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.



Kentucky Cooperage, Lebanon, Kentucky

My first week at Amazon was training week. We were only working half shifts, so I wasn’t as tired as I expected I would be during the coming weeks. So, before the work at Amazon set in for real, I decided to visit another place I didn’t get around to back in 2014 – Kentucky Cooperage in Lebanon, Kentucky.

It was a short drive away through the rolling hills. As I got into town, I noticed a one-man demonstration outside the Walmart.

Can you read the sign? Well, no worries! I can zoom in for you.

Good grief.

I got to the factory where they make barrels for many of the whiskey makers along Kentucky’s bourbon trail.

Kentucky Cooperage is a facility that is part of International Stave Company. It is a family-owned business that reaches customers in over 40 countries. In additions to the cooperage in Lebanon, they also have subsidiaries in California, France, Chile, South Africa and Australia.

The company was founded in 1912 and initially focused on producing staves that were headed for cooperage. Now they make barrels for wine and whiskey, from start to finish.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw stacks of wood. During the tour, I learned that they cure the wood outside  to the specifications of the people who are ordering the barrels.

They make use of every bit of their wood. According to their website, they use the wood chips and “powder”(could that be the same thing as sawdust?)  for various products. I wonder how they would ever have firewood available to sell.

I followed the sign to the area where the tour would start.

An impressive display of barrels greeted us in the area we were to meet the guide.

There was a display of the parts of the barrel on the wall, too.

We found out during the tour that not only are the barrels constructed with wood to the specifications of the customer, they are charred to their specifications to impart the right flavor to the whiskey

There are four levels of char that they offer with their barrels.

The piece of wood on the left – level 4 – is the most charred. If you look carefully, you can see how much more charred it is than level 1.

Barrels are constructed without any adhesives at all. The barrels staves are held in place by the bands. I think the tops and bottoms are held together with dowels, and I say that because there was a broken top lying on the ground next to my campsite, and I could see the dowels. The tour guide made the point of saying that there were no adhesives used in making the barrels.

The tour was really interesting, and if you are in the area, I would recommend it. I have been on so many industrial tours where you don’t really see anything happening. This tour was full of action!

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures during the tour.

Not only did we see the barrels being assembled, we watched them being charred. They were rolled into some sort of a machine that shot flames into them. After the right amount of time, they were rolled out of the machine, still burning.

The wood that is used for the barrels is white oak, which is special because of a gummy substance found in them called “tyloses” that clogs the pores. It helps keep the liquids stored in them from leaking out. According to information from the company, over 90% of the oak used for spirits comes from the USA. The remaining white oak comes form France and Spain.

American oak is known for its sweet and toasty characters, as well as lactones. Now, if you are not the only person who doesn’t know what lactones are, Wikipedia comes to the rescue. Unfortunately, I don’t even understand the explanation!

French oak is known for sweet and spicy characters, high levels of tannin and the lack of lactones.

Did you know that barrels are first used in the bourbon business and then used to age other liquors, such as scotch, tequila and rum. I wonder if that affects the flavor of the “downstream” liquors?

As I’ve already said, the tour was a good one – and we got to see the action.

The factory had a lot more activity than the nostalgic cooperage painting that was hanging in the tour meeting area.

Now that my touristic duties are complete, it’s time to get ready for full shifts at Amazon!


Battle of Tebbs Bend

I was excited to get back to Campbellsville, Kentucky. I was eager to get started back at Amazon, but I had a couple of days to fill before my start up date. Although I had spent more than three months there in 2014, I managed to find something that I hadn’t seen before – and it was right down the road from the campground.

I saw a sign on Route 55 that directed me to some sites pertaining to the Battle of Tebbs Bend, so I turned off the highway and came upon a very familiar marker.

It was familiar because it was a MICHIGAN state historic marker!

This seemed rather odd, as I was in Kentucky. Naturally, I had to investigate.

The sign read,

This sign was at the road. It was in front of a Confederate Cemetery.

It was a lovely day for a stroll through a cemetery.

In 1872, some twenty bodies of Confederate soldiers were buried within the stone walls on land donated by James Madison Griffin.

There was even a grave of an Unknown Confederate Soldier.

