Monday, April 16, 2018


Folks who work in the tourism marketing field are often curious about how the visitors who come to their destination, first heard about it.  My answer to this query, in the case of Thomasville, Georgia, is "word of mouth".  That is because during a visit with two sisters who were Georgia Tree Farm owners, I mentioned that I was scheduled to be driving from the Florida panhandle, up through Georgia, on my way back to Arkansas.  I mistakenly assumed they would tell me about panhandle attractions, when I asked what would be an enjoyable place to visit along my route.  Instead, they said their favorite spot along my proposed route, would be the town of Thomasville, Georgia.  I had never heard of Thomasville, Georgia, but I read up on it via the Internet, and planned to make a slight detour on my route, so I could visit it.  As my friend and I drove along the highway leading to the town, I was in awe of the acre-after-acre of pecan trees!  Although the ladies I met grew pine trees, it was readily apparent this area had the necessary climate and soil conditions, to grow some mighty fine TREES! 

However, the plantations of pine trees and pecan trees, do not garner even a tiny portion of the public's attention, as does THE BIG OAK TREE!  This is probably the most "historic" tree in the entire Thomas County area.  Taking up almost an entire city block, this incredible tree boasts hundreds of visitors on a regular basis.  Because of its gigantic size, and visitors' desires to have their photo made with it, arrangements have been made such that visitors can stand beside the sign describing the tree, press a certain "technology button", and a camera mounted on a telephone pole, very high up across the street, will snap your photo! Then you can see the photo on the Thomasville, Georgia website!  Perhaps the need for such an elevated camera was made obvious, whenever President Eisenhower came to see the tree, and "trespassed" on a home owner's porch across the street, in order to capture the entire circumference of the tree in a photo!  (Photos from that first trip to Thomasville can be seen in this blog's archives, on the post dated April 19, 2016)

Very close to The Big Oak, one can take a tour of a most unusual historic home.  It had more corners in it than any house I have ever visited!   I notice corners because, when involved in building our first home, my father advised us that the two-story hexagon room we had planned, to take advantage of a beautiful mountain view, was a bad idea, because every time you added a corner when building a house, you increased the cost of the construction by hundreds of dollars.   He would have been "aghast" at the number of corners in the Lapham-Patterson House!!  However, the original builder of the home was involved in the timber industry, and wanted the house to be a "showcase" of wood construction---so the more corners, the better!   Learn more about the Lapham-Patterson House at

This is the first home I have ever visited, that had a staircase above the fireplace.  Plus, as you can see from this photo of our guide standing beneath the staircase balcony, such a design required that there be TWO chimneys leading from the fireplace---another example of the extravagance of the original builder.  Also, notice the triangular design made on the floor, by using especially cut wood , and different varieties of trees. 

There are so many scenic spots in Thomasville, that regardless of the direction you point your camera, you can find a picturesque vignette.  The one in this photo is a "pocket park" in the downtown area, ideally suited for husbands who prefer to "sit a spell", rather than tag along behind their shop-a-holic wife!

If you check Trip Advisor, you will see that a restaurant in downtown Thomasville that has excellent reviews, is Jonah's  Our guide told us that the place is so popular, that there is usually a bit of a wait to get a table, especially if you have a large group.  However, the Thomasville CVB rep had prevailed upon the management to come up with a plan that would get our group seated and fed, in a timely manner, since we were on such a tight schedule. 

We only waited a very short time, which I found totally enjoyable as it gave me an opportunity to check out the location, the menu, and take photos!

The section of the menu shown in this photo is "upside down", because "upside down" is the direction the owner's life took at the time he started this restaurant.  He tells the story of how he was sitting in church, listening to a sermon, based on the Bible story of Jonah.  He realized, that , like Jonah, he had been "running" from what God was calling him to do.  He prayed for direction, and the result was the restaurant we were dining in!  That is why it is called "Jonah's"!!  I am using this image as a visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse that says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective"  (James 5:16)   The success of Jonah's Restaurant, and all their downtown partners, shows that this Georgia man's humble prayer was both powerful and very effective!! ( Another "God-moment coincidence" occurred when I opened up the Bible devotional app on my phone during my time in Thomasville, and yes, it was based on the Old Testament Bible story of Jonah!)  This "right side up" photo shows that the founder of Jonah's is doing what the memory verse says---confessing sins, praying, and receiving the powerful, effective healing that God's Word promises!

