Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday, Oct 31st, Charleston, South Carolina


A South Carolina garden which first featured azaleas and camellias, and a swamp walk where Audubon spent time, were the targets for today. Magnolia Gardens, owned by nine generations of the Draytons, and which evolved from a Barbados sugar plantation owner’s dream to take advantage of the English King’s territorial ambitions into one of the most successful rice plantations in the colonies, was also the site of one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War. Its lowland waterways, fed by an elaborate freshwater irrigation system, provided 150 years of “Carolina Gold” to America as it fought its way from settlement, through the Revolution, and up to the end of the Civil War. Leveled by Union troops, the property rose again when a freed slave whose family had managed the gardens partnered with a rebellious family member whose yearning to become a minister was cut short due to the death of his older brother. Suffering from tuberculosis, and ordered by his doctor to “go get his hands in the soil”, John Grimke Drayton dedicated the rest of his life to creating a world-class, publicly-accessible, Garden of Eden at Magnolia on the Ashley River.
His descendants still own the property, and all gardens in America owe much to the care and dedication demonstrated by them.

Here is a link to the rest of the photos we took (Yes, Pat shot several of these) today: Magnolia Gardens


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday, Oct 30th, Charleston, South Carolina


Unfortunately, we're at at RV Resort which has no wifi (and no cable), for three days. And last night, the device aboard the Airstream which is supposed to alarm and wake us up if it detects gas - did so last night, and we couldn't get it turned off. At 7:00 am, it quieted down after an hour of my reading the manual, unscrewing it from the floorboard, and threatening to cut the wires.

We spent the day in Charleston, riding a historic tour bus, and wandering the Charleston Museum. Now at one of three Starbucks near the local college, I'm thinking of bailing on the town early. The old historic homes are very impressive (tightly-packed, and with unique designs), but the rest of the town seems overly commercial. Oh well, I'm sure it's from too little sleep. Pat is answering emails across from me, and we're listening to some Van Morrison and Ferron.

Later today....
The photos taken while riding on the historic tour trolley in Charleston today weren’t that bad. At least you could see the columns and porches and colors. There is one section referred to as Rainbow Row, recalling a Carribean visual influence. So here’s a link: Charleston

We came back to a beeping home, and immediately cut the wires to the offending device. Now we’ll probably just die asleep of a gas leak, even though we’re planning on opening several windows, and sleeping in the cold.

While we wait for our late lunch to settle, we’re listening on the Airstream’s radio to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”, after an episode of “Car Talk”, which we also heard this morning while driving into Charleston. Both are excellent, and we have lots of time for good listening.

Charleston has never been shy about picking a fight. In both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, key local decisions called into conflict what Americans believed in. Standing up first to the British at Fort Sumpter, or seceding from the Union, this town has been the scene of nation-defining arguments. The Charleston Museum is full of detailed descriptions which define very well what the issues were locally, and allow one to better understand these complex conflicts.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Saturday, Oct 28th, Tybee Island, Georgia


We’re watching a Rick Steves’ visit to Tuscany after a great Airstream-cooked dinner of porkloin and rice (with a nice cabernet sauvignon). Pat’s Etruscan genes complemented Steves’ excellent presentation of the food and wine of her grandparents’ home county. I truly believe that the 3rd Century Tuscans left us with some of the finest examples of a civilization whose art, architecture, city planning, and agriculture reached the highest levels.

Teeing off at 9:44am with a couple from Tennessee, I shot pars and bogies at the Wilmington Island Golf Course, and completed the round in an astounding 3.5 hours. That’s partly because there were probably only 30 players on the course today, and because we didn’t stop for lunch. Pat spent the day doing the laundry, comparing notes on travels with two neighbor RV ladies, and reading. When I got home, we walked down to the beach and checked out the shore birds (photos included).

With the last night of the World Series beginning, and a large party going on outside the Airstream, I’ll conclude this. We’re headed to Charleston tomorrow, where we’ll probably spend 3-4 nights before heading up to Asheville, North Carolina. We’ve escaped the cold spell currently storming into New England. Our plan is to fold in behind it, and make a beeline across Hwy 70/80 over the top of Colorado into Utah and down to SF by the 15th.

