May 19, 2021 – Riding with the Breeze in our Hair
So we’ve done a lot of walking this trip. Today we are going to ride. We wanted to get in as much riding as we could so we were up and out the door before 8:00, in order to get to the Country Kitchen when they opened. Got as far as the elevator and had to turn back. We both forgot our masks. Usually, one of us remembers before we leave the room. Oh well, let’s try this again.
We still ended up as the first customers this morning. We both chose the French Toast breakfast. I added a side of bacon. Chuck didn’t. He may have thought I was going to share but I snarfed down all 3 pieces with no remorse. I love my husband, but I really, really like bacon.
We drove over to the Golf pro shop to pick up our golf cart. Once we signed all the paperwork, they brought us the 6-seater. Wait. We reserved a 4-seater. Those were all gone so they gave us a 6-seater for the same price. As we drove around, we looked for people walking to offer them a ride but we never came upon anyone needing a ride. Only time I would have considered picking up a hitchhiker.
First place we drove to was the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center. Inside the Center were a number of displays – mostly stuffed birds and animals that can be found in the area. There was also a nature movie about beavers showing in the auditorium. Around the corner and down the hall, there were displays of rare and endangered Georgia wildflowers. Those flowers were actual sculptures created by Mississippi artist Trailer McQuilkin. They were so delicate and life-like.
Another room held bird paintings by artist Athos Menaboni, an Italian artist who immigrated to the US after WW I.
I would have liked to have taken photos of the artwork but no video or photographs were allowed.
It was nearing 11:00 and we wanted to see the Birds of Prey show, so we walked outside to go to the amphitheater section. Met people coming up the sidewalk who said the show had been moved indoors because of the wind. Went back in the building. The “show” inside consisted of a woman talking about the birds and showing samples of wings and claws. We didn’t stay. There was to be another show with the live birds at 5:00 that might be outside if the wind died down. We didn’t think we would be here for it.
We walked back outside and turned right to go along the boardwalk next to the Mountain Creek Lake, the largest of all the lakes on the property. We saw one person fishing but he didn’t seem to be catching anything.
We also saw the entrance to the Tree Top Adventures & Ziplining. According to the signage, “TreeTop Adventure spans more than 3,000 feet horizontally and soars up to 70 feet above the forest floor. The base Discovery Course features five zip lines and 20 more challenges including ladders, wires, logs, discs, netting, and other suspended surfaces. The add-on Lake Course option features five additional zip lines, including several over the lake itself, and four obstacles.”
Chuck and I were fortunate to have ziplined in Roatan, Honduras one year. We passed on this adventure, but I am sure they are very busy in the Summer.
Around the corner from the TreeTop Adventure was the bicycle rental place if you didn’t bring your own bikes. We saw a number of people riding bikes in the Gardens. I thought the cutest set-ups were the adults pedalling the bikes while pulling their toddlers in a cart. Chuck wanted to rent a bike and cart so I could pull him around. I ushered him back to our golf cart.
We rode various paths and revisited the Memorial Chapel. Still so serene. Basically, if we saw a path to drive on, we took it. I’m not sure how many times we rode by Bluebird Lake going in and around the Gardens. Once, we accidentally got on an actual golf course path. We had to wait for some golfers to finish and they let us go on. We got off as soon as we could find another road exit. I’m glad we didn’t get hit with an errant ball.
We decided to have a picnic lunch by Robin Lake. We drove back to the Lodge to get our lunch items. Our room had a refrigerator, so we had packed some food in anticipation of a picnic. If you search for “picnic by the lake ideas,” you will find pictures of blankets on the ground, a large straw-woven basket, lanterns strung from trees, wine, gourmet cheeses, serrano ham, Galician bread, and Tiramisu for dessert. I thought our picnic came pretty close to those photos – cloth bag, picnic table with paper towels to cover the eating area, pimento cheese, canned chicken, beanie wienies, saltines, Dove chocolate, and Diet Cokes. But, we didn’t have any lanterns to string up so I will have to remember those for our next one.
We drove back to the lodge to deposit our bag in our room. We noticed that the personnel were putting up signs indicating that fully vaccinated guests have the option to not wear a mask indoors. That was great news. No more turning back at the elevator.
