Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pow-Wow Departure Day

Our tentative plans are to cut and run today.  Our destination is the SKP park at Bushnell where we'll  have better cell service and some electricity.   We'll wait there until Dusty's Camping World calls to say that they have our cooling unit.  We'll then head south, spend a day or two at Dusty's, then head on south to Paradise Park where we have friends.   But we're only there for a day or two before we again cut and run for Burns Lake and the Boondockers Rendezvous, which is near the Everglades.

Attending the Pow-Wow has been interesting and educational.  At the arena last night, some   of the dancers really worked themselves into a frenzy.  Others were very sedate as they danced around the circle.   There were also many more people last night, both watching and in the arena.   Dancers and guests have come from far and wide.

It really is a very orderly group, no recorded music, no drinking (which is banned) and no kids running a muck of everyone else.   During  the day, one sees numerous dogs on a  tight leash, but last night,the only dog I recall seeing was sleeping at the foot of his owner.

So what did we learn?  Several things:
Only the men and boys wear feathers in their regalia (it is not a costume).
Women and girls can wear a feather (or two) in their hair only.  The dress is a plain robe.
Young maidens can wear bright robes and fancifully trimmed decorations.
The rotation in the arena (dance circle) goes clockwise with individual exceptions.
Vendors are called traders, which sell for cash or lay things besides their tent on a blanket to  trade.
The chanting during the drum beat is in fact words being sung to the beat.

This Pow-wow is un-usual because everything except the food is free.  There is no entry fee, no parking fee or entertainment fee.   It is supported by donations.   At the end of the year, they have a surplus so that they can contribute much to a local veterans home which receives no federal money.

It has been a wonderful experience with our SKP friends.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Pow-Wow days

It is the day after Thanksgiving and all is quiet early in the morning, save for the persistent rooster that continues to announce his presence in the neighborhood.   I would not expect much activity from the attendees considering that they had a big day yesterday.

Sandy and I both agreed that it was a different Thanksgiving yesterday us.   For one thing, there was no hurrying about in the kitchen to get something baked for the table or to take to somewhere.   Just a very quiet way of people moving about.

I'm not sure about other pow-wows, but this one very much honors our service personnel, past and present.   I even told Sandy that it surprised me the amount of respect shown for our nation after what we have done to the native Americans (not called Indians here).   It probably shouldn't surprise me, but the events always start with a prayer or blessing and thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Every day begins with an opening and presentation of the flags and all veterans are asked to help bring the colors in.   They also remove the colors before the activities begin

Another thing that has surprised me is how inter-married the native peoples are. It seems that no one is full-blooded this or that.  Most of the tribes mentioned are what we might think of as the lost tribes east of the Mississippi.  I don't recalling anyone saying that they were Apache, or Sioux or Blackfeet etc.

The RV group that we are with here at the Pow-wow provided the servers for the dinner yesterday afternoon.   It went very well,  We started at 3 PM and served the last one at 4:15 before we went through the line ourselves.   Then we learned how good or poor we were.   We were down to the last dozen paper plates, just a few utensils, no salads or vegetables  and very few desserts.   We had a good supply of turkey and ham available.   (and no pumpkin pie!)

The evening program was an interesting demonstration of all of the kinds of dances, all to the beat of the drum!   Sandy and I both wondered what was the music like before the day of PA sound systems.  Or are we listening the same volume as today's teenagers want to hear (at their excessive level?)

Today will be all Native American activities  (and the beat goes on!)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Pow-wow days

We have been here since Monday and we've kind of settled into a quiet routine.   We love it.  The sun shines very brightly and there has been almost no wind.   For the rest of the week, highs in the low 80s and the lows around 60.  That is almost hard to take.

But then Saturday comes and the low will be nearly 38 and the highs maybe into the mid sixties.   That will be even harder to take!

We picked up our general delivery package yesterday and we have the digital converter out, installed and working.   It operates a bit differently from the others, so we've hooked it up to the bedroom TV, which has some advantages and a disadvantage.   The good news is that we can use that TV now.  The bad news is that the converter and channel selector is at the front of the coach.   But considering that we have never watched a TV program on that TV, it doesn't appear to be a problem.

The one drawback is that the bedroom TV is being designated as the antenna setup TV.  So the rotating antenna up front has to be coordinated with the channel strength reading in the rear!.   The digital converter is up front and the TV is in the rear bedroom.  So it will be a two person setup when ever we do it.

