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Published Articles



I love to travel, try new foods, new wines, and take photos! And I love to write about traveling–those experiences that change us all for the better. My travel and foodie articles show up in a wide variety of publications. I hope you enjoy this compilation! Come along with me as I visit remarkable places and give them the exposure they deserve, with southern style!


Links to my travel, food, and wine articles will appear here, with the most recent articles at the top of the list. That saves me from having to pick which is my favorite and garners the top spot! They are all my “favorite” it just depends on where I am at the moment. The links will take you to the actual published article (so you will be following a link to an outside page.)


If you’d like me to write an article for you, just let me know!



EXPLORING KANAPAHA BOTANICAL GARDENS



by Jo Clark



As you approach the entrance to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens from the parking area, you walk a path shaded by bamboo and guarded by a dragon. Or you can follow in my footsteps and explore the path less traveled. It weaves to the left of the main walkway and looks a bit like a patchwork quilt. The sections are stamped concrete, river rocks, and flat rocks, laid in varying designs to give a little preview of what is to come in the individual gardens.





There are twenty-two specialty gardens, and I’ll name just a few to tempt you. There is a Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Ginger Garden, Butterfly Garden, Container Garden, and a Children’s Garden—with a life-sized chess set.


Read the entire article about amazing Kanapaha Gardens here...



24 Best Things to Do in Martinsville, Virginia





by Jo Clark



Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia, is a destination with “Deep Roots,” a locale with unique assets and a rich legacy. The term gives a nod to the past, to the industries that built the community. I have “Deep Roots” in Martinsville, too born in Martinsville General Hospital. Growing up in Martinsville, I always heard, “There is nothing to do here.” But they were wrong then, and they’re wrong now. I moved away over 30 years ago, first to attend graduate school, then start a life teaching—closer to the ocean. When I return to Martinsville for visits, there are always more things to do than time to do them!




In the Martinsville-Henry County I remember, smokestacks dotted the skyline, and you heard factory whistles loudly proclaiming the start and end of the workday as well as lunchtime. In its heyday, the area had a DuPont facility, more furniture manufacturers than you could count on your fingers and toes (that explains the big chair, doesn’t it?), and nearly as many textile manufacturers. These factories created a steady supply of jobs and attracted workers to Martinsville. The names of those industry giants still label buildings, parks, and streets throughout the area.


Please click here to read my article and learn more about my hometown!



Sugar and Spice





Article and photography by Jo Clark



Legend claims that the first gingerbread houses were designed in honor of Grimm’s fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.” In that tale, two abandoned children found an edible house in the forest, made of bread and decorated with sugar.


There is a joke I’ve heard, “What's the best thing to put into a gingerbread house?” I sure agree with the answer, “Your teeth!”





I have a new appreciation of the skill level involved. Oh sure, I’ve seen it done on television. But they make it look easy. Take a big sheet of gingerbread, cut it to shape, use icing to construct the house, and then decorate with more icing and gumdrop candies. Piece of cake, er, gingerbread—right? Wrong! The process took DAYS! It took several bakers, who were required to be talented decorators, architects, builders, and crafters. And that was just one building that had to fit on a 24” x 24” board!


Please click here to read the entire article!​



UNDISCOVERED FLORIDA – 20 BEST THINGS IN HAMILTON COUNTY



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Hamilton County is full of historic places, scenic rivers, and undiscovered trails. Hamilton calls itself “Florida’s Front Porch.” Notice you can hear the quiet. And the beautiful, diverse landscape. You’ll enjoy sitting on the porch.





The county has over 32,000 acres of public lands. Hamilton is encircled by the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers and split in half by the Alapaha. Driving into White Springs from Live Oak, I think I crossed county lines three times in about a mile. Sometimes you are in a county, and when you cross the street (or bridge), you are in another county, even though you’re in the same town! And since frequently the rivers are county lines, as you float down a river, one county will be on your left, and another county on your right!


Please click here to read the entire article!



