Okay, My Absolutely LAST Post about Charleston

I had one more day in Charleston. I was meeting up with Ginny. We got to know each other through Facebook. I saw her name on a mutual friend’s post, and I asked her if she was in my class. It turns out that her daughter was in my class! So, while we probably did meet back in the ’90s, we got to know each other through Facebook.

I love Facebook!

We met up at the The Charleston Visitor Center. This time I parked in the lot in front of the Center instead of in the parking structure. That was a little easier!

Our first stop was the Charleston Museum, which is one of the oldest museums in the United States. It was founded in 1773 and opened to the public in 1824.

It kind of reminds me of the Cabinets of Curiosities that became popular in Europe during the 17th century.  The items on display in the museum seemed to focus largely on the history of Charleston.

There were pottery fragments. I did rather like this inscription, “With all my love fill up the bowl.”

I found this grave marker to be quite odd. It looks to me like it was a headboard for a bed. I guess it was a common way to mark graves. I wonder if it meant that the person died in bed?

More dishes that George Washington used.

This much repaired basket caught my eye. There is a certain grace to items that have been well cared for and repaired. According to the label, this was in use before the Civil War.

These  fragments of baskets were not so lucky, but they sure are old.

They had a rather sizable collection of slave badges for those who were working away from the plantation or the home.

I was quite fascinated by this toilet chair. It kind of reminds me of something I saw in a tiny camper. They put their toilet in an ottoman.

I have to say that I prefer my flushing toilet.

They kind of had odds and ends. I rather liked the roof tile with the cat paw print in it.

Here’s a brick machine. I kind of thought that the clay was formed in molds, but I guess people are always looking for better ways to do things.

They had a variety of bricks on display.

I thought this printing plate for “Bonnie Blue Flag” was interesting. Really, they kind of had a hodgepodge of things. Of course, I was chatting with Ginny while I was looking at the displays, so maybe it had a stronger through-thread than I detected.

Speaking of random, there was a whale skeleton hanging in the lobby.

This was a forty-foot male Atlantic Right Whale that swam into the Charleston Harbor on January 7, 1880. It was pursued by an “armada” composed of four steam tugs, fifty to sixty rowboats and several other watercraft. It was killed and exhibited in Charleston for several days. Gabriel Manigault, who was the curator of the museum, collected and reassembled the whale’s skeleton and it has been on permanent exhibition ever since.

The whale’s baleen served to strain out the krill it lived on. It was also used to make the stays that were used in whalebone corsets. On the left side of the picture, you see the stays.

The stays were part of an exhibit on fashion. We had been in the museum for quite a while, so we kind of skimmed through.

These red silk breeches, from about 1750, were thought to have been worn by Charles Pinckney. The vibrant red color was most likely achieved with cochineal dye.

They also had a small display about pearl buttons that were made in Muscatine, Iowa around 1915. During the early 20th century, Muscatine was considered the pearl button capital of the world. Interesting.

Our last stop was the restroom. Even the restroom had a display.

Chamber pots. How appropriate!

Our next stop was lunch. Luckily, my former student, Kira, was able to join us!

Lunch was tasty. In fact, everything I ate in Charleston was delicious!

I had the chicken fried steak – or was that the chicken fried chicken? Whichever it was, it was good!

Thus restored, we had one more stop to make – the Joseph Manigault house, which was built in 1803.

I assume this is the front door. We went around to the back.

I have always been partial to porches.

Gracious touches like these also catch my eye.

We met out guide inside and she showed us the rooms that were restored to their former glory

This is the drawing room. It’s on the second floor to take advantage of the breezes. Also, the mosquitoes were less likely to fly that high.

I like that the windows have a portion on the bottom that opens up to permit people to walk out on the porch.

We were moving pretty quickly though the house, so I didn’t take a photo of every item of interest. I thought that the rice motif on this bedpost was appropriate, as rice was a major source of wealth.

We passed beneath the chandelier and headed out. Ginny and I parted ways. It’s always so good to meet up with friends!

I got back to the campground and got packed up. On my way out, it’s time to hit the trash dumpster and then empty the tanks.

Next stop, Savannah!



A Little More from My Charleston Visit

Well, my time in Charleston is starting to be a very distant memory, but I’ll share a few more things and then move along.

On a dreary day, I set out for Angel Oak.

Angel Oak is a live oak estimated to be over 500 years old. It’s about 70 feet at all and the trunk measures 28 feet in circumference.

The branches extend so far that it produces 17,200 square feet of shade. It’s longest branch is about 190 feet long.

I really wanted to visit Angel Oak because they were having a fund raiser to buy more of the land around the small park and I made a donation in my father’s honor after his passing in 2013.

I wore his hat to the tree.

I was curious about the name, “Angel Oak.” I wondered if there was something supernatural that happened here, or if people thought the branches looked like angel’s wings.

Actually, the oak’s name comes from the estate of Justus and Martha Angel, which is where the tree is located. Local folklore tells stories of the ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree.

They are very protective of the tree, and there are signs all around telling you what not to do. There was a sign I saw that said that we could gently touch the tree, so I did.

My next stop was downtown Charleston. Time once again to park in the ramp.

Man, as I look forward to one day finishing my “Lower 48” and abandoning the rolling lifestyle, one of the things I look forward to most is driving a smaller vehicle.

BART lives up to its name – BIG ass red truck.

I jumped on the trolley and went down toward the cool part of town. I just decided to wander around and see what I could see. I got off the trolley at Broad Street.

This building caught my eye. There is a plaque on it that says it’s the Confederate Home. According to Wikipedia, it is now a retirement home. It was built in 1800 and started its life as a double tenement, which was built for master builder Gilbert Chalmers.

