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 touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Stroll Through the Arboretum

Our paperwork arrived from Georgia and so this morning we made our way to the tag office and became legal!!!  No more temporary tag!!  
Since our son lives in Auburn, Alabama we decided to forego the mail service and let our mail come to his address.  Also, because I am a retired educator Alabama does not tax my pension thus no state income tax.  We thought this would be easier.  What we didn't count on were the high ad valorem tax on our truck and Oliver!!  So we are going to look into doing something different next year.  Perhaps declaring Texas or Florida as our domicile!!  Live and learn!!

Today (Wednesday) is absolutely beautiful!!!  The weather has finally started feeling like fall and it just puts so much energy in your steps!!  Mike and I, along with our Shih Tzu Nick, took a ride through the campground to see if any fall color was showing.  It's beginning but just not there yet.      

We had been wanting to explore the Donald E. Davis Arboretum which is located right in the heart of the Auburn University campus.  This arboretum sits on 13.5 acres and has 263 species of trees and shrubs, more than 1,000 azaleas (look out Callaway Gardens) and many other plants that are native to the southeast including a 150 year old Post Oak.  This Post Oak was only 6 years old when Auburn University was established.  If only that tree could talk!!!  Take a moment and just think about all that it might have seen through those many years!!  The arboretum is open year round and there is no fee for admission.  I would say that is quite a bargain.         

We found it well laid out and highly maintained and manicured!!!  It begins with plant species native to north Alabama and as you stroll through the well laid out paths you can experience the entire state from Decatur to Gulf  Shores viewing the plant species from those regions!!                          

                            Come Take a Stroll with Us!!

We had a great afternoon exploring this beautiful, serene area and just being amazed at all of God's beauty!!!                           
Southern Magnolia

I hope you are having a great fall!!!!              

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Back at Chewacla

We arrived back at our "home" base last Wednesday!  We had a nice uneventful trip back and were actually able to get our favorite site!!  We love this site because it sits surrounded by the woods.             

The only drawback, yea there is always a drawback, is on our driver's side is the tent camping area.  Every now and then we get some interesting tent campers beside us.  Most of the time they go further back into the woods and we aren't bothered at all.  Not so much last Friday night!!  Mike and I were sitting on the patio enjoying the evening and listening to the crickets "when all of a sudden there arose such a clatter"  no it wasn't Saint Nicholas but instead two trucks shinning their bright lights into the woods.  We expected them to go off but no, not for another 20 to 30 minutes.  The 6 young people that emerged from the trucks were talking loud enough to be on a PA system(people don't realize how loud they talk in the woods).  They put up their tent, using the bright lights, and then two of them began to search for twigs for  fire.  Ok, that's normal enough but not in our site!!  Yes, they walked right up to our Oliver looking for twigs, hello there!!  Now remember, there are lots of woods around but they must have felt more secure near us!!  

This continued for nearly 20 to 30 minutes when the lights suddenly went out!!  Ok, good, they are finished, tents up, fire is started and the illuminated woods are once again dark!!  We settled back in our recliners ready to enjoy the evening when what to my wondering "ears" should hear?  A congo drum!!!  A guitar player and a singer (of sorts).  Now we can handle the guitar and singing around the campfire.  We've even been known to walk to a campsite to just stand and listen to some good campfire singing.  This wasn't the case!!  The singing was not so good but I think the young man thought he was at a concert because he sang that loud and the congo drum was heard all the way to the other camping loop where the camp host was alerted while sitting on his patio enjoying the evening!!  It wasn't long before we heard the sound of the "host cart" heading to the tent area!!  They were asked to "lose the drum" and they did!!  I don't think they were bad kids just not campers if you get my drift!!  The talking continued on into the night...around 2:00 a.m.  and then bright and early the next morning around 6:45 we were serenaded again with the congo drum and guitar.  The drum was bit softer at 6:45 but they were right next door to us so it was an early morning for us. When we saw them putting their "things" in their trucks we were delighted!!  We almost started singing the Hallelujah Chorus!!   You just gotta laugh!!!

We love the woods and the view out our back window!!  Every now and then we get a visitor.  We noticed these two young deer coming around before we left last time and it didn't take long before they reappeared.            

The fall colors haven't really started in this area yet!!  I know a few friends that have gone to the mountains and the colors are gorgeous!!  Next year we plan, Lord willing, to be in the mountains and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.  So far, we have brown leaves falling and that is about all.  I'm still optimistic!!  

One reason we had to head back this way was to take care of our truck tag.  We had no problem obtaining our tag for the Oliver but we had to wait for Georgia to send the title to the truck to Alabama and that usually takes 4 to 6 weeks.  We got a temporary title before we left but that date was about to expire.  We were hopeful that the paperwork had arrived but when we went to the courthouse Tuesday we found out it had not.  So another temporary tag and hopefully the last one!!   

So we will wait, hopefully not too long, for the tag and then head to Gulf Shores to spend some time at Rainbow Plantation an Escapees Park in Summerdale, Alabama!!  We love this park and the much to do!!  Last night it was going to be good bit cooler, so we made some chili, Stephen came over and we sat around a fire and ate the chili.  Felt great out!!           

