NEW ORLEANS Louisiana Day 3

The two Plantations we visited both about an hours drive from New Orleans were very different, Oak Alley Plantation was initially a humble cottage bought by a wealthy Creole sugar cane planter who then built the Mansion to lure his young bride from New Orleans.  It is a National Historic Landmark and is absolutely spectacular. The other, Laura Plantation, tells the story of the Creole Family Saga.  The Creoles, who, at this historic site, lived apart from the American mainstream for over 200 years.  It is also a National Historic Landmark as are 12 other buildings surrounded by fields of sugarcane, vegetable and fruit gardens and formal French landscapes.

Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation

After a wander around the beautiful grounds of the Plantation we were taken on a guided tour of the “Big House”.  However the story begins with an unknown settler who planted twenty-eight evenly spaced oak trees in two rows leading to his humble cottage toward the mighty Mississippi River.  Named the Alley of Oaks, it is a quarter mile alley of 300 year old Virginia Live Oaks.  The largest oak tree on the Plantation has a girth of 30feet and a 127-foot spread of limbs.  A plant called Resurrection fern grows on the limbs and trunks of the trees and can survive long periods of drought by shriveling up and appearing brown and dead.  Once there is water the fern will uncurl and reopen to a vibrant green.  Live oaks have a life span of about 600 years which makes these 300 year old trees middle aged!!  In comparison to that I feel quite young!

Oak Alley

Oak Alley

Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Valley Plantation is admired as one of the most spectacular antebellum (before the cival war) settings in the south of the US.  After a wonderful lunch in the restaurant and a wander around the extensive gift shop we were taken on a guided tour of the “Grande Dame of the Great River Road”.  Believed to have been constructed primarily by slave labour the mansion took three years to complete.  The Plantation changed hands many times until 1972 when it was taken over by the Oak Alley Foundation.  The Trustees are responsible for maintaining and preserving the Big House and surrounding twenty-five acre National Historic Landmark site.  Today Oak Alley Plantation is still a working sugarcane plantation.The photos below give an insight into the  opulance of the home which has been restored to its original grandeur.After our guided tour we wandered around the grounds which included a huge sugar kettle made of cast iron.  These were used in the process of making molasses and crystallized sugar in the South during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Each cane plantation in Louisiana had its own sugarhouse and the cane was crushed using an animal-powered, three-roller mill.  Very different to today!  As we came out of the “Big House” we were given the opportunity to purchase a famous “Mint Julep”.  We took the chance and it turned out to be really refreshing.  I think one was enough!!  Duncan had great fun, as usual, with his unique sense of humour asking questions of the guides.  To their credit they were great and are probably used to it.

Mint Julep Iced Drink

Mint Julep Iced Drink

There is a Slave Marker which is located where the original 2 rows of 10 slave cabins began.  It depicts records filed at St James Courthouse in New Orleans after Jacques Roman’s death (1848) which includes a listing of all the slaves on the plantation at that time, a total of 57.

Weddings and Speciall Events as well as overnight Cottages are available at this beautiful venue.

Parents Room

Parents Room

Oak Alley Plantation Dining Room

Oak Alley Plantation Dining Room

Laura Creole Plantation

Laura Creole Plantation

Laura Plantation is a historic Louisiana Creole Plantation on the western bank of the Mississippi River originally built in 1805.  It has a fascinating collection of family artifacts original to a Louisiana sugar plantation including clothing, toiltetries, business and slave records, Mardi Gras and mourning heirlooms.   Records show that, with help from President Thomas Jefferson, the land was granted in 1804 to a French naval veteran of the American Revolution.  He died very soon after establishingh the Plantation.

Laura Plantation Babies Room

Laura Plantation Babies Room

In 1805 there were 7 slaves.    As the plantation grew so did the number of enslaved workers.  In 1830 Laura’s grandmother, owner of the Plantation, went to New Orleans and bought 30 teenage girls to have them impregnated.  Ten years later she had what she called her “crop of children” and built for their families 65 cabins, 4 of which still stand today.  By the onset of the Civil War 186 workers were enslaved on this farm.  Following the emancipation of slaves in Louisiana (1866) the great majority of these former slaves continued to live in the Laura Plantation quarters.

Laura Plantation clock

Laura Plantation clock

Four generations of women in the family ran the growing sugarcane plantation until Laura Locoul, the great-granddaughter of Duparc, sold it in 1891 to a family of French-speaking Creoles of Alsation descent.  In 1981 the plantation was bought by a consortium of investors who planned to destroy the historic buildings and build a bridge across the Mississippi River at this site. The still-active earthquake fault, below the historic site, ruined their plans and, in 1993 , the old homestead was acquuired by the Laura Plantation Company, a private enterprise, for the purpose of restoring the site and opening it to the Public.  In August, 2004, an electrical fire destroyed 80% fo the Big House and after a 3 year restoration effort, the site was completely re-opened for tours.

Laura Plantation kitchen

Laura Plantation kitchen

Laura Plantaion slave quarters

Laura Plantaion slave quarters

As we wandered around the plantation, both inside and around the grounds, it was so easy to transport ourselves back in time and try to imagine what life must have been like for the Families who lived in the Big House and the slaves who worked on the sugar cane fields and as servants inside. I for one am so pleased I was not born in those days. We visited the 160-year old cabins where west-African folktales of Compair Lapin, known in English as the legendary “Br’er Rabbit” were recorded.

