Sunday, January 21, 2018

Alabama - 2 stops

Hope Hull, AL

On January 11, 2018 we landed at the Montgomery South RV Park in Hope Hull. As the name suggests we were just south of Montgomery. This is our second time at the park. We stayed here back in June 2016. During that visit Les was sick with the flu so we didn't do much but we had explored Montgomery and Selma a few months earlier from Auburn.
The park is right off of I-65 so there is some road noise. The sites are all gravel with a wider than normal stripe of grass. This time we were in Site 24 which is a long site parallel to the road, so it is a little more private where your picnic table is - it was so cold we didn't sit out much! We had full hook-ups, the WiFi was spotty at times and our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $31.00 a night with our Good Sam discount.

It is hard to see everything in one stop and the last time through we missed the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.  So it was on our to-do list this time. It was a rare warmer day when we went, which was nice as there is a bit of outdoor walking.

Adjacent to the parking lot is a large open field with wide cement walkways that are lined with information boards and where you overlook Moton Field.
We were once again humbled by the stories told here. On one hand we are glad that we have made so much progress in this country with racial issues, but on the other we are sadden that at times it seems we haven't made any progress at all.
The stories of the struggles and accomplishments of these men and women are so inspiring. They certainly paved the way for future generations and we are in awe of their courage.

The two large hanger buildings have been turned into museums. Picture boards, videos, and audio recordings take you on the journey of the airmen.
Hanger 1 is the first stop on the tour. You are greeted by a National Park Ranger and then set free to explore. There is no entry fee, just a donation box. The entire grounds are handicap accessible.

There are two planes in this Hanger along with a small wooden plane that looks like it might fit perfect on a playground. It was actually used as a flight simulator.

The "cockpit" was closed to simulate flying at night. The instruments and control panel were the same as a real plane. An instructor, sitting at a desk behind the simulator could communicate with the cadet inside while controlling the "flight" and gauging the student's ability. Nancy was glad she wasn't closed inside of it and we are pretty sure the cadets weren't taught to wave at the enemy.

You can practice your parachute folding - it's a good thing no ones life depended on us! Kind of like trying to fold a fitted sheet, but with the risk of killing somebody.

As you enter the War Room the first thing you notice is the model airplanes hanging from the ceiling and the pictures of them wrapped around the walls. There is a large showcase with model warships. Take a seat at one of the tables and you can flip through the training manuals that were used and take a stab at identifying what types of planes and boats you would be facing once in the air.

Each room and office has a telephone on the wall that activates the audio system.
Each one explains what the room was used for and has interviews with people who were trained here.

The cadets came from across the country to be trained. As of April 1943 over a hundred cadets had entered the flight training at Moton Field. The stars indicate which states and how many came from there.
AL - 10, AZ - 4, CA - 5, CT -1, FL - 4, GA - 3, IL - 6, IN - 4, KS - 2, KY - 1, LA - 1, MI - 1, MD - 1, MO - 2, MS - 2, NE - 1, NC - 6, NJ - 4,  NY - 3, OH - 6, OK - 3, OR - 2, PA - 3, SC - 4, TN - 3, TX - 6, VA - 17, WA - 1, WV - 1.

Mrs. S. O. Johnson ran The Tea Room which was a popular hangout for cadets and staff alike to catch a quick bite to eat and socialize.

Hanger 2 is where you can watch a 20-minute informational film detailing the time spent here and the many struggles they had not only here but across the nation and across the ocean.

There are a number of kiosks through out the building that have photo and story boards along with a sitting area where you can watch interviews with people who trained and worked here.

A Red Tail plane hangs from the ceiling, the airmen became known for their red tails.

This is also where you can shop at the Bookstore. Nancy was pretty excited to find a National Parks Geek Pin and sticker.

Some of the original buildings have long since disappeared and in their place metal "Ghost Buildings" have been built. What a creative way to recreate the buildings.

There is an interesting Michigan connection for us. Les worked for Coleman A. Young when he was the mayor of Detroit. He often shared stories of his time here.