SUWANNEE RIVER RULES COUNTY! 30 FANTASTIC ACTIVITIES



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Suwannee probably comes from an Indian word, “Sawani,” meaning “echo river.” Since the Suwannee River creates the northern, southern, and western borders, the county is almost an island! It is actually in the shape of half a heart (aawwww…) Even more water flows through Suwannee County both the Ichetucknee River and the Santa Fe River make their way through the county.




The owner of Mystic Jungle told me a touching story. During the height of Covid, when visitors were not allowed, they noticed the animals were lethargic—they were depressed because no one was visiting. So the workers had to put on their khaki uniforms and bring their family members through on “tours” to cheer up the animals.


You are going to want to read this whole story!





NATURAL NORTH FLORIDA: MY DAYS AS A BLOGGER





Article and photography by Jo Clark



I’m a travel writer. That means I explore an area, do exciting things, take lots of pictures, and then write about it. What a great job!


When I became Florida’s blogger, I knew next to nothing about “Natural North Florida.” What little I knew involved a couple of childhood trips to visit cousins in Pensacola, July Fourth weeks in Daytona, and one road trip from South Carolina to the Keys.





What a difference a month makes! Natural North Florida consists of a 14-county group, most of which don’t touch the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Most people pass through these counties on a highway, with maybe a restroom or gas stop as they head for points south—like amusement parks and sandy beaches. I say you don’t need to slow down as you pass through—you need to stop! You are missing some of the very best that Florida has to offer.


Please click here to read the entire article!​



25 BEST NATURAL THINGS TO DO IN COLUMBIA COUNTY



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Columbia County is rural and filled with natural freshwater springs, rivers, and friendly people. Lake City, once called Alligator, is the county seat and was the first home of the University of Florida—bet you didn’t know that! Fort White is the other large town in Columbia County.





At this point, I’m starting to feel like the proud parent of a baker’s dozen. And you’ve just asked me who my favorite is! All these counties are my “favorite”—it just depends on what day you ask! Suppose you want to be outside in the Florida sun, breathing in the freshest air in the South, with a big ole smile plastered across your face. In that case, Columbia County is the place you ought to be. Sshhhh, don’t tell the others.


Please click here to read the entire article!​



Come with me -
-to Cedar Key!





Article and photography by Jo Clark



Cedar Key is a tiny jewel glistening three miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, off Florida’s northwestern coast. Highway 24 provides the only way into Cedar Key, cutting through marshes and across small bridges. But the 30-minute drive may take you an hour (like it did me) with picturesque views on both sides of the highway causing you to rubberneck!





Laid-back Cedar Key is a fishing community that 800 full-time residents call home. It offers a simpler way of life—enjoy this chance to “unplug.” Ask a local, and they’ll tell you it is a drinking town with a fishing problem.


Please click here to read the entire article!​



18 OF THE BEST ADVENTURES IN TAYLOR COUNTY



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Taylor County is in the Big Bend of Florida—where the state curves and wraps around the Gulf of Mexico. The county has picturesque fishing villages and towns, such as Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach. And for Heaven’s sake, call it STEEN-hatch-ee. If you say it like a German beer STEIN, you’ll be marked an outsider and snickered at (did I just say that?!) With its undeveloped coastline (the longest in the entire state!) Taylor County is the best place for outdoor and eco-tourism adventures.





Founded in 1856, Taylor County was named in honor of Zachary Taylor, the twelfth president of the United States.


1. A Deep-rooted History (literally!)


The roots of Taylor County are connected to trees. The county once provided timber to much of the world, earning the title “Tree Capital of the South.” At the 13-acre Forest Capital Museum State Park, visitors can explore a Cracker Homestead and learn how north Florida settlers lived at the turn of the century. You can see the grooves that wheels of covered wagons cut into the rocks of the Steinhatchee River as they crossed at the falls. This is a spot where you can reach out and touch the footsteps of our ancestors. I don’t know about you, but adventures like that give me chills!


Please click here to read the entire article!​



OUTDOORS IN MADISON COUNTY – 25 BEST THINGS TO DO!