 In the meantime we will continue to enjoy each day God grants us and try our best to share our love for Him!!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Birthplace of Helen Keller

After visiting the Wichahpi Stone Wall, we made our way to an area called Rock Springs.   Rock Springs is about a 20 minute walk along the Colbert Creek.  Here you have to walk on stone stepping blocks in the creek in order to get to the other side.  I was a little hesitant on the first step but once I realized they were sturdy everything was good.  We crossed over to the other side and immediately saw a fairly large beaver dam.  I know I have lived a sheltered life because Mike couldn't believe I had never seen a real beaver dam before!!  I just wish the little beavers had shown up to say hi!!  This is a nicely marked path with signage along the way telling about native birds in the area, the beaver dam and the effects of such a dam and native plants we might see along the way.  We did see my favorite, the hummingbird!!   There was even a bench to sit and watch for the wildlife or take a rest.

The Beaver Dam, notice the bench under the trees in the background        

After visiting Wichahpi and then this very nice and serene hike along Colbert Creek, we decided to call it a day and make our way back to the campground.

There were lots of other things we could have seen and toured in the area but we were only going to be here two days and one thing high on my list to see was the birthplace of Helen Keller.  It is located in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

We drove up to a beautiful home situated on a lovely yard and garden!!  Helen Keller was actually born in the cottage next door to this main house.  The main home was built in 1820 and originally sat on 640 acres.  There were enormous amounts of ivy growing in and around the house and cottage and thus the home became known as Ivy Green.
The famous well pump is located between the cottage and the main house.  Anne Sullivan who became Helen's teacher tried to teach Helen the word water by slowly pumping cool water over her hand and spelling the word  w-a-t-e-r  in alphabet code  Suddenly Helen got it and by the end of the day Helen had learned 30 words.  An incredible achievement for what was actually a wild child!!

The Original Well Pump that springboard her learning words
The grounds at Ivy Green consist of buildings surrounded by 150 year old English boxwood, magnolia trees, mimosa and other trees.  One called the "moon tree" because the seeds that it grew from actually went to the moon.  There are lots of manicured ivy, roses, honeysuckle and smilax.  The grounds are just beautiful.

Helen Keller grew to be a most incredible woman!!  She spent her life trying to improve  the conditions of the blind and deafblind around the world.  Her teacher, Anne Sullivan is remembered as "The Miracle Worker."   Together they became known around the world.
Helen with Alexander Graham Bell.  He convinced her parents that she needed a teacher.
This is the Cottage where Helen was born.  It is next to the house.
Helen Keller passed away June 1,1968 at the age of 87.  She is buried with her two teachers, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thomson at The Washington Cathedral.
Tomorrow we will begin our travels back to Auburn and our "home" base at Chewacla State Park.  We will work on getting the tag for our truck and a few other things along with visiting our son before heading to Rainbow Plantation, an Escapees Park in Summerdale, Alabama!!  It's been awhile since we have been there so we look forward to returning and enjoying the many places we fell in love with several years ago.  We are feeling excited!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Eight and a Half Million Pounds of Stones

We left Memphis and T. O. Fuller State Park around 9:15 Monday morning.  We headed east toward Florence, Alabama!!  We had an easy drive on "blue" roads until the last 15 miles and that is when we entered the Natchez Trace!!!  It"s no secret that we love this drive!!  Those of you that have been on it understand....its peaceful, quiet and easy going!!  Did I mention not too crowded either??  We followed this portion of the Trace until we exited on highway 2 to Florence.  We stopped at Colbert Ferry and ate a quick lunch!!  This is the area that Chickasaw George Colbert operated a stand and ferry in the early 1800s.  There is not much left to see of this ferry except the Tennessee River!!          

We made our way into Florence to McFarland Park Campground.  This is a huge city park named McFarland Park that also includes a campground.  There are sites that overlook the Tennessee River and then some that simply have a view.  All sites are concrete, clean and pretty level.  All have full hookups.  The price is $25.00 per night and seniors pay $20.00.  Our site backs up to the river with a gorgeous view!!                
The view from our back window 
Our site on the river
Looking to the right of our site
We quickly unhooked and got set up and headed out to one of the places that was a "must see" on our list!!  Wichahpi Stone Wall!!!  We have our fellow RVer and blogger, Milia, to thank for this awesome find.  She drove the Natchez Trace several years ago and wrote about it in her blog.  Very detailed and she included this amazing place!!                    


A little history::  Tom Hendrix worked on building this stone wall for over 30 years in memory and honor of his great-great-grandmother's journey.  Her name was Te-lah-nay and she was part of the Yuchi Indian tribe that lived along the Tennessee River in the 1800s.            

She and her sister were part of the Trail of Tears and sent from their home here on the Tennessee River to Oklahoma.  Her tribe had called the Tennessee River the Singing River because they believed a woman lived in the river and she sang to them.  When she arrived in Oklahoma she no longer heard the "singing river."   She spent one winter in Oklahoma and decided to return to her beloved Singing River.  Her walk back to this area from Oklahoma alone using all the skills her grandmother had taught her took five years!!!!                

After hearing of this story from Te-lah-nay's grandmother Tom knew he wanted to do something in her memory and honor!!  In a conversation with an elder of the Yuchi tribe he was told, "All things shall pass.  Only the stones will remain."  It was then he knew what he would do.
To Mr. Hendrix the wall is a mile long holy place that winds through his property.  It has never been advertised....simply a place that "if you build it they will come." Please click HERE to read this story.



After walking the length of the wall, Charlie Two Moons, a spiritual person, said:
"The wall does not belong to you, Brother Tom.  It belongs to all people.  You are just the keeper.  I will tell you that it is wichahpi, which means "like the stars."  When they come, some will ask, "Why does it bend, and why is it higher and wider in some places than in others?"  Tell them it is like your great-great-grandmother's journey, and their journey through life ---it is never straight."

Mr. Tom Hendrix passed away February 24, 2017.  He was 83 years old.