Quaint Georgia fish town with history

Coming from a big city I like to take casual drives through rural towns, absorbing some of the local flavor, sights and sounds.

I recently eased thro41127415041_c7194700f1_ough Darien, Georgia (U.S.A) (founded in 1736) while attempting to locate something unique in this less-traveled area.

There is a nugget in every town I travel through and my personal task is to see what it is – in my own view anyway.

IMG_4619My first observation in the Atlantic Ocean coastal town of Darien was the fishing boats lined up in the Altamaha River.  I drove slightly off the main road and noticed a few fishing boats that definitely brought in their share over the years.  Their wear-and-tear was evident, but they continue to provide a living for local fishers.

 

This was an opportunity to drive my Subaru Outback off road – although it was in IMG_4628just a short patch of wet sand.  The synchronized all-wheel-drive provided considerable comfort and piece of mind as we checked out some of the potential candidates for a good story.

We heard one of the men working on the old boat say hello in a friendly, southern tone and we waved back.  Folks here are welcoming and I think enjoy others visiting their little town.  They probably wandered what we were doing though.

39318619240_80b976cb8f_oA storm system had been traveling through southern Georgia and north Florida so the area had been drenched a bit.

I thought there must be a nice restaurant where the locals go and we drove around a few minutes.

IMG_4601What do you know, we found it – Skippers Fish Camp.  It was located off the main highway (U.S. 17, Altamaha Scenic Highway) and nestled on the waterway facing the marshes.

 

Well, naturally we had to try it and were not disappointed.  It caters to locals and regional customers as well.   I really enjoyed it.  IMG_4607The fish was delicious and the green beans were just like I like them.  The atmosphere was clean and inviting, along with the great hospitality.   http://www.skippersfishcamp.com/

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The outside of the restaurant was just as inviting and promotes a nice fish town ambience.IMG_4603IMG_4612IMG_4604

 

 

While leaving the restaurant we noticed an old building with surrounding coquina walls.  Now! We just found something else that was unique, or what I call a “nugget” of interest in my adventures.26485424317_9bf0b85fdf_o

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Tabby walls?  According to https://www.tabbyruins.com/blog/darien-tabby-walls-and-adam-strain-building the tabby walls in Darien are the “remnants of the town’s cotton exchange warehouses and naval stores built in 1815-1830. The Adam-Strain Building, built circa 1813, was a mercantile store and ship IMG_4622chandlery.”

Wikipedia identified tabby as a “type of concrete made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells.

 

Tabby was used by early Spanish settlers in present-day North Carolina and Florida, then by English colonists primarily in coastal South Carolina and Georgia.” I wonder who thought of that method first?  I guess through experimentation.

Near the fishing boats is street art reflecting some of the local emphasis as well.

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IMG_4615Darien is listed as the second oldest planned city in Georgia.  According to town documents, it is the place where the term “Golden Isles” was coined and “offers a wealth of attractions that, for many, are being discovered for the first time.”  Darien is described by experts as “one of the most important tidal estuarine environments in the world.”  http://www.cityofdarienga.comIMG_4618

 

 

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Churches and houses have a certain flair that depict the peaceful, historical community.

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As we departed from Darien heading south along the scenic highway, just over the Altamaha River, we then noticed remnants of an old plantation – the Butler Island Plantation.

We didn’t take time to explore this area but I’ll post about plantations in the future.

This plantation is no longer maintained like some of the others.  You’ll notice on the 39612708350_7a02f383b3_ohistorical placard that Fannie Kemble wrote her “Journal of Residence on a Georgia Plantation” at this plantation.  It is believed to have influenced England against the Confederacy.

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There is another thing that seems to surface in all my travels – the influence of so many countries around the world toward American history and culture.  Although some of these influences involved conflict and bad times, they are part of history and make a lasting impact toward the United States of America.  Let’s consider these impacts toward continuing to improve life here and abroad.  We must learn from history and hopefully will not repeat it – and enjoy the small town nuggets along the way.