I like to include lots of salad greens with my entree, so when the waitress brought this delicious-looking piece of salmon on a "bed of lettuce", I was delighted !

After lunch, our group traveled to Pebble Hill Plantation, on the outskirts of Thomasville, to walk off a few of those calories we had for lunch, and to do so in a gorgeous Southern venue!

This photo shows the approach that visitors to Pebble Hill Plantation would have used, during the estate's early beginnings, when travel by horse and carriage was prominent.

A more recent addition to the property includes a brick serpentine wall, modeled after the one designed for the University of Virginia campus, by former American President Thomas Jefferson.  (See a previous blog, dated April 6, 2017, I wrote about University of Virginia architecture)

The Visitor Center and Administrative office complex opens up to a lovely courtyard, that is often scheduled for weddings and other special events.

A water feature provides the pleasing sound of a babbling brook to the serenity of the courtyard. 

Giant spheres of twinkling lights, hang from the massive oak trees in the courtyard, and make for a romantic atmosphere during the twilight hours.

Inside the historic home, the visitor will get to see numerous rare, original Audubon prints.  The previous owners of Pebble Hill Plantation were friends and contemporaries of the Audubon family, which accounts for their prominence throughout the home. 

This long passageway, with vaulted ceilings and symmetrical archways, leads to another addition to the original living space.

One of the guestrooms in the home, as well as the bed that is in it, is famous and historic, because it is the bed used by American President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when he was a visitor to the plantation, back in the last century. If sleeping on the same plantation grounds used by a former U.S. President is something you would like to do, please note that overnight lodging is available at Pebble Hill Plantation, in addition to its availability for wedding venues, and other special events.  Check out their website for more details.

Our group was treated to a wonderful tasting experience at Pebble Hill Plantation, that was made possible by the founder and owner of Sweet Grass Dairy ( ) of Thomasville.  The family that started this business, wanted to establish a "back to the earth", sustainable, artisan cheese creamery, and their efforts have been very successful! Yum!

I want to recognize some of the folks who made this outstanding experience in Thomasville, Georgia, possible.  They are an example of
the power of partnerships, and I hope  you will check out their websites for more information.  These ladies represent an area of the South that provided a very beneficial familiarization tour, and gave all of the participants "MILES OF SMILES"!!   Tricia


  Since I was raised by a father whose main source of recreation involved activities on Bull Shoals Lake, in northern Arkansas, it is easy to understand why I learned to water ski at a very early age, long before I was a teenager.  My father did not have a gigantic ski boat with a fancy motor; rather, he had an old metal fishing boat with a somewhat low-horsepower motor.  However, since I was a tiny little person back then, it did not take much of a motor, to pull me out of the water, and up to the point of skimming across the surface, at what seemed to me like flying!  I cannot overlook the fact that one of my best friends in elementary school was also a factor in my getting interested in water sports at an early age.  That is because her parents had a business that sold ski boats, motors, and water skis; so that family helped teach me, (and dozens of my friends), to water ski!  The more kids they could get interested in water skiing, the better their business was!  All this information on my childhood, is just to explain why I was thrilled to get to visit a place where facilitating  folks to  experience "skimming across the surface of the water" is the reason for their existence!  It is called the Valdosta Wake Compound, and is located in South Georgia. ( )

The unique aspect of the Valdosta Wake Compound, however, is that there are no boats with big motors, towing the participants across the surface.  Rather the body of water is surrounded by a series of towers, cables, motors, and pulleys, that pull the guest around several acres of a (somewhat) shallow and calm lake.

Readers of this blog with a mechanical engineering background, could do a much better job of explaining how the system works, but I will provide a condensed explanation for simple-minded folks like me.  This photo shows the main motor that propels the whole system. 