Article and photography by Jo Clark



Madison County is 716 square miles crammed full of small towns, forests, rivers, lakes, and rolling hills. All of these give you countless opportunities to get outdoors and, as they say here, “move at the speed of nature.”





Madison County, like Jefferson County, was named to honor a president—the fourth United States President, James Madison, another Virginian. Madison County was chartered in 1827, 18 years before Florida became a state. Madison was the largest county in Florida but contributed land to form three new counties: Taylor, Lafayette, and Dixie. The county seat, the Town of Madison, was actually named for Madison C. Livingston, a resident who donated the first plot of land in 1838 to form the city.


Please click here to read the entire article!​




A Southern tradition Lights up the night





Article and photography by Jo Clark



In the south, we rarely have a white Christmas. But we have water—and lights—lots of lights! Water plus lights equal magic! A century-old quarry turned botanical garden lights up the night for the holidays. Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens, and its annual Christmas extravaganza, are the vision of one man. Dr. Raymond Webber! In the four years since the lights took over, it has grown to a display that can easily guide Santa straight to Williston, Florida! The extension cords alone have topped $10,000!





Come early and enjoy the gardens and stay for the lights. I know you’re thinking lots of gardens have lighted paths and displays. Trust me, they’re nothing like this! The lakes reflect every twinkling light, multiplying their magic. And as Dr. Webber says, “You can never have too many lights!”


If you aren’t in the Christmas Spirit, you can find it at Cedar Lakes! Have a cup of hot cocoa while you walk the garden paths. And if you discover an elf strolling through the gardens, you just may have spotted Dr. Webber! Put Cedar Lakes on your to-do list, and tell Lori, Teresa, and Ray I sent you! *smile*


Please click here to read the entire article!



ARUBA Wants to be Your Happy Place!



by Jo Clark



Aruba “One Happy Island” is known for pristine white sand, clear blue water, cooling trade winds, and having the most sunny days in the Caribbean. What’s not to love? It is little wonder that Aruba boasts the highest return-visitor rate in the Caribbean. They advertise, “Find Your Happy Place” - I think I just did!





Dean and Janie Singleton visited Aruba during a cruise. He says, “I was pleasantly surprised…it’s not a tropical island like I thought. Aruba turned out to be a volcanic island with rough coastline on the north and beautiful beaches across the island.” Singleton told me that after eight cruises, this was the first beach that made him want to take a dip in the saltwater. But he warns, “I recommend taking your phone out of your swimsuit pocket!”


Read the entire article here...



HISTORIC JEFFERSON COUNTY’S 25 MUST-DO IDEAS



Article and photography by Jo Clark



There is one county in Florida that doesn’t have a single stoplight—Jefferson—my kind of place! By Florida standards, this historic county is quite old. When it was chartered in 1827, Florida was still a territory. The county was named for the country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson. The county seat, in honor of his Virginia home, Monticello (but townspeople are quick to tell you it is not pronounced that way!) The people are friendly, and the pace is easy with small-town values. Monticello is a lovely town with restored historic homes, set between giant live oaks many pre-date the Civil War.




One of Jefferson County’s tag lines is “Where History Welcomes Tomorrow.” I can tell you this is true! Everywhere I went, there was excitement about new businesses coming to town, not complaints about competition. Many new companies are making themselves at home repurposing old buildings (even the Chamber of Commerce is in a renovated church.) Kelly & Kelly Properties found a home in a service station (and hosted an “After Hours” Chamber event that I managed to crash!) And instead of lamenting the change that comes with technology, the community has embraced it and put up a “selfie frame” to showcase their historic Courthouse.


Please click here to read the entire article!



THE 16 BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAFAYETTE COUNTY AND THE SUWANNEE RIVER



Article and photography by Jo Clark



The Suwannee River runs through South Georgia into Florida and down to the Gulf of Mexico. The Suwannee is a 235-mile black-water river that hides artifacts and fossils. Although the river became well-known because of Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home,” it remains well-known because of the wildness it discloses. You can travel for miles along the Suwannee and not see signs of civilization. The river borders the longest side of Lafayette County, and the Steinhatchee River has its beginnings in the county, so it should come as no surprise that many of the activities in the county are water-related. A beautiful photo is a morning fog laying over the Suwannee as the sun begins to burn through. Still, it pales compared to the picture in my memory on those early-morning walks.





