Diane MacDonald


Beautiful beaches, glorious gardens, wonderful wildlife, magnificent art and architecture - an 
eclectic and engaging mix of miles from Naples on the Gulf Coast of Florida to Savannah on
the Atlantic Coast of Georgia. Naples feels laid-back and relaxed compared to other cities in
Florida - its beach lined with stately homes not locked in gated communities.  The perfectly
manicured historic homes and tree-lined streets shaded by majestic Royal Palms are inviting
and welcoming and jaw-droppingly beautiful.

and, the back gate...

Within an hour the landscape changes dramatically to miles and miles of Everglades with 
bird and wildlife abundant in the natural habitat -alligators and a few crocodiles, great
blue herons and white egrets. The anhingas, similar in some ways to "our " cormorants,
caught the attention of my lens.


A sign announcing a three foot summit tickled our funny bones.

From the Everglades to the Keys - on the map a tempting string of islands dividing the Gulf of
Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. We found the islands to be overly popular, overly populated,
and overly commercial and didn't make it out to Key West. Even the previously cute pelicans
became a nuisance!

North to Miami where the Art Museums pulled us to the centre of the city. The architect who
designed the Miami Pérez Art Museum (firm: Herzog & de Meuron) will be designing the new
Vancouver Art Gallery.  The Pérez is spectacular and extremely difficult to photograph 
given its size and location.  Shown below - one of the museum statues with Miami skyscrapers
in the background.

The opulent Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, also in Miami and formerly the private residence of James
Deering, is lavishly furnished and beautifully landscaped.  Below: the interior foyer and sumptuously
decorated living room, one of many stained glass windows, and a view of the garden fountain.



North of Miami, the Kennedy Space Centre where we were a week late for the SpaceX launch
to the International Space Station.  Seeing the enormity of the space shuttle Atlantis was
impressive enough.   


Off to Jekyll Island just across the border in Georgia, a glorious world away from the boisterous
commotion of urban Florida. The island, once a private estate, became a State Park in 1947
guaranteeing its preservation as a natural wildlife sanctuary with strict limitations on development.
The former historic "cottages" of the likes of Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt, and Pulitzer have been
transformed into idyllic guest accommodations.  Miles of bicycle trails beneath moss-draped
oak trees, some hundreds of years old, lead through the historic area to the beaches.


An hour or so north another gem - Savannah, with its graceful mansion-lined squares and
dozens of magnificent old oak trees.  Every bit the blueprint of a glorious bygone era, the city 
retains its magnetic charm to this day. 


Leading up to St. Patrick's Day, Savannah colours its fountains green.  To me, more interesting 
is the history of the Victorian fountain below - residing in Forsyth Park, its ornamental cast-iron work 
dates back to 1858 when it was built - after being ordered from a catalogue!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!