Friday, January 4, 2019

Get Outside

A few weeks ago my husband and I went on a trip up north to Old Town, Florida. We've stayed in all kinds of places all over the world and figured nothing could be worse than a $7.00 hostel in India so we decided to finally give Airbnb a try. We rented a cabin in the woods that was right on the Suwanee River and I'm happy to say that the experience exceeded our expectations.

We were on a mission for some peace and quiet. 

The cabin was located 3 miles down a dirt road and had no cell phone service, cable or internet. Mission accomplished. It was exactly what we were looking for. 

The lack of distractions gave me more time to create these little travel sketches.

On the second day of our trip, we went to Fanning Springs State Park. Entry is only $6 per car and it is one of the prettiest little State Parks I've ever visited with a canopy of enormous old live oak trees overhead and crystal clear freshwater springs for swimming or scuba diving.

We decided that no matter how cold it was, we would jump into any and all springs we came across. It was definitely brisk!

Fanning Springs State Park is located in the town of Fanning Springs. There is a canoe launch but it's down a steep hill and despite what their website says, we discovered that they do not have canoe or kayak rentals. They do offer hiking, swimming, scuba diving, camping, a boardwalk, and a boat launch. We had a great time hiking, swimming and wandering this beautiful little park.

We also spent a few days exploring Manatee Springs State Park. The entry fee was also only $6 per car which is an excellent price for a park that offers so many activities. The park is immaculately maintained by supervised state inmates and highly dedicated park rangers. Our first day there we brought our paddleboards which were a great way to spot manatees.

The park is home to one of Florida's largest freshwater springs and is a winter refuge for West Indian manatees. The springs are also very popular among scuba divers as their underground aquatic cave system is one of the longest in North America. Even though it was cold outside, we had to jump into this spring as well. Make sure to bring snorkel gear or at least goggles to see underwater. You will not be disappointed.

There is also a boardwalk that you can use to view the manatees if water sports are not your thing. Whether in the water or on the boardwalk, everyone was pleased. The manatees were everywhere. 

It was raining and cold on our second day at the park and not ideal for being on the water so we went for a hike. Their trail system has 8.5 miles of trails for walking or bicycling.

This was the largest magnolia tree I've ever seen!

Our last day at the park was spent kayaking. Visitors can rent kayaks, canoes or paddleboards from Anderson's Outdoor Adventures which is located in the park. Our kayak rental was only $25. My sketch (above) shows some of the wildlife we encountered when we were kayaking. 

If you own your own boat you can use the boat ramp to access the Suwanee River.

Manatee Springs is located in Chiefland, Florida and offers trails for bicycling and hiking, a boat launch, canoe launch, camping, snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, wildlife viewing, and concessions. 

Mostly everything was closed on Thanksgiving except for the Nature Coast Trail. The Nature Coast Trail is a 31.7-mile paved trail for walking, biking, skating, horseback riding, and bird watching that spans Dixie, Gilchrist, and Levy counties. 
We found a trailhead near the cabin and went for a stroll. There is no fee to enter and it's open 7 days a week, 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. 

On our last day, we finally strategized a way to get our very large and very heavy paddleboards off the steep and rickety dock at the cabin and into the Suwanee River. As you can see from my sketch (above) we had to get a ladder involved. I also provided photographic evidence to prove that, yes, this ridiculous plan was in fact undertaken but also accomplished.

For more detailed information about visiting Florida's State Parks, you can go to

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Key West Lighthouse Museum

The current Key West Lighthouse was built in 1847 after the original wooden tower, built in 1846 on Whitehead point, was destroyed by a hurricane. When it reopened in 1848, its first Keeper was a woman which was very uncommon for the 19th century.

In 1969, the lighthouse was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard. It was not re-opened until 1989 after its restoration.

Today, the lighthouse functions as a museum dedicated to preserving Key West's maritime heritage. 