Lafayette County is rural, quiet, and a great place to relax. They claim it will even lower your stress level (we all need that, right?) Named in honor of the Revolutionary War hero, the Marquise de Lafayette. Locals pronounce it La-FAY-it (like the girl’s name, Faye.) Say it correctly or be marked as a tourist! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!


Please click here to read the entire article!



Explore Hidden Secrets of the Lowcountry
with Coastal Expeditions





Article and photography by Jo Clark



“The folks at Coastal Expeditions will have you so mesmerized…you won’t realize all the teaching taking place.”

Charleston Magazine



Picture blue skies, puffy clouds, sandy beaches, eagles soaring overhead, maritime forests that extend to the edge of the Atlantic, whelk shells, and sand dollars. Can you describe a more perfect day? Escape to a deserted island, safe in the knowledge that the pontoon will pick you up at the end of the day.​







Memories drift by on the breeze. I imagine a tune in my head, “Nothing could be Finer Than to be in Carolina.” I remember a gorgeous spring day 25 years ago when I fell in love with Bull Island. Naturalist Chris Crolley described Bull Island as the gem of 64,000-acre Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge. It was classified as Category I, a classification reserved for the most pristine areas, those untouched by humans. Even now, his words ring in my ears, “Anything you take onto the island, bring it back with you.”


Please click here to read the entire article!



20 OF THE BEST WAYS TO PLAY OUTSIDE IN DIXIE COUNTY!



by Jo Clark



There is no shortage of things to do outside in Dixie County. Located in the Big Bend region of Florida, it is the perfect spot for all types of eco-tourism activities that let you “play outside.” Natural North Florida is frequently called “Forgotten Florida.” I like to think of it as Florida like it used to be, laid-back and surrounded by nature. Stroll the lanes of these quaint coastal towns, and you will see stacked crab traps, clam bags laid out to dry, and other indications that the Big Bend is a haven for fresh seafood. For more information on these delicious Gulf treats, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife website.





The Big Bend is Florida’s Hidden Coast, a rural area of undeveloped rivers and coastlines that spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The islands have a long history of dependence on shellfish for survival, attested to by the large Indian mounds scattered among the islands. Hunting is accessible on federal and state lands during the year. Visit their websites for more information if hunting is your hobby.


To read more about Dixie County, you'll find my entire article here...



11 MUST-DO ACTIVITIES IN HISTORIC BRADFORD COUNTY



Article and photography by Jo Clark



One of Florida’s smallest counties, Bradford County, consists of 300 square miles. But they have packed plenty to do into their tiny spot of heaven! The county seat, Starke, is filled with historic buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places. An interesting tidbit – the Arbor Day Foundation has designated Starke a Tree City. Come along with me as I spend an action-packed day there.



1. Eat With the Locals


Start with a filling breakfast at Grannie’s Country Cookin’ in Starke. The place is packed with locals, so you know the Southern fare is delicious! Huge servings mean you won’t be hungry until mid-afternoon (if then!!) Grannie’s opens for breakfast at 5 a.m. and serves lunch until 3 p.m.


Please click here to read the entire article!





THE 25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN LEVY COUNTY



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Levy County, Florida, is a master at hidden jewels, like their springs. There are small towns in this county that people tend to speed through on the way somewhere else—missing out on some of the best things Florida has to offer. Slow down, stop a while, and ask a local where to go. But, please…ssshhhhh… let’s keep it quiet!


The Sierra Club got its start here in 1867, when John Muir walked 1,000 miles from Indiana to Florida. He stayed to recover from malaria and began writing about man’s relationship with nature.


Please click here to read the entire article!






NO SAND, NO SURF, NO PROBLEM!

