I'm sitting here staring out my dining room windows to see a scene engulfed by white-out conditions. The tree-lined road and our closest neighbor have all seemed to vanish, the wind gusts of up to 70mph are rocking this rickety cottage to its core. But, it's beautiful. And for once, I can say that I've endured a "real" winter! Even though I feel like we're in the home stretch, I know that this is far from being behind us though.
Since I have this unexpected snow day, I figured that I would share with you the last real outing that Cody and I have been on. You'd think that I would have more time to blog about things since we really haven't been anywhere lately, but I can't seem to fit it in when I have free time. Truth be told, it's really because I haven't made time for it, that if I really wanted to, I'd find a way to make it happen, right?!?!
Nonetheless, I have enjoyed this extra snowy winter, although at times I have still found myself dreaming about that first taste of spring. Oh, how sweet it will be! Until then, I have to satiate this longing with scenes and things that only resemble what is just out of reach. The fastest and easiest way to trick my brain is to start digging in my archives to find samplings of whatever escape is on my mind. That's what prompted me to tell you about the most recent trip Cody and I took to Callaway Gardens in Georgia.
Now, the last place you'd think to go in the dead of winter would be a garden, but I'll tell you right now that you may be pleasantly surprised at what some of them may still have to offer during these cold, hard months. At other times of the year, Callaway Gardens is a place where you can almost endlessly explore the natural environment by doing hikes and such because it's so huge, but the winter months are an ideal time for visiting more of the indoor attractions. And since we only had a limited amount of time there (just one day) we chose to hit those popular targets first.
Naturally, we ventured to the "Discovery Center" first, which is the equivalent of a visitor center - they just wanted to give it a fancy name. From this very busy epicenter you can easily find an overview of everything you can do during your day at the gardens. I found the staff to be extremely pleasant and helpful. They even offered a suggestion that led us to the first attraction of the day. But to kill some time before the suggested show, we walked around the lake and checked out the exhibits currently on display.
After puttering around we made our way to the amphitheater to see the upcoming Birds of Prey show. We witnessed the typical feathery creatures that most people can easily identify, such as an eagle, falcon and an owl. Fascinating stuff, those birds. I've been to a falconry show before, but this one was different in that these birds were flying from the front to the back while swooping down closely overhead. I couldn't help but wonder if a sharp talon has ever snagged an unsuspecting spectator; this thought caused a slight amount of concern. It was sort of scary, but mostly awesome :D
The next stop was the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, which for obvious reasons made me the most excited. I mean, come on, butterflies contained in a space where pictures could 'easily' be taken! Woot! The thought of a glass-encased conservatory with over 1,000 butterflies fluttering freely thrills me to no end. One thing I didn't expect, though, was how stiflingly hot it would be once inside the structure. It was seriously like stepping into a sauna.
I quickly stripped my jacket and left it near the front doors, so that I could walk around unencumbered. I was also surprised that I wasn't immediately swarmed by the many residents said to be housed inside. It appears as though that number doesn't look nearly as impressive when there are so many nooks and crannies for these sneaky little buggers to be hiding. They were super skilled at eluding the camera wielding crazies cluttering the walkways.
At times, you'd have to almost wait in line to take a shot or two. And you were lucky if it was still even sitting there by the time it was your turn. It's safe to say that the people to visible butterfly ratio was severely imbalanced. I walked around the conservatory at least 3 times in hopes that I would find one perfectly perched upon one of the many tropical blooms, but this didn't really happen as often as I envisioned. Oh well, the sweat sacrificed was worth the few glimpses we did encounter.
Dying to cool down, I really wanted to bathe in the cold air once we finally made it back outside -- that place was ridiculously hot! The last attraction of the day was way less likely to induce a heatstroke as it was somewhat open to the outdoors. The John A. Sibley Horticultural Center consisted of many different areas that spans over five acres. Amongst the greenhouses were a wide variety of both native and exotic species of plants.
As you explore, you will find many grand displays housed within the walls of this structure. The most eye-catching of these is the 22 foot waterfall towering above head. The seasonal poinsettia display was also one of oversized proportions as the extremely colorful and larger-than-life Christmas tree dwarfed anyone who went near it. Apparently, things change in there at least 8 times a year, so you might get to see some other equally opulent display depending on when you go.
These indoor, wintertime-friendly attractions are only a small sampling of all that Callaway Gardens has to offer. I hope that we can go back during the spring or fall one of these days to experience more of the outdoor landscape, because it is truly a beautiful place.
Alright, I know that not all of us are fantasizing about spring, ready to bid winter farewell, but those of you who are, I'm wondering if you've seen any early signs of spring yet? Or, is there anything exciting on the horizon when the first inkling of spring decides to show? Please share :D
Currently, I am eagerly anticipating an upcoming trip to the island of Puerto Rico - I know, it's more summery than springy, but still! 9 days to go...