Laura Plantation Br'er Rabbit
Laura Plantation
Br’er Rabbit

So much more history attached to both plantations.  We had enjoyed the day so much and also the company of some Aussies who were on the tour with us.

They had the night before disembarked from the “Sea Princess” a huge passenger liner which had cruised from New York. And so the next day we returned to Panama City Beach to say goodbye to Steve and Lynn and Katie.  Thanks again to them both for giving us this wonderful opportunity. We had a wonderful time, really enjoyed everything about our stay in Florida and would do it all again in the blink of an eye.  I must mention the Church I attended while I was there and the wonderful people who became  our friends.  We are missing y’ll. So it is goodbye to my blog silvernomadsinflorida, I will create another one for our time in Australia for anyone who wants to follow our travels. Love to all and Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays.

Rhonda & Duncan

NEW ORLEANS Louisiana November 2012

Twin Highways – Bridges

Our last trip before we headed home to Australia was to New Orleans. Leaving Panama City Beach driving west about a six hour journey, we could not believe how many bridges we traversed and how many miles over various waterways they took us.  This photo I took from the car.  we were on one Highway and there were cars travelling along these.  Unbelievable.  The highways we have experienced here have been amazing, obviously so much more detail and forward planning than we seem to have in Australia.  Speed limits mostly 70mph (115kpm). We had travelled a couple of hours when we came across an accident on a bridge near a City called Mobile, traffic banked way back.  As we had seen a sign that said Battleship Memorial Park we decided to veer off and visit.USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, Alabama. We paid to enter the Park and did a self-guided tour of the USS Alabama Battleship, the USS Drum Submarine and the Airforce Museum.  We were so pleased we had been delayed on the highway as we found the Memorial Park really interesting and it highlights what the Americans and their Allies (including Australia) sacrificed during WWII.  Also the ingenuity in construction of these ships of the Sea.

USS Alabama was commissioned 16 August 1942; decommissioned at Bremerton, Washington 9 January 1947.  Earned 9 battle stars. Shut down 22 enemy planes. USS Drum- commissioned 1 November1941;ranks 8th in WWII enemy tonnage sunk, earned 12 battle stars; decommissioned at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 16 February1946

We descended  many steep flights of steps and went down into the depths of the ship where we saw the galley, bunkhouse, messdeck, butchers area and the brig and much more.  From up near the top we had an awesome view over the ship, could see just how powerful she would have been and how well equiped for warfare.

“Calamity Jane”

We also climbed down into the submarine but I had to come back up, became claustraphobic.  Duncan walked through the length and depth of the submarine and took photos for me.  There is an incredible array of aircraft dating back hundreds of years in the Museum all of interest and, had we had time, videos showing some of their escapades and triumphs.  The aircraft, “Calamity Jane” used in WWII for long range bombing exercises has a permanent home at the Memorial Park.

St Louis Cathedral

St Louis Cathedral

Back on the Highway and as we approached New Orleans we realised how busy the City was.  Duncan had printed up a map and directions to our Hotel but, with me navigating, took a wrong turn.  Not to worry – into a Servo, got directions, and without too much difficulty found our place of rest for the next few days.  Our first impression was of roads and bridges heading in every direction.  The next day we got the shuttle bus to the Ferry across the Mississippi River.  While waiting for the Ferry we saw a huge cargo ship and a Passenger Ship coming in to berth.

Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde

Once in the City we wandered along the Riverwalk past restaurants, shops, the Boats taking tourists for tours down the Mississippi River, and across past the Casino.  We walked up to the beautiful St Louis Cathedral.  This is the third Cathedral built on the site.  The first was destroyed by hurricane and the second by fire.  Across the street we saw the Cafe du Monde,  the famous French Market coffee stand serving rich Creole coffee and delicious beignets covered with powdered sugar.  We had been told this was a treat we had to try and it lived up to its reputation.  I chose the coffee to be served in a souveneir mug and we each had three beignets for a cost of only $2.20.  So funny to look around and see people with white powdered sugar on their face and, in my case, down my clothes. This treat has been enjoyed by generations of local people and visitors to the City.

French Quarter apartment

French Quarter apartment

The interesting French Quarter has narrow streets with quiet courtyards, legendary old buildings with laced iron balconies, restaurants serving all varieties of food  and beverages accompanied by jazz musicians.  This is also where the nightclubs and the seedier parts of New Orleans can be found.

French Quarter

French Quarter

While wandering around memories of a by-gone era can be seen with iron hitching posts for horses on the sidewalks.  The streets are divided into art themes, antiques, mardi gras costumes and paraphernalia shops, street cafes, sweets chocolates and praline sales and production.  Also late afternoon, early evening, sees buskers materialise all seeking the tourist dollar.   It was all so different and we enjoyed our day immensely.

French Quarter menu
French Quarter menu
French Quarter Jazz Park

French Quarter Jazz Park

As part of our New Orleans experience we had dinner at the famous Gumbo Pot Seafood Restaurant & Bar.  First off we asked what “Gumbo” is.  This is a dish described to us as a soup based on a rue with additions of ingredients such as chicken, seafood, shrimp.  Our meal was a little disappointing but we did enjoy the dessert of whisky breaded pudding.