ALACHUA COUNTY IS NOT YOUR AVERAGE FLORIDA DESTINATION





Article and photography by Jo Clark



You hear the word Florida, and you think beach, right? Well, not anymore! Let me tell you about the natural areas I visited recently in Alachua County. You won’t find sand or surf, but I can tell you that you won’t have time to miss those Florida beaches. To learn more about this area, and plan your visit, use the Natural North Florida website. You will find the answers to all your questions. There is a “Dial & Discover” free audio tour of Old Florida. The 48-mile Old Florida Heritage Highway weaves through moss-draped trees along natural, scenic areas and historic communities, starting just south of Gainesville. To begin your tour, you will need a guide—which you can print from Gainesville Cell Tours.





The Wild Side of Florida
I know you’re still thinking palm trees, am I right? A day at Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park will change that image. Instead, you will envision bison and wild horses, over 300 bird species, alligators, deer, armadillo, squirrels, and many other animals–yes, in Florida! This Park is a National Landmark. Located at the north end of Payne’s Prairie, visitors will find La Chua Trail, a one-mile path leading to a sinkhole with a boardwalk and panoramic views of the prairie.
Please click here to read the entire article!


THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN UNION COUNTY INCLUDE A LAKE



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Natural North Florida’s Union County may be Florida’s smallest county, but it delivers big with a fantastic diversity of activities. It is a perfect day trip from Gainesville with a laid-back atmosphere, Rails-to-Trails walking trails, historic buildings, fishing, and a freshwater lake. But get there early—there’s a lot to do!





Splish, Splash! Watery Fun on A Local Lake


For years I’ve watched people standing up on what looks like a wide surfboard and use long, easy strokes with a paddle to move across water. It looks easy enough, and I saw my chance to try out this activity on a calm, quiet lake! My new friend Sara Spires Owen offered tips and lots of encouragement. I was soon standing up and paddling. (Ok, I was pretty shaky—but I stayed upright and dry!)

Please click here to read the entire article!




VISITING CEDAR LAKES WOODS AND GARDENS





Article and photography by Jo Clark



What do you do with a limestone quarry that has been abandoned for a hundred years? Turn it into a lush botanical garden, of course. The Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens property was originally mined for limestone rock to lay the foundation of Florida’s Highway 27, then deserted, leaving behind the beginnings of a swamp.





Army veteran and retired endodontist Raymond T. Webber bought the quarry in Williston, Florida, over thirty years ago with visions of his very own fishing hole dancing in his head. He was teaching at the University of Florida, writing chapters of dental textbooks, and lecturing nationally and internationally. In his spare time, he enjoyed traveling and fishing.

Read more here...



Micanopy, Florida



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Are you looking for the best vacation spot in Florida for a couple? Or a get-away for friends? Then the Herlong Mansion in Micanopy (Mick-ah-no-pee) is your destination. Built in 1845, the mansion has 11 bedrooms, at least five porches (I lost count!), and two guest houses. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places. There will be a platter of home-baked cookies in the downstairs hall, wine in the late afternoon, and aahhh-mazzing breakfasts!





The pace is perfect for long walks, shopping, reading on the porch, and napping in the swing-bed on the veranda.

Read more here...



I’m Too Young To Be This Old!



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Sometimes I stare in the mirror and wonder, “Who is that and how did she get in my house?!” I suppose changes that mark the passing of time are good, but the silver in my hair isn’t paying the bills. Joining the “speed limit” crew should garner us something besides grey hairs—enter those magical words, “Senior Discount, please!”





Uttering those words works more places than not and frequently works when you turn 62, or even 55!


Carry your photo ID and join a senior group—AMAC or AARP. Not old enough yet? Join AAA! In many cases their discounts are nearly as good…and…your travel maps are free!


Read more here...



Island Time - Oak Island Style
--North Carolina, that is!





Article and photography by Jo Clark



Oak Islanders are friendly, caring folks. While waiting for Turtle Island Restaurant to open at 5 o’clock on Wednesday—“specials night,” I overheard a woman telling someone she arrived at 4 p.m. to get the best parking spot—so she could move and allow the “Martini Ladies” to park their golf cart next to the door. It turns out she didn’t even know their names, just locals caring about each other.





