Monday, April 25, 2016

APPOMATTOX

Do we start at the Visitor Center and see if there is a Movie?   That's our custom and a good way to start any visit to a Historical Park. 
No
, he said, looking down the grassy old road bounded by split rail. I think we should go down there and speak with Generals Grant and Robert E. Lee. 
In that sunny spot near Wilmer McLean's home, the two were speaking amiably to each other and to passers by.  Perhaps General Lee did look a little down...
 

 ...but he livened up considerably when Patty showed up.  Don't we all?


We had just chanced on this reenactment of the the Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.  There were fine encampments of Blue and Grey poised to stack arms and return home after a  bloody four years.  Through the afternoon we enjoyed chatting with the Union security force, watched the Engineers mapping the town and listened to tales of the last few days of the War Between the States.
 
   
     
Perhaps the encampment was idealized somewhat, but the film and exhibits in the Visitor Center brought the reality to the front with contemporary accounts and artifacts.
 
We had traveled this way to ride the bike trail over the High Bridge which played an important role in the last battles of the War.  We were just there for the thrill of riding high above the very high trees (and perhaps bag another t-shirt.)
   
 
We did all that and a few miles more from the town of Farmville. Then we returned to our own encampment at Holiday Lake SP which I reluctantly report was a disappointment.  Imagine the Buckingham Appomattox State Forest with its thousands of acres.  Then imagine allocating a couple of side hills near the lake to cram in as many sites as possible --beautifully paved sites which were nowhere close to level in any direction. It appears that the Corps of Enginners built this with lots of equipment and a design sketched out in catsup on the back of McDonalds wrapper.  There is another loop which may be better but one must be 30' to qualify. (Rant over now)
      .  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fries Virginia

Nobody comes to Fries by accident, we were told by the first resident we met.  Tom is the owner of the Fries New River Trail RV Park (the park that exceeds your expectations) and he already had.  We had followed his detailed directions up and Down hills, over the low water bridge on the wide wide New River, past two churches, across the tiny creek and up the narrow valley where he met us with a warm smile and a basket of home baked muffins. WOW!  

The campground was lovely, with broad gravel pads, lush lawn dropping down to the tiny stream, full hookups, cable and wifi that actually works.     


OFFICE, BATHHOUSE, COVERED PORCH WITH ROCKERS

  Tom told us about the history of the town (more on the website), the construction of the Park and invited us to the community music event at the theater that night. Time's wasting and the sun is dropping fast, so we set up on our elevated pad.    



   
  The crowd at the Jam was welcoming.  Musicians sat in a big circle trading quips among themselves and then spinning out a tune. Couples and singles danced around the circle as the spirit moved them.  Saturday the music would be more formal with the mikes on stage hosting a rotation of players.     Walking home along the two main streets, we studied the 300+ nearly identical homes built as housing for the mill workers.  The mill is long gone and each house showed the individual finishes and flourishes of the owners, but you would be hard pressed to find a single panel in need of paint or a garden not neatly kept. The jobs have migrated away, but the pride and fellowship of the citizens shows in many ways.  Fries and neighboring Galax (the Big city of 2500) have embraced tourism as the way forward; the beauty of the place and the spirit of the residents seem to us to guarantee success. We, of course, came for the biking on the New River Trail. The old railroad ended on a spur at Fries and another spur in Galax. Our favorite section runs downstream along the wide River  from Fries to the junction, then upstream on little Chestnut Creek. The route contrasts the two streams, includes the long long bridge trestle and a short tunnel, even a waterfall along Chestnut.        
                                    
 

CHESTNUT FALLS

                 

Woodring Campground (COE)

We are "perched" on a narrow pad stacked on the edge of a long arm extending into Lake Carter in North Georgia.  
   It is quiet now after a night of light rain.  Just a few campers on this weekday. If this campground were full, you might be looking down at the roof of your fellow campers.   
     There seems to be no problem moving into the well engineered (Duh!) slots, even those that ramp up or down sharply to level pads.  
There are a few with "balcony" decks and  a few that open to spacious patios on the curb side.  Ours has a nice  table,  fire ring and grill at the rear.   
     Cannot beat the view across a narrow arm surrounded by pine forest.   
     Of course, we arrived  after "prescribed burn"  The steep slopes are scorched, but last week's rain settled the ash and brought back splashes of Dwarf Iris .  
 
