Lake City, Florida

Day 343

     The site of Lake City, Florida, was a Seminole village named Alpaca Telophka meaning “Alligator Village”. By 1830, a Euro-American town called Alligator was established, adjacent to the Seminole town. The city was incorporated and changed to its current name in 1859 because the mayor’s wife, who had recently moved to the town, did not like the name. Obviously, he was not a very strong mayor. 

Technical Stuff:

Tallahassee, Florida to Lake City, Florida: 97.6 miles

2 hours 9 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.40



Mission San Luis,Tallahassee, Florida

Day 340

Day 341 Mission San Luis Fl2102_Fotor

     The Apalachee Indians, who lived in the area around present-day Tallahassee, were among the most advanced and powerful of the Florida tribes that were met by early explorers.

     Spain’s Juan Ponce de León came to Florida in 1513. He named the land “La Florida”, meaning flowery, and claimed ownership for Spain.

     Hernando de Soto arrived in 1539 to seek his fortunes in La Florida. Native peoples in the region told the Spaniards that riches could be found in the Apalachee Province. The de Soto expedition was the first from Europe to camp in this area. 

     The myth of Apalachee treasure was represented on early European maps by the name given to the Appalachian Mountains.

     The largest Apalachee building was the council house that could hold 2,000 to 3,000 people. In the council house, the Apalachee and their chiefs met to govern the village, consider complaints, administer justice, conduct traditional rituals, and receive visitors.

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     The entrance door was built low so a person entering had to stoop, thus easy to see if they had weapons, plus they were bowing to the King. I entered first so Barbara could show her respects. 

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     In 1656 the Mission of San Luis was established here. The friars converted over 5,000 Apalachee’s to christianity. 

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     In 1690 the Spaniards built a fort to protect their interests in the area from the British. England was expanding it’s hold on Spanish Florida and made advances toward the Mission and fort. On July 31, 1704, two days before the British and Creek indians would arrive in the area, the defenders realized they would be outnumbered and burned the mission and fort to the ground, moving to St. Augustine. I think we will also migrate there.  

Technical Stuff:

Panama City, Florida to Tallahassee, Florida 137.5 miles

3 hours 10 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.37

Panama City, Florida

Day 330

Day 330 Panama City FL1689_Fotor

     Panama City is located within the Florida Panhandle and along the Emerald Coast. The Emerald Coast is the unofficial name for this Gulf of Mexico coastal area in the state of Florida that stretches about 100 miles from Pensacola to Panama City. The term Emerald Coast was coined in 1983 by a junior high school student, Andrew Dier, who won $50 in the contest for a new area slogan. 

     The development in this part of Northwest Florida had previous names such as “Floriopolis,” “Park Resort” and “Harrison.” In 1906, the development was titled “Panama City” and incorporated in 1909. A developer named George Mortimer West hoped to spur real estate development in this area during a period of intense popular interest in the construction of the Panama Canal by changing the town’s name from Harrison to Panama City. 

Day 330 Panama City FL1751_Fotor

     Today was the annual “Blessing of the Fleet”. The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition that began centuries ago in Mediterranean fishing communities. It is a blessing from the local priest and pastors that is meant to ensure a safe and bountiful season. This is an event held throughout the world at numerous seaport towns at the beginning of the fishing season. I don’t recall it ever being held in Maryland. 

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 The ships would line up in the harbor and pass before the priest who would bless each ship.

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   More than 150 vessels participate in the Blessing, ranging from ships to kayaks.

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     The pirates wanted a picture with Barbara.

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     This pirate takes his role seriously.

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Technical Stuff:

Gulf Shore, Alabama to Panama City, Florida: 182.7 miles

4 hours 15 minutes

11.1 MPG

Diesel: $ 2.20


The Last Battle of the Civil War

Day 324

Day 324 Ft Blakeley, AL1607_Fotor

     Some people believe that the last major battle of the Civil War took place here, at Fort Blakeley, Alabama, beginning exactly 152 years ago today, on April 1, 1865, and ending April 9th.

     Being the anniversary, we attended a re-enactment of that last battle at redoubt #4, the heaviest fortified position. 