Shell seekers won’t be disappointed. The Atlantic tosses up various shells keep your eyes open for the Scotch Bonnet—that’s North Carolina’s state shell. Nosebleed warning: Oak Island towers a whole 14 feet above the Atlantic!

Read the entire article...



Isla Mujeres – the Sunshine of Mexico



by Jo Clark
photo credit: Chelsea Maccoll



Isla Mujeres is a small island in the Yucatan Peninsula, a short ferry ride from Cancun. It attracts tourists, but it isn’t bustling like Cancun it is a small island with a laid-back vibe. It is nicknamed “El Amanecer de Mexico,” or “the sunshine of Mexico” because it is the easternmost point of the country and the first place the sun touches each morning.





Beach clubs abound on Isla Mujeres and offer daily chair rentals. Chose a chair near the water and get comfortable. Then spend the day ordering your fill of cold Cerveza (beer) and ceviche (fresh raw fish cured in fresh citrus juices) after all, you are on vacation.

Read the entire article...



Orchid



Article and photography by Jo Clark



Leatrice Eiseman, author of ten books on color, says of orchid, “It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.” We find the word “orchid,” first used in 1915 to specify a color. How did people live without an adjective for this shade??

Read more...





ONE TOE IN PARADISE



by Jo Clark



By definition, an island is bordered by water—but not usually two different oceans! The northern coast is buffeted by the Atlantic, with rocky beaches covered in rough tan sand derived from coral. But the south is caressed by the Caribbean, and the white, fluffy sand that washes ashore is formed from sandstone.





With nearly 1,000 miles of coastline, there is variety between the 200 beaches some are steep some wide and level. Mangroves or streams break up the seashore. You can stand on the beach and look up into the jungle from almost anywhere.
Read the article here...



SIGHTS UNDER THE SEA





by Jo Clark



Interesting happenings in the undersea world captivate Mike’s attention. In a section of the coral reef, Hogfish inspect & clean other fish. Mike says these are the hardest workers on the reef—they even do dental work (cleaning teeth!) Big fish come to the reef to be cleaned—the Hogfish picks off parasites and eats them. The big fish get cleaned, and the Hogfish get lunch, a win-win! Mike has even witnessed fish lined up and waiting their turn for cleaning. A fish usually opens its mouth to indicate to cleaner fish that they want a cleaning. Cleaner fish will be cleaning a fish that will later eat them for prey—evolution in action.





The diving experience in the Keys launched a lifelong love of the ocean and everything in it. Mike says he is “more at home on the bottom of the ocean than in my own living room.” He confides that “the second I get back on the boat after a dive, I say to myself, ‘I need to go diving.’ And I jump right back in the water!” Finding complete peace in the water, sometimes he just sits at the bottom and meditates.


Read the article here...



SEA TURTLES - PART 2
THE 3 R'S - RELOCATION, RESCUE AND REHABILITATION





Article and photography by Jo Clark



In the course of patrolling so many miles of shoreline, occasionally someone finds a sick or injured turtle. When this happens, swift action is taken to transport the turtle to Charleston. The treatment team is headed by Charlotte Hope, one of the Wildlife Biologists with South Carolina’s DNR.





Watercolor by Deb Smith, Georgetown, SC



In 2020, 154 sea turtles washed ashore in South Carolina. They were found sick, injured, or dead, many hooked by pier anglers. Some were evaluated on-site and released into the ocean. At the same time, 28 turtles were admitted into the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center. After rehabilitation, 17 were successfully released, and eight are still receiving therapy. Three of the turtles died. The Care Center takes in an average of 30 turtles each year. Read more...


And please check out this new magazine, The Mango! Visit their Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/themangomagazine and to subscribe (if you love beach life, too) visit www.mango-mag.com!



Let's go fly a kite!





by Jo Clark



“…With your feet on the ground, You’re a bird in a flight With your fist holding tight, To the string of your kite… Up through the atmosphere, Up where the air is clear Oh, let’s go—fly a kite!”