Foley, AL

It seems every post could start with the words "Damn, it's cold"! As we are working on this blog post it is 19 degrees with a real feel of 8 in Foley. The cold weather can go away anytime now.
Magnolia South RV Hideaway is where we called home for the week, arriving on January 14, 2018. We are about 10 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, and no we did not go swimming.
There are over 50 sites, all back-in with full hook-ups. Our site was cement and level, they are about average width. Th club house has a TV and lending library. The laundry room was clean, the bathrooms were okay. We took advantage of the large fenced dog park.

One of Nancy's friends from high-school, Farmington High in Michigan lives here so it was the perfect place to stop. We had a wonderful dinner with Peggy and Paul and Paul's sister Louise. Nancy and Peggy haven't seen each other in close to 20 years so there was lots of catching up to do, we never left the dining room table for 4 hours. Didn't get a picture which was just fine with Peggy!

We did get lots of pictures of Roadside Oddities.
Battery Dearborn
On our travels to search out the oddities we found ourselves at Fort Morgan which is on the very tip of land between Mobile Bay and the Gulf. The fort was built between 1819 and 1833 and played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864.

A side road we took to the beach looks like it has been in a war! Even though the sun was shinning it was a little too cold to stay on the beach. So a quick pic and back in the car we went.

From there we drove through Florabama, which as you can guess is right on the boarder of the two states. Off in the distance we could see smoke from another large fire, two actually, one north and one off to the east.
Local coffee shops are one of our favorite things, well next to breweries but we didn't find any of those here. This stop not only got us good coffee but we found a painted rock too!

Elberta, AL (yes, with an E) was a treasure trove of oddities.
George Barber, millionaire and owner of Barber Marina commissioned Mark Cline, a fiberglass artist to create a Stonehenge. The fiberglass remake is not the complete Stonehenge but Bamahenge is non the less pretty impressive. You can watch the sun rise and set on the two solstices.

Barber didn't stop with Bamahenge, you will also find Dinosaurs in the Woods. There are supposed to be four but we could only find two.

The Knights in the Woods were a little tricky to find, there are two identical twins and they blend into their surroundings very well.

Of course you have to have a little fun every now and then when you come across these things.

The grounds of the marina are filled with a variety of sculptures. 

The fountain in the center of the roundabout is the biggest.There are a number of Seahorses along the roadside and also small Oriental type statues.

The Lady of the Lake, a 50-foot sculpture once sat in the water but has been moved to storage. While trying to find the Lady we came across this giant spider. Wouldn't want to meet a live one this big!

A stop at Lambert's Cafe is a must. It is the home of the Throwed Rolls. Yes, they really do throw the rolls across the room! The decor reminded us of a Cracker Barrel. The food was very good and you get generous portions. Staff wander around with large pots of their "Pass Arounds" and you can get as much as you want - fried potatoes, okra, black eyed peas, pasta etc.

Up next is Pass Christian, MS our last stop before meeting Katrina and Steve in New Orleans.

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You!!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Turn signals and brake lights are important!
Back in early December as we were leaving Louisville, KY we blew a tire on the tow-dolly, well actually the tire shredded and in the process ripped the fender off of the tow-dolly.
We found the fender on the side of the road and Les was able to bend it somewhat back into shape and reattach it.
But as you can probably guess the lights no longer work. We picked up a set of magnetic lights that sit on top of the car while it is being towed and help to let people behind us know what our plans are.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Georgia and South Carolina - 2 stops in each

Brunswick, GA

Damn it's cold! We would feel even worse about leaving Florida and having cold weather if it wasn't for the fact that Florida is freezing as well. Rain, sleet, snow, and some sunshine, we have had it all. 

We left the "Sunshine State" on a cloudy chilly Wednesday. The back road we took out of Silver Springs went through a sand plant. We were a little confused at first and thought we had hit a dead end but thankfully it was just a short drive through sand until you hit pavement again. 
This was on December 27, 2017 and Brunswick, GA was our destination. Golden Isles RV Park was home, it is a large park with over 140 sites. Some are permanent residents, most are well kept up. There is also an area for tent and a few cabins. 
The sites are grass and level. We were in #42, an end site which gave us a little bit more room. It has full hook-ups and a picnic table. The RV with tow-dolly attached just fit in the site but there was room to park the car. The WiFi worked on our phones and tablets but we could not connect on our laptops. Verizon signal was low. We paid $31.00 a night with our Passport America discount. 

