Friday, January 13, 2012

University of Georgia - the State Botanical Garden

While we were in Athens, GA visiting my sister, we decided to take a walk around the State Botanical Garden which is administered by the University of Georgia.

The gardens are a few miles south of Athens and the main feature is the Visitors Center with its large atrium.

 It's a pleasant walk from the ample parking to the Visitors Center.

 An unusual collection of sculptures with an adult supervising playing children.

 Entrance to the Visitors Center.

 After scurrying past the 'Shop', immediately you come into the atrium area.Of course, the 'Shop' was filled with stuff I would never need. Does anybody really need the stuff that is in those places?

Before exploring the atrium we took a look at a display of quilts.

 The main feature is a rain forest and you wander down a concrete path past the various tropical plants. Having grown up in south east Queensland where these kinds of plants are quite common I have to remember that these plants are quite exotic for many people.

 A small display of orchards.

 The two photos above show a Macadamia Nut tree (and leaves). These originate from the Maryborough, QLD  area in Australia where I grew up. The locals call them Bauple Nuts after Bauple Mountain which is the dominant mountain in the area.

 I love these variegated leaves.

 We exited from the lower floor of the atrium. This area used to feature a restaurant that was pleasant to sit in but now it is closed, which is a pity.

 So we started to explore the gardens. Since it was January, there was not too much in the way of vegetation to see.

 A touch of green and red midst the winter brown and grey.

 I should imagine it is all much more impressive when the plants are growing. They obviously have spent a lot of money creating a pleasant environment.

 There is a chapel that can be used for weddings.

 It was closed but the wood inside looked impressive.

 As did the cleaning supplies.

So we spent a pleasant hour on a warmish winters day. We'd been there years ago but again in winter. Sometime when we are in Athens during the non winter months, I should go back for another visit when it is looking its best.

After two years of retirement

I went back to last year's post that I wrote after one year of retirement and I see nothing much has changed. I was thinking this morning as I lay in bed at 8am that the best part is being able to get up when I want to, be that 6 am, 7 am or 8 am. It's my option.

Prior to my trip to Oz last year, I bought a Nook Color so that I wouldn't have to carry books. It turned out that I didn't read all that much on the train, but I did find the device useful for timetables, maps etc. I've since put the Honeycomb version of Android on it so I have access to the Android apps and the device is quite useful. If Apple ever comes out with a smaller Ipad I will consider it eventually.

So what is lined up for this year. I may do a walk across the Grand Canyon from rim to rim. Yes, I will be going down into the canyon, not levitating.

We have house exchanges lined up for upper Bavaria in Germany and Ulladulla in Australia. There is also a good possibility for an exchange in Geneva.

I continue to enjoy doing the blogs and I appreciate the comments. There are now 171 of them, an increase of over 90 from last year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Athens, Georgia - a walk around a loop

My younger sister lives in Athens, Georgia dn we alternate visits just after Christmas. It was our turn to visit so we did the 700 mile journey down I-95 and I-85.

My sister and brother-in-law are keen walkers and they have a good long loop through their neighbourhood that they use for exercise.
So we set off  via the front drive way.

 My sister's house is at the top of a hill so the first part of the walk is easy.
 We think the development was started in the 70's but this section was built in the 80's.
 Most of the lawns are zoysia grass that turns a golden brown in the winter. Many gardens have green ground covers to provide some colour in winter.

 Athens is home of the University of Georgia and its football team, the Bulldogs.
 A curious colour for a fire hydrant, but I presume it shows up well at night.
 Since this is a university town, many of the inhabitants come from other countries. In this case, it looks like they are Irish.

 A rather sturdy mailbox.

 Perhaps my favourite structure on the whole walk. I reckon this would make a pretty good room for my stereo system.
 Since it was early January, most of the deciduous trees had lost their leaves. This was the exception.
 Whoever built the first of these certainly started a trend. Maybe there was an article in a DIY magazine that inspired a host of builders to unleash their trowels.
This is probably the busiest corner in the community. Whatever the owners do, cars cut the corner too close.

 I liked the patterns of the tar on the road.
 There are not many bright colours to be seen. Here is a bit of red to lighten the winter gloom.

 Most of the trees in the development are tall pine trees.
 Since the climate is very humid, some of the trees have a green fungus growing on them.
 Closeup of the fungus.
Since we are in 'the South', there has to be a magnolia tree.
 Two Christmas trees that had served their purpose.
 Magnolia leaves.
 In the past couple of years, some of the local house owners have created a nature walk which makes a pleasant change from just walking on the road.
 The walk features a creek that flows in the lower parts of the community. In wet weather, some of the houses used to flood but they have been removed.
 The local council has donated some trees to enhance the area.

 Bark and mold. What a combo.
 Some of the community members have been very industrious wheeling loads of wood chips to cover the path. It really helps when it has rained and the path would be muddy.

 I was intrigued by the use of the fallen tree to delineate the path. Yes, that is my sister walking ahead.
 A basic but functional bridge.
 The Sydney Harbour Bridge.
 This 'bridge' could use improvement.
 A nifty cubby house. Note the natural lighting panels in the roof.

 Somebody had installed a fire pit and seating along with a bar. It probably would have been quite pleasant in the spring and autumn lounging around in the 'Kingswood Corniche'. Summer is too hot in this area to be pleasant.

 Apparently this is a beaver dam.
 Closeup of more mold. We last saw mold like this in Scotland.
 Somebody had erected a flying fox. No doubt the kids loved it.
 The local Maginot Line bunker.
 Some of the trees by the stream are very dense. It basically is a swamp in this area.
Of course the last part of the walk is the worst since you have to climb the hill. Then you need a nap. At least I do that part well.