As always, transportation is important. Brigadier General  John Morgan and his compliment of 2,460 handpicked Confederate cavalrymen rode from Sparta, Tennessee, intending to divert the attentions of the Union Army. He crossed the rain-swollen Cumberland River and advanced into Kentucky, eventually camping between Campbellsville and Columbia. He planned to cross the Green River at Tebbs Bend the next day, but found that it was guarded by about 200 men of the Michigan Infantry, lead by Colonel Orland Hurley Moore.

The Michiganders had erected earthworks in he woods near the river, further fortified by a line of abatis of felled trees and several forward rifle pits. His goal was to protect the Lebanon-Campbellsville-Columbia Turnpike, which was also the easiest and fastest route for Morgan to take to reach Louisville.

According to historian James Ramage, this was one of the most outstanding small victories in the Civil War. He said that is was unusual for a small Union force that was relatively inexperienced to resist to resist Morgan’s larger battle hardened  company and to fight so fiercely and effectively.

If you are interested in this battle, there is a good description of it at Tebbsbend.org.

I drove along the three mile loop that went through the battlefield and across the river. In this area, the Confederates lost 35 men and 45 were wounded. The Federals lost six men and 23 were wounded.

There were markers along the route that pointed out where various defensive positions had been erected. The fighting was fierce in this particular part of the battlefield.

The spot where Colonel Chenault CSA is marked near where the farmhouse is today.

This plaque was erected where the bridge crossed the Green River.

One interesting fact I learned while I was trying to refresh my memory about this site was the the Michigan forces, lead by Colonel Moore, walked back and forth across the bridge at night to give the impression that reinforcements had arrived.

The bridge had just been repaired, as it had been washed out by high water early in the year.

The Confederates had to attack across this field, if I understood the information correctly, across the river and then up a steep embankment.

As you can see from the sign, this location changed hands several times during the war. Kentucky made camp here for a couple months in 1861-1862. Michigan was here April – May 1863 and then Rhode Island followed after that.

I was surprised that a small but significant Civil War battle had happened in a place I thought I knew fairly well.

It’s amazing what you can learn when you keep your eyes open and read the signs.



Never too Late to Add Something to Your Bucket List

I am so far behind in my posts, that I am sometimes tempted to declare a victory and move on.

However, I thought I would just write a quick post about my visit to Plains, Georgia and then go back and keep on working on what I’ve skipped over in the interim.

I arrived at my Scott and Lesley’s house in Phenix City, Alabama a few days ago. Scott is my brother and Lesley is his wife, and they have a lovely spot right next to their house for Flo – and they even put in an outlet so that I can plug in while I am there.

I transferred the wreath that Craig gave me when they left Fayetteville – and I had augmented with Dollar Tree poinsettias and hung on Flo the Airstream during the Airstream rally in Savannah  – to their house.

I kind of remembered that Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school at his church in Plains where he lives with Rosalynn. I think it was Lesley that told that they have a website and a schedule of when he teaches. I looked it up and found the schedule, and he would be at Maranatha Baptist Church  almost all of the Sundays this December.

Well, it’s never too late to add something to my bucket list!

I decided that I would make the trip to Plains to attend Sunday school with Jimmy Carter. The only difficulty was that you had to be there ahead of time to insure that you got a seat. The class starts at 10:00, but you had to be there by 9:00 for orientation. Doors open at 8:00, but they recommend arriving earlier than that.

I got up at 5:00, left Scott’s house at 6:00 and arrived shortly after 7:00. Each carload received a number so we would know where to line up. My number was 26. While I was waiting, I took a picture of a family that had driven over from Atlanta. They said they had a three hour drive to get here! After I took their picture, they took mine.

Here I am, with my new friend, Amanda.

The line worked its way toward the door, and we had to empty our pockets and our bags were searched. We were also wanded to make sure we weren’t carrying any weapons.

Miss Jan was the “Mistress of Ceremonies”. In addition to letting us know what to expect and what we could and couldn’t do, she shared stories of her experiences with the Carters.

For instance, she was Amy Carter’s fourth grade teacher. She went with the family to the inauguration. She stayed with them for about a week and helped get Amy settled in Washington.

She also told us about some of President Carter’s contributions to the church. When they first started this church, he asked what they needed. They asked him to make collection plates. He made four plates out of Philippine mahogany, and they are still in use today. She passed them around so we could look at them.

Jimmy even signed his work on the back.