     The Union army awaits the signal for the final assault on Fort Blakeley, the last Confederate fortification guarding the eastern side of Mobile Bay.  It has been under siege and bombarded for days. When that signal comes, 16,000 Union troops will emerge from siege trenches and rifle pits to attack along a three mile front against a semi-circular perimeter defended by 4,000 Confederates.  With Blakeley gone, there’s nothing to stop the Union army from invading the last prize of the Confederacy – Mobile.

Day 324 Ft Blakeley, AL1623_Fotor

     The outcome of the battle is not in doubt. By this point in the war, the Union army is a battle-hardened war machine – competently led and with seemingly endless amounts of arms, ammunition and men. 

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     The next day, April 10, 1865, Mobile surrendered without a fight. 

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Gulf Shore, Alabama

Day 322

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1475_Fotor

     Of the numerous forts, battlefields and museum that we have visited, Fort Morgan in Alabama is the worst. The fort was used during the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI and WWII. The museum was unorganized, with the different war information intermingled with each other.

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1443_Fotor

     The fort itself was not kept up, with sparse markings. For example, this piece

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1469_Fotor

located in the center and in a prominent position in the fort was unidentified. Nevertheless, here is what I was able to piece together about the fort:

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1435_Fotor

     Fort Morgan is a historic masonry star fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay. (You know what a star fort is, Fort McHenry). Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. The post was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan, born July 6, 1736.  He was an American pioneer, soldier, and United States Representative from Virginia and one of the most gifted battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War.

     There has been some sort of fortification on this site since March, 1780 when the Spanish occupied this area. During the War of 1812, the fort was occupied by US forces, and called Fort Bowyer. In February, 1815, the British Royal Navy overran the Fort (I wonder if they exclaimed “Remember New Orleans!”?). They returned the fort to the United States the next month when they learned the Treaty of Ghent had been signed.

     The fort was refortified in 1833 and renamed Fort Morgan. In 1861 the confederate Alabama State Militia seized Fort Morgan from the U.S. Government. The fort remained in Southern hands until August 23, 1864 when the Union forces threw the Confederates out in the only battle that took place here.

     Over the ensuing years the fort was used off and on until 1947 when the US Government deeded the fort to the State of Alabama for use as a historical park. During the last 70 years they have done a poor job.

     The fort is actually crumbling:

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    Barbara re-inacts being a lookout at the fort.

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     We took a short trip to Perdido Key, Florida, so Barbara could dip her piggies in the Gulf of Mexico.

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1492_Fotor 

Technical Stuff:

Biloxi, Mississippi to Gulf Shore, Alabama 110.3 miles

2 hours 42 minutes

11.6 MPG

Diesel $2.20

Shrimp Boat, Biloxi, Mississippi

Day 321

Day 320 Shrimp boat Biloxi MS1234_Fotor

    Took a trip on a shrimp boat to see how it is done. I didn’t know shrimp had heads.  Day 320 Shrimp boat Biloxi MS1336_Fotor

     The local gulls tried to cash in on the catch:

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     Tidbit of information: More blue crabs are caught in Louisiana than in Maryland. While Maryland blue crap season is 4 months, here it is all 12. Most of the crabs we eat in Maryland come from Louisiana.

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     I bet you never saw this type of blue crab:

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     It is a pregnant female, and they are illegal to possess. 

     In our quest for the unusual: here is a witch on a broom

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     The largest Indian Head in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

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     The largest rocking chair in the world is in Gulfport, Mississippi Day 320 Shrimp boat Biloxi MS1359_Fotor

     The red mark on the pole is the high water mark of Katrina in Biloxi

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Beauvoir, Mississippi

Day 318

     Jefferson Davis, who became the first and only President of the Confederate States of America, was born June 3, 1808 in Fairview, Kentucky. His father, Samuel Emory Davis was born in 1756 and served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary. Davis grew up on his older brother Joseph’s large cotton plantations in Mississippi. His brother, who was 24 years older, also secured Jefferson’s appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduating, toward the bottom of his class, Jefferson Davis served six years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He fought in the Mexican–American War as the colonel of a volunteer regiment. He served as the U.S. Secretary of War from 1853 to 1857 under President Franklin Pierce, and as a Democratic U.S. senator from Mississippi. As Secretary of War, he was considered one of the best up to that time. 

     On June 17, 1835, Jefferson Davis married Sarah Knox Taylor, the daughter of his commanding officer, Colonel Zachary Taylor, a future President of the United States. Unfortunately, she died 3 months after the wedding of malaria. At the age of 36, Davis married again, to 18-year-old Varina Howell. 