-Ron-

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Sweet Maple Tooth

30289318165_0dd287b153_oOne of my intriguing visits in the New England, U.S.A. area involved sweets – maple sweets that is.  These are some of the best tasting and healthiest sweets I could find while checking out the various farms throughout Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

30203880841_afbd5ceca5_oOne of my favorite farms is the Ioka Valley Farm at Hancock, Massachusetts, located in the southeast west part of this beautiful New England state.

The farm’s 2018 maple season activities began February 10 and they will be closing their activities by mid-April.  During my previous visit I became interested in how the maple syrup was heated and processed, and certainly had to taste the various maple treats.

30289312865_aa5bf4e30e_oMiss Terri, who is a healthy, vibrant, late-70s young adult was knowledgeable and very enlightening.  She was the perfect ambassador.  She even mentioned how she would ride miles every day on her bicycle and stop along the way to sip her maple drink for added energy.  She reiterated that the maple sugar provides an excellent energy boost that is balanced and doesn’t create a sugar rush that we sometimes experience with other sweets.

Ioka Valley Farm (http://www.iokavalleyfarm.com/) is a diversified family-owned and operated working farm that prides itself in providing “high quality, locally grown products for all ages.”  They provide natural, hormone-free beef and various other products.  One of the specialties I focused on was the maple syrup and candies.  I couldn’t resist!  Although the maple sap gathering is for a short season they sell the products year-round. Thank also don’t want to over-tap the trees.

30203867631_0f67c80c5f_oOne of the sugarmakers provided some insight about the syrup.  Interestingly, the tank receives the sap from the hundreds of trees in the small mountain behind the farm. It flows through the tubes into an initial processing unit and then flows in the heating tank.  I still don’t fully understand the science behind the process but I was intrigued.

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The farm had recently purchased a larger tank to heat and process the sap due to higher demand.  The larger tank provides much more production over the smaller, older one, enabling significantly more syrup to be processed and distributed during the short season.

30203871761_669e3e9a30_oFinal processing into varied products, packaging and shipping is accomplished right in the shop next to the processing equipment.  The small store is connected to the plant as well.

I enjoyed our little visit to the Ioka Valley Farm.  I wish I could have bought a sampling of each product.

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Maple leaf glass jar with quality maple syrup. (Courtesy photo of Oika Valley Farm)

I did not realize the types of syrup neither – like the amber and dark.  I couldn’t decide which one I liked best after sampling them.  I think the amber is the best for me though.  It sure does sweeten the pancakes or waffles.  And, have you tried maple cream on your toast?  Yummy!

 

Deep Mountain Maple informs us that maple syrup color relates to its grade.  If the syrup is dark then it has a stronger flavor.  There are four main grades in Vermont – from light to dark:  Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber and Grade B. I tasted the four grades and they are distinguishable, although they are produced by the same process.

According to http://deepmountainmaple.com/maple-facts-and-fictions maple syrup is made by boiling the thin, slightly sweet sap of the sugar maple tree in large, shallow pans over a very hot fire.  It flows like water from the tapped trees.  After the sap is boiled until most of the water has evaporated, the remain product is a concentrated or “reduced” syrup.  “As much as 40-45 gallons of sap are needed to produce one gallon of syrup,” stated the Deep Mountain Maple website.

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Sprague & Son Sugarhouse in Vermont

I’m sure there are similar farms and maple producing plants around-the-world but this was my first experience with visiting one of the farms.  What are your experiences?

 

#maplesweettooth

#makesyrup

#iokavalleyfarm

 

Do YOUR buds indicate spring has arrived?

 

I know we’ve been ready for, and have been commenting on spring being here, right?   Many have noted spring arrived with snow still on the ground.

While traveling through some of southern Georgia, U.S.A. this week, particularly along the scenic highways around Clyattville, we had the feeling that spring is truly here with warmer temperatures, ranging near 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  I think that’s a welcome for those who desire to visit the southeastern U.S.

While observing much of the area’s natural decor has developed leaves and buds, I noticed the pecan trees without their buds. So, what does that signify?