Of course, although I already had these shots – as well as others – I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take this picture of them sitting up near the sanctuary.

Miss Jan also told us that he made the cross in the church. The wood was donated by a church member, and it was persimmon that had been under water for 100 years.

She didn’t explain why the wood had been under water for 100 years. I was curious, but she didn’t open up the floor to questions.

On the seat of the pew in front of me was this sign.  I was curious about who would be sitting there.

This is the order of worship that they gave us when we entered. If we stayed for the worship service after Sunday school, we would be able to have our picture taken with the Carters.

Miss Jan told us that when Jimmy came out, he should say “good morning.” We were to respond loudly – after all, he is 92. She told us not to make him repeat himself. Then he would ask us where we were from. There were three sections in the nave, and he would address each section. He didn’t want us to repeat a state or country that was already said. She told us that we were allowed to take pictures during that time. As soon as he asked if there were any pastors or missionaries in the group today, we were to put our cameras and phones away. Under no circumstances were we to stand up when he walked in, ask questions or to applaud.

Then, without any additional fanfare or announcement, Jimmy Carter came out and greeted us.

There were about ten different states represented as well as a couple countries. One of the countries was Taiwan. He chuckled and replied, “Our president-elect has been talking to you.”

Before he began his lesson, he spent some time talking about what he had been doing and current events. Since this took place on December 18, he spent some time talking about the meeting of the Electoral College. He explained that the voting was going to go the way the results went on November 8. If for some reason, it was sent back to the house, each state would get one vote each – regardless of the population of the state. Given the way the vote went, this would not change the outcome of the election.

He talked about some of the work he is doing with countries around the world. He spoke a bit about the work the Carter Center is doing in Somalia and the fact that they can often times work as emissaries between the US government and Somalia when diplomatic relations are strained.

After talking about what is going on in the world and what he is doing, he taught the lesson, which focused on Matthew 1 : 18-25, which is the Christmas story.

But first, he talked about the difference between the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

He told us that Luke is written from Mary’s point of view and that Matthew is written from Joseph’s point of view. Luke is filled with singing – there are four times when song is used. Matthew is filled with dreams – there are four times when dreams play a part.

When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant and that they were engaged but not yet married, he was going to quietly call off the engagement, which would have been viewed as an act of kindness in their day.

But, Joseph had a dream where he learned that Mary was carrying a child conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was to call him Emmanuel, which means “God with us” and he will save his people from their sins. When he woke up, he did as the angel commanded.

The lesson continued, but I am a bit muddled about some of the details. I was overcome with the excitement of the day and just a wee bit tired from getting up so early.

After the lesson, we were allowed to get up, use the restroom and stretch our legs. When we heard the organ begin to play, we had to return to our seats for the church service. We were allowed to leave after Sunday school, but we wouldn’t be permitted to return. Only people who stayed to the end of the service would be able to have their pictures taken with the Carters.

The organ sounded and I returned to my seat. Shortly thereafter, the Carters entered the nave and the Secret Service agent sat down in front of me.

I was always fascinated with their communication devices!

The service was different than any Christian regular Sunday worship service I’d been to before. There were hymns and prayers, but no readings and no sermon. This might have been something special for Christmas, as the choir presented what they called a Cantata. It was a medley of Christmas carols with some spoken parts. A young woman dressed as Mary, complete with a head wrap that looked much like a hijab carried her baby in and sat on a chair the by the altar during the Cantata.

And then the service was over and it was time to have our pictures taken with the Carters.

We were told to stay seated until our row was called. When we it was our turn, we were to hold whatever we had with us – don’t set it down on a pew – and hand our camera or phone to the woman who was taking the pictures. Walk up, turn around smile. When the photographer handed our phone to the person on the other side of the aisle, we were to leave. Keep your hands at your side, don’t touch them, don’t hand them anything and don’t talk to them other than a brief greeting. (Good morning, thank you, Merry Christmas – that sort of thing.)

So, finally, I got to the head of the line.

The photographer was snapping away like crazy.

I got close to my spot and turned around.

And just like that it was over. I walked down the aisle we were told to walk down and out the door.

When I got outside, the rain had passed and the clouds parted.

After that, I went to explore Plains.

But, I will save that for another post.





My next stop was Fort Boonesborough State Park. It was a good stop over place between Beckley, West Virginia and  Campbellsville, Kentucky, where I was going to work for Amazon as part of their CamperForce.