Tomorrow is  the official beginning of the Pow-wow and we'll see.  Tonight we had a finger food potluck and then a briefing on how to act.   Or should we say "What the proper protocol is!"

Time for an early turn in.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Pow Wow, Here we come!

Today was moving day and while Gene is normally up early, Sandy was also up by 6 AM.  That is un-usual.   But after breakfast, she confessed that she needed to rework and print a newsletter outline for a gal in Iowa that she is helping by remote control  (A new user of Open Office.)   I knew there had to be a better reason than "we were moving!"

But all went well and we were on the road by 9:30 AM.  We had a nice road to Fort McCoy and upon our arrival, we spotted a sign towards the post office.   We stopped at the post office, as we are expecting mail, general delivery type.    However, it was not there.  It seems that the Zip Code for Fort McCoy is the same as the code for Salt Springs and after being here for 2 days, they sent it to Salt Springs.  A quick phone call and they said it will be back in Ft. McCoy tomorrow morning.   I thought ZIP codes were to be unique to each post office!   I guess it is not always true.

Yesterday morning, we headed to Starke for church at 10 AM.   However upon arrival, we found the building closed.  It is a small congregation and apparently they have moved locations, with no forwarding sign on the old rented facility.   We should have called the pastor on Friday or Saturday just to confirm the arrangements.  This is the first time it has happened to us in 16 years.

So we did our weekly shopping at Walmart and returned to Waldo.   In the PM, it was a very quiet day, other than the constant din of the Motocross bikes just south of us in the city park. Thankfully, it all closed down by sundown.

We are the first of about 25 SKP campers for the pow wow.   There are about 20 rigs here,   scattered about the grounds  (20 acres worth).   The grounds is all grass with some big oak trees heavily laden with moss.   It will be interesting to see how the pow wow develops and how they park the cars.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why write it, who reads it?

Saturday (yesterday) was a very slow day in our house.   Sandy was suffering from a sinus allergy so I've learned to lay low and out of the way.

In the PM, I walked over to the neighboring flea market and picked up some peppers and tomatos (the only things I'm trusted with on making a decision.)   But I must say, the place looked the same as the days before.   A few more people around, more tables occupied,  but junk is still junk.

There was one booth that reminded me of how my dad's generation used to stack loose hay on the farm.  It looked like he had cleaned out a house and everything (minus the furniture) was stacked.   I just chuckled.  Yes, there were some tools in it, but to see what kind would have caused it all to come tumbling down.  The stack (or pile) was about 8 feet by 10 feet and about 5 feet high with vertical sides.   In that space, you can get a lot of household stuff.   The seller was sitting on a stool beside it and no lookers.   The stuff was in sacks, boxes, bundles etc.

We did learn yesterday just how important our blog is.   Visiting with our daughter on the phone, she asked something about our recent activities.  It was obvious that she hasn't read the blog for days or weeks.   I guess that is the price of progress.  

Today is church, grocery shopping, laundry and pre-departure stuff.    Tomorrow we only have 50 miles to travel plus a stop at the small town post office to get our mail which is there (I checked the tracking number.)  Of course, there isn't much activity here and I'm really curious about where we're going.   It is a pow-wow on a farm 10 miles from town.   It will be a different Thanksgiving week.

Plus the weather has been fantastic.  75 in the afternoon, 50 late at night.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Some Days the Sun shines Brightly

Yesterday was almost a repeat of the previous few days.  I'm beginning to love this slow down of sitting and watching the world go by!

But there is always a fly in the ointment and yesterday we had one of those guys.   It was a good fly (I think) but it has caused me to wonder what it is that I don't know.  Yesterday morning we called the RV shop that we'd like to stop in at and have our refrigerator recall taken care of.   No problem, they took the information and indicated that when the parts were in they would call us, probably in about a week or so.  Fine!

Yesterday afternoon, we get a call from the scheduler to inform us that Norcold is not providing us with the standard recall fix, but they are providing us with a totally new cooling unit.   It doesn't make sense to me unless there is something drastically wrong with our particular production run of cooling units.  If so, dare I even continue to use it?   Am I being blessed with a new cooling unit or are we cursed?

The background for you non-RV readers is that a number of RV users have had major RV fires in the last few years.  The cause of some of the fires was supposedly the cooling unit of their Norcold refrigerator.   Think about it!   We have a Norcold refrigerator.   Should we turn it off every time we leave the rig?   Should we be installing a temporary heat detector until the recall is fixed?  (Which only works when we're here to hear it!)