     Davis had a distinguished military career. He returned to Mississippi and got involved in politics, ultimately being elected Senator from that State. In 1853 Franklin Pierce was elected President and made Davis Secretary of War. Pierce only served one term, and in 1857 Davis was re-elected to the Senate. 

     Upon succession of Mississippi from the Union, Davis returned from Washington.  On January 23, 1861, the Governor of Mississippi made Davis a major general of the Army of Mississippi. On February 9, 1861, a constitutional convention met at Montgomery, Alabama and considered Davis and Robert Toombs of Georgia as a possible President of the new Confederacy. Davis, who had widespread support from six of the seven states, easily won.

     Do you know who Thaddeus Stephens of Georgia was?

     At the end of the war and the assignation of President Lincoln, President Andrew Johnson sought the capture of Jefferson Davis. Davis was captured on May 10, 1865 and was indicted for treason and imprisoned at Fort Monroe, Virginia. He was never tried and was released after two years. He ultimately retired to Beauvoir, the home in Biloxi Mississippi we visited today, where he wrote his memoirs.

Day 318 Beauvoir MS1151_Fotor

     Davis called Beauvoir his home until his death on Friday, December 6, 1889 at 12:45 a.m. from bronchitis and complications from Malaria, which he caught the same time his first wife had it. 

     An interesting note: Throughout my travels through the South, I referred to this flag

 Day 318 Beauvoir MS1147_Fotor

as the Stars and Bars. Eventually, this is a common misconception among us northerners.

     This flag, raised in Montgomery, Alabama on March 4, 1861, was the first flag of the new confederacy and is correctly referred to as the Stars and Bars.

 Day 318 Beauvoir MS1146_Fotor

     It originally had six stars, but increased to 13 as States seceded. It got it’s name from the circle of stars and wide bars. 

 Day 318 Beauvoir MS1163_Fotor

     The first flag of the confederacy was used at the First Battle of Bull Run in September, 1861. Because of the heavy smoke from gun and cannon fire, there was confusion on both sides between this flag and the United States Stars and Stripes. This resulted with soldiers from both side shooting their own men.

     General P.T Beauregard commissioned the battle flag (first flag above). It was used through out the rest of the war on the battlefield, and is the flag we are all familiar. You learn something new everyday. 

D’Iberville, Mississippi

Day 317

 Day 317 D'Iberville MS 1067_Fotor

     The City of D’lberville lies across the bay from Biloxi. The community of d’Iberville has always had a somewhat distinct identity from that of its neighbor. For many years, the settlers on the north shore were disconnected by the natural barrier of the bay itself. It wasn’t until 1901 that a pedestrian bridge connected the two communities, followed by the Biloxi Bridge in 1927. The City of Biloxi, bound on the west by Gulfport and on the east by Ocean Springs, was continually making attempts to annex north of its boundaries. Many citizens of the community of d’Iberville had been fighting such attempts as early as the 1930s. On February 23, 1988 the community was incorporated and the City of D’Iberville was born.

     Today they celebrated the landing of Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville, it’s namesake, with a re-enactment. Phrases such as d’Iberville were used after proper names as a reference to a noble title, either inherited or issued by a sovereign. “D’Iberville” referred to a fief held by his father’s family in Dieppe, a province of Normandy, France.

     It appears the re-enactors were not fanatic about authenticity, as the priest who blessed the landing had a can of sprite,

Day 317 D'Iberville MS 1096_Fotor

     This sailor communicated on his cell phone.

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     The aid to d’Iberville had a button that said I love D’lberville

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     This indian is talking on a walkie-talkie

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     But the townspeople showed up in costume, and a good time was had by all

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     Being on the water, pelicans also had a good time

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     Plus, it was a beautiful day

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City of Biloxi, Mississippi

Day 316

     Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, was born July 9, 1661 in Montreal, Canada of French colonist parents. He was a soldier, ship captain, explorer, colonial administrator, adventurer, privateer, trader, and founder of the French colony of La Louisiane of New France. On February 13, 1699 d’Iberville, on orders of King Louis XIV, landed here looking for the mouth of the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. Native Americans were present on the mainland when d’Iberville came ashore. They greeted d’Iberville with a “belly-rub” ceremony. The name they called themselves sounded like BIL-OX-EE to the French and they gave the bay and the area that name.