- David Tomlinson (song performed in Mary Poppins by Dick Van Dyke)





Serena Jacobs actually gets the credit for Donald’s addiction. More than ten years ago, during a visit to Myrtle Beach, he found a broken kite on the beach, a little plastic frog, and tried his hand at repairs. And that big smile on his face told his wife, “Yes, I want my own kite!”


Spotting a kite shop during that vacation, Serena encouraged him to purchase his first kite. Little did she know they would be in search of wind from that day forward! Read more...(on page 10!)



SEA TURTLES - PART 1
THE 3 R'S - RELOCATION, RESCUE AND REHABILITATION





Article and photography by Jo Clark



I'm happy to announce that my latest article is published. Here is the link to the article - just click the picture to read and enjoy learning all about Sea Turtles!


And please check out this new magazine, The Mango! Visit their Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/themangomagazine and to subscribe (if you love beach life, too) visit www.mango-mag.com!





They say you can’t go home again, but every spring, sea turtles do just that--they go home—to breed and nest. Studies show that turtles return and dig their nest close to where they were hatched. Isn’t the cycle of life remarkable?


Read more...



A Blue Ridge Mountain Winery
Virginia’s Chateau Morrisette





Article and photography by Jo Clark



Chateau Morrisette is the oldest, and now the largest, winery in Virginia. The winery produces more than 20 wines, providing something for everyone. William and Nancy Morrisette dreamed of owning a cabin in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to provide an escape from their work-world. Alas, they just weren’t cut out for the leisurely mountain life. In short, they were bored! The discovery of Fox Grapes on the property prompted them to try their hand at winemaking. Their success spurred them to plant their first grapevines in 1978. They planted 13 acres with Niagara, Concord, and Muscadine grapes.





Son David was hooked! Winemaking caught his interest, and he completed his enology and viticulture degree at Mississippi State University. He became the winemaker for Woolwine Winery, the company’s original name. Woolwine is the name of a small town further down the mountain from today’s Chateau, where the operations were moved in 1981.

Read more...



7 Best Floyd Restaurants | Where to Eat in Floyd, VA



Article and photography by Jo Clark



You will find the town of Floyd atop a Blue Ridge Mountain plateau, on a rolling piece of land, elevation 2,500 feet. You’ll become aware of this interesting little factoid when you walk around town exploring the best Floyd restaurants and find yourself a bit out of breath due to the altitude and the climb!





Floyd is centrally located, one hour from either Roanoke or Martinsville, 40 minutes from Blacksburg (the home of Virginia Tech), and less than two hours from either Winston-Salem or Greensboro, NC.

Read more...



CHARLESTON’S PUBLIC GARDENS IN WINTER





by Jo Clark
Photography by Jo Clark and Darrel Mellies



Charleston, South Carolina, is famous for its churches – it is called the Holy City, after all – and its stunning gardens. The city is full of free parks and top public gardens for your enjoyment. The azaleas in spring have no rival, the roses, petunias, and impatiens of summer are gorgeous, and the mums and Knockout Roses of autumn always draw a crowd.





But in winter? Yep. This is the South, after all. We shiver and complain about it being nippy at 50 degrees by 40, we are in long johns. But the flowers bloom on in Charleston, South Carolina. As a matter of fact, the camelias don’t even open their eyes until November, and some varieties will not show their beautiful faces until February. Other flowers and berries put on a show all winter long. Cedar and yew, wax myrtle and juniper, are all covered in berries. The native holly trees are covered in red balls that would put a Christmas tree to shame.

Read more...



Skydiving At 69: Fulfilling a Bucket List Dream





by Darrel Mellies
Photography by Jo Clark



A few days before turning 69, I looked at an online discount site and noticed a coupon for a tandem-skydive. Wanting to do this for close to 40 years, the thought of checking off an item on my bucket-list excited me. I immediately purchased the coupon and prepared to go skydiving. Weeks later, we made the early morning drive to a small airport west of Georgetown, and my adventure began. Although Jo was not thrilled about me jumping, she agreed to take photos and document my bucket list adventure.

