Eu-fau-la-la-la! (Last Stop in Alabama)

After bidding Scott and Lesley a fond farewell, I hitched up Flo and headed south.  My plan was two-fold: get the slow leak in my tire and get ready for my foray into Florida.

I found a tire repair place in Eufaula that wasn’t busy. And, as a bonus, they were easy to get into. I pulled in, told them what I wanted and inside of an hour I was on my way again.

Herndon Tire Company

There was a screw in the tread. They took out the screw and patched it from the inside and all it cost was $15. It hasn’t lost any air since! I wish all  repairs were so economical.

Just a little way out of town was an Army Corps of Engineers campground. White Oak Creek Campground. I got a site right on the water, it only cost $24 and it was a PULL THROUGH!

Campsite White Oak

There were two other Airstreams in the campground. I love it when I see other ‘Streamers on the road. I met up and chatted with some of them while I was out for a stroll.


If you look carefully, you can make out one of the Airstreams in the background.

Bird at White Oak Creek

It was wonderful watching the twilight deepen and the wildlife come to the shore. Good thing the wildlife didn’t include the alligators.

Next stop: Florida!

Sweet Home, Alabama!

12th court door

My next stop was Phenix City, Alabama, and the driveway camping at the house of my brother Scott and his wife, Lesley.

Alabama sticker on the map

And another sticker on the map!

It was so wonderful to see Scott. We’re a couple of Kenmorons!

The Kenmorons

It was great to be “home” for a while. The weather was a much improved – a big change from the weeks of rain I had been experiencing.


And even though I was camping in the city, we had some wonderful sunsets. We sure do live in a beautiful world.

I had hit about every point of interest in the area in previous visits, so this time, I just kind of kicked back and enjoyed life as it came.

Lesley is quite the gardener, and always ready to try something new. This time around, she was trying her hand at growing loofahs. Did you know that they were gourds? I didn’t.

Loofahs drying

But gourds they are, and when they are dry enough, you need to peel them and take out the seeds.

Loofah and seeds

This is a first attempt for her, so we weren’t sure what to expect. After we peeled them, we set them to dry.

Loofahs peeled and drying

Lesley actually used them for cleaning and they worked just fine.

Cleaning the Airstream

I took advantage of the good weather to do a little cleaning of my own. When I was attending to the moisture inside the trailer’s windows, I noticed that leaves and pine needles had gotten behind the pebble guards. I figured out how to open them and set to cleaning. Notice the toothbrush. What attention to detail!


We spent some time working on renovating one of their houses. They’ve done a lot of work on this house, just a few things left to go. It has the most delightful screened porch!

When Lesley wasn’t scraping and painting or peeling loofahs, she was cooking.

Empty plate

She’s a great cook. I think this was smothered chicken and rice.

Food trucks crowd

One day, we went across the river to Columbus, Georgia to a food truck event. Crowds. I don’t care for crowds very much. I ordered at the first food truck that didn’t have a line.

Crepe Truck

I had a crepe mexicaine. It was pretty good. Lesley’s smothered chicken was better, though.

Thanksgiving happened during my visit. Lesley’s son, Frank, and his wife, Lacey, hosted the event.

Frank, Gwendolyn and Scott
Frank, Gwendolyn and Scott

Scott and the dogs

Another important part of their family are their dogs. One sure way to get their attention is pull out some food.

Lesley and Gwendolyn

That Gwendolyn does get around! Everybody loves a baby!

Waffle House facade

One item on my “to-do” list was to finally eat at a Waffle House. As ubiquitous as they are down south, I had never been to one.

Waffle House Picante Sauce

They even have their own hot sauce.

I had a good breakfast-for-dinner meal, and I had leftovers for later.

Waffle House take out

My waffle heated up nicely in the toaster.

I also got my water heater fixed. It took a while, but they finally finished the paperwork the day before I hitched up and pulled out.

Elijah helping me latch the window

Elijah helped me get the front window latched down. His help was greatly appreciated.

