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Vanderford's Travel Column


Newfoulndland is a winter wonderland

It would be difficult to locate any place on the globe where the experiences of meeting and interacting with the people would stand alone as a good reason to visit, but Newfoundland is just such a place. The inhabitants of this winter wonderland have been described as: “A warm and welcoming people with a vibrant spirit and strong sense of self, who live remarkable lives in a remarkable place. They rely and thrive on their own ingenuity and on the kinship of each other.”
 
In a time when many people think only of themselves, it is so different to discover a people who are genuine, uncomplicated, creative, honest, spontaneous, and fun-loving to the bone! They never forget the really important things in life … family, good friends, and good times.
 
Beyond the wonderful populace and countryside that has changed little in more than a hundred years, the raw, natural beauty of Newfoundland is simply breathtaking…  especially during the winter and early spring! Beneath the untouched blanket of snow lies a geological tapestry that would rival any other region in the world. 
 
Throughout the globe, the Gros Morne area is highly regarded for its complex geology and stunning scenery. It was here that geologists proved the theory of plate tectonics. The Tablelands, a mountain of flat-topped rock of a kind usually found only deep in the earth’s mantle, is an awe inspiring sight.

Most of this area of Newfoundland is part of an ancient seafloor and preserved ocean avalanches that were exposed by the collision of the Earth’s tectonic plates 500 million years ago. Gros Morne National Park offers this unique geological history and during the winter, the snow and ice produces a winter wonderland.
 
The absolute best way to see and experience Newfoundland in winter is on snowshoes. Step out into the freshness of the clean, snow-covered world of Newfoundland and learn to love the very distinct sound of snow crunching underfoot as it echoes through the quiet evergreen trees. You will wander through small fishing villages and visit spectacular seaside vistas. Experience the movement of ice pans in snow covered harbors, watch moose wandering across frozen bays, and visit artfully painted lighthouses along picturesque shorelines.
 
The more adventuresome can climb the sloping heights of a mountain ridge in Gros Morne while floating above the ground on a pristine blanket of snow and ice. One can traverse entire lakes and ponds that are below the snow, and take photographs that will be cherished forever.
 
Most trips into this part of Newfoundland begin with a flight into Deer Lake, which is a thriving little community in the heart of the best skiing and snowmobiling areas. Once reaching the sleepy little village of Rocky Harbour, which is very close to Gros Morne National Park, individuals or families should experience the traditional food and hospitality of a real Newfoundland family.
 
A Newfoundland breakfast is filling when prepared in the local style complete with anything from Eggs Benedict to waffles. However, be sure to request a traditional Newfoundland, hot supper during your stay. Your palate will be treated to the unique tastes of salt meat, peas pudding, many vegetables, something called ‘fluffy duff’ and steamed pudding for dessert … .and, it is all cooked together in the same pot!
 
For mostly geological and geographical reasons, Newfoundland is often referred to as the Edge of the Earth. After a visit to this unique location, however, it is said that you might never find another place that makes you feel both lost and found at the same time. 
 
The people are hardy, warm and unforgettable, the sounds, smells and natural beauty of this land attacks your senses from every direction, and like so many who have come to Newfoundland before me, I will always have a special place in my heart for this gorgeous island that sits out on the edge of the Earth!
 
 

Bill Vanderford has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, videography, and has been inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Guide. 
He can be reached at 770-289-1543, at jfish51@aol.com or at his web site: www.georgiafishing.com.



March 2018 column

The beautiful winter solitude of Nova Scotia

Thousands of expressively-written articles have appeared throughout the globe of the tiny villages and vistas along Nova Scotia’s “Lighthouse Trail” and “Evangeline Trail” during summer, but little has been said about winter in this gorgeous setting. For any lover of photography, solitude, wonderful lodging opportunities or palate-pleasing food and drink, wintertime in Nova Scotia is the best!

Even in winter, these trails follow a path through a breathtaking landscape of coastal beauty and historic charm that has captured the hearts and minds of travelers for generations. One can traverse a snow and ice covered shoreline that passes rugged coves, bays and islands that have been sculpted by the winds and waves for centuries. All along these incredible vistas, sojourners can pause in historic towns and weathered fishing villages that lie quietly waiting for the coming spring.

Much of the Lighthouse Trail follows a route where time seems to have stood still. Along this path, many of the trail’s namesake lighthouses can be seen and photographed in a winter setting that few have experienced.
 