Yes, we may have warmer weather and spring has sprung but maybe there is some cooler weather still on the way.

There is an old saying that winter isn’t over until the pecan trees bud.  I did a little research to found out how true; however, I didn’t locate any specifics.

I did gather information that indicates pecan trees are some of the latest to bud as they must build up “chill units.”

In my simple interpretation, chill units relate to how many cold encounters the tree has. Apparently, each tree variant has different chill units.  Once that tree has a certain number of cold encounters and begins to experience warmer temperatures then the leaves and buds begin to appear.

Pecan trees ready for buds

Wow, that’s pretty cool.  While other trees may have the desire to bloom when spring is nearing or has arrived, regardless if there is cold weather still to come, the pecan tree waits a little longer until it senses the threat of cold weather has passed.

There have been times however when the pecan trees were not as accurate, but it seems they are mostly accurate.

For more information on the pecan tree’s preparation for warm weather check the University of Georgia’s blog page at https://site.extension.uga.edu/pecan/2017/02/warm-winter-and-pecans/.

I believe the trees will be budding soon so go ahead and plan your travels through the southeastern U.S. and not be concerned with “cold” weather.

But what about other locations outside the U.S.A.?  Do you have pecan trees or some other types of trees that signal the end of cold weather?

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Other information about pecans:

History of the Pecan and Georgia Pecans (according to Pearson Farm). https://www.pearsonfarm.com/blog/history-of-the-pecan-and-georgia-pecans/

Pecans, although one of the most recently domesticated major crops has been an important part of southern U.S. diet and culture since before the arrival of European settlers. Fur traders originally brought the pecan to the U.S. Atlantic Coast from Illinois, calling them “Illinois nuts.”  The term pecan was coined by the Algonquin Indians, a North American tribe located in the southwest. It originated from their word “pacane”, which means a nut that needs to be cracked with a stone.

Georgia Pecans – Although pecans are highly favored in Georgia today, Georgia farmers were somewhat hesitant in accepting the benefits of this nut at first. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that several individual Georgia landowners began producing and marketing pecans on a small scale. In Savannah, there was about ninety-seven total acres by 1889.

By the 1950s, Georgia had become the country’s leading producer of pecans and remains the largest pecan-producing state in the nation to date.  Georgia pecan trees are one of the largest fruit-bearing trees with just one acre of pecan trees producing about 1,000 pounds of pecans. Today, more than 500 varieties of pecans exist with over 1,000 cultivars being released over the history of pecan culture.

The United States produces 80% of the world’s pecans (according to Tropical Foods) https://www.tropicalfoods.com/blog/pecan-tree-facts/

It takes 12 years for a pecan tree to mature. When grown in ideal conditions, it can live and stay productive for over 200 years.

Pecan wood is often utilized for the manufacturing of furniture, paneling and flooring.

The city of Albany, Georgia boasts of having more than 600,000 pecan trees, earning it the title of “Pecan Capital of the U.S.”

Pecans are related to walnuts but are much sweeter in flavor. Because of their oily composition though, pecans can become rancid very quickly in warm temperatures and high humidity. Shelled pecans are best kept inside a glass container in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.

The fats found in pecans are classified as monounsaturated and are recommended for the maintenance of a healthy heart. The nuts are also rich in Vitamin E and the mineral zinc. Pecans actually provide nearly 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for zinc and one ounce of pecans provides 10% of the recommended daily fiber intake.

Pecans are so popular in Texas that the pecan tree was declared its state tree in 1919. Butter pecan, a popular ice cream flavor, is a Texas invention.

Pecan trees usually range in height from 70 to 100 feet, but some trees grow as tall as 150 feet or higher. Native pecan trees – those over 150 years old – have trunks more than three feet in diameter.

Before a shelled pecan is ready to be sold, it must first be cleaned, sized, sterilized, cracked and finally, shelled.

The name “pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe nuts requiring a stone to crack.

About 78 pecans are used in the average pecan pie.

#endofwinter

#pecantreebuds

#springhassprung

 

Green comes to town

Green cupcakes (2)Green is the buzz word during this special time of year.  Do you do green in March?

