"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Monday, April 22, 2013

Callaway Gardens, GA: Day Two

One of the nicest features of Callaway Gardens is the extensive network (ten miles!) of bike paths throughout the park. So on our second visit we brought our bikes and took to the trails.  That's me riding my super duper Specialized mountain bike with front and back shock absorbers. I am a very spoiled girl. I don't ride it like a dirt bike, but I do love the cush of the full suspension.

Riding around the Gardens by bike gives you a totally different experience than walking or driving. Not just because you are peddling; the trails cover different territory, so you see different things, like the many lakes on the property. One of the places we went was marina on Mountain Creek Lake. They have a very unusual and ingenious boat house. Here it is from the inside:

It's built in an open ended semi-circle, with a canal running through it where the canoes and paddle boats can dock. It's a one-way street, so to speak, so as to prevent traffic jams, and it's completely covered. Here's how it looks from the outside.

Next door is a restaurant and an outfitters for fishermen. No need for a license to fish here, as all the lakes are on private property.

The path also winds through the Overlook Gardens and other forested areas where there are lots of the native azaleas blooming. In a few places we spotted Oregon grape holly, or mahonia aquifolium. What a beautiful bush! They bloom yellow earlier in the season. The berries are a cross between green and blue - almost turquoise - a very unusual color in nature.

We finished our day at the 3:30 Birds of Prey show.  We weren't sure we wanted to go, but were really glad we did. We've seen birds of prey sanctuaries and talks before, but this one was unique.  Here is the knowledgable and witty docent/animal handler with a black vulture. We saw four raptors: the vulture, a red tailed hawk, a great horned owl and a Harris's hawk. 

So based on these pictures you're probably thinking: "What's the big deal?" Right?  Well I wish I could have caught the greatest part about it. All the birds flew from corner to corner of the amphitheater at the commands of the handlers, and when they did, they skimmed only inches from the heads of the audience members. Sometimes they flew between people's heads! It was really wild. We got to see these birds in flight closer than we ever could in the wild, and it gave us a chance to really study their appearance and behavior. They were grand. Even the vulture.

I don't know if we'll be back to Callaway before we continue our journey north, but if we do, I think we'll go back to see the Birds of Prey Show again, and Rick will try to get some pictures of the birds in flight. That would be cool. I'll share if we get any good ones.

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