen much.

Dolphin, Playfully Blowing Bubbles, at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Dolphins Playing with each Other, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Something new that my son and I experienced on our most recent visit to the Georgia Aquarium was the Dolphin Tales Live Show, sponsored by AT&T.  This show can be described as an aquatic musical that includes actors, dolphins, and dolphin trainers/acrobats.  The jumps and tricks performed by the dolphins are beautiful and breath-taking, while the stunts accomplished by the dolphin trainers/acrobats are impressive, as well.  I would definitely suggest seeing the show; and I, myself, would see it again!

Beluga Whale, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Beluga Whale, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Because we live about one hour outside of Atlanta, we do not often have the opportunity to get to the Georgia Aquarium.  For someone of low income, the expense of visiting the Aquarium is something I can do about once every one or two years.  For an additional $50 added to our $70 in total tickets, I could have purchased annual memberships, though it would still be a drive for us.  Without any student or senior citizen discounts, paying the adult and child ticket prices, along with buying food, purchasing a couple of souvenirs, getting pictures developed, spending money for gas, and paying for parking, our visit amounted to about $150 for the two of us.

Whale Shark, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Whale Shark, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

While the visit was an expense for us, we had a great time!  We love the Georgia Aquarium, and wish we could visit it more often.  Some of my son’s favorite animals at the Aquarium were the Beluga whales, rays, dolphins, jellyfish, and otters.  I have to agree that I enjoyed seeing those animals, as well as the frogs and toads, the many fishes, penguins, and the albino alligators.  We look forward to seeing these beautiful animals again on our next visit!

Manta Ray, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Manta Ray, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Following is more of my selected photo collection of pictures from our visit to the Georgia Aquarium:

Albino Alligator, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Albino Alligator, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

My Son Touching a Ray in the "Petting" Pool, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

My Son Touching a Ray in the “Petting” Pool, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Tropical Green Tree Frogs, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Tropical Green Tree Frogs, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Blue Angelfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Blue Angelfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Pacific Sea Nettle, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Pacific Sea Nettle, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Lionfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Lionfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

I hope you enjoyed my post, and I hope you can visit the beautiful Georgia Aquarium soon!

“A Wet Summer in the Blue Ridge Mountains” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

View of Blue Ridge Mountains near Thunder Struck Ridge, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

View of Blue Ridge Mountains near Thunder Struck Ridge, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

Last week – the first week of July, 2013 – my son and I spent a couple of days in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.  The full day that we spent in the mountains was perfect; we hit the weather just right!  Our sunny, dry day of activities was sandwiched between two rainy, wet days – the days that we spent driving. 

Aerial View of Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

Aerial View of Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

We were blessed and lucky to have a nice vacation day that was so beautiful.  There has been so much rain in the South so far this summer that I was worried that our one summer vacation day spent away from home would be a wash, but it wasn’t.  Thank goodness; it was perfect for us!

View of Blue Ridge Mountains after the Rain, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

View of Blue Ridge Mountains after the Rain, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

It is always refreshing to get away to the mountains – they are so beautiful and majestic.  To be back with nature in it’s fully beauty and greenery is food for the soul.  With all of the rain we have had so far this spring and summer, there is an abundance of greenery all throughout the mountains.  Usually, we are concerned about the lack of rain that contributes to drought, but not this year. 

Mosses and Lichens Growing on Trees in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

Mosses and Lichens Growing on Trees in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

There has been so much rain that the mosses and lichens growing on the trees tend to look more like Spanish moss.  The moss is growing to longer lengths than usual because of the highly wet conditions.  Also, there are many more mushrooms and toadstools to be found throughout the forest, as well.

Wild Mushrooms in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

Wild Mushrooms in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

With all of the rain, the rivers, creeks, and streams have been swelling with water.  The banks of all of the rivers and creeks that we saw were overpassed, and the water was at a much higher level than usual. 

Soco Falls, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

Soco Falls, North Carolina, July 2, 2013

This, however, led to the increased beauty of the falling water at Soco Falls, a beautiful falls near Maggie Valley and Cherokee, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  This summer, there was a greater volume of water spewing over the falls – the most that I have seen in my past many years of visiting this lovely natural wonder.  It is always refreshing to hear the sound of the waterfalls at Soco Falls.

It is always a wonderful treat to visit and stay in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  Typically, especially for Southerners, going to the mountains in summer is a cool, refreshing retreat from the usual activities of daily life and those hot, humid days.  This year, visitors will be even more refreshed by the beautiful greenery; cooler temperatures; abundant water from all of the rains; great opportunities for hiking, fishing, sight-seeing, swimming, horseback riding, and other activities; as well as simply enjoying the peaceful beauty of nature.