Green just happens to be my favorite color but what is significant with it?

According to Color-Meanings the color green symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. “Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money. Green has great healing power. It is the most restful color for the human eye; it can improve vision”.  www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html

Many analysts mention the color green is one of the most encouraging and uplifting colors, giving hope more than any other color.

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Do you have a preferred shade of green?

So, is there any wonder the color emphasis this weekend is green – specifically referencing the St. Patrick’s Day emphasis?

I know practically anywhere you travel in the U.S.A on March 17 you will have your fill of green.  Just embrace it.

According to CNN the green shamrock is a “symbol of Ireland — known as the Emerald Isle because of its lush vegetation. And traditional Irish legend held that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns. Regardless of the reason, the world unites around the color green on StPatrick’s Day.”  https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/16/world/green-landmarks-saint-patricks-day-trnd/index.html

Well, what about some of the origin?  If you check out Wikipedia you’ll  learn that green is associated with Ireland from the 1640s when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation.  “Green ribbons and shamrocks have been work on St. Patrick’s Day since at least the 1680s.”

So let’s get on the bandwagon and celebrate – although we should do it responsibly.  There are already too many people dying on our roadways.  Please don’t let this happen to you, a loved one or a friend.

If you travel in the southeastern part of the U.S. – particularly near Savannah, Georgia, you may want to check out their events for St. Patrick’s Day – packed with parties, special events and a parade.  You may want to wear at least “something” green.  Activities may be viewed at http://www.savannah.com/st-patricks-day-events-savannah/st-patricks-day-festival.

Savannah’s parade information may be viewed at http://www.savannah.com/st-patricks-day-events-savannah/savannahs-st-patricks-day-parade.  Oh, by the way, in case you want to follow tradition and “kiss” a military person in uniform the local authorities say stop.  I wonder how many will adhere to this latest challenge.Savannah.gov green shamrocks

Now I’m curious.

Do other countries, aside from Ireland, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like we do in the U.S.A.?

Green cupcakes.jpgWhat experiences have you had celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Will you go green also?  I will.

I don’t want a Leprechaun to sneak up from behind and pinch me.

Time’s a changing!

 

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Town clock in Clinton, Oklamoma

 

Depending on where you are around the globe you either adjusted your clock or you are about to change with the time.  Maybe you’ll change it later this month.  Maybe it’s time to actually “change with the time.”

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How much daylight does the modern farmer need?

It’s what we call Daylight Saving Time when we turn the clock forward on the second Sunday in March in the U.S.A.  The idea was initially created to help farmers and others to have extra daylight.  Well, I could always use that extra hour of sleep I’ll lose tonight.  Many of you have already lost it.

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Rise and shine with daylight as the sun signals the dawn of a new day.  In today’s modern society do we actually depend on the sun to light our way?

I feel for the person who will be late for work because he or she “didn’t get the memo” or forget to set the clock.  Well – maybe the clock can be blamed for it this time.

What about all of you traveling? Are computers automatic enough to keep up with your travels and the constant time changes?

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Railroads and industry make good use of time and may be impacted by time changes.

Does the time change affect you in addition to the jet lag?

There has been some buzz lately about initiatives to keep the clock the same without having to “spring forward” or “fall back.”  Why can’t we just keep it the same?  I know I feel a little more tired each time we change – whether forward or backward – and it takes about a week to adjust.  Maybe it’s only my mindset.

Regardless, can’t we just keep it the same?  Has the time come where the time change doesn’t really matter that much?  I would like to hear your thoughts around the world.  Do you even change the time to accommodate the season?

In the U.S. Arizona and Hawaii don’t change and Florida has just passed legislation to keep the time on Daylight Saving Time.  I’m not sure if that is the right course of action.  If anything, can’t we keep it on the standard time?  I mean, it’s not like we get extra time.  We all have 24 hours in a day, right?

Maybe I’m not that smart to really understand the issues.

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Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in Florida shines brightly with upgraded lens compared to years past, still leading mariners and land travelers to their safety.