Flo at Scott's

Ready to roll!

Did I have a good time? Was it great seeing family? Will I come back?

Bingo Door


Home Base: Red Top Mountain State Park, Cartersville, Georgia

The road from Clemson to Cartersville was a hair-raising one. The traffic on I-85 was as heavy as the rain. I had the scariest road event I’ve had in all my travels. The traffic came to an abrupt stop. I pressed down hard on the brake pedal, kept my hands on the wheel, kept my eyes open and took a deep breath. Luckily, I managed to stop, although it was closer than I would have liked. I wonder how many miles worth of tread I took off my tires?

I always keep what I think is an adequate amount of space between me and the vehicle in front of me and drive at a speed that I think is reasonable. This time, my good driving habits really saved me.

I followed the signs and the voice in my phone and made my way to the park office. Now, Georgia has an interesting method of reserving camp sites. You don’t pick your site when you reserve and pay. Once you get there, they assign you a site.

After my hair-raising trip, I looked hopefully at the ranger and asked if they had any pull-through sites. They did!

Campsite at Red Top Moutain

It was a great camp site. Electricity, water and cable! The cable wasn’t functioning properly at all sites, according to the ranger, but the HD broadcast reception was great, so I didn’t even bother to see if it worked where I was. The restroom and showers were great, too! At $32 a night, the price wasn’t too bad.

The only thing that wasn’t great was the weather. I think it had been raining non-stop for more than two weeks.

One day I went into the nearest town, Cartersville, Georgia. Laundry was on the agenda, as well as getting some food.

I got my washing taking care of and then checked my phone for places to eat. Appalachian Grill got some excellent reviews, so I decided to head there. I put the address in the phone and followed the twists and turns. I was on an overpass when the voice in the phone told me that I had arrived. Uh, the road was a good ways up in the air, so I knew that there was something wrong.

When I got off the overpass, I turned a corner and put in the address again. It directed me to a vacant lot. I figured that this wasn’t meant to be, and thought I’d pull up a bit and pick someplace else.

I got up to the corner, looked to the right, and there it was! It even had plenty of parking. It helps if you stop by on a weekday between meal periods.

Appaachian Grill with flo under bridge

And you can see the overpass. The restaurant was right where the voice in the phone told me it was. I just couldn’t get there from where I was. The first step is a lulu!

Appalachian Grill

The restaurant was located in an historic building.

Appalachian Grill historical sign

I was about the only person in the restaurant, which I guess happens when you show up between meal periods on a weekday. The service was great, and the atmosphere was a very classy rustic with old-time mountain music recorded by modern musicians playing in the background. It was very relaxing.

Salad at Appalachian Grill

I started off my meal with a house salad. It was outstanding. I ate every bit of it. My main course was a Monte Cristo sandwich. The way it was described in the menu made me think it would be as good as the ones I used to get at Great Gritzby’s Flying Food Circus in Chicago back in the 1970’s when I lived there.

Monte Cristo Sandwich at Appalachian Grill

For those of you unfamiliar with this sandwich, it is definitely not a heart healthy choice. It is a ham, turkey and swiss sandwich dipped in batter and then deep-fried. It is dusted with confectioners sugar and served with raspberry jam. Oh, my!

I couldn’t finish the sandwich and I only ate about three of the fries.

I also met up with a Facebook friend in Marietta. It took a bit of maneuvering, but we finally got a time that would work. She was in the middle of selling her house. I remember all to well the stress of that adventure.

We met at Kiosco Restaurant, an establishment featuring Columbian food. We had just barely met, chatted a bit and placed our orders when her phone rang. She had just accepted an offer on their house the day before. The phone call was to tell her that she had a plumbing problem. Something had sprung a leak!

She jumped up, and threw some money on the table. She apologized, but I assured her that I understood completely.

I summoned the waiter and explained the situation. I stayed and had my lunch, which was delicious. I didn’t take any food photos this time. Stop in and I assure you that it will be delicious.

