Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Motoring back to Ohio

May 12
Becky decided that Patrick needed some clothes for the funeral so we made some stops at the local stores in Anderson, SC to find pants, shoes and a shirt. Its tough to find pants for a tall, skinny boy. They found some clothes that would work and we motivated on down the road. The fastest route was down around Atlanta and I swore the last time I took the ATL outer belt that it would be the last. So, we drove through the mountain headed for Becky's aunt and uncle's in Cleveland, TN. 

 As we entered TN, part of our drive was along the Ocoee River, pronounced Acoy. It is a local white water rafting mecca. During the Atlanta Olympics the white water portions were held here. The white water is created when the dam releases water. Normally the river looks like the picture below, a mellow, rock filled channel. 

 During water release.
We made it to Cleveland in the rain and set up camp in Sam's driveway. Iris had a bout with car sickness or she ate something weird because she pooped and puked in the back of the truck. We had to hose her, her cage and the truck bed off.
An evening of companionship was enjoyed by all over a spaghetti casserole. 

May 13
A few images of crossing Jellico Mountain on I-75 in Tennessee. 

 We stopped just north of Cincinnati for supper with our friend George. He has moved back to the states after seven years abroad in Singapore. Welcome back, brother.
We got to my dad and mom's about ten o'clock and got the trailer set up.The next day we caught up on sleep and did some visiting with family.
Monday was Wally's funeral and we laid to rest a good man. He was a Marine, fought at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea and invented heated dog water bowls, retired from a factory and was a father of three, grandfather of many and a great-grandfather to a lot more. He was a gruff, tough man who did things his own way. We all loved him. Taps always makes me cry.

The last month has been filled with dealing with rental property issues, renting, remodeling and wishing I could sell a few. We have plans to do some traveling next week.

Congaree National Park

May 10, 2017

We left Savannah and headed for Congaree National Park. We drove across the Talmedge Memorial Bridge. Becky snapped a few photos from high above.

Congaree was designated a national monument in 1976 when logging threatened the largest stand of old-growth bottom land hardwood forest left in the United States. Previously, Congaree escaped the axe because it was so hard to log. The marsh, bogs, wetlands and river bottom made it difficult to extract the trees. Owned by Francis Beidler, a lumber titan, he ceased logging in the area in 1914. Then in the 1950s, new logging industry inventions made it possible to access the trees and conversationalist Harry Hampton began efforts to protect the forest.
In 2003, Congaree became a national park. Twenty-five trees in the park can boast of being the largest of their species. No other area in North America has the same concentration of champion trees. Both size and species. The loblolly pine stands 167 feet tall.
 The dog spotted this fellow. He was wrapped around a tree while hunting a skink (a type of lizard). He kept diving his head into the pines, burrowing after the skink and chasing him out of the needles. The skink shot across the sidewalk and into the parking lot. In a flash, the snake was after him and he slammed on the brakes when he saw Becky, me, the cat and the dog watching him work. He popped his head up about six inches and watched us. I tried to pull out the camera to get a pic of him, but he turned around and darted back to the safety of the trees. I got his backside.
I don't like snakes at all. The only good snake is a dead snake is my motto and they give me the willies, however watching this black snake work was a treat. I about got up and ran away when he shot out in front of me.

 Inside the visitors center.
 Congaree is accessible along this boardwalk that circles in a 2.2 mile trail. The first part of the walk was on an old section of the trail that had risen up in some places and tilted down in others making the walk slanted and bumpy.

 The new section of the walk is flat and smooth. They replaced the wooden support posts with concrete and steel bases keeping the wood posts above ground level. They did an excellent job of keeping the whole walk level.

 The boardwalk took us to Weston Lake, a bend in the river that due to flooding and changes in the river bed was left as a pond. It will eventually fill in with dirt as nature reclaims it. For now, it is home to turtles, fish, hawks and all manners of animals including the two legged kind that felt the need to carve or write their names in the brand new boardwalk boards.

 Iris drug me around part of the boardwalk as we waited for Becky and Patrick to get back. I motored on the truck while they ambled down the trail. I got the dog out and met them with cold water bottles to celebrate our nature walk.
We left Congaree and drove through South Carolina. We stopped for the night in a Walmart parking lot. We were able to put S. Carolina on our map of states we spent a  night in the trailer in. Not the way I wanted to do it, but we needed to head home for a funeral. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Savannah, Fort Pulaski and Wormsloe

May 9
We spent the first few hours of the day in a fruitless search for a bearing to replace one in my Freewheel. I ordered a bunch of replacement parts for it and received only one bearing when I needed two. From there, we went to the Savannah visitors center. I recommend this as a place to begin your exploration of the city. We toured the small history museum, built inside a railroad car repair building, where we saw an overview of the city and its history.