Trips to Nova Scotia normally begin with a flight into the Halifax International Airport, which is northeast of the city. The most direct route from the airport to the Lighthouse Trail or the Evangeline Trail is via Highway 101 going northwest out of Halifax. Though numerous side trips could be taken, I would suggest the first stop be in the quaint little town of Wolfville, which is a picture perfect valley town. This was the site of the Acadian Deportation and the setting for Longfellow’s famous poem, “Evangeline.”

Many of the exiled French found their way south to Louisiana, where “Acadian” was transformed into “Cajun.” Those who remained in Nova Scotia, or returned from exile, have a distinct link to and love for the Cajun culture and unique cuisine.
 
The Evangeline Trail parallels the Bay of Fundy coast, passing through many historical villages that were built by early European settlers. This sojourn along the picturesque Bay of Fundy covers more than 400 years of settlement through valleys, farms and fishing villages that shows a wealth of diverse landscape, European charm and rugged natural beauty. The Bay of Fundy alone is worth the experience with its phenomenal tides that sometimes vary over 50 feet from high to low.

Even in winter, one of the most picturesque villages along the Evangeline Trail is Annapolis Royal, which is a beautiful community nestled in the Annapolis Valley, and originally inhabited by a native Mikmaq community. In 1605, however, the area became home to some of North America’s earliest European settlers. 
 
Annapolis Royal offers a waterfront shopping area, some great restaurants, a downtown area that has been designated a National Historic District and a great selection of lodging within walking distance of the downtown area with all of the eateries and an exciting arts and theatre community.
 
Before departing the Fundy coast, take a short drive south to Bear River and Digby. Both of these little towns are rich in history, but Digby is more famous for its tasty scallops, while Bear River is known for its arts and crafts.
 
From Bear River, it’s time to climb into the hills and visit Kejimkujik, which is the only inland national park in the Maritimes. It features abundant frozen lakes and rivers that are ideal for snow shoeing or cross-country skiing. The woodlands and gently rolling landscapes of the park have many beautiful trails.

From the high ground and wilderness of Kejimkujik, it is a beautiful drive down to Liverpool, which is known as the “Port of the Privateers.” One can wander through the galleries of famous local artists, visit the historic Astor Theatre or photograph an unspoiled Atlantic coastline dotted with six lighthouses. It is a destination with many interesting vistas.
 
As one turns north on the Lighthouse Trail toward Halifax, you will be thrilled by some of the best and most famous landscapes in Nova Scotia. During the summer months, the tourist traffic would be almost impossible to navigate, but throughout the winter, solitude is the norm.

Visitors can cross the LaHave River on a cable ferry and meander through the colorful buildings in the old town of Lunenburg, which is a UNSECO world heritage site. Lunenburg is the birthplace of the world famous schooner “Bluenose” and the newer, “Bluenose II” which remains an important tourist attraction in the town. Wooden boat building has always been an important business in Lunenburg, and the building of classic dories is still popular. Tourism, however, is now Lunenburg’s most important industry and many thousands visit the town each year. A number of restaurants, inns, hotels and shops exist to service the tourist trade including the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.
 
The original inhabitants of Lunenburg were primarily Germans from the southern Rhineland, and Swiss and French Protestants from Montbeliard. Many of these first families and their descendants still inhabit and influence the development of the town in modern times.

Slightly further to the north is the town of Mahone Bay that is known for great churches, gazebos and a gorgeous waterfront. This tidbit, however, prepares one for the first look across the water to the famous lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, which is part of a tiny, painted fishin village that was randomly erected around a perfect Atlantic inlet, and has become the most photographed place in North America during the summer months. Nevertheless, few have had the opportunity to capture its beauty during the magical winter period.

With a head and camera full of unforgettable pictures of a Nova Scotia that few outsiders have seen and wonderful memories of the friendly people that were encountered, I had to return to Halifax and a flight back home. Most of the time, I am ready and eager to hop that plane, but even a week isn’t enough time to absorb the raw beauty and history of Nova Scotia and its unique people. Therefore, even before I left, I made a promise to myself that one day in the future I would return to this Maritime Winter Wonderland!

February 2018 column

Ancient Georgia coastal forts saved the colonies

Nearly 300 years ago, the young British colonists were aware that a coming battle with the Spanish over land and sea rights along the Georgia Coast was imminent. Therefore, General James Oglethorpe began building fortifications like Fort King George in Darien and Fort Frederica on Saint Simons Island to thwart the Spanish advance.