It was a rather long drive. I think I was behind the wheel for almost five hours, so when I got there, I pretty much got backed in and hung out inside until it was time to sleep.

The next day, however, I just had to get out and enjoy the decorations.

It turns out that the campers in the area come back year after year to celebrate Halloween, and they go all out with their decorations. I was there mid-week and people would come over to the campground after work to put up their decorations.

Some of the decorations were kind of understated…

yet elegant – in a Halloween-y sort of way.

Incidentally, do you notice the golf car parked under the awning? I was surprised at how many people had them here at the park. A major activity seemed to be driving around.

I came upon these folks relaxing in the shade. They filled me in on what was going on with all the decorations. They also handed me books that their children had made of trips they made with their them and their grandchildren. Beautiful photos. Of course I returned them.

I can only assume that these people were not finished with their decorating.

Near the camp store there was the pumpkin patch.

Really – there were golf cars all over!

People must make trip after trip to get all this stuff out to the park. And, would you look at that trailer?! It’s full of firewood!

Speaking of firewood, I noticed that many sites had stacks of lovely dimensional lumber. I came across a guy who was working on unloading some from the back of his pickup and asked him about it.

He told me that there were companies that made trusses. When they had cutoffs available, they would sell them by the pallet-ful.

Just in case you are not up on your building terms, this is one example of what a truss is.

There were massive inflatables all over.

I particularly  liked this black cat.

It moved its head back and forth!

Isn’t this classic set up wonderful? I love how they match!

I came upon this guy who was busy building things for his display. When I stopped to talk with him, he told me what he was building.

He was going to decorate this Christmas tree for the season, too. He took me to meet his wife, who was busy peeling and dicing apples for apple sauce. He wanted her to show me the photos from last year’s decorations that she had on her phone.

These folks are really proud of their displays.

These folks had a small haunted house in their display, along with tombstones and skeletons.

Across the way, this rig was really into the skeletons.

I mean, they even had a flamingo skeleton!

Believe me, there was much more, but you get the idea.

I hope you had a happy Halloween, a wonderful Thanksgiving and that your Christmas is going to be delightful!


West Virginia – At Last!

My next goal was to get some issues addressed with Flo the Airstream. I left Appomattox Courthouse and got to Out-of-Doors Mart in Colfax, North Carolina in time to drop her off before I went to check into the motel.

It felt great to leave her at an Airstream dealer that actually had Airstreams on the lot!

I headed back to the motel, which they describe as “classic”.

I think another way to describe it would be “old”.

They do offer a “continental breakfast”. The offerings were rather meager, though. I’ve never seen a breakfast bar that didn’t even have cereal. If you look carefully, you can see one banana in the basket on the left end of the counter.

I suppose I could have gone across the street to the Waffle House, though.

It was just for a couple of days, though. Before long, I was on the way to West Virginia.

West Virginia! Finally! I was going to be able to put that sticker on my map. My destination was Beckley, West Virginia. I had booked a campsite on the hill above the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.

How clever of the city to put in a campground! It was small but the sites were level and easy enough to get into. They were also full hook up sites and there were trash cans at each site. At only $25 a night, it was a good deal.

I took care of some tasks of daily living – I did my laundry and restocked the larder. I love the things I see when I’m out shopping.

The growler says, “Beer is made from barley and hops. Barley and hops are plants, therefore beer is salad”.

You can’t argue with logic like that.

I also went to church.

I snapped this photo because I liked this girl’s jacket that was covered with dogs. We had a nice little chat about it after mass. It turns out that she has a friend who had a backpack made of the same material.

I liked this group project that seemed to be a decorative cover for the HVAC equipment.

Although my main purpose for visiting Beckley was to actually stay in West Virginia, I decided to see what I could see at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, without paying the admission fee.

I mean, I have been in a lot of mines. I wasn’t in the mood to see another one.

There was the camp store, which had a gift shop – naturally – and some displays.

This was the boss’ house.

This was a miner’s house. These houses were known as “Jenny Linds” and they were three or four room no-frills houses. I wondered why they were called “Jenny Linds” so I looked it up. The article doesn’t discuss where the name comes from, but it give you more information, if you are interested.

Here’s the front elevation of the house.

Of course a mining community would need a church

and a school.