After I finished lunch, I set out to explore a bit. I headed for the town square.

Fountain in town square

It had the requisite fountain in the center.

Alexander Stephens Clay

A statute of a local politician, Alexander Stephens Clay. He served in the Georgia legislature and then in the United States Senate. As a U.S. senator, Clay served as chair of the Committee on War Claims and as a member of the Committee on Woman Suffrage. I found out those nuggets in my research on line. He died in 1910 while in office.

There were workers in the park getting ready for the holidays. They were erecting a skating rink! It looks like they are planning to have some fun there in Marietta.

Installing the skating rink

Another memorial that I found particularly touching was the tribute to the teachers of the years from Cobb County and Marietta Schools. They had handprints of the honorees because they had touch so many lives.

Teacher Walk of HOnor Marietta, GA

I strolled around the square.  It was just marvelous to have a day without rain.

One point of local pride is their theater.

Strand Theater

And then I moseyed back to my truck. I parked a few blocks away to make maneuvering in and out of the spot easy. Since it was free parking on the street, I had no complaints.

On the drive back, my HISTORY Here app pinged that I was near something. I was stopped, so I stole a glance at my phone. The General was in Kennesaw. The General was a locomotive that played a roll in a train chase in the Civil War.

The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History
The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

I was particularly interested in visiting, as Buster Keaton made a silent movie back in 1926 about the event. At the time, it had some some of the most expensive effects ever used in a film. Although it wasn’t well-received at the time, it is now considered one of the greatest films ever made. We studied the film as an integrated arts units in my class back in the day.

Buster Keaton movie poster

The museum is filled with artifacts from the war, with an emphasis on the manufacturing behind the war effort.


There were also some samples of the different kinds of rails that were in use.


This display reminded me of the iron works I had seen in Scranton, Pennsylvania a few months earlier.

The General

They really did an outstanding job of refurbishing The General.

The General from the left

The General nameplate

The General historical marker

When I got back to the campground, I noticed that what I thought was rain on the outside of the Flo’s windows was really moisture built up on the inside. All those weeks of rain had taken their toll. I decided to do some maintenance. I cleaned all the windows and the mildewed ledges inside. When I finished, I took care of packing up for the next day’s travels.

And then I did some research on how to control moisture inside the trailer.


And, since I would be staying at my brother’s house for a couple of weeks, I could have it delivered.

Thank you, Amazon!

South Carolina!


I pulled into my campsite near Clemson, South Carolina, just as the sun was going down. You have to love a pull-though site by the water. This is at Twin Lakes Campground on Hartwell Lake. It’s an Army Corps of Engineers facility., and I’ve never seen a COE campground that wasn’t top notch.

That was the most sun I saw during the two days I was there. At least I got a nice sunset.

It was a football weekend at Clemson, and the campground was full of fans. Orange decorations and tiger paws decorated most of the campsites. I felt like such an outsider!

I spent a good chunk of time texting with a Facebook friend from an RV group. He was trying to talk me through fixing my water heater that stopped functioning back in Newport News.

Water heater

We tested and tried and examined.


Here’s a fuse. You learn something new everyday.

I appreciated his help, but we didn’t get it running.

Campsite Twin Lakes

What a nice spot! Water, electricity, a view and only $26 a night. I wonder if I paid a little extra, they would turn on the sun?

Cora with the map

Cora is pouring over the maps and plotting out our route. Next stop: Georgia!


Charlotte, North Carolina

After I dropped Michelle and Mariel at home in Fayetteville, I spent the night at my favorite free place.

Cracker Barrel

A free spot for the night and then a hot breakfast in the morning. And, no, I didn’t take the photo. It was STILL raining!

I got to Charlotte and found my home for my time there. The Elmore RV Park is a unique experience. It is located behind a used car lot and the residents are a mixture of permanent, long stay and short term folks. As it is in an older park, it has older, mature trees. I love trees! The site I was given was kind of awkward to get into. As I stood there puzzling about how to approach the task, a neighbor offered to do it for me. I readily accepted. I love it when the I get parked with no passes!