French Quarteer entertainers

The next day we took a bus tour of the City. This took us around the Old Quarter where there are magnificent homes, beautiful tree lined streets and a McDonalds which could not put the traditional red and yellow golden arches as it was too garish for the neighbourhood and was not in ambience with the traditional homes!!  Instead they had a small low sign at the front of the building.

We were taken to one of the 3 Catholic Cemetries where people buy family cripts starting at $100,000.  The Cemetary is huge.  Our guide explained that people are put into the cript for 1 year and 1 day and after that the floor of the cript is lowered and the bones fall to the lower floor with the other family members.  All graves are above ground because of the water level of New Orleans.  So much more information we were given, too much to even attempt to give here.

Elms Mansion 1869

Elms Mansion 1869

New Orleans mansion 1800s

New Orleans mansion 1800s

St Louis Cemetary No. 3

St Louis Cemetary No. 3

McDonals Old Quarter

McDonals Old Quarter

Our journey then took us to the area hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans in 2005.  We were astonished as we toured this area to see house after house still in disrepair after all this time.  There are still marks on homes and buildings where searches were made to see if there were any people traped and/or injured.  It is almost impossible to imagine the damage these hurricanes do particularly as the areas they hit are so densely populated.

Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey have dedicated millions of dollars to some areas to rebuild but there is still so much more needed.  The homes that people have walked away from will be auctioned off to people who will have commit to rebuild within a certain time and the others will have to rebuild or lose the home.  New Orleans is a flat area between a Lake and the Gulf of Mexico.  The flooding during and after the Hurricane caused it to become like a huge bowl and so that was one of the reasons so many lives were lost and so much damage done.

New Orleans hurricane Katrina region

New Orleans hurricane Katrina region

New homes replaced with solar and hatch escape

New homes replaced with solar and hatch escape

New homes Oprah Winfrey

New homes Oprah Winfrey

Below is an example of one of the homes Brad Pitt provided huge amounts of money for in an area most damaged.  It has an escape hatch as many people died getting up inside their ceilings only to find they couldn’t get onto the roof and drowned. Also below there is a photo of a row of homes built with money provided by Oprah Winfrey.  These are very similar to each other but comfortable 3 bedroom homes.  In the area is a playground and a music hall for the young folk.

House waiting for demolition

House waiting for demolition

I will leave the blog here as the next day we took another bus tour to see two very different heritage listed plantations.

We are now back in Australia but I thought y’all might like to share our visit to New Orleans.  I will do up another blog on Silvernomadsinflorida and then I will set up another one for our journey in the New Year down the East Coast and to Melbourne.

Love to all from Duncan & Rhonda.

Our Visit to Apalachacola

Apalanchola Seafood Festival

We drove 90 minutes west along the Gulf to Apalachacola taking Jenny a friend we have made during our stay here.  It was a fantastic hot sunny day and the views along the Gulf were amazing.  The name of the town is derived from the Apalachicola Indian tribe and means “people on the other side of the river”.  However we read that it is often interpreted as “land of the friendly people”.  It is a very pretty town situated on the Apalachacola River with a history that goes back to the early 1800’s.  People have been fishing here since then however it was primarily a shipping port for cotton until the railroad took over.

The Florida Seafood Festival is held here every November when people from all over flock to enjoy seafood, music, markets and restaurant meals.  More than 90% of Florida oyster production is harvested from Apalachacola Bay as well as shrimps and lobsters.  The prolific oyster beds are fed by freshwater from the Apalachacola River and the spring fed Chipola River.  We walked around the markets, listened to the music, talked to some folk singers, saw a black bear skin.  The bear, an adult female, had been found dead on the highway.  We were told they do not grow much bigger.  We also saw a red wolf skin.  This animal is in danger of extinction and is on the endangered listing.

It was a really hot day so we decided to go to a restaurant for a meal.  The seafood at the festival although cheap was all fried and very greasy. At the restaurant we enjoyed shrimp, scollops and Duncan had a steak.  We also cooled down with a beer.

We had been told we had to go across the bridge to St George Island so we made our way back to the car.

Folk Singers

We could not believe our eyes when we travelled along this bridge.  It must be many, many kilometres long and curves around and up.  It must have cost billions to build.  A photo could not do it justice.  The amazing thing is that it goes across to St George Island which is being developed into housing areas and has a National Park but very little else.  Made us wonder what other plans there are for the Island for so much money to be spent on a bridge across to it.

Black bear skin

We drove past the lighthouse and along a road leading to the National Park where homes are being built literally in sand dunes.We went into the National Park where we walked onto a boardwalk and watched dozens of pelicans diving for fish.  What an amazing sight.   We then made our way back across the bridge and headed for home.

Red wolf skin

Rhonda & Jenny

This view of the bridge to St George Island only shows half of it.

Section of Bridge

Rhonda & Jenny

The weather here is now very cool in the mornings and evenings, a range of temperatures from 4deg to 21deg (or 40 to 70F).  I have given up swimming but we still take Katie to the beach where she loves to chase the gulls and pelicans and swim.  Surprisingly the water is not too cold.  I thought I would add a couple of photos of Katie and also one of the sun shining on the water.  If you havn’t already please check my previous blog and I don’t think I will be able to do another one until I get home as we arrive back from New Orleans the day before we fly out.

