Friday, March 22, 2013


 Garvan Woodland Gardens, located just outside Hot Springs, Arkansas, was officially opened to the public with a dedication ceremony on April 7, 2002.
 However, the 210 acre botanical garden has a history that goes back several decades.  A significant aspect of that history involves the timber industry in Arkansas, so it is very appropriate that the Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Garden (shown in this photo) is located near the entrance to the gardens. 
 This miniature garden railroad depicts that history in a "moving" way, through its use miniature replicas of significant aspects of the garden's development.  It all started when a Malvern, Arkansas, businessman (Arthur Cook)  purchased the acreage in the 1920's for the purpose of harvesting timber.  But, shortly after the acquisition, much of what he purchased was submerged in water due to the building of Carpenter Dam by Arkansas Power and Light.  The body of water this dam created was called Lake Hamilton.  When Mr. Cook died in 1934, his wife and two daughters acquired the land, along with several other businesses.  The younger daughter, Verna, who had married Patrick Garvan, managed the property and businesses.  Verna Garvan was inspired to conserve the property and turn it into a garden.
 Youngsters and train enthusiasts can enjoy a meal or snack from the Chipmunk Cafe, which is adjacent to the garden railroad, while they watch the train circle through the diorama that is full of historical details.
 These gardeners are working on the Flowering Border Frames of the Ellen Edmondson Great Lawn.  Since the mission of the garden is to be a resource center for people desiring to improve their knowledge of plants  and gardening, you never know who you will come across "digging in" to this experiential learning!
 This is the open center of glass panels of the Verna C. Garvan Pavilion.  The pavilion has flagstone floors and native stone walls, and was designed by internationally known architects E. Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings. 
 This is called the Joy Manning Scott Full Moon Bridge and is a part of the section known as the "Garden of the Pine Wind".  Genesis 2:15 speaks of another famous garden:  "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."  The word Eden in Hebrew means "delight" or "enjoyment", so the Garden of Eden was a garden of delight or enjoyment.  The same is true for Garvan Woodland Gardens---a place of delight and enjoyment!
 Since the garden has four and a half miles of Lake Hamilton shoreline, there are many locations throughout where one has a beautiful view of the lake, and surrounding mountains.  A boat dock is provided for those garden visitors who want to arrive via water, instead of the highway. 
 One of the highlights of the spring season is called "Tulip Extravaganza" and features more than 100,000 tulip bulbs planted each year.  They were just beginning to open up when I was there.
 One part of the garden is called Amity Daffodil Hill and features 200,000 daffodils!
 In this part of the Southern United States, it is not uncommon to see camellias bloom in the winter, so that is a good time to visit the Camellia Trail.  There are huge bushes of camellias of all different colors.
 A newer section of the gardens features these gorgeous flagstone patios, along with the structure shown with the shake shingle roof.  A variety of special events can be accommodated at this venue.
 I was fortunate to have these two knowledgeable volunteers give me a tour of the garden via electric cart.  Most major trails at Garvan Woodland Gardens are ADA accessible, but for an additional fee, golf cart tours are also offered.
 The massive size of the stones making up this landscaped hillside can be appreciated when you realize that the two red dots in the center of the photograph are people!  The legal trust agreement between Mrs. Garvan and the landscape architecture program of the University of Arkansas School of Architecture, to operate the gardens, was signed in 1985.    It is obvious those landscape planners gave their considerable expertise to make the hillside look as though it had always been the location of a beautiful waterfall.
 There is nothing like bright sun,shining through a field of daffodils, to make one's heart shout with thanksgiving about the beauty of God's creation! 
 This roof appears to be "floating" in the woods, partly because the columns constructing it, are of the same colors as the surrounding tree barks.
 When you get closer and go inside the "floating roof", you will find yourself in the Anthony Chapel, designed by architects Maurice Jennings and David McKee.  The chapel will seat 160 people and is available for rental.
 Adjacent to the chapel is the Anthony Family Carillon.  This structure is a 57-foot copper clad bell tower that chimes hourly. 
 The Pratt Welcome Center is where guests pay the nominal admission fee, and is also the location of a well-stocked gift shop.  There you will find any and all items related to gardening.  The Welcome Center also has educational classrooms, comfortable indoor seating, and restrooms.