My main major reason for visiting Charlotte, other than the fact that I had never been there, was to visit a friend and former student. My former students are the closest I’ll ever come to having kids.

Melissa and Me
Melissa and Me

It’s so good to see them all grown up and getting on in life. Married, even!

Andrew and Melissa
Andrew and Melissa

I really enjoyed our visit. And, Melissa didn’t seem at all upset about what I did to her mailbox.


She said that they had just gotten permission from the HOA to replace it. She even sent me a photo of the new mailbox. It did look a lot sturdier and much more classy!

The rainy weather continued during much of my visit. But, I had excellent television reception and wifi was included in the park fee. After all the driving I had done, it felt good just to hang out.

I stopped in to a craft brewery just a little ways from the trailer park for dinner one night in the NoDa neighborhood. NoDa stands for North Davidson. It’s a gritty up-and-coming arts district.

Heist Brewery logo

I had house made smoked sausage and potato pierogi with caramelized onions and beer mustard.

Heist Brewery dinner

I also indulged in blundus biere, which was a Belgian blonde ale. According to the description, it has a complex flavor with notes of bread, clove and orange, with a soft and fluffy sweetness.

Who writes this stuff?

But, it was good. Almost as good a Bud Light.

Bridge of spies

I also took myself to a movie. Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. If anyone asks, I highly recommend it.

I must admit that I was a little put off by the array of port-o-potties stationed just outside the entrance.

Bathroom under construction

I guess the theater was undergoing some renovations. The theater I was in was great, though. It even had reclining seats!

recliner at the movies

The weather was very wet. I originally had only planned to stay three days, but the forecast was so dismal, I decided to extend my stay a couple of days. It turned out that a week was the same cost as five days, so I stayed for the week.

With the miserable weather, I wasn’t too eager to do anything. I did pry myself out of the RV park to go visit the President James K. Polk State Historic Site. Although he made his political mark in Tennessee, he was born in Mecklenburg County, just outside Charlotte. This park is part of the land that his family owned when he lived there.

As you might well imagine, the log cabin and outbuildings that were there when he was born in 1795 had long since ceased to exist. However, soon after his death in 1849, a visitor to the farm recorded the the buildings that were there. At least, that is what the guide said. She told us that they moved buildings that were representative of what would have been there.

Polk's house

This is what the Polk’s would have lived in. The part of the house on the right was the main room. To the left was the girls’ room. The boys slept in the loft upstairs.

Polk kitchen

This is the kitchen. Since fires were so devastating, kitchens were frequently in separate buildings. Slaves lived in the loft.

I asked the guide if the building were in the same locations as the original. She told me that this was part of the farm, but the buildings were originally by the creek across the road.

At the end of the tour, she invited us to stroll over to look at the family graveyard. I examined it. The plaque by the graveyard said that these graves were moved here when they put in a road somewhere. It wasn’t clear to me whose graves these were.

Well, that seems kind of logical. I visited a birthplace that wasn’t to see buildings that didn’t have any direct relationship to Polk and a graveyard with the remains of random folks.

By then end of my week at Elmore RV Park, the rain had finally eased up a bit. I hitched up and pulled out of town. Next stop, South Carolina!

1957 Mile Road Trip

And sometimes things happen.

The day after I had that idyllic day at the beach, I was sitting in my trailer back at the campground working on where I would go next. My next stop was going to be Fayetteville to visit my sister-in-law, Michelle, and my niece, Mariel. I was toying with the idea of trying to book a few more days right where I was. The campground was lovely and I could easily see myself hauling out my swim suit and taking a dip or two.

I called Michelle, to see if Michelle had any plans that I needed to work around. It turned out that she had just gotten the word that her father, who was already in Hospice, was failing. After having lost my own father a little more than two years ago, I wanted to help. It seemed like what she needed right then was to be able to get back up to Buffalo.