Katie swimming November

Rosemary Beach Reflections

While we have enjoyed our time here so much and I will miss my new friends immensely it will be good to be home back amongst family and friends.  Three months is a long time to be away.  We have a wonderful country and sometimes we think it is a good thing we are isolated from so many issues other countries around the World experience.   We will be home on 21 November and after a couple of days recuperation from jet lag we hope to be in touch and catch up with people.  Until next time, love to all,  silvernomadsinflorida

Disney World Hollywood Studio/Epcot/Day 3

The two blogs and this one of Disney World are only a snapshot of what there is to be seen and done.  I have taken so many photos and Duncan has videos to edit.  The evening of our second day we sat on the pavement at Magic Kingdom along with thousands of people to watch the Main Street Electrical Light Parade.  Unfortunately it was too difficult to take good quality photos but we both took videos which turned out great.  We stayed for the Wishes fireworks which was the best I have ever seen and lasted for about 20 minutes.  Time for home and bed ready for Day 3 hoping our legs and feet would last.

Some of the experiences we had at Hollywood Studio included The Great Movie Ride where we boarded a train to travel through classic film scenes and Hollywood moments.  This brought back many movie memories and is brilliantly done.  We thoroughly enjoyed the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, a 30 minute live show featuring stunts, combat, movie scenes and people from the audience as extras.  Included an actual war scene with tank, aircraft and so on.

Indiana Jones stunt show

Next stop was Rock’n’Rolller Coaster, starring Aerosmith.  After his epic adventure on the Mt Everest coaster at Animal Kingdom Duncan was up for this one. So, foolishly, I agreed to share the xperience with him.  Afer twisting, turning and looping upside down through Tinseltown I had had enough of Roller Coasters.  But hey lots of fun for us both.

Indiana Jones stunt show

Duncan went on the Tower of Terror which has a drop of 13 stories but, he says, nothing like ours at the Gold Coast.Off we then went to see the live show Beauty and the Beast.  This was an amazing 30 minute performance with cast members of  some 50 dancers, actors doing a thorougly entertaining show for young and old.  We also went along the the Muppet Vision 3D and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.

RocknRoller Coaster

This is an exhibition of historical items and photographs celebrating Walt Disney’s life and how a dream became reality.  We thoroughly enjoyed this.We wondered around but found that some areas were closed for the season so we decided to take the bus to Epcot.

It is difficult to describe what Epcot is all about but here goes.  We thoroughly enjoyed this theme park and wished we had had more time.  It is described as two fantastic worlds in one where you can find fun for everyone around the World, and beyond the seas and far into the galaxy.  Spaceship Earth is literally a huge globe (see photo) where inside there is a Spaceship ride where you can see yourself in the future (literally) as you ride, create, complete a questionaire and explore inside this amazing icon.

Beauty & the Beast

We went on a boat ride – Living with the Land, a voyage through amazing organisc greenhouses and a fish farm.  The Theme Park is the largest of the Parks and would take a couple of days to cover it completely.  As the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is on for the month of October to 12 November we wanted to stroll (how can one stroll when one’s feet are almost crippled and one has blisters where one didn’t think  one could) around the world showcases.  However who am I to complain, Duncan’s knees were aching so much however we knew this was our last day.  We looked like a couple of old people hobbling around. ha ha.  Hard to say who was holding up who.  A few beer and wine tastings and some food and off we went again.

Epcot Space Station

We found the Australian stand – on the menu Lamb Chops, Shrimp on the BBQ and Lamingtons (no, not very original).  We really enjoyed tastings from the Mexican, British, Irish, French, Canadian and Morocco stands (not American, had enough of American food – sorry Steve and Lynn).There were so many shops with souveniers of different countries, Japan, China, Britain to name a few.  We came across a concert with the Pointer Sisters performing so we stayed there and enjoyed that along with hundreds of other  people.  We went across to the Chinese Restaurant and had a great meal with great service as it had started to rain.

Australian Menu

We found our way around the Lake which is the centrepiece of the Park and looked for a seat to watch the Iluminations Fireworks.  It was only 7pm but people had already claimed their spot for the 9pm show.  We sat, and while Duncan talked to the people beside us, I hobbled around.  Came across a shop selling mementos of the Food & Wine Festival.  Some had maps of the World, Australia nowhere to be seen.  Seems we “Down Under” don’t exist.

Finally the Illuminations Fireworks started.  This had a spinning World globe with fireworks crisscrossing it, very effective with audible commentary.  I didn’t think it was as good as the Magic Kingdom fireworks but that is a matter of opinion.  We couldn’t wait for the show to finish as we had about a 15 minute walk to the bus to take us back to the hotel.  We were in so much agony from our three 12 hour days but agreed every minute was worth it and we would do it all again.

Light chinese meal
at Epcot

Epcot Ilumination Fireworks

Watch out for my next blog to catch up with what we have been doing with our last days here in Florida and before our visit to New Orleans and the Mississippi River.  Greetings to all from silvernomadsinflorida.


