Florida in July!



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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.


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. 🙂


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

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

Seeing the Total Solar Eclipse at Boy Scout Camp Rainey Mountain in Clayton, Georgia


View of total solar eclipse through the rain clouds at Camp Rainey Mountain, Clayton, Georgia, August 21, 2017

On Monday, August 21, 2017, my son and I traveled to Clayton, Georgia to Boy Scout Camp Rainey Mountain to participate in their special event, held to witness the total solar eclipse!  We met up with other boy scouts from my son’s troop, and enjoyed viewing the eclipse with about 1,000 people who were there for the event.

It was an absolutely wonderful and amazing experience to be in a zone of totality to view the eclipse, even if rain clouds came through during the last 20 minutes before totality.


My son and other boy scouts looking at the eclipse, Camp Rainey Mountain, Clayton, Georgia, August 21, 2017

Thankfully, we did get to see totality for a few seconds when there was a part in the rain clouds, during totality.  The halo around the sun appeared to be lavender in color, through the clouds.  It was really neat!


My son and I viewing the solar eclipse, Camp Rainey Mountain, Clayton, Georgia, August 21, 2017

And, when we experienced totality, the sky became really dark, like it was night time.  Of course, the rain clouds had already caused it to become dark, though the total eclipse made it significantly dark.

Though we were on the road, driving, for a total of 8.75 hours, plus stopping to eat dinner for 45 minutes, it was well, well worth it to take the day and see the total solar eclipse!


People in the dark during totality of the solar eclipse, Camp Rainey Mountain, Clayton, Georgia, August 21, 2017

I saw a partial solar eclipse when I was younger, but this was like no eclipse I’ve ever seen before.  Again, it was really amazing to see totality and was well-worth the trip.  I would do it again if I could, and am so happy that we had the opportunity to go and enjoy seeing the solar eclipse in totality!

Tubing at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina


Tubing at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, February 11, 2017

This weekend, my son and I visited Sugar Mountain, North Carolina and had a fun afternoon tubing.  The temperatures were very mild, and there were light sprinkles throughout the afternoon on February 11.  We were overdressed for the weather, and were too warm as we observed the artificially-made snow melt around us.

I’m an expert skier and was eager to hit the slopes, though my son is a beginner, and was not as confident, which is totally fine.  Sugar Mountain has ice skating, tubing, skiing, and snowboarding, so we had many different activities to choose from, and did not have to stick with skiing.  Tubing was really fun, and likely, less potentially hazardous, especially with the large crowd of people who were there this weekend.


Sugar Mountain, North Carolina Tubing, February 11, 2017

Sixteen years have passed since I first visited Sugar Mountain for skiing.  Sugar Mountain is awesome for skiing, but it is a long drive from our home.  With a stop or two, it takes six hours to get there.  Too bad it’s not a bit closer to Atlanta so we could enjoy it more often!

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.