With the Spanish fleet and 5,000 armed soldiers bearing down on his tiny stronghold on St. Simons Island, General James Oglethorpe tried desperately to keep them from landing. His diminutive fort at the southern tip of the island, however, couldn’t hold them back, so he spiked his canons and retreated to his main base at Fort Frederica. His next move would change world and American history!

After taking Fort St. Simons, the Spanish soldiers began marching up Military Road toward Fort Frederica on the morning of July 7, 1742 with about 180 men, but were driven back by the English in the Battle of Gully Hole Creek. This caused the Spanish to retreat toward their main army, but the English followed. Brilliantly, Oglethorpe positioned a company of local Highlanders from Darien in a wooded area overlooking a marsh that the Spanish would have to traverse. Though the ensuing battle has been embellished often, it is said that even though only seven soldiers were killed, the blood of the Spanish turned the marsh red ... thus the name: The Battle of Bloody Marsh.

Despite having an overwhelming numbers advantage, these two skirmishes caused the Spanish to hesitate long enough for Oglethorpe to plant a seed of doubt about the size of his forces. Action of English ships also led the Spanish to believe they were in grave danger, so on July 15, they retreated back to St. Augustine and never returned.

The oldest fort in Coastal Georgia is Fort King George constructed in 1721 as the southernmost British outpost to defend against the French, Spanish and Indians. It was destroyed by fire in 1726 and rebuilt the following year, then manned by a colonial company until 1732.

The modern reconstruction of the fort with its sturdy blockhouse, old sawmill and historic British cemetery has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located just outside the shrimping village of Darien, and the authentic restoration of the fort and grounds is well worth a visit.
 
Probably the most famous British fort is Fort Frederica that was built around 1736 to protect the village and control the inland passage up the Georgia Coast. It was constructed of earth, timber and rock tabby, and armed with heavy canon and British soldiers. The site of the fort and the village is preserved today as Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island. “When one visits Fort Frederica, they are reminded of what was once a thriving town with major significance in securing the future of the new colony,” stated Leslie Amerine, Georgia Visitor Information Center Manager. This is a side trip that is well worth the time to see.
 
The one Coastal Georgia fort that was built primarily to defend the port of Sunbury on the Medway River against the British during the Revolutionary War is Fort Morris. It is a very small earthen, rectangular bastion of no more than one acre, but in 1778 was manned by 200 men and 25 canon. When Fort Morris was finally attacked by superior English forces, the Americans were asked to surrender. According to Arthur C. Edgar, Jr., Manager at Fort Morris State Historic Site, Col. John McIntosh of the Continental Troops replied, “We, sir, are fighting the battle of America and therefore disdain to remain neuter till its fate is determined, so come and take it!”

Because of the bold challenge to the British colonel, he ordered a withdrawal to avoid heavy casualties on his men from the canon. By sundown the English were in full retreat, and the British invasion of Georgia had been defeated. Colonel McIntosh became an American hero for his courage and defiance at Fort Morris, and Georgia’s Legislature voted to honor him with a sword inscribed with his famous words, “Come and take it!”

Though not much is left to see at Fort Morris today, the site near Midway, Ga. has a museum, walking trail, picnicking, interpretive signs and the ruins. They are open Thursday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed Sunday and Wednesday.

Throughout Georgia history, forts built along the Georgia Coast protected colonists from the Spanish, French and Indians, and later attempted to ward off advances by the British during our War for Independence. The beauty is that many of these forts and sites have been saved or reconstructed so that all visitors can see and learn about our fabulous, but sometimes violent history

January 2018 column

Savannah's historic forts are worth a visit

Unknown to many Georgia residents, some architectural masterpieces were built as forts to secure Savannah and its port from Union forces before and during the War Between the States. These were phenomenal state-of-the-art engineering structures for their time that were practically obsolete before they were finished because of the advancement in the tools of warfare.
 
Slightly south of downtown Savannah on the river is Old Fort Jackson, which was constructed in 1808 and is the oldest standing brick fort in Georgia. It is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Since this gorgeous old fort is slightly off the beaten path, few visitors to Savannah ever have the pleasure of seeing or experiencing this historic treasure.
 
“While visiting Old Fort Jackson,” said Holly Elliott, Coastal Heritage Society PR & Marketing Director, “it’s easy to feel transported to a different century. Located at a strategic spot on the Savannah River, the site has a distinct vantage point of downtown Savannah, while being a comfortable distance away from the city’s crowds.”
 