From 1834 to 1867, it was the Carolina Hotel. In 1867, sisters Amarinthia Snowden and Isabell Snowden establish the Home of the Mothers, Widows and Daughters of Confederate Soldiers, otherwise known as the Confederate Home. The building was damaged by the big 1886 Charleston earthquake and then it was restored with fashionable Victorian details, including a mansard roof and dormers.

I love these houses with the side porches and how they have elaborate doors to the ground floor porches. Or are these called verandahs? I mean, we are down south.

I wandered on and my next stop was St. Michael’s Church. I entered through the graveyard.

I came across Charles Pinckney’s grave. Yes, that Charles Pinckney. He was very prominent.

John Rutledge is also buried here. He lived 1739 – 1800 and was another over-achiever.

First President and First Governor of South Carolina.
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Chief Justice of the United States
A Principal Architect and Signer of the United States Constitution.

Alexis de Tocqueville declared, “There is no mystery about it – the authorship of the Constitution is quite clear – a man named John Rutledge wrote it.”

The altar has a beautiful stained glass window of St. Michael behind it.

I listened in on part of a tour and heard that this ambo is original to the church, which was built between 1751 and 1761. The guide said that the curve of the little roof-like structure helped to project the speaker’s voices.

I looked around a bit and enjoyed the boxed pews that must have belonged to prominent families. I should have thought to ask where visitors would sit.

On the way out, I passed by what I assumed was the baptismal font and into the vestibule.

Do you see that short step up? The guide said that the earthquake in 1886 caused the steeple that is over the vestibule to drop six inches, and it created a step where none had been before.

St Michael’s is located at the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets. They call this area the Four Corners of Law. St. Michael’s represents ecclesiastic law. The other corners are occupied by Charleston City Hall, The Federal Courthouse and the Country Courthouse.

Actually, the name “Four Corners of Law” was coined in the 1930s by Robert Ripley, of Ripley’s Believe it or Not fame.

When I visited, the streets around the church were lined with various law enforcement vehicles. They were in the middle of two big cases: Michael Slager was on trial for shooting Walter Scott and Dylann Roof was on trial for the Emanuel AME Church murders.

I was quite surprised to see Homeland Security represented among all the other police vehicles. I have to admit, I found the presence of so much law enforcement a bit unsettling.

However, they proved to be pleasant and helpful. I chatted with one of the Homeland Security officers for a few minutes and he reminded me of the trials that were taking place. I have to admit that I never drew the connection between the news that I had heard with the city I was in.

The officer accompanied me into the street to watch for traffic when I took a photo of St. Michael’s steeple. I was told that they painted the steeple black during the Civil War to prevent the enemy from using it as a target. It also had a clock and change ringing bells that date from the colonial era.

This is the country courthouse, where I believe the Dylann Roof trial was taking place.

This plaque was in front of the Federal Courthouse. The case of Briggs v. Elliott was an important trial in striking down segregation in South Carolina, which was mandated by state law.

MANDATED by law. That’s what really blew me away. It wasn’t that the law permitted segregation – segregation was mandated by law.

Article 11, Section 7 of the 1895 Constitution of South Carolina read as follows: “Separate schools shall be provided for children of the white and colored races, and no child of either race shall ever be permitted to attend a school provided for children of the other race.” Section 5377 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina of 1942 read: “It shall be unlawful for pupils of one race to attend the schools provided by boards of trustees for persons of another race.”

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of many people, the law was finally changed.

Just across the street, behind the courthouse, was an area set up for the press. The were expecting a decision in the Michael Slager in the next day or so, so they were ready for announcements.

“ON AIR – ONLINE  – ON MOBILE”  On fleek?

I continued along and enjoyed spotting things here and there.

I thought this Charleston “snowman” was a fun touch.

I liked this fan window from the South Carolina Society Hall that was erected in 1804.

I wandered past the Hibernian Hall. The sign said that it was a private club, but the gate was open. I wanted to see what was under the portico.

Hmm…what could that be?

A souvenir from the Old Sod.

I wandered on. I was eager to see the Circular Church.

This particular building dates from 1890 but uses bricks from the earlier structures. A large domed church to replace earlier wooden structures was built in the early 1800s. It was designed by Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument.

This illustration was from a June 1857 Harper’s Magazine.

Unfortunately, the church that Mills designed burned down in a catastrophic fire in 1861 that destroyed much of the city.

By Unknown – Library of Congress, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26460054

You can see the circular outline of the church in the ruins.

The turrets and towers kind of make me think of H.H. Richardson’s buildings. He is one of the few architects to have a style named after him; Richardsonian Romanesque. (Once again, thank you Sister Jeanne!)  He was active during the time this church was rebuilt, but the church’s plans were drawn up by Stephenson & Greene of New York City.

It looked like a welcoming place. I wish it had been open to visitors on the day I walked by. 

I liked their attitude, too.

I passed by The Powder Magazine, South Carolina’s oldest public building. It was built around 1713. I stepped inside, but it seemed like they didn’t have much on display that I hadn’t seen before, so I decided to stroll on.

Someone must have had a little coffee break and decided to just leave the cup.

Speaking of things left behind, I saw a little stuffed animal on a window sill.

I found a little lighthouse statue on another windowsill.

One sad place I toured was the Old Slave Mart Museum. This is a fraction of the place where a robust slave market. At one point, as many as 35-40% of slaves entered the United States through Charleston. Not much of the original structure remains, but it still invokes an eerie feeling the shame of that era.

Across the street, though, was a house that cheered me up. I’ll bet you can figure out what it’s named.

Yep, it’s “The Pink House.”

It was built around 1688, and it is FOR SALE! One bedroom, two bathrooms and it’s only about $900,000!

It has been lovingly restored, as attested to by this medallion.

By this time, I was getting tired and felt that I had seen enough sights and I set out to catch the trolley back to the parking structure.

While I was waiting at the stop, I struck up a conversation  with some fellow tourists. It turns out that they were also Airstreamers! Once on the trolley, some women who were on the earlier bus got on and we caught up on how our days went. It’s nice to make new friends!

