Callaway Gardens Part IV: More Walking Trails and the Day Butterfly Center
Pine Mountain, GA - Events of Sunday, April 2 and Monday, April 2, 2012
It rained all night Friday and most of the day on Saturday. Except for doing our weekly cleaning on Saturday morning, we just snuggled in, watched TV, read and played on the computer Friday evening and all day Saturday.
We weren't planning to go into the gardens over the weekend because of possible crowds, but Sunday was so beautiful and sunny after the dreary weather on Saturday, we couldn't resist going back, especially since we had annual passes. If it turned out to be too crowded, we could just leave with nothing lost except the few minutes it took us to drive over to the gardens.
We visited the Azalea Bowl on Thursday, so we decided to check out the second azalea area at the other end of Callaway Gardens called the Overlook Azalea Garden. It is the older and the larger of the two main azalea areas. However, when we drove past part of it on Thursday, we could see the azaleas there were farther along than the ones at the Azalea Bowl; and, even though there was some color left, most of the azaleas at the Overlook Garden were well past their peak.
Unfortunately, the heavy rains on Friday night and Saturday just about completely destroyed any blooms that were still there when we drove past on Thursday. By Sunday, there were only a few azaleas that looked pretty from a distance, but when we got close, we could see the flowers were limp and starting to turn brown. Most had no flowers left.
After we walked part of the trail through the Overlook Azalea Garden, we headed back to the car and drove up the road to the Holly Trail. There is a relatively large parking area there where they have a farmers market on spring and fall weekends.
The market didn't have much produce this early in the spring, but there were things like breads, honey, soaps, candles and crafts.
While we were parked there, we walked the relatively short Holly Trail, which features a collection of Asian and American hollies. Since dogs are allowed in all the outdoor areas in Callaway Gardens except for the swimming beach, we took Freeway on the walk with us.
As you can see from the photo above, so far-so good with Freeway's surgery for cherry eye. All the swelling and redness have disappeared from both eyes, and we're hopeful there will be no recurrence.
At the end of the Holly Trail, we encountered a relatively large garter snake. Margery made sure Freeway didn't get too close while Paul snapped a picture.
From the Holly Trail, it was a short drive to the parking area for the Rhododendron Trail. Although it normally would be way too early for rhododendrons, even this far south, with the mild winter and warm spring there were some rhododendrons just starting to bloom and a couple in or near full bloom.
We had large, beautiful rhododendrons blooming every spring at our starter home, so they are special to us. In fact, we had the same colors as these two.
The Rhododendron Trail parking area is located at the Day Butterfly Center, which we also wanted to see. However, it was a little too crowded since it was Sunday, so we headed back to the motor home to watch the rest of the NASCAR race from Martinsville and saved the butterfly center for the next day. Gotta love the annual passes.
The Day Butterfly Center is a glass-enclosed conservatory containing tropical plants and as many as 1,000 butterflies representing up to 50 different species. We headed back there on Monday morning.
As you enter the center, there are displays of butterflies emerging from their cocoons. Butterfly eggs hatch as larvae (caterpillars). The larva will usually undergo several stages of maturity called instars. At each stage, the caterpillar will molt its outer skin. When the larva is finally mature, it will stop feeding and seek out a suitable site for pupation, usually the underside of a leaf. The larva will undergo one last molt after it attaches itself to the leaf and will be then it will become a pupa or chrysalis. The pupa may appear dormant, but there is a lot going on inside. The pupa is being transformed into a butterfly. As the butterflies emerge, they must pump fluids through the veins in their wings and wait for the wings to expand and dry before they can fly.
Inside the conservatory, hundreds of butterflies freely flit about. Because of their seemingly erratic flight pattern, they are very difficult to photograph when in flight. When they did land, most of them kept their wings folded so the bright colors on the upper side of their wings were hidden.
The Common Morpho butterfly pictured above has wings with intense blue color on the upper side. We both took dozens of pictures attempting to catch those bright colors, and the two photos below were the only ones that either of us was able to capture.
As we mentioned earlier, the conservatory is filled with a variety of tropical plants and flowers. These were a lot easier to photograph than the butterflies.
We spent the better part of an hour in the Day Butterfly Center, then headed back toward the motor home. When we were in town a few days ago, we saw a second barbecue restaurant called the Whistling Pig Cafe. In fact, we almost mistook it at first for the Three Lil' Pigs where we met Mike and Gerri for lupper. Since we find it hard to pass up barbecue, and since the Whistling Pig had a lot of vehicles parked outside when we passed it (and a lot of the vehicles were pickup trucks - usually a pretty reliable indicator of good barbecue), we decided to stop at the Whistling Pig for a late lunch. They are only open until 3:00 PM, so we couldn't go for lupper.
We both had pulled pork sandwiches. Margery had a regular ($2.85) and Paul had a jumbo ($3.75). There is a combo for $7, but we ordered our meals à la carte and split a large order of fries ($2.85) and a small slaw ($1.75).
The pork barbecue was nice and smokey, and the sauce had a delicious sweet-sour tang. The fries were homemade and crispy, and the slaw was good, too.
Our time in Pine Mountain is winding down, but we had one more thing we wanted to see before we left. Stay tuned