     The beachfront of Biloxi lies directly on the Mississippi Sound, with barrier islands scattered off the coast and into the Gulf of Mexico

     One of Biloxi’s most known features has been the Biloxi Lighthouse, which was built in Baltimore and then shipped south and completed in May 1848. With more than 160 years of service, the lighthouse has weathered 20 hurricanes. The lighthouse is displayed on the Mississippi license tags. 

    Biloxi has come under the jurisdiction of 8 entities : France 1699, Great Britain 1763, Spain 1783, Republic of West Florida 1810, United States 1811, Confederate States of America 1861, Magnolia State 1861, Mississippi 1894. 

Technical Stuff:

Ponchatoula, Louisiana to Biloxi, Mississippi:  97.1 miles

2 hours 26 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.27

Barataria, Louisiana

Day 314

Day 314 Baritaria, La 0965_Fotor

     The two major reasons that Andrew Jackson was able to defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans was the bad luck and confusion of the British and the help of Jean Lafitte. 

     In the 1800’s Barataria was generally referred to that area south of New Orleans to the Barataria Bay, in the the Gulf of Mexico. It was a haven for pirates and smugglers because of the many bayous and waterways where they could hide. The most notable of these pirates was Jean Lafitte.  We visited there and the town named after him.

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     Jean Lafitte was born in 1780 in the French colony of Saint-Domingue of French parents. He was a notorious pirate who operated in the Barataria Region. The locals liked him because he was able to provide them with goods they could not otherwise get because of the War of 1812. 

     On September 3, 1814, the British approached Lafitte and offered him riches if he would use his ships and men to help them against the United States. They thought he would help because the US Government was out to capture him and end his piracy operations. Instead, he relayed this offer to the Governor of Louisiana who informed the US Government who in turn sent Jackson to repel the British. 

     When Jackson arrived, he found he was way short of men and no supplies. Lafitte offered him his ships, guns, and men, which Jackson accepted. There is no record that Lafitte himself actually fought in the battle. 

     After Jackson’s victory, Lafitte and his men were pardoned of all crimes against the United States. However Lafitte continued his piracy. On February 5, 1823, Lafitte was wounded in a battle trying to take a Spanish ship. He died of his wounds and was buried at sea. 

     We visited the graveyard in the town of Lafitte.

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Day 313

     Baton Rouge is French for “Red Stick”. French explorer Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville led an exploration party up the Mississippi River in 1699. The explorers saw a red pole marking the boundary between the Houma and Bayogoula tribal hunting grounds and named this area Baton Rouge. Today, it is the Capital of Louisiana. We visited the Capital Building, which was conceived by Governor Huey P. Long.

     He died after being shot in this building on September 8, 1935, when accidentally shot by his guards protecting him from a dissenter who had a gun. Bullet holes still remain in the walls. 

Chalmette Cemetery, Louisiana

Day 312

    Chalmette National Cemetery is a 17.5 acre strip of land that sits adjacent to the site of the Battle of New Orleans along the Mississippi River in Chalmette, Louisiana. The cemetery was established in May of 1864 as a final resting place for Civil War dead, both Confederate and Union soldiers alike.

     Approximately 132 Confederate prisoners of war were buried at Chalmette until the Ladies’ Benevolent Association of New Orleans requested that these soldiers be moved out of Chalmette, leaving only Union Soldiers. Later, American soldiers of later wars were added. 

     The most unique grave is this one:

     Sarah Rosetta Wakeman was born January 16, 1843, in Bainbridge, New York. She was the oldest of nine children in the farming family. Wakeman understood the tremendous financial pressure her family was under, and without possible suitors to take on her expenses, Wakeman left her home as a man in 1862 and went to work as a boatman for the Chenango Canal.

     While on her job, she met an army recruiter offering a $152 bounty and enlisted on August 30, 1862, using the male name Lyons Wakeman. The bounty was incredible motivation for Wakeman to enlist, being far more than what she could earn as a woman. Wakeman enlisted as a private of Company H of the 153rd Regiment. She saw battle at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana as part of the Red River Campaign which comprised a series of battles fought along the Red River in Louisiana from March 10 to May 22, 1864. She survived the battle but contracted chronic diarrhea of which she eventually died on June 19, 1864. She was buried here with full military honors.