There was also a children’s museum on the campus, but it was closed on the day I visited.

I thought this was an innovative use of an old newspaper box. I love seeing the Little Libraries when I travel around.

And that was about it for my visit to West Virginia. Just one thing left to do.

Put on the sticker!

Forty states down!

Eight to go!



Appomattox Courthouse

My next destination was Colfax, North Carolina,  a mere 450 miles away. I had an appointment to have some work done on my Airstream. I decided to break the trip up and spend the night in the Cracker Barrel parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Appomattox Courthouse was only about 25 miles away from Lynchburg, and it is one of the places I had hoped to visit last year but didn’t get to. Since I only had about 150 more miles to go to I figured I had enough time to pay a visit.

In case the significance of Appomattox Courthouse escapes you at the moment, it is where General Lee surrendered to General Grant.


It happened right here in this house, the home of Wilmer McLean and his family.

Poor Wilmer McLean! His house was involved in the first battle of Bull Run in 1861. For business reasons as well as to keep his family safe, he moved about 120 miles south.

I was so excited to visit! This is another one of my “bucket list” places. I parked Flo and Bart in the overflow area and made my way to the courthouse.


The park headquarters and museum was located there. It was very informative. One thing I learned is that the whole village was there due to aggressive restoration.

“Aggressive restoration” is my term. It turns out that the McLean house looked like this before it was restored.


Do you see a house there? This photo was taken in 1914. It turns out that the house was sold to people who dismantled it. They intended to reconstruct it somewhere and probably charge admission to see it. They dismantled the house, documented it so that they would be able to reconstruct it and then stored the materials on site.

They never got around to carrying out their plans and some of the materials got carried off by people looking for souvenirs or maybe just looking for building materials. According to the ranger, about 30% of the bricks in the house today were actually there in 1865. They did a masterful job of recreating the house.

They started with archeological examination of the site in 1941.


That, with the detailed records made when they dismantled the house allowed them to put the house back the way it was in 1865.


Here’s a shot of it under restoration in 1948.


This is the parlor where Lee and Grant reached the terms of surrender. It was on the first floor, at the top of the stairs


Horsehair furniture was all the rage in the Victorian era. I always thought that the horsehair was used as stuffing. It turns out that it was used also used to weave the fabric.


This was Wilmer and Virginia’s bedroom, across from the parlor.


This was one of the children’s bedrooms on the second floor.


This was another of the children’s bedrooms.


The dining room was on the ground floor,


and the warming kitchen was right across from the dining room. Kitchen fires were very dangerous, so most of the cooking was done in a separate building.


This is the kitchen behind the house.


This is the real kitchen where the majority of the food preparation took place. Of course, the cooking wasn’t done by any of the McLeans. It was done by their slaves.


Their quarters were also behind the house.


This was the room on the left.


This is the room on the right.


I was struck by the creativity in repairing these chairs that they were allowed to use.

So, what happened to the family after surrender? After the war, McLean and his family sold their house in 1867, unable to keep up the mortgage payments. After all, at least part of his income came from selling foodstuffs to the Confederate army. That market kind of dried up. They returned to their home in Manassas. According to Wikipedia, the family eventually moved to Alexandria, Virginia where he worked for the Internal Revenue Service from 1873 to 1876. He died in 1886 and is buried in St. Paul’s Episcopal Cemetery in Alexandria.

On to the rest of the town. As I mentioned before, the town was aggressively restored. This was the courthouse in 1890.


Here is the courthouse in 1892, after the fire.


They did a great job of recreating the courthouse, too.


At the courthouse, they had a great little museum.


One artifact I was eager to see was a doll called “the silent witness.” She belonged Lula McLean, one of Wilmer’s daughters. She had left it on the horsehair sofa and in the aftermath of the signing, Union soldiers took things as souvenirs.

The soldiers were tossing the doll around, and joking about it as being a silent witness. Lula’s doll was taken home by Captain Thomas W.C. Moore of Major General Sheridan’s staff. For more than a century, the Moore family kept the doll as a “war trophy” of sorts.

The doll was donated to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in December 1992, and is now on permanent exhibit at the park.


I had the book on the left in my classroom library.

The museum had all sorts of interesting bits and pieces.


This is a section of the 24th Georgia Regiment flag.


This is a fragment of the white flag that was used to signal surrender. It was actually a dish towel.

