Posts or Comments 30 June 2022

Florida &Key West joydeanlee | 15 Apr 2013

Hemingway Home and Museum—Key West, Florida

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Ernest Hemingway’s writing studio

Although I lived in Florida for a couple of years in the late 1990s, I’d never had both time and money…at the same time…to travel to South Florida. Thus in early March when I did have that magic combination, I traveled to both Key West and the Everglades.

Earlier blogs discussed my two ventures into Everglades National Park, but my key interest in the entire trip to South Florida was touring the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West.

I taught American literature in high school for many years. No course on 20th Century lit is complete without some of Ernest Hemingway’s novels: The Sun Also Rises, Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, or For Whom the Bell Tolls.

My tour guide was quite knowledgeable, making the tour more pleasurable. I could smile occasionally as he told some little tidbit I knew from the years of lecturing about Hemingway and leading discussions with my students about his novels. The guide offered many bits of information that were new to me and made me resolve to read another of his biographies.

The unique polydactyl (six-toed cats) wander the property freely, seemingly oblivious to the tourists. Pampered pets indeed! Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes.

For further reading about the Hemingway Home and Museum, check out

To view a slideshow of other Hemingway Home and Museum, click on any photo.

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The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. All the cats were quite willing to be petted.

Austin &Texas joydeanlee | 01 Apr 2013

Austin Yard Art Tour—April 2010

One of Austin’s slogans is Keep Austin Weird! I witnessed aspects of that movement when I was house/pet-sitting there in the Spring of 2010. My older daughter, Helena, and I spent a Sunday afternoon traveling to as many locations on the Yard Art Tour as we could in our available time.

The range of types of yard art was vast: from colored bottles with their tops stuck in the ground to line yard paths to painted fences to a place with Cathedral of Junk on its mailbox to decorated cars to metal creations to the Smut Putt Heaven Holiness Church.

Enjoy the art!

To view a slideshow of the Yard Art Tour, click on any of the photos below.

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Blue and green bottles lined the paths through flowers and plants in this yard.

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One of the metal sculptures on the Yard Art Tour.

Everglades &Everglades National Park &Florida &National Parks/Monuments joydeanlee | 26 Mar 2013

National Parks—Everglades: Royal Palm Visitors Center–Anhinga Trail

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The trail is named after this waterfowl, the Anhinga. The name comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.

The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.

According to the National Park Service website, the Anhinga Trail is “…one of the most popular trails in the park because of its abundance of wildlife. The self-guiding tour winds through a sawgrass marsh, where you may see alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, and many other birds, especially during the winter.”

For further information:

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According to Wikipedia, the name alligator is an anglicized form of el lagarto, the Spanish term for “lizard”, which early Spanish explorers and settlers in Florida called the alligator.

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Alligators galore…plus a couple of waterfowl.

Everglades &Everglades National Park &Florida &National Parks/Monuments joydeanlee | 21 Mar 2013

National Parks—Everglades—Backcountry boat tour

South Florida (mainly Everglades National Park) and The Keys had always interested me. So when I found a short block of time with no house/pet-sitting commitments in early March, 2013, I headed in that direction.

To view a slideshow of the Everglades National Park backcountry boat tour, click on any photo below.

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Mangroves grow in brackish to saline water.

A backcountry boat tour sounded like a good way to get a feel for the Everglades and see native trees and flowers up close. A cold wave had swept into the south, so I’d already planned to dress warmly. Then after a guide at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center near Homestead warned me that it would feel like “Minnesota weather” when we out on the open water, I grabbed a a sweater wrap that is my coat for winter in Indiana.

Thank goodness I took the sweater wrap. You’ll note in one of the slideshow photos that I wrapped myself in the wrap in addition to the heavy cotton hooded jacked I wore. I wasn’t the only one bundling up as you can see from the boat driver’s dog ((Photo below).

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The female boat driver’s dog, who rode with her regularly, was a great distraction for young and old alike.

Austin &Texas &Wildflowers joydeanlee | 19 Mar 2013

Texas Hill County—Wildflowers in the Spring

Much of the Texas Hill Country is a glorious, colorful sight in the Spring as numerous varieties of wildflowers cover the hillsides, the roadsides, and even the road medians.

To view a slideshow of my collection of wildflower photos, click on any photo below.

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Texas Bluebonnets.

After a trip to the AAA office for a map in March, 2010, exploring Austin and as many of the small towns around it as time permitted was my goal.

From Lampasas and San Saba northwest of Austin to Llano, Marble Falls, Burnet, and Johnson City on the west and Blanco and Wimberly on the southwest, I photographed wildflowers.

I traveled to Austin in the Spring of 2012 for more photography and again this year, 2013, although for only a couple of days. This year my time in the Hill Country was a bit early for the full blooming of the wildflowers, but I did find a few further east near Navasota.

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Scattered throughout the bluebonnets are a few Indian Paintbrushes and small yellow flowers (I don’t know their name) that share space and contrast with Prickly Pear cacti.

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Indian Blankets

San Antonio &Texas joydeanlee | 20 Nov 2012

Texas Gang’s San Antonio summer weekends

Background: From 2004 through 2007, my Texas Gang of friends gathered at Lake McQueeney for summer fun. We were able to get together through the generosity of the McColleys who loaned us their lakehouse. The Alexanders brought their boat over from Houston. Friends and family from Ft. Worth, Austin, Houston, and even as far away as Indiana and Florida gathered bringing games, music, and food and beverages galore, but the most important element shared was FRIENDSHIP. In an early post on this blog, I shared photos of our antics in 2007. (

For three years the Gang was unable to get together. Then in the summers of both 2011 and 2012, we all met at the McColley home in San Antonio, again because of their generosity. All the same elements were brought together again: games, music, food, beverages, and friendship.