The Key West Lighthouse Museum consists of three buildings – the gift shop, the lighthouse and the Light Keeper's Quarters. To enter, you must go through the gift shop. This is where you will pay your admission to the only staff member on the premises. You will then proceed back outside to the lighthouse for your self-guided tour.

Visitors may climb the 88 steps of the lighthouse to the balcony where they will have a 360˚ view of the island. On this particular day, the heat index was 101˚ making the 88 steps feel like 800.

 There are 10 additional steps to see the actual light but this section was closed on our visit.

The museum is housed in the old Light Keeper's Quarters built in 1887.

It's a small space consisting of just four rooms where you will find a collection of lighthouse artifacts and learn about the maritime history of the Keys.

Visitors are not allowed to walk through this room displaying the Keeper's home life (above) but may view it through a window on either side.

I thought these window shade graphics (above) were a very creative solution to the problem of limited wall space in this room.

To exit the grounds, you must go back through the gift shop whereupon you will receive this sticker.

The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and is located at 938 Whitehead Street.

After your visit to the museum, you can walk just a few blocks up to see the southernmost point of the United States.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Everything in my Etsy store, StudioKWN will be marked down between 10%-50% off from November 23rd through November 26th PLUS receive FREE domestic shipping on all orders through December 10th. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

28th Annual All Florida Juried Arts Show

There's only one week left to see the All Florida Juried Arts Show. 
The show ends on November 15th and features works by artists from all over Florida. 

I did not enter a piece for this show but was still excited to see what works were selected. The exhibit takes up both rooms at the Court House Cultural Center.

There was a nice mix of work spanning traditional and experimental media. 

From my observation of the other patrons, they were most intrigued by the hand embroidered textiles and sculptures made from materials like soap or palm pods.

Flame Pods by Gary Gresko (shown above right) definitely caught everyone's eye.

Joachim Perez's, Touchy, Smelly had visitors resisting the urge to actually touch the sculptures made from soap and digital fabrication but we did try to smell them. 

Robin Stabley's, Florida - Land Ho! had impressive gold leafing and painted faux marble. I had to stare at this painting a long time to take in all of the intricate little details.

I enjoyed this show very much and hope you get a chance to see it as well.

The Court House Cultural Center is located at 80 SE Ocean Blvd, Stuart, Florida.
Gallery hours are Tues-Fri 10 am - 4pm and Sat 11am - 2pm.
Suggested donation of $5.00

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A very Sweet art show at the Elliott Museum

The last day of the Sweet! art exhibit was this past Sunday so if you missed it then you really missed out. 

Located at the Elliott Museum in the changing exhibitions gallery, Sweet! was a food and drink themed juried art exhibition featuring artists from all over the state of Florida.

We were asked not to take pictures of the artwork so I respectfully complied but here is a shot of the crowd viewing the exhibit on opening night. The turnout was fantastic and everyone really seemed to enjoy the food and the art!

Moo! by Kim W. Nolan
I was, however, allowed to take pictures of my own work. This is a sculpture of a cow I made from upcycled dairy containers...

...and I used milk crates for the pedestal.

These are actual cakes made by a local baker, The Cake Lady, located in Fort Pierce. Free samples were generously given to patrons. There was also lots of other cakes and edible goodies donated by the sponsor of the show, Publix Super Markets.

The Elliott Museum did a wonderful job of putting together this fabulous art show. This exhibit is now over but the permanent exhibits are absolutely worth exploring. They have a huge collection of vintage cars as well as several other galleries that have displays ranging from vintage baseball cards to old voting booths.
Visit for hours and directions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


This weekend is the opening of Sweet! a food-themed juried art exhibition at the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Florida. See original artwork in all media by Florida artists and enjoy a cake decorating demonstration with samples to eat. 

Moo! - Cow sculpture made from recycled dairy containers by Kim W. Nolan
Moo! - Cow sculpture made from recycled dairy containers by Kim W. Nolan
Come see me and my sculpture at the opening reception this Saturday September 15th from 2-5 pm. Admission is $5 per person. There will be a cash bar and an awards presentation. The exhibition runs from September 15th-November 4th 2018. All artwork is available for purchase.