I got off the bus near Marion Square and decided to have dinner while I waited for the rush hour traffic to clear. I walked over to the Francis Marion Hotel and got a table at the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar.

I ordered a platter of southern-style treats. It felt good to rest and nibble on the snacks. When I finished, my meal, I had one more stop to make.

The Emanuel A.M.E. Church.






More Charleston

One of the things I really wanted to see in Charleston was the Hunley.

The Hunley was the first combat submarine to sink a warship, the Housatonic, on February 17, 1864 while the Housatonic was on Union blockade-duty in Charleston’s outer harbor.

On my first trip into the city, I saw a model of the Hunley.

Although the Hunley was successful in sinking the Housatonic, she was lost. Amazingly enough, the ship was found in 1995, more than 130 years after it was sunk. It  was raised in 2000 and is now on display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center along the Cooper River.

It is stored in a tank filled with water, which the fragile nature of the submarine requires. It was kind of hard to get a good view of the Hunley under the water. The guide told us that the water was fairly clear today, so I guess we were pretty lucky to see it this well.

The guide displayed a hole the size of the hatch that the submariners had to use to access their seats.

These bars showed how wide and how tall it was inside.

This is a sketch that shows how it worked. There was a small ledge that the eight man crew perched on. They had to crank the sub by hand.

I always like it when I see things that I recognize. ASM was the organization that sponsored the last professional development opportunity I attended. Oddly enough, it was held after I retired. I was looking forward to it so much and I signed up for it before I decided to retire. I wanted to go to learn more about Materials Science even though I wasn’t going to be in the trenches anymore – and it was a great week with wonderful teachers.

Anyway, back to the Hunley.

The remains of the soldiers were found in the Hunley along with the artifacts that had with them at the time of their deaths.

This twenty dollar gold piece was found with Lt. George Dixon’s remains. It was given to him by his sweetheart Queenie Bennett as a good luck charm when he went to fight in the war. Family legend had it that he kept it in his pocket and would rub it with his thumb and dream of when they would be together again.

During the battle of Shiloh, Dixon was shot point blank. The bullet ripped into the pocket of his trousers and struck the center of the gold coin. The impact bent the gold coin. Queenie’s good luck gift saved his life.

The back of the coin was sanded and inscribed:

April 6, 1862
My life Preserver
G. E. D.

There was also a sign next to the coin that was on display. Unfortunately, there was an “apostrophe catastrophe” on the sign. There was no way I could buy a coin with such poor puntuation!

They were able to do forensic recreations of the eight members of the Hunley crew that were lost in the sinking of the Housatonic.

In all the Hunley had three crews.

The first crew lost five of the eight crew members when the captain accidentally stepped on the lever controlling the sub’s diving planes as she was running on the surface. This caused the Hunley to dive with her hatches still open. The captain and two others managed to escape.

The salvaged the submarine and put her back into service.

The second crew was lost in 1863. They were taking part in a mock battle and attempted to go under another vessel. It got stuck in the mud and the entire eight man crew was lost.

The Confederate navy once again salvaged the submarine and returned her to service. On her last mission, she was successful in sinking the Housatonic and then was lost.

The part of this story that amazes me the most that they managed to locate the wreckage, which was 3.5 miles past Sullivan’s Island outside the entrance to Charleston Harbor, in 27 feet of water and buried under several feet of silt. The silt was key to the preservation of the Hunley.

After the tour of the museum at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, I decided that I wanted to see the graves of the crews of the Hunley.

On the way out, I passed a blade of a windmill. I wonder where it was headed? Or perhaps it was on display. I didn’t see a sign to explain it.

On my way to the cemetery, I decided that I needed to grab a bite to eat.

I saw a listing for Santis Resaurante Mexicano, and I thought that sounded great.

Apparently, the people of Charleston also think it’s a great place.

They were all ready for Christmas. They had Christmas trees hanging from the ceiling! It looked very festive, and since I was visiting in early December, the decorations were entirely appropriate.

Adequately reinforced, my next stop was Magnolia Cemetery. After driving around on the narrow roads that wound through the old graves, I came upon the Hunley memorial.

These are the graves of the first and second crews.

These are the graves of the third crew.

They have CSA grave markers in this cemetery.

The graves and memorials in the cemetery were quite interesting.

The pyramid mausoleum had an interesting door.

Some of the memorials were quite charming.

Others were run down and decaying.

It would be interesting to take a day and just explore.

However, I had one more goal for the day. I wanted to visit Fort Sumter, and I needed to get going if I was going to take the last tour of the day.

I made it to the ferry for the forty minute ride to the fort.

Oddly enough, there is a connection with the fort and my travels last summer. The island is actually a man-made island, and it was built in large part with over 50,000 tons of granite shipped from New York and New England.

The Army Corps of Engineers began constructing the island in 1829 and they allowed it to settle before constructing the fort. The brick walls of the fort were constructed above the 1841 high water mark because the engineers knew that the brick and mortar walls wouldn’t stand up to the salt water and wave action.

The bricks looked pretty sound.

Of course, the fort wasn’t always in such good condition.

This photo was taken in 1865.

Just inside, you can see the ordnance. Look at the thick brick walls!

Fort Sumter was named  for General Thomas Sumter, who was a soldier during the American War for Independence as well as a politician. He served in the House of Representatives and the Senate. He died in 1832 at the age  of 97. Such service and longevity deserves recognition.

General Thomas Sumter

The Battle of Fort Sumter was actually more of a siege that culminated in the April 12-14 battle in 1861.

Major Robert Anderson

After the declaration of secession on December 20, 1860 –  which is just 95 years to the day before my birth – South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in the Charleston Harbor. On December 26, , Major Robert Anderson secretly moved his small command from Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island to Fort Sumter, which was in better position to defend itself and to control the entrance to the harbor.

