Sunday, 3 March 2013

Train Trip 2013 - Lake City to Jacksonville

We left Lake City late in the afternoon after completing our kayak trip. An hour Greyhound bus ride took us to Jacksonville. We saw at least at least 6-8 correctional facilities along the way. Must have had a truck load sale on barbed wire because there was a lot of it!

A few months ago, while searching for what to do in cities along our potential route, Andrew found that the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) was having their annual conference in Jacksonville. As part of the program the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra would be doing a special show, playing to the viewing of 350 of NANPA member's best photos from the past year. We booked tickets for the symphony and reserved at the hotel right across the street from the theatre.

For the most part, it was a great show! The symphony did a fabulous job of pairing the music to the photos being shown. The conductor was very engaging and talked a bit about each of the musical pieces and what they represented before they were played. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have picked up on the cuckoo sound of the clarinet if he hadn't mentioned it!

I particularly enjoyed the photos of the birds and other animals. Amazing action shots and quite a bit of humour in some of the poses caught on camera! However, the projection of the photos definitely did not do them justice. I expect they had the biggest screen they could get to hang above the orchestra but it just didn't show the true quality that I know the photos would have had.
Orchestra area and screen at Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra
We also stopped in at the NANPA trade show one morning, saw lots of cameras, gadgets, gizmos and big-ass camera lenses. And adverts for guided photography trips to all corners of the earth! We also sat in on one of the seminars that was open to the public which was about restoring the wetlands area around San Francisco and one photographer's quest to document and promote the really great changes that are happening -- showing that nature can exist and flourish even in an urban environment with 9 million people in the surrounding area.

Jacksonville has miles and miles of riverside walkways along the St. Johns River which we really enjoyed. More concrete and far more traffic noise than Saskatoon's beautiful and more natural river parks but if you have to be in a big city it's a good place to be. During our walking river tour we stopped at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.  We aren't normally big fans of art museums but at the beginning of the 1900's a rich Jacksonville family bought property and built several family houses along the river. One of the Mrs. Cummer's was an avid gardener and active community member. As she got older she made arrangements that upon her death (at 86 years of age in 1973?) the gardens and some additional land would be given to the arts board to build a museum adjoining the gardens. I was impressed not only by the gardens but also by the excellent art based interactive area for kids and by the school programs we saw going on throughout.

This English Garden is 1/4 of the actual garden area (St. Johns River in the background). The Italian Garden takes up 1/4 and Mrs. Cummer left the 1/4 between them clear so her husband could have a putting green. That area was also used for social events. The remaining 1/4 of the garden is presently under restoration.
An oak tree in the garden which is estimated to be 150-175 years old and measures about 150 feet across.
The train bridge got lowered for a train as we went over the walkway.
For more photos of our Jacksonville and the Cummer Gardens, check out Andrew's blog post.

Next stop . . . Savannah, Georgia!

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