Though Fort Jackson was used during the War of 1812, it is primarily known for being the headquarters of Confederate forces throughout the War Between the States. Every day, costumed interpreters give visitors an idea of what day-to-day life as a soldier was like, and two canon firing programs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. are very exciting.
 
Just a few miles farther south is one of the most complete and beautiful forts still in existence in America. Fort Pulaski National Monument on Cockspur Island near the mouth of the Savannah River is a true engineering masterpiece of the 19th century! It is a five-sided fortification that was begun in 1829, and the officer who is credited with designing its complicated channels and dykes that kept the waters away from workers was Lieutenant Robert E. Lee.
 
Named after Revolutionary War hero Count Casimir Pulaski, the fort was completed in 1844, but was minimally manned until the War Between the States in 1861. Even before the South seceded from the Union, Fort Pulaski was taken by a local Georgia militia.
 
In December of 1861, federal forces took nearby Tybee Island and began installing batteries of newly-designed rifled canon. They were ready and began shelling the fort with pinpoint accuracy on 10 April, 1862, and though the Confederate forces fought valiantly with their outdated canon, they surrendered in less than 24 hours.
 
The use of rifled artillery at Fort Pulaski forever changed military thinking about coastal defenses. Works of brick and mortar could no longer stand up against the powerful rifled cannon, and America would never again build a brick fortress to defend its harbors.
 
Though Fort Jackson can be enjoyed in a few hours, it would be impossible to take in all that Fort Pulaski has to offer. From my experiences of having visited this magnificent structure many times throughout my lifetime, I would suggest that you come as a family or group, bring a lunch and give yourself a whole day to become immersed in wonderful Georgia history!

December 2017 column

Puerto Vallarta ia a warm Pacific paradise

As the cooler weather starts to engulf the South, my thoughts drift back to a time and place of warmer temperatures and gorgeous vistas. I can recall sauntering down the long expanse of beach near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, when I noticed live splashes where the waves were breaking along the shoreline. Closer inspection brought an even more bizarre revelation! A small school of manta rays seemed to be actually trying to surf the incoming waves, and occasionally, one would become stranded on the beach until the next curl came.
 
After watching the “surfing rays” for awhile, I observed another small, dark creature struggling in the crashing surf. I quickly reached down and caught what proved to be a tiny sea turtle that must have hatched on this gorgeous beach no more than a few days earlier. It was quite docile as I held it and marveled at this beautiful creation of nature before carefully releasing it back into the ocean.
 
These encounters were simply a wonderful introduction to a picturesque Pacific paradise along the Mexican West Coast. In fact, with so many direct or connecting flights now available from Atlanta, Puerto Vallarta is one of the closest tropical areas to the United States. It’s not an island, nor halfway around the world and you don’t have to fly over an ocean to reach this magical destination. Nevertheless, it is half the time and half the cost of going to Hawaii or many of the Caribbean Islands.
 
Despite being unknown to many in the Atlanta area, this part of Mexico is certainly a hidden jewel. It is located about 900 air miles due south of El Paso, Texas, and is protected from the open Pacific Ocean by the Bay of Banderas, which is one of the largest natural bays on the North American continent. The Sierra Madres mountain range on the bay’s south side holds enough moisture along the coast to create the perfect tropical climate year round. It’s much like Hawaii’s weather but more reliable.
 
The land area around Puerto Vallarta has a distinctly European flavor of cobblestone streets lined with interesting and inexpensive shops and vendors. Surfers from the US and Canada are always a part of the mix, and Latin rhythms seem to constantly drift on the warm sea breezes.
 
An almost hippy-like atmosphere of artistic culture and pulsating warmth in the local people makes this area stand out from all the rest of the Mexican resorts. Though fairly close to the USA, the prices and mood are far away, but the safe environment allows visitors to enjoy both an exciting night life and a secluded sun drenched romantic hideaway. The dress code of the day is no more than a bathing suit and T-shirt, so bulging suitcases are unnecessary. And, since prices are so reasonable, it’s easy to buy all the needed clothing at shops in this area.
 
A tropical vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is not far away and quite affordable. The experience will be unforgettable, and you’ll surely want to return time and again to this crown jewel of the Pacific Mexican Riviera.