The motor is powered by electricity, and requires preventive maintenance lubrication and quality checks throughout the day.  That explains the location of the triangular platform beside the motor, where a staff member perches himself, to access the moving parts of the motor. 

The young entrepreneurs that opened up the Valdosta Wake Compound told me that their motor was a "three-stroke" model, of German design.  They also said setups like the one in Valdosta have been in use in Europe for many years, due to fewer Europeans owning their own ski boat.  In the United States, it is more common for water sports enthusiasts to not only own a boat, but also to have it custom-rigged, to pull human beings behind it, on a variety of floating contraptions!  For those who do not own their own boat, rental boats and equipment are available at most major marinas.  However, as the cost of owning a boat has skyrocketed over the years (think liability risks, fuel costs, marina mooring fees, equipment costs, etc.), a facility such as the Valdosta Wake Compound can fulfill a ever-growing niche market in the U.S.A. !

If the wake boarder falls, there is an automated system for retrieving the tow bar they were holding on to, and bringing it back around the circuit, so they can give it another try.  I recall circling fallen skiers in a ski boat, dozens of times, as they tried to master the sport of being pulled against the force of the water, to finally stand up on their skis.  Another advantage of the Valdosta system is that there are not huge waves created for the beginner, due to a boat circling them repeatedly.  Seeing these athletes whiz by time after time, reminded me of when I was at the "peak" of my water-skiing activity, I once skied from the Lead Hill Boat Dock, to the Tucker Hollow Boat Dock---a distance of several miles, and almost an hour of being pulled behind the ski boat!  Just a short time after that "marathon" and personal record, I found out I had accomplished that feat, while pregnant!  (This was before the days of the "Early Pregnancy Test")  So, I like to tell my son that I took him water skiing while he was still in my womb!

Seeing this photo reminded me of the exuberance I felt, when I finally learned to "slalom", that is, glide across the water on one ski, instead of two.  Usually, (back in the old days), the way a person learned to slalom was to get comfortable enough on two skis, that you could raise one leg a little above the surface of the water, and get the feel for being pulled on one leg, while still being able to lower the other leg, anytime you felt shaky.  After a while, you could kick off the extra ski, and continue upright on one ski.  Of course, this involved staying in the same general area of the lake, so the driver could retrieve the water ski that had been kicked off, and allowed to float away to who-knows-where.  Hence, the development of specially designed Slalom skis, where the skier started out from the very beginning on just one ski, instead of two.  However, this caused greater water forces to be directed against the skier trying to get up, and hence greater power needed in the boat motor.  

The sport of wake boarding was in its infancy when I was growing up, and even more so, in the landlocked state of Arkansas.  I saw early indications of the direction that the sport was growing, when I had the opportunity to water ski behind a boat owned by friends,  on the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Bermuda, when I was only 18 years old.  That experience made me REALLY appreciate water skiing on the mirror-like surface, of a quiet cove on Bull Shoals Lake!

Since my parents had a houseboat, I eventually learned to take off on skis from a sitting position on the deck of the houseboat, without actually getting fully immersed in the lake.  If conditions were right, I could start from the deck, and end the ski session, by coasting into a shallow area of the lake, resulting in staying dry the whole time!  (This was before I had a wetsuit, and keeping my body temperature regulated was more of an issue)

It never even occurred to me to try JUMPING into the air from the deck, while being towed---like this guy was doing on the day of my visit!

For those that have mastered the basic techniques of wake boarding, they can progress to gliding up and over the ski jumps, built around the lake. 

The development of materials that could be used to make wetsuits has been another factor increasing the popularity of water sports.  Participants are no longer limited to the warm summer months to enjoy the sport. 

Notice this wake boarder is also wearing a life vest, and helmet.  There is always the risk of the board coming unattached from the feet, flying up in the air, and landing on the head of the boarder, so a helmet is an important safety measure for these more extreme tricks on the water, such as somersaults coming off the ski jump.

I liked the fact that the folks at the Valdosta Wake Compound have "re purposed" wake boards to use as tables or benches, in the viewing/concessions area.  They most likely go through lots of equipment, because when you take a beginners' class at VWC, all the equipment you need is provided, and included in the cost of the lesson.

compound also has a small camping area adjacent, that becomes very popular when the park has competitions taking place, that brings in hundreds of guests for either getting in the water or staying on the shore, as spectators. 