President Buchanan tried to resupply the fort with an unarmed merchant ship, Star of the West, but it was seized on January 9.

Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard began strengthening the batteries around Charleston that were aimed at Fort Sumter. Major Anderson did his best to reinforce Fort Sumter and install additional guns, in spite of the shortages of man, food and supplies.

After Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, he notified Francis W. Pickens, the governor of South Carolina, that he was sending supplies to the fort. The Confederate government demanded an immediate evacuation of Fort Sumter, which Major Anderson refused. The bombardment began at 4:30 a.m. on April 12.

Fort Sumter was not built to defend from an attack from the direction of the city. As a result, the fort took quite a pounding. After 34 hours, when it became apparent that the shelling was going to reach the powder magazine, Major Anderson agreed to the surrender terms.

Major Anderson was allowed to evacuate the fort with his garrison taking small arms and all private and personal property. In addition, Major Anderson could salute the United States flag and take it with him on his journey north.

They were always so big on those terms of surrender and getting to leave with dignity.

They really made a mess out of the fort, though, didn’t they?

They have managed to put things back together a bit.

Inside the fort is a black cement structure called Battery Isaac Huger. It was built just before the beginning of the 20th century as a part of a major coast defense upgrade. It’s named of South Carolina Revolutionary War Brigadier General Isaac Huger.

It is painted black to resemble the first paint job from the early 1900s, when a mixture of tar and indeed oil were used as a waterproofing agent. The ranger told me that they use other paint now, but maintain the color in keeping with its original appearance.

There is a museum inside the battery now, but it isn’t an easily accessible museum. They might want to remove it and replace it with something else, but it would cost over $4 million to remove it – and that doesn’t even cover the cost of creating a new museum.

Speaking of the museum, I always wondered what exactly “grape shot” was. The stack of small balls on the right is grape shot. After firing, I guess they whole thing would hold together long enough to get there. It was useful when fired at the rigging of ships, as it would create havoc with the lines and sheets.

Incidentally, I always thought that the term “sheets” referred to the sails. Nope.  According to my “go-to” site, Wikipedia, “In sailing, a sheet is a line used to control the moveable corners of a sail.”

In the center of the photo is a 10 inch ball, and on the right side is an example of canister shot. The principles behind grape shot and canister shot are similar, except that canister shot is an anti-personnel ammunition. Rather than ripping through sails and rigging, canister shot is designed to rip through people.

It looks like plenty of ammunition penetrated the walls.

After I finished touring the museum and the gift shop, a Ranger announced that there would be a flag lowering ceremony in a few minutes and we were invited to participate.

They have several different flags that they fly over the Fort. The treat each flag in an historically accurate manner. She told us that one of the flags is just rolled up and stuffed in a duffle bag. That is the historically accurate manner for that flag – I just wish I remembered which flag it was.

The current American flag was the flag of the day. If I heard her correctly, it measures sixteen by thirty feet and weighs about ten pounds.

She directed us to get ready to catch the flag and she proceeded to lower it.

After it was down, we stretched it out and folded it. Since it was so wide, we had to fold it an extra time or two.

After we had finished, the Ranger agreeably took our pictures holding the flag.

And then it was time to head back to town.


A Visit with a Wonderful Guy

I just love Facebook! It makes it so easy to keep up with people. One of the people I caught up with was a former student teacher who really was the cream of the crop. I knew he was going places – and he is now a PRINCIPAL! Cool, eh?

He showed me around the school in Mount Pleasant and interacted with all his students. They loved him as much as the kids did when he was working with me. He was as wonderful as I remembered. Then he took me out to lunch.

I had southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes and okra. The okra was delicious! I’d had it before, but it didn’t leave a positive impression. I guess it’s all in the preparation. Actually, everything was delicious! And the company was delightful.

On our way back to school after lunch, we swung by his house and picked up a pass for tourist attractions in the area. Free tourism!

It was great to see Curtis again and hear how well things were turning out for him.

After I left the school, I went to a place nearby that was on the pass he gave me, Boone Hall Plantation. In addition to being a tourist attraction, it is one of America’s oldest working plantations, continually growing crops for over 320 years.

The road to the big house is lined with live oaks that were planted in 1743. According to the information at the plantation, it took 200 years for the branches to meet overhead.

My first stop was the hospitality office, which had been the company store that sold things to sharecroppers after the civil war.

I had to get my ticket for the tour of the mansion.

Now, this is not the original house.

This is the original house. It was built in 1790, and it was a rather modest structure. Incidentally, this photo was taken around 1900. In 1935, Canadian Thomas Stone bought the plantation but wanted a grander style house.

Oddly enough, the house that I toured is recognized as a National Historic Site. According to the tour guide, this house was part of the “Second Reconstruction”.

We met our tour guide at the entrance, where he gave us a brief history of the plantation and then told us that photographs of the interior were not allowed. I wasn’t too disappointed by that. After all, the house I grew up in was older than this and there wasn’t all that much that I thought was worth taking a photo of.

It was a nice house.

The guide pointed out this live oak that was on the bank of Wampacheeoone Creek. He said it wasn’t intentionally planted – it just grew there. They estimate that it is around 600 years old.

Judging by the acorns on the tree, it is still going strong.

The guide also told us something interesting about the creek. It is a tidal creek. To get products to market, they would load up the boats and poll them into the stream and then wait for the tide to go out. On the return trip, they would just reverse the process.

There are nine of the original slave cabins on the grounds. They were built 1790 – 1810. At one time, there were 40 slaves on the plantation.

After the tour of the house and the slave quarters, I took a tour of the farms. There was a modified truck that took us around the fields.

They use modern irrigation and crop management methods.

They do a corn maze in the fall. This is a photo of the one they had last year. By the time I was visiting, the field was mowed down.

