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Florida, United States
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

One of the many walking and biking trails at Callaway
I saw a commercial this morning that showed a family riding bikes together. It brought back a fond memory of living near Callaway Gardens in Western Georgia, just outside Pine Mountain. Every other Saturday--or near about--my husband and I would pack up the kids and drive the 110 miles to what is truly one of the most beautiful locations on the map.

Azalea Bowl at Callaway Gardens
For those of you unfamiliar with the veritable Garden of Eden (with family fun), Callaway Gardens is a 13,000 acre resort of family-friendly riding and walking trails, a beach-front swimming area, Day Butterfly Center, Backyard Wildlife Center, Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden, Treetop Adventure and, of course, the Horticultural Center.

We had a lot of fun with our children during those outings--no matter the time of year. We swam in the summer, biked in the spring and fall, and enjoyed the entire holiday season experience in winter. I cannot remember a bad time, a bad moment, or a bad day at Callaway.

Callaway opened in 1952, designed to grow and protect native azalea species. And, Callaway continues to be known for those azaleas and other beautiful flowers. I'm not a BIG outdoors person, but I adored going to Callaway and looking at the varieties of flora, which changed with each season.

We had some fairly funny moments at Callaway. One in particular my husband has not let me forget. We were sitting on the beach--my rotten husband and I--watching our girls play in the water. Not too far from us a man wearing jeans and a tee dropped his beach-type gear before walking past us to the shoreline. He stepped directly past me; I looked down and noticed, of all things, the hair growing on his left big toe (no, that's not the funny part!). He tested the water, returned to his blanket, stripped out of his jeans (he was wearing bathing trunks underneath) and then pulled his tee over his head. Then he did the most amazing thing. He removed his left leg--foot, toe and all!

I looked at my husband as the young man hopped to the water's edge. "Look at that," I said. "The man has a prosthetic leg, but a real foot!"

What I said hit me the moment it left my mouth. I immediately remarked, "Wait...that's not possible..." (My parents didn't send me to nursing school for nuthin'!) But, in all these years, my adorable wonderful husband has not let it go.

Callaway Gardens Chapel
(The Ida Cason Calloway Memorial Chapel)
Another moment I remember--and there are so many--is the time we rented bikes and rode the trails we'd come to know so well. I always rode in front, my husband in back, our kids between us. About halfway was a place where you had to stop and wait for a ferry to come pick you up. As we pedaled toward it, I noticed another family waiting at the dock. The kids and my husband were soon next to me and said family when I heard my husband say, "Well, my goodness. Vince Dooley." The man turned our way, shook my husband's hand, and the two made short small-talk.

Now, I'm not one to watch football. Never have been and probably never will be, though I know it's like a religion in the South. But let me tell you. But I know who Vince Dooley is, even if I didn't know him on sight! (And, he and his wife have their own garden, a part of his home they shares with visitors.)

What about you? Any favorite family experiences such as these? Or, have you ever been to Callaway?

(To view luscious photos of Calloway, go to: Callaway Photographs

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