Herald The Cherry Blossoms

I finally had the chance to see this season's cherry blossom bounty yesterday, on the most perfect spring day. Sunny, barely 70 degrees F and no wind set the backdrop of a lovely two hour stroll around the Japanese Garden grounds. Armed with my cameras and accompanied by photo friends who don't mind looking at a single tree or flower for over 10 minutes, we studied the light, looked for bees and tried to capture the essense of these pale pink and ivory clusters of flowers.

 
Pink Sakura In Bloom

 

 
Buzz In

 

 
Illuminated

 

 
Puff Balls

 
In comparing these photos with my earlier Crab Apple blossoms, I had to research the difference between the Cherry and Crab Apple blossom since they really look the same. I learned the Cherry Blossom centers only have one single main stem Stigma carried on a Style, surrounded by numerous Anthers. A Crab Apple blossom Style branches out several Stigmas. That is the only difference! The petals of both local varieties are notched in the center.

 

 
Bonus photo - taken from my sister's backyard in North Carolina, where spring is 2-3 weeks ahead. Another Cherry Blossom - this one is a double style blossom, a Kwanzan Cherry. I did not know there was such a variety - they are so beautiful!

 
Double Trouble #cherryblossom #kwanzancherry #spring #northcarolinaspring

 
Finally, a group selfie of me and my photog friends, who will go to great lengths to get "the perfect shot":

 
Spring, Finally

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Spring Blossoms - Early Magnolia and Crab Apples

Warmer temperatures and longer days bring on Spring's fleeting show of blossoms - cherry blossoms, flowering crab, magnolia, pear and other flowering fruit trees burst with fluffy petals that create a beautiful landscape. We started "sakura watch 2022" two weeks ago, monitoring tree branches for bud formation and progress. Early to bloom trees like magnolia and some crab apples kept us occupied while we waited for the full explosion of Sakura blossoms.

 
More to Come

 

 
Searching

 

 
Magnolia

 

 
Stand Outs

 
The photos above were taken early last week, before I had to leave town, and here is what the official sakura branches looked like:

 
Patiently Waiting

 

 
Of course, the Sakura burst into bloom the day I left town. I'm back now and hope to get out to see them before the show fades away.

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Wormsloe State Historic Site

Day 4 of our Southern Swing has us driving from Savannah back north towards Marietta, but before we start that 4 1/2 hour drive, I convinced my husband to take an unplanned side visit to the Wormsloe State Historic Site, which had been showing up on my list of Top rated things to do in Savannah. For me, the biggest draw was the promise of beautiful grounds and entrance - a grand 1.5 mile stretch of live oak canopy.

 

 
We arrived just before the site opened and we were not disappointed. In the morning light, the Spanish moss filters and highlights the sun mixed with dust in the air for an ethereal feel.

 

 
Grand Entrance

 

 
The site has numerous trails and ruins of the original estate. We learned about the settlers to the area, the estate owner, Noble Jones. We enjoyed our visit and highly recommend the site to anyone visiting the Savannah area.

 

 
Southern Swing

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Charleston SC - Fort Sumter

On Day 3 of our Southern Swing, we took a day trip from Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC with the goal of visiting Fort Sumter. The conflict on April 12, 1861 at this military garrison triggered the start of the US Civil War. This National Historical Park is accessible via ferry operated by Fort Sumter Tours.

 

 
We arrived into Charleston, just missing the first ferry trip, so we opted to walk from the Aquarium area to downtown, along the waterfront battery with its impressive historic houses. We ended up at the far end of the city at the park - White Point Garden. We walked back via Meeting street and milled through the open air markets.

 

 
We finally got to ferry out to the Fort and the tour was very informative.

 
Southern Swing

 
Spotted enroute to the Fort, a sand bar and a family exploring:

 
The Sand Bar

 

 
After the tour, we enjoyed "Linner" (between Lunch and Dinner, aka, a meal at 3pm) at Magnolias, another excellent restaurant on East Bay. Another great day of exploring.

 

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Historic Savannah Georgia

It's Day 2 of our Spring Break visit to Civil War Sites of Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. On Day 1, we explored Chattanooga, TN.