There was a nice collection of vintage farm equipment on display. 

There was also a 1853 building that housed the cotton gin. It was used as an apartment building for a while. There are plans in the work to make it a restaurant.

They had a small cotton patch. Unfortunately, there was a fence around it. I really want to get “up close and personal” with cotton one day.

I had one more tourism stop that day: Snee Farm. It is Charles Pinckney National Historic Site.

Charles Pinckney was a signer of the Constitution. He was also the 37th Governor of South Carolina, a Senator and a member of the House of Representatives. He fought in the Revolutionary War and was appointed by Thomas Jefferson as Minister to Spain. As such, he helped facilitate the Louisiana Purchase.

He was also one of the people who donated the land for the City Market in Charleston.

There is a house at the farm today, but it was built in the 1820s, after the farm passed out of his hands. There are no structures on the property that relate to the Pinckney family, but there is on-going archeology.

I got my National Parks Passport stamped and then it was time to hit the road for the campground.

What a lovely day!



Home Base for My Time In Charleston

My base of operation while I was in Charleston was Colleton State Park.  Now, if you want a place that is close to I-95 for an overnight stop on your way north or south, this would be an excellent park or if you wanted a place on the river so you could kayak or canoe, this would be a great spot.

Unfortunately, I wanted to see what Charleston had to offer and it was at least an hour  out of town.

But, the reservation was made and paid for, so I settled in.

I managed to get backed in and unhooked without any problem. I was fascinated by the pop up trailer across the road. I think they must have been working in the area – but then, again, I guess they could have been playing tourist. After all, that is why I was there. It seemed like kind of unpleasant weather for camping in a soft-sided trailer.

When it was dusk, I heard someone getting settled in next to me. When I looked out the door in the morning, I was thrilled to find an Airstream in the next site over.

We had a nice chat that evening. They were on their way north. This was at the beginning of December, and there was a big storm heading their way. I wished them safe travels.

Speaking of safe – there’s Safelite. It was time to get the windshield taken care of.

The chip turned into a rather spectacular crack and my one day visit to the repair shop turned into two.

They did their best to make the wait as pleasant as possible. Free drinks and snacks, TV (unfortunately, it was Fox News)  and free WiFi.

Everyone was looking down at their own screens. All except for the guy sitting by the door. Look at him.

He’s reading an actual book – and a hard covered one at that!

They are making progress on Bart.

Man, the windshield is really clear now! Oh, wait – there’s no glass in it! Oops!

But, soon enough, I was ready to roll.

I went into the city to see what I could see. I parked near the visitor center and picked up some literature. I didn’t have a lot of time that day, but a little visit is better than no visit.

I strolled through Marion Square. The tallest monument in the square is dedicated to South Carolinian native son, John C. Calhoun. According to information from the National Park Service, Calhoun was a renowned orator, Secretary of War, U.S. Senator and Vice President. He was born in 1782 and died in 1850 at the age of 68.

The cornerstone of the monument was laid in 1858, but construction was halted by the Civil War. They included some interesting items in the cornerstone: a cannon ball used in the Revolutionary battle of Fort Moultrie, which was right across the harbor from Charleston, a banner used in his funeral, $100 in Continental money, a lock of his hair and the last speech he delivered in the U.S. Senate, on March 4, 1850. He died in Washington on March 31, shortly after delivering the speech.

My monument scaling days are behind me, so the climbing prohibition did not affect me seriously.

They were getting ready to celebrate Christmas while I was in town, and the square was in the process of being decorated.

It was cute the way they situated the tree right in the center of the square.

They have openings in it so you can walk right through.

The walkways had a grove of Christmas trees decorated by local schools.

This one was an international tree

by the Buist Academy.

I liked this gratitude tree, too.

It was sponsored by The Cooper School.

Gratitude lasts all year – if we make it so!

Another monument in Marion Square that I appreciated was Holocaust Memorial. It was dedicated June 1, 1999 and it includes the names of the survivors that settled in South Carolina after World War II.

Inside the screen is a 12 foot bronzed tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl.

In addition to the names and bronze plaques that outline what happened, they list some of the killing centers used by the Nazis.

I visited Dachau back in 1976, when traveling after my Junior Year Abroad in Spain. Okay, it was only a semester, but since I wasn’t a Spanish major, I figured that I was lucky to get a semester in.

After spending time in Marion Square, I decided to just walk around and see what I could see.

This building caught my eye. There wasn’t any information on it, but it kind of reminded me of the old fashioned firehouses.

Or not.

There were architectural details everywhere. Up high, like the capitals on these pilasters,

and down low, like the street signs. I took this one because my father’s name was George.

I liked the water meter covers in the pavement, too.

I would have gladly stopped in to see what Pounce Cat Cafe and Wine Bar had to offer, but it wasn’t open when I visited. According to its website, its open now, if you happen to be in the area. Reservations are recommended.

Another option for refreshment is Sticky Fingers on Meeting Street. What drew me inside was a poster in the window that invited us in to look at the portrait from The Stephen Colbert Show. Stephen Colbert is from Charleston.

This is the entrance to the Washington Light Infantry building.

According to its website, it was organized in 1807 in anticipation of a second war with Britain. The citizens of Charleston planned for a number of volunteer corps, but this is the only one that still survives.

I decided to keep on strolling until I reached the City Market.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney ceded the land to the city of Charleston in 1788 for the express use as a public market. He was a clever man, as he stipulated that the land must remain in use as a market for perpetuity.

The hall at the top of the market was built in 1841. The top floor is the Confederate Museum, according to the sign. It was getting late in the day and I didn’t check to see if it really was.

Back in the day, the market sold all sorts of food stuffs. These days, it caters to the tourist market.

I made my way to the end of the sheds. People were busily packing up their goods and loading their trucks and vans to take their goods home. I spoke to one vendor as he was putting the last of his paintings in his van. He told me that he had been doing this every day for twenty-two years. Wow!