Read more...





China Ranch, Date Farm Oasis near Death Valley





by Jo Clark
Photography by Jo Clark and Darrel Mellies



Water and snacks packed in the cooler—Death Valley, here I come! We were making great progress down the Old Spanish Trail Highway, too. Until I spotted a weathered sign that announced, China Ranch Date Farm. “Oooohhh…a date farm!” escaped my lips. Darrel gave me his best incredulous look and quizzed, “You want to go to a DATE FARM??” I gave some thought to palm trees swaying in the breeze after weeks of seeing only desert (okay, I took a breath) and said, “Sure! And their sign said they have a bakery!” Darrel, confessing to hunger, executed a three-point turn.





Nearly two miles later, faced with a sign that said End State Maintenance, he asked again if I was sure about this. I pointed out that there was another sign, “Two Miles” and an arrow to the right. It was a paved road. Good to go! Of course, a quarter-mile further, not only did the pavement end, but the road dropped down into what appeared to be a bottomless precipice. Darrel announced, “We may not be able to get back out of here!” I just pointed down the hill and crossed my fingers.

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Kanab Utah – Luxury Lodging in the Desert





by Jo Clark
Photography by Jo Clark and Darrel Mellies





In Kanab, Utah, we found luxury lodging in the desert. We weren’t camping we were glamping. Glamorous + camping = Glamping.
Watching the stars come alive in the magnificent southern Utah sky was so much better than television. Imagine, taking pictures of the Milky Way. That is what we did for about an hour. With no light pollution, star photography looked darn good for my first attempt. I was sleeping in a tent! Darrel never thought it would happen.
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A day in White Pocket with Dreamland safari tours



by Jo Clark
Photography by Jo Clark and Darrel Mellies





A Utah Arizona border tour was a must. When I started looking for tours of the amazing natural beauty surrounding Page, Arizona, fate took my search engine to Kanab, Utah. Okay, maybe it was Google, but somehow, I found Dreamland Safari Tours and their impressive list of off-the-beaten-path places to see. Their itineraries include everything from a few hours to several days in the backcountry (camping included)—just leave the driving to them.

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Lake City South Carolina Walking Tour…



...it’s only an hour away



Admittedly, fun in Myrtle Beach’s summer sun is the perfect vacation, but sometimes you need a break from the sun, sand, and surf. A little more than an hour away you can tour the artsy town of Lake City South Carolina.

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Waccamaw Indian Pauwau



by Jo Clark



Visiting the Grand Strand in November is always a good plan. The weather is pleasant, with average daytime temperatures a balmy 70-75 degrees, and only a minimal number of tourists. However, one of the best reasons to visit in the fall is that for twenty-six years, the Waccamaw Indian People have held their annual Pauwau in November, inviting numerous other regional tribes to participate.

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John Abrams prepares for a competition dance



Buffalo and More in Virginia



by Jo Clark



When you eat at Buffalo and More, you know the food will be fresh. Photographs of the buffalo herd that supplies this restaurant’s meat surround you. You can even watch as Chef Connie & Chef Carla prepare the dishes! Their casual style of cooking, using fresh ingredients, will make you think you are...

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Buffalo Pot Roast, Cowboy Beans, and hot Cornbread!



Have Your 'Shine at Copperhead Mountain Distillery



by Jo Clark



This publication changed hands, and my only link is to a pdf of the article:

Copperhead Distillery





A still on Main Street - Who'd Have Guessed!



Victoria Valley Vineyard Cafe, Greenville, South Carolina



by Jo Clark



A short drive up the mountain from Greenville, South Carolina, will find you on the side of a mountain in rural Cleveland. However, when you round the curve and spot a Chateau on the side of a mountain you may think you have been magically transported to France. You will soon be happily …

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Brulee' Cheesecake



Bull Island, Jewel of Our Coast



by Jo Clark



Bull Island

Awendaw, South Carolina


My very first published article – over 20 years ago! This publication has closed, and my only link is to a pdf of the article: Bull Island, Jewel of Our Coast





Knobbed Whelk Shell