When this whole thing came up, it was no big deal.   But as I think about it and write this, I begin to get the feeling that I'm sitting on a time bomb and I don't know what the setting is!   We will install something today.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Insulting the customer

This relaxing in a park for a week is great.   A real time to slow down and watch the world go by.

Yesterday we decided to go back to Starke to pick up Sandy's prescription.  Also to get a haircut for me,  visit the RV dealer about our Norcold recall and eventually find a store that had the fittings for the spare water pump I puchased a month ago.   On the way we noticed that Florida grapefruit were finally in season (and we bought some.)

All went well until we visited the RV store.   I've never been treated so rudely as a customer or even somebody's friend or enemy.   The store owner was an absolute jerk.   When I declined to take his one inch catalog, he blew a gasket, calling me names etc.   We finally just walked out.

In the afternoon, Sandy and I walked over to the neighboring city gokart or moto-cross park.   It has two sizes of mud tracks for the big boys, a practice moto-cross layout for the little boys and somewhere in the back apparently a full blown course.   We may luck out and not have anything here this weekend, as the big week-end event is near Gainesville (thank goodness).

Sandy didn't appear to be impressed with the activity.  I told her that it was another side of life that she hadn't been exposed to since we did not have a son.   I suggested that it was even better than a riding horse since if the weather was nasty, you didn't have to visit the barn to feed them.

We did learn that the big event for Waldo this week-end is that the local flea market on Saturday and Sunday.   I think we can handle that since we're on the other side of the highway and away from it.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slowing down in an RV Park

We've been here 2 days and really enjoying it.   Sandy is buried with the computer, doing something all day long.  She may take a hike once to get some fresh air.   Gene usually vacates the premises and relaxes outside in a lawn chair to watch the world go by.

Yesterday afternoon, we did get Sandy to go with us in the car to see what kind of town Waldo is. Not much!   It is actually located at a junction in the highway, with the train tracks going through near main street.

In our drive, we noticed a sign saying that the "Right Lane Closed Saturday".  We need to determine why.  Either it is excess Florida football traffic passing through or the local flea market's big day or perhaps the local "Go Kart Track" is having a big event.   I know one thing, we're going to stick close to our rig for the day.

Currently we're playing the waiting game.   Sandy needs a prescription refill, but the current prescription has expired.  So the pharmacists was going to call in for a renewal and then call us.  Then we'll go pick it up.   While back in Starke, we'll do a few other things also.  (The list rarely gets shorter.)

The weather yesterday was so so.  One could not venture too far from cover since it periodically would rain from sprinkles to a momentary deluge.

They need the rain here in north Florida.  There is a grass fire near the east coast that closed Interstate 95 for an hour.   That had to create a traffic jam of the first order.  We love this temperature.  Last night was the first night in a long time when we didn't have any heat on.  This morning, it was 67 degrees in our cabin.

My biggest frustration is the lousy TV reception.   We have plenty of stations, but it seems that all of them periodically loose it.  I can hardly wait for mail call in about a week when we get a new digital converter from Beth.   Finally we'll be able to point the antenna to exactly where the strongest signal is based upon a meter reading and not a picture that is either there or not there!

It is great to just stop for a few days.


Monday, November 15, 2010

We're holed up in a full-service campgound

We left our friendly Walmart at 10 AM and headed down the road, not knowing exactly where we'd end up.   We had looked at the state publication on campgrounds and found nothing that we liked.  In other words,  most exceeded my economical goals

There was one park I liked, but it was vetoed by the other half.   She didn't like the idea of a park with water on both sides, too many mesquitos might be around.   So we headed down the road, hoping to spot something.   We saw one about a mile outside of Starke, but we were going too fast and the traffic was too heavy for a panic stop.    But about 10 miles down the road in a small town, we spotted a possibility.

We wheeled in to the office and went in to meet a computer terminal.(in a very bare room).   They did have the rates posted, which exceeded my goal.   So out to leave.  However, Sandy spotted someone hurrying across the park, which we took to be the owner or manager.   So we went out to see what he had to say.

He asked why I was leaving and I straight out told him that his prices were out of line for what we were looking for, and I quoted the prices by the fishing camp I liked.   He then made a series of excuses that the posted price was for using a credit card   and he quoted a lower price.   I countered that it was still too much.   He then finally quoted a price I could live with (and paid by check.)