Naturally, I offered to take her. I told her that it would take me about half and hour to get hitched up and on the road and then I’d be there about two hours after I started driving.

By the time I got there, her father had passed. It wasn’t unexpected, but I had hoped that I could get her back for one last visit. We loaded up the trailer and headed north.

We spent the night in transit in a Cracker Barrel parking lot. I love the hospitality that they extend to those of us en route.

Cracker Barrel

Incidentally, this photo wasn’t taken during this trip. I never saw any blue sky.

The weather was appropriately gloomy for such a trip. There was still color visible through the rain. I can only imagine what the hillsides and mountains would have looked like with sun.

Fall color 2

I delivered Michelle and Mariel to her mother’s house. My brother, Craig, was there, as he has a job back in the Buffalo area. Michelle and Mariel are in Fayetteville until they get the house sold.

I spent the night in my trailer in front of the house. The next day, I went to my sister, Amy’s, house and camped in her driveway for the duration.

She made me a tasty snack. We didn’t have much time to spend together while I was there. It was a short stay.

Brownie Sundae

The whole visit centered on the funeral. The visitation, the funeral, the cemetery.


The funeral luncheon.

Mariel and Craig
Mariel and Craig

And then, we turned around and headed south. Michelle’s mother sprung for a night in a hotel, so we stopped in Beckley, West Virginia. I should have gone out and slept in my trailer, so that I could put the West Virginia sticker on the map. But, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a real bed and a shower.

Red leaves in Beckley, WV
Red leaves in Beckley, WV

While we were on the road, the sun came out for a bit.

Taco Bell rainbow

Who knew that Taco Bell was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Cedar Point – No, Not That One.

I rolled down dry roads in the sunshine toward Cedar Point, North Carolina and pulled into my campsite. It was lovely!

Flo at the Cedar Point Campground
Flo at the Cedar Point Campground

It was a U.S. Forest Service campground. Nice level sites and electricity for $22 per night, and the reservations are through, so there isn’t even an additional fee for making the reservation!

The best part of the campground, though is the location, location, location! It is so close to the shore, as in Atlantic Ocean.


And, since it was after the “season”, parking at the beach on Emerald Island was free.

Me in the surf

Here I am! From sea to shining sea! Just six months earlier, I was on the Pacific.

I was enjoying walking in the surf and just looking around, soaking in the sun. I saw these guys that were poking at something in the sand right at the waterline.

Sand Flea hunters

I walked up to them and asked them what they were doing. They told me that they were hunting for sand fleas.

Sand Fleas
Sand Fleas

He showed me his collection of sand fleas. They were going to use them for bait. I always thought that sand fleas were insects, but they are really crustaceans.

Sand Flea
Sand Flea

There were a lot of people fishing. Well, there were a lot of people with fishing poles. I saw a guy walking up with his poles and coolers and such, and I asked him about fishing. I had never seen fishing done in the surf before. He told me that he was getting ready to fish.

Surf Fishing
Surf Fishing

Just a few minutes later, he had already caught one.

Surf fisher with fish

He proudly brought it over to show it to me.

Surf fisher close up

He worked the hook out of its mouth and then took it back to the ocean.

While he was fishing, some flying contraptions came up the beach.

Flying 3

They were propelled by some sort of a motor. I had done parasailing behind a boat in Puerto Vallarta many years ago. (MANY years ago!) This looked like fun.

Flying 1

I splashed around in the surf and collected some shells.


I love collecting shells and pebbles. Such color and variety!

My HISTORY Here app told me that Fort Macon was at the end of the island, so I thought I’d drive down and see what there was to see.


The War of 1812 drove home how exposed the country was to attacks from the ocean, and the country began to work on beefing up fortifications along the shore. It took them a few years to get it done.

I’m not sure what it was used for, but in April of 1861, only one person was on duty as a caretaker. The Confederates marched in and took over as soon as word about the victory at Fort Sumter came through.