“Two Days at Disney” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

View of EPCOT with Flower Show, Monorail, and Spaceship Earth, Disney World, Florida, April 2, 2013

View of EPCOT with 20th Anniversary Flower Show, Monorail, and Spaceship Earth, Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, April 2013

During Spring Break 2013, in the first week of April after Easter, my son and I spent two days at Disney World.  I have visited Disney world numerous times throughout my life, and have taken my son there on some occasions, as well.  He and I enjoyed two wonderful days at this wonderful, get-away paradise, wishing that we could have stayed longer.  For a single parent on a limited budget, even two days was financially difficult to do, though it was important to get away and enjoy some refreshment even for a couple of days.

Flamingos at Disney World's Animal Kingdom, Florida, April 2013

Flamingos at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Florida, April 2013

On our first day at Disney World, we visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  My son had not visited the Animal Kingdom for the past seven years, and I promised him that we would go there on this trip.  I am so happy that we went because it turned out to be the absolute perfect day!  The weather was great, and while it was toasty, it was not too unbearably hot outside yet.  The shade of the many trees in Animal Kingdom also helped to keep us cooler.

African Dance Party at Disney World's Animal Kingdom, Florida, April 2013

African Dance Party at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Florida, April 2013

The highlights of our visit to Animal Kingdom were going on the safari ride, eating lunch at the Tusker House Restaurant with some Disney characters, and viewing the Lion King Show.  Each of these activities were wonderful, and we really enjoyed them!  On the safari, we saw many animals, including elephants, lions, giraffes, monkeys, crocodiles, and more.  During lunch, Mickey Mouse visited with us, as well as other Disney characters.  And, the acrobatics, songs, and costumes of the Lion King Show were amazing!  Additionally, in the African section, we did some shopping and enjoyed African culture, including music and singing.

The Lion King Show at Disney World's Animal Kingdom, Florida, April 2013

The Lion King Show at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Florida, April 2013

On our second day at Disney World, we went to EPCOT.  It was another beautiful, yet humid day, and we often got refreshed in the air conditioned buildings or drank water or juice to cool down.  At EPCOT, we visited different sections, including Canada, England, France, Morocco, and Japan.  We were privileged to see and hear three marching bands troop past us.  We also had our pictures taken with many characters, including Alladin and Princess Jasmin.

A Marching Band from Ohio, Performing at EPCOT, Disney World, Florida, April 2013

A Marching Band from Ohio, Performing at EPCOT, Disney World, Florida, April 2013

Also at EPCOT, we rode on the newly upgraded and more modernized Test Track, at which my son designed his own red sports car on the computers there.  We extremely enjoyed the 20th Annual EPCOT Flower Show, particuarly with flowers arranged on the ground in the form of flowers and butterflies.  While we did not stay late into the evening to see the fireworks, we still had a fabulous time!

Beautiful Flowers at the 20th Anniversary EPCOT Flower Show, Disney World, Florida, April 2013

Beautiful Flowers at the 20th Anniversary EPCOT Flower Show, Disney World, Florida, April 2013

My philosophy about children is that they grow up very fast, and it is important to provide as many fun, interesting, and memorable experiences for them as possible.  Disney World is a place where I have vacationed very often, having first visited when I was about three or four years old.  Now, I have the pleasure and satisfaction of taking my own son to Disney World for his enjoyment.  I am happy to have the opportunities and ability to provide for such family enjoyment, and look forward to more visits there in the future.

This blog post is a tribute to all those who lost their lives or who were injured – especially children – in the bomb blasts at yesterday’s Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts.  May God bless you all and keep you close.

“Views in North Carolina from October 2009” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

Included in this article is a collection of photographs that I took while on a weekend vacation to North Carolina in October 2009.  The pictures are those that I took in Waynesville, along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Waynesville to Asheville, Asheville, and near Bryson City.  Though the views are extremely beautiful, they are much more breath-taking in person.  Photographs included are those of trees with leaves in various colors, creeks, my son, and my son at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  Enjoy!

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn Leaves in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains

October 2009 Autumn View in North Carolina

October 2009 Autumn View in North Carolina

Stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains, NC, October 2009

My Son Holding an Orange Leaf, Waynesville, NC, October 2009

My Son Holding an Orange Leaf, Waynesville, NC, October 2009

My Son in Front of the Biltmore Mansion, Asheville, NC, October 2009

My Son in Front of the Biltmore Mansion, Asheville, NC, October 2009

How the time goes by so quickly!  I can hardly believe that three years have already passed since taking this vacation and these photographs!  My son has asked to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina each year now for the past couple of years, though due to the expense, it is not something that we can regularly do.  Hopefully, sometime when he is older and we are in an improved financial position, we can visit it again.  It is amazing!

