Friday, June 26, 2009

Alaska trip - Anchorage

My husband Jim spent many hours during his high school years trying to figure out how he could homestead in Alaska. A friend of his decided he would go with him, but then they both succumbed to the pressure of going to College. Unfortunately, after college the Government drafted him into the Army for 6 years, and Alaska had to be put off for …. 40 years! While, miles away, I collected vintage postcards from Alaska .


2009 rolls around and a cruise ship company sends us a “two for one” offer to tour and cruise Alaska. So we did. This was our 3rd cruise, after our first one in spring 2008 to Mexico and last winter to the Caribbean on the Queen Mary 2. Since going on a ship to Turkey when I was 5 years old I have always liked that kind of travel and whenever I would go to England from France I would take the longest ferry to cross the Channel, the rougher 4 hour Dieppe-Newhaven ferry crossing instead of the 70 minute Calais-Dover crossing. I came to this country the first time on a big German transatlantic ship and loved it. But while I was working it was hard to take the time to go on a cruise. I was surprised that on a cruise you can really do what you want, eat with people or alone, talk or be by yourself. It’s a good value and you don’t have to lug your luggage around.



Our trip to Alaska included a night in Seattle, a flight to Anchorage, 2 nights at the Mt McKinley Wilderness Lodge, 1 night at the Denali Wilderness Lodge, a couple of excursions including a visit to the Yucon in Canada, a train ride to Whittier and the 7-day cruise back to Vancouver with stops along the way. I’ll dedicate several future posts to this trip. When we arrived in Seattle about 3 weeks ago, the sun was shining, it was 82 degrees (28 C) and it was the warmest day of 2009. We had a very good view of Mt Rainier from our hotel.



The next afternoon after our 3 ½ hour flight to Anchorage , it looked like it had rained but it was now very sunny. We had a couple of hours to walk around the downtown area. Anchorage , with about 280,000 municipal residents (as of 2007) is the largest city in Alaska . That number represents more than 40% of the entire population of Alaska which was estimated at 683,000 in 2008. (As a point of reference, the greater metro Atlanta area has a population of over 5,626,000.)


Alaska is much larger than most people realize. It is approximately 570,373 square miles of land and another 45,000 square miles of water. Using the US as a basis of equivalence, Alaska is as large as the entire eastern seaboard spanning north to south Maine to Florida and west to Tennessee, or 20 states combined which include Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware. Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

As a European equivalent, Alaska is as large as the combined countries of Belgium , France , Germany , Holland , Italy, Scotland and Switzerland. Alaska has ½ the world’s glaciers and 33,904 miles of coastline.


Postcard of Anchorage and Mt McKinley (photo courtesy of Jeff Schultz)

We then took a four hour bus ride to the Mt McKinley Wilderness lodge (shown below) and arrived at 7:30 pm. The sun was still high. It was still light at 11:00 pm when we decided to call it a day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Barnsley Gardens, Georgia


This past June 17th was our anniversary, not to be confused with another June 17th anniversary – the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Revolutionary battle fought on June 17, 1775. We celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary by going to lunch at the Woodland ’s Grill, located within the Barnsley Gardens Resort. The restaurant is advertised as being “enhanced by the ambiance of an English hunting lodge and sweeping views of the golf course and surrounding hills”. We do not play golf but we were interested in seeing the heirloom gardens situated on 1400 acres of the 2500 acre resort. (Click on pictures to enlarge them.)


We have driven several times by the road sign to Barnsley Gardens but had never been there. Years ago, I read a book about the history of its owner, a very sad story. This estate may seem peaceful now but it has a long and tragic history.


The estate was originally called Woodlands by its owner, Sir Godfrey Barnsley. Godfrey was born in Liverpool, England in 1805, and came to Georgia in 1824 with only 1 shilling in his pocket. By 1830 after working as a clerk for a cotton broker in Savannah he had become very rich as a cotton factor and sea merchant himself. On Christmas Eve 1828 he married Julia Scarborough, the love of his life, and decided he would build an Italianate mansion for her.

Below is a picture of Godfrey and Julia Barnsley from a photograph in the museum (sorry no tripod, so the pictures are slightly out of focus).


By 1842 Godfrey was able to obtain almost 4000 acres of former Cherokee land in the north Georgia foothills (in 1838 the US Government had stripped the Cherokee Nation of their land in northwest Georgia and moved them west on the infamous Trail of Tears.) Godfrey and Julia started the construction of the mansion and, since both were avid botanists and gardeners, they made plans for beautiful gardens replete with exotic plants and shrubs from all over the world. They employed an old Cherokee Indian who, when he saw that some of the hills were being sheared (land sacred to the Cherokees) placed a curse on the Barnsleys. Then he disappeared.

Below is a picture of the manor house taken in 1890 from a photograph in the museum and two pictures of the ruins now.

