Dead ‘Gators in my Thursday’s Windows.

We had a beautiful sunny Florida morning with 21C, as we started our road trip up to the family in New Jersey. After a couple of hours driving on the Interstate 95, I espied a sign, proclaiming “Last Starbucks for 146 miles, coming up Exit 176.” 😯 Oh horrors! A quick detour was definitely called for, and I happily consumed my favourite chai latte and sun-dried tomato, mozzarella and basil Panini, before we continued on our merry way. Sitting at a table outside the window were three old men, one of whom was wearing a rather scruffy Santa hat, which rather curiously said “Happy Birthday” on the front. 🙂

We stopped to refill the tank at a gas station just outside Palatka. Here there were many stalls displaying fresh oranges, pecan nuts and beautiful shell ornaments.

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I realised that we must be in the heart of  ‘gator country, when I looked through the window of the souvenir shop, and saw this.

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Walking around to the other side, I saw even more of them.

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The sun reflecting on the window was too much for a decent photo, so an inside shot was called for. I think even Phil would agree that this one is quite a large specimen. I couldn’t help wondering why there were so many baby ones for sale. Do people actually go alligator hunting? I checked this out, and read that Florida is the alligator hunting capital of the world, and 5,000 permits are granted every year which entitle each hunter to catch and kill two of these unfortunate creatures. The season runs from August 15th to September 1st, so for those two weeks, there must be feverish activity in those marshes. We did buy one of the tiny baby ones about four years ago, for our grandson in South Africa, but today, we just stole a few pics.

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Then it was back in the car, and before we knew it, we were at Jacksonville, almost out of Florida and into Georgia, and not a palm tree to be seen.

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I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on part of my journey, and looking at what I saw through these windows. To see more Thursday’s Windows entries, just click here.

I have very patchy internet, especially through the rural areas, so although I’ve managed to visit some of your posts, I still have hundreds of your emails in my inbox. I’ll try to catch up as soon as I can.

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New England in The Fall, for Jake’s theme.

Jake’s Sunday Post theme this week, is ‘Autumn’, and although it’s Springtime here in South Africa, I remembered that I have some lovely photos taken a few years ago, on a visit to New England in the Fall. This was something I’d always wanted to experience, ever since a friend who used to live there, told me about the beautiful colours of the foliage to be seen at this time of year. It was in October, some time around Columbus day, and the pumpkins were out in force.

Porches were already decked out for Halloween.

We travelled around Vermont, staying in various B&B’s along the way. This one is ‘Mapletown Inn’ in the historic hamlet of Mapletown, on route 7. It dates back to 1810, and was used in the mid 19th century as a safe house for black slave fugitives who were fleeing to a better life in Canada.

The scenery was spectacular, and it’s hard to choose which pics I love the most.

I loved the movie, ‘The Bridges of Madison County’, starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, and have also read the book, so was absolutely thrilled to see some of these wonderful covered bridges for myself.

I said that I didn’t know which pics I like the best, but at the end of the final day of our trip, we had the most wonderful photo opportunity, with the sun showing its face after a cloudy rainy day. Just before sunset, it came out to play, together with a stunning rainbow.

What more could I wish for?

Can you spot the Bennington Obelisk in this last photo? It’s a battle monument, and at 93 metres, is the tallest structure in Vermont.

I can tell you that this was the best time I’ve ever had in Autumn. So much beauty, and an American road trip which I’ll never forget.

To see more entries for Jake’s theme, just click here.

Snow flurries at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

As I’m not travelling anywhere for the next few weeks, I thought I’d do a few posts about a trip we did in April/May 2010. We first visited our son and family in New Jersey, and then flew into Jackson Hole to do a road trip to Yellowstone National Park. It was a wonderful adventure, and much, much colder than we ever expected it would be. I thought the end of April signalled the start of Spring, but we found ourselves in freezing temperatures most of the time.

After an evening out at a local New Jersey restaurant with our son and DIL, we finished packing and went to bed quite early as we had to get up at 4-30 am to take the hire-car back and catch the 7-30am flight from Newark to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, via Denver. I was surprised that there were so many cars about at such an early hour. My breakfast at Newark was a bacon, egg and cheese bagel which was absolutely tasteless, and orange juice, which was delicious. Then we were off on our way to Denver and made such good time that we arrived too early and had to wait on the tarmac for half and hour until a gate became available. It was bright and sunny and about 5 degrees in Denver. The airport is HUGE and sooo busy, like Piccadilly Circus in the rush hour.

After a Starbucks’ Chai latte and a decadent chocolate brownie, we boarded a much smaller plane, only 66 seater, for Jackson Hole. This flight was only an hour and a half and the pilot told us to expect a bumpy ride because of the gusting winds. He also informed us that the temperature at our destination would be -5 degrees, OUCH! The flight was quite smooth except when I got up to go to the loo and of course; that was when the gusting winds kicked in and I was propelled down the aisle a bit faster and not in quite such a straight line as I would have liked. As we were coming in to land, I saw a large animal galloping along the roadside close to the runway. I was informed later that it was probably an elk or a buffalo. The Rocky mountains were covered in snow and fir trees and looked so very beautiful.

Stepping off the plane I was greeted by a biting wind and a few flakes of snow, and a sign saying “Welcome to Jackson Hole Wyoming.” We were met by the car rental driver who took us to their office in town to pick up the vehicle which turned out to be a Dodge Durango 4×4 V8 SUV. When hubby touched the accelerator, it leapt forward like a bat out of Hell, and gave us both a BIG fright. Didn’t realise how much power there was under the bonnet, or “hood” as they say here.

We then drove a short distance down the road to the “Rustic Inn Creekside Resort and Spa” where we were booked in to stay the night.  It is all log cabins and our suite was beautifully warm with a gas log fire. Very cosy and comfortable indeed, with a lovely view of the Rocky Mountains.

Directly across the road was the Visitors Centre where a very helpful and friendly local guy called Jim, wearing a BIG hat, told us about the local conditions, recommended routes and places of interest.

About 7pm, we had dinner at the hotel Bistro and Bar which was so welcoming and again really cosy with a fire at one end. We sat at the bar and I asked for a hot drink as I thought I had the beginnings of a cold. I’d been sneezing rather a lot and thought I may have caught a cold from my youngest granddaughter who had been a bit runny- nosed for the last few days. The very jolly barmaid Kattie, recommended Bourbon, honey and lemon. I’m not at all a whiskey fan but purely for medicinal purposes you understand, I agreed to try one. I felt much better after drinking about half of it. Potent stuff. I asked her how much Bourbon she had put in and she smiled and said, “It was just a Kattie tot.” I ordered another one just to make sure that I would be well on the way to recovery by the morning. Hubby tried the “Bitch Creek” dark beer, a Jackson Hole original, and pronounced it excellent.  We ate delicious tomato soup, the chef’s “soup du jour” and shared a loooong flatbread topped with venetian prosciutto, oven roasted tomatoes, spinach and pecorino romano cheese. Yum! To follow, came fried artichoke hearts topped with blue cheese cream and red peppers. A truly wonderful meal. All this was eaten whilst watching baseball on one tv and basketball on another.

As we drove back to our cabin, the snow was softly falling all around and we were more than ready to try out our huge bed with the pine log headboard.

The following day, we were headed for Thermopolis, which claims to be the largest hot spring in the world. After the biting cold, hot springs would be more than welcome.

To be continued.