 If you have read this far, you may have noticed that most of the landmarks in Garvan Woodland Gardens are named after someone.  That is because the Gardens operate as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  The people whose names are mentioned, through their generous donations, have left a legacy that will benefit thousands of future visitors.  This photograph of a bridge is symbolic of the responsibility each of us have, to provide a "bridge" to future generations, that will teach them the value and the beauty of God's creation that we call Planet Earth.  If you would like to contribute to this vision, by visiting the gardens, or making a contribution, just phone 800-366-4664 or click on .  It is an expedition that will give you "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia
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Thursday, March 14, 2013


 I was delighted when someone from Hearst Publications contacted me, saying they had seen the blog I wrote about Crystal Cove State Park, and were interested in possibly using some of my photographs, in an article they were preparing for one of their publications.
 So, I went through my photo files, and found those from the August 15, 2011 article I wrote about my visit to Crystal Cove State Park.
 The occasion for the visit was to check out the possibility of using this beautiful setting for a future family reunion.  We enlisted an unsuspecting tourist to take this group photo of us at the park.
 At the time of our visit, there had been several nationwide news articles about the high salaries paid to some lifeguards on California beaches.  According to the sign, this particular lifeguard station is staffed by the California State Parks, and I have no idea what the salary of the lifeguard shown, happens to be.  However, it is obvious that he has some GORGEOUS vistas from his "work cubicle"; most likely, that lifeguard would be very hesitant to change job positions with a worker confined to a windowless office space, staring at a computer screen all day.  How much better to be staring at the water and beach, on the lookout for anyone in distress!
 There is quite a history to Crystal Cove, and I went into more detail about that history in the previous blog, which you can access by going to the archives, listed on the right hand side on this page.
 It was interesting to me that one of the old cottages had been converted into an open-air "Beach Museum", as a part of their "Arts in the Park" Exhibition. 
 The bright aqua paint of the old cottage makes it stand out against the other cottages, available for overnight rentals.
 The exhibition included many different types of artful expressions, related to life on the beach.
 The name of the exhibit was "Up Close, Weathered, and Beautiful".  It helped me see the  way that things that are very old can still be beautiful, as their surfaces reflect the storms they have endured.  This includes "weathered people", as well as "weathered building materials"!
 For those people who do not bring a picnic lunch from home, there is a cafe where you can have a delicious meal or snack, while you gaze out at the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean.
 Since I come from a land-locked state, where beach umbrellas are less common than California, I am always fascinated by their colorful presence on the sandy shores, like a variety of  multi-hued wildflowers pushing out of the ground.
 These picturesque cottages are near the cafe, and seem to me would be an idea location for an overnight gathering of family and friends.
 The other cottages are spread out along the beach, and the California State Park system has placed placards throughout the park, giving some of the history of this magical cove.  This kiosk tells about the old-time practice of "Cabana Camping".
 Elevated decks have been built in some parts of the park to make it more handicap accessible, plus one of the cottages is listed as being totally wheelchair accessible, inside and outside.
 All of the cottages have a name, and you can pick out the one you would like to rent---based on its appearance, cost, amenities, and availability at  .
 I had never seen a wheel chair like the one in this photo, but I can imagine it would be just the thing for a wheel-chair bound person to get out for a "beach stroll/roll". 
 Even though a visit to Crystal Cove State Park may be less luxurious than an expensive, five-star resort property on the ocean, its charm is undeniable!
 I was even able to see a few people collecting shells along the beach, as well as enjoying the water activities on a sunny summer day on the California coast.