 For hours and directions visit I hope to see you Saturday!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dry Tortugas National Park

Do you know about the Dry Tortugas? That's ok. I didn't either until my husband surprised me with a trip for my birthday-- it was a big one with a zero on the end! It was such a unique and wonderful experience and I'm so excited to tell you about this amazing place.

So what is Dry Tortugas?
Dry Tortugas comprises 7 islands located in the Gulf of Mexico 71.8 miles from Key West. It is the most remote of all the national parks of the contiguous 48 states. It was discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513. He named it "Las Tortugas" because of the large amount of sea turtles (tortugas means turtles in Spanish) that populated the waters around the island. The name was later changed to Dry Tortugas to indicate to mariners that the island lacked fresh water.

In 1846 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Fort Jefferson on Bush Key. All 16 million bricks and every single supply for the island needed to be brought there by boat. The Fort was used as a prison camp during the Civil War. The heat, loneliness, mosquitos and lack of food and fresh water created a miserable existence for the prisoners and soldiers.

Today, there are only 10 staff members living there and every single thing still needs to be brought over by boat including food and drinking water. Visitors can camp on Bush Key with the proper permit and must bring all of their own supplies, food and water.

What is there to do at the Dry Tortugas?
One thing you can do is take a guided or self guided tour of Fort Jefferson. I believe the guided tour lasts about 45 minutes. The only place that is off limits is the moat. You are free to roam everywhere else.

You are allowed to climb up to the top of the Fort where you can check out the remaining canons and get a bird's eye view of the breathtaking scenery.

Dry Tortugas is a also a bird watcher's paradise. In 1832, America's most prominent bird artist, James Audubon, spent several days at the Dry Tortugas observing and painting some of the over 200 avian species that migrate there from Cuba and Central America to the United States.

Some of the species of birds you may see when visiting are terns, boobies, noodies, herons, and frigates. I am not a birder so I can't tell you exactly what birds I saw but there were thousands of birds flying all around the island. I've never seen so many birds all in one place before. It was truly incredible.

My favorite part of the trip was the snorkeling. All snorkeling gear was provided for us but you can also bring your own if you'd like. Dry Tortugas is home to one of the most vibrant coral reefs in the U.S. You are allowed to snorkel around the entire island (except for the moat) and you may even see some stingrays or sharks. Please be respectful and do not touch or stand on the coral. We saw some people doing this even after an announcement on the boat and a video about protecting the coral reef. You can kill the coral if you touch it and disrupt our entire ecosystem.

There was also one group of people on the trip who brought a radio and were blasting music. They obviously missed the entire purpose of spending the day on a remote island with no connection to the rest of the world. Luckily, they were easy to avoid by moving to a different location. Since only one boat full of people are allowed to visit each day, it wasn't crowded at all and wasn't hard to find our own little private stretch of beach. Overall it was a unique and peaceful experience from start to finish. There where thousands of birds flying above us and there was colorful coral everywhere we looked. There was also no cell phone service which provided us with uninterrupted serenity on our beautiful little oasis.

photo of Dry Tortugas National park and seaplane

How do I get to Dry Tortugas?
Unless you own a sea plane, the Yankee Freedom is the only ferry that goes to Dry Tortugas National park so booking well in advance is recommended. Tickets include the pass to get into the National Park. The boat ride was really fun and relaxing and being that we left bright and early in the morning we weren't traveling with a rowdy group of partiers. It was a very family friendly excursion. You can sit inside or outside and the ferry has an upper and lower deck. The trip was about 2 1/2 hours each way with breakfast, lunch, snacks and fresh water included. There was a cash bar available in the afternoon on the trip back to the Keys. The boat had several bathrooms (since Dry Tortugas does not!) as well as a shower if you wanted to rinse off after a swim. This is not a paid endorsement so I don't get any money for saying that the staff was fantastic as well. Visit or call (800) 634-0939 for tickets.