They lowered the American flag and used the cloth to create a new flag.


In the displays inside, there was a fragment of the flag they created.

Flag scrap

The fort was in fantastic condition, and was not all gussied up as a tourist destination.

Warning sign

I particularly liked this sign. A little further down the path, and I found out what they meant.


These walls are straight up and down and there are no railings!

Watch out for the first step

No railings at all. I wonder if they get many field trips from schools?


The walls of this five-sided fort were almost five feet thick.


This is inside the fort. The stairs go up to the top where there are cannons, with the business ends pointing out.

Hot Shot Furnace
Hot Shot Furnace

One thing that made the cannons even more effective is the hot shot furnace. They would heat the cannon balls up and then fire them. This was especially effective when used against wooden ships. The hot munitions would set the ships on fire.

inside arches

The narrow archways enable soldiers to move between the rooms, which are properly called casements. You can see how thick the walls are.

In April 1862, the Union Army retook the fort. It sustained an eleven-hour bombardment and was hit 560 times. The Confederates surrendered when the fort was too heavily damaged to be able to to defend. The key to the Union’s success was the use of rifled cannons, which helped the shells’ accuracy.


This sign in the museum caught my eye.


I had heard that people south of the Mason/Dixon line referred to the Civil War as the War Between the States. I had never seen it used before.

I headed back to the beach. I had to see the sun set!

Sunset 2

How wonderful!

Sunset 1

And the great thing is that it rises again in the morning.

Or so I’ve been told. I’m willing to take it on faith. No need for me to get out and check!


Colonial Williamsburg

Okay, I have always wanted to go to Colonial Williamsburg. I have also always wanted to go to Disney World. In my mind, they were both kind of theme parks with different themes – and all kind of make-believe.


I have got to say that the sign advertising costume rentals in the entrance building didn’t give me a good feeling. But, when they gave me a special deal, I could hardly resist.

My Pass
My Pass

Unlimited visits until the end of the year!

It doesn’t matter that I will only be in the area for a few days – a bargain is a bargain!

I handed over my credit card and posed for my ID picture. I clipped on my badge and headed for the bus over to the village.

My first stop was Wetherburn’s Tavern.

Wetherburn's Tavern
Wetherburn’s Tavern

While while waiting for the next tour to start, I chatted with the guide about how they know what they know. I was starting to be convinced that this was fairly serious historical work, and not just some rich guy’s indulgence. The rich guy in question was John D. Rockefeller. Apparently he was second choice. Henry Ford was their preferred backer, but he didn’t care for the conditions placed upon him.

Cheap Room
Cheap Room

Wetherburn had two levels of accommodations. The first was more like a youth hostel, where you money just bought you a place to sleep, not necessarily in a bed, either. You also had no control over who would be sharing the bed with you. If they ran out of spots in beds, they had additional accommodations.

Bedrolls for late-comers
Bedrolls for late-comers

They kept bedrolls on ledge in the staircase, for people who came after the beds were full. They guide mentioned that some people brought their own bedroll “for sanitary purposes”. Better the bugs you know, I guess.

He also had rooms for people who could afford to pay more.

Beds for the well-to-do
Beds for the well-to-do
Dining area in the better room
Dining area in the better room

People who booked private rooms could arrange for the food of their choice to be prepared and served to them in their room. The rest had to eat in the dining room.

Dining Room
Dining Room

There was a set menu that was served each day. The cook didn’t offer choices beyond “take it or leave it.”


The meals were prepared in the kitchen, which was in a separate building behind the tavern. This kitchen is a recreation, built using archeological information.

As the town and Mr. Wetherburn grew more prosperous, he added on a room that was used for dances, parties and lectures.

Grand Room
Grand Room

While we were upstairs in the sleeping area, a fife and drum parade went by.