There was a service road that was perfect for dog walking, but a few mornings were a little chilly and icy. We spent New Years Eve here and it was quite loud with gun shots and large fireworks until 1:00 am, Mielikki was not a fan. 
The park is about 15 minutes from Jekyll Island. What a cool place. There is a lot of history here, with a section of old hotels and shops left over from the exclusive resorts of days gone by.
Archaeological digs suggest that the island has been inhabited for more than 3,500 years and a popular hunting ground for Native Americans. In the 1500's French explorers arrived. In 1733, General James Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia and named the island after Sir Joseph Jekyll, his financier from England. In 1735, Major William Horton created a plantation that provided food for the soldiers at Fort Frederica. The house was constructed out of Tabby, a material composed of equal parts of sand, lime, oyster shells and water. It was mixed into a mortar and poured into forms. 

In 1742 as the Spanish Army retreated they burned the entire plantation down, both buildings and fields and confiscated the animals. Many battles were won and lost on the island. 

The DuBignon family from France held property on the island from the late 1700's until the late 1800's when it was purchased by the Jekyll Island Club and turned into a very exclusive resort. The Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Pulitzers were among the rich and famous guests.

Photo from the internet

The forerunner of the Federal Reserve was created here and the first transcontinental telephone call in the US was made here. Presiding over the ceremonies by telephone were President Woodrow Wilson, in DC, Alexander Graham Bell in New York, Thomas Watson in San Francisco, Henry Higginson in Boston and AT&T President Theodore Newton Vail on Jekyll Island. We missed seeing the monument so borrowed a photo from the internet. 
In 1947 the state purchased the island from the club and in 1948 it was opened to the public as a State Park. Access to the island at the time was across a drawbridge. Today a paved road takes you into the five beaches, the campground, hotels, and cabins. There are plenty of places to eat and shop and you can visit the turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. There are also a number of permanent residents on the island. 

The shops in the resort area are filled with lots of local art which we always love. Our walk out to the wharf was at low tide and we had to chuckle at the boats sitting in the muck - hope no one wanted to go out in them. 
The trees are pretty amazing with their trunks stretching out across the ground and replanting themselves. It is like a giant octopus crawling across the land. 

Driftwood Beach was by far our favorite. Your senses are overwhelmed by the full sized driftwood trees that line the beach. Some look like they were planted in their spots while others appear to have been tossed about before coming to rest. 

It is the most amazing sight to see. People were climbing on the trees, while others were finding a cozy spot to sit and watch the boats go by.

There are many perfect spots to hang a hammock for a little nap or reading time. Nancy took over 200 pictures on this beach alone.

There were a ton of people on the Clam Creek Fishing Pier and beach but that didn't seem to bother the horses one single bit. 

Brunswick is a cute town, to get there from the island you cross over the Sidney Lanier Bridge. It can be seen for miles due to its great height and while driving over it you can see for miles across the French Bluff Creek out into the ocean.  

There are a number of small parks with benches and landscaping throughout downtown, one has a beautiful Celtic Cross.

We found a Pirate Ship for sale, or what we thought of as a pirate ship. No, we are not planning on becoming pirates, but it is a fun thought.
This Brunswick Stew Pot, is claimed to be the pot the first Brunswick Stew was made in on St Simon Isle on July 2, 1898. The original recipe probably called for squirrel, but the link will take you to a recipe that has chicken and/or pork in it. Just outside of downtown you will find every store you could want for shopping. 

Our favorite sign of this trip sits outside the Me and My  Partner Antique Store in Woodbine and as you can tell the store was closed when we got there - or as they say shut!

St. Simons Island is just across the St. Simons Sound from Jekyll Island and is much more developed. The downtown area offers lots of places to eat along with an eclectic assortment of shops. 
One section is tiny little "houses". They sit on a raised platform and each one is a different vendor. They really are adorable. 