There is also a skate park near the entrance, where you can practice your skateboarding skills.  ( The worst injury I ever had as a kid happened when I was on a skateboard.  My friends and I were skateboarding at night on a hill, in a new, sparsely populated subdivision.  I was doing great at it, until I started going too fast down a hill, lost my balance, and took a very nasty skid across the asphalt.  Perhaps it was all the panic-stricken parents, who saw the bloody condition of my knees after that accident, that originated the idea of kids wearing knee pads when they skateboarded!)

Because all my youthful water sports activities, as well as the water sports activities, of the Valdosta Wake Center (VWC) required a source of POWER to make them possible, I am using these images as a visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses, that says, "His divine POWER has given  us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."  2 Peter 1:3    We are blessed to not only be able to call on God's Divine POWER, but also, the power supplied by the high-tech motor of the Valdosta Wake Compound, to get us safely across a most beautiful body of water!

I want to thank the Georgia Department of Tourism ( ),  Group Travel Magazine ( ), and the Valdosta CVB ( ) for making this visit to the Valdosta Wake Compound possible.  They arranged for the very comfortable transportation shown in this photo, that enabled us to see some incredible attractions in South Georgia.  I can say with assurance, that a visit to this area will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Warm Springs, Georgia, is a tiny town (population around 500) about an hour southwest of Atlanta.  If you have never heard of it, don't feel bad, as neither had I until I attended a week long Road Scholar ( ) program in Hyde Park, New York, that was an in-depth study of the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   This placard outside the visitor center gives a synopsis of the historical importance of The Little White House and Warm Springs. 
The Little White House was the personal retreat of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, and is located in the National Historic District of Warm Springs, Georgia ( ).   Because FDR liked the area ever since he started visiting in the 1920's, he had a home built on nearby Pine Mountain, when he was Governor of New York.  The house was finished in 1932.  Roosevelt kept the house after he became president, using it as his presidential retreat.  During FDR's presidency and the Great Depression, he developed many New Deal Programs (such as Rural Electrification Administration) based on his experiences in the small town of Warm Springs.  (This fact makes me daydream about a powerful president building a presidential retreat near where I live, so that the POTUS could see what    S  l  o  w      I  n  t  e  r  n  e  t   is available in the rural area where I live, and take action to correct the situation!!)
One of the young visitors at The Little House was intrigued by the rotating gate that stretched across the driveway in front of the house.  I have seen revolving doors before, but this was my first experience with a revolving gate!

To describe the house as "little" is quite accurate!  It only has six rooms, and three of these are bedrooms: one for FDR, one for Eleanor, and one for his secretary.  Other rooms were an entrance hall, living room, and kitchen  The garage and servants quarters were added later, followed by a single story guest cottage in 1933.  Then in 1934, a cottage for Georgia Wilkins was added  (The Wilkins family was the original owner of the property)

The museum that is adjacent to the house has the specially-designed convertible automobile, with hand controls, that FDR enjoyed driving. 

 The photo above shows Roosevelt sitting in a convertible automobile, in front of the Little White House, and shows that the place looked the same then as it does now. 
Roosevelt did not mind being photographed with acquaintances and visitors, if the photo gave no indication of his lower body paralysis.  An example, is this photo with youngsters on the car's running boards:
The Little White House is now a part of the Georgia State Parks ( ) This is because most of Roosevelt property was willed to Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, which gained control of the properties in 1948. The photo below shows that the kitchen at the Little White House was what we today would call "Minimalist"!
The photo below shows Roosevelt's chair, just as it was on the day he died, sitting in front of the living room fireplace.  In total, FDR made 16 trips to The Little White House during his presidency, usually spending 2-3 weeks at a time, as it took a day to reach Warm Springs from Washington, D.C., by train.  Locals said he would often host Thanksgiving dinners for the people of Warm Springs.  (This reminded me that a friend of mine who had been part of the communications transition team for President Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia, said President Carter invited the communications team members to share in a Thanksgiving celebration in Plains, Georgia!)