Fife and Drum Parade
Fife and Drum Parade

The guide told us that this is a prestigious job to have and there is a lot of interest in the community. I asked if lessons were offered in the schools in town. She said that they didn’t teach it in school; all these musicians learn on their own from private teachers. They certainly moved out with precision!

After my tour of Wetherbern’s Tavern, I moseyed down the street. I was curious about the rest of the buildings that were not open to visitors. It turns out that people actually live in the houses!

Private Residence Not open to thepublic

They had these discrete little plaques by the doors and they kept their shutters closed. I wonder what it would be like to live with all these people walking around your house?

My next stop was the Capitol.


While waiting for my tour to begin, we were regaled by a costumed greeter.


The Capitol was a complete reconstruction. Nothing was left of the original building. There was one item that was authentic, though.

Original Speaker's Chair from the House of Burgesses
Original Speaker’s Chair from the House of Burgesses

This is one item that has surely played a significant roll in the foundation of America.

Faux finish
Faux finish

Yep, it’s not marble. But, it sure does give the impression of it, doesn’t it?

Round window
Round window

The building was constructed using the Flemish bond. This is when they alternate the headers (short sides) and stretchers (long sides). This building ups the ante by alternating the colors of the bricks as well.

My next stop was the jail.

Pubic Gaol
Pubic Gaol

I walked down the path and I noticed that I was walking on crushed oyster shells. I had heard that they were used on roadways, and there they were. I picked up a few just to take a picture.

Oyster Shells
Oyster Shells

While we were waiting for the tour to start, we were greeted by another costumed character.

Original Cells
Original Cells

We first toured the main building. It was kind of crowded there, so I kind of held back and slipped in with a different group when I got to the part of the jail with the original cells.

It turns out that these cells held Blackbeard’s crew that was captured and held for trial in 1719. Fourteen of the sixteen crew members that were tried were hung. One made his way back and then earned his keep telling his stories in bars in London. The stories found their way into various books of the time.

Double-barred Window
Double-barred Window














This was a secure facility.

Public Gaol toilet
Public Gaol toilet

It even had a toilet in the cell. And it was securely attached. I don’t think there would be any escape through that.

Secretary's Office
Secretary’s Office

This building was built to protect the papers of the Virginia colony after a fire destroyed the first capitol in 1747. This building was designed to be fireproof. It also held an office for the Secretary of the colony.

Presbyterian Meeting House
Presbyterian Meeting House
Lock on the Meeting House door
Lock on the Meeting House door
Presbyterian Meeting House Interior
Presbyterian Meeting House Interior

The Presbyterian Meeting House had a minimalist feel about it.

Outside the Raleigh Tavern
Outside the Raleigh Tavern

I happened upon some street theater, with speeches and dramatic readings.

Even the audience was filled with actors
Even the audience was filled with actors

This actor apparently was a loyalist, as she kept clucking her tongue and making disparaging comments the the tourists around here about the men making speeches on the steps.

Cannon Salute
Cannon Salute

Later on, there was the cannon salute. The sun was sinking lower.

Wedding Photo
Wedding Photo

Once again, I came across wedding photos being taken. It’s a little happier place than the Manassas Battlefield.

Market House
Market House

I was lucky enough to find some other visitors to dine with at Chowning’s Tavern. There was a bit of a wait, but it was a great dinner.

Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd’s Pie

We were even serenaded by a strolling troubadour.

Chosining's Tavern Singer
Chowining’s Tavern Singer

And with that, it was time to head back to the campground in Newport News.

But, hey! I have a pass that’s good until the end of the year. I could always go back.

Yorktown 1781

Cannon on the earthworks
Cannon on the earthworks

I drove over to Yorktown with no preconceived ideas about what I would find. I knew that it was where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington; it was the last battle in the Revolutionary War. What I didn’t realize was just how much drama was involved in getting to this point.

I entered the National Park Service museum building, happy to be using my America the Beautiful pass once again. The helpful ranger gave me the brochure and directed me to the small museum and told me that a ranger would be giving a talk in a few minutes.

