Last Sunday, we said good-bye to our little house in Ocala and headed back to Colorado.
The garden in front of the house was looking pretty good with lots of new growth on the bushes that had been hard hit by the unusual winter freeze.
We've worked hard to make the house look like home. Next year, I'd like to add some color on the walls - maybe a couple of shades of light teal. Bill is yet to be convinced that it will look nice so I'll work on him over the summer.
I brought these shells up from Ft. Myers. Most of them were collected from the beach at Lovers Key one day in December while walking with my sister, Beth. I love sea shells and hope they are not adversely affected by the terrible oil spill in the Gulf.
I was sad to leave Florida, but we had a great trip cross country! We specifically left early on Sunday so we could catch what we thought was the last day of an RC show south of Atlanta. Unfortunately, it ended before we arrived - so we drove through Georgia, stopping to see the National POW Museum, and into Tennessee.
We stopped in Lynchburg, Tennessee - population 361.
Lynchburg is the home of the Jack Daniel's Distillery. We arrived just before 9:00 AM, in time for the first tour of the week.
The grounds are beautiful.
Several Mallard Ducks were enjoying the slight drizzle.
These domesticated Peking ducks were quite tame and came right over to see if I had any handouts.
I always enjoy the bright red Cardinals against the green of the trees.
Inside, the museum told the story of Jack Daniel, the man and how he came to make Tennessee whiskey.
Jack was a small man - standing just over 5 feet tall. He always dressed in formal attire - black dress coat with tails. Behind the statue is the reason he chose this location - natural iron-free spring water. I was not allowed to take pictures inside any of the buildings - but seeing the whiskey making process is very interesting. I especially enjoyed seeing how they make the oak barrels that are used to age the whiskey. I recommend this tour if you are traveling through Tennessee - but don't expect any samples. Lynchburg is a dry county!
Next stop - Paducah, Kentucky - Quilt City USA and home of the National Quilt Museum. My sister is an avid quilter - and I'm itching to give it a try - so we decided to stop.
The Museum is beautiful! We were there the day after their biggest show of the year so the lobby was full of displays and exhibits. Admission inside is a little pricey - $10 each - and I couldn't take any pictures of the quilts on display. Since they were scheduled to close in half and hour, we settled for looking at the quilts in the lobby and peeking through the glass doors at the ones inside.
Several quilts were for sale. They were made by artists who had quilts on display inside the museum and were being sold to raise money to purchase more exhibits.
I like the nature themes.
This one was fabulous and had already been sold. Next time we are in the area, I definitely want to see the rest of the museum!
The next day, we headed to St. Louis to meet our very good friends, Mike and Mel. We had reservations at a Drury Inn near the Forest Park section of town.
Mike and Mel took us to the Blues City Deli for a yummy lunch. It was obvious from the crowd that this is a happening place - and the food was well worth the trip!
Next stop was the St. Louis Zoo! This is a huge Silver-back Gorilla and he was enjoying eating the flowers off a bush. When I started taking pictures, he got shy and turned his back to us.
Most of the exhibits at this wonderful (and FREE) zoo were great, but I have to admit that it was difficult to enjoy seeing some of the critters in cages. In the bird house they had a couple of my cute Burrowing Owls - and even though the areas were made to look as much like natural habitats as possible - I still prefer to see them in the wild. I do understand that it is important to have these exhibits for educational purposes - but I enjoyed the open exhibits more.
The zoo has a couple of open natural habitat areas - and it looked like the visitors were free to come and go. These are Northern Pintail - the first I've ever seen. I would count them as Life Birds - but it seems like cheating when you see them in a zoo, so I won't.
I did enjoy watching the Humboldt Penguins - but they were loud and smelly.
This Peacock was strutting his stuff and blocking the door. He was trying his darndest to get the attention of the females - shaking his feathers and tail - but was having no success.
Inside the butterfly house, I was interested in the gorgeous flowers that attract the beautiful flying insects.
One of the open exhibits was a replica of a swamp. Now this was something I could relate to with Roseate Spoonbills, Flamingos, herons and egrets. This is a Double-crested Cormorant - and I can FINALLY see the double-crests!
Usually the crests lay flat and are impossible to see - but this being Spring and all - he was showing off for the ladies.
This Red-winged Blackbird was sitting on the rail - and didn't seem to mind us walking close by - BUT right after I took this picture, he attacked Bill! It was the strangest thing - he went right for his head.
I don't remember what this is - but he was beautiful and I made this one exception and took a picture of a bird in an enclosure. I had to go through two doors to enter the area.
Back at the hotel, we had hors d'oeuvres and drinks with Mike, Mel and their delightful daughter-in-law, Julia. The hotel provided so many appetizers, we skipped dinner - but sampled the bottle of Jack that Bill bought after leaving the distillery in Lynchburg. Fun, fun visit!
After coffee the next morning, we continued our journey - leisurely driving through Missouri, Kansas and back to our home in Colorado.
Right now, Bill is cooking Kale Soup. The weather outside is frightful - freezing cold, windy and that ugly white stuff thet we try to avoid is covering the gardens. Why didn't we stay in Florida just a couple more weeks?