Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sunsets at Mobile Bay


One thing Gerri and I have enjoyed during our stay here is to go to the pier in Fairhope and enjoy the sunsets.  A lot of folks in the area congregate at the pier to watch and enjoy them…it seems to be the gathering place in the late afternoon.

Rather than being a bit wordy, we just wanted to share several of the pics with you.              

In the parking area at the pier there is a fountain surrounded by a lot of roses, many still in full bloom.                       

The leaves here are not quite at peak, but still many are starting to fall.  As we watched the sunset and reflected on the fall season, we so realized the order in which God created this universe.  There may be a lot of chaos in the world, but when you see the sunset at the end of the day and realize the seasons of the year, you know God is in control and He has established order in this world.                     
Sunset a couple days later
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Panini Pete's and Tolstoy Park - All in One Day!!

Entrance to the eating area at Panini's
A trip to Fairhope wouldn't be complete without a trip to Panini
Pete's for lunch!!  We visited Panini Pete's for the first time in February 2010 when our son, Stephen came to visit us during our winter stay at Rainbow Plantation.  We were very fortunate that on this day Pete himself was present at the restaurant located in the French Quarter area of Fairhope.  We got to meet Pete and talk with him and even got him to autograph our book by Guy Fieri, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, in which he was featured.  

On this visit we didn't see Pete but found the area still as quaint as ever and the food excellent.  We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table but got lucky and landed a table in the courtyard area outside!!           

 We both ended up ordering the Turkey Panini sandwich with the homemade fries.  Lunch did not disappoint us and we enjoyed sitting in the courtyard in this beautiful area!!     

Another place that we discovered the winter of 2010 was Tolstoy Park.              

There is an amazing story about a gentleman named Henry Stuart who lived in a round house that he built himself and he named it Tolstoy Park.      

The story goes like this -

Local author Sonny Brewer tells the true story of 62 year old Henry Stuart who was living in Idaho when he was told that he was dying and had about a year to live.  It was recommended to him to move to a warmer climate so that the "end" wouldn't be so painful.  This is when he made his journey to the quaint city of Fairhope.  It is said that he "left his shoes out west, and lived barefooted in a round concrete house made by himself with his own two hands."  He lived beyond the predicted one year, he lived twenty-two years in his handmade round house and yes, he was barefooted.  Clarence Darrow, who was his friend, visited him many times in Fairhope.  Henry named his house after his favorite writer Tolstoy.  Henry was a poet, writer, a gardener and above all self-sufficient.  A man after Thoreau's own heart.  Sonny Brewer tells Henry's story in his book, The Poet of Tolstoy Park.                      

The first time we visited Tolstoy Park it was a bit difficult to find since there have been many buildings erected around it.  This time we knew exactly where to look and as soon as we entered the parking area we saw it....the sweet little round hut built by the hands of Henry Stuart.  The little hut sits beneath a huge live oak tree.  As we walked inside it was difficult to imagine living such a simple life in such a small area but it obviously gave him much happiness and joy! It is said that he tied a hammock up inside and slept in it. It was here in this hut that Sonny Brewer lived while writing this amazing story of Henry Stuart.   

Looking up to the top of his home inside

Interesting facts on this if you click on, the pic will get bigger so you can read it
What a nice reminder that life can be lived simply and beautifully!!
I purchased the book, The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer when we visited last time but now I am thinking I should read it again.          
On every downtown street corner in Fairhope 
Baskets like this were hanging all along the downtown sidewalks
We are having fun getting our cameras out and discovering all the beauty that is around in this area!!  There is so much to see and do that we stay pretty busy all day!!  Sadly we realized today that we have less than a week left here.  We will be returning to our "home" base to spend the holidays with our son, Stephen!!  Looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas....what a wonderful time of the year!!!  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bon Secour

Whenever possible we love to visit and explore at wildlife refuges!!  We volunteered at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas in 2009, our first time full-timing.  We loved it!!  It was an incredible experience and a wonderful learning time for us.          

So what is Bon Secour??  It was established in 1980 as a wildlife refuge and surrounds and protects some of Alabama's last undisturbed coastal barrier habitat.  The refuge  is approximately 7,000 acres of coastal land which includes the constantly changing beach dunes, the woodlands and wetlands.  It is only fitting that the name Bon Secour is a French word meaning "safe harbor"  since it is home to many endangered species!!         

Bon Secour is open year-round during daylight hours and you will find people hiking, photographing, fishing and just observing nature.                   

Spring migration begins in March and peaks in early April.  The sea turtle nesting occurs May-October.  Fall migration begins in August and peaks mid-October.  The Monarch butterfly migration is mid-October.  We actually saw lots of these beautiful butterflies while visiting Bon Secour even though it is November.     

During September and October there is a beautiful show of wildflowers!!                 

Sand Dunes in Bon Secour 

Although we didn't see any of the following they are seen year-round in the refuge - bobcat, squirrels, marsh and cottontail rabbits, opossum, raccoons, alligators, skinks, and nine banded armadillos.         

On this day we walked the Pine Beach Trail.  We took our time and just enjoyed the beautiful day.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much wildlife!!  Hopefully, we will return again before we leave this area!!        

The End of Bon Secour led us to the Gulf