Animal Kingdom

Our first stop  was to see The Festival of the Lion King.  This is 30 minutes of non stop tribal singing and dancing with a centre stage and 4 side stages allowing the audience maximum viewing.  Dancers dressed in magnificant swahli costumes, costumed stilt walkers, animated animals including a giraffe, elephant, lion and Timon (the warthog) along with Pumbaa, the Meercat ( who had the starring role) told the story of the Lion King.  This was breathtaking and had we had time we would have gone back for a second show.  It was very difficult to take photos because of the amazing energy displayed by the dancers but Duncan took a video which is excellent.

Lion King show

We then walked along the greeting trails where the Disney characters were waiting to talk to, and have their photo taken, with patrons.  Of course I found Minnie (who is my favourite) dressed in a Safari outfit.Once again there were shops selling all sorts of Disney apparel, gifts, hats and caps, Disney swap pins, and markets.

The park is divided into themed areas including Africa, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A. Discovery Island, the Safari Area and Exhibition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.  This has a walk through museum as you queue for the roller coaster telling the story of, and showing findings including footprints of, the Yeti (a.k.a the Abominable Snowman). As with Magic Kingdom we had determined what was of interest to us and what we thought we could do in the time we had so off we went to Africa to experience the Kilmanjaro Safari.  An open-air vehicle took us through an African-style savanna where we saw large alligators, gazalles, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos, and lions roam freely.  We had to wait several times while giraffes grazed right beside the roadway and then wandered in front of the vehicle.  There was also a huge flock of flamingos, flamboyant and colourful birds.

Safari Minnie Mouse

We went whitewater rafting on the Kali River Rapids down the waters of the Chatranadi River.  6 people on each raft and I think Duncan and I got the seats positioned to cop the most amount of water as we were drenched.  All part of the fun.

Safari Expedition White Rhino

Still in Africa we walked along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  Here we saw troupes of gorillas, an underwater hippo viewing area,  birds of all varieties large and small, meerkats and more.

Africa Gorilla

From Africa we travelled to Asia where we headed straight for Exhibition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountains.  We walked through the museum and viewed exhibits relating to the Yeti (amazing really, makes one wonder whether there is actually any truth to the sightings) to the high-speed train (roller coaster).  After the last two roller coasters I had been on I thought ok I’m up for another one.  I only live once.   Ha what had I let myself in for.  Up the top of the mountain, down twisting and turning all the way and then up through a tunnel where the train then reverses and goes backwards down the tunnel.  For the finale a hairraising ride down 70feet.  When we got off I was literally shaking but hey I did it!  Duncan enjoyed every minute and couldn’t wait for the next one. 

Mt Everest Roller Coaster

White water rafting

The time was getting away and we wanted to go back to Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and the Wishes Fireworks.  We decided on one more stop at Dinoland U.S.A.  We were disappointed here as some attractions were closed and others had long waiting times.  

Dinosaur Fossil Discovery

We did wander through The Boneyard where there are the giant bones of a Brachiosaurus dinosaur standing 52 feet tall and more than 80 feet long.  This replica has been cast from bones discovered in Colorado, U.S.A. in 1900.  The original is now in the Field Museum in Chicago.

At the centre of the Park is the amazing Tree of Life.  This icon of Animal Kingdom is themed around Animal Conservation and is an illusion of a real tree covered with man made leaves.  It is 145 feet tall and has 400 animal carvings.  No photo could do it justice.

Tree of Life

As it was close to the Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade we decided to watch this before taking the bus back to Magic Kingdom.   The Disney characters danced along the streets waving and greeting children, allowing parents to take photos and floats intertwined with dancers from the shows.  Quite a spectacle as is everything associated with Disney World.

Parade Captain Hook

We made our way along with hundreds of other patrons towards the buses.  They leave every 20 minutes so there is not a lot of waiting around (however I am sure in peak and holiday times this would not be the case).  We were really looking forward to going back to Magic Kingdom, having some dinner, getting another couple of gifts and watching the parade and fireworks but that is for another blog. Until then I hope you are enjoying sharing our time at Disney World and that we can share our memories and photos with you when we get back.  Love from SilvernomadsinFlorida.


WOW WOW WOW WOW – That’s how we saw the 4 theme Parks which are all included in DisneyWorld;  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot (which includes Future World & World Showcase).  What memories and photos we have to bring back. How do I describe all we crammed into 3 days of fun, magic, laughter, joy, a return to childhood where concerns of every day disappear and happiness and a love of being alive takes over.  It is an experience we feel so blessed that we were able to enjoy.  We sat in awe at the professionalism of the presentation of shows like Festival of the  Lion King, Beauty & the Beast, Raiders of the Lost Ark,and more, went on roller coasters, raft and flume rides where we got soaked, Kilimanjaro Safari tour at  Animal Kingdom through a wild life park with an African theme where we saw giraffes, elephants, hippos, rhinos, alligators and more up close,  met the Disney characters, watched parades and fireworks, ate ice-creams, sampled food at Epcot, took the Great Movie ride and walked through the story of Walt Disney One Man’s Dream.