So we are now parked in an RV  park in a small town, also known as the "Speed trap Capital of Florida".   We have full hookups, a concrete pad to park on with a concrete patio, with the motorhome facing the northwest, so we don't take the sun head on in the front window in the PM.

Tomorrow we start attending to small  issues.  Number one on the list is a Norcold refrigerator recall.  Their alert said to turn it off and not use it!   Not a tolerable thing to do when you're a full timer.  The recall is going to add a high temperature sensor to the chimney., about a 30 minute job by some of the reports we have read.   While we're parked here, the unit will be operating on AC, verses LP.  These RV refrigerators are the pits.   I think the manufacturers have value-engineered them a bit too much.

So  tonight we relax.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the Road to Florida

We left Congaree National Park yesterday morning for a leisure drive south. No schedule; just one goal --to  find a park with electricity..   We had targeted a campground on I-95, which was a Passport America stop.  The number one reason:  It was economical.

We drove for an hour and then called them to see if they had a vacancy?  Yep, come on in.  The campground is really part of the local Comfort Inn Motel  and my first observation was that it is too close to the interstate.   As time would tell, I was right!  But Sandy thought it was okay, so we stayed.  (Road noise is very noticeable and gets worse as you stay here.)

In the afternoon, we did the laundry in the smallest laundromat we have ever used, one washer and one dryer.   But it wasn't busy otherwise, so it just took a while.   While Sandy was busy with the laundry, Gene walked to the front desk to ask about the complementary breakfast she mentioned when we checked in.  It is waffles, pastries, juice and coffee, free.   We'll see if that holds this morning,  or if she says since we are using a discount card, we have to pay for it.

With electricity, I was looking forward to perhaps seeing some TV last night.  But it was a washout.   There are only two stations available intermittently, --poor reception.  I watched an hour of PBS and called it an evening.

With plenty of electricity available, we used our electric space heaters profusely.   It may be freezing outside, but we're toasty warm inside.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Relaxing at Congaree National Park.

blog  Relaxing at Congaree N.P.

Tonight is our 4th night here at Congaree NP.  We have enjoyed it, probably could have done more but you always want to save something for the next time.   Tonight we went to an evening walk program which had 10 re-enactment stations along the board walk.  Well done.

After our strenuous walks on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday), we have tried to take it a bit easier. Today I did my mile walk to the visitor center to renew our camping pass.  No big deal other than following the trail in the woods, which is pretty well marked.  Once I almost left it, but quickly realized I might be in trouble.

Tomorrow we head south (to warmer digs). It is to be down to 36 tonight here and that is too cold.  Our mail arrived at a little town near Jacksonville, FL, but we'll schedule ourselves through it on Monday of next week.  

Next week is a down week with hookups someplace in northern Florida, followed by a week boondocking at a Pow-wow near Fort McCoy, FL.  

Next week we need to get serious about advertising a brake controller on eBay plus we need to get real serious about a recall on our refrigerator.   I think they have a fire hazard in it and the recall just adds a over temperature sensor.    So if you're not hear to hear the sensor, you kiss it goodbye anyway!

We'll keep this one short and maybe my proof reader will finally ignore me (I hope).


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A long Hike in the Woods

Yesterday, we almost over did it.  Congaree NP is a swamp and thus everything to see is down below on the forest floor.  So like good tourist, we picked up the info and headed out on the trails.   We decided that we had best stick close to well marked trails, so we chose a boardwalk.  (It can't be marked any better!)

It was a level hike and 2.5 miles in length. Not too bad for us out of shape flat-landers.   We took our time and had no problems.  At noon, it was back to the rig for lunch, a short nap and back to the visitor center for a ranger led hike on history.

To our surprise, the ranger led hike was going to cover the same 2.5 miles.   We asked if his presentation today would duplicate what he'd cover Friday night on their big weekend Swamp Fest doings?   Yes, almost the same.  It ended up that Sandy and I were the only ones on the hike, so he asked what we'd like to do?   We asked if there was another subject besides history since we were going to be on his Friday night hike?   He said, "sure, we'll cover the forest."  So off we went.

We left the board walk for 3/4 of a mile and used an old road, which he was familiar with. (It helps to have a tour guide.)   When we finally returned,  we had enough.   So for the day, we have hike 4.5 miles, a good days hike for us!   Afterwards, we moved the motorhome back to the parking lot and settled in for the evening.  There were 3 rigs in the lot.