I hope you have enjoyed this collection of autumn photos from my travels in North Carolina in October 2009.  The changing of the seasons is really beautiful, particularly with the varied leaf colors that can be viewed every year at this time in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains.  The leaves are probably at their peak colors right now, so it is a great time to go and visit the mountains in North Carolina!

“The Grand Canyon: South Rim Views of 2002” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

All of my life, I wanted to go and see the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  From the time that I was a young girl and became informed that the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, I had to see it.  I remember begging and pleading to my parents to take a family vacation there, but they never did.  I, therefore, promised myself that I would definitely go to see it sometime before I died.

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

Ten years ago, I celebrated a milestone event in my life, and part of that celebration was to go see the Grand Canyon!  I’m so happy that I did!  There are not words to describe it, really.  It is just so awesome, amazing, breath-taking, incredible!  Truly, words such as “awesome” and “wow” cannot even begin to describe the amazing natural brilliance of this incredible world wonder. 

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

Upon first viewing the Grand Canyon in all of it’s incredible wonder and splendor, my first thought was, “There truly is a God.”  I thought this because I believe there is no other being in existence that could have so beautifully-fashioned and molded this breath-taking world landmark.

The Author at the Grand Canyon, South Rim, with Colorado River in Background, July 2002

The Author at the Grand Canyon, South Rim, with Colorado River in Background, July 2002

One of my wishes, now, is to take my son to see the Grand Canyon some day.  Enjoying rocks, minerals, and the outdoors, I’m sure he would be a person who would also enjoy and marvel at this splendid natural wonder.

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

I can hardly believe that, already, 10 years have passed since I visited the Grand Canyon and revelled in it’s colorful and amazing brilliance.  The photos posted in my blog, therefore, are from July 2002.  The time goes by much too fast! 

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

Grand Canyon, South Rim, July 2002

However, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to see and enjoy the Grand Canyon at least once in my life.  Thank you, God, for creating such an amazing and incredible natural wonder!

Mighty and Majestic Niagara Falls (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Niagara Falls, Canada “Horseshoe Falls” View with Maid of the Mist, June 2012

Growing up near Niagara Falls, my family visited this wondrous natural miracle during my childhood.  As a college student at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), friends and I would also take trips to the Falls to view it’s amazing might and majesty, particularly at night when it was illuminated with spotlights of every color. 

Into adulthood, I continued to visit the Falls for an afternoon here and there, being both exhilarated by the thunderous roar of the water crashing down at it’s base, as well as by the peaceful serenity of the beautiful, rushing waters.  Visiting the Falls in an afternoon to enjoy this natural beauty, it was typically peaceful and not busy, so I could enjoy a picnic lunch or snack there.

Niagara Falls, Canada – View of the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, June 2012

It had long been a desire to take my young son to visit and enjoy the might and majesty of the amazing and miraculous Niagara Falls.  Taking that opportunity in June 2012, we spent an afternoon in Canada and viewed the Falls – the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Horseshoe Falls – both from the ground as well as from atop the Skylon Tower.  Both the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are located in Niagara Falls, New York, while the Horseshoe Falls are in Niagara Falls, Canada.

Niagara Falls, Canada – Partial View of Water Falling over the Horseshoe Falls, June 2012

Waiting until I was an adult in order to sail on a Maid of the Mist boat, the experience of sailing as close to the Horseshoe Falls as possible was invigorating and thrilling.  Only once in my life have I sailed on the Maid of the Mist.  I would have done so again on this trip, though my son did not feel comfortable with the thought of being so close to the thunderous Falls.  And, I don’t blame him – after all, I was an adult in my mid-20’s before I did so.

My Son and the Horseshoe Falls of Niagara Falls, Canada, June 2012

Rather than sailing on the Maid of the Mist, my son and I viewed the Falls from the enormous height of the observation deck on the Skylon Tower, feeling the strong winds into which we had to force our weight in order to walk.  The view from such a height caused the Falls to appear much smaller and somewhat less significant than they actually are.

Niagara Falls, Canada – Zoomed-in View of the Horseshoe Falls with Maid of the Mist from atop the Skylon Tower, June 2012

Still, the view of the Falls from atop the Skylon Tower was breath-taking as my son and I enjoyed looking at them – as well as the surrounding area that we could see for miles (I mean ‘kilometers’) around.  That was just fine for us.  

We had a lovely visit, and my son can now say that he is an international traveler, having used his passport for the first time on this trip to Niagara Falls, Canada!

The direct link for this blog post is at http://wp.me/p25c1A-aJ.