Chichen Itza

Our one pre-planned land excursion was a trip to see the Mayan city of Chichen Itza.  This was an all-day trip leaving from the port of Cozumel early Friday morning and not returning until around 6PM.  We took a ferry across to Playa del Carmen and a 2 hour bus trip out to Chichen Itza which is in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

We were worried that the weather might not be good since hurricane Irma was passing by this area of the Caribbean but it turned out pretty well. There were puffy white clouds in the sky making for interesting photography but no rain until we were half-way home on the return trip.

Chichen Itza itself is amazing.  Our guided tour gave us so much history and background on the Mayan culture and interesting details about the architecture.  One of the neat things they kept demonstrating were the acoustics of the pyramids and other large buildings.  They produce echoes to allow the priests and leaders to make announcements and speeches to the people from atop these structures.  At the main pyramid – dedicated to the snake-bird god, if you clap your hands, you hear an echo that sounds like a bird.

This was a fabulous trip and our tour guides were fantastic.  Thanks to Diego and Hermondo for getting us there and teaching all about the Maya and the history of this site – one of the wonders of the modern world.

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
11mm @ f/16 – 1/500 sec – ISO 200

Morgan County Courthouse

For some reason, my visit to Morgan county, where my daughter and son-in-law have just moved, had me focusing on the local architecture.  The most prominent building in downtown Madison, Georgia is the Morgan County Courthouse.  The  neoclassical revival structure was built in 1905 and is believed to be the third county courthouse that has been constructed.

It was nice to get this image just a few days before Independence Day since the town square, including the courthouse was decorated with American flags all around.

Morgan County Court House
Madison, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
26mm @ f/8 – 1/1250 sec – ISO 800

Revolutionary War Hero

Morgan County, Georgia is named in honor of Revolutionary War General Daniel Morgan.  Morgan was well known as a military tactician and is most celebrated for his victory at the Battle of Cowpens (South Carolina) which is considered to be the turning point of the American Revolution in the South.

Morgan County was created from Baldwin County in 1807.  In 1809 the town of Madison was incorporated and named the county seat. Until 1818, when Walton County was created, Morgan County was a part of the western frontier of Georgia—all lands to the west of it being Creek Indian territory.

General Daniel Morgan statue
Madison Town Park
Madison, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
35mm @ f/8 – 1/500 sec – ISO 640

Dixie King Cotton – Shed House No 3

I only got to look around for  a little while at the buildings from Dixie King Cotton company that still stand along the main street in Bostwick, Georgia.  Cotton was truly king throughout much of the South and was the main contributor to the establishment and growth of this town.

Small portions of the cotton business continue to operate in Bostwick but the original company started to diminish around the period of World War I and never recovered.  I need to get back here when I have more time and really explore.  It is a great little piece of Georgia history.

Dixie King Cotton Shed House No 3
Bostwick, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
50mm @ f/8 – 1/320 sec – ISO 200

Cotton Gin – Bostwick, GA

This weekend, we were immersed in small-town southern culture when we went to visit my daughter, Megan and her husband, Ryan’s new home in Bostwick, Georgia.  They decided to look for a place outside the built-up suburbs where they could get some land and enjoy nature and this was it!

Bostwick is a small town in Morgan County, just North of Madison, Georgia.  If you don’t know where this is, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere – between I-20 and Athens. In the mid-1880’s John Bostwick, Sr., a local boy, started buying land in this area for cotton farming.  He continued to expand his land holdings and the business thrived.  At it’s peak in the 1920’s the town had two cotton gins, a cotton seed oil mill, a depot and train station, a bank, a hotel, a dry cleaning business, three doctors, a blacksmith shop, post office, and three businesses with gas pumps.

The building in this image is a remnant of that golden age of King Cotton.  This operating Lummus Cotton Gin continues to connect Bostwick to it’s past.  Every fall, they have a Cotton Gin Festival, celebrating that history and inviting people to come see what small-town Georgia was like.

Dixie King Cotton Gin
Bostwick, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
18mm @ f/8 – 1/320 sec – ISO 200

The REAL Hilton Head Lighthouse

Here’s a trivia question for people who have visited Hilton Head Island – Where can you find the Hilton Head lighthouse?  If you answered Harbour Town, you are only partly correct.  The well known Harbour Town Light was privately built as part of Harbour Town Marina and Sea Pines Plantation.

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Harbour Town Light

There is another lighthouse on Hilton Head that most people don’t know about.  Officially, it is called the Hilton Head Range Rear Light  and it is located on Hole 15 of the Arthur Hills Golf Course in the Leamington section of the Palmetto Dunes Resort.

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Leamington Light and Oil House

It is quite an unusual and historic lighthouse but is out of the way and so, not very well known.  The remaining structure is the interior cast-iron skeleton of what was once a wooden-clad tower that would look more like the traditional lights that we are used to.  The tower is called the “Rear” light because there were originally two towers.  The front light no longer exists but when operational, ships would line up beams from the two lights to give them an exact location when navigating the channel of Port Royal Sound.

The rear tower still stands along with the original brick Oil House.  The keeper’s house was moved and now is in Harbour Town near the more famous of Hilton Head’s lights.


To get to the lighthouse, you need to gain entrance to the Leamington neighborhood with is gated and requires special permission to enter.  We were staying in the Palmetto Dunes resort and got a pass to get in and view the light but we wouldn’t have known it exists if we hadn’t read about it.  The light is not on the shoreline and is not visible from a distance.  We actually drove right by it when we first went in so, you really have to know where to look in order to find it.

Hilton Head Range Rear Light
(a.k.a. Leamington Light)
Arthur Hills Golf Course
Palmetto Dunes – Leamington
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
38mm @ f/11 – 1/200 sec – ISO 200

Dan Lawson’s place Cades Cove

Dan Lawson’s Place is the second oldest of the historic cabins that remain standing in Cades Cove.  Built around 1840, this was the home of the cove’s wealthiest resident.  Only the John Oliver cabin (1822), home of the cove’s first European settler, is older than this one.

Cades Cove was first settled during the 1700’s by Cherokee Indians and is named after a Chief Kade. The first European settlers came during the 1800’s eventually reaching a population of 671 around 1850.

In the 1920’s the residents were forced out when the State of Tennessee gave the Park Commission power to seize the cove properties and make them part of the National Park system.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
22mm @ f/10 – 1/50 sec – ISO 100