Today is an off day for us.   Later this afternoon, we'll do a 2 mile hike to a remote tent camp.  Not that we're going to pitch our tent there, but just to have a destination.  We'll have our GPS so if we miss a trail marker, we'll at least know which way home is.

We parked the rig in a corner of the lot, not realizing that it was shaded by the trees this morning.  So we decided to run our Honda generator and bring the batteries up to snuff.  I think we were down about a 130 Ampere-hours, which is way more than we can pick up in a day of bright sun (the sun is shining brightly today.)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chasing the Swamp Fox

We made it to Congaree Swamp National Park, one of the newer parks in the system.  Congaree NP is a swamp along the Congaree River here in South Carolina.   Early attempts to log it failed because the cypress trees were too big.  They couldn't be drug or floated out of the swamp.  So they were never harvested, giving us today a beautiful stand of "old growth" trees that are magnificent.

Yesterday we drove 250 miles from Wilson to here, almost a travel record for us.  To think that some years ago, we could easily do 500 miles and one time we did 700 miles a day.  But no more.   Yesterday, we even stopped at a rest stop and I sacked out on the floor for a few minutes.

I also learned yesterday that times have changed.   We historically have been big users of the Flying J services.  Well, we're going to change.   We stopped and fueled up at the Flying J okay.  Then as pulled out, I noticed that two adjacent stations had cheaper prices.  That is a bummer.   Then we tooled on down the road about 50 miles and stopped at a Walmart for kitchen supplies and the diesel pieces were exactly fifteen cents cheaper then what we paid.  It was my own fault, as I knew the route we were taking and my Delorme Mapping program shows all of the Walmart stores and if they have diesel service.  It was like pitching a five dollar bill into the trash can!

We are planning to stay here a day or two or three.  Perhaps even longer.   They are having a Historical Re-enactment of the old days here on Friday and Saturday and we'd like to see it.   So we may stick around.   If you remember your Revolutionary history, this was the area where one of the Patriots  (The Swamp Fox)  harassed the British and then hid in the swamps.

The camping facilities here are different from most parks.   We are parked in the overflow visitor parking lot, about the size of small basketball court.  Outside of the parking lot are grassed sites for tents.  But RVs park in the parking lot.  They are spreading 6 inches of new gravel on the lot now, so we have to move to the regular lot shortly after 8 AM.   After we move (and when it warms up some) Sandy and I are taking a mile or two mile hike (on their path) into the swamp .

Unlike many parks we have visited where you have miles and miles of scenic vistas, here you have lots of trees.   The road is like a trench.


Monday, November 8, 2010

It was Great to Visit a Relative

It was great to be parked in a location with an electrical connection last night.  We got our monies worth running the heater all  night.   (We could use the built in Suburban heater, but they are so in-efficient plus they wreck the battery charge in short order.  So we refuse to use it.)

We had a long visit with Clark and his wife Peggy this morning at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant next to the interstate.  It was on the opposite side of town from where we're at, but Ms Garmin got us there.   Of course the route we took varied some from her preferred selection.   But we got there.

We had a slight shocker this morning when we went out to get into the car, it was covered with FROST.  The real bummer was that we don't have a scraper in the car either, so we used our trusty comb.  That shouldn't happen  again this season I hope.  We're headed further south in the morning (plus it is supposedly warming up for a while.)

We made arrangements for our mail this afternoon.  Four weeks ago, our mail was not accepted by a post office because we hadn't registered with them our intent to get our mail there.  So we had to decide what our schedule is and then we called the post office (in Florida).   Yes, we had to fill out the an online form to tell them what our plans were.   But after an hour, I gave up and called them again.  This time, I got a different clerk and she offered to registered  me.  We quickly gave her our name.

Tomorrow we're headed down the road and I'm not sure where.   I told Sandy I was getting soft and ready to stay in campgrounds (with electricity) for a while.  But it was such a nice day and the local weather report is for  a  warming trend, so maybe we'll take in another boondocking (dry camping) opportunity at the Congree National Swamp just southeast of Columbia, SC.   We'll decide tomorrow when we're on the road.  Otherwise we've picked out a possible stopping location.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wilson, NC to see cousin Clark

We were slow getting up this morning and then had some confusion on which way the clock needed to be reset.  We finally worked out the details and had a very late breakfast.   During the very early morning, Gene suffered a leg cramp in his left calf.  It really disturbed his sleep.  Then closer to morning, Sandy complained that she had cold feet.  So Gene got a robe and his parka coat and added it to the stack of blankets on her feet.  Eventually, she fell asleep, indicating she was comfortable.