 I remember reading an account of Evangelist Billy Graham's life that said the publicity he received from the newspapers of Hearst Publications very early in his career, helped draw in larger crowds for his ministry.  So if the fact that Hearst Publications contacted me about using some of my photos, that is good news, if it helps more people join me in being a TURNER to Matthew 6:33 that says, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  Just like this photo of the Pacific Coast Highway, the highway of life is an exciting adventure when you seek God first----it will give you MILES OF SMILES!!  Tricia
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Monday, March 11, 2013


 There is an island far, far away, where only those with a strong heart would be able to survive, in the years around 1865, when it was first settled, by Icelandic and Scandinavian immigrants.  In fact, it is located in some of the most treacherous water conditions on Lake Michigan.  The island is in Door County, Wisconsin.  Although the name these days may bring to mind colorful and quaint doors of picturesque fishing villages, that is not the origin of its name.  Rather, Door County got its name from the fact, that to get to Washington Island, a traveler would have to pass through "port des mortes" or "Death's Door".    There are hundreds of wooden shipwrecks located in the waters here.  Fortunately for me and other tourists, new navigational aids have solved the water -crossing issues, and thousands of tourists are delivered here safely, via ferry.    
 This photo, as well as the heart-shaped rock photo above, were taken at School House Beach on Washington, Island ( ).  It is only one of five beaches in the world with similar geology, and is part of the Niagara Escarpment.  Since it is a naturally protected harbor, it was the island's original shipping port.  The rusted chain in the photo is a reminder of its more commercial days. 
 These days, the beach has an area marked off for swimming, and there is a diving raft.  The shaded area surrounding the beach, has picnic tables.  If you like being on a beach, but do not like sand in your shoes, this is the place!  The beautiful, smooth limestone rocks that make up the beach, are a geological marvel, and removing them is strictly forbidden, with a $250 fine per rock!
 However, there are no rules that prohibit visitors from trying to skip rocks across the water, as shown in this photo!
 Likewise, there are no rules that prevent your "creative juices" from going crazy, making designs from the rocks.  I took this photo of a past visitor's "sculpture", because it reminded me of the flag for a place I had never heard of, until my son went there on a climbing expedition.  That place was called Baffin Island in the Arctic region of northern Canada.  This style of figure representing a human being, is seen a great deal in the art of the native inhabitants of that area.
 Likewise, the first time I saw a stack of decreasing-sized rocks like those in this photo, was driving through Canada.  I would see them perched on bluffs along the highway, and the locals told me they were markers used by the First Nations people of Canada.  These remnants of Canadian sculptures that were on the beach when I arrived, makes me wonder if the tram-load of tourists that visited here just before me, had all been from nearby Canada!   I referenced "tram", because that is how I was able to tour around the island.  I did not take a car on the ferry.  Rather, there is a regularly-scheduled tram that tourists can hire to drive you all around the island , with stopovers at important locations, such as School House Beach. 
 The next stop the tram took us,, was here at the Prayer Path, leading to another marvel on Washington Island.  The Prayer Path led us through the woods to the site of the Stavkirke, or "Stave Church". 
 The original Stavkirke structures were medieval, wooden, Christian church buildings.  Most of the original, surviving stave churches are in Norway. 
 The name "stave church" relates to  the building's structure of all wood  materials.  This "post and lintel" construction is a type of timber framing, where load-bearing posts are called "stav" in Norwegian. 
 Many stave churches have outer galleries running around the whole perimeter, loosely connected to the plank walls. 
 Originally, these outer galleries probably served to protect the church from the harsh climates, where they were located. 
 My first introduction to a Stave Church was in the state of South Dakota, followed by another location  in Wisconsin on the "mainland".   However,  the first sight for millions of people these days of a Stavkirke, is probably in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Florida.  That version was completed in 1988. 
 The Stavkirke on Washington Island was a "home-grown" project and community effort, with many volunteer labor hours.  It was begun in 1992 and completed/dedicated in 1995.  Trinity Lutheran Church is the owner and manager of the property.  The Stave Church has regular services in the summer, and is available for weddings and baptisms.  (In fact, if you read the Wedding Blog at, you will see they used my heart-shaped rock photo, in one of their blog posts about getting married in Door County, Wisconsin).   Reading about the hardiness of the early settlers of Washington Island, and the strong Christian faith that made them want to build a place to worship God, reminded me of the memory verse for my First Place 4 Health ( ) Bible study from 1 Chronicles 22:19 that says "Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD you God."   Completing such a massive project as the planning, funding, construction, and maintenance of such an impressive project as a Stavkirke, definitely shows that these folks devoted their hearts and souls to seeking the Lord!  I am confident that seeing the fruit of their labor brings them "miles of smiles" and will do the same for you!     Tricia
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