November 2017 column


A Classic cars and southern hospitality mix at Chateau Elan event

Classic cars from every era captivate the imagination and passionate love of the automobile in every red blooded American. Combine that with a gorgeous fall weekend in the elegance of Don Panoz’s Chateau Elan Resort and Vineyards, and you experience an unforgettable event that all can enjoy!
 
The 2017 Atlanta Concours d’ Elegance, in it’s second year, was spawned by Harry Krix and Bill Wallet and given the blessings of  automotive entrepreneur and owner of Chateau Elan, Don Panoz. This year’s event featured nearly 200 cars and a dozen motorcycles that began with some of the first gas powered vehicles ever made to modern day classics like Ferrari, Bentley, Porsche and Panoz.
 
Though every attendee seemed to find that one car they have always dreamed of seeing in its original condition, the organizers had some special surprises this year. Fabulous Fins of the Fifties was a big hit which included many bold rear fin designs from the ’50s and ’60s that coincided with the beginning of the jet age in America.
 
Hundreds of spectators were seen rambling throughout the huge field of priceless cars while conversing with their owners, who were often clad in period outfits. Near the center of the immaculate golf course where all the cars were displayed was an elevated stage where numerous speakers presented interesting information on all facets of the classic automotive world.
 
For the owners and presenters of these fantastic automobiles and motorcycles, a serious competition was taking place among them. This years Best of Show American was the 1930 Packard SP Phaeton owned by the Cofer Collection in Tucker, Ga., and the Best of Show European went to the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K owned by Evergreen Historic Automobiles in Missouri. Founder, Harry Krix presented to Rob Adams a trophy that best exemplified the spirit of the show and is dedicated to his late wife Karen. Adams’ car is a 1956 Arnott Sports Climax, which was the first car designed and built by a woman.
 
The special honoree this year was famous motorsports broadcaster, Bob Varsha, who was the long time voice of the Formula One World Championship. In his youth, he was a world class runner, but has appeared on almost every network for all facets of motor racing throughout his career.
 
Most of us in this country are in love with our cars because they evoke memories of wonderful times in our lives ... or maybe our Walter Mitty dreams. Whatever the reason, this event has evolved quickly into being one of the premier Concours d’ Elegance destinations in America, and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring!


October 2017 column - A special place in South Georgia

A trip into the southern part of Georgia recently led me through the sleepy town of Cordele to an exciting destination that I had forgotten. The Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club is located on the Central and Western portion of the Georgia Veterans State Park. The combination of these two facilities offers enough exciting and relaxing opportunities to entertain anyone for weeks!
 
Even before reaching the entrance into the park, part of the gorgeous 18-hole golf course can be seen. This championship course, designed by Denis Griffiths, is rated four stars by Golf Digest Magazine, and is one of the most affordable places to swing a club in the Peach State.
 
During the first 1/4 mile beyond the entrance, visitors cross an old railroad track belonging to the SAM Shortline Excursion Train. It runs through the park on its way from Cordele to Plains, allowing riders to see an antique telephone museum, Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village, President Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm and other attractions on scheduled trips.
 
The Georgia Veterans State Park was established as a memorial to U.S. veterans from all wars. It has one of the most interesting military museums that I have ever seen ... with uniforms, weapons, medals and other items from the Revolutionary War through both Gulf Wars. On the outside, one is stunned by the presence of one of the last B-29 bombers in existence and an extremely rare Navy Sea Fury jet fighter from the Korean War era. Additionally, numerous antique armored vehicles are on display, and a nearby open field is maintained for flying remote-controlled, model airplanes.
 
In the more than 1,300 acres of the park, travelers can choose from a variety of tent, trailer and RV campsites, four picnic shelters and two group shelters that seat over 100 people each. Recreational options include a swimming beach, a flying disc course and a one-mile nature trail. Of course, 8,600 acre Lake Blackshear also borders the park with excellent fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, and bream.
 
The best part of this destination, however, is the Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club that offers 14 rooms in the main lodge, 64 villas and 10 lakeside cabins with panoramic views of Lake Blackshear. Also incorporated in this complex is 10,000 square-feet of conference and meeting space, complete with A/V and full catering services, which can easily handle groups from 10 to 450. Because of the diverse options, this property has become popular for business meetings, family reunions and weddings in recent years. 
 
The lodge has a complete fitness center, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool and balconies facing Lake Blackshear. Additionally, Cordelia’s Restaurant offers unexpected fine dining with a gorgeous view of the lake, the nearby full-service marina and the always lively Cypress Grill.
 
