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Patty Leon: What’s out there?
Patty Leon new

Before the whole “slap heard around the world” fiasco, mom and I started watching “Welcome to Earth” on Disney+, which features Will Smith.

Smith meets with explorers around the world, and together, they explore places and things I never even knew existed. There are only six episodes in Season One, but all were remarkable.

Each episode has a theme and, as is typical with anything connected to National Geographic and Disney, the cinematography done by Academy Award winner Darren Aronofsky is captivating and vivid. Mom and I were quickly hooked. In one of the episodes, Smith meets with another explorer, Albert Lin. This extraordinary man is a National Geographic photographer and explorer who, despite losing a leg in a car accident, pushes forward against every obstacle thrown his way to discover lost cities and explore ancient locations.

It turns out Lin has other programs — “Buried Secrets of the Bible” and “Lost Cities.” Using modern technology, he explores ancient ruins, temples, cities and jungles while joined by other specialists and archeologists.

It is mind-blowing! Even mom said she was seeing things and learning things about our world she had never seen or heard before. Reminder, mom just turned 94.

I’ve always been a fan of Josh Gates and Don Winslow and their respective shows throughout the years. Yet these new shows mom and I are enjoying are even better. Lin uses state-of-the-art LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology. To get all techy on you, it is a method for determining ranges by targeting an object or a surface with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. He uses the technology to make digital 3-D representations of areas. He also uses augmented reality. He literally brings these lost cities and locations to life using these methods. At the end of each show, I am left with a new sense of wonderment. For me, it also awakened my adventurous spirit. Before having to pick up and move my life abruptly, prior to COVID, there was never a weekend when I wasn’t out somewhere exploring different things. During my 14 years in Liberty County, I explored everything I could. I visited Bottle Island, learned the history of Sunbury and researched tombstones at the Sunbury Cemetery. I walked the rice fields of LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation.

I’ve visited and listened to the stories — some true, some folklore — while walking through the Midway Cemetery. I’ve learned so much history from several visits to the Midway Museum. I’ve explored the wildlife and historic home of Button Gwinnett on St. Catherines Island, eaten the best shrimp while watching the annual blessing of the fleet in Darien, photographed the Darien ruins and prayed in the World’s Smallest Church.

I found the ruins of an old plantation while exploring Harris Neck Wildlife preserve. I searched for witches in the Walthourville Cemetery and captured ghostly sounds at the old historic jail. I learned that the building that currently houses RTS Homes on South Main Street was once the first hospital in the city and that Zum Rosenhoff was once a hardware store and later the first Heritage Bank office.

I’ve ridden on a boat to explore the Reynolds Mansion and Hog Hammock on Sapelo Island and eaten at several hidden gems in Eulonia, Townsend and Shellman Bluff. I had my hand licked by a buffalo at the Georgia Buffalo Ranch. I had the privilege to be friends with Amanda Cox, who often invited me to her home in the heart of historic Allenhurst, and learn about the Dunlevie Lumber Yard and how advanced that city was back in the day.

I had the pleasure of meeting Danny Norman and getting a complete tour of Tea Grove Plantation and all of the magnificent things he has in his collection. I got to drive by and admire the estate of Isaiah B. and Helen Downs on Tibet Road each day to and from work. I met the couple when I did a story about their 70th wedding anniversary back in 2015 — and they were my neighbors. I walked my dogs every day by the historic Walthourville Presbyterian Church, literally across from the cul-de-sac where I lived.

Whenever I saw a historic marker, I’d park my car and read it. Some of my explorations I did for fun and for myself; others were to learn and to share with others through Liberty Life Magazine or these pages in print. These experiences never felt like work at all and were absolutely fabulous.

Each time I visit, I plan to see new places and explore more historic locations. It’s also time I started exploring my new surroundings and see what else is out there.

Patty Leon is the senior editor of the Coastal Courier.

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