I am focusing, in this blog, on Magic Kingdom which we enjoyed the most.  We managed to see quite a lot over 3 days (12 hour days).  However there is just so much to see that we chose what was of interest to us and enjoyed those.  Crowds were manageable but I would not like to be there in the holidays or at peak times when particular shows are on.  Each day we got a shuttle bus from our hotel to Epcot Theme Park at 9am and caught it back at 10pm every night.  This was so that we could make the most of each day and finish the day off by seeing the night time Parades and Fireworks.  I’m so glad we did even though by the third day we could hardly walk and each evening fell into bed exhausted but happy.  There is transport between the 4 park; monorail, bus and ferry.  However unless you buy a Park Hopper Pass (which cost us an extra $58 each) your tickets only allow entry to one park per day.  The Hopper, as the name suggests allows you to “hop” from park to park as many times as you want, or as your time allows.  We were so pleased we had chosen this option. Our tickets included entry to  the Water Parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon).   To see and experience these we would have needed another two days.  We were a little disappointed as some Parks had attractions closed as it is off season especially at Hollywood Studios.  However, in hind sight, we would not have had time to take any more in than we did.  The photos are only a snapshot of what we saw but I hope it gives you some idea.

Magic Kingdom

After reading the brochures we decided on Magic Kingdom as our first experience.  This turned out to be a great decision.  We enjoyed every minute and there is an experience for everyone from the smallest child to the great grandmother (yes, me).  Our first impression was of Main Street.  Crowds of happy people walked up and down the street, children dressed in costumes, girls as fairy and princesses carrying balloons and wands, little pirates in full costume carrying rifles and swords.  Even parents dressed up to match their children.  The Main Street  has a Theatre, City Hall which acts as an Information Centre, Walt Disney World Railroad (which later took us around the Park to Frontierland, Adventureland and to Fantasyland) lots of shops(Emporiums)  selling an amazing variety of Disney apparel, gifts, souveniers to Candy and Chocolates, ice-creams, hot dawgs, Restaurants,  so many varieties of food too many to mention.

Walt Disney & Mickey Mouse

We took the Disney Train to Frontierland where we had rides at Splash Mountain into Brer Rabbit’s Laughin Place, went on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster, a first for me as I have never been into roller coasters.  Duncan hasn’t really either but he enjoyed every minute, not so me.  I think I had my eyes closed most of the time as we went up and around, down and up and around.  We went to Tom Sawyer’s Island, walked around and through images and shops all relating to the Frontierland of America, saloons, general stores, banks, shops selling frontierland disney apparel.

Thunder Mt Railroad

From there we hopped back on the train to Adventureland.  Here we climbed up Swiss Family Robinson’s tree, a walkthrough self tour of the family home; a jungle safari tour where we rode in boats past animated animals and under waterfalls, went on a Pirates of the Caribbean boat tour where we joined Captain Jack Sparrow on his adventures.

Thunder Mt roller coaster

Back on the train and across to Fantasyland.  This is truly a magical kingdom for children. There is Prince Charming’s regal carousel, a round-about true to the ones we knew when growing up; Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride, Mad Tea Party ride, the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and more.  Here a couple of rides including the Barnstormer roller coaster were closed.

Swiss Family Robinson treehouse

They are adding more attractions including the Seven Dwarfs ride through a cave.  After wandering around taking in all the sights it was back on the train and back to Main Street where we did some shopping for gifts, had food and hot tea (much needed).  We watched the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade and, because the Main Street Electrical Light Parade and the wishes Fireworks weren’t on we took the Monorail back to Epcot.

Magic Kingdom Minnie Mouse

Magic Kingdom Mickey Mouse

We walked around trying to take in what there was to see.  The place is HUGE.   We ended up getting a brochure with the attractions and timetables on before leaving after an exhausting but wonderful day.In my next blog I will share our day at Animal Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom Goofy

Magic Kingdom Parade
Mickey & Minnie

Magic Kingdom Parade Pinochio

Magic Kingdom Disney characters

Magic Kingdom Parade Snow White

The weather here is now much cooler, a range from 7 deg overnight to 23 deg during the day.  However there is a cool breeze blowing which makes it seem cooler than it really is.  Hurricane Sandy is causing havoc over on the west coast.  Wednesday this week is Halloween, Saturday is the Presidential election (voting is not compulsory over here), and 22nd is Thanksgiving so a very busy month for Americans.

Until my next blog we send our love to all.  One more adventure to New Orleans before we fly home on the 19 November.

Tallahassee Tourists (Part 2)

The streets of Tallahassee are tree lined and almost all of the trees are covered in Spanish Moss (sometimes called air plants in Australia and/or Grandfather’s beard).  Everywhere you look the Spanish Moss curtains the trees and squirrals are everywhere.  We had a bit of fun while wandering around.

Grandfather’s beard

We visited the Museum of Florida History which depicted life through the ages of people in Florida.  The exhibits included a mastodon skeleton, the bones of which were found in the Wakulla Springs,(see description further down) and a diorama of an Indian Village as it would have looked around 1450.  We read about Spanish maritime history, learnt about the establishment of orange groves and Tin Can Tourist camps, so named because of food from tin cans eaten whilst camping.  The first “caravan” was built around the early Ford truck, the first motorhome I guess.  The exhibits also include a 1900s Florida riverboat and World War 11 history as well as gold treasures found in spanish shipwrecks.