 

 
On Day 2, we drive 5 hours from Chattanooga to Savannah, GA where we are staying in the historic district. Driving into the city, we pass by the retro Thunderbird Inn (we did not stay here - I thought the property looked cool)

 

 
Southern Swing

 

 
We stayed at a Hampton Inn in the Historic District. The hotel let us check in around noon and then we explored the shops along the river, walking its entire length, enjoying the warm, breezy day. We walked away from the river to Forsyth park and along the way stopped at the site of the alleged Forrest Gump bench. The parks and green spaces in the city serve as natural oasis with towering live oaks, providing welcome cool from the summer swelter. Upon seeing Forsyth park, the famous fountain glistened in the afternoon sun, a beacon at the end of the treed canopy of green flanking the path.

 

 
Forsyth Park

 

 
All that Glimmers in the Sun #oakcanopy #geogiaonmymind #savannah #historicdistrict #forsythpark #fountain

 

 
We enjoyed dinner at the incredible Alligator Soul Restaurant. At the time, the restaurant only allowed patrons with reservations. We nabbed the last available time slot, right when they opened for dinner; we normally eat early, so this fit our needs perfectly. I enjoyed this scallop entree:

 

 
Southern Swing

 

 
After dinner we walked the waterfront again in time to catch a beautiful sunset with the Georgia Queen:

 

 
When The Night Falls #savannahgeorgia #savannahriver #sunset #georgiaqueen #onthewater

 
It was a wonderful way to end our day.

 

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March 2021 - Chattanooga and the Chickamauga National Military Parks

A year ago, Scott and I took a trip focused on Civil War Sites of the South. We used Atlanta as the hub to visit Chattanooga (TN), Savannah (GA) and Charlestown (SC). Scott planned the itinerary which was packed and in hindsight could have been optimized to reduce the hours spent driving in the car, but we covered a lot of sites over 5 days.

 

 
Day 1: we fly at the wee hours into Atlanta, pick up the rental car and head to the Chickamauga battlefield in Chattanooga, TN, a two and a half hour drive. The Civil War Battlefields are part of the US National Park system and visitors can take a self guided driving tour through the grounds. Stopping points along the tour are marked and audio narration (via cell phone) available for you to learn more about the site's significance in the war. I've included various photos taken in the battlefield:

 

 
Chickamauga Battlefield

 
Chickamauga Battlefield

 

 
More impressive was the drive up to Lookout mountain where the Battles for Chattanooga seiged. Atop the mountain we took in views of the Moccasin Bend River and learned that troops moved equipment, cannons, artillery and provisions up the steep topography of the mountain. There are rugged hiking trails if you want to re-enact the soldiers' path.

 

 
Top of Lookout #chattanooga #lookoutmountain #battlefield The area is rich with Civil war history, apparent as you drive through Chattanooga to the Missionary ridges. In addition to the Civil War site at the top of Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, at foot of the mountain is a popular attraction.

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Winter 2022 At the Japan House

Even though spring is less than a week away, I have photos taken during winter that I’d like to share. This year’s winter started slow then decided to sock it to us in the form of a huge winter storm in February and another ice - snow storm two weeks later.

 

 
Honestly, I really like snow - the white brightens the dull landscape and when sun gets mixed in, there’s so much brilliance to enjoy. During the mid February storm, we received almost a foot of snow over 2 days. I opted to work from home and took some time to shoot snow selfies as the snow was falling. This was shot in my backyard with the iPhone 13 Plus in selfie portrait mode. I really like the results.

 

 
Snow Days

 

 
After two days of active snowfall, the sun came out so I invited two friends to visit the Japan House. We visit here often, mainly in the Spring and Fall. I had been waiting for a snowfall to complete my "seasons at the Japan House" Photo series.

 

 
Frozen Chains

 

 
Inviting

 
Two weeks later and a snowy Sunday morning found us back. Friend My, texted me unexpectedly in the morning and after a pause, I kicked the lazy Sunday morning inertia to the curb and headed out. What an enchanting morning - snow fell lightly at first then suddenly we were blanketed by soft fluffy flakes. We were so happy to have gone out on this photo walk.

 
Sunday Morning Snow

 

 
Sunday Morning Snow

 

 
Sunday Morning Snow

 

 
Sunday Morning Snow

 
Finally, here's another snow selfie with my photo partner in crime, My.

 
Snow Globe Morning

 
Winter may be gone but not forgotten!

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