Gene was up before the crack of dawn (he needs very little sleep). So he surfed some and caught up on some journal notes.  We finally left Williamston a little before 10:30, and headed for Wilson, NC, the home town of Gene's cousin Clark.   We made good time and arrived at Wilson right at noon and a few minutes later, we were at the campground.   It is nothing fancy, but functional and it has electric.

Electric is important, as we are getting softer and softer.   We want electric to run the heaters to keep the interior of the rig at a modest comfortable temperature.  I guess last night I decided we've had  enough of this cold weather for a while.

There are pleanty of campgrounds around.  The problem  is finding one that meets our needs. We bought a membership into the Passport America  operation and we intend to get our money's worth.   A basic PPA park charges members half of the going commerical rate.  Since this park was advertising it at $25 a night for water and electric, we get it for $12.50 a night.  Usually there is a limit on how many nights you can stay at a park (here it is limited to one week.)

I almost forgot to mention that yesterday we toured the Wright Brother's Historical Site at Kitty Hawk, NC.  We found it very interesting and educational.    I didn't realize that they had to  develop some of the equations used to design their gliders and then the Kitty Hawk Flyer.  They certainly were two very talented men.

We also were going to tour the historical site where Sir Walter Raleigh tried to start a colony  (it failed) on Roanoke Island.   The historical site has a large area,  but between being shut down for the season and being rebuilt, it was a bummer for us.   We left after about 45 minutes.

It has warmed up considerably this afternoon and by next weekend, the highs are to be near 75 degrees and the lows only down to 50 degrees.  We'll take that.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Leaving the Williamsburg Area

Today was bright and cheery, so it was laundry time and time to roll.   We didn't hurry and  it was almost 11 AM when we finally left the park.   Then it was time to go to a gas station to get some  LP.  Boy did we get took on that one.  He charged us over $6 a gallon verses something over $3 a gallon in Iowa.    This is a tourist area and they know that you have few options.

It was a hundred mile day today.  We have ended up at a little town called  Elizabeth City, NC.  We're not actually in the town, as we're far out west of it in a SuperWalmart   Another one of those cases where the city fathers didn't let Walmart into the community, so Walmart built outside and guess what, it is a busy place.

We took a timely break today at a rest stop next to the Great Dismal National Swamp and the Dismal Canal.   While there we met a couple that was from Canada, sailing south via the inter-coastal waterway  which uses the Dismal canal.    We didn't tour their boat, but space wise, it certainly looked like it would be tighter living on a boat than in our RV..

Tomorrow is off to see Kitty Hawk and the sands that the Wright Brother's played in.  It is the area called the "Outer Banks of North Carolina".      There is lots of history in this area, such as the first settlers in the New World -they didn't make it.   We also need to reset our clocks Saturday night.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Petersburg, VA , 150 years later

Today we drove about 60 miles to the  little town of Petersburg, VA which is about 30 miles south of Richmond, VA.  Petersburg's claim to fame is that it was a railroad town.   All of the rail traffic headed for Richmond passed through Petersburg..   During the Civil war, the federal forces realized that an alternative to assaulting Richmond (the capital of the Confederacy) was to starve Richmond out by taking  Petersburg.

We followed our GPS routing to get from here to there  until we were in Petersburg.  We wanted to go to the Visitor's Center and I wasn't sure we had the correct address as a destination, but we knew the general area.  However, after driving in circles a couple of times, we stopped at a tourist information site and obtained directions to the Visitor's Center.

Once we found the Visitor's Center, we showed our Golden Age pass and asked about seeing the video.  The 17 minute video was an excellent overview of what happened at Petersburg.  We then looked at the items in the museum.

Once outside, we decided to eat our lunch as we walked to one of the intact gun batteries near the museum .  The earthworks have been in place for almost 150 years and they are still in surprisingly good shape.  The highlight of the walk was a longer walk outside of the gun battery which went down behind a hill to a union gun position.