Sculptures at MFH

Duncan Mastadon

Duncan – absolution my son

As we wandered around taking it all in we pondered on the fact that this is just the history of Florida and we realised just how big and diverse the United States of America really is.  Each State would have its own Museum and history, each unique in its own way.  I have always been fascinated by the American Indians having read some of my father’s western books as a kid.  To actually be here in this land where they lived,  fought, died and have descendants still living is awesome.

Panorama of Indian Village Life

The highlight of our trip was a visit to Wakulla Springs about 30 minutes from Tallahassee.  This State Park is a wildlife sanctuary in Spanish moss-draped Florida woodlands.  Cool water flows from the Springs to create the Wakulla River.

Wakulla River Springs boatride

We took a 45 minute cruise along the river where we saw alligators, native birds, turtles, and other flora and fauna native to this beautiful region.  It was so special to view through the clear water the Florida Manatee.  This is a sea cow similar to our Dugong.  It averages 10 feet in length, weighs 1,000 lbs and eats plants.  It’s closest relative is the elephant.  It is protected and endangered.


Large alligator


River reflections



















In sections the spring is 120 feet deep and there are caverns some of which have been explored but many have not.  This is where the bones of the Mastodon in the Museum were found.

Long Horn Steakhouse

We had an exhausting two days and saw a lot but there was still much more to see.  We had dinner at Long Horn Steakhouse Restaurant which we thoroughly enjoyed.  The service was great, the steak almost as good as Australian beef and we even got a free entree.  The waiter told the Manager we were from Australia and she gave us an entree of shrimp (small prawns done in batter with a dipping sauce) on the house.  So much food I couldn’t finish mine and couldn’t even manage sweets!The waiter got a good tip.

We saw a Tshirt whilst in one of the Museums which I thought very appropriate.  Next stop Orlando so until then, bye from Silver Nomads.

Well-behaved women



Tallahassee Tourists (First Part)

Old Capitol Building, New Capitol Building behind

Tallahassee, the Capitol of Florida left an impression on us as we explored the Museums, old French quarter, tree lined streets with historical houses and the Mission San Luis replica of a 17th century community which was occupied by the Apalachee Indians and Spaniards who were drawn together by religion as well as military and economic purposes.  The Old Capitol, a Greek Revival building was built in 1845  and restored between 1978 & 1982.  It is now a museum of great historical significance.  We found it incredibly interesting especially to see the Senate and House of Representative Rooms, the Governor’s Suite and Supreme Court.  These areas have been refurbished as they were in 1902.  The new Capitol Building is 22 floors high.  We were able to tour a couple of levels and take the lift to the 22nd floor where there is a 360deg view of the City.

Duncan House of Reps

Senator Braban

No plush leather chairs, laptops, mobile phones, televisions, limosines and chauffeurs.  Wonder how our politicians would have managed!  Governor had a staff of four including a stenographer.  How many on the President’s and our PMs staff?  What does that say!

Mission San Luis

The Mission San Luis is a living history site & national historic landmark.  The tour took us around the Apalachee Indian council house, Franciscan church, military complex and spanish and indian fort.  Information boards explain life as it was in this 17th century community.

Duncan Indian Counci House

rhonda & Indian Squaw

The Council House slept up to 1500 Indians all around the perimeter as well as visiting natives from other areas.  The Chief had his own raised area.There was a large area left open at the top and logs were burned underneath constantly so that if it rained the heat would evaporate the moisture and in summer the heat of the fire would draw the cool air in. Very ingenious.  Where the Indian Community House was round and open the Spanish Homes were divided into living and bedroom.

Duncan with Spanish Commandant’s wife

We visited the Tallahassee Museum which is a living history dedicated to the pioneers of Florida and has animals native to Florida.  We looked through a 1920s red wooden caboose, a 1930s African-American Church and Bellevue, the Tallahassee cotton plantation home of George Washingtons great grand-neice.  We saw Florida panthers, bobcats, red wolves, alligators, black bears, birds of prey to name a few.  The Park features adventures for children of all ages with Tree to Tree adventures courses.

Duncan Red Caboose

Rhonda Cotton Plantation Homestead

black bear

Florida panther

Red wolf endangered

While walking Katie around our complex a snake very similar to this one slithered across the pathway in front of me.  We like to take her through along the paths and roadways and then around the perimeter.  I think her pounding along must have disturbed the snake and I came along.  I also just happened to be in thongs, lesson learnt as they are very venomous.  Black bears have also been sighted in the vicinity.  People are told to house their garbage bins in sheds or secure with a lock.

Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake

Well weather is still awesome.  Sunny hot days, water 25 degrees, so many people on the beach sitting under umbrellas in beach chairs.  Can’t understand why more people don’t go into the water which is so calm and chrystal clear (are you getting sick of me repeating myself).  Honestly Duncan and I feel like we are on an extended summer holiday and will make the most of it as we only have five weeks to go.  I have had my card confiscated as my wonderful husband thinks he has to reign in my spending.  We are off to Orlando (DisneyWorld) soon so he will have to give it back. Ha Ha.