My last stop before I headed back to the campground was the Moon Pie General Store. I had picked up a brochure for it, and for some reason I got the idea that Moon Pies were from Charleston. I asked the clerk, and he told me that they are from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Since I had never had a Moon Pie, I felt I needed to rectify that deficit.

I have to say that I didn’t much care for it, but now I have had one – and I don’t have to do it again.

And then my first day of touring Charleston came to a close.


South of the Border

Anyone who has ever traveled down I-95 to Florida has passed all the corny signs touting all of the marvels at South of the Border.

No, it’s not south of the Mexican border – it’s south of the North Carolina border.

South of the Border was developed by Alan Schafer in 1950, which was before the Interstate went through. It started out as “South of the Border Depot” which was a beer stand that took advantage of its location next to a “dry” county. Mr. Schafer steadily expanded his offerings. He started selling Mexican trinkets and kitschy items imported from Mexico.

Eventually, the site included a cocktail lounge, gas station, souvenir shop and a motel. In 1962 they started selling fireworks, because they were illegal in North Carolina.

Location, location, location!

I needed gas and besides – why not?

I have to admit, I was underwhelmed with the women’s room. There must have been a half inch of dust on top of the stall door and the floor was grimy. But, they did have restroom attendant sitting there hoping for a tip. Since I didn’t have my wallet with me, I didn’t even have to debate with myself about leaving a tip.

They didn’t forget our four-footed friends. That-a-way to the “pet toilets.”

Speaking of location, in 1964, it was announced that I-95 would pass right by South of the Border, and that it would be next to two exits and within view of the highway. They kept expanding and expanding and adding more and more attractions and a 104 tall image of its mascot, Pedro.

Actually, Pedro is well-represented throughout the complex.

There is an interesting review of Pedro in Wikipedia. An author named P. Nicole Smith described Pedro’s image as a “southern Jewish guy in brown face”. She theorized that the image might have been made in Schafer’s own image.

Schafer, incidentally, didn’t find these representations to be offensive. He thought they were “light-hearted jokes.” I’m not so sure about that. Anyway, these days all employees regardless of race, creed or color are referred to as “Pedro.”

One of the attractions they have is the water tower. You can pay to climb it. That’s not my idea of fun, but I imagine that if you are traveling with a carload of kids, it might be worth whatever they are charging to have them run up and down and tire themselves out.

As I walked around part of the complex, I noticed the Hot Tamale restaurant. Tamales are one of my favorite foods, and I thought about checking to see if they had any on the menu.

Just enter under the giant hamburger!

I did see a sign for tamales on the building, but I was a little leery of eating at a restaurant that din’t seem to have any customers. I wasn’t all that hungry any way.

As I got closer to Bart and Flo, I came across a European tourist. He was snapping photos like crazy. I imagine he is going to have a lot of things to say to his friends back home about this place.

I took his photo and he took mine. I am not sure why there was a spotted elephant here, but I guess it doesn’t really matter, does it? I mean, why is any of this stuff here?

I got back on the road and made it to the South Carolina Welcome Center.

Oh, and do you remember how I mentioned my dirty windshield would be taken care of?

Do you see that “UFO” in the middle of the above photo? My windshield caught a rock. It was just a chip at this point, but a day or two later, after heating and cooling and bouncing around on the roads, it eventually cracked.

Since it cracked, it couldn’t be repaired. My deductible was $100. That is not the cheapest way to clean your windshield, but I now have a nice, clear view.

And on to Charleston!


Next Stop: Fayetteville, North Carolina

Leaving Campbellsville early put me ahead of schedule. Originally, I had planned to work at Amazon until they released us just before Christmas and then travel down to visit my brother Scott and his wife Lesley in Alabama.

However, I left Kentucky the day before Thanksgiving, so I had time to stick in some other places that I missed when I was in the area last year. I thought, “Hmm…I’ll visit Charleston and Savannah.”

Then I found out that my brother Craig was going to be in Fayetteville getting his house packed up because they finally sold it!

He found a job back in Western New York a few years back, and they had been working on getting the house sold and the family back together ever since. I was glad to be able to help.

I left Campbellsville the day before Thanksgiving and managed to make it to North Carolina before I started feeling like I should stop. The forest fires that eventually consumed much of Gatlinburg, Tennessee had already started. As I drove across ridges and on roads that clung to the sides of mountains, I could look into valleys that were filled with smoke. The smoke was making my eyes tired and I was a little leery of the curving roads I would face going down the mountain.

I pulled into the Welcome to North Carolina rest stop, figuring that I would use the restroom and then figure out where the nearest campground was. Imagine my delight when I learned that I was welcome to park there overnight. That’s what I call a Welcome Center!

I opened the blinds on my little windows, to take advantage of the natural light, and I caught these lovely pink clouds as the sun was going down. I imagine the color was enhanced by the smoke from the fires.

When I woke up the next day, it was Thanksgiving. I knew one thing I was thankful for. I was thankful for the Interstate Highway system put in place by the last Republican president that did great things on behalf of the people.

Yeah, I know that my windshield is dirty. That will be taken care of.

After driving most of the day, I finally got to Fayetteville! I was excited when I started recognizing familiar landmarks.

No, it’s not the Eiffel Tower, it’s the Bordeaux Tower. When I saw it, I knew I was close to Craig’s house. Before heading over, I had to get myself ensconced in Spring Valley RV Park.

Anne, one of the owners, was concerned that I hadn’t eaten yet, and she “sent over a plate” when her husband came to help me get settled.

What a kind gesture!

The next day, though, it was time to get down to helping Craig and Michelle get the house packed up.

They had already gotten a lot packed up and moved out in a previous load.

Pick it up, move it out.

Of course, we had to take a break from time to time. We had a “last visit” to a family favorite restaurant – Mi Casita.