Julia was never to see her beloved manor house and gardens as shortly after her infant died, in 1845, she died of tuberculosis, still in her mid-thirties. She left Godfrey with 6 children. It is said that one day, while Godfrey was close to the fountain in the formal gardens Julia’s spirit appeared to him and asked him to finish the construction of the estate.


Godfrey worked very hard at his cotton and shipping business to finish Woodlands but the Civil War interrupted his plans. One day a Confederate friend of his, Colonel Robert G. Earle, who was part of the Second Alabama Light Calvary, rode to warn him that the northern soldiers were approaching. The Colonel was shot by them while almost in view of the estate (his body was buried in Woodlands.)


Woodlands was in the path of Sherman ’s army and sustained much destruction by the occupying troops. Godfrey’s business suffered because of the Civil War and he died in New Orleans in 1873. His body was brought back to Woodlands, where he is buried.


A grand daughter of Julia and Godfrey, Addie Saylor, was a friend of Margaret Mitchell. She related to Margaret the hardships of her mother, also named Julia, during the Civil War. Margaret Mitchell used many parallels between Julia and Scarlet in her story, Gone with the Wind. Many other tragic events happened to this family and estate and I found a couple of tourism sites relating them should you be interested in reading more on the Barnsleys’ story. Click on the articles here and here to learn more.


Barnsley ’s descendants lived in the manor house until a 1906 tornado destroyed its roof and they moved into the kitchen wing. In 1942 the property was sold at auction and fell into disrepair and oblivion.


In 1988, Prince Hubertus Fugger Babenhausen of Augsberg , Germany and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Bavaria , bought what remained of the estate – a neglected garden and a gutted brick structure. First, the Prince had two Cherokee Chiefs come to Woodlands and remove the curse from the land, then work was done until 1991 to revive the formal gardens and restore the ruins of the Manor House.



Picture of G. Barnsley's safe and the remaining manor house walls (where wedding receptions take place now.)



The original right wing, where the kitchen was located, was made into a museum to house many personal items and memorabilia from 4 generations of the Barnsleys. It has odd and interesting items – for example: a fiddle that was taken by an Union soldier during the Civil War and returned to the Manor House six generations later; an 1800s Ladies’ exercise cycle; a stove built in 1847 on Godfrey’s design which was seen in 1929 by auto maker Henry Ford who wanted to purchase it; the original washing machine purchased by Sir Godfrey in 1857; an early "vaporizer"; a copy of a best seller from the 1860’s “St Elmo” whose author, Augusta Evans Wilson had started her novel at Woodlands and used the estate as the setting for her novel, and many other photographs.


Barnsley Gardens Resort opened in 1991 to the public. The resort includes 33 guest cottages along a 19th century pedestrian village, two restaurants, an 18-hole championship golf course, a full-service spa, horseback riding, swimming pool, etc., all nestled on this beautiful and historic Georgia land in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.


One of the restaurants, the Rice House, is a former 1854 farmhouse, which was moved to the gardens (bullet holes from the “War between the States” still scar its front door and exterior walls.)


We wandered around many acres and hardly saw anybody – but it was 98 degrees in the shade (approx. 37 degrees Centigrade) so more prudent people were indoors. I did not take many flower pictures because spring flowers were fading and summer flowers were still only in buds. (Don't forget to click on the photos to enlarge them.)







































The lotus garden was waiting for its blooms to open in July.


There have been many reports of seeing ghosts of the Barnsley family. While sitting in the 160 years old enchanting gardens, near the romantic ruins of the Italianate villa, and sipping on your mint julep, you can stare into the mist of the estate lake at sundown and may even see the ghosts of Julia and Godfrey Barnsley, together in peace.










































Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strolling on Georgia Wildlife Federation Trails

Returning from one of our outings, we stopped at the Georgia Wildlife Federation to walk on their trails along the Alcovy River. The Alcovy River is 80 miles long running through both sparsely populated and developed lands and is unpolluted.

Here is a map of Georgia showing the little Alcovy River almost in the center (photo from the University of Georgia Library):

The Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF) “Promoting the wise use of Georgia ’s natural resources” is a member-supported not-for-profit conservation organization. Its headquarters, the Alcovy Conservation Center, are in Covington, Georgia, east of Atlanta. The center is located on 115 beautiful acres replete with a main building complex of offices, classrooms, conference rooms and a library. The property also includes a retreat house, pavilions and a rustic log cabin. It sits on the banks of the Alcovy River, where wildlife, woodland, wetland and native plants abound.

Wild flower in front of the Center - (click on any picture to enlarge it)



GWF offers some interesting programs such as Georgia Hunters for the Hungry, Wildlife Habitats, Georgia Water Coalition, Adopt-A-Stream, etc. To view all the programs and worthy causes of the Georgia Wildlife Federation please click here.