Look our for Part 2 of Tallahassee Tourists.  Until then – Silver Nomads

Wining, dining and lazy days

Ripleys Believe it or Not – all things are big in America

Not a lot to report.  We have been spending lazy days at the beach.  The weather has been awesome.  Water chrystal clear and calm, cloudless days and brilliant sunsets.  I have been swimming almost every day with Katie.  I don’t know who likes it more she or me.  She has a sand bath after her swim and ends up with sand all over her. The three of us then have long walks along the beach with people with children wanting us to stop so they can pat her.  She is quite an attraction.   After her swim we go up the boardwalk to the shower and both stand under it while I get as much sand off her as I can.  lol.  We spent a day at Pier Park (which has lots of shops and entertainment park) eating popcorn and ice-cream and I spent time in the butterfly house. The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a unique phenomenon.  The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do.  They cannot overwinter as larvae or pupae, and cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates.  Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home.  The butterflies cluster together to keep warm  Tens of thousands of monarchs can cluster on a single tree.     A bit of useless information I guess but I found it interesting.

Monarch butterfly

Popcorn anyone?

The shops over here are scattered around not like in Australia where we have mainly large shopping malls where you can do all your shopping without driving very far.The supermarkets like Walmart and Publix are separate and not in any central mall.  Also the cafes/restaurants aren’t central.  You can drive several miles and pass many along the way.  It may be different in the main cities as we are in a very quiet part of Florida which, I might add, we love.  I am finding clothes, handbags, wallets, jewellery, watches, surprisingly cheap.  I’m going to do some Christmas shopping before we leave.

grey squirrel

We are seeing many squirrels around, two types black squirrel and grey squirrel.  Apparently they are pests as they dig to bury their nuts to store for winter and dig up bulbs (which they love to eat)and other plants in garden beds.  There is a hunting season which starts in a couple of weeks with a quota of 16 per day.  Seems cruel to me but I guess we cull our kangaroos at times as well, and eat  kangaroo meat.  This weekend we are  going to Pensacola for the day to the Seafood Festival.  They have live entertainment so sounds like fun.  Also next week we are going to Talahassee which is the Capital of Florida.  Has lots of history so looking forward to that as well.  I am trying to talk Duncan into taking me to a Gridiron match.  He is not keen but I may talk him into it yet.

We are finding lots of differences here from Australia.                                             Where we have layby they have layaway.

quirrel eating cone nut

There are ATM machines beside the road as you are driving along.  Voting is not compulsory but neither is it in the Uk.  I will leave you with a photo of one of the spectacular sunsets and a quote I read recently – ” Life is like dessert – too brief to hurry”.

Sunset over Walton Beaches

Beautiful days in Paradise

Sunset over Emerald Coast

I meant to post a photo of the sun setting which I took from the plane on arriving here at Panama City Beach so have put it in this one.  We are having some amazing sunny days with clear blue skies and the sunsets are so beautiful – hues of oranges, yellows and then as the sun gets lower pinks, mauves and blues.  Still hot for us but officially Fall (Autumn) has started and weather is expected to get cooler next month.  The averages at present are highs of 28C and lows of 18C, still very hot by our standards.  I have been spending plenty of time in the pools and we have both been into the sea most days which is so warm and calm.  There are so many people on the beaches, all sitting on chairs under umbrellas, lots of families and older people (probably my age lol).  Not too many swimming.  Yesterday we saw small sting rays jumping out of the water, never seen that before.  Kept an eye out for sharks and threre were some fins but turned out to be dolphins thankfully.  We have taken Katie down to the beach a couple of times.  She is so funny, just loves to swim, jumps the waves and tries to jump at the gulls as they fly over.  We let her off the lead once but she just wanted to head out to sea!.   Dogs are allowed before 8am and after 4pm.  My worst nightmare happened though – she decided it was time to go right at the edge of the water, yep you guessed – We had taken bags for that purpose but figgered she would have enough sense to do it on the sand.  Oh no, in front of everyone I am scrambling around picking it up whilst it is falling apart near the water’s edge.

Katie swimming

We have found people to be very friendly and helpful.  So many are either walking or riding push bikes as we go by and we all say hello.  When we are walking Katie they stop and talk to, or pat her, so she is a real icebreaker.

We have been back to the Outlet Centre where we bought a watch each, I bought jewellery and Duncan bought shirts, one pink!!!  Couldn’t believe it.  Things are so cheap, we just wish we had more room in our suitcases.  We are finding groceries, meat and fruit expensive however fuel is cheap so that makes up for it.  We havn’t been too far afield as yet.  We are just enjoying the beautiful days, the beach, scenery, walks and  the occasional lunch or dinner out.  I have joined a small church a few minutes walk from here and a Ladies Group on Wednesday nights.  Have met some great women and hope to make some lasting friendships.


We have made plans to visit Tallahassee in a couple of weeks time.  The city is the Capital of Florida.  It is a town of history, 2 Universitys, and a Community College.  We are looking forward to that.  We have also booked our Disney World Resort, tickets to theme parks for 3 days and tickets to see an Arabian Nights theatre and dinner show.   Going to Disneyland has been a dream of mine since I was a kid.  Just goes to show dreams do come true if we never, ever give up.  Thanks to all who have told me they are enjoying my blogs.  We enjoy hearing from you as well.Until next time from the Overseas Adventurers.

Beach scene