It was a favorite of mine, too. Dad and I ate there with them when we used to drive down to visit.

The serving sizes were so large that I had food for another couple meals. Tasty!

Keep picking it up and moving it out.

My niece, Mariel, celebrated her birthday in the midst of all the packing and hauling.

Mariel’s friend, Lindsey, had the greatest t shirt!

I kept singing the song.

The hired hands showed up. Last minute repairs had to be done, and the movers came to take the furniture.

We kept picking it up,

moving it out,

and packing it in.

Finally, it was time to lock it down.

And we were done!

They headed north and I headed south.


One Last Look at Campbellsville

I thought I was finished with writing about Campbellsville, but I had a few more things I wanted to share.

First of all, they have the most welcoming library!

Some people I met at the first campground recommended it to me, and I am glad I stopped in. Not only do they have fast wifi that they are happy to share, they even gave me a library card so that I could check things out. Since the first campground didn’t have cable – or much of anything else, for that matter – I check out a few DVDs to watch.

But wifi and media are not the only things they offer. I happened to be there on Halloween, and they even gave me candy!

What is more, I needed something notarized while I was in town, and they handled that for me, too. They did it without cost. The last time I had something notarized, I was in Louisiana, and the notary charged me $25. Providing a free service like this was most welcome. I hope the people in town realize what a valuable resource they have.

There was a veterinarian about a mile from my second campground. I ended up taking Cora there twice. The first time was for her ears, yet again. I also had them trim her rear claws for me.

The claw trimming was especially good, as she got very itchy while I was at work one day. When I got home at – oh, 4:00 am – she had scratched off a big mess of fur!

When I woke up the next day, I was very concerned. That office was closed, but I managed to get through to another vet who recommended putting hydrocortisone cream on the itchy spot. That seemed to tide her over until I could get in to the vet who gave her a steroid shot. Cora’s fur is growing back in nicely.

As I always say, there is no such thing as a free cat!

I love seeing the different ways people honor their ancestors. In Campbellsville, they favor putting floral arrangements on top of the gravestones.

The overall effect when I would drive by is that there are a bunch of ladies wearing elaborate hats on Easter morning.

They didn’t go in for the markers of military service as I had seen in the northeast.

Noe Plaza is the entrance to Campbellsville University. If I were a really hard-core sleuth, I would figure out just who the Noes were and what they did, because there are many things named for them at the University.

One building not named for them, however, was the Winters Dining Hall. Believe it or not, it is the best place I found to eat in Campbellsville!

For about $7, these are your choices.

They call this section “The Grill”. One time I was there, they had a french fry bar. I think this evening’s offering was a nacho bar.

They have a lot of international students, and they offer a “cook-your-own” station, just in case the normal dining hall fare isn’t to their liking.

Here are some of the ingredients they have on hand.

Of course there is a salad bar.

There’s a made-to-order sub station.

Oh, and pizza and pasta.

Of course, there are also the entrees that were listed on the daily menu.

And hot rolls. They had garlic bread the other visit I made this year.

If none of those items struck your fancy, you could always have cereal.

If you managed to clean your plate – and even if you didn’t – there was dessert. Fresh, hot cookies, cakes, pies, soft serve frozen custard and an ice cream sundae bar, too.

It is amazing that the students all looked so svelte!

Right across the street from Noe Plaza was the courthouse square with a large mural and various memorials.

From information I found on the internet, this mural was by Joshua Mason, and it depicts Union Troops riding down the town’s Main Street on their way from Lebanon to Nancy, Kentucky in 1862.

According to the source I found, the three officers pictured were the three highest military officers to pass through Campbellsville during the Civil War. In the center is General George Thomas. Colonel Robert McCook, who later became a general is on the left. The man on the right is Colonel Mahlon Manson, who became general later in the war.

This courthouse was built in the 1960s to replace the one that was built after the Civil War. During the Civil War, the courthouse was burned down by General Hylan B. Lyon, CSA. I was amazed that the Confederates burned courthouses in Kentucky.

Is anyone else surprised that the Confederates were marching around burning courthouses in Kentucky? In this case, at least, the Union troops were using the building, so I guess it made strategic sense to burn it down.

In all, twenty-two courthouses were burned in Kentucky “as an incident to the war” according to the information on the back of the sign.

There is the War Memorial to commemorate the town’s sacrifices during the twentieth century. This one was dedicated May 30, 1987.

The police got to memorializing their veterans earlier, though. This one was erected by McKinley Monument Company in 1987.

And, I guess that is about all I have to say about Campbellsville.

Next stop, Fayetteville, North Carolina.



A Little More Campbellsville

Campbellsville is a small town. I think I’ve already mentioned that previously.

It was founded in 1817 and is named after Andrew Campbell, who moved there from Virginia. He owned a gristmill and a tavern and began selling lots in Campbellsville in 1814.

The population grew slowly. The earliest census data I found was for 1860, when there were 446 residents. It had periods of growth and contraction. The largest population was in 2000, when there were 10,498 folks living there. 9,108 folks were counted in the 2010 census.

I imagine the dip in population over the last few years is due to the Fruit of the Loom plant closing.

That plant closed in 1998.

The Fruit of the Loom plant wasn’t vacant that long. The Amazon Fulfillment Center opened there in 1999, and it replaced some of the jobs that were lost when Fruit of the Loom exported their jobs to the Caribbean and Central America.

This is why I came to Campbellsville. They hire seasonal workers with RVs for Peak Season as part of their “CamperForce.”

Part of the package is that they put us up in RV parks in the area. I imagine that it is quite a boon for the RV park operators to have an extended season. Rather than closing up after Labor Day as many places do, these folks have full occupancy until Christmas.

My start date wasn’t until the middle of October. CamperForce workers had started rolling in at the end of August, so I really had to scramble to find a campsite. I finally did find a spot at a place that I think was a person’s private campground that he runs for family and friends.