Here’s a link to the rest of the photos I took today:Golfing and Beachcombing


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday, Oct 27th, Tybee Island, Georgia


Yesterday afternoon, we arrived at the Tybee Island RV Resort in Savannah, Georgia after an all-day drive from eastern Alabama. We set up the trailer, walked over to the beach, and had a seafood dinner at the North Beach Grill. We watched the sun go down over the Atlantic as a group of 4H kids assembled in the beach parking lot for a conservation corps-led night hike along the shore. They mentioned that they had spent part of the day cleaning the beach. I think I'm going to like Savannah.

Today, we slept late (9;30am), and then drove into the town from the Island. We decided that the best way to see Savannah is to take a historic tour. It's the kind you can get off anywhere along the 15 stops, and walk around until you want to get back on. We spent the rest of the day riding with hilarious tour guides, visiting old houses and museums, and enjoying the many parks and colonial streets. And we got to see the bench that Forrest Gump sat on in the movie!

I'm having problems uploading photos to the blog tonight, so I'm just including a link to the rest of the photos taken today. There are a few more good ones: Tybee Island

Tomorrow, I may be playing some golf at a local course. Pat is suggesting that she could take the day off and just read on the beach. We'll see if either happens.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday, Oct 25th, Pelham, Alabama


Monday's trip across the rest of Arkansas, and today's trip south of Memphis, across Mississippi and Alabama, was pretty much a straight drive interrupted by lunch and dinner. We didn't find RV sites with wifi or cable connections, and would have had little to report if we had.

The Parkin Archeological site in eastern Arkansas was closed, as was the Crowley Nature Center fifty miles south. Today, we did enjoy our visit to the Chucalissa Archeological Preserve. It's on the grounds of the first state park named after an Afro-American, and created to allow Tennessee to comply with the "separate but equal" requirements of the laws which were passed in the early part of the last century. Earlier settlements featuring mounds dating to 1000 AD to 1550 AD were found when a civilian conservation corps team began digging a pool on the site. Tribes from the Cherokee, Chicasaw, and Choctaw nations have occupied the site, and it's now managed by an agreement between the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw Indians and the University of Memphis Anthropology Department. We spoke to Park staff about uploading an excellent video they had created recently to YouTube, and I'll be helping them accomplish that when I return.

Tomorrow, we dash to Savannah, Georgia. We've decided to spend a few days there and at Charleston, and save Kentucky and Tennessee until the trip home.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday, Oct 23rd, Mountain View, Arkansas


We walked back over to the Folk Center this morning, and stayed for the day. On the grounds of the Ozark Folk State Park, there are craftshops where dozens of skills are demonstrated from time past and present. We've all been to wood-working shops, but how many of you have met one of the worlds most prolific wooden topmaker? Or had a broom made for you? Or watched a jeweler make a necklace? We did all of those and more today, and listened to music at every turn.

I'm realizing that Arkansas has more going for it than I thought. The natural environment seems great, the people are warm and enjoyable, and the bounty of churches and trucks with NRA stickers isn't that bothersome. We had chicken and dumplings, okra, bacon and beans, and turnip greens for lunch today. We are enjoying ourselves, and haven't run out of things to do yet.

Here's the link to the many photos I took today: Ozark Folk Center Crafts Village


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday, Oct 22nd, Scott and Mountain View, Arkansas


How can it get any better than 1,000 year-old native american ruins and a folk music concert? Traveling to Scott, Arkansas, we visited the Toltec Mounds State Park. No, it wasn't built by the same 2nd century AD civilization which constructed mounds, large stone heads and circular time pieces along the Mexican eastern coast. But they thought it had been in the early 1800's when these mounds were discovered. So they name stuck, and the builders of these mounds (700AD to 1050AD) have had to struggle to find their own identity ever since. Thought to be ceremonial structures, their alignment also identifies solstice positions, and are positioned in precise distances from each other.

Heading north in the afternoon (after our fourth Subway sandwich lunch), we arrived in Mountain View just in time to settle in for an evening concert by The Big Smith, held in the Ozark Folk Center State Park auditorium. Hope to post a video slide show featuring blurry but vibrant photos of their performance with some of their music I recorded on my digital audio recorder.

Here is a link to the photos I took today of the Mounds: (Toltec Mounds), and the performance: (The Big Smith)

Here's the link to the video: The Big Smith at the Ozark Folk Center on Oct 22, 2011