So, is light relative to the task at hand? Lighthouses are still in use (although more scarce) and provide their intended light.  If we need more daylight maybe, just maybe, we can use solar and other artificial light more effectively and efficiently.

Webexibits.org (http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/b2.html) mentions a poll  conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicating “Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because ‘there is more light in the evenings / can do more in the evenings.’  A 1976 survey of 2.7 million citizens in New South Wales, Australia, found 68% liked daylight saving. Indeed, some say that the primary reason that Daylight Saving Time is a part of many societies is simply because people like to enjoy long summer evenings, and that reasons such as energy conservation are merely rationalizations.”

What say ye?

CNN reported that the idea of daylight saving was first conceived in the U.S. by Benjamin Franklin in 1784.  Wow, I didn’t know the idea goes back that far.  CNN has some other good information on the timeline and issues in their post at https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/09/politics/daylight-saving-time-florida/index.html.

“Daylight Saving Time is one of those weird quirks of the Western world — most countries outside Europe and North America don’t take part,” CNN states. “Everyone, for the most part, is pretty excited to fall back in October and bemoans losing an hour of sleep in March.”

I say let’s just make the best of it until we can “change with the time” again.

 

 

Coins and Travel

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Maybe I have not been as observant as you but I sense some changes in the wind – uh, future technology – and wonder how it may impact our lives, including travel.

First, I started seeing the trend with Bitcoin and couldn’t quite grasp its worth and usefulness, not to mention similar blockchains such as Ethereum and Litecoin.  It’s too much for my brain to grasp in a few hours, and probably a few years.

Now, I wonder about the ID Coin.

I was intrigued by the Helen Partz article this month titled “Microsoft To Implement Blockchain-Based ID System.”  She shared Microsoft’s post that Microsoft is “looking to provide new a model of digital identity that would not be controlled by any centralized institution and would guarantee fully private data storage, enabling the individual to have full control of ‘all elements of [their] digital identity’.” https://cointelegraph.com/news/microsoft-to-implement-blockchain-based-id-system

I can’t quite determine if the Blockchain-Based ID System is the same as the ID Coin that I read about this month as well.  The Partz article was published on the Cointelegraph website and provided this comment for further clarity.

“After considering a number of standards for decentralized identity systems, Microsoft reports they decided that Blockchain technology and protocols were ‘well suited’ for the task, stating:

‘Some public blockchains (Bitcoin [BTC], Ethereum, Litecoin, to name a select few) provide a solid foundation for rooting DIDs, recording DPKI operations, and anchoring attestations’.”

So, am I to assume the Bitcoin is used primarily for current and future transactions along with other blockchain-based systems whereas the future ID Coin will secure my identify?

I like Microsoft’s Explanimators that provide short video (cartoon-style) stories to help me grasp what this new technology means.  Microsoft Explanimators

Otherwise, it’s somewhat over my head as I’m not a traditional tech-savvy human if you know what I mean.

I am confident these new technologies will increase our wellbeing, both financial and personal identity.  Maybe our worldwide travels will become more secure.

It’s still a little scary though – especially the unknown.

#bitcoins #blockchains #IDCoins

 

Short venture at Disney – long in thought

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I wonder how many people over the ages have been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida?  This blog is not an adventure to gather statistics but as a point of curiosity.

I have made countless trips in the Florida Disney disney-castle-sideTheme Parks and mostly venture to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.  My favorite thing to do is just walk around and pop in a ride if the line isn’t too long.

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In 2016 I intentionally backed off of the visits but decided to return recently.  There remains that certain feeling of adventure, excitement and escape from the daily routine that I missed.

disney-frontierland-2This visit was only for a few hours just to see how the crowds were doing, and if nothing else, just walk around.  I don’t have to ride every ride before I find enjoyment .  In fact, I don’t have to ride ANY rides to find enjoyment.  Have you ever just gone there, or any other favorite park, and simply observe the people, architecture, landscape, colors, pageantry and the like?  That’s what I mostly enjoy. disney-near-aladdin-crowd

disney-retreat-ceremony-3After years of being at Magic Kingdom we just happened to be at the right place at the right time upon entering and noticed the retreat ceremony preparing to start.  I had never noticed this before.  We decided to wait and watch.