To view a slideshow of the Texas Gang’s 2011 or 2012 activities and antics during those San Antonio summer weekends, click on any photo below.


Julie Gras shows off Max,
the beloved dog I sit with.


Russ and Jody Emerson
enjoy the sunshine.

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Front: Shelley Penrod. Middle: Jody Emerson, Sheila Alexander, Mike Ross, Joy Dean Lee. Back: Helena Abbing, Bill Alexander, Julie Gras, and Dan Thomas.

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Bill Alexander directs…who knows…as Shelley Penrod and Jody Emerson sit poolside. Dan Thomas calculates the volume of the pool’s water. Or maybe Bill is trying to get everyone’s attention to listen to Toby Keith’s “I’ll Never Smoke Weed with Willie Again”

Glen Ellis Falls &New Hampshire joydeanlee | 23 Sep 2012

White Mountains, New Hampshire—Glen Ellis Falls

Glen Ellis Falls in the White Mountains of New Hampshire can be viewed after a .2-mile walk down (and back up) stairs and treacherous stepping stones. The walk is worth the view! The falls is part of the Pinkham Notch State Park.

To view a slideshow of our walk to the falls, click on the photo below.

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Glen Ellis Falls

New Hampshire &White Mountains &Wildcat Mountain gondola ride joydeanlee | 23 Sep 2012

White Mountains, New Hampshire—Wildcat Mountain gondola ride

During a trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I dropped off my friend Doris so she could hike up Tuckerman Ravine to Hermit Lake. The trail leads to the top of Mt. Washington, a really tough hike. (See Tuckerman Ravine Hike blog entry.)

While Doris was hiking I drove to nearby Wildcat Mountain (another blog entry) to take a gondola ride to the top where I could view the Mt. Washington area where she was hiking.

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Gondola ride to the summit of Wildcat Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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View of Mt. Washington (where my friend was hiking on a trail but not to the summit).

New Hampshire &Tuckerman Ravine, Pinkham Notch State Park &White Mountains joydeanlee | 23 Sep 2012

White Mountains, New Hampshire—Tuckerman Ravine Hike

We arrived at the Pinkham Notch State Park mid-morning. Following the suggestions in a Frommer’s Guide to New England, I encouraged my friend Doris, who is in excellent physical condition, to hike up Tuckerman Ravine to Hermit Lake. The hike was described as strenuous, taking approximately two hours round-trip from the Visitor Center. Doris loves the outdoors and hiking so I thought she’d enjoy this hike even though I am not in good enough physical condition to try “strenuous” hikes.

Info from websites about hiking Mt. Washington (NH): “The most common way to ascend it[Mt. Washington] is from Pinkham Notch [State Park] by the Tuckerman’s Ravine trail…2.4 miles, to the Hermit Lake shelters… [It] is wide and relatively smooth going. But do not be fooled, you are going up, climbing about 1,800 feet in these 2.4 miles. The White Mountain Guide describes this section well, noting ‘… its moderate but relentless climb …’ Part of the trail was described as more ‘rock-hopping” than trail.’

You’ll note the rocks in the photo below and the logs, and the wood-plank bridges in the Flickr slideshow which you can access by clicking on the photo.

Doris returned 2 hrs. and 45 minutes later in an exhausted state, turning around before making it all the way to Hermit Lake. Her comment was that the trail “kicked her butt.”

Perhaps she doubted my intentions on sending her on that hike. 😉

While Doris was hiking I drove to nearby Wildcat Mountain (another blog entry) to take a gondola ride to the top where I could view the Mt. Washington area where she was hiking.

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The trail up Tuckerman Ravine.

Mt. Washington Cog Railway &New Hampshire &White Mountains joydeanlee | 23 Sep 2012

White Mountains, New Hampshire—Mt. Washington Cog Railway

As I planned a trip to the New England area, visiting the White Mountains in New Hampshire was high on my list of priorities. All the travel guides I read suggested that a ride on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway was a must-see.

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The original steam engine, Peppersass (above), and other steam and diesel engines are on display at Mansfield Station where the ride begins.

Info from the Mt. Washington Cog Railway website: “The beauty of the mountains and the thrill of ascending the Northeast’s highest peak are just as enchanting today as they were in 1869, when Sylvester Marsh opened the world’s first mountain-climbing railroad on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

Nearly 150 years later, the Mount Washington Cog Railway continues to provide a sense of adventure and history as it carries passengers up a 3-mile-long trestle and the steepest railroad tracks in North America to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington.

There, visitors can take in the spectacular panoramic view, spanning the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, north into Canada, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.”

Well, the website didn’t mention that the mountain is often fogged in, that visibility is very limited (as you can see in the photo below), and that it can be quite cold. However, the adventure of the ride up and down the mountain on the railway does make the trip worthwhile, even if the view at the top is fogged in. You can always drink hot chocolate in their snack bar as my friend Doris and I did!

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For addition info on Mt. Washington Cog Railway, go to

To view a slideshow of our trip on Mt. Washington Cog Railway ride, click on any photo. If info about the photos is not displayed in the slideshow, click Show Info.

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This photo of the tracks was taken from inside the railway car in which we were riding.

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