Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around us...to touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Monday, December 4, 2017

Home Again, Home Again!!!

           
We have had a grand time for the past few months!!  Being able to travel is such a blessing...we never want to take it for granted!!  With Thanksgiving upon us and Christmas down the road in a few weeks we decided to head "home" to Auburn!!              
We left Rainbow Monday morning, Nov. 20th, heading for Chewacla State Park, our home base.  We weren't exactly sure we'd have a site since this was not only the week of Thanksgiving but the BIG game, the Iron Bowl, with Auburn playing Alabama!  It is definitely a BIG game and as we discovered a big draw to the area for RVs!!  We called the state park on our way to Auburn to see if there were any vacant sites and learned that there had been a cancellation that very morning so we were safe to come on in!!  A huge blessing since every other campground in the area was full!!

When we pulled in Monday afternoon we noticed right away another Oliver sitting in the site right next to where we had been assigned!!  It was our "Ollie" friends from Texas, Kiefer and Brenda Vermillion. What a wonderful surprise!!! They had decided to come to Auburn to visit their daughter and family!  Hey!!!  A mini rally!!!          
We visited with each other each evening and just had a great time together!!   We stayed on the site next to our friends the entire week until they decided to return home to Texas on Friday!  Our site wasn't quite as large as our previous site, we couldn't put our Clam up because it was too close to the fire pit!!  So as soon as the crowds cleared out Sunday.....we moved to our old site, #12.  We will be here until the end of January.  January is the month of a few doctor's appointments.  I have to see my oncologist every six months and this January is my yearly CT scan as well.  I welcome your prayers!!
              
I have always been a big fan of Christmas decorations and loved decorating my home in LaGrange!
So it is only fitting that I try to make our Ollie as festive as possible in such a small space.  I have managed to put up two trees (little trees) inside our Ollie and a small tree in the Clam.  I also bought a few small items to sit around to make it as colorful and warm as possible.  The finished product looks pretty good and we both feel it gives us a warm Christmas feeling inside as well as outside in the Clam.  It feels good to be all set up for the holidays!!         




We decided this year to have our Thanksgiving dinner at The Mariott Grand National in Opelika, Alabama.  This is nearly a first for us.  I can count on one hand the number of times I haven't cooked for Thanksgiving!!   The Mariott Grand National is a beautiful place and the meal was delicious as well as the ambiance!!  Needless to say, none of us left hungry!!  We always enjoy our family time together but on a special day such as Thanksgiving it becomes even more special.  It doesn't matter where or what you eat...you are together and that is the true blessing of the season!!


Gerri and our son Stephen
Mike & our son Stephen 
Mike & Gerri                   
So with Thanksgiving behind us and the shopping almost completed its time to begin to really sit back and enjoy this wonderful season that we set aside to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!!                    
I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and wish you an amazing Christmas season ahead.
Don't forget to take time to just sit back and relax and take in the true blessings of this season!!






Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wrapping It Up in Gulf Shores for Now

                       
The time in the gulf area really flew by!!  They say time flies when you're having fun and it sure did for us!!        
As we got closer to our departure time we decided to do a few last drive throughs some of our favorite places.
 
Foley, Alabama
We noticed that Foley had really gotten in the Christmas spirit with decorating their town.  Downtown Foley is a sweet place and our favorite stop there would have to be Stacey's Rexall Drug and Olde Tyme Soda Fountain.  No we didn't get sick....we got hungry!!  They have delicious ice cream and quaint little tables and chairs to sit at and enjoy the many flavors of ice cream and other foods.   But most of all they have a model train that runs around the inside perimeter of the building!!  We were introduced to Stacey's in 2010 by Darrell and Judy Patterson and enjoyed ice cream with them then and enjoyed it once again this trip!!        



After getting our tummies full we decided to stroll the downtown sidewalks and enjoy the festive Christmas decorations.  Come along and stroll with us!!          


                   




Fairhope, Alabama
Without a doubt our favorite city in Alabama!!  So quaint and charming!!  We tried to make as many sunsets as possible on the pier in Fairhope and on this night we noticed that many of the streets were about to be blocked off.  What is happening??  I got on my trusty iPhone and googled "what's happening in Fairhope today?"  and it told me they were having the annual grand lighting of the trees!!  What luck!!  So we not only got to see one last sunset from the pier, the beautiful fountain but also the gorgeous trees lining the downtown streets of Fairhope!!  Come along and enjoy the sunset, fountain and beautiful Christmas decorations with us!!!
           






The Beach at Gulf Shores
The beach is a place I grew up on!!  I was born in Daytona Beach, Florida and remember so many family outings on the beach there.  The beach in Gulf Shores is just as spectacular but I must say the sand at Gulf Shores is incredible!!  So white, thick and clean!!  I had to take another walk on this beautiful beach!!  I was so excited to see our Blue Heron friend was still hanging around at this particular place on the beach and got to visit with him pretty up close and personal!!
       




We made a stop by Billy's Seafood in Bon Secour to pick up some fresh shrimp right off the boat.  Well, not exactly but pretty close....the boats were docked right outside the area where we purchased our jumbo shrimp!!  Boy I can't wait to eat those guys!!          

    

This pretty wraps up our gulf area visit for this trip!!  We really love this area and plan to return very soon!!                      
A house near Rainbow Plantation decorated for Christmas



I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!  We all have so much to be thankful for!!

Friday, November 24, 2017

River Boat Ride

Gerri and I have so much enjoyed all the things we have done and places we have been while at the Escapees Park...Rainbow Plantation in lower Alabama.  We have been on the go every day and taken it all in.  At a Sunday ice cream social at the clubhouse, a gentleman named Jay announced that he would give boat rides along the Fish or Magnolia River for a minimum fee.  The monies from this boat ride would all be given to the Memorial Gardens at Rainbow.  So for Jay, that means he is donating his time and costs for fuel etc. at his own expense.  Jay has been coming to Rainbow every year for at least 8 year if not longer.  He was a fishing guide in Illinois before he fully retired and now he spends a lot of his time on the river fishing and just boating in the river.                      
We came out of the boat ramp area into the river
Gerri and I decided it would be fun to go on this boat ride so we booked up an afternoon slot and the boating trip ended up being a 2 hour outing along the river.        
I would like to share with you in pictures some of our boat ride.  We ended up going into some back water river and seeing some really neat sites and pelicans and other water fowl.

       As we went further into back chanel waters, we were able to capture some water fowl in their natural habitat.  
           
     
This Comorant is a little blurred but still a fun capture
As we floated along, Jay noticed an Osprey way up in a tree, so he turned his motor off and set the trolling motor on and we kind of coasted toward the tree where the Osprey was.  I got my zoom lens out and tried to capture him on camera.
Notice the fish he has his talons around


   After we were able to get some pretty good pics, we moved on down the water and came across some other interesting scenery.
   
An old falling apart boat dock as a result of a previous hurricane
According to Jay, a man had been building this boat and just stopped and the remains lie in the water

For some of the people living on the river, the mailman has a very fun route delivering the mail.  I don't think this mailman uses the traditional mail truck. 

     As we got back into the river toward the bay area, we noticed several pelicans.

           




Our afternoon boat ride took us into backwater channels and it was so peaceful and quiet as the only way to some of the waters was by boat only.  We greatly enjoyed our 2 hour ride/float and were very grateful to Jay for taking his time to give us such a wonderful experience.