Being a  U.S. President and Governor of New York with "mobility challenges", it is not surprising that Roosevelt would have many different canes and walking sticks given to him over the years.  Since he was diagnosed with polio when he was only 39 years old, the collection was extensive, and they are on display in the museum. 

The museum has this reminder that both John F. Kennedy (in 1960) and Jimmy Carter (in 1976) used the property for their campaigns to become president.  In fact, Jimmy Carter launched his campaign there.

 The photo above with the ship models, illustrates FDR's love of boating, and is a reminder that at one time, he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  Besides putting together ship models, another hobby popular in those days for  a person who was unable to walk or run normally, was postage stamp collecting.  The photo  below is a reminder that FDR was an avid stamp collector:
The Little White House has an elevated back porch that looks out over the woods of Pine Mountain.  During World War II, soldiers from Fort Benning were stationed at the Little White House to patrol the woods surrounding the farm. 
The photo below shows how steep and rocky the property is.
This tiny guard house seems very unimpressive, in terms of the security that is used now to protect U.S. Presidents!  It is good that the sign indicates it was the "Marine Corps Sentry Post", because it is similar in size to an "outhouse", that would have been common in rural Georgia at the time!
  One of the last exhibits at The Little White House is the one that has the unfinished portrait of FDR.  It was this portrait that was being painted, at the time of his death.  On April 12, 1945, FDR was sitting for a portrait at The Little White House, when he suffered a stroke.  He died two hours later of cerebral hemorrhage. (In remembrance of the April 12 day of his death, this blog has a publication date of April 12)   The artist that day was Elizabeth Shoumatoff.  Ms. Shoumatoff later finished a different portrait (based on sketches and memory), that hangs nearby.  I was intrigued by the cane wheelchair underneath the portrait, because I have one just like it!  I bought it when a nursing home I used to work for, was getting rid of their old-style wheel chairs, and replacing them with new vinyl-seat models.  Seeing this one on display makes me have a greater appreciation for my antique model!
A short drive from The Little White House, you can visit the Warm Springs Treatment Pools.  The thermal hot springs of this area are what originally brought FDR to visit, for polio treatments, in 1924.  He was not the first to see curative powers from the waters.   Wounded Native American warriors gathered at the springs before Europeans colonized the New World.  In the late 1700's the springs were discovered by yellow fever victims, and by 1832, Warm Springs had become a popular summer health resort.  The resort flourished in the 1880's-1890's, and was incorporated in 1893.  A factor in the success of that period was that visitors could come to Warm Springs via train, from the larger cities of Atlanta and Savannah  However, after the invention of automobiles, and subsequent growth of automobile travel, tourists began to go elsewhere. 

A few years after FDR's first visit to Warm Springs, he established the Warm Springs Foundation, for the care and treatment of fellow polio victims who could not afford such medical help.  He founded the institution after hearing about a boy who had regained the use of his legs through a treatment known as hydrotherapy, which involves the use of water for soothing pain and treating diseases.  (Notice the title "March of Dimes" on the placard. As a kid, I remember going around town with a small cardboard wallet, made to hold dimes,  I would collect dimes until the wallet slots were filled, then turn in the wallet to a school official, who then mailed all those dimes via the postal service, so that they could be counted at foundation headquarters.  The March of Dimes (Founded in 1928) funded Jonas Salk's polio vaccine. Since polio has subsequently become almost eradicated, The March of Dimes changed its primary focus in 2005, to the prevention of preterm births, because preterm births emerged as the leading cause of death for children worldwide.   History shows us now, that  Roosevelt's "March of Dimes" organization became the prototype for dozens of similar foundations.  Since Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes, a redesign of the dime was chosen to honor him after his death.  The Roosevelt dime was issued in 1946, on what would have been his 64th birthday.   .The photo below shows one of the original posters used by The National Foundation For Infantile Paralysis. 

The building beside the former hydrotherapy pools is full of exhibits designed to show the visitor the type of medical treatments that were given to polio patients during that time period.  Tables like the one in this photo were placed in the treatment pools.  While the patient lay on the table in the warm, soothing waters, their therapist stood in the water beside them and exercised the patient's paralyzed legs.  