 
 
It's only an overnight stop for us, but a pretty one. 
In the morning, we will wind back the six mile approach road to equally twisty Hwy 76, then on to Ellijay Georgia. From there, it's easy -- Big roads, Dogwoods sparkling on hillsides budding out in a full spectrum of greens, through the smoothly paved Nantahalla Gorge and on along the Smoky Mountain Expressway. (We moaned and groaned when the were building this road -- the mess, the disruption, the changes it would bring..., but the scars have healed, the inevitable development not that bad, and  it sure is smooth sailing with a trailer.) We'll stop for lunch at the Asheville Farmers Market, then WAY more Interstate than we prefer to another tranquil gem of a campground.
                 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Catching up.

 It will soon be nearly a month since our last post. Sure, we can blame it on the evil geniuses at Apple who released an upgrade which turned the older iPads into paper weights...or...the changes to their operating system which forced our beloved Blogsy app off the market, but the truth is we have just been having too much fun hanging with good friends in wonderful, but familiar, places, eating well and often.




We returned to Savannah with the intention of knocking about in that lovely city for a couple days-- --DID YOU KNOW that Savannah hosts the second largest St Patrick's Day in the country? The hipe on local news outlets is intense, covering every detail of the preparations and generally chasing away most folks over thirty. In the days prior, we took a day to wander about the beautiful squares in our geriatric way, celebrating some good medical news for our friend and videoing a little "Dance of Joy" in each green spot.  Sorry, these have been embargoed, as well they should be. We can report that many fountains were Kelly Green....



 ...many garden spaces were green and inviting...















 ...and celebratory decorations seem to remain in place for some undetermined interval...   


  
A green haze of pine pollen hung over the campground at Skidaway Park and frequent ablutions for trailer and tow vehicle were required until a cleansing shower cleared the air. In the meantime, we extended our stay several times as we found new friends to enjoy late night ice cream and other local delights.  (One great advantage of the Georgia Park reservation system is that the sites are unassigned, meaning when you score a cancellation to extend your stay, you don't have to move. When you see a site you covet, you can move without new paperwork. Less headaches for staff and patrons.  In the Georgia Parks we have visited, all sites seem spacious and adequate for any type of camper.)




FORT PULASKI

 Burning of the White House, 1814

 

 When the British burned Washington DC in 1814, an embarrassed nation began construction of 42 "Third System" defensive seacoast forts.  We have visited a few of these but none so well preserved as Fort Pulaski, built on pilings and wooden decking in in a coastal marsh -- built so well that two centuries later it shows not a single crack. Today an obscure turn off the causeway to Tybee Island reveals the well preserved fort with visitors center and introduces us to volunteer and NPS interpreters who brought the place to life. 






























TEXTURES OF FORT PULASKI:  ALL BRICKS AND STONE WERE IMPORTED BY SHIP FROM NEW ENGLAND




JEKYLL ISLAND BIKING






Another day we biked the many varied trails of Jekyll Island.  Honestly, I do not  know what that community could do to make it more inviting and rewarding for bike riding! We rode hard all over the island until Al flatted.  We patched up and met our friend Carol for lunch in sight of the Millionaires row.

     

 Wheeled Birding.  Is it any surprise that we only identify birds over a foot tall?

     
     
     
     
    Eight days in the Ides of March at Skidaway meant lots of March Madness Basketball, a fair quantity of ice cream and new friends. 
     We decided to bypass the many urban delights of Charleston to join Susannne and Keith at what was promised to be a "Thoreau-like experience." 
     

 DREHER ISLAND STATE PARK

       

       

     WHO COULD DENY IT?  Nearly empty on weekday, Loons swimming and calling at sunrise,  Osprey  lifting HUGE fish just at shoreline, sunsets to calm us and good friends to share it with. With chef Keith at the grill, we didn't miss Charleston dining at all.