The Union gun was a huge mortar that could hurl a 225 pound shell 2 miles to the center of Petersburg.  It was apparently not that deadly, as it was reported that the town's citizen's got used to it and even after hearing the boom of the firing, they tended to ignore it.

We then drove the tour route to see where various emplacements were located.  The last stop was where Pennsylvania ex-miners in the army dug a 500 foot tunnel from the Union line to a location under the Confederate line.   The finished tunnel was then filled with gun powder in the area under the Confederate line and eventually it was detonated.  (They had a fuse problem and two volunteers had to re-enter the tunnel and see why it didn't go off.)

They located the problem, re-lite the fuse  and beat it.   The original plan was for two battalions of colored troops to rush the Confederate line immediately after the explosion.  They had been well briefed to stay out of the blast crater and rush one battalion on each side.   However, General Meade decided that there was too much risk to the assault, and  therefore he ordered that the colored troops not be used.    His concern was what the public reaction  might have been if the assault failed and the colored troops were wiped out.

So two battalions of white replacements were selected at the last minute, "they were NOT briefed other than being told to go forward after the explosion.  They were slow in charging ahead and went in using the crater for  cover.  Unfortunately, the Confederate forces regrouped fast and occupied the crater high ground and said it was like shooting  fish in a barrel.   It was not a good day for Union forces.

Back at the campground, we were both tired from walking and driving.  More later.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yorktown and Beyond

Today we packed up and left the Hampton city park.  As I explained yesterday, their daily rate is absurd, more than a private park.  So we used our RV freedom's and left.  On the way up here, we spent the day at Yorktown Battlefield National Historical Park.

About 30 years ago, on a Christmas time vacation to the DC area, we visited Williamsburg, VA and also Yorktown.  Looking back on it, we didn't do justice to Yorktown then and perhaps not even today.   As the park ranger said, the weather often times determines who wins the battle and it certainly helped the Revolutionaries.  If nothing else, it shortened the battle time.

Tomorrow, we are off to  see more battle sites from the civil war.   It is a little town outside of Richmond that helped protect the supply lines into Richmond.   Our challenge tonight was trying to figure out where the sites are at in Petersburg.   Sandy has the GPS programmed andd I have an idea of what is there and where the the stuff is at.

We can't sign off without commenting about the election today/tonight.  I thought for a moment that I was going to be without TV, but we finally got it working.   I'm not sure if it is a TV problem or a bad cable.   But we have a channel and I'm not changing it  One interesting observation was we had similar problems last night and I expected to have better results today.   Not so.


Hampton, VA, a One Night Stand

We made it yesterday at a reasonable time.   Getting into this area at 2 PM is a lot better than the 5 PM that we did 2 years ago.   Plus we used Sandy's GPS to run us directly to  the city park in Hampton, VA.

Early indications were that this was going to be a long term, restful stop , supposedly at $10 a night.  SURPRISE, they raised the rate to $30 a night last July.   We debated about leaving, but Sandy thought we ought to pay it for one night and get some rest.   It was probably the right thing to do.

One of our first things to  do  on the internet was to email  our friend (Guy Gipson of the Escapee's Day's End list)  and tell him about the rate change. Let's not have any more Escapee's heading this way to get taken by greedy city fathers.

We settled in to a spot, then we had to register and also ask for someone to come and unlock our electrical box.   They literally put a cable around the box to prevent its opening.   I guess they are worried about late arrivals and early departures.

There were 24 digital channels via the TV scan,  but we could really only bring in 3 or 4.  I'm not sure what is going on.  We do know that there is lots of military in the area, so perhaps they have something online that knocks out the new digital signals even though the TV will see it during the scan.

When we arrived, there was a number of over flights by Air Force fliers with their hot noisy fighter jets.  Sandy was concerned that it would go on all night, but I assured her that after the 5 PM closing, it would be quiet. It was.    This morning, they played Reveille at 6 AM.  (Sandy even decided that it was time to get up then.)    Langley AFB is about a mile west of here across the bay.

Today we're taking the coach and leaving this place for a park near Williamsburg, VA.  It has a Passport America rate of $20 a night for full hookups. The down side is that it is near a train tracks and has very crowded sites but supposedly is not busy now.   On the way, we'll spend lots of time at the Yorktown Battlefield Memorial Park just 30 miles west of here and on the way to Williamsburg, Va.

As we leave, I'd like to stop at the park office and give them a few thoughts of mine.   But they'll be left un-said!  Why get my blood pressure up when I don't need to?