You can't visit St. Simons Island without going to the lighthouse. The 3rd order Fresnel lens made in France has been guiding mariners into St. Simons Sound since 1872 when the lighthouse and keeper's dwelling were constructed. They replaced the original ones that were destroyed during the Civil War. Fort St. Simons and Fort Frederica were close by and used to protect the British troops in Charleston and Savannah from the Spanish Army

The Gazebo was once the ornamental cover for a water tank at the summer cottage of shipping magnate F.D.M. Strachan around 1910. It was moved here in 1989. The Cannon was forged around 1800 and is the type used by the U.S. Navy in the War of 1812.  

There is a lovely boardwalk along the water from which you can walk down onto the beach or just sit and relax while the kids play at the playground. You can see Jekyll Island from here. 

We found a Momma Whale and her baby, which is a popular climbing structure for the kids. 

There are a number of Tree Spirits around the Island but unfortunately the Visitor Center where you can get a map was closed so the only we saw was in their parking lot.  

St. George, SC

A one night stop over in St. George on January 2, 2018 broke up the drive to Greenville, SC. We stayed at the Jolly Acres Camp and Storage. It is a fairly small park, well maintained and really quiet. They have a fishing pond and some hiking trails but with all of the rain it was a little muddy so we didn't explore them.
Plus, it was pretty cold, the weeds were frozen solid and looked a bit like Styrofoam. 
Our site was a gravel pull through with only water and electric hook-ups. The WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $35.95 with our Good Sam discount.

Greenville, SC

Greenville and Asheville, NC are what brought us north. We arrived at the Springwood RV Park on January 3, 2018. It is a combination RV park and mobile homes, but they are slowly getting rid of the mobile homes and making all the sites into RV sites.
We were in Site #19 which was a back in with full hook-ups. Because Greenville was caught up in the across the country cold snap we had some issues with frozen water pipes - the campgrounds not ours. The maintenance guy was wonderful and johnny on the spot to fix things for us. The WiFi was a bit spotty and our Verizon signal was fair. There is a train track that runs through the middle of the park, but we only heard a few trains a day and the latest one was at 9 pm.
Our timing was perfect as the Greenville RV Show was happening while we were here, so we got to attend and do a little dreaming of an upgrade. We also had some work done on the RV, we finally found someone to put the heater core back in, so we now have heat while we drive. Sure missed it the past few weeks as the temps dropped into the 40's inside the RV while driving.
Nancy made a trip up to Asheville to see the eye doctor. She got the all clear, he ruled out anything serious that could be causing her blurry vision and believes it is because her left eye prescription has changed and her right eye has stayed the same. So her eyes are working harder to focus. So a new pair of glasses should fix things right up.
These two dogs were at Hillman
and never left each others side. 
She stayed with our friend Janet which was great fun.
Wally is trying very hard
to gets Janet's attention

They visited a few of the new breweries that have opened since our last visit, ate some delicious food, drank good coffee and had lots of laughs. It was a much needed Asheville fix and should hold Nancy over till we get back in the Spring.

A stop in the River Arts District is always a must
One morning while walking the dog a neighbor stopped Nancy and asked if his wife could take a picture of Mielikki. She draws animals and had never done an Airedale. So they chatted while she was taking the picture and found they had a great deal in common. Nancy left Janet one of her painted rocks before heading to Asheville and Janet drew this wonderful picture of Mielikki for us. This is one of the best things about our travels - meeting and connecting with new people.

McDonough, GA

Another one night stop on our way to Alabama. We stayed at the Atlanta South RV Resort. A large park right off of I-75.  There is some road noise and a number of the sites are pretty close together. They have a pond, a pool and rec room along with onsite laundry which was very clean. WiFi was spotty and our Verizon signal was good. We paid $36.00 a night with our Good Sam Discount.

Next up is Alabama.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ More toys.
Going into Harbor Freight is a very dangerous activity. On this stop we found a really cool light switch/flashlight combo. It has a sticky back so you can put it anywhere inside or out. The light is extremely bright so it will light up even the darkest cubbyhole or closet.