       
       

    DAVIDSON RIVER

    The fun continued as we both secured cherished electric sites at Davidson.  Reunited, we drove to Etowah for pizza at our favorite place and up to the Blue Ridge for sunset at Wagon Road Gap.  The full moon lit the descent. (Did I say how wonderful it is to have Susannne along to remind us just how lucky we are?)  








    We hiked in search of waterfalls, ate again at Blue Ridge Pizza,  and when the temperature dropped, we just drove to some favorite places prior to our Pizza fix. 




     Basketball was getting exciting and the barkeep promised us front row seats when the games went off the channels we could receive. There are NO pictures of Patty nursing a beer (and eating yet another Pizza) at the bar.  She claims this as a first.


    MASS MURDER AND MAYHEM...the ANTS!

    There are also no combat photos of the invasion of huge red headed marsh ants we imported from Skidaway.  We had seen a couple earlier and dispatched them, but nightfall brought a massed attack. They proved unstompable and Patty responded by thumbing them to death and depositing the corpses in the commode. As the bodies piled up and her thumb ran red with blood, she called for illumination, then dispatched Al to seek out the source.  Al wanted to go nuclear with atomized weaponry, but since the battle ground was near the bed, she feared collateral damage.  Finally we used the vacuum to "mop up" and deployed a minefield of little borax bomblets to deal with survivors.  

    It might be argued that bringing an iPad into this kind of war zone might cause difficulties -- like  turning it into a BRICK. But, NO, that was all on the geniuses at Apple and might have led to some frustration. This played out at The Alumalina Airstream Rally at Palmetto Cove in South Carolina, but 100+ Airstreams, a couple hundred great folks and lots of food has a palliative effect.   We joined with friends we consider family, met and played with new folks from all over and enjoyed every story and every detail of the lovingly restored trailers we toured. 

    We felt a little vintage ourselves on 1 April as we celebrated the start of our seventh year as Airstream owners and nearly 1000 days on the road. (Can you imagine trying to tell your family about that purchase on April Fools day?)

    Friday, March 11, 2016

    Crooked River State Park

    Crooked River State Park, like so many Georgia parks, is lovingly designed with spacious campsites, well maintained facilities and sensible reservation policies. Near the lovely village of St Mary's and the launch point for a visit to Cumberland Island NS, it has been a regular stop for us.

     

    Daytrip to Cumberland Island National Seashore.

    Waiting for the "Queen" to board for the 45 minute ferry ride to the island.




    There were the over-prepared....it was breezy all day and the bugs were NO problem. Is that suspenders AND belt, headnet AND bug spray..?






     


    ...and today's prize for inappropriate footwear goes to....the fashionista with the Huge handbag AND the lavishly stylish messenger bag.




    On earlier trips, we counted ourselves fortunate to see two, maybe three, of the wild horses. Today we were greeted by a small herd right at the ferry landing --and BONUS, a new foal just minutes old. We watched for nearly a hour until Patty was sure he/she was wandering about unsteadily and had located lunch.


    ANXIOUS MOMENTS....

    ANXIOUS MOMENTS

     

     

    ...for everyone.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    FINALLY! LUNCH!!

     

     

     

     

    The long and convoluted story of Cumberland is fascinating and ties together so many threads of our history. It is a tale best told quietly on a walk among the ruins and landmarks, along tree shaded paths...best told by a native, a scholar, an old school ranger with a gift for engaging tourist and historian alike. We have had this experience and relished it. So it was doubly disappointing to find it replaced by cell phone recordings of dry, lifeless WiKi intoned by a bored automaton.

    Soulless administrative decisions aside, the beauty of this place cannot be so easily diminished.
     
     

     

    There are the big views..

     

    The LONG walks looking for, not finding, shells...

     

     

    A pleasant stroll through the quietest, most artfully shaded campground we've seen and a little fun "...washing that man right out of my hair.."

     

     

    And finally, a little time in the rockers at Sea Camp porch waiting for the "Queen" and exchanging tales with new friends.

     

    Our new friend Carol joined us at Lang's Seafood for a laugh-filled dinner with sunset over the marsh and capped a lovely day.