Providence!

I finally made it to Rhode Island! My Aunt Jo will be presenting at a conference this week so a second aunt, Cindy, and I decided to tag along.

  (Above: Sunrise as we take off from Memphis)

It meant today involved an early, but quick flight, shopping at the mall attached to our hotel to avoid the heavy rainfall once we arrived, and lunch at P.F. Chang’s.

 (Above: My new shoes) 

We won’t be here long but Aunt Cindy and I still adecided to take the day easy. The best part was hands down picking up Aunt Jo and heading to dinner. 

  (Above: Sightseeing while heading to dinner)

We ate at Kabob and Curry, Fine Indian Cuisine. I’ll admit I would never have ate there if my aunts hadn’t been with me. I would have missed out.
We had Nimboo Soda, a tradional Indian lemonade with mint and roasted cumin, and I ordered a sampler plate that allowed me to try a variety of dishes including vegetable samosa – a crispy turnover, seasoned potato and pea filling, a mango and mint chicken curry bowl, dal makhni – black lentils, red beans, ginger and tomato, and rice pudding for dessert.

   (Above: starter dish)

  
We all ended up getting a second helping of the rice pudding to take to the hotel for later.

 

Vulture circling

Turkey Vulture

A lone turkey vulture circled Branson as we conducted some major shopping at Tanger Outlets. The weather was perfect and we stopped at Garfields Restaurant and Pub along the river for lunch/dinner.

Yum and what a view. I watched a heron fly by along with five or six geese. House sparrows perched above the stores lining Garfields.

We ended up stopping by Cakes and Creams Desserts for the Ozark Mountain Sundae or the funnel cake with fresh strawberries with ice cream. It was the perfect ending to the day (well, along with a stop by the hotel’s pool and hot tub)! The only downfall was that the sundae and funnel cake was too good – we were completely full by the time we left. We’re planning a second visit before we leave!

Our sole other stop was to the Festival of Lights. Slightly disappointed by it, but still interesting. My aunt and grandmother loved it.

Here’s some pictures:

House Sparrow
House Sparrow

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Branson arrival

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We arrived in Branson, Mo., late last night for a four-day getaway with my aunt and grandmother.

The decor at the Stone Castle Inn tickles me. The hotel is jammed packed. Christmas lights are already going up and, while traffic is busy, it’s not too bad.

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For once, we have no plans. It’s off to shop and visit a nearby state park.

Marshes and autoliners

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It has rained every day.

The rain comes typically in the afternoon giving us plenty of time to do all we want to. So far, we’ve mainly wanted to look around, reacquainting ourselves with the island. We last visited more than 10 years ago.

Jekyll Island was originally an exclusive winter retreat, The Jekyll Island Club, for U.S. elite. It was purchased in 1886 and hosted families such as the Rockefellers, Morgans and Pulitzers.

It became a Georgia state park in 1950 – unique to me since it is a “barrier island” off Georgia’s southeastern coast. It has tons of marshes, hotels and tourist-minded businesses.

We spent part of Saturday and some Sunday just looking around. The views are great, and Dad was fascinated with the huge ships carrying cars (Hoegh Autoliners). My only complaint? As the sole birder, I am unable to get pictures of some of the birds we pass in the marshes bordering the road. One such bird – a Roseate Spoonbill.

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Our home away from home

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We’ve finally arrived at our Jekyll Island rental. After 15 hours in a car (we stopped and napped along the way), my first priority was a shower.

We’re now about to unpack and head out to reacquaint ourselves with the place until it’s time to pick my sister and her husband up at the Jacksonville airport.

Here’s some pictures so far:

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Georgia bound

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I’m on the road, just five hours late. My sister, her husband and I loaded up my car with our gear, two boogie boards and tons of food and drinks.

Next? The task of fitting my carload into my parents already half-full impala.

It was a close fit but we did it. We’ve also managed to kill most of the mosquitoes that were in the car.

Now, we’re finally on our way to Jekyll Island. Only 11 hours and 13 minutes to go.

Canadians and Mallards

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Canadian Geese and Mallards were the main birds we saw Sunday and this morning. They basically had the run of our hotel and restaurant parking lots (which surrounded a small pond).

Most of our time was spent with family. My great-aunt lived a full life, and I was surprised to learn that she moved to France with her husband and small son in the late 1940s.

Her husband was stationed near a small village, and her son said the French did not like Americans even at the end of WW2. When his father worked nights, people would come bang on their windows throughout the night to scare them.

My great-aunt would also keep a pistol under her pillow just in case. Still, they weren’t too afraid. Her son said he could remember fetching fresh bread for his mother.

This is the same lady who happened to be in town when I was born. She was my “grandmother” so she could visit my mother and hold me.

We ended up having three hours of free time after the visitation so we visited Fort Harrison State Park.

It was a nice break and the park was fantastic. I could definitely see me using it as often as possible if I lived here.

It also had family history since my great aunt and her family were stationed at Fort Harrison before it became a state park.

On Sunday, the birds and a super fat squirrel greeted us at the cemetery. It was funny to see the geese surround us. I mean literally surround our car while we were leaving. There were even three geese on the roofs watching us.

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We’re now heading back to Arkansas. Just counting the hours until I can pick up my dog and be home out of the rain.