With Disney-like precision the honor guard members formed, the band appeared and the color guard stood at attention to receive the flag of the United States of America.

The band strikes the chord and the honors begin.  The sound of retreat is played by the brass section, signifying securing of the U.S. flag at the end of day. Crowds gathered and most rendered their own salute to the Star Spangled Banner (National Anthem), which renews the feeling of patriotism.

The flag slowly flows from its lofty perch on the staff.  It is now secure.  Respect has been shown and the show goes on as people from all walks of life, nationalities and cultures from the world express their excitement in the events that unfold throughout the park.

 

I wonder!  What do people from other nations think about this patriotism?  Also, as one looks over or through the crowds, can you determine who is from North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa?

Don’t we all want to enjoy life?  Don’t we all want to live in freedom, laugh, play, disney-frontierland-2rear our children, make life meaningful and prosper?  What if we had a similar peace throughout the world like we experience at Disney as we are respectful of one another and desire good will upon each.  Wow!  No doubt the world would be better for humankind and people won’t need to live in fear.

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disney-people-mover-2The People Mover is one of my favorite activities at Disney.   It’s just an easy, simple ride on a tram-like cart traveling through attractions and is quite relaxing.  I can’t believe there was a line for this one this time.  We usually walk right on.  However, the 20-minute wait wasn’t bad.disney-people-mover

 

As night erupted, mixed with the colorful sky and the various rides where laughter ring out, my mind focuses on the color exhibited by the vast array of showcases.  Actually, can you see the castle behind this picture of color at one of the attractions.  We traveled on the People Mover and the lights screamed out at me to get my attention.  I couldn’t resist.disney-lights-at-future-land

We get so caught up in instant success and instant gratification we often become very impatient while we’re trying to relax and have fun, right?

Well, I’ll look for another trip and plan around the time when I can just enter attractions without a line.  And, if there is a line, I’ll walk around again and take in the sights and sounds like before.

I am pleased though to see the laughter and excitement on faces of old and young alike, from all walks of life throughout the globe, as they too enjoy the moment to simply “live.”  What is your escape from the harshness and routine of life?

Well, my thoughts wondered again.  I wanted to see another of my favorite Disney hall-of-presidents-at-disneyattractions in the three short hours of this visit.

The Hall of Presidents is always an inspiring venue that reminds me of the leadership and sacrifices of our presidents over the years to keep the United States of America free as a democracy so that all those who seek freedom and peace can still see the beacon of hope.

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I often take a look at the items on display in the Hall foyer before proceeding into disney-hall-of-presidents-washington-teeth-scalersthe main auditorium.  I attempt to visualize and absorb what these plain, everyday-type artifacts represent.  To me these are small reflections of those who led our nation at their respective times and still carried on their daily lives as well.

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The Hall has a great, patriotic presentation in the auditorium.  I enjoy seeing and hearing the comments from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, and in the future – Donald Trump.   It’s amazing to see the likeness and interaction of the figurines as each president is introduced.

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We may not have a long heritage like some nations do but we have a proud heritage – and one that we want to maintain so that other people of the world can still look to the U.S. as a nation that desires peace and prosperity for all, and that we still are a beacon for anyone who wants to live peacefully and make a life full of meaning to benefit the human race.

disney-hall-of-presidents-washngton-and-obama2As the U.S. embarks on another inauguration of a president, how different will President Trump be from President Washington, or Lincoln, Jackson, Cleveland, Roosevelt, Ford, on and on?  That’s what I wondered as I visited the Hall of Presidents again.  Just like all the presidents before, they were given the opportunity to lead a nation – “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  May God help us to still stand undivided in this nation, and the nations of the world, for those who yearn to be free and enjoy life to the fullest, without fear, threat or intimidation.

Life is too short to not enjoy it with full meaning and in peace.  Let’s allow time to become our ally.