We drove through the cottages area of the resort. They looked like typical cottages you see at state parks – wood with screened-in porches. There were many streets of them. The area had its own swimming pool and restaurant. We also saw a disc golf course.
We drove through the Longleaf Community of Callaway Gardens. The houses and the landscapes were lovely, but they were so close together, it was a little claustrophobic feeling. According to their website, “The Longleaf Community was started in 2003. The Post Office, Library and meeting area was originally the Callaway sales office. The lands on which the community sits was an experimental nursery for the gardens for over 26 years. Many of the trees, within the community, date back to when this area was a used to determine how the environment and the weather would affect certain tree growth. Today, some of the most beautiful trees are a product of that era.” The website didn’t state if it was an adult-only community but I didn’t see any signs of children like basketball goals, toys, etc. I think if you have to ask the price of the houses/lots, you probably can’t afford it.
We stopped to feed the fish in the two ponds we had discovered on our previous walk of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail. In a car, you couldn’t really see the ponds but with the golf cart, you could see them and see a spot to pull over to walk to them. They really enjoyed the pieces of stale biscuit we had left over from the Country Kitchen.
Our very last stop was the Butterfly Exhibit again. It was a much different environment in the heat of the afternoon. The butterflies were very active but we didn’t stay very long at all because of the heat and humidity. We did see a family whose children were wearing butterfly wings from the gift shop. They were very cute running around with their sparkly wings.
We rode back to the caddy area of the Golf Pro shop and returned the golf cart. We only saw 2 other couples driving golf carts around today. Chuck and one guy decided it would be fun to race each other. Their passengers didn’t think it would be a good idea. They listened to their passengers but they looked disappointed.
We drove the car back to the Lodge. We debated about going back to the Fox’s Den for one of their sandwiches or wings but neither of us were that hungry. We decided that if we got hungry later, we would just walk over to Cason’s again. We ended up just finishing up our gourmet picnic food out on the balcony.
Check-out is tomorrow. We will just check-out and drive until we are ready for breakfast and to fill-up with gas. We have had a wonderful time.
When Athos Menaboni moved to Atlanta, he became friends with Robert Woodruff, one of the founders of Coca-Cola. Woodruff was said to have commissioned Menaboni to create numerous birds paintings, many of which were used for the Woodruff family Christmas cards between 1941 and 1984. In addition, the Menabonis were friends with Cason and Virginia Callaway, and upon the death of the Menabonis, their estate was willed to Callaway Gardens.
Virginia Hollis Hand was born on February 21, 1900. She attended the Lucy Cobb School in Athens, GA, and Merrill School in Mamaroneck, NY. She married Cason and they had 3 children.
With a mind for philanthropy, Virginia was involved in many endeavors, most of them focused on financial aid for the education of children and families. She was active in the Red Cross and initiated Red Cross swimming classes for area children at her Blue Springs pool. She frequently sponsored children at summer camps.
Cason had purchased thousands of acres of land in the area, and Cason and Virginia eventually decided to build a garden of incessant beauty to share with the world. This was an opportunity for her interest in botany to bloom. She was an active partner with Cason in planning and guiding the development of the Gardens and put much of her efforts into the horticultural side of the Gardens. Under her direction, azaleas and other native plants from the nurseries at Blue Springs were used to enhance the lakeside drive through the Gardens.
Virginia and Cason opened the Gardens to the public on May 20, 1952, and they worked together on it until his death in 1961. Following his death, she succeeded him as Chairman of the Board of the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation. In 1971, she founded the Cason J. Callaway Memorial Forest, preserving 3,000 acres of woodlands on the Pine Mountain Ridge that continue to serve as a conservation education site.
Virginia Callaway was recognized with many awards during her lifetime. She lived at Blue Springs until her death on February 11, 1995. Today, Her statue in front of the Discovery Center features her with her dog Rex, also known as MuddyNose. In her left hand, she holds a Plumleaf Azalea, a native plant saved by the Callaways from extinction and is the floral emblem of the Gardens.
*trivia provided by Callaway Gardens documents