The terms of Surrender included this line “each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes not to be disturbed by United State authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they reside.” This one phrase would later prevent Lee from being tried for Treason and proved to be a godsend for the healing and reunification of the Nation, according to the display in the museum.


These little fragments are from General Lee’s flag. The text of the letter that accompanies it read, in part, that the officers of his staff determined that “the glorious old flag, which had floated in triumph o’er so many bloody fields should never be desecrated by Yankee hands.” They cut it from the flag staff and divided it among themselves.


It was a Christmas gift from S.C. Calhoun, late of the C.S.A. to Mrs. M.T. Andrews.

It’s more impressive than a Chia Pet or a Salad Shooter.

At the Visitor Center, there was a schedule of tours being given by historical re-enactors. I was lucky enough to join a talk by Corporal James Cook, Federal Provost Guard.


He was an animated speaker and focused on the surrender and what happened after.

He gave his talk about in front of Clover Hill Tavern, where they set up the printing presses.

I borrowed this photo from the park's website.
I borrowed this photo from the park’s website.

In order to release the Confederate soldiers to return home, they needed to print paroles to carry with them to prove that they we free to go.


The Army sure had to carry a lot of things with them as they were fighting.


They had trays of type and ink and everything they needed to print the paroles.


They hung the printed paroles on lines to dry. It took them a while to process everything.


Incidentally, this is what the tavern looked like in 1932. Considering that it was built in 1819, and that there wasn’t much of a population left, it’s kind of amazing that it was still standing.


This is how it looked in 1954, when they were working on restoration.


This is the tavern’s guesthouse.


Here is a shot of it in 1942, when they were working on stabilizing and preserving it.


My time was growing short, so I needed to keep moving. Here is Meeks Store. The little brown building next door is a law office.


In the pasture behind the store is the grave of Lafayette Meeks, their son. He joined the 2nd Virginia Cavalry in the spring on 1861 at the age of 19. A few months later, he died of typhoid having never seen a battle. A interesting fact I learned was that 2/3 of all American Civil War deaths were from disease and not gunshot wounds.

The grave was near the road through town. It is humbling to think of all the people that traveled down it in the spring of 1865.


It was a quick visit. It was time for me to get moving.




What Did Della Wear, Boys?

How many of you know that song? The answer is, “She wore a new jersey, boys.”

My next stop was Delaware. I was en route to the shop that I hoped would resolve some of my Airstream issues. I only had a day to spare, but spending a night in Delaware counted for filling in my map.


I had a lovely campsite at Lums Pond State Park near Bear, Delaware.

I found my campsite and then went to fill out the registration form. Since it was after the peak season, they didn’t have people staffing the gate house.


The bait machine kind of tickled my fancy, though.

I took a walk around the campground and chatted with a few of the other campers. It turns out that this is a local favorite, and that people who live only a few miles away come to camp here.


I told them that I thought the park was lovely and I could see why they would want to come spend time here, but that I wasn’t enjoying the stink bugs.

They told me that the bugs had just shown up yesterday.

Great. My trailer was covered with them, and some managed to crawl inside, as well. The are quite amazing insects, but I am not partial to the creepy-crawlies.

I spent a quiet night and then got ready to head to my next destination.


Before I left, I got to put Delaware on the map!



No-Spend November


I just had the least expensive month of 2016!

I worked at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Campbellsville, Kentucky for most of the month, so my campsite was a perk of the job. Peak season continues until just before Christmas, but I decided to leave early. I generally enjoy the work but the facility has gone over mostly to apparel, and that stuff is heavy! The shelves seem much, much higher than when I worked there two years ago – or could it be that I am two years older? In any event, I left on the 22nd.

Other Expenses                               $338.64
Campsites                                           232.09
Gas                                                       178.77
Groceries and such                           163.03
Eating out                                             54.46
Laundry                                                  3.00
Food and drink on-the-go                    1.06

TOTAL                                                $968.05

The main unexpected expense for November was vet visits for Cora the Travel Cat. She had ear issues that needed to be addressed, and then she had some sort of allergy issues that caused her to scratch the fur off the top of her head. There is no such thing as a free cat!

In November, I camped in Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina and drove through Tennessee. I drove 1,177 miles, which was the least amount of driving I have done in a month since I have been recording.