It was kind of an odd arrangement.

It was in the middle of a field and he had hook ups for maybe six or seven campers. There was no on-site management or permanent structures – unless you count open-sided shelters that seemed like places to hold a family reunion.

After about a week, I managed to get into a site at Green River Resort, where I stayed when I was part of CamperForce in 2014. The day I moved to my new campsite, I had an unpleasant surprise.

When I disconnected my power cord, I found that it had melted. In the words of Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent, “What The Heck?!”

Then I had to look to see what the power outlet looked like.

Man! I guess I am lucky that I didn’t have a fire.

But, it was an opportunity. Oh, those blessed opportunities! I sure hope 2017 provides fewer of these sorts of opportunities.

I started calling around to try to find a mobile RV technician that would be able to come help me. I left a few messages and then figured that I could go get the parts I would need.

In talking to the guy at the RV shop, I asked how hard it would be to do it myself. He said it was easy. When I got back to the RV resort, I opened the package and read the directions. It did look easy.

And so I did it myself! I got everything hooked up and working in about an hour.

Hooray for me!

Green River Resort has a loyal following of people who come back every summer, and I’ll bet people who are there for cookouts, campfires and splashing in the pool while on vacation have a grand time.

The CamperForce people are there to work, and they roll into the Resort in all manner of rigs.

This is one of the smallest units I’ve ever seen – outside of a tear drop trailer. I never met the people who belonged with this trailer. I would have liked to have met them, but when people work all sorts of shifts, you never knock on their doors. If you don’t see them out and about, you never meet them.

This is the largest get-up I think I’ve ever seen anywhere! A tractor that has its own small quarters behind the driver’s seat, a huge fifth wheel AND a Smart car wedged between the two of them!

There was this smaller sized Class C rig of indeterminate age that was a joy-filled place with seasonal decorations. It was customized by the owners with anime images they painted on the side. They had two or three children traveling with them.

At our first day of work, they took our photos for our ID cards. I still had the one I got in 2014, which is on the left. The on-the-road lifestyle seems to suit me, I’d say.

I haven’t aged a bit. (or something like that)

Amazon didn’t work out as well for me this year. I still enjoyed the work, and I got the department I requested. I had worked in ICQA last time and so I was happy to work in that department again. ICQA is what I’d describe as “quality control”. I am not sure what the initials stand for. No one seems to know what the initials stand for in any of the departments, but we all know what the departments do.

My job was to make sure that the right items were in the bins. I would walk around the huge plant and count whatever I was assigned to count. I actually enjoyed the work.

The part that didn’t work for me was that they had switched over to mostly apparel. All the items were wrapped in plastic and ready to ship.

I never really thought about it all that much, but clothing is HEAVY! The next time you are in a department store with a display of jeans, pick up a stack of them.

Then, imagine that those heavy jeans are individually wrapped in slippery plastic and that they are trying to slide every which way.

Further, imagine that you are up on a ladder trying to wrangle this shifting load.

After a few weeks, I decided that I didn’t really need the money badly enough to risk falling off a ladder and getting hurt.

So, I did something I’d never done before.

I just quit.

Oh, we parted on amicable terms. I went in to explain why I was leaving and to thank the people I’d worked with. I even took in cookies for break.

I had things to do and places to go!












An Interesting Story

One of the eye-opening things about traveling is seeing parts of the country that people don’t necessarily travel to for tourism. Campbellsville is one of those place. After all, I was only there because I had the opportunity to work for Amazon, which has a large distribution facility there.

Campbellsville is a small town. They have some chain stores and restaurants as well as some small Mom and Pop places. It is the county seat of Taylor County and has the usual assortment of county offices as well a private college, Campbellsville University.

And, of course, it has a McDonalds.

One day, I stopped in for a light meal and to use their internet connection.

After I had been sitting there for about an hour, a young woman in an early stage of pregnancy came up to me and asked if I was heading toward Elizabethtown. Well, I wasn’t, but I figured that if it wasn’t too far, I could give her a lift.

She didn’t know where it was, but her brother had bought her a Greyhound ticket so she could get home to Georgia.

She was polite, but the effects of poverty were evident. Her teeth were in serious need of attention. It may have been the direct effect of not being able to afford dental care or it might have been poverty’s indirect effect of drug use. Her clothes were thin and not suitable for the cold snap we had been experiencing.

I looked on Google maps to see where it was. Hmm…it was about 45 miles away. I checked, just to make sure that there wasn’t a Greyhound stop here in Campbellsville. After all, there is a university here in town. There must be a way for people to get around.

No, the closest Greyhound stop was in Elizabethtown. There was no Amtrak station, no other form of public transportation that I could find.

I asked her how she had gotten here.

She interpreted my question to mean, “How did you get to McDonalds?” She told me that she just walked over from the jail.

Oh, dear.  I was concerned that if no one stepped up to help her, she could get into trouble trying to get where she needed to go. I decided to drive her over to the bus stop.

She told me she was so thankful that I was helping her because she didn’t want to ask the men that were sitting in the restaurant.

Before we left, I said that we should probably top off our drinks. While we were doing that, I noticed that she only had the free water cup.

We never got into what brought her to Campbellsville, but she shared with me how eager she was to get home.

Home. What a beautiful word!

I got her to the bus stop just as the store was closing. Yes, the bus stop was in front of a store, although there was a porch for her to wait on.

And wait is what she would have to do. I dropped her off just after sunset, and her bus wasn’t due until 2:45 the following afternoon.

I dug in my emergency supplies that I keep in the truck and gave her a fleece pullover and some gloves. The temperature would dip close to freezing that night. She was so grateful for the ride and the clothing.

This experience is one that helped me realize that my America is not everyone’s America.

I hope she got home safely and that she was welcomed with open arms.