Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer 2017 - part 2

June 29, 2017

Since our last posting, we have spent some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to campgrounds in the cooler air, visited more national historic sites and a national park, and a wonderful topiary garden.

Here are the highlights:

This national park in South Carolina preserves the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest in the U.S.  

One of the big trees

The boardwalk trail through the swamp


Near Bishopville, SC we visited Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden.  After a 3-minute lesson on topiary and using "ugly" and poor quality plants that were going to be thrown away, Mr. Fryar began creating this garden at his house in the 1980s.  Here it is today:

One of the "sailing ship" junipers along one side of his property

Fishbone tree


hedge along the driveway

the size of a dinner plate


Mr. Fryar also creates sculptures and fountains out of "junk"

Mr. Pearl Fryar




Kings Mountain National Military Park, SC - site of a battle crucial to the outcome of the Revolutionary War

from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
You may remember that we drove the entire Parkway in Fall 2015.
Cooler nights up here for camping - we woke up to 52 degrees.

Natural Tunnel State Park, Virginia
A stream carved a tunnel and a railroad was built alongside it.

 Moravian Falls
 I learned that Mr. Sandburg was much more than a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.
 The Sandburgs home in Flat Rock, North Carolina
Descendants of the champion goats raised by Mrs. Sandburg
Tomorrow we head to Kerr Reservoir in south central Virginia where we will be staying through the Independence Day holiday.   (We will also be celebrating Canada Day on July 1 with a group of geocachers.)  We hope all of you have a safe and fun-filled July Fourth.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer 2017 Part 1

June 2017    Back on the road!

Kris here.  A few words about our traveling philosophy - On our last trip. I reread Blue Highways  by William Least Heat-Moon and read his more recently published Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road so I will quote him here: "I'm always trying to memorize the face of America." He advocates getting off the interstates and driving the "blue highways" that are found on road maps.  For the past 40 years, we have been doing the same thing and have yet to get tired of watching the landscape of our great country, from mountains to deserts, canyons to mesas, and small towns everywhere.  We keep an open mind and are often surprised at what we find when we least expect it.

It has been three months since our last cross country excursion.  We enjoyed grandchildren's birthdays, a niece's graduation, and some nice weather in Houston.  As soon as various doctors' appointments and medical tests were completed, we packed up our truck and headed east.

We managed to get all the way across Louisiana before stopping for our first geocache of the trip.  If you have read our blog posts in the past, you know that we love to visit National Park System sites so we drove to Selma, Alabama and followed the civil rights march route to Montgomery.  We also visited Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, site of a battle in 1814 involving Andrew Jackson and warring factions of the Creek Nation.

Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma

Bird Dog Field Trial Capital of the World in Union Springs, AL - this statue is in the middle of the road.

Statue of native son Joe Louis in Chambers County, Alabama where we completed the Alabama 67 County Geocaching Challenge.

We entered Georgia on a Saturday and drove to Plains to visit the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.  The national park ranger at the Visitor Center asked us if we were going to attend President Carter's Sunday School lesson.  What an opportunity!  We decided to stay in the area overnight and arrived at the Maranatha Baptist Church at 6:30 a.m. and received our line-up number (29).  After passing through the Secret Service checkpoint, we took our place in the sanctuary to wait and be given instructions.  President Carter came in at 10:00 and started addressing the guests.  He spoke about his upcoming trips and said Habitat for Humanity was going to build 150 houses in Canada this summer.  He asked the group if anyone knew why 150 was a significant number.  Brian raised his hand and was called on and replied correctly that it was because this year is the 150th anniversary of Confederation in Canada.

After Sunday School and the church service (President and Mrs. Carter sat three pews in front of us), the visitors were allowed to line up for a photo with the Carters.  We did not actually meet - no introductions or handshakes - but an honor to stand next to them.  This remarkable couple have accomplished so much in the 72 years they have been married.  They truly live their Christian faith to help others from tiny Plains, Georgia to countries around the world.  One would be hard-pressed to find anyone else who has accomplished so much.

Jimmy Carter's boyhood farm

Brian pretends to sign important papers at the museum

President Carter's Nobel Peace Prize

He has been teaching Sunday School since he was 18 years old at the Naval Academy.

President Carter is an accomplished woodworker,  He made the wooden collection plates (note the initials JC by my thumb) and the large cross at the front of the sanctuary.  He and his wife are very active church members.

No label necessary

"Goober's" father (right Kim?) in Plains, GA

After the excitement of Plains and the Carters, we paid a visit to Andersonville National Historic Site and Cemetery just up the road.  A very sobering and solemn place.  If any place could be said to be haunted, this is it.  33,000  Union prisoners of war were held in a stockade  built to hold 10,000 men.  Without adequate food, no shelter, and contaminated water, the men died so fast that they were buried shoulder to shoulder and the headstones are very close together.  The graves were marked with numbers, but remarkably, a former prisoner was able to smuggle out a list of names and numbers and returned with Clara Barton and each grave was properly marked with a name.

Andersonville National Historic Site and Cemetery

We also visited Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia.  Archaeologists think this is the oldest continuously occupied site in the U.S. - over 10,000 years of habitation.

Great Temple Mound - Ocmulgee National Monument

 Great and Little Temple Mounds

As usual, our geocaching takes us to unusual sites:

Pasaquan near Buena Vista, GA
   Statue commemorating Lindbergh's first solo fight, Americus, GA