First I toured the museum. Can you believe it? They have Washington’s tent! It was kept in the family and they have all the documentation, so they can prove its provenance. (Thank you Antiques Roadshow for the vocabulary word.)

Washington's Dining Marquee
Washington’s Dining Marquee
Washington's tent
Washington’s tent

It was kind of hard to take pictures of these artifacts. They were behind glass and kept under low light.

They also had a cannon called “The Lafayette”. The story is that Lafayette recognized this cannon when he came back to the United States in 1824. He recognized it by the ding in the barrel.

The lafayette Cannon with dent

I am SO GLAD that I opted to listen to the ranger. She really made the place come alive! A strong storm was just about to sweep into the area, so she did her talk indoors. It was  powerful in an empty room. I wonder what the talk would have been like on the battlefield.

One thing that she told us was that the earthworks outside the visitor center were the actual earthworks from the battle. They weren’t recreations, although They were added to by the Confederates during the Civil War and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) tidied things up a bit during the Depression, but the real, original earthworks from the battle are still out there.

Me with cannonball 1

Talk about real! This is a real cannonball that was fired in the battle.

The ranger really drove home how close the Revolution came to failing. Washington was just barely holding on up near New York City. He got the word that the French were going to be able to help out down in Virginia, and he managed to sneak most of the Continental Army away before the British knew they were gone.

While the Army was slogging southward, Washington and Count de Rochambeau took a slightly different route and stopped off at Mount Vernon. This was the first time Washington had been back at his beloved home since the beginning of the war.

Lafayette was already In Virginia, with orders from Washington to prevent a land escape by Cornwallis from Yorktown. In the meanwhile, a large French fleet under the direction of Count de Grasse prevented British reinforcements from arriving and kept Cornwallis bottled up in Yorktown.

The combined armies of Washington and Rochambeau managed to cover the 200 miles from New York City to the head of Chesapeake Bay in 15 days. The French fleet transported the men down to Virginia where they joined up with Lafayette and encircled Yorktown.

Tools used in digging the earthworks

The amazing thing was that the armies met up and dug the earthworks without being detected. According to the ranger, it was raining fiercely. It softened the soil and muffled the sounds of the digging. These tools contributed mightily to the success of the operation.

The French had brought in the cannons and they started raining lead down on the British.

The British fought back as best they could, but their reinforcements never arrived. Cornwallis sent out a drummer and a messenger bearing a white flag asking for a parlay.

Cornwallis wasn’t able to escape and he wasn’t able to fight, but he didn’t want to agree to the terms of surrender – which were the same terms of surrender that he extended to the Continentals when the British defeated them at Charleston, South Carolina.

The surrendering soldiers had to march out with their colors furled, surrender their arms and then leave for detention. The officers got to keep their side arms and then leave for Britain or a British-occupied American port. They also had to play a mournful song, “The World Turned Upside Down.”  According to the ranger, the terms were almost a deal-breaker for Cornwallis. In fact, they disturbed him so greatly that he was “sick” on the day of surrender and refused to attend the ceremony.

After the engaging talk, I headed for the exit. The storm had blown over and the sky was clear. I decided to take the driving tour around the battlefield and town. Somehow, I managed to miss the direction signs and turned a corner. The battlefield and the earthworks were right next turn the town!

In fact, down by the shore of the river, below the bluff, was a place where the British tried to take shelter during the shelling.


An Archer House

This is a reconstructed house of the sort that was in the part of the town called “under the hill”.

Bridge across the York River

Here is the view today. I imagine that is was not as tranquil in 1781. Oddly enough, I was making my visit right at the time of the year when the battle was taking place, a mere 234 years ago.

Yorktown Victory Monument
Yorktown Victory Monument

I was impressed that there was a plaque written in French and English. We owe so much to the French – and I didn’t realize just how much until the ranger’s talk.

Plaque in French

The top of the Monument
The top of the Monument

And the sky really was blue!