The historic pools are now empty, but placards located throughout the historic property help the visitor interpret what they are seeing. I would highly recommend the recent HBO movie, Warm Springs, to give you a better image of the status of polio treatment in FDR's time.  The movie shows these same treatment pools, full of water, with the patients and therapists doing their exercises.  You can order the movie on line, or (as I did) check it out for free from your local library. 

The pools were massive, almost the size of a football field, and this photo shows a connecting walk through area of the pools, as well as an overhead bridge. When FDR first started going to the Warm Springs pools, he was not allowed to enter the water until after the regular, "healthy" resort guests were gone for the day.  Likewise, he was not allowed to eat with the regular, "healthy" resort guests, due to the stigma polio had of being highly contagious.  My husband told the story about when he was a youngster, he contracted a very mild case of polio that paralyzed his esophagus for a short time.  Because of this "contagious" fear, his younger brother was required to take a painful medical injection that would  supposedly reduce the risk of the younger brother contracting polio.  My husband said his younger brother had trouble understanding the situation and asked, "Since the BIG brother was the sick one, why is it the LITTLE brother has to take this awful shot??!!!)

Although the historic pools no longer have water in them, there is a small area down inside the pools, where one can actually stick their hands into the thermal waters,

 Young folks may not recognize the contraption shown below, but because my mother had one of these attached to her washing machine when I was growing up, I knew it was a "wringer", used to PRESS the water out of clothing, towels, linens , etc, so that they would dry quicker.  The hydrotherapy pools would have resulted in dozens of wet towels, and without the benefit of our modern, heavy-duty commercial dryers, alternative solutions were needed.  Drying time for towels is greatly reduced if as much moisture as possible is PRESSED out of them before they are hung up to dry.  This phenomena of using pressure to get a desired result,  is why I am using the image of a wringer as the visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse, that has the word "press" in it.  "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I PRESS on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."  Philippians 3:12

The museum exhibits include examples of braces that many polio victims wore, to facilitate movement of their paralyzed legs.  FDR wore such braces, although they are seldom seen when you look at photographs of him.  He did not like being thought of as "a cripple", and thus usually forbade the news reporters from taking photographs that showed his braces.  In the Warm Springs movie, FDR makes the comment that he would need to have a blacksmith as part of the rehab team, so they could staff a "Brace Shop" for the patients.  The physical therapist would monitor a young patient's growth, and have new braces made for them, as they grew taller.  In the Warm Springs movie, Kathy Bates plays the physical therapist who is a key character in advancing the hydrotherapy treatment of polio, and her role reminded me of the father of one of my college friends.  He was a graduate of Baylor University and a Licensed Physical Therapist.  He said he went into that field because of the tremendous help he received from physical therapists who helped him overcome polio. 

The photo below shows what was called an "iron lung".  When a patient's paralysis got so bad that their chest muscles and lungs could no longer contract and expand, the machine forced air in and out of their lungs.  I think the phrase "Iron Lung" is etched vividly in my mind because as a youngster, I was told one of my classmates who had polio had to go away and be put into an Iron Lung.  Shortly thereafter, we were told that the classmate had died.  In those days, the disease of polio made it a sad and scary time, for both parents and children.   Today, in health care, a much smaller version of a breathing machine is used, and it is called a ventilator. 
One of the reasons the health care profession has made so much progress in the treatment of polio and other similar maladies, is through the research and development that was implemented by FDR.  This exhibit hales it as Roosevelt's greatest legacy:
The institute
 provides vocational rehabilitation , long term acute care, and inpatient rehabilitation for amputees and people recovering from spinal cord injuries. 

I am very thankful for the perseverance FDR displayed as he worked to overcome the difficulties associated with the terrible disease of polio---as he PRESSED ON, to be our country's only four-term president .   One can still donate to the charitable foundation he started, by going to   .  Likewise, if you would like to visit this and a multitude of other fascinating sights in Georgia, check out the website,
A trip to this state will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!!