Along with the aforementioned options, Lake Blackshear is popular for boating and waterskiing. In fact, many private owners bring their own boats, launch them at the ramp in the park and use the many facilities available.
 
When visitors venture out to explore the local countryside, they will be amazed at the possibilities. Nearby attractions include: Andersonville National Historic Site; Providence Canyon State Conservation Park; Georgia Rural Telephone Museum; Jimmy Carter National Historic Site; Warner Robins Air Museum; Chehaw Wild Animal Park; and the Jefferson Davis Memorial State Historic Site.
 
This South Georgia jewel has the ingredients to fit any mood in business or pleasure with a cornucopia of opportunities in a picturesque setting. Both the Georgia Veterans State Park and the Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club are impressive on their own, but combined, they are truly one of Georgia’s hidden treasures! 
 
For more information visit: www.lakeblackshearresort.com.

September 2017 column - Columbus Ga. has experienced a magical rebirth

  My previous memory of Columbus, Georgia was of a run down old town with eroded river banks that were littered with trash floating down from Atlanta. On the other side of the Chattahoochee River at this point was the Alabama town of Phenix City, which was known as “The Sin City of the South.” So, I was naturally shocked on a recent visit to see a total metamorphosis from the gloom of the past to the traveler’s destination of today!

  The most noticeable and picturesque addition to the old city is the fabulous 15-mile trail known as the Chattahoochee River Walk. Brilliant city planners realized that any rebirth of the city would have to begin with a return to the river which had always been the life blood of this area. Therefore in 1996, the initial stretch of the trail was extended to the main post of Fort Benning, giving walkers and bikers the opportunity to observe wildlife and a part of the city. Now, the River Walk extends through a diverse scenic path all the way to the old cotton mill town of Bibb City.
 
  Another exciting aspect to the river area of the old downtown is the Columbus Whitewater course which offers miles of wet and wild fun on the Chattahoochee River. It is the longest urban whitewater rafting in the world. The course consists of class II to V whitewater offering two types of trips (Classic and Challenge) on the same 2.5 mile stretch of river due to the dam-controlled release which occurs daily. During the day, the river will run the perfect speed for family fun and adventure, but in the afternoon, the water cranks up to to produce some of the biggest whitewater on the East Coast ... providing a wild and exciting trip!
 
  While all this is happening, the folks at Whitewater Express (www.whitewaterexpress.com) allow you to take flight on the Blue Heron Adventure on a zip line that crosses high above the Chattahoochee River at speeds up to 40 mph. This is the only dual-zip line that connects two states.
 
  For the less adventuresome crowd, this reborn riverfront town offers plenty of Southern hospitality, some old-world charm and lots of experiences for history lovers. A stroll through the 28 block National Historic District of Victorian homes, gardens and museums in Heritage Corner will take you back to a forgotten era.
 
  Columbus also has a rich cultural side ... including opera, symphony and a performing arts center. Families love the Coca-Cola Space Museum to experience a simulated flight and a see the first Coke machine used in outer space. The revitalized old downtown section of Columbus comes alive on weekends with street markets. Known as “Uptown,” this area is home to the best locally owned and operated restaurants, coffee shops and city life. It is the most vibrant area of Columbus! If golf is your game, Columbus boasts two fabulous but demanding courses just a few miles from the city. These beautiful venues are Bull Creek East and West designed by Joe Lee and Ward Northrup. For reservations call 706-561-1614.
 
  Since I had been here last, the city of Columbus has become a true tourist destination including accommodations of more than 4,000 rooms. Columbus is a vibrant and growing community of 250,000 people who exhibit Southern hospitality every day. It’s a community that has taken pride in preserving the past while maintaining a bright vision for the future, and I would highly recommend it as a great place to visit!

August 2017 column - Natural beauty is synonymous with Florida's Big Bend

Great white heron, the prima ballerina, strikes her pose as blue herons pirouette. An ibis takes flight with grace as a tri-colored heron waltzes, displaying multi-hued plumage. Alone on the observation deck, I am blessed to view the ballet, a most welcome, daily, sunrise ritual. Even the nesting wood stork adds his cries to the harmonious melody, echoing through rising mist on pristine wetlands.

Peace and poise reign until the predatory osprey swoops across the stage, causing other birds to scatter. Even a basking gator’s eyes rise to observe the flutter of wings. Only the great white heron remains composed.” These a
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