The GWF Alcovy Conservation Center maintains several trails on their property. My husband Jim and I walked along the Cornish Creek Trail and the Dogwood Trail. We saw red maples, river birches and many other species. Overhead the birds were happily singing and the squirrels hiding on trunks. The sun was shining though the Tupelo gum river swamp –


I took several pictures of the Tupelo trees growing in the water -






































Then we arrived at a clearing where the pavilions are located close by -


As well as the vintage log cabin –


A nest was still occupied –


Find the egg in the picture below, (hint: but the bird had flown!)


The Georgia Wildlife Federation was founded in 1936 as a sportsman’s organization. Its motto is written on my husband Jim’s tee shirt –



To encourage the intelligent management
of the life-sustaining resources of the earth
- its essential water resources -
its protective forests and plant life
- and its dependent wildlife -
to promote and encourage the knowledge
and appreciation of these resources,
their interrelationship and wise use,
without which there can be little hope
for a continuing
abundant
life.”

Georgia Wildlife Federation, 1936

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Award and Blogs


Elaine of the blog “Arctic View” nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award, for which I am very honored. I am not following the award process of nominating 7 other blogs (Elaine says it's OK) because I am new in the blogosphere and read too many blogs at random. But I am very appreciative of Elaine’s kindness – she has a beautiful blog which you should visit. Here is the link: http://akelaine.blogspot.com/.

My blog was started under the tutelage of my daughter Céline as an avenue for reminiscing about my family, country of origin and travels. Lately I have been posting mostly about recent trips and have not had much time to research old family records and photographs, but I shall get there.

Being new at blogging I did not realize how many blogs there were, with such a variety of subjects (photography, sports, politics, hobbies, gardening, traveling, etc.) in this country and the world. For example, I’ll start looking at one blog, then click on one of the blog names listed as a link, then go to that one and click on the name of another blog listed there and so on and on. Finally I’ll have no idea how I found myself on a certain blog. For example as today reading the blog “Red Pine Mountain” I may read it once and move somehow to another one like “Kiss The Cook” which I also just found. If I do not bookmark these blogs, I don’t think I’ll ever find them again. There are so many interesting blogs to visit and read (as of July 2005 there were 70 million blogs in the world according to the Blog Herald.)

So I’ll continue posting and reading many “blogs” – which is a contraction of the word web and log – a website maintained by persons posting on different subjects. In the meantime, I thank Elaine of Arctic View for kindly nominating Recollections of a Vagabonde for this award.


Thank you

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shoulderbone Plantation


Shoulderbone Plantation was built in the classic antebellum style. The word “antebellum” comes from the Latin ante meaning “before” and bellum meaning “war”. In the United States it means “Pre-Civil War” for the North and “Pre-War Between the States” for the South. Southerners do not like to call this war “Civil”. This type of architecture was introduced after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 by rich Anglo-Americans who moved to the area and built homes in the Greek revival style, with columns, grand balcony, et al. (Click on the photographs to enlarge them.)




Georgia did not have many stately plantation houses like this before the war, and after General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea, just a few were left standing. Shoulderbone Plantation is 8 miles west of the little town of Sparta (in middle Georgia ), and escaped destruction somehow. It stands today “frozen in time.”
































In 1850, Mr. William Jackson had a Greek Revival Plantation house built for his son on 1500 acres of land on the site. This land had been granted to the previous owner, Mr. Knowles, in 1796 who then sold it to Mr. Jackson in 1832. The property was sold again in the early 1900s to Jefferson Lanier, the great grandfather of the present owner, Robert Lanier.




Mr. Robert Lanier had the plantation house restored from 1982 to 1986 to its original character. Workmanship typical of the antebellum period was used, and much effort was taken to utilize original materials. The plantation house was placed on the national Registry of Historic Places in August 1984.




In addition to the plantation house, the property includes two other historical houses, a log cabin, and several original out buildings – all of them sitting now on about 2,325 acres of land.





Shoulderbone Plantation is not open to the public. This is a working plantation where Mr. Lanier breeds high quality Angus cattle. Many outings, such as hunting trips and quail shoots take place on the property as well. About a month ago we were invited to a barbecue dinner at Shoulderbone Plantation.



It was a lovely sunny afternoon, and it was a pleasure to walk along the fields covered with wild flowers and observe several handsome horses.


Then the horses came to observe us -
































We strolled in the garden and it was like entering a magical place where time had stood still. Looking at a row of carriages, we imagined that we were in the Old South.



































The name “Shoulderbone” came from Shoulderbone Creek near by. On 3 November, 1786, a treaty known as the “Treaty of Shoulderbone Creek” was signed between the Creek Indian Nation and the State of Georgia . It was a treaty of “Peace, commerce and amity”.




After a hardy meal we drove around the scenic countryside through peaceful meadows.




It was as though we had stepped into the past – and we had, because most of these stunning plantation houses are gone now, and as Margaret Mitchell says in her book Gone with the Wind: “Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind... “