After lunch, we took the Old Town Trolley Tour, the only handicap accessible one. They boarded us at the VC parking lot and did not allow me to get on or off at any of the stops. After taking the tour, it was obvious how difficult and time consuming it would be to get me off and on at the various stops. The tour was worth the money and allowed me to take my "service dog" with me.
The architecture of the city is amazing and the buildings are beautiful.  

My "service dog" getting in good sniffs.

 Interestingly enough, the statue above is on the banks of the river in Savannah, the sign below, is at Fort Pulaski, many miles east of the city.
After the bus tour dropped us back at the VC, we drove into downtown, found a parking spot and walked around. Becky and I agreed we would like to get a hotel room in the downtown and spend a few days wandering and enjoying the beautiful city. Patrick just wanted ice cream. We walked all over getting a closer look at some of the sites we had seen from the bus and enjoying the warm 97 degree afternoon. The heat was wonderful and we were acclimated to it after our time in Florida. 

  General James Oglethorpe Monument. The man looks like a rogue pirate. He was the founder of the colony in Georgia and established Savannah in 1733. He brought impoverished citizens of London who had been in debtors prison and set them up to flourish in the new world as a buffer colony between the Spanish held land of Florida and the British colonies in the north.  
 Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Construction finished in 1896. A fire later destroyed part of the building and reconstruction efforts were completed in 1899.

  We eventually found ice cream, chotchkis, and post cards before returning to the truck for a ride back to the trailer.

May 10. We woke to an early morning text from Becky's mother telling her that Becky's grandfather had passed away. We had been expecting news of this sort so it was not a shock, more gladness that he was free from his painful struggle with age and illness. This news did put a crimp in our plans as we decided to head home for the funeral.
Instead of heading straight home, we made the decision to spend a few more days traveling and get home right before the funeral. I think Grandpa would have understood, he loved traveling too.
The day was spent touring some old places around the area.

Wormsloe--State Historic Site
Noble Jones, a carpenter, arrived with James Oglethorpe and performed various duties such as surveyor and physician as well as his normal trade. He did most of his duties at for free and was charged with laying out Savannah, establishing farm boundaries and surveying towns further up the river. He was eventually relieved of his duties because the government found him lacking and fired him. Like most government witch hunts, they fired the wrong guy. Jones and a few other guys began leasing 500 acres on Isle of Hope outside of Savannah for farming purposes. He eventually built his estate on the land. He went on to be a significant figure in the development of Savannah and his son Noble W. Jones was a member of the First Provincial Congress in 1775 and was influential during the Revolutionary War. 

 The drive to the mansion is a mile and a quarter and is lined with over 400 oak trees. Its worth the trip just to drive this majestic route under the Spanish moss covered canopy.
 Remains of the original plantation house. Seven generations of the Jones family have resided on the farm. 822 acres of the original plantation have been donated to conservancy while maintaining a small working farm on the property.
 Noble Jones' grave.
 This tiny creek on the banks of Wormsloe was once a major waterway for shipping, travel and heavily defended from the British and Spanish.

 After our trip under the oaks, we stopped for BBQ, of course. This place hits the top five for us.

Following lunch, we went to Fort Pulaski National Monument to see the historic civil war era structure and get a stamp for a National Park book.  This was the first posting for Robert E Lee after he graduated from West Point. Lee helped lay out the drainage canals and begin construction of the fort. He later returned to tour the fort after he was a General in the Confederate Army. (sidebar- stop tearing down our statues and monuments to these men who fought for the south. Its part of our history and we need to continue to learn from it).

 The visitors center
 A depiction of the fort's construction. The island was marshy and would not support the weight of the structure so they sank wood posts into the ground to distribute the load. Then they used arch structures to help spread the load even more. The fort has not sunk, cracked or fractured from settling.

 The Union captured the fort during the war and used it to house prisoners.

Canon ball damage from the Union bombardment.
 We drove out to Tybee Island and looked around the tourist trap. There is a lighthouse museum and another World War Two era fort. You can see the front of the fort and the